GMBG – Wilding by Isabella Tree and Ant and Mary

June’s “Great Monthly Book Giveaway” (I’m pretty sure that is what it stands for) has been delivered to you just in time, on the last day of the month. I can’t blame lack of inspiration for my dillydallying. This GMBG introduced itself to me a while ago. But I can blame the postie as, although sent several weeks ago, this book is yet to arrive at its new home. This small matter will not deter me. We will pretend that it has been delivered and continue as though nothing is amiss. Silence that nagging voice telling you this is all a farce, another example of the rot embedded in our society, the relentless onslaught of deception and manipulation. Hang on a minute! There is no need to over-react. It’s just a missing book, I’ve confessed to the shortcoming and if it doesn’t appear I’ll get another one to replace it. Really, sometimes I wonder why I bother at all.

First the recipients this month. The ones who haven’t got the book. I have known Ant and Mary for a long time. Their son, Mike, was one of my first boyfriends. He was a very nice lad; I am sure he is now a very nice man. I don’t really know; I lost touch with him many years ago. But I have stayed in contact with his mum and dad. That is because they are also very nice, lovely in fact. They first knew me as a wet behind the ears, fresh out of Cornwall, innocent young lass, and they have always been kind and considerate to me. There were never patronising (when to be honest it would have been an easy thing), were interested in what I had to say, enjoyed a chat about this that and everything in between and were forever great fun.

This isn’t the first time my blog has featured this lovely couple. A few years ago Mary kindly wrote a guest blog for me Hat Guardians an indication of her love of the wilderness. A little while later they very kindly sent me two special books, as previously chronicled in Six on Saturday – Necessity. Now I am returning half the favour.

I contacted Ant and Mary a few weeks ago, to find out how they were getting on, how lockdown en France was panning out and suchlike. Mary told me that they were letting some of their land go “wild” and the bee orchids and Rosa mundi were magnificent. When I read this comment, a cartoon lightbulb pinged out of the top of my head. They would make the perfect match. After checking they didn’t have the book already, which they didn’t although they were aware of it, it was decided. So you see, they have been my blogging inspiration three times now. They will start charging commission.

The book that I am pairing them with, Wilding by Isabella Tree, it is one of the most enlightening and thought provoking books I have read in a long time. Or perhaps ever read. It is a story of the decision to return 3,500 acres of a West Sussex farm, Knepp, to the wild. It is no fluffy fairytale; along the way there are countless battles and heart-sinking failures, paired with many glorious successes. There are moral mazes and new roads to forge, and the discovery of other like-minded people from across the globe who provided much support. It doesn’t purport to give all the answers, and it leaves a lot of questions to ponder. Ones that we should be pondering.

There has been much talk, during these troubled times, of nature reclaiming the land, deer wandering into cities, pollution falling, flora and fauna thriving. Although I am sure this will be reversed in the blink of the self-centred human’s eye, it does give us a glimpse of what could be. Peer into Ms Tree’s book, and you will be given a panorama of what is possible, of how we can begin to right a few of the many wrongs.

Definitely a match made in heaven. I hope it arrives soon, or I might have to deliver the replacement myself!

Six on Saturday – Hot, Not Bothered

Well that was a hot one, wasn’t it?! First time this year I’ve said those immortal words “It’s too hot!”. They definitely weren’t ideal working conditions, there was a lot of skulking in the shadows. Someone who throughout our mini-heat wave was undoubtably as cool as a cucumber frozen into an iceberg, was our leader The Prop. Pop on over to his blog and all SoS secrets will be revealed. Most of them anyway. Pop over to Mr K to get the uncensored version. Of course, the warm weather seldom lasts for long and we are now back to a brisk breeze and showers. What the poor plants are thinking, I can only guess. Let us proceed with my Six on Saturday.

First, we have Lycianthes rantonnetii, AKA Solanum rantonnetti, AKA a posh shrubby spud. During my annual (at least) shuffle this was moved and quite frankly my dear didn’t give a damn.

Next, we have ginger mint. So pretty, but still confined in a pot to restrict its garden domination. I have the standard, not sure exactly what it is, mint as well, which is used for the new potatoes. I might give this a go, it could have interesting results. Or maybe tea?

Sciadopitys verticillata, the Japanese umbrella pine, again in a pot. Mistreated but loved. I often give it a sideways glance as I pass, wondering what it could be if allowed to spread its roots. At the moment it is heading for bonsai territory. As I have said before, I am not a great lover of conifers, except this one, and pines, and all the redwoods, and wollemi of course, and cryptomeria, and …..

Iris ensata ‘Moonlight Waves’ struggled with the dry and then the wind and rain. This slightly battered flower, one of only two on my new plant, is still magnificent. Next year Rodney.

This feather had fallen onto the leaf of a Japanese anemone that has worked its way through our garden wall from next door. I thought it looked like an exotic insect. Until it rained, then it looked like a wet feather.

Lastly, we have Callistemon masotti, scarlet and golden tipped. The terracotta pot it is living in disintegrated a few weeks ago. We hadn’t another one to replace it and as we were in meltdown lockdown, we couldn’t buy another. So my handy man about the house glued it back together again. It doesn’t seem to have minded a bit of gorilla glue about the roots.

That is your lot, take care of yourselves. Same time next week, hopefully.

Barricade

Mr Bun should know that it would take more than a few measly wheelie bins to keep me out. I’ve got past a lot worse. I’ve got past a lot worse here. In fact, just for fun, I leapfrogged over each in turn and then back again.

And if I had known this beauty was waiting for me, I would have done a double back flip as well. Perhaps only a mental one.

Rosa ‘Rhapsody in Blue’

I’ve had camera problems for several weeks. My Canon work companion had been abused too many times and was, quite understandably, complaining. Close encounters with mud, rain, dust, compost heaps and concrete is not good for any camera’s health. The lens had been scratched and the internal and external workings had become a little sluggish. It is possible that I am on a list concerning camera treatment. I seem to make a habit of this kind of cruelty; some of you might remember the Lord Mantle in the Pond and the Nasty Nettles incidents.

No time for sentimentality here. Mr Defunct was cast aside; a new model ordered. It arrived last week, with a little controversy in tow, being left outside the front door by the courier during a four hour torrential downpour. At the wrong house. Perhaps he thought he would do it a favour by getting it used to the life it was to expect with its new owner. Luckily it seems to be none the worse for this stormy arrival. Starting how it means to go on.

Six on Saturday – Excitement

Welcome to another Six on Saturday, I hope it finds you well and happy. If you would like to know more about this worldwide phenomena then pop on over to meet our host The Propagator (a little bit like The Terminator but marginally less violent). Shall we proceed? We don’t want to give that Welsh chap anything to moan about.

First, we have the ever faithful Osteospermum ‘Double Berry Purple’. It struggles through each winter cruelly exposed to the elements, whether wet or cold or windy or all three, with little more than a shrug. A trouper and one to have on your side.

Onto another stalwart of the garden. However much I mistreat this gallant soldier it fights on regardless. It is dragged it out of shrubs, the roots are wrenched from the ground and shrivelling spells are cast. Still it displays its virginal flowers to prove my ineptitude. Never one to let you down, I give you, drum roll please, the indestructible (through fair means not foul) bindweed!

Next, we have Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegatum’, probably. It grows in a narrow gravel border that edges the slabbed area. Although it is flowering well at the moment, contrarily, I chose to present the foliage which I think is equally as lovely. I notice that someone has taken a cartoonish nibble out of one of its leaves. Now who could that have been? Hands up please, or should I say tentacle up?

Now we have Bletilla stricta ‘Alba’ which although growing healthily has been a great disappointment. This year, as well as last, it pretended to flower, causing great excitement, but the bud disintegrated into nothingness. Any ideas folks? I have fed with tomato food, which as you know isn’t as daft as it sounds. Oh yes, and there this little chap who I thought was quite beautiful. Unless he is called The Emerald Bud Chewer. I might go off him then.

I don’t have much in the way of bedding plants, but these little trailing verbena turned my eye whilst shopping for essentials. Surely no one could argue that this little darling is not essential!

And finally, more excitement in the garden. After five years languishing in pot showing no inclination to do anything of merit, my Agapanthus inapertus ‘Midnight Cascade’ had got not one, but two flower spikes. I have changed my name to Thrilled of North Devon. That is unless the dreaded Emerald Bud Chewer comes its way. I have installed 24 hour security.

Another week over, take care my friends, and stay safe.

All At Sea

I went for a walk on Hilsborough today; a hill that looms between ourselves and the sea. It is National Trust land and a nature reserve, and at the top is an ancient hill fort, although to the untrained eye or uninformed this is not obvious. I was on my own, OH was otherwise employed doing something mysterious in the garden. It is usually best if I vacate the house when he is doing something mysterious, especially if it is in the garden.

I have walked up this hill many times, although possibly not as many as I should. Today the grass that flanked the accent was meadow-like, dotted with umbellifers and buzzing with life. And there were foxgloves, hosts of foxgloves. As I was unhindered by a co-walker, I headed off my normal route, down an unmarked path and into the woods. I have always felt at ease amongst trees. But as the way began to drop steeply a voice in my head whispered “never give up the high ground”. Naturally I ignored this whining and ventured down, down around a silty series of hairpin bends. “This would be great on a mountain bike”, I thought, which is odd as I have never even owned a bike and am a commensurate coward. Just bravado. It is as well I didn’t say that out loud or I would have had to suffer sniggers.

I passed gnarled thorn trees and banks of ferns, hopped over exposed roots and bedrock erupting effortlessly from the ground and admired lichen and wildflowers. Every so often glimpses of headland and sea were spied through the sycamores. It was still unfamiliar territory, with signposts that told me little except I was on a road to somewhere. And the “going down” was still “going down”. Which of course means “going up” at some point. Life is unfortunately like that. Eventually things began to look familiar and I was striding my way home. I hadn’t doubted it for a moment.

Earlier, before I set off on my expedition into the unknown, I reached a viewing point and looked out to sea. When I was a child my Dad worked in Canada and the USA for several six month stints and we would all miss him terribly when he was away. At the beach I would look out to sea and wave in what I imagined to be the right direction, as a reminder that his family were at home thinking of him. I always think of this when I stand facing the mighty ocean. And I still miss him.

Although this time I could just about glimpse Wales in the distance, so I waved to my Mum and John instead. Not together of course. That would be very scary.

Six on Saturday – Linkful

Another Six on Saturday and, with a little help from my friends, specifically my blogging mate Jude, I have discovered the link button in this “oh, so moderne” block editor. It seems fair to have used this newly discovered facility to direct you to Jude’s site where no doubt she has also, or is about to, produce a Six on Saturday. To catch up with the rest of the gang, pop over to The Venerable Prop’s site where you can feast on sixes from across the globe. Top tip: don’t try to eat them all at once, a few nibbles then return later for more goodies is how I avoid indigestion. I would recommend being especially cautious when approaching any contribution from a certain Mr K, he can be rather spicy.

One problem solved, another found. This seems to be my mantra. Now I am experiencing “the infuriatingly disappearing tags”, any ideas anyone? Don’t pass this off as fluff. It is an emergency. My frustration resulted in a bad word or six and a reversion to Classic Editor in order to sort it. Mind you, I have always been a classic gal. I have no remorse.

Shall we proceed? I think we should, it’s nearly Sunday.

First, we have another newbie to my gang, Fuchsia ‘Eruption’, seen here getting acquainted with the rhodohypoxis. I’m very fond of this form of fuchsia, which I like to call The Dangly Group, although I have suspicions there may be something more official.

Now Calendula ‘Neon’. This photo is possibly over-exposed, as it was taken during a full-on sunny abberation. But I liked the way it turned out, radiating solar energy with a patient bud waiting in the wings.

Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ was a gift from Lady Mantle. Is it still called a gift when you ask for it? Not sure. I am pretty certain she was thinking of giving it to me anyway. We shall never know. For those of you with wicked minds, you know who I am talking about, I did not steal it.

Rose of no name. Fragrant, beautiful and a pain in the posterior.

On to Primula capitata ‘Noverna Deep Blue’, with a wonderful dusting of farina on indigo flowers. This is kept in a pot and circulated with the other seasonal favourites. When its glory time is over, it will be hidden around a corner with the other has-beens. Until next year, when it will hopefully shine again. If only life was like that. Glory then rest, repeat. I could live with that.

And finally, Aquilegia canadensis with its delicious St Clements bloom. I love it.

That’s me done, another week all sixed out. Stay safe my friends, its not over yet.

Iochroma australe

It is always special to see once of your babies doing well. This Iochroma australe was grown from seed and now, with its pale sister, is thriving in Max’s garden.

I do wish I had kept one for myself. It could have elbowed its way into a corner somewhere.

On reflection it probably is for the best. Sometimes you have to let your young ‘uns go, to spread their leaves elsewhere.