Welcome Rain

It was predicted but you never can be quite sure, I have been disappointed before. As we slept it started, but in the morning it was hard to say quite how much had fallen. A morning at The Buns, planting in mainly mizzle with a little drizzle, showed just how little it had penetrated into the soil. It would have to try harder. And this afternoon it did. Proper rain. Welcome rain.

The Altogether

I’ve always enjoyed sleeping. Would it be immodest of me to say I’m rather good at it? Well I am, it would be my Mastermind specialist subject. That is until recently. My meagre superpower has abandoned me. In the past few weeks, months even, I have woken early, wide awake with no glimmer of sleep on the horizon.

There was no change this morning. At just before six I was up and about, full of beans, top of my game. I spent the two hours between rising and leaving for Nancy Nightingale’s, watering the garden, catching up with emails and the weekend papers (mainly looking at the pictures) and preparing for the day ahead, all whilst the nightbird dozed upstairs.

As I grabbed my work bag and headed out, I thought “I don’t think I’ve got my house keys. No matter, I won’t need them” and I pulled the door closed behind me. Something felt amiss. I looked down. Bare, naked feet. I had forgotten to put my shoes on.

Oh dear. Someone is going to be grumpy.

Six on Saturday – Linkless

This is my first attempt at a Six on Saturday from scratch, using the new-fangled WordPress block editor. At the moment I haven’t located the link oojamaflip (I’ve never had to spell that word before, might need checking, I did, it was wrong, I corrected it, no-one will ever know) so you will have to find your own way to The Propagator and his blog of wonders. I have faith in your navigation skills. You know you can’t always have it handed to you on a plate, it is about time you did a little work for yourself. Having skilfully offended both the members of my audience, I will continue.

First, we have Rosa ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, a Six on Saturday favourite. And quite rightly so; although not blue, it is a rhapsody. The contemplation of this rose has taken me straight back to Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, and the dolly bird pilots Harmony, Melody, Rhapsody, and Symphony Angel. How I wanted to be in their gang. It turns out I never even got close.

Next, we have a pelargonium proving to the world just how wrong they can be. Over-wintered outside, sited in the shadiest spot of the garden, and happy as a pellie can be.

A wanderer in the garden, Gladiolus byzantinus, is always welcome wherever it pokes it head up. And always a relief that is not another bloomin’ crocosmia.

The tough as old boots Phlomis fruticosa is in full flower at the moment. It may be that I just haven’t noticed it before, but the blooms seem to be held on particularly long stalks this year.

I have become partial to a begonia. It might be an age thing, along with cardigans. Whilst doing some essential shopping I spotted these trailing variety and they became more important than the toilet rolls. Surely no-one could argue that point? I was tempted to draw two eyes on this flower. But that would have been very silly, and we can’t be having any of that nonsense.

The big red poppy, archetypal, is holding its flower heads to the side this year. Another strange phenomena (along with the long stalked phlomis, in case you skimmed over that bit). Lucky catch of a visitor to the busby centre.

That’s it for another week my friends. Next week, flaming June. Stay safe and well.

Six on Saturday – A Catalogue of Errors

Another Six on Saturday, which for me has been the most discombobulating week since lockdown.  I can feel tension in the air.  Not in this house, luckily.  Not often anyway.  Strife is almost unheard of in the Six on Saturday Brotherhood, have a look at Our Guru The Most Properly Master of all Thing Prop’s post to find out what is going on in the rest of the world.  Hopefully all will be as well as can be expected.

Before we continue, I’ve heard a rumour, it is just a rumour so keep it to yourselves.  I wouldn’t want to get anyone excited just for their hopes to be dashed on the rocks of disappointment.  But still, there is a chance that someone is coming back.  But we must remain calm.  Let’s get on.  This week I am concentrating on my errors.  So good for the soul.

A few weeks ago, my Canadian friend Gabby asked if I grew any sisyrinchium in my garden.  I told her I didn’t.  Oops!  This is Sisyrinchium ‘E.K. Balls’, can you hear it sniggering at my ineptitude?  Quite how I forgot this little beauty is a mystery.

Onto Lilium ‘Forever Linda’, the one I mixed up with the stunning ‘Forever Susan’.  I’ve warmed to this lily.  I’m often inspire to hum the Luther Vandross song “Love the one you’re with” as I pass.

Yes, the boys are back in town.  The Bed of Anarchy is peppered with nasturtium seedlings, and they have now spread to the further reaches of the garden.  I was supposed to be vigilant.  I must have drifted off again.

Now for the heinous crime of  the “lost label”.  These are possibly a Rhodohypoxis baurii cultivar, or one of its mates.

Next a totally inappropriate purchase.  Yes another one.  May I introduce you to the magnificent Hydrangea aspera ‘Hot Chocolate’.  Fabulous foliage, and this shrub can reach 3m in height to show off all that beauty.  Never mind, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Finally, Geranium sylvaticum ‘Mayflower’.   Hard as I try, I can’t find fault with this one.  Ethereal blue, fine form, unfussy and very pleasing on the eye.

That’s it done for another week.  Keep safe and well my lovelies.

Sweetness

I had a nice walk to the petrol station today.  “Why?” I hear you ask “Have you succumbed to your pyromaniacal urges once more?”.  No, that is firmly in the past.  The answer is quite simple.  Waiting there just for me, with my name on the paper wrapping, was a bunch of sweet peas.

These peas, along with a welcome mauve nigella and deepest blue larkspur, were grown by my friend Pat the Field.  Times are tough for flower growers at the moment; weddings cancelled, farmers markets no-more, florists closed.  Being a fine ‘make do and mend’ woman, Pat is selling her wares at the local petrol station, where I doubt they will linger long.  Her flowers are grown a couple of miles up the road, organically and with love.  It makes all the difference.

After an interesting walk back up the hill, battling a roaring gale, I managed to get them home without one flower head loss.  Now they are in our front room, doing a fine job of decorating and scenting the room.  By the way, before any derogatory comments, flower arranging is not my forte.  I am a graduate of the Bung It In school of floristry.

If you see locally grown flowers, please buy them, support our growers.  And yes, that is an order!

GMBG – Playing to the Gallery – Sandra Moore

The lovely couple for the month of May are Grayson Perry’s book ‘Playing to the Gallery’ and my good friend Sandra Moore.

I have known Sandra for a long time, but not as long as some would imagine.  Before we met, over 30 years ago, people would say “You know Sandra.”  At first, I would say “No, we have never met”.  “Really? You would get on really well with her” they would reply.   After I while I would say “No, we have never met” in a slightly grumpy way.  A little snippy sometimes.  Unbenowst to me the same was happening in Essex “You know Mouse” etc.  Yes Mouse.  My college nickname.  It is pronounced Moose.  As in “Wee Mouse” with a Glaswegian accent.   But that is another story.  Eventually we did meet and were determined not to get on.  Of course we did.  Very well.

Sandra is an artist.  She is challenging and clever and brave and infuriating and kind and crazy.  And I love her.  We have been having early-morning-before-the-rest-have-risen chats.  It has been a wonderful way to start the day.  To share, to be honest, to be funny and a bit sad.  Together.

‘Playing to the Gallery’, written by the artist Grayson Perry, is a great book.  Many of you will have heard of Mr Perry, perhaps known as much for his alter-ego, Claire, as his art.  Which is maybe a shame.  He probably doesn’t mind.  A couple of years ago, Sandra and myself visited his travelling exhibition at the Arnolfini in Bristol, where we met up with The Mantles.  A lovely day indeed.  The company was obviously excellent, but so was the art.  A mix of textiles, ceramics, sculpture and motorbikes; my mouth may have gaped unattractively in awe.  Did I understand it?  Possibly not.  Did I appreciate it?  Undoubtedly.

Although no artist, I enjoy art immensely and often visit galleries and exhibitions.  It can be a bit intimidating though.  I am not well versed in the ways of the art-side.   Once myself and OH stood on an installation by mistake, blushingly retreating when we realised our faux-pas.  Well I blushed; I suspect OH was defiant.  ‘Playing to the Gallery’ debunks the Kingdom of Art in a way that is not unduly cruel, it is affectionately critical.  After all it is Grayson’s chosen world.  Or did he choose it?  Maybe there is no choice in these matters.

As can be said for many of the best books, ‘Playing to the Gallery’ is both hilarious and educational.   And there are pictures.  And it all made sense to me.  Unlike many things at the moment.  I am sure this month’s couple will get on really well.  Just like Sandra and me.  I do hope so.

 

 

Bliss

I eventually made it to Marwood Hill Gardens.  This was after a well-documented previous attempt, which ended in misery and heart-break.  For those of you who missed this sorry tale, or would like to practice their schadenfreude technique, here it is again – Moaning Minnie – Part Two.

It was worth the wait.  Oh, it was definitely worth it.  The gardens are of course closed at the moment.  Which of course doesn’t mean work has stopped.  Working at appropriate distances, the bog garden was being cleared of invasive watercress, led by the never-knowingly-resting Malcolm.  The remaining 20 acres was free from human intruder.  That is until, armed with notepad and camera, I strode off to disturb the peace.  Unaccompanied, I wandered at will.  I dawdled, I took paths at a whim, I scuttled off grid, I sat, I considered and I smiled a great deal.  It was sheer bliss.  As always it was a magical place, made all the more so as I was liberty to do as I pleased.  Within reason of course.  You never know, there might have been a few sneaky CCTV cameras hidden within the lofty boughs of those champion trees.  I enjoy walking around gardens with friends, chatting about what we come across and a whole lot more, in fact I love it.  But this was different.  It was a private experience, meditative almost.  And it was a massive treat, and one with a great big shiny red cherry on top.

Although for the moment you aren’t able to visit the gardens, there is a glimmer of silver in this coronavirus cloud.   The Walled Garden Nursery has begun an on-line serve.  For those in easy driving distance, there is a Click and Collect scheme.  Those of you further afield courier deliveries are available.  Sorry to burden you with this temptation, but really, there is no hard in taking a quick look …..

Six on Saturday – Hearts and Flowers

This is a special Six on Saturday.   Today was to have been the wedding day of my nephew Adam and his fiancée Jess.  Instead of white gown and morning suit they will be donning PPE’s, both at present working on Coronavirus isolation wards in The University Hospital of Wales.  I am immensely proud of them both.  I am sure they will be feeling a little sad today, so in a feeble attempt to sooth, I thought I would dedicate this post to them.  Be warned, there will be tenuous links, but they are all made with love.

It is only fitting that we start with a heart, the newly emerged leaf of Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’.  This small tree staggers on year on year, confined by a pinching pot.  Each spring, new growth is both a joy and a surprise that it has made it through another winter.

Now, as tradition would have it, Something Old.  Here we have the Helen Mirren of tulips, growing old beautifully.   Conveniently for the theme, photobombing from behind are a handful of violas, which are sometimes known as heartsease.

Something New is a double first.  A new frond for my new fern Cyathea australis.  Again, this plant is Jim’s fault.  I am definitely not buying any more plants.  However, I have just seen a very tempting protea.  One doesn’t count.

Something Borrowed, is a magnificent peony from The Buns’ garden.  The Chinese name for the peony means “beautiful”, which I cannot deny.  More appropriately to our cause, according to the language of flowers, it represents a happy marriage and good fortune.  Both of which I wish our heroes in the future.

Now for something blue.  Bluebell, obvs.

To symbolise our celebrations after the ceremony, I searched the garden for hanging vines or laden pomegranate trees.  I delved deep for sweet strawberries and lush ripe apples.  There were no fresh quinces or passion fruit.  Unfortunately, all I could come up with was a beer trap.  Needs must.

But everywhere there were hearts.  These are the new leaves of a dwarf green bean, Tendergreen.

And more hearts, this time Cercidiphyllum japonicum.

And even more hearts.  This is a young Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’, the name of which is most fitting.

For those of you out there clicking away on your abacuses, I agree, this is not strictly six.  It was the hearts that done it.  But surely you can never have too many hearts on your substitute wedding day?  If anyone has a problem they can contact my minder/legal advisor/fashion consultant/confessor The Prop and he will undoubtedly ignore you.

Finally, a message to the wonderful Jess and Adam.  Keep on keeping on, my heart swells when I think of you, but not in a bad medical way.  Shall we try again next year?

There is a plus side though, I have a while longer to get into my dress which appears to have shrunk on the hanger.

Stay safe and well everyone, ’til next time.