..from the hammock, where I spent a good part of the morning!
From chatting to lovely garden visitors.
Glorious weather, a steady stream of interesting people - numbers not finalised yet but will let you know. Thank you so much to all who came and made it such a wonderful week-end, and to the other gardeners who worked so hard to make their gardens beautiful.
..with the odd little shower! We've had a great first open day.
We felt so on top of the garden (we have worked really hard) that we had leisurely breakfast in warm sushine outside this morning, but our robin is getting even cheekier- look at him at my toast!
Make that six baby swallows. I wrote the sign yesterday but this morning we realised there are six in the nest -
though I only caught three in my photograph.
The weather forecast for tomorrow is for even better than today. So lucky!
Well, nearly...I just have to put more signs out, mow a path, mulch another path, deadhead the lupins, print off some handouts....
Tomorrow is Open Garden Day and the garden is looking very trim and I am looking very bedraggled, but the lovely rosa glauca still has flowers. And there is the added attraction of five baby swallows peeping over the edge of their nest!
All will be well.
If you live near enough I hope you can come. Details here. I'd love to see you!
I've been very moved by the Radio 3 series The Story of the Great War in Music (still on iPlayer).
Talking of the terrible sacrifices made in wartime someone asked 'And for what?'
Which got me thinking that it was for the freedom to read what we like and discuss it, in our own language, whenever and with whoever we want, for the priviledge of casting my vote recently in a peaceful village hall with no one threatening me, for the freedom to have as many children as we want (a friend is just back from a visit to China where there is still a one child policy), for the chance indeed to travel to China and many other places, for the freedom to write this blog uncensored...
It is so easy to take all this for granted, isn't it, so I'm grateful to Radio 3 for the stories, essays, interviews and music, Lest we Forget.
Yes, more about the garden!
I do like some of these quieter elements....
..at 4.33am to be precise!
Now I am truly honoured that a wren (troglodytes troglodytes - love that name!) should choose to build it's home in the clematis under the bedroom window, but it's extraordinarily loud song wakens me every morning lately and continues for about two hours or more....
Another lovely true blue flower (see this post from open gardens weekend 2010) is just coming into bloom in some pots. An annual, started off in the greenhouse, but worth growing for it's baby blue flowers.
I know everything is about plants at the moment (4 days to go till open garden weekend and I do hope you like gardening) but I'm planning some posts on Simply Money soon - an important subject I see I have barely touched upon with two posts in four years (see sidebar).
Simply blue..or not....
This sweet pea is called Blue Velvet. It looks decidedly purple to me. It was supposed to match this geranium Roxanne -
which itself is a little more purplish than it looks in this photograph. There are some true blues though - cornflowers,
Misnomers abound in the world of plants. This is meant to be sweet pea Almost Black! Now did they get it wrong, or did I? I shall have to wait till they all flower to find out. They are all beautiful though in all their variety and I love them.
Simply..at one stroke....
I halved my workload and my stress level for the week!
In previous garden open days we have shown just the front garden, but I had decided we would open the back garden too this year. However....it is proving to mean a lot more work. This morning I just made the decision to show the front garden only.
Now it seems do-able again.
Anyone who really wants to will be welcome to have a wander around the back, although it's a wee bit weedy and mossy and doesn't come into it's own until July and August, being mostly annuals and herbs and salads.
With just 6 days to go now, and other commitments this week, this was the right decision. (Why was it hard to make I wonder?)
It was so simple really!
Are you committing yourself to too much?
Is there something you could just opt out of to simplify your life at one stroke?
..and very cheeky! I thought you might enjoy the story of a robin which features in this blog every now and then. (See yesterday's post)
Read here about how we think he became so tame....
An eye for the main chance..ie my breakfast.
Crumbs to entice him early one summer morning while I dashed inside for the camera. The light and the shadow were so beautiful..
He was so tame so quickly - we were amazed and delighted. It feels such a priviledge to have a wild bird trust you.
A bad hair day?
You wanted to get a soft towel and pat him dry!
Hardly recognizable as the sleek bird above.
Very patiently waiting for us to get up.
We don't know of course if the robin which comes now is the same one that Ross shared his breakfast with. I say 'he' most often but it is very hard to tell male and female apart. We do know that the male robin will feed the female of a pair (and not vice versa) and 'our' male is bolder than the female. There was a year when two were equally tame. Barry was feeding one from his hand at the back door and called me - but I was feeding one from my hand at the front door! They have brought their babies into the garden some years, so the current robin might be one of the offspring of the original one, though they can live 10 or 11 years....It would have been lovely to have ringed them, but it seemed wrong somehow.
The Life of The Robin (1965) by David Lack is our robin bible.
Some interesting comment on social media here and here (thank you Julia). I laughed when Bruce Feiler wrote that he sent a tweet 'Then I waited for the love'. I also laughed at the cartoon of the man arriving home from work to be met at the door by his partner, hand on hip, saying 'What do you mean what kind of day have I had, haven't you read my blog?'
The thing is not to take it all too seriously I think!
Keeping it light then -
You may remember these..
which tonight became these. Poached in water, lemon juice and sugar which was then reduced to make a syrup and served with lazy chocolate sauce (a Mars bar melted with a couple of teaspoons of milk.)
21 degrees Celsius. Well by Scottish standards this is a heatwave!
Before it got too hot for me, I had breakfast with a cheeky robin, while the swallows fed their four babies above my head.
Sniffed the first sweet pea to open - Matucana - small flower, big scent.
Bees buzz in the poppy Papaver ruprifragum.
So tempting, but there's work to be done first!
More buzzing in a cloud of catmint: Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'.
And the first whiff of scent from the honeysuckle.
The fuchsia 'Hawkshead' in the background, about 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide..
started out as a small pot plant on the balcony of our previous house.
Simple pleasures to share, to savour and to celebrate.
Have a lovely day.
Simply summer skies..
Simply..a 'madeleines' moment....
After reading this post over at Cornflower I indulged myself with a year's membership of The Perfume Society and received, for £25, this lovely box of treats.
I was busy when it arrived and it wasn't till very late that I opened the box and began to slowly sample some of the eight perfumes - each one comes with a card with questions to ask yourself 'smelling notes to delve a little deeper into the world of perfume' - all very intriguing and pleasant. I was really relaxed and enjoying the experience. After spraying a few on wrists and hands I found to my great surprise that tears were streaming down my face.
I don't cry easily. In fact I very rarely cry.
I asked myself what exactly is making me cry?
I smelled again the palm of my hand, and I was sixteen again and my extended family were all still alive, my aunts and my great aunts. My great Aunt Jen (I will tell you about her one day) wore a fox fur and perfumes from Switzerland, my Aunt Peggy had a pretty dressing table with pearly backed brushes and a perfume spray bottle of cut glass with a little pump, and my first boyfriend had just given me a tiny glass heart shaped bottle of Nina Ricci's Coeur Joie. I was back in the warmth of my family. I was in love.
It was such a powerful feeling!
It made me think of Proust and the madeleines and I stayed up for hours reading excerpts from La recherche du temps perdu (here and here) and all the time smelling this scent, perhaps Lady Million by Poco Rabanne, or perhaps it was the combination of the three or four I had tried, and the tears kept coming, silently. It wasn't distressing crying. In fact looking back they might have been tears of joy for happy memories of being loved.
So the box of perfumes, the world of perfume, can be an emotional place - I am fascinated.
..that you will see when you open your eyes tomorrow morning?
Make it something beautiful, something that will make you smile. Flowers? A postcard? A photograph? What will it be?
You could go fix it now and start your day on a happy note tomorrow....
Have a basket under the table for the clutter, or find a bedside table with a drawer.
Little things can make a big difference, don't you think?
(Thank you for the great comments on 'filtering' yesterday - it is a subject I will certainly be coming back to.)
I suspect a new essential life skill might be filtering out a lot of the data and information that comes our way (see yesterday's post).
Would you agree? Any suggestions? I shall start by unsubscribing a few things I am no longer really interested in.
Meanwhile in the garden -
I'm thrilled by this new foxglove 'Pink Illumination'.
It's a sterile hybrid, so I shall try to propagate it by basal cuttings in autumn and in spring, but it should flower over a longer period than the white ones.
I'm also thrilled to have a garden big enough that I can pick a bunch of flowers for a friend without denuding it!
My garden's not huge, but it is the biggest I have had (not counting the 2 acres of the cottage on a moor where the sheep always got in and ate everything I tried to grow...I gave up and learned all about the wild flowers instead.)
Simply..all a bit much?
Radio/TV/iPlayer/computer/email/mobile/smartphone/phone/answerphone/iPod/iPad/blogs/RSS feed/comments/facebook/DVD/podcasts/twitter/instagram/pinterest/news/newspapers/magazines/junk mail/advertising/sales calls/surveys/cold calls/charity appeals/apps/spam/passwords/updates/texts/chatlines/special deals/LinkedIn/favourites/likes/newsfeed/trends/games/search/subscribe/FeedBurner/Feedly/Blog lovin/cookies/follow....
When it all gets too much, remember - there's usually an off switch.
You mean it's allowed?
In the words from Evita -
'Let the world turn without me tonight'
Simply..a bit obsessed....
..with the garden at the moment. June is my favourite month here. Today has been warm and sunny with the odd short shower - perfect growing weather. I've cut a narrow gently curving path through our mini-meadow, tiny though it is. The newly cut bit has not really greened up yet but the effect is lovely and the light in the late afternoon was so beautiful....
..on learning to draw, make it this one!
I never liked how to draw books. It seemed to me they all said 'Do what I do and you can draw like me.' whereas this book by Betty Edwards will have you drawing in a way that is as unique to you as your signature is. I think it the most intelligent how to draw book out there. It's an interesting read and provides a fascinating insight into how we learn.
It also really does get down to basics. You might think of it as the equivalent of learning your abc, or piano scales, or first ballet positions.
When drawing skills were required in factories making carpets, textiles and pottery in 19C Britain all children were taught to draw. Some found it easier than others of course, as in any subject, but they all learned. It is not a mystery, it is a teachable, learnable skill. If you can ride a bike, drive a car or use a computer, you can also learn to draw.
The book won't make you an artist any more than playing scales will make you a musician, but if you have patience and the humility to be a beginner, you will in a few short weeks be drawing in a way that will probably surprise you!
I'll start with why shall I?
When I lived in Oxfordshire we spent every weekend from April to October of our first year there visiting gardens open under the Yellow Book scheme. It's a marvellous way to get to know a new area. We had a wonderful time! There were so many to choose from (we often managed several in one day), they were varied and fabulous - grand country estates to tiny back yards in the city and we were struck by the generosity of the gardeners. If it was sunny people would put out rugs and cushions and encourage you to stay a while, the cream teas were to die for, the plant sales were irresistible. I do think gardeners on the whole are very sharing people.
When I came here to the shores of Loch Long on the west coast of Scotland and developed the garden, I realised how many good gardens there are tucked away and decided it was pay back time, so I invited some gardeners to apply to the Scottish Gardens Scheme with me. (This is our fourth time opening.)
I do it to raise money for causes I believe in and in gratitude for all those visits we made.
And I do it because it's the best possible incentive to getting all those projects done!!
I'd love to hear from anyone who has opened their garden (or is thinking about it!)
You will find more posts about opening the garden under Simply Grow June 2012 and June 2010 if you have time for a browse.
20 days to go to Open Gardens week-end....
The fifty white foxgloves are looking wonderful, and I did think of going out while it is still light to photograph them, but, forgive me, I'm just toooo tired.
If only I took my own advice (see yesterday's post) but the sun was shining, the promised rain didn't come and there is so much to do that I just kept going, and going.. and I so enjoyed it!
(If you are new to the blog I should tell you that Simply Grow is the category with by far the most posts.)
Posy of geum and geranium from the garden on the bathroom windowledge.
I don't usually buy flowers at this time of year but I couldn't resist these dazzling lime green alstro for £2 a bunch at Lidl.
I added some beech leaves to fill it out.
Off for a hot soak....
Once I got over my indignant resistance to it ('But I'm not a baby!') I found this approach so useful! You will all have heard of it before, but have you actually tried it?
When I use it I get through tasks faster and with a lot less stress. A friend once cut out baby sized footprints from paper and laid them on the floor to remind herself...
Cath wants to organise her writing things (see comments on this post). Now if she is like me she'll want it all done NOW. Actually she is more sensible and talks of taking a month over the job, which tells me she probably knows all about and practices baby steps already - but just to use her task as an example -
In the past I would set to with great energy and enthusiasm, pull everything out - the stationery, cards, stamps, diaries, writings finished and unfinished, poems, books about writing - while making a vague sort of plan, then discover, you know how it is, that I can't put them all in one place until I've moved other things from the shelf and to do that I need to sort the said things into keep and find a place for, give away, throw away, put aside to return to owner, and ..all these decisions soon tire me out and now I have twice as much stuff to deal with, and I feel overwhelmed and want to give up!
If I baby step it, I break the job down into tiny parts. The first part might be to collect together all my stationery from around the house into an empty cardboard box - and then, and this is the important bit for me - I STOP.
I've completed my task.
I've achieved something.
I feel satisfied.
I go and do something else.
When I come back maybe 10 minutes later, maybe next day, I have a little bit of a handle on the scale of the task and can decide the next baby step, and before I know it the job is done and , to my surprise, I've enjoyed doing it.
If you've never tried baby stepping you might try it on something you've been putting off....
Simply eat..simply draw....
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)