I was once tall in Venice too..
PS Don't miss Lucille's latest post.
I was once tall in Venice too..
PS Don't miss Lucille's latest post.
I'm going over there now to view it again..
I'm taking a little blog break as I seem to have run out of steam! Lots of ideas but little energy to carry them out. Maybe it's the heat. We are not used to it here..
Maybe I should just gaze at the patterns on the water for a day or two.
Maybe I should eat less cake. (We had two cakes at the party! There were leftovers.)
Maybe I should just eat less altogether. I had lunch today with a friend who is a wonderful cook.
maybe it's because I still haven't caught up with my emails.
Any tips on restoring energy levels most welcome.
...and family care. (Women do make most of these choices after all).
I've opened my eyes and looked on something that makes me smile. I've listened to something that gives me a good feeling, now I must wash and dress.
Since starting writing Live Simply Simply Live I've changed a lot things I use. Soap, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant - you do know that anything you put on or in your body can be into your bloodstream within moments, don't you? So I wised up on what is toxic or undesirable. Parabens, phthalates - the list is overwhelming and confusing - a minefield.
I found the simple way through the minefield without getting obsessed or depressed was to find one or two brands I like and stick with them. I visited a health food shop and asked for a shampoo without parabens and the assistant waved her arm over the whole department and said 'All of them'. By shopping at a health store you simplify straight away.
I simply use fewer products and less of them. I forego almost all lotions/potions/cleansers/ moisturisers/toners/anti-ageing miracle creams/serums/conditioners/sprays/tinctures/foams/gels/scrubs/aerosols/whiteners/body butters/lip balms/dyes/bleaches/sunscreens/waxes/mousse/...oops this is beginning to sound like a rant! But all those unknown ingredients in my blood? No thank you. I'm also very aware that the residue of all these things goes into the beautiful loch.
I enjoy the occasional bubble bath, use a nice hand lotion on my gardening hands now and then but most days it's soap (a gift from Marseilles), toothpaste (Sarakan), shampoo (Faith In Nature).
Can you make a change today? You know, the one you've been thinking about for ages but haven't quite got around to doing? Do it for your partner's health, your children's health, your health...
The small changes add up.
There's a lovely new sound here today - the baby swallows have hatched. I can't see how many yet but can hear them when the parent comes in with food.
What do you hear when you first waken?
I am lucky to hear silence and a little birdsong, the early bus trundles by and the odd car.
That is a choice too - it wasn't always so!
What choice do you make? Do you switch on to the world's bad news? It's more than a bit crazy when I think about it. There is a tendency to forget that things are news because they are not the norm and we can get a wildly skewed view of the world....
I had a eureka moment once when I lived in a house on three floors. I was rushing downstairs to get out of the door in time for work when I realised the words Vodaphone Roadwatch were repeating themselves over and over in my head. What am I doing to my precious mind I asked myself! (I stopped listening to Classic FM forever when the presenter, after playing a divine piece of Mozart asked listeners to contact him and tell him their favourite pizza topping! True.)
You may waken to the thunder of traffic, a jackhammer or noisy neighbours, or children demanding breakfast or an extremely shrill alarm clock. Perhaps you sleep with earplugs?
You might like to give some thought to those few moments when you first open your ears. With modern technology we have almost infinite choices - some ambient sound, your own playlist, a different radio station. (I like BBC Radio 3 after the on-the-hour news summary) Something of your own choosing before you set off into your day.
Listen to the sweet sound of your very own breath. Celebrate the fact that you are alive - you are being breathed!
Its the choices we make.
(The only way to actually guarantee more happiness in the world today is for me to be happy.)
It's a choice i make.
When I first open my eyes in the morning I have arranged that I see something beautiful which makes me feel good. Flowers, always. A card from a friend, a photograph, a piece of paper with something written on it - for a while I had 'This is the day I have been given, let me rejoice and be glad in it'. The little baby food jar painted with spots is one of a collection given to me one Christmas filled with sweets by Laura who couldn't afford to buy presents that year - I have always treasured it.
What will you see when you first open your eyes tomorrow? If you have lots of clutter on your bedside table get one with a drawer in it, or put a basket underneath it and tonight put something there which will make you feel happy!
It's the simple things.
The morning of the longest day finds me on my hands and knees in the back garden sniffing the exquisite scent of a newly discovered orchid!
I'm pretty certain it is platanthera bifolia or the lesser butterfly orchid. Who knows how long it has been there waiting for it's chance to flower? I leave different patches of grass to grow each year just to see what comes up.
Everyone loves the mini-meadow in the front garden and a lot of visitors say they will try leaving a patch of lawn to grow in their own garden - even a metre square as an experiment might be fun to do.
If your soil is rich you may just get the coarser grasses but if you rake off the cuttings thoroughly each year you will gradually reduce the fertility and then are more likely to get the kind of flowery meadow we all dream of!
We're having a family party on Sunday.
Do you celebrate midsummer where you are?
My most memorable midsummer was in Sweden where they really know how to celebrate it!
How come your hostas are not eaten by slugs?
I do use pellets, sparingly, from when the first snouts show till the shoots are about 4 inches high and especially in wet weather.
What is the name of the one with the dark purple flower?
The hosta is Devon Green (lovely glossy leaves) but the flower is an orchid -dactyllorhiza elata - which seeded itself from another pot!
What is the name of this plant?
It is euphorbia 'Silver Mist'. Quite tender and it's leaves droop when it gets too cold or wet - it looked better during the hot spell recently. Very dainty.
What's in the bag?
Perfumed soap. The deer rubbed some of the lovely white bark from this betula 'Jaquemontii'. The smell deters them (and I painted over the damaged part with Dulux Brilliant White emulsion!)
I hope you have enjoyed this little tour!
..with replying to your comments (which I really did appreciate so much though I haven't responded to them all yet), food shopping, eating properly (I've just been snacking mainly), decisions which I've been putting off till 'after Open Days',writing my journal, a haircut - I so need a haircut!
I stood in the almost eerily quiet (and sunny!) garden on Monday morning after the two open days and I could still see it peopled with visitors in twos and threes,looking, chatting, asking questions, taking photographs, making notes...
It takes more than rain to stop keen gardeners and we were surprised and delighted to make £1013 for the SGS charities - Maggie's Cancer Care, The Queen's Nursing Inititute Scotland, National Trust for Scotland Garden Fund and Perennial. Considerably less than we usually make but in the past five events we have been lucky with the weather!
Lots of compliments - always nice!
One of the advantages of doing it early in the summer is that we can all just sit back and enjoy our gardens now - the hardest work is behind us but for a little grass cutting, perhaps some watering when the sunshine returns....
I did enjoy it and it has revived my passion for the garden.
Some photos tomorrow.
Imagine the scene.
Among the sixty or so garden visitors who braved the awful weather was a little boy of about four with a sweet face and blonde pixie hair. He was wearing a pale yellow raincoat and walked straight to the mini-meadow which is full of yellow cat's ear and walked slowly along the little mown path towards the yellow gate. I was talking to visitors and watching him from the corner of my eye, wishing I had my camera. When he came back along the path he had a yellow flower in his hand and a dreamy smile on his face.
Can you see him?
This morning's news that our iconic and much loved Glasgow School of Art has again been devastated by fire finds me in shock. I know many of the people involved in the restoration work after the fire four years ago, which was going so very well. I feel for them today.
Add to that that it is pouring with rain for today's Open Day in the garden as the poor plants flattened by storm Hector try to raise their heads from the ground....
My sister is coming to stay and tonight I dine out with dear friends who helped with the garden.
What can I say, except that I hope you are all having a better weekend?!
Forced indoors by the weather I finished reading Lara by Anna Pasternak. A fascinating and well-researched account of the life of Boris Pasternak's mistress Olga, the real life inspiration for Lara in Dr Zhivago which I've been re-reading.
It put my little flowery troubles into perspective in a most striking way! (Any good book recommendations would be welcome ...)
If you have been reading Live Simply Simply Live since way back you may remember this moving video. Though entirely different it made me think of opening the garden as a kind of tribute to Barry who helped me create it - gardening was a shared passion from when we first met. We created many gardens together, and he loved this one as much as I did, and do. I couldn't have made it without him.
I have breakfasted outside for a month or so but yesterday I had to bring a tiny bit of outdoors indoors for my repast.
The plants have it, but do I?
Flattened but not broken...
Heavy rain all night and 50 - 60 mph gusts of wind are dong their damage as I watch. Today is the day that all the gardeners taking part in the Open Days visit each others' gardens! At least we will be able to commiserate with each other and the winds should have reduced in strength before we meet here at 2 this afternoon.
I will go and do some baking - we can console ourselves with biscuits!
Latest. Today's visits cancelled.
Might catch up on my emails.
Well, it would be romantic if you could sit out in it but the midges made that impossible last night - but it was romantic to look at!
There are midges, there are tics, there are horseflies, there is weather. Our glorious sunshine is forecast to end in 50 - 60mph gales and heavy rain - just in time for Open Days Let's hope they are wrong again. It has been known. I am trying to be philosophical but I just might cry if it all gets bashed to the ground.
There is life beyond my garden!
I met up with friends to attend a talk by artist Barbara Rae yesterday. It was nice to think about and look at something other than my plants much as I love them. See her work here or if you live near enough do go and see the excellent exhibition at the Burgh Hall in Dunoon.
However, for another week the garden is still my focus....today edges and grass cutting. Crisping up the edges of all the beds defines the shapes and lifts the whole place.
There was a cinnabar moth among the flowers today. I've never seen one before although I knew they had been seen around the meadows. They fly during the day and drink nectar, and the larvae feed on ragwort and groundsel. I got a very good look but didn't have the camera nearby. It is so beautiful! A paradise moment.
Waking at dawn seems to be a new habit and i loved how the shadow landed on my W on the shelf....
Easily amused I am...
My temporary solution to the problem of the great space left by the loss of a lovely viburnum 'Maresii' (see this post) was to paint some canes and make a wigwam to fill the space.
We uprooted some golden hop - the fastest growing thing in the garden, but it didn't like being moved and won't cover the structure till later, so I added a clematis which I had in a pot.
Any day now I'll change the subject!
A progress report.
With a week to go to Open Days (see details here) I am still working pretty hard. It is too hot by 10am! Not good for the grass which despite frequent watering is not looking too good. It's also too hot for dividing and moving plants and I've been doing quite a lot of this.
However we're now at the finessing stage - which I love.
Things like 'lifting the skirts' (sounds very non-PC today). I love doing this with trees but it works well with alchemilla mollis and hostas for example. You cut back, from underneath and right to the base, any leaves which are touching the ground.
It does several things. Lets light and air into the bottom of the plant, prevents the grass underneath from dying off altogether, allows the lawn mower under to the edge and looks much much better -don't you agree?
Pulmonarias are finished flowering now and I find that cutting back to the base all the flowering stems and giving the plant a good drink discourages mildew (to which they are very prone) and encourages a quick flush of beautiful new leaves.
I love the contrast with the hosta leaves. All the hostas are doing brilliantly.
Today's rescue job was to reclaim the seat from the ferns and aquilegia....
You will see what I mean about the poppy being in the wrong place!
I like to think it has a certain charm...
I love the way this bed is looking.
Thinking about a poppy bed as attainable only if I had a bigger garden, I remembered the two herb beds I've just cleared....
I could have one herb bed, and one poppy bed.
Not very big but big enough for my three favourites and a 'Cedric Morris' and a 'Patty's Plum' with annual poppies to follow the oriental ones.
Spray painted the metal table and chair back to the original colour.
Ran out of paint!
..in the wrong place, floppy, messy, hard to move, every year I think I should get rid of them but..
..every year I let them stay!
If I had a big enough garden I would have a poppy border and grow 'Cedric Morris' and 'Patty's Plum' and from seed 'Pizzicato' from which I would select my favourites (This is how I came by the ones above.) I would interplant them with irises and agapanthus for a succession of wonderful colour. I could also have the Welsh poppies, the Iceland poppies, the Californian poppies, opium poppies, Shirley poppies, Angel;s Choir, Dark Plum...
Just as well I have not got a bigger garden. I'd be exhausted.
What would you grow if you had a bigger garden - or if you had a garden. I didn't have a garden where I grew up but In my first flat I had two window boxes.
I don't know where I heard the phrase paradise moments (it may well have been in yesterday's book). I Googled it thinking it might remind me. Google came up with luxury holidays abroad costing thousands, but my paradise moment cost nothing at all.
It was when I got a waft of scent from the wisteria and noticed that it has more flowers this year that it has every had.
It has been growing in a pot for many years, throwing out the occasional flower, biding its time but oh it was worth the wait!
We probably tend to think that paradise is somewhere else. But if you pay attention every day can have its paradise moments. It could be the smell of wisteria but it might be the friendly smile and wave of a toddler on a bus, the sun on your back, a surprise visit from a friend, the beauty of a sunrise or ten minutes to yourself in the middle of a frantic day.
It might even be that although life may not be the way you want it right now, you remember that you are not in a war zone, you live somewhere safe, you are not hungry...compared to some you are already in paradise.
What was your paradise moment today?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)