Category Archives: garden

Busy Doing… Lots

Whooo…sh! Where has the past month gone? After last month taking time to smell the roses, this month I can’t keep up with everything. Having switched on my “do something” button, I’ve found my lost mojo and am now in a spin with so much going on and am well and truly back on the novel writing track. But that’s not all! I’ve been inspired enough to delve into the paintbox once more, with a new piece in progress which is coming along well and am pleased with it so far. But not ready yet for the great reveal.  Hopefully, that will be soon. If I’m still happy with it…

I have also been getting to grips with a new writing tool on the computer whilst I write. You would think that was enough to contend with, but oh no. All my working career I found the more pressure I was under, the more I could achieve. The busier I am, the more gets done. And to prove the point, last week saw me revamping my website/blog, streaming off the gardening section into a new separate site (Kit’s Garden). Now all I have to do is keep up with it all as well as find time to sit back, enjoy the garden, and remember where and what day it is!

Ah, September, month of mellow fruitfulness and birthdays. Lots of birthdays including our daughter’s 50th. As a special card, I made one using several photos of her over the years. She adored it, as did the two grandchildren, whose birthdays are also this month, along with a dear friend’s, my twin sisters’, my sister-in-law’s. Am sure I’ve forgotten someone. Need to check. Back in a moment … Yep! My other sis-in-law’s. Boy, am I glad this month I also finally got round to setting up an online calendar and networking it across the three computers I use or I would have forgotten her. That would not have gone down well.

On top of all this, these last few weeks I’ve been figuring out and setting up a new laptop my nearest and dearest treated me to. Poor man, he was getting so annoyed at my constant grouching how slow my old lappy was. Well over 7 years old with an ailing battery, it had been a good workhorse. Lately fit only for doing online jigsaws, not that I’ve had time to do any this month.

There have been some pauses in the pace though. We’ve had lovely weather here in the UK the past few days. Enough for Dave and I to spend mornings in the garden. Taking time to read the newspapers or a book as we enjoy a coffee in the warmth of the sun. Relax a little. Do a little weeding, a bit of idea throwing for next year’s displays. Much needed respite from sitting at the desk too much.

I shan’t be at the desk for a few days next week either, as I am finally trundling off to Reading to spend time with my mother and sisters. Hurrah! It will be the first time since February I have been further than our local supermarket and I am looking forward to the drive cross country. But not as much as seeing my siblings and mother again. It’s been too long.

The four of us intend celebrating being together for the first time since last Christmas; to belatedly celebrate my mother’s 94th birthday back in March; raise a glass to mine back in April; and as I mentioned above, to celebrate my sisters’ birthdays next Monday. On Friday I am making them a birthday cake but, shhh… don’t tell them, it’s a surprise, and knowing my baking skills, it might not turn out so well. I might have to resort to buying one!

Must dash. There’s things still to do, such a shopping. The larder and fridge are bare and the freezers both half-empty as we’ve been without a car for nearly two weeks as repairs were needed. Thankfully it is now back sitting on our drive. So places to go and family to see before lockdown swings in any tighter.

Enjoy your month, whatever it brings.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Take Time to Smell the Roses

As most of you are possibly aware, we love our little bit of paradise that is our garden. It’s our hobby, refuge, vegetable patch and, where we spend many happy hours among the flowers, tubs and hanging baskets. Yes, it’s time-consuming to look after, but we never consider it work and the rewards are endless. Apart from watering, weeding, deadheading, lawn mowing, planting, planning, seed buying, potting on etc, we always make time to sit back, relax and enjoy the whole, no only when the sun shines, but through rain, hail, gales and snow from indoors, when I can sit for many hours (and often do!) watching from my bedroom window.

However, it is more than the plants in our patch that brings pleasure. It’s observing the wildlife that also shares our efforts. Birds squabbling over the seed feeders. Sparrows cueing for the birdbath, often playing “let’s see how many of us can bathe at once today”.

Over recent years I’ve been fortunate enough to be watching at the right time to see  Mr & Mrs Blackbird having an early morning dip before strutting around the lawn looking for breakfast. A greater spotted woodpecker who drops in sometimes for a peanut feast – I never realised how small this bird is – the same size as the blackbird. The nuthatch, a small, shy, blueish bird that also likes the nuts, as do the great tits and blue tits who nest in my neighbour’s holly tree. And always robins; often two or three bobbing around the garden or sitting on the fence waiting for that right moment to jump down and enjoy the mealworms I put out on the flowerbeds. The rare visit of a kingfisher (my favourite bird). And best of all, these past two years goldfinches have looked upon my garden as an all-day restaurant, so I always ensure there are plenty of nyger seeds and sunflower hearts for them, which the other birds love too.

But it’s more than the birds. Always we have of frogs, large and small, loads of tiny young ones no bigger than a fingernail when they first venture out. One large fellow lives permanently in the greenhouse, another in the frog pond – a flat-sided planter among the flowers.

Every year we have field mice, beautiful creatures that mop up the dropped birdseed, becoming almost tame and not scampering away the instant they see us. There’s slowworms too – lovely legless lizards people often mistake for snakes, which they’re not. These nest and hatch their young in the compost bin and in summer are frequently seen slithering among the undergrowth or across the lawn to seek shade.

Not forgetting the bees galore! This year has seen an explosion of them in the garden thanks to a large lavender bush that’s exceeded my expectation. They love it, along with the dahlias, poppies, daisies and cosmos we grow. And I mustn’t forget the caterpillars and butterflies, although this year we haven’t seen as many as usual, but that’s the nature of nature.

 

The garden is and always has been our lifeline, a calm oasis where we can forget the troubles of the world. It keeps us fit. It always makes us smile, brings happiness and joy. And long may we be able to continue that enjoyment.

Regardless of how busy or difficult your world might be, always make time, no matter how short, to stop and observe the world around you. Listen to the birds singing, and make the effort when and where you can to smell the roses or the carnations, or the lilies, honeysuckle or lavender. It’ll be well worth it for the good feelings it brings.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Blooming Lovely…

Having more time during lockdown has meant that I could finally get around to working on the garden and make some headway on the plans I’ve been mulling over for several years now.

20200602_091646Every year, inspired by Kit’s garden, I’ve always planned to get more colour in our garden. But the season passes and I’m still no further on with those plans, blaming lack of time. No excuses this year. As a result, the garden is starting to look more colourful.

I’ve done a lot of digging and replanting to make way for new plants, most of which I’ve been lucky enough to get locally from a man who sells small plants he’s propagated from those in his garden. I’ve also acquired lots of cuttings from neighbours after admiring their plants while walking Vivvy around our village and the local allotment. I’ve always found gardeners to be a generous bunch – always keen to discuss plants, share knowledge, and of course hand over those cuttings!

So, here’s a small selection of the plants I’m especially loving this year. My current favourites are the hydrangeas, anemones, and peonies. I also love cutting a selection of flowers and foliage to bring into the house. My offerings are still a bit meagre, but I’m getting there – and having a whole lot of fun doing so.

And of course when the digging, planting, and tidying is done for the day, a girl just wants to find a shady nook for a well-deserved afternoon nap:

20200623_134219

Whatever you’re doing this summer, have fun!

***

Check out Faye’s author website at www.fayeavalon.com
and find her on Facebook

Gallery

Spring Into Summer

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Spring is over but many of the trees are in full bloom. This one is amazing. The gal that does my hair has them lining the front of her house. The blooms are as big as my hand.  She said … Continue reading

A Tale of a Tree

Jillian here. It’s June already. Can you believe it? Time is going fast this year even with a lot of places locked down and folks staying home. You’d think that would mean time has slowed,  but it seems like every time I turn around, it’s Thursday again.

June in my backyard means it’s hurricane season. There were two named tropical storms before June 1st which sometimes happens. The third storm, Christobal, hit the Louisiana and Mississipi coast this past weekend. We got some wind, rain and storm surge because of it. We’re about 2 hours from the Louisiana line and 1.3 from Mississippi, so when the storms hit there, we usually get some of it and vice versa.

We have this tree at the office that got struck by lightning a number of years ago in the middle and you can still see the stump of it inside. The cool thing is that the rest of the tree lived and thrived. I think I’ve blogged about it before here. It means a lot to me that this tree defied the odds and kept on going. It seems like our lives are that way. We get hit by bolts—sadness, illness, death of loved ones—yet we keep going. Our core may be hurting, but we keep blooming. Each time I look out my office window, I see that tree and think about it. I watched that lightning strike and worried about the tree, but it didn’t need my worry, it thrived without it.

Tropical storm Christobal did some damage to my little tree, but it’s still standing. We’ll clear away the debris and leave that lightning-struck core (Picture 4) and new growth as another reminder that when life’s storms come, we can weather them. Maybe not in a pretty way,  but weather them we shall.
D3BD903B-8159-4DC5-886B-618B6A4E91948369CD68-A38A-4D24-B0DE-FF60850ED78FE1A36DD1-BAC8-4B6B-8406-57FE72E06F493E031104-3671-4439-9D22-7D417B4D95E6

Sunny groundhog days…

I seriously cannot remember a time in my life when I’ve felt quite so lazy. It’s easy to blame the current situation, and I kind of do, but what’s a little troubling is the less I do, the less I want to do, if that makes sense.

There are quite a few writing projects I want to get on with, but the gloriously sunny and warm weather we’ve been having here in the UK keeps beckoning me outside into the garden. Of course, there’s no real excuse, because I could write while sunning myself but 20200524_163458there are too many distractions out there, not the least being a certain little lady who likes the attention and keeps me entertained with her antics. In the photo, I’d just scolded her for repeatedly ‘stealing’ a tiny stone bird ornament from one of the plant pots and attempting to nibble its head off…as you can see she takes a whole lot of notice of me. Talk about couldn’t care less 🙂

And speaking of birds, there are a whole bunch of them that have slowly returned to the garden now that Vivvy isn’t interested in chasing them anymore. There’s a big, fat pigeon (I really do think it’s the same one) who calls into our garden every morning to cool off in the birdbath. He stays around for a while surveying the space, casting his evil eye on the smaller birds if they even so much as glance his way. 20200509_100344He’s very tame and doesn’t attempt to move or fly away when I hang out my washing nearby or walk closer to smell the nearby roses. He’s quite a character. AJ has told me not to name him or I’ll get sad when he decides to no longer visit.

So, all in all, I’m enjoying this downtime and just hoping that I’ll get the urge to do some work sooner rather than later. But today the sun is shining so I’m heading into the garden for another lazy day.

Stay safe and well everyone!

 

 

 

Orchid Love

For as long as I can recall, my man has regularly bought me flowers or a flowering plant for indoors, and still does. Then, about 10 years ago, he would often buy me an orchid. Beautiful flowers, wonderful colours, long-lasting – the blooms would last about 4 months with me looking after them as I thought best: watering only with rainwater, keeping out of full sunlight and, despite many saying to mist regularly, I didn’t because, well, spraying water is messy. The flowers would eventually fade and drop, leaves shrivel and out they would go, consigned to the compost bin.

A few years ago I decided to try to encourage one back into a second flowering, letting it rest, giving it a drink occasionally and kept in a cool place indoors away from any sun. Zilch. Nothing, not a sign of growth. So tried with another, and another. At one stage we must have had 5 or 6 plants the shelf in the lounge doing nothing.

It was at this point we decided it was time to revamp the lounge, so the plants were moved onto the kitchen window sill (north-facing).  They looked healthy but still no signs of regrowth. Then, by sheer chance, I caught a TV show where an orchid grower was being interviewed. It was like a light going on. A beacon. She explained how to look after orchids and keep them going. Nothing complicated. Nothing expensive. Hey Presto! Her advice works. We now have a house full of orchids in flower and one or two waiting in the wings for their next flush.

The rules: Every 7-10 days, plunge the pot for 30-60 seconds or until bubbles stop, up to its neck in rainwater (orchids hate tap water) to which has been added a few drops of plant feed. Expensive, especially for orchids food is not necessary, use any plant food. I use Baby Bio. The roots of the plant (they always come in clear plastic pots) will look white when the plant is thirsty, turning green when they have had their fill. Also wash off any dust from the leaves with the rainwater. Leave it to drain and enjoy some daylight for about an hour, before placing back in its potholder, if used. I perform this routine en masse in the kitchen sink, leaving them on the draining board. I admit there have been a few times I’ve had no rainwater, so will use either tap water that has been boiled a couple of times and cooled or distilled water I use in the iron, but only very rarely. And always give them a good drink with rainwater as soon as I have some.

That’s it! It’s that simple. I keep the plants on the kitchen window sill until ready to burst into flower before moving them around the house where we can enjoy them, mainly in the lounge, with one always by the south-facing window.

Several live permanently on the windowsill, including Triff, short for Triffid (below), because it has never stopped flowering on its original two stems for 2 years. It’s a little top-heavy as the blooms are large, but it keeps on going and growing. I suppose I really ought to cut it down so it can start afresh but don’t have the heart to. More, I’m frightened if I do, it will not reflower.

The real star of the show is this one on the left. Incredibly, this is its third time in flower in less than a year, on a new stem each time, each having more and more flowers. Last October there were 18 heads, currently 22, with more buds coming.

Those pictured here are just a few of many we have currently in flower. Each one is well-worth that little bit of time and care for its reward. We love them, they lift our heart and spirit every time we look at them.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Bluebell love and holes in the lawn…

I hope everyone is doing well. I’ve lost count of how long we’ve been in lockdown here in the UK and we’re kind of getting used to it. I certainly can’t complain because I’m locked in with my hubby and BFF (one and the same!) and our baby girl (four-pawed). We have plenty to eat, we’re warm and dry with a roof over our heads, and the weather up to now has been absolutely great. I know for some people it’s been and continues to be awful and my heart goes out to them. As Lavada referenced in her post last week: the storm is the same for all of us but the boat and the journey are vastly different.

IMG_20190418_192338_596During April, we usually take a long walk through the bluebell woods. Since, at the moment, we’re only allowed to have a daily walk in our own locale, getting in the car with Vivvy and heading to the woods is off the table. Last year the bluebells were amazing and from what I remember the weather was pretty good too.

But the bluebells in my garden have put up a lovely display this year. I’d completely forgotten that at the end of last season, I dug out some of the plants from where they were starting to overwhelm the small bed, and put them in a pot ready to plant up when I had sorted another space for them. 20200426_143002After putting the pot in a utility corner of the garden I completely forgot about it and look at what happened! Without additional soil or any kind of tending, they turned into the display at the forefront of the photo! Don’t you just love the resilience of nature?

If you look close, you will see the green upturned sieve with a plant pot on top behind the bluebells. That, my friends, is courtesy of a certain little lady who adores digging holes in the lawn. I covered the space over with earth and scattered some grass seeds but, despite a very stern warning, said little lady wanted the particular spot of the lawn returned to its former state, hence the need for the makeshift covering. Wonder how long that will stay in place? 🙂

Bets, anyone?

Gallery

Life in the Slow Lane

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Well, that was a slow month! And not because of lockdown either. Strange times, but the restrictions in place haven’t impacted on us as much as it might on others. For Dave and me this is our usual way of … Continue reading

A Time for…Projects!

Okay, these are strange times, aren’t they? I hope everyone is keeping safe and well.

Here in the UK, the weather this week has been a great help – sunny, sometimes warm, and it feels very springlike. So we’ve been making the most of it with coffee-breaks in the garden, followed by a bit of weeding and pottering, and even sitting and catching up with some reading.

20200324_120656Of course, Vivvy loves having us around all the time, and she’s enjoying walks with both of us rather than just mostly AJ. Like her mum, she’s a summer baby and is never happier than lounging in the sun. She loves the water, too, and can find a stream or muddy puddle at a thousand paces. Strangely, she won’t go near the little paddling pool we bought for her and eyes it like it’s going to pounce and attack her. It’s so funny watching her circumnavigate the offending pool with a beady eye and at a very safe distance.

IMG-20200324-WA0000I thought this cartoon was so appropriate for these times, especially since AJ is incredibly gregarious and when he says he’s taking Vivvy for a walk and will only be an hour or so, I know to basically double it because he’ll find someone to talk to along the way.

Like most people, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I’d like to accomplish during quarantine and here’s a list of some of the projects I have in mind:

  1. Redesign and re-plant one area of the garden
  2. Clear out wardrobes and cupboards
  3. Declutter the garage
  4. Take an online writing course I’ve been wanting to do for ages
  5. Finish writing a new romance series that has been on the backburner for way too long

I’m sure they’ll be a few more things to add, but that’s basically what I’d like to accomplish.

So, over to you. What are you planning to do during this period? What projects are you going to undertake/finish?

Maybe, when this is over, we can all share how much we’ve achieved 🙂

Stay safe everyone. Sending huge cyber hugs…