Sunday, 1 July 2018

Beautiful June

Hello again, it's been a while since I dropped by and in the meantime, the seasons have moved from spring to glorious summer. And I have to say it has been absolutely wonderful in these parts. The lack of rain has meant that watering takes up most of my evenings, and our new water butt ran dry over a week ago, but we can't say it wasn't a lovely June. The solstice and Midsummer's Day were marked by me as always with roses and candles, and I try not to remember that the days are now shortening, but prefer to focus on enjoying this fabulous time of year when the evenings seem to go on forever. 

I've loved coming home from work every day and heading for the garden to potter about deadheading things and staking plants. But by far my favourite summer evening activity of all is smelling the flowers, especially the roses. 

They have been beautiful this year, and fill the borders and walls with the most luscious blooms and perfume. Here's lovely Gertrude Jekyll filling the air with the smell of Turkish Delight.

This year was the turn of New Dawn to shine. We've lived in our house for 20 years now, and some of these roses were here when we moved in. I don't do much to them apart from pruning in spring, and New Dawn hasn't been touched all year. But it has rewarded us with a profusion of flowers this year, all scrambling around the front door and heading on up the wall. This photo was taken just before it got dark, when the pale blooms shone out in the dusk.

Here in daylight you can see the pretty soft pink of the petals.

It has a delicate tea-like perfume, quite different to Gertrude.

Many-petalled William Shakespeare was as richly-scented as ever,

and along with graceful Mortimer Sackler,  

a rose which the label said was Guinee (but which doesn't seem to be dark enough), grows up the back of the garage. It's also flowered more than ever this summer.

Our garden isn't attached to the back of our terraced house, as a shared access way and garages lie between them, a common layout for Somerset cottages. So my first sight of the garden is always revealed as I round the corner of the garage. When the roses are in bloom they frame my shed prettily.

Temperatures have risen here to over 30 degrees on many days recently, and while I adore the sunshine I usually like to find a shady place to sit. On a bench just outside my shed is perfect, and it's here that I've squeezed in a bit of crochet when I can.

The roses inspire me at this time of year to be creative, and this year I made a pretty crocheted wreath to hang in our house using Lucy's May Rose pattern.

I was very happy with the finished result, as I'd tried to match the colours to the roses that we grow.

Another rose-inspired activity was my annual baking of rose petal shortbread. I've made this for years, as you can see herehere and here.

I made a big batch and took some to work to share with my fellow teaching assistants at break time with our coffee. I had plenty left over to share with everyone at home too. There are five of us at home for the summer now, so the house is full again. J is home again before he starts post-graduate study next year, and B is here too. And our D, our youngest, is heading off to uni in September. 

I always think that if each month has a colour, then June's is definitely pink, and a deep pink at that. So many of the flowers in bloom in June seem to be this colour, and with them comes the warmth. This rose campion is a new addition this year, and it's flowers are such a bright pink that they don't look real against their silvery foliage.

The peonies were wonderful, and over very quickly in the heat. Blowsy and abundant, they were glorious.

There have been other lovely perennials too: spotty foxgloves;

yellow flag iris;

Iris Sibirica;

pale pink oriental poppies;

sunlit chives;

my favourite allium, rose garlic;

delicate purple greanium;

pink and silver spiky astrantia;

my first go at growing helichrysums

and deliciously-scented pinks. Their clove-like perfume is so strong that it drifts around the garden on the evening air while I'm watering.

Back to roses again, and the stripy, raspberry-ripple petals of rosa mundi unfold as the other roses are past their best and extend the rose season in our garden.

And here's a warning - if you don't like creepy-crawlies, look away now. This little crab spider has been living in the blooms of rosa mundi for days now. It doesn't make a web, but catches its prey instead. I found it holding a dead bee last week.

And I found this gorgeous white ermine moth on the side of my shed. Isn't it a rather sophisticated and classy moth?

Our tiny pond has gone from strength to strength, as I've surrounded it with lots of foliage this year to make it more wildlife-friendly. You can just about see the water under the marsh marigold leaves. I'm hoping that the tadpoles that have grown from frog and newt spawn donated by a friend are growing into frogs now.

It's been 4 years now since I started blogging and, although I'm not as regular a blogger as I used to be, this little corner of the internet is still important to me as a place where I can share all the flowery and creative things that make me happy and that I know you get too, dear readers. So before I go I'd like to say thank you if you still drop by from time to time - it's much appreciated xxx

Friday, 2 March 2018

Snow Days

Brrrr! It has been very chilly indeed here this week, culminating in the arrival of snow yesterday morning. School was closed and so I have had two whole Snow Days off work, the first in 5 years. Hooray! We've all been holed up here with occasional trips out to the local shop (where the shelves are starting to look rather empty) or the garden, and it's been very relaxing. I'm aware that it's not so relaxing for others who've been caught out in it, or who have had no heating or power, and we count ourselves lucky enough to be able to enjoy the arrival of snow. 
Not so lucky are the poor flowers in our garden which were just getting going in the sunshine I mentioned in my last post. After the first snowfall yesterday morning I found, along with some droopy hellebores and crocuses, this lovely double primrose,

and these brave little tete-a-tete daffodils. We've had a lot more snow since then, and they now can't be seen.

Our windowsill hyacinths are faring much better in the warmth of the central heating.

Out in the garden, flower beds and pot plants have disappeared under a blanket of white. 

And I'm making sure to keep the birds well-fed.

I've done a fair bit of staying indoors keeping warm, and baked brownies yesterday which don't last long in our house.

I love the way snow lights up the interior of our house and reflects back the light, and like to light candles which flicker prettily against the snowy background. However, by lunchtime today I was beginning to feel a little stir-crazy.

So this afternoon P and I pulled on our wellies and woollies, and set off out of the house into the cold air. It was strange to be out, walking along our road, surrounded by other walkers and virtually no traffic. Snow muffles sounds and I enjoyed that familiar squeaky sound of walking on snow. Soon we were into the countryside, in the same lane and fields we walked in here.

The fields had been transformed into a bleak, white landscape.

Overhead flew fieldfares, and redwings chattered and flew in and out of the hedges.

Sheep bleated and occasionally leaped and jumped, a sign that spring is coming.

Seedheads made neat outlines against the snow.

A tiny wren and a blackbird hopped along the frozen stream, out of the wind.

Out of the trees and over our heads flew a barn owl, and we watched it fly in wide circles overhead, looking for food. It was magical.

As the light began to fade we walked home through the rutted snow, and I was very glad we'd ventured outside. Before long it'll all be gone and the landscape will return to normal again.