Both inside and out.
It can be as simple as moving your chair from its usual place....
A different perspective can clarify things and make decision-making easier. I moved my chair closer to the mini-meadow in the sunshine this morning and decided yes, I could open the garden for charity in 2018 with the Scotland's Gardens Scheme, as I have done many times since 2009. (See here and here)
I thought I could not do it without Barry, but I have help with the grass cutting and hedge cutting, and some wonderful gardening friends have agreed to assist. (I may be too late to sign up - am waiting to hear!)
Decisions left alone for a while sometimes seem to make themselves I find. I just wake up one morning and the decision is made. Do you find this?
A little plate of fried potatoes and the sun on my back, watching the swallows raise their second brood, enjoying the precious early morning silence - all these things are conducive to making good decisions. And ten days without 'news' probably played a part - bliss....
This reminds me of the famous Miss Jekyll but I am not wearing a full length Victorian gown, I'm wearing jeans and clogs!
One man went to mow...and then he stopped.
And by stopping, he created a wildflower meadow.
This whole terraced area is usually kept mown short all year.
But this year the two top terraces were left uncut.
Not only do they look beautiful but they are thick with bees, moths and other insects.
I once created a small bluebell wood by the same method - ie stopping the gardener from mowing under the trees. To everyone's amazement and delight up popped a great swathe of bluebells.
I felt like a magician!
Some gentle gardening to keep the flowers coming..
Literally hundreds each year from a few small clumps of Papaver ruprifragum.
I have not been gentle with the alstroemeria! I have been trying to get rid of them for years because they run wildly through everything giving barely a flower. Until now. They must have got the message...lots of flowers this year.
Crocosmia 'Lucifer' is getting thuggish too.
Would you agree you can have too much of a good thing?
A group of us spent some time in Coronation Wood this morning, just pulling out ash and sycamore saplings, strimming the paths and trimming the boundary hedge.
It's a peaceful place to be. I missed photographing it at it's prettiest wild flower and bluebell time this year, but shades of green are tranquil and the seat under the spreading oak tree and the view out of the wood and up the Glen are lovely.
The village hotel, closed for eight years, is reopening next week. Can't wait to try it. It will be so good to have somewhere I can walk to and take visitors to.
Watch this space..
(For more about the Coronation Wood project click on the heading under the banner photograph.)
I am a bit obsessed by the garden just now I admit.
When in the city I love to have a snack, a glass of wine and a coffee at Carluccio's. It's the kind of place you can sit without being hurried and make notes on, guess what, the garden. Cutting hedges and paths is keeping me very busy especially as the weather is so erratic, and planning how to grow a new wildflower area is quite challenging. I am deciding whether to postpone sowing until the current lot of weed seeds have germinated and can be hoed off giving the wildflower seedlings a better chance, though of course disturbing the ground again will expose yet more seeds...
Wildflower meadows contrary to popular belief are not simple to grow.
Sitting thinking about it is one of my favourite things!
I am propagating the cuckoo flower (cardamine pratensis) from leaves pressed flat onto the soil surface. At every node comes a tiny new plant (seen best just right of centre).
The cuckoo flower is very pretty, comes out at the time the cuckoos arrive and is a food of the orange tip butterfly. I hope to grow them in the long grass and to plant some in Coronation Wood.
I'd love it to look like this photo on this site where I also learned that the leaves are edible and that it can be grown as an acquatic.
I love pruning. I am pleased if the end result looks as if I have not been there. (I hate to see plants and trees butchered!)
The yellow gate was gradually disappearing from view and this morning's rescue task was to prune away some fuchsia,some honeysuckle and dying daffodil foliage. I took out half a a barrowload of stuff..
and will probably take more. I am waiting to see the foxgloves and what kind of Rose of Sharon (yellow flowers!) nature has kindly provided to both left and right of the gate when I wasn't looking before i finish the job. Pruning is a subtle art.
I was thrilled to get a really close look at an orange tip butterfly which waited while I fetched the camera. (Sorry it is slightly out of focus, it didn't wait long enough for me to get a second shot.)
Less welcome was a tick which I discovered just as I was about to go for the bus. Panic! Got both the tick and the bus.
PS I meant to add this link to yesterday's post.
..of the plant variety, also known as self-seeders. Here are a few which are always welcome here.
This beautiful and quite large aquilegia appeared through the privet hedge - who knows where it came from. I will collect seed from it.
This soft lavender one came from a garden two doors down. I will collect seed from this one too, as I would like to have it throughout this whole bed. They grow so easily among other things, never crowding them out, unlike the wild pink campion behind which is spreading wildly, but is easy to pull out where you don't need it. I have masses of it this year. I also have some varieties of white campion sown from seed last year and happily coming back this year. Later flowering so no photos yet.
The Welsh poppy in both orange and yellow is hidden from view behind some large shrubs which is a pity - I'll scatter lots of seed around as it is another one which flowers at a useful time and doesn't become a nuisance here.
Perhaps my favourite. Geranium robertianum 'Celtic White' grown from seed many years ago has sprinkled itself about delightfully especially in the gravel areas. Again easy to pull out where not required they give the garden the slightly wild and natural look I am trying to cultivate.
I began today's three tasks with the one I really wanted to do.
Drawing with the lawn mower to establish the areas I will allow to grow longer this year (one of the fun aspects of this is that you can change it every year, or even from one cut to the next).
I have written often about 'differential mowing'. It's one of my favourite creative design techniques, and to cut down on mowing time I am creating larger areas in both back and front gardens this year. I am lucky I think in that many wild plants (weeds!) still exist in our grass areas as they were created from fields and we have very rarely used fertilisers and weedkilllers, and then only on small areas.
I am paying someone to help with the grass but I wanted to establish the all-important shapes myself.
Not quite right yet, but there is always another chance at this...the garden is essentially rectangular but I like to incorporate organic shapes and creating a balance between the two is the creative challenge for me.
The longer grasses and flowers are good for the insects and the bare patch will soon be sown with a wildflower seed mix to give me a nursery of wild flowers to play with.
I think I can feel my passion for the garden slowly returning with this project.
Do you use wildflowers in your garden?
I worked hard in the garden today.
I used an old plan - to concentrate on 3 tasks. An ongoing job, a start and finish job, and something I want to do.
The ongoing job was dealing with the grass - scarifying and edge cutting mainly. There is quite a lot of grass.
The start and finish job was planting out a wigwam of sweet peas. I always sow Shirley poppies in the centre of the wigwam. The canes could have done with repainting but I don't have time this year - I am going for that useful shabby-chic look.
The thing I really want to get right this year is to get this clipped lonicera into a perfect ball! Still a bit bulging and saggy on the right..
The other clipped shrub is box and I try to cut it in an oval to contrast. The azalea lutea scents the whole garden on a sunny warm day like today.
Every year I mean to divide and spread this lovely (though short flowering) hardy geranium. If I catch it right after flowering finishes I might get it done. I had it with white tulip Purissima once - very lovely.
I am so happy to see that the three precious cornus controversa variegata which were munched by the deer are recovering. Tiny new shoots are appearing. It's risky designing a garden around the form of one thing - in this case the horizontal form. (See photos here.) I once designed a whole garden around a well shaped broom which promptly died! I should have remembered they are short lived shrubs.
The brown patch in the grass is the mini meadow which should have been cut in late summer last year, but I ran out of energy and it wasn't cut till spring, but it will recover soon I think.
I forgot the advice I always gave others - to finish when you still have the energy to clear up. I did have 10 lovely minutes in the hammock and am heading for an early hot bath now...
Here are two products I love to use. Alfresco insect repellent is all natural, smells gorgeous and works for me. And for gardener's hands is La Maison de Senteurs Olive Oil hand cream. I'm not selling them I just thought I'd make them look pretty for fun :-)
The forecast is sunshine for a few more days...
Have you been gardening?
There is a lovely buzz of good energy in the comments lately! Keep up all the fun changes till I come back to the blog next week...
I am still working through my list of needs and wants in the garden (see here).
I'm not a fan of ornaments and sculptures in my own garden. Two of the garden designers I most admire let the plants and planting structure do that job. (Beth Chatto and Piet Oudolf)
This post still says it all for me on this subject.
But I fear the birdbaths must go - too many cats. :-(
I thought you might enjoy a look at Peter Sparrey's work here. I adore the yellow bowls. The markings on ours are like an intricately hand drawn map, the lid a perfect fit, the handle lively.
After a week's rain it's back to the garden redesign and I find that there too I am daring to be simpler and simpler....
But I am continuing first with my honest look at the current condition of things. Some of the garden furniture is in a parlous state...(I wonder what parlous means exactly?) Anyway it is not good. The bargain sets of coloured table and chairs are wearing out and/or fading.
We have three sets of these. They were fun and cost about £20 ten or more years ago and have been used constantly, so no shame to them! I will look in autumn for another (one!) bargain set and offer these to an artist friend who makes metal sculptures.
.One of the found-on-the-shore planks is rotten, the other is beginning to rot but will do another year if I give it a scrub and position myself on it carefully..
In the wetter west of Scotland wood furniture doesn't always weather to a lovely silver..
Before you get depressed too, here's a photo from July last year..
Oh OK, I'll save it for tomorrow.
How could I forget it?
I have written more than once about the tip I discovered to protect your plants from deer. You put bits of the cheapest most scented supermarket soap around the perimeter of the fence or close by the favourite plants (yours and/or the deer's). I have done it every year since we first moved here, but this year, probably because I have not seen deer in the garden for years now, I completely forgot.
I was going to photograph the stumps of the tulips, the tell-tale hoof prints and the denuded branches of my three special young trees...but decided to post this instead...
NB I do appreciate all the comments on the last post, but Weebly will not let me reply to them! Still working on it. Sometimes life is full of glitches.
Did I call this lawn? Those 'weeds' are cat's ears (second photo) and I don't mind them, in fact I want them for the meadowy look, but that moss! I thought I could leave it for a year but there will be hardly any grass there by next year. I will scarify it in April (good exercise!).
The mini meadow usually gets cut late July or August but I never did find the energy for it last year. Strimming it is first on the list and I will pay the man who put up the greenhouse to do it. The proceeds from the last big painting I sold are earmarked for garden help. :-)
The patio/seating area is really important to me. 15 minutes with a bicarbonate of soda and vinegar mix, a cloth and the hose got rid of the algae... ....though it was too cold to sit down to drink the coffee.
The sitting area is on gravel. I let lots of things self-seed there (that 'relaxed look' you will be hearing a lot about!) It's not difficult after rain to take out the surplus. It is full of quaking grass and after they got soaked with the hose as I rinsed off the table I potted a few up and put them in the greenhouse along with the sweet peas in their root trainers.
Snow all around, blue tits checking out the bird boxes and the first seeds- night scented stock - sown on Saturday and up on Wednesday!
If you too are a gardener, what are the first couple of items on your list of wants and needs, and have you decided what is needed to get them ready for the new season?
See original post here.
Here is my own list.
I don't want any additional features and may get rid of one or two which I already have.
The lawns are very mossy! But I will live with that for this year. I plan to allow more areas to grow longer for a meadowy/wilder effect and to cut down on mowing time. See this post
I have suggested you photograph your garden 'warts and all' to aid the design process. If it is not snowing again tomorrow I will do just that!
Question one is What would you like to use the garden for?
For looking at, inspiring paintings as it did when we first created it 15 or so years ago, eating in, watching wildlife in, savouring the scents of, and the changes in different lights and seasons. To saturate my eyes with colour. My garden is a sensuous thing.
It's purpose is to delight all the senses.
It is at it's best late spring to late summer and I will focus on that time and look at other people's gardens for the other seasons' specialities.
(If I could achieve the effect Laura described here again I'd be very happy!)
A new stronger greenhouse is up and ready (no more sitting in on stormy nights listening for the sound of breaking glass!). The propagator is switched on and I am re-reading my own advice about re-designing a garden.
I love growing things from seed....
Simply Grow is one of the biggest categories on my blog, and I thought I would look again at my Design Your Own Garden Course which began here and this time I will answer my own questions as I start work on making the garden manageable by one small person (ie me!)
Can it be done?
This year will tell.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)