Six on Saturday 20th July

I trundle along through life, as one does, trying to make the best of the virtues with which I was lucky enough to be born and appreciating the opportunities and joys which come my way but I’ve always been of the opinion that I missed my vocation (who hasn’t?) The problem was, I didn’t actually know what my vocation was. Well, folks, I think I may have found it this morning! Far too late to do anything about it (mortgage to clear, holidays to book, plants to buy) other than use it to brighten up my life and living room, but it’s quite a revelation to have found something that I appear to excel at without really trying, and which I really enjoyed. Of course, you good people might disagree once I reveal the product of my new found talent (self esteem, it would seem, I do not excel in) but I’m very pleased with it so I shall studiously ignore any criticism!

It started off when I went for a pootle around the garden to snap some photos to use for a Six post and I noticed that my Sweet Peas had produced more beautiful flowers. Monty Don advises to cut your Sweet Peas every eight to ten days to ensure a steady stream of blooms throughout the Summer, and I only gathered my first posy on Monday so I wasn’t expecting more just yet.

This was my first display.

They really don’t last long. They’d mostly faded when I looked this morning.

I was really enjoying my pootle, checking out progress in my veg plot, marvelling over the colours in my Coprosma and squinting at the tiny purple flowers appearing on my Callicarpa Bodinieri (which I assume will give rise to its purple berries in Autumn), but it started to drizzle so I got on with cutting my Sweet Peas (which is number one of six).

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I got quite a good bunch, as you can see, but as I was gazing at them and drinking in their heavenly scent, I thought to myself, some yellow would really look good with these to break up the pinks and purples and highlight the whites, why don’t you get yellow Sweet Peas?

So, I decided to add some and headed for my Coreopsis Grandiflora. As I wandered down the garden my Ox-Eye Daisies waved at me in the breeze. Yes! I thought, daisies look stunning in bouquets, so I gathered up both (number two).

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As I headed back up the garden to collect my Sweet Peas, my eyes were drawn to my Cosmos. Apt, I thought, given that my Sweet Peas and Cosmos were raised from seed side by side in the greenhouse (number three).

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The colours in the Cosmos bring together the colours in the Sweet Peas and the Coreopsis perfectly. I love those little star shaped stamens.

We have an abundance of hardy Geraniums in the back garden. More and more every year as they self seed to their heart’s content. I may have to divide some of them somewhen, but for now I decided to include them in my posy as a nod towards their ever presence. They are quite attractive with their veins of dark purple. Another plant that is self seeding all over the place is Oxalis. Considered a nuisance by some, we don’t have enough of it (yet) for me to be troubled by it. These two pink pals are number four.

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Any good bouquet has a Rose in it. I hesitated at first, because I do love my Roses as nature intended them, but after umming and ahing for a while I decided that the two Roses which best matched the colour scheme had enough blooms to spare a couple for my display, so here’s number five.

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Do you spy my little green snips in the background? These have come into their own recently – they’re perfect for the delicate little cuts needed for Sweet Peas and their tendrils.

Finally I decided that if weeds will insist on making repeat appearances in the garden, so much so that I can’t possibly keep on top of them, then they may as well make themselves useful. Number six, then, is wonderfully weedy!

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One of these isn’t a weed it’s one of my Hare Tail grass ears that I got from Gardeners’ World Live, but it seemed to fit with the the rest of these goodies so I included it. Apart from that, there is normal grass and a flower from Herb Robert, but I don’t know what the blue and yellow flowers are. The yellow looks like a tiny Cowslip (but definitely isn’t) and the mystery blue is lovely and delicate. Several of them have appeared in our path.

So there you have my Six, and soon I get to reveal the finished arrangement, but first a couple of ‘along the way’ photos.

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I love this. It reminds me of place mats that you used to get in the eighties and nineties that had drawings of plants with their scientific names written on in scrawny writing. I’m sure most households of my family had some of these (and I suspect some still have – waste not want not).

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Here they are all bunched up, as they were when I brought them in.

And now, the big reveal ….. drumroll …..

I really need to get one of those light box things for taking photos rather than having to balance tea towels on various kitchen utensils to get a decent background!

Here they are in situ, up high on the wall because the Sweet Peas at least are toxic to cats, and even if they weren’t, I don’t want my beautiful arrangement to be chewed by feline teeth! I hope you’re not disappointed after all my self indulgent hype up!

I couldn’t decide whether they looked better with or without flash so I’ve included both. The two on the left are with and the one on the right is without.

If you want to check out more Sixes, pop over to the Propagator’s page and have a snoop in his comments.

Toodleoo.

Six on Saturday 13th July

I’ve been AWOL from Six on Saturday for a couple of weeks now so I’ve made time to showcase six of my best flowers today. Luckily the Propagator doesn’t enforce participation so I’m pretty sure I’ve got away with my absence. Check out his blog for more Sixes.

I’ve gone all amateur photographer today and I’ve been taking close up pics of some of the prettiest flowers which are blooming at the moment in the garden so I’m choosing close ups as the theme of this week’s Six.

1. Rose Campion

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Oh I do like a close up of a flower glistening with water! These are such a shocking bright pink that I’m quite surprised no planes have mistaken them for the airport landing strip given that we live on the flight path! They were another gift from our cleaner at work’s garden – very generous she is with her self seeded plants.

2. Hebes

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I’m a sucker for a Hebe. I have to blinker myself when I go through the Hebe aisle at the garden centre, and if I see one on a sale table, well, it’s coming home with me!

The one on the left above is Hebe Purple Pixie and I think it was my first ever sale table purchase. It flowered beautifully last year and is just starting to bloom again now. It lives in the shade and it seems quite happy with that situation. The one on the right is Hebe Celebration. It was also from the sale table last year and is actually still in its pot. It’s almost as shocking pink as the Rose Campion! I think I might plant it in the front garden tomorrow. The one in the middle was from a pack of four Hebes and it didn’t say which variety any of them were. It’s the only one of the four which has started to flower so far.

3. Roses

I have a few Roses in the garden, these are just three of them, all from various sale tables. I’m not sure of their names. It’s probably hard to tell the sizes from the photos, but the red one on the end is actually really small. That opening flower is probably only about an inch tall and I love how it looks like a mini version of a red Rose that a nervous young man might buy for his starry eyed sweetheart on a first date.

4. Buddleia

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Another sale table find. There’s a theme to my garden centre shopping! We’d wanted to add a Buddleia to our garden to try to attract butterflies. It was the tiniest little plant and I squeezed it into a tiny space next to our fence but it’s done really well and is flowering beautifully. I need to prune the Holly bush next to it because it’s in danger of crowding it. I think the Buddleia would benefit from something to grow up as well because it seems to be flopping over slightly.

5. Sweet Peas

These are one of my biggest successes of this year. I grew them from seed in the greenhouse and I made my own support, and now they’re rewarding my hard work with beautiful blooms. I’ll see how many have opened tomorrow and I may cut them to bring indoors. They’re toxic to cats so I have put up a wall mounted shelf of sorts in our living room in anticipation that the cats can’t get to so we can enjoy them inside all Summer. No doubt I’ll show you a pic on a future post.

6. Cosmos

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Another success from the greenhouse. I sowed these at the same time as the Sweet Peas. I planted them behind my birthday planter because the Cosmos I grew in a pot last year got really tall, at least four feet, if not more, so I thought we’d be able to see them over the planter, but these have only grown about a foot high. I love this photo, it looks somehow ethereal. Not of this world. Like it belongs in some kind of parallel fairy universe. Just beautiful!

What a lovely Six! I love all the colour in mine and everyone else’s gardens at the moment. Long may it last.

Wimbledon!

Whoop! The best fortnight of the year is here!

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Oh I wish it could be Wimbledon every day! I’ll watch any tennis – singles, doubles, men, women, mixed, wheelchair, grand slam, ATP 1000, 500, 250, challenger, Davis Cup – but there’s something special about Wimbledon. I guess it’s partly because it’s my home slam and also that it’s the tennis that I grew up watching (because no other tennis was ever shown on telly) but it’s not just that. It’s the tradition, the occasion, the royal connections. I think if you were to ask the players, if they could only win one slam, which would it be, most would immediately answer, Wimbledon.

First held in 1877, Wimbledon is the oldest slam, it’s the only slam still played on the original tennis surface, grass and it’s the only tournament where players have to wear the traditional white kit. The great Roger Federer was, a couple of years ago, reprimanded because the soles of his trainers were fluorescent yellow and had to change them for the rest of the tournament. Venus Williams was berated in 2017 for having pink bra straps on view and had to change the garment midway through the match (she was, of course, allowed to leave the court to do so!) The outfit has to be predominantly white, with the only real deviation being the players’ sponsorship logos. The All England Club staunchly upholds these traditions, and I hope they never change.

The first year I went to Wimbledon was 2012 when I got tickets to the Olympic tennis which was held there, and I caught the Wimbledon bug. I applied in the ballot for tickets to the Championships held in 2013 and I was lucky enough to get two centre court tickets. Since then Dad and I have both applied every year, and there’s only been two years when neither of us has got tickets. One year we both got tickets so we spent three glorious days in London and spent two full days in Wimbledon.

We arrived at Southfields tube station on Tuesday, the earliest we’ve ever visited the Championships, and excitedly joined the crowds walking up to the venue. Soon we were in and our senses were being assaulted by the almost tangible atmosphere that draws you into the occasion.

This year we had No. 1 Court tickets so we headed straight there for the 1pm start. We were on the very back row, ZC, but we still had a cracking view.

Having tickets for one of the show courts pretty much guarantees that you’ll see some of the big names in tennis and this year on No. 1 Court we got to see three number ones.

The ladies world number one, Ashleigh Barty playing China’s Saisai Zheng.

The ladies British number one, Jo Konta playing Romanian Ana Bogdan.

And finally my all time number one (with the exception of Sir Andy Murray), Rafa Nadal playing Yuichi Sugita from Japan.

All the number ones won reasonably easily. That’s the potential downside of getting tickets so early in the fortnight, there’s a risk that the matches might not be as gripping as later on in the tournament because the competition hasn’t yet been whittled down to the top performers for that year. The matches we saw were great and there were some brilliant rallies and exciting winners along the way but all three matches were won in straight sets without even a hint of a tiebreak.

This did give us time to have a bit of an explore of the grounds that we’ve not been able to do before when we’ve been engrossed in matches all day.

We popped out in between the two ladies matches and picked up the afternoon tea that we’d booked in advance.

We sat at the top of Henman Hill (Murray Mount, Robson’s Ridge) to eat our delicious picnic. I only had yoghurt and fruit for breakfast because I was trying to save Syns for the rest of the day so I was thinking about my rumbling tummy and not about taking photos of our food. This is what we had though.

Delicious! We’re not vegetarian, just cheese freaks! The sandwiches were on wholemeal bread so they would’ve taken care of my Healthy Extras. Pretty sure the rest of it doesn’t fall under Slimming World rules though! I couldn’t resist the scone with clotted cream and jam (cream or jam first? Always cream for me – doesn’t make sense in my head the other way round, you wouldn’t put jam on before butter!) but I did only partake of one of the cakes (the other three are in our kitchen now waiting for hubby to eat them being ignored by me) and I didn’t have any cream on my strawberries.

I didn’t want to miss a second of Rafa who was up third, so we took the opportunity after we’d eaten to pop to the Wimbledon shop before heading back to watch Jo Konta.

I got a jumper which I’m not going to be able to wear for some time given the current warm weather. I would go and take a picture to show you, but there’s a puddy cat curled up on my lap and she looks so comfy.

Speaking of puddy cats, I got them a present.

They love these bands and they carry them round the house in their mouths!

And of course I got a bear. Come on! It is me you’re talking to!

Looks right at home with his compatriots, doesn’t he? He’s called Rafa, by the way.

The grounds are meticulously maintained, no mean feat given the amount of footfall over these two weeks. This is the first year I’ve given more than a fleeting glance at the planting around the courts. There are living walls by the big screen outside No. 1 Court and there are hanging baskets and planters pretty much anywhere they could squeeze one in, all following the purple and green Wimbledon colour scheme.

2019 sees the debut of the new roof on No. 1 Court.

It’s looking like there won’t be any rain delays over the course of the tournament but the roof is still coming into its own. As I’m watching Andy Murray and Pierre Hugues Herbert play their debut doubles match, they’ve just closed the roof because of poor light to allow them to finish the match tonight. Jamie Murray wasn’t so lucky – he was playing on one of the outside courts without a roof so that match will conclude tomorrow.

Final picture for today, and a fitting end for a tennis post I think.

The late, great Fred Perry!

Enjoy the rest of Wimbledon folks.