Wrong and Right


Today I went to Nancy Nightingale’s for a singing lesson.  Unfortunately I am booked in for tomorrow.  The wrong day.  Embarrassing.  It has happened before.

So without pause, ostensibly to divert attention away from my stupidity and inability to read a diary, I am going to share a picture of Cephalaria gigantea.  Definitely one hundred percent right.

Seed glorious seed


For those of you not in the know, the Hardy Plant Society is an organisation that promotes and protects hardy plants.  Perhaps you had worked that much out.  Each year a selection of its generous and knowledgeable members donate seed which is distributed amongst us locusts.  After hearing that our Six on Saturday leader The Propagator received his package early yesterday morning, I set up camp by the front door with a thermos of piña colada and a family sized bar of Kendal mint cake.  Luckily, as my emergency rations didn’t last long, I only had minutes to wait until my delivery arrived.  And here they are, my little nuggets of potential.  Some I had to look up again as I had forgotten what they were.  Each and every one a good choice.


Six on Saturday – Keeping Focused


It is incredible that I can manage to write anything at the moment.  The reason for my distraction is that seed from the Hardy Plant Society has arrived and I am very excited.   Possibly unnaturally so.  More of that tomorrow, today I must try to stay focused because it is of course Six on Saturday.   I missed last week and I am afraid I will be named and shamed or even worse, no one notices, if I don’t contribute.  For those of you who wish to join this not-so-secret sect pop over to the blog of our guru The Propagator and you will find out all about it.  Don’t send him any money though, he has all mine already.

Firstly we have some hydrangea flowers, well the battered husks anyway.  There are a few remnants left and I have begun thinking about pruning them.  Don’t cry out in fear my friends, the “thinking” is only stage one, the “actually doing” could be a few weeks down the line, by then hopefully the cold winds will have abated and the buds will be safe.


Next is a crocosmia shoot.  Anyone who has been listening will know that I am often cursing this sneaky cormous individual.  Many hours have been spent digging up montbretia, only for them to return the next year, if not sooner.  This one is however a little different.  It is Crocosmia ‘Coleton Fishacre’, syn. C. ‘Gerbe d’Or’, a wonderful (and well behaved) creature.  Rich olive green leaves set off the warmest of apricot flowers perfectly.  A gift from the lovely Hero, I am very happy to grow it again.


Number three is a new garden resident, he is standing guard at the base of a Japanese acer, hopefully scaring away predators.


Now onto Rosmarinus officinalis, just a bog standard Rosemary.  But it is very special to us.  Our beautiful Charlie cat, who features in the header of this blog, is buried beneath it.  She loved to sit underneath the large, gnarled and woody, specimen we have in the garden.  I often wondered if the fragrant oils soothed her as she slept, as now her place is taken by other visiting felines.  Charlie was left behind when our neighbours moved house and we took her in.  Before coming to us she lived outside for years, ever since they bored of her and got a puppy instead and the two could not live in tandem.  I like to think her final years with us were happy.  She soon became accustomed to laps and fires and cuddles and sofas.  Bless her.

Pelargonium cordifolium

Outside the back door I have a huddle of plants, that in a perfect world would be in a greenhouse, but as we all know it is far from that.  So I have herded them together for warmth.  One of these is Pelargonium cordifolium var. rubrocinctum (apologies).  It is statuesque, standing proudly in spite of its circumstances, and so far has not faltered in the winter weather.


Finally a horseshoe.  We bought this, and a couple of others, from a cardboard box of assorted sizes at National Trust property Arlington Court.  Here they have an amazing carriage collection and some magnificent horses to pull them.  Some say the shoes should be displayed prongs up in order to catch the luck, some say the prongs should be pointing downward to stop luck escaping.  Who knows?  Perhaps I will try turning them around and wait for the lottery win.  Or perhaps this life I have is considered lucky enough to be counted as lucky and I will be doomed if I move them.  I think I will leave well alone.

That, is that, my Six on Saturday.  Thanks Mr P.  Hopefully, if the horseshoes allow, I will be back same time next week.  If not, the puzzle may well have been solved.




Featuring: Mr and Mrs Bun


Here is one of my favourite corners of Mr and Mrs Bun’s garden and this photo was taken in August 2016.  The steps lead down towards Garden Room, bypassing the top section of the garden.  The soil here is typical builder’s residue.  This detritus is so prevalent these days that I think the powers that be should accept this as an official category along with clay, silt and sand.  We have improved the structure and fertility as we can, adding compost and seaweed fertiliser, and for all its bricks and string and nails this sunny little corner seems to thrive.  Each year the permanent planting is supplemented by itinerants, such as dahlias and annual rudbeckia.  This particular year the burgeoning beauties were held back by a low hedge of Tagetes ‘Lemon Gem’ which provided not only colour but fragrance.  Lovely.  My cockles are warmed.



When I was visiting the hairdressers the other day (no, contrary to appearances I don’t cut it myself with blunt Felcos) a conversation ensued about reading.  It went something like this:

Other customer to her stylist (she was having sun-kissed highlights so in for the long haul):  “No I don’t need a magazine thank you, I have bought a book with me” then looking over in our direction “have you read this one? its a real page turner”.

My hairdresser: “I don’t read books”

Me: “What?  You don’t read books, you heathen, desist from hacking at my hair this very moment, get straight to the library and mend your wicked ways!”.

Of course I am not really that judgemental, but I did suggest that she might give it a go, she might even enjoy it.  Personally I have had gleaned so much pleasure from books that I am always ready to champion their value.

I have always enjoyed reading, since an early age I have been an addict.  I would diligently read to my, less than keen, younger brother.  Whether he liked it or not.  Mostly not.  I have rarely faltered.  I have read and read and read.  Classics, contemporaries, experimental, poetry, fact, fiction, fictional fact, concise, verbose, funny, tragic.  On only two occasions has there been a gap.  Once, whilst travelling in Europe, when all our possessions were carried on our backs, our books were soon read and left for others to find.  When we reached our oasis, the magical hamlet Brugaroilles, we read the book shelves from left to right.  Alistair McLean, Daphne du Maurier, Christopher Lloyd and John Irvine, a few of the authors we systematically swept through.  There was also a short period when I found it impossible to read.  It was when I had just began writing myself and found reading established, published authors, disconcerting, the urge to compare irresistible and daunting.  I soon recovered from this small vanity.

This hunger hasn’t waned.  Scattered around the house there are those in waiting.  Piles of assorted books, their contents hidden for the moment.  When I am chastised I try to explain that to me they are like a box of chocolates.  When the current book is finished I relish the joyful decision as to which should be sampled next.

However, unless I am travelling, I rarely read except at the end of the day in bed.  This has become an unswerving routine.  I have to be very tired to miss it, even just two pages, even if I have to re-read them the next day, it is essential.

Today was different.  With chore list abandoned, I sat silent, unhindered or disturbed, and read one hundred pages of Cider House Rules.  It was bliss.

A meadow of snakes

snake's head fritillary

The hail is flamenco-ing on the velux and I am remembering happy days.

This photo was taken at the very end of March 2016 at Holbrook Garden. I was visiting this wild and wonderful garden with the grand dame of Little Ash, Helen.  A meadow of Fritillaria meleagris, the snake’s head fritillary, was particularly spectacular, with its nodding heads of mottled purple interspersed on occasion with an albino specimen.  Great beauty indeed.