Tuesday, 30 July 2013

nigella love

 Who can resist at any stage?

Monday, 29 July 2013

A big lass

Meet Belvedere. She's quite a big girl as you can see from her size and a glimpse of trees in the orchard beyond. Once upon a time she grew through a laurel tree. She long ago engulfed the laurel and stands on her own completely dripping with palest pink turning white clusters of roses. Sadly they don't have that wonderful old fashioned rose scent, but they are so perfect for garlands, arches, hanging decorations, or just queening it at the bottom of the garden.

Monday, 22 July 2013

sunny days

The sun shines, everyone smiles, life is glorious. The fact that many of my plants are going a little crispy is minor collateral damage, in fact not even damage because it shows me what happens where in what is a new garden for me. So I have to say it's all good. And what a year to move near the sea, I feel so spoilt, able to get up really early to do whatever watering and picking needs doing and other morning tasks, then by 10.30 I can be down at the beach for a dip and a dry off on the baking pebbles, and home for lunch in time for the afternoon jobs.
Friends were here this weekend and we decided the world and his oyster would be at the beach so we went a little inland, to Mapperton gardens. A truly magical spot, one of my favourite gardens in Britain if not my favourite (and I have seen a fair few in the course of previous work) as it is both extremely designed and extremely simple, it fits in the landscape to perfection, combines formality with wildness, has majestic trees, stunning climbers, a good selection of herbaceous..... and on Sunday there was almost no one there apart from us enjoying the serenity and beauty. Sometimes there is a day that just feels so perfect you wonder if you will ever have another quite like it, a happy mix of all the right circumstances at the right time, in the right order, or something. We came back and had other friends for supper and played skittles on the croquet lawn in the dark. I lost.
And on Saturday there was a wedding in another magical spot, one of the little settled nestling Somerset villages where time stands still and visitors never discover. I just provided loose flowers for the family to enjoy arranging then took over bouquets and buttonholes on the wedding morning. I was quietly pleased when one of the family, who had worked as a florist, said they were the most beautiful buttonholes she had ever seen (a mixture of colours of rosebuds with phlomis italica, nigella hispanica, scabious, savory......) And the delightfully engaging bride wrote me such a sweet note this morning 'Charlie, thank you so much for all your truly wonderful flowers. The marquee looked incredible as did the marquee and I just ADORED my beautiful bouquet. You are a legend!!' Very kind! Followed in the inbox by a note from the week before's bride 'Apologies for how long this has taken but I just wanted to say a huge thank you for such beautiful flowers last week. We were so pleased with all of them and they were perfectly chosen in terms if style and colour. We have seen lots of photos taken by our friends and the flowers look amazing so I can't wait to see them in the professional shots! I'll be sure to send you some.'.....Also very kind, and I do feel a little chagrin when someone apologises for taking such a long time when it is only a week. Metaphorical slap on the wrist to myself as admin is not getting a lot swifter here I fear.
A rose by any other name and all that is not true. The rose my daughter and son in law gave me when they married is blooming away happily, but I'm afraid it smells rather tricky to my nose, musky yes but notes of something else that doesn't really beckon you to bury your face in its blooms. I can't remember which David Austin rose it is......

Thursday, 18 July 2013

My lovely churns at the River Cottage relaunch!

I'm quite amused to see that the main picture of the River Cottage HQ relaunch was my milk churns full of wildish and edible flowers.....

And it won't just be my churns but me too at the River Cottage Autumn Fair in September!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

busy buzzy

I seem to have been too busy to get to the computer and add to the blog. It’s been all go – in a good way. In the garden roses have been magnificent but many are resting now before a second major showing, though all my newer cutting roses are happily keeping flowering away – deadheading is a major preoccupation every day.
It was fun doing flowers for a wedding two weekends ago at River Cottage and a beautiful local church, there are squillions of flowers at the moment thanks to the weather though they’re blooming and finishing faster than we can keep up with the deadheading! Cornflowers are particularly massed this year, and ammi is just loving the weather and blooms are floating everywhere in the main cutting patch and in the beds. The big yellow heads of dill are also rather magnificent in massed splendour. As it’s a newly planted garden it’s interesting to see what is doing best where, this year anything with a bit of shade is very happy, but if it had been a year like last they probably would scarcely have shown their faces. Paper tissue headed little multi layered poppies are glorious, I know they are ephemeral but they are so beautiful they sometimes almost make me weep.  And they are lovely for a few days picked, just such a delicate contrast to anything else. Maybe best of everything is that they are alive with bees, hoverflies, all manner of happy little buzzing insects. There's quite a cacophony!
I provided some large partly edible arrangements in churns for the River Cottage barn relaunch last week, flowering rocket with dill, daylilies,  lots of annuals, gorgeous scabious in dark reds, pinks, purples, blues…… Perhaps my favourite this week are the nigella hispanica, their blues so intense and their stamens so pronounced and curious.
And this weekend there was a wedding in Somerset at a rather wonderful venue, Maunsell House. Peacocks and fading splendour and a wonderful garden. The roads were so busy that I turned off the main drag on the way back and drove slowly through the Somerset levels which was just heavenly on a hot summer’s day – attractive hamlets and villages, houses covered in roses, gardeners out enjoying it all with hats and wheelbarrows much in evidence, church towers peering through a gentle heat haze in the middle of a view that goes on for miles and miles without interruption. It was a real treat to be meandering through it all rather than my usual rush. I felt very fortunate.
Then back to an increasingly crisping garden, I am uneasy about watering much but sometimes it just has to be done. Even the phlox have been burning off but on the plus side the agapanthus are overjoyed by their prolonged exposure to the sun. I’m fretting slightly about the new trees in the field as they are exposed and sunburnt but I hope they’ll be Ok, I’m giving them all a couple of buckets of water once or twice a week and hope they’ll survive and eventually flourish.
I have had some lovely communications from satisfied customers over the past few weeks, it is so thoughtful when people get in touch just to say how they have loved a bouquet they have received. On the less positive side I have been getting a bit frustrated with lack of progress towards the sale of the house and gardens near Hay but it finally looks as though we're nearly there. I am certainly very positive about the lack of necessity for shopping at this time of year – it is the right way round when there is little in the fridge but loads in the garden!

Monday, 1 July 2013

bees bees bees and other wildlife

The garden is alive with bees. Everywhere. And today I went up the ladder to chop back the R banksia lutea that is coming in through the bedroom windows and appearing out of the tiles on the roof (not good) to find there is a swarm in the roof. The descent of the ladder was swift.

Last week I discovered it was an adder not a grass snake in the workshop. And little adders.

And I spent last Monday clearing out where mr and mrs rat had made their home near the oil tank.

Squirrels are dancing on the big lawn at night.

Moles are trying to burrow through the heavy clay and only succeeding in making runnels.

Deer are eyeing up the new trees.

Dogs are at least keeping rabbits at bay at the moment.

And int he gardens there are roses roses roses and more roses. Honeysuckles. Pinks. All manner of scrumptious scents. Plus campanula of all sorts doing really well here, peonies have been spectacular but are now sadly all but over, poppies are appearing everywhere, the little picotee ones that I so like as fillers. Cornflowers are flowering so fast to be unpickable, ammi is overflowing the box beds, dill floating above phlox and astrantia, ranunculus are blinging it, the only serious failure has been delphiniums which are worse than disappointing....

One day I will have time and inclination to take some pictures.

Meanwhile wish me luck rehoming the bees.