Category Archives: Nature

Into the Woods…

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. We’re lucky enough to have several woods near where we live and we make good use of them. And yes, there is usually a surprise or two to be had each time we visit. Usually, in the form of little wild flowers that I’ve never seen before and some that I have and continue to enjoy like this pretty mallow.

And then there’s this… I’ve never seen anything like it before but it was in the part of the woods that I always think of as the fairy glen. Spotting this in that area seemed particularly apt because it does look a bit other-worldly.

I love the change of seasons in the woods, but especially love spring when the wild daffodils and bluebells make an appearance. I’m starting to think of the woods as my happy place, as I’m really at peace when I’m there.

Vivvy loves it, of course, and I think her own happy place is when we visit the waterfall. She adores the water, and thankfully the stream is very shallow so it’s a safe spot for her (unlike a few weeks ago when she fell in a river and couldn’t get out – it put years on me, I can tell you).

There’s something so calming about the trickle of water. Which reminds me, I keep meaning to plan a small water feature for the garden. Maybe I should get on to that.

How about you? Where’s your happy place?

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:

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Whatever you’re doing this summer, have fun!

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Check out Faye’s author website at www.fayeavalon.com
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Spring Into Summer

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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

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?

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Life in the Slow Lane

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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…

Hobbits, anyone?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a J.R.R. Tolkien fan.  I love The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. My brothers are the same. We’ve each read the books, ahem, a few times. And we went together to see the movies. I even sent them quiz questions for a week before the movie premiere. 🙂

Since I have yet to determine a way to visit Hobbiton, in Auckland, New Zealand, that doesn’t involve a 14+ hour plane trip (which I may still make one of these days), I have to get my thrills locally.

I haven’t been there yet, but there’s a hobbit house in Washington State. And, get this, it’s an airbnb rental! If you want to read more about it and see pictures, check this blog:

PNWBeyond

Recently, I found out there was a real, live, hobbit house within easy driving distance, at The Brothers Greenhouses. So on a nice, sunny, warm day in mid-October…yes, Washington State gets sun in October…we took a drive with friends to check it out. And it was a blast. It’s tiny inside, not fully built out, but the door and the ambiance were amazing. After touring the tiny home, we sat enjoying the sun, then strolled through the many greenhouses filled with plants, as well as the gift shop, with all sorts of little hobbit and fairy village trinkets to purchase.

 

I did purchase a little something for my tiny whiskey-barrel hobbit house. A miniature whiskey-barrel (not pictured). 🙂 A little memento to make me smile. This was so much fun.

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Oh, and just as exciting…okay, maybe more exciting, my newest romance novel, Rudy’s Heart, released last week. You can find out more about it on my website.

Have a wonderful November, everyone. And, for those who celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving, have an awesome, tryptophan-filled, tummy-stuffed day!

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