Wednesday 19 September 2018

A New Season

Hello there! I do love September: the first chilly mornings; zingy late summer flowers; bright berries and ripe fruits; that smokey smell in the air; new pencil cases and stationery; cosy evenings; warm, comfy clothing; the first colour-changing leaves ... the list goes on. Summer is drifting away and beautiful autumn has arrived, and although I will sorely miss those long evenings outside, I embrace this new season wholeheartedly.

In the garden the colours are no longer delicate and pastel, but bright and citrussy. There's lots of purple, oranges and bold pinks, all against a background of green.

One exception to this is this white phlox paniculata which has been elegantly flowering for weeks now. Not usually a fan of white flowers, I love the cool prettiness of this flower and plan to divide it next year.

Outside the back door, our little side-return area is a place to sit and eat, pot up plants or read a book. We have lots of pots here, as there is no soil, and there are herbs, honeysuckle and container plants, as well as a fig tree and a mini greenhouse. P says there are far too many pots, but I like to have greenery nearby, since we can't see our back garden from the house.

  The mini greenhouse is where I grow seedlings in spring and over-winter plants, and in it is my little succulent collection which made it through the cold temperatures of last winter.

The roses are having a second flush now, and a moment of madness overcame me at the garden centre last week when I was there buying a friend's present. I bought two new roses at bargain prices and have no idea where I'm going to squeeze them into our packed little garden. Look, though - aren't they lovely? First a beautiful apricot-coloured rose, 'Southampton' named after my home town.

And next, dark red 'Souvenir du Dr Jamain'. Both are wonderfully scented and I was helpless to resist.

I've been busy preserving the produce I told you about last time, and made the redcurrants into twelve pots of redcurrant jelly,

and the blackcurrants into jam.

We had a cream tea in the garden to celebrate afterwards.

The garden thornless blackberries have been profuse this year, and I'm freezing them as I pick.

I made blackberry and apple crumble at the weekend which soon disappeared.

And thinning the apples on our little tree in June paid off greatly in the form of fewer, larger, sweeter apples instead of far-too-many little ones. I've been collecting windfalls and enjoying eating fruit straight from the tree.

At the end of August P and I had a little holiday together which I'll tell you about in my next post, as well as a couple of days out. The first of these was to one of our favourite National Trust places, The Courts Garden in Wiltshire. It's not too far away and we usually go there for an afternoon. It's a gorgeous small (by NT standards) garden which has an orchard, a water-garden, an arboretum and colourful borders.

There's even a lovely Monet-style bridge over the pond.

I completely fell in love with the water lilies. They're a plant which has never much been on my radar before, but I was smitten with the lovely deep pink and creamy yellow stars delicately floating on the glassy surface of the water.

Towards the end of August was our 30th wedding anniversary, and P and I celebrated with a family party, flowers, and a meal out at our favourite pub. I really can't begin to imagine where 30 years have gone, as it only seems like yesterday that we first met at university, and that's almost 33 years ago! 

Another NT afternoon out was spent at Stourhead, an old favourite of ours. Our grown-up kids still complain that we had too many days out there! But it's a place I never get bored of and love it in all seasons of the year. Again, it was a warm but overcast day - perfect for walking.

I never tire of visiting here and walking around the lake.

Here at The House with the Blue Door some changes are afoot. This is how our living room has looked for most of the time we've lived here, with a little Edwardian cast iron fireplace that had been left in the garage of our previous house. We had it cleaned and fitted soon after we moved in. We knew, however, that there was a fireplace behind the chimney breast, and we've often tried to imagine what it would look like. Now we need imagine no longer.

Last month we had it opened up and, my, there was a lot of dust.

Our house, like most of the older properties in this area, is made of limestone and we'd expected a plain, straight stone lintel. Finding a brick arch was a lovely surprise and very exciting indeed, rather like being detectives and getting to know our old home's history.

Once it was plastered and the bricks were cleaned, it looked even better. Our builder also fitted a piece of oak to make a mantlepiece and I waxed it to bring out the grain. I couldn't help arranging things on it, even though the hearth's still to be tiled, and the walls de-woodchipped and painted.

And adding fairy lights. As we don't want to rebuild the chimney stack etc, we're going to buy an electric 'log-burning' stove and this will make the room more toasty in winter. I'll show you when it's all done.

And the little cast-iron fireplace? We had that moved into the dining room where it now looks like it's always been. 

When it was first installed the littlest member of our household had a bit of an adventure. After my initial clear-up of sooty dust, I returned to find more on the floor and Clover running away from the scene of the crime on no-longer-white paws. Yes, she'd investigated up the chimney before the top had been covered and looked rather like Harry the Dirty Dog.

We had to wash her paws, which she really didn't see the need for, and later that evening she was sick. A quick call to a very helpful vet reassured us, since she'd licked decades-old soot from her fur, and by the next morning she was fine again. Her paws are almost back to normal now.

I shall leave you with some photos of the Walled Garden at Mells. P whisked me away there after work in the first week of term on a sunny afternoon for a toasted teacake and a pot of tea. The late-afternoon sunshine was golden, and the air was warm. It was one of those lovely late summer days.

If you've made it to the end of this lengthy post, thank you and well done! And thank you too for reading my blog. It's lovely to share the good things with you. 
See you soon x