A few flowers go a long way - kitchen, bedside, dining room and under the lamp where I write my Morning Pages.
A lot of joy for a fiver.
Setting a pretty table for fast day. The tiny flowers are from the half hardy euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'
I am not getting fast results, but am still finding my energy levels on fast days are really good and they are fast becoming the most productive days of my week!
Is fasting having this effect on anyone else?
I am determined those new trousers will fit.
Continuing a look at my garden, border by border. (I will file all these posts under Simply Low Maintenance for easy reference.)
This border which is in the middle of the garden does have that wow factor I seek, which is surprising really as it is a muddle of plants. I have just been out to count how many different things are in this bed which is about 6m x2m. NIneteen! Oh, twenty if I count the underplanting of daffodils!
A bit like clutter in the house it just creeps up on me - a self-sown seedling or three, a gift just popped in there for now, a reserve of something I didn't quite know what to do with yet, an impulse buy I didn't really have a plan for, some are so buried by more vigorous stuff the whole season goes by without me seeing them - none of these good reasons for keeping them!
Here is what I'll keep - Cornus controversa variegata (the horizontal shrub/tree) and the shrub rosa glauca, geranium psilostemnon, geranium 'Patricia', one good clump of alchemilla mollis, one plant of geranium Rozanne to continue the adjacent border, campanula lactiflora 'Anna Lodden'.
Here is what I will remove - Iris sibirica, aquilegia (Maybe. They are no work and don't crowd out other things), anemone japonica, pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign', Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' (these last two were the ones which got buried), pink campion, angelica, a small geranium whose name I have forgotten, geranium praetense....
I'd like to plant more daffodil 'Thalia' in this bed. I shall just have to risk damaging existing bulbs when I plant them.
The plan is to cut everything hard back in autumn, lift them in spring - I may have a big plant sale! - and space the others well,. and mulch with composted bark.
A little pruning our of dead wood on the rose and cutting back the perennials late in the year should then be all that is required.
Are you making your garden lower maintenance, or is that not a priority for you just now?
Has anyone lost more than 1lb?!
Of course I don't really know where my starting point was (inaccurate scales) but I'm lucky if I've lost more than 1lb....
Never mind, I am going in the right direction, and there are 8 days to go of the 30 day challenge. (I know, pushing it a bit isn't it. Ever the optimist....) And my energy levels are still really good, which is great.
Let's see what can be done in 8 days then, shall we?
Do you think you can think yourself thin?
Looking at the plants which give the best effect for the least effort I see that this border is very nearly perfect in that regard..(although past its best in this shot).
Geranium Rozanne (sometimes called Roxanne) is a star plant, and one of the longest flowering hardy geraniums. All it requires is cutting back at the end of the season. The agapanthus are totally reliable and easy. I grew some of them from seed and have just been given a couple more good sized clumps (thank you Liz) which I will put into this bed. I will take out the viola cornuta alba as they do not flower much here, but will certainly keep the campanula lactiflora which looks wonderful earlier but has now been cut back. With a bit of tidying of the edges and a good mulch of composted bark this really is a low maintenance part of the garden.
I have a lot of new plants of myosotis - forget-me-nots, grown from seed this year which I will put in here and perhaps some Bleu Aimable tulips? I am creating more work as I speak! I can't resist experimenting!
....and the friends I have made here!
Yesterday I met up with Grace who has been reading and commenting on the blog for a long time. (I hope I won't embarrass her if I say she is as lovely as her name.) We met in the Botanic Gardens (see this post). I carried a copy of the New European newspaper so that she would recognise me! It seemed a fair assumption that she would be a European at heart as she lives in Paris. I didn't have to brush up my French though as, like me, she grew up and studied in Glasgow.
We had a delightfully long lunch at Kember and Jones in Byres Road (an old student haunt for us both) and a coffee sitting outside in the sun in the Botanic Gardens.
Whether here on the blog or in person I do have fun in the company of my blog friends....thank you all so much.
..with the WOW factor!
It should be possible, shouldn't it, to have a garden that looks fabulous but doesn't take up every minute of your time and all your energy and too much of your money?
(I have just agreed to open my garden again for charity in 2018 under Scotland's Gardens Scheme.)
So, a new category, Simply Low Maintenance.
Any ideas for a better title? The very words Low Maintenance when applied to gardening make me think boring - static dwarf conifers, slabs, hard landscaping....
The first thing I will do is list the plants I love which give the most impact for the least work.
I already have a good structure with two - betula Jacqumontii, the white-bark birch. The impact comes from the fact that we planted ten of them in quite a small space. Three cornus controversa variegata provide a dramatic horizontal contrast to these. See this post.
I would go so far as to say that these are no maintenance, so that's a good start!
Google Elizabeth Gilbert The Wrong Emotions for a thought provoking read....(sorry I had problems with the link).
And if you have time here is another interesting read.
The New European anyone?
There is a lot of fascinating stuff out there - it just takes a bit of finding sometimes and may not be found in the places we used to look...Thanks to interested Facebook friends for some of the above!
One of the things I am liking about the 5:2 diet is that you can move your fast day if you wish.
I moved it to Friday.
Just because I could.
The garden gets a bit wild in August and for the past two days with the help of lovely gardening friends I've been concentrating on edges. What a difference it makes to the whole look of the place. Suddenly it all feels contained and manageable again.
So lovely to work in sunny weather again - i hope you are getting some too.
..your bathroom scales need a new battery?
When you step on and off them four times and get four different readings!
So did I really lose those two pounds? My waistband tells me I lost something...
How often do you weigh yourself?
And have you lost any weight?
Gardening for several hours in hot sunshine today must have used up a few calories.
Day 8 of the 30 day challenge!
Not carrots but freshly picked brambles (blueberries) for breakfast with my porridge, though I did not have it till lunchtime. I can happily just have tea and coffee on the morning of a fast day then have one meal around 12.00 and another at about 5.30. (Two slices of ham and a big serving of stir-fried vegetables.) I've been surprised to find I have just as much energy on fast days (Mondays and Wednesdays) as the other days and have realised that that is as important to me as losing weight. My exercise has been pushing the lawnmower about. It is called Easyglide but it isn't easy and it doesn't glide..
How are your energy levels?
How is your programme going? Maybe you are having to adapt it somewhat, or perhaps you are having good results already?
If you have set yourself a health/well-being goal and a target, either a modest or ambitious one, do you plan to reward yourself if you meet your target? Or are you more likely to berate yourself for not getting there fast enough?
I definitely prefer carrots to sticks and am thinking of a whole day out (wearing those trousers which will of course fit perfectly by then....)
What will your reward be?
There is a huge selection of rucksacks on this new-to-me site called Zalando - easy to use, free delivery and returns....I have ordered a small size not dissimilar to this one which I posted about recently.
With reference to yesterday's post, this post epitomizes the 'style' or character I am now working towards in the garden. Simple (if not simple to actually do!).
Katherine asked which garden design books I would recommend. John Brookes Garden Design Book is a favourite. Based on sound principles, he really spells it out. Excellent.
Anything by Beth Chatto is worth devouring. She is an artist with plants, and her word descriptions are poetic. While wonderfully knowledgeable she does not spell out her design princlples in the way that Brookes does - you have to analyse her photographs to figure out what it is that she is doing that makes her work so good. In The Dry Garden is a little diagram of overlapping asymmetrical triangles which represent a system which she has developed and which earned her a string of Gold Medals at Chelsea...
Architectural Foliage by Jill Billington has very good illustrations of design elements.
Rejuvenating a Garden by Stephen Anderton is invaluable if the garden you are working on is not a blank slate. Completely trustworthy advice.
For inspirational design ideas you can't beat Andrea Jones The Garden Source (especially as it has ten photos of our garden in it! Thrilling!)
On a final style note I had my hair cut today. Yay!
A little experiment in black and white to focus on form rather than colour as i work on simplifying the garden.
I've removed an ungainly looking tree which i felt was making this area look crowded and fussy - still have a way to go with this corner.
I'm happier with this corner - the contrast in leaf shapes and between clipped and looser forms is pleasing. and it is very easy to maintain.
I am inspired to make some bold decisions about the garden!
Julia's comment yesterday reminded me of this -
Customer services: 'We are currently experiencing a high level of calls....'
The music they played while I waited the other morning was so jazzy I decided to exercise while I waited and jumped around the sitting room changing the phone from one ear to the other for the sake of symmetry - I got a full 10 minute workout before someone took my call.
It reminded that I have come some way since this post when my feet, to my disbelief and dismay, simply refused to leave the floor.
Choreographing my grief since my husband's death has been the hardest thing I have ever done, and is still too raw to write much about, but I have found that when I let it (the grief) choreograph me, I sometimes make more progress.
By that I mean that there is a to and fro thing going on and it helps if I am aware of when to make decisions and push myself a bit, and when to just be with it, to accept the pain of it. I tend to the former being a pro-active kind of person and basically an optimist, but the phrase 'don't push the river, it flows by itself' has come into my head at times....when I just have to accept that there is no way out but through.
The bottom line is I miss him terribly, and such loss as many of you will know has to be, as someone wise said, not so much accepted as accomodated and adapted to. The 'new reality' the kind funeral director called it.
Meantime I am trying not to put my life on hold....
Not wanting to put you off but....this puts my puny fitness goals into perspective!
I've decided not to let it make me feel I should give up, but to make me see that our goals are easy to achieve in comparison....Would you agree?
A very busy day.
This could be useful - that to keep my mind from dwelling too much on food on fast days, I work hard and get things done! Which also could mean a day or two 'off' in my week, not to mention feeling extra virtuous.
Are things panning out nicely for you too?
Those face exercise videos are making me cringe :-(
..which always had a special book waiting for me. One that addressed a current issue (that I maybe didn't even know I had).
I found Facercise there and it struck me that exercising one's face made perfect sense. We exercise the muscles in every other part of the body after all...why not our facial muscles? My book is quite old now (so am I!) and perhaps the before and after photographs are more convincing in the updated version, but worth a try I thought, and better and cheaper than Botox/plastic surgery/expensive creams!
It makes me laugh to do the exercises (which of course is also good exercise for the face).
I love bargain book shops.
(Call me vain, I don't mind. I like to think my face looks better than it would had I not done Facercise now and then :-) )
I think I will post on the 30 day challenge on the first few days of the week - lots of interesting aspects have come up - the idea of rewards, of self discipline, work/life balance, setting the scene, having a sweet tooth, finding a walking partner, how you can forget obvious things that once worked for you....Plenty to think about - so share your thoughts...
My next fast day is tomorrow.
I'm actually looking forward to it.
Stay with it, and us!
....on the road to slimmer and fitter!
I am going to make a point of setting an extra pretty table on fast days to extract every little bit of pleasure from my two mealtimes.
So far so delicious...
I have realised that by choosing the 5:2 diet I only have an 8 day challenge on my hands - 2 days each week over the 30 days. Yay! (I feel as if I've got away with something there!) They do say that one of the reasons for its success is that you only really have to summon up your willpower on two days each week....although of course you can't go mad on the other days.
My day started by sleeping late and almost missing my bus so I had no time for breakfast anyway! I had it at lunchtime, and dinner about 5.30. My exercise today was raking up grass and I had plenty of energy. I did have a busy day and that helped too to keep me from thinking about food all day - looks like fast days could also be the most productive.
Have you started?
How did it go?
(Baby steps are ok. The thing is to start.)
Here is another nice quote from The Fast Diet - ....take a deep breath and relax. Better yet, shrug. It's no big deal; you have nothing to lose but weight.
..to start a 30 day challenge today (see previous three posts)
Here are some encouraging quotes from the Fast Diet book -
You'll still be eating foods you enjoy most of the time. (Make that all of the time. I don't plan on eating anything I don't enjoy!)
The majority of your time is spent gloriously free of calorie counting. (I won't be counting calories at all as I am just going to use the meal plans suggested in the book - they look like my kind of food.)
Differing textures, punchy flavours, colour and crunch....will keep your mouth entertained.
Do it with gusto.
This suggestion made me laugh - Begin on a day when you feel strong, purposeful, calm and committed - Oh well, that will be Monday then!!
Can we do it? Of course we can!
Thank you for the great comments on the last few posts which have at least as many encouraging things to say, not to mention useful links - don't miss them and do add your own!
I do like a plan.
Join us in a 30 day challenge to lose some unwanted pounds. Or choose another health/well being-related goal and figure out how you will measure progress.
I have recorded (not here!) my weight, figured out my BMI (easy-peasy here), measured my waist (yikes! do you think Ikea tape measures are accurate?)
I have decided on what I think is a realistic target (losing 5lbs) and decided on my start day (Monday) and will shop for the food for my first two fast days (Monday and Wednesday). I like the look of the suggested meals in the book I plan to use (see yesterday's post)
I will also take another look at the favourite pair of trousers which no longer fasten, and maybe plan an occasion to wear them and what to wear with them - the fun part..
Here is a an exercise video from Scottish Ballet which I will get back to using this month maybe two or three times a week, starting tonight! (I find it much easier to exercise at night than in the morning.)
I used this video for a 30 day challenge last year. See how that went here and do notice how supportive and useful the comments were - people like you make this work for me - thank you all!
What's your plan?
Tell us in 'comments'. There's plenty room!
..less than usual on two days a week.
That is the principle behind the Fast Diet also known as the 5:2 diet which two of my friends have recommended. I think I will give it a try.
For 30 days.
I will read the book this week-end and start on Monday. That will give me time to shop.
What approach will you take? Will you repeat something that has worked for you in the past? Or try something different? Or also try the Fast Diet? Maybe your health/wellbeing-related goal won't be losing weight - having more energy, keeping weight on....you might spend some time over the weekend deciding on a realistic target for yourself and getting ready to start on Monday?
One of the things the authors Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer say is 'once you make a public commitment you are much more likely to stick with it.'
So join us in the comments - together we can do it! Your comments so far have been so energising! Yay!
NB The Weebly format does not always let you post a reply to a comment immediately below the comment - so if it gets a bit muddly just post your comment anyway! We are all smart people. We will work it out. The important thing is that we talk to one another, don't you think?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)