Both inspire me to redouble my efforts. (Much can be achieved despite presidents and governments, don't you think?)
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.
..and Manchester and all our great cities.
This slogan ran and ran in Glasgow with further ones saying People Make Glasgow Exciting, People Make Glasgow Vibrant/Caring/Creative/ Generous.
I think we could add People Make Manchester (and any other city which has been the target of terrorists) Resilient. People make Manchester Brave. People Make Manchester Compassionate. People Make Manchester Strong.
Do you think it helps to talk? I found myself phoning a friend. And thinking of those who must try to talk to their frightened children. There are times when I think there are no words, but we have to find words - of condolence and comfort, words of hope, courage and resilience...
People are amazing.
..in the greenhouse while unpacking a delivery of plants..
These came from Unwins in lovely condition and an awful lot of (recyclable) plastic. Pink white and silver for the three big black pots.
Energy for a full day's gardening.
Wild flower seedlings for a project in the next village...
Self sown flowers at my feet,
a nice view,
Peaceful and safe, and counting my blessings.
..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 wonder if any of you had the same feeling as I had of being slightly de-skilled when first using a smartphone to take photographs?
Leaving my much loved and used Olympus SP700 behind when I went to Colonsay was like going without my friend! It is a fairly simple digital camera - not much skill needed really, but I missed the little ritual of fetching the camera from its soft leather case, finding the tripod, adjusting the height, choosing the most appropriate setting...I hadn't realised how much I enjoyed this until it was no longer there and I took my smartphone from my pocket, switched it on, clicked camera and pressed the button. Oh. Is that it? I thought, feeling vaguely disappointed!
Of course I wasn't disappointed when I saw the results on the laptop, and some skill is still required to edit which I like doing. The clarity and ease of use was one of the reasons for getting the iPhone in the first place, and I will surely come to love it.
Are you happy with the camera on your phone? I wonder how professional photographers feel about it.
Here are a few recent shots.
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?
..of being held by the world is the title of this post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.
He is also offering a free course in which he encourages acceptance of whatever happens in your life - quite challenging, but interesting too.
I am thinking about it in the context of your comments on Joie de vivre...
Inspiration is everywhere for all the artists and craftspeople who love Colonsay. On the shore, in the textures of rock and stone, bark and plants, in ancient carvings and exotic birds at the 14C priory on Oronsay...
Needless to say the seafood is excellent from the well-stocked little shop and the attractive hotel.
The Baptist Church reminds us There Is Hope. I wonder if this was to help them through harsh storms and long winters in the past, before the internet and daily ferries (which deliver from Tesco on the mainland!)
The car ferry from Oban takes two and a quarter hours - the seas were calm as we left and we saw distant porpoise and a pink sunset....
I've just spent a few days on Colonsay with friends - my first visit to this small island - and what weather! Glorious!
The small population were holding a three week spring festival and we took part in a guided walk to Oronsay which can only be reached at low tide (led by a local who was at Glasgow School of Art at the same time as me - small world), seaweed foraging, a talk with photographs and song about the past 100 years on the island, and a tour of the gardens of Colonsay House.
The woods were full of bluebells and wild garlic and the fields full of lambs and corncrakes.
This was our picnic spot, looking across to the island of Jura. (I walked over 17,000 steps that day!)
Do you like visiting islands? And have you a favourite that you visit again and again? It was clear that many visitors to Colonsay have been going all their lives and know each other well, meeting up as old friends each year.
Joie de vivre according to Mireille Guiliano, is in direct proporotion to how much pleasure you know how to derive from every aspect of living.
It's easier to find on sunny warm days with bluebells strewing your path, luminous at dusk..
I like that she suggests it's not a given, but it is something you can learn.
Would you agree?
Perhaps you will discuss it with each other here while I take a short blog break? I love when you do that!
I think the last daffodil is also my favourite.
It is called Pipit.
My favourite rendering of the song My Favourite Things still has to be this sparkling arrangement by the brilliant Stephen Hough.
It just lifts my spirits every time.
Is there a piece of music that does that for you?
Joey Alexander is eleven years old in this lovely recording....enjoy.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)