In a Vase on Monday: The Sun and the Moon

With abundant spring sunshine and a full moon tonight, yellow and white are the colours I chose to put in a vase today, as I join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her weekly meme.

When I look at the night sky I love to think that some of you – hundreds of miles away – may be looking at that same sky or moon. And a connection is there…

I also chose a round vase to echo my thoughts… the sun, moon and the globe itself.

My yellow Hellebore ‘Frühlingssonne’ (Spring Sunshine) really took off this year, after just two winters in the garden. It is fading now, but I like it at this stage best as the heads turn slightly upwards and can be seen better.

The vase contains a mix of various Narcissi, including the lovely creamy multiple flower ‘Cheerfulness’, and below you can also see a little white Pulmonaria in the foreground; the label is long gone, but it could be either ‘Sissinghurst White’  or – perhaps more appropriately – ‘Mrs Moon’.

😀

My cowslips have lovely tall stems this year, so are ideal for picking, and I also cut just one of these lovely yellow double tulips.

Other flowers and foliage included are Mahonia, some early summer snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ – see below), Golden Euonymus, and some starry white Omphalodes verna ‘Alba’.

 I look forward to finding out what is in other Monday vases around the world later today.

And if it is a clear sky for you tonight, do take a glance up at the full moon and perhaps you will understand what I mean…

🌝

Looking Back

It was a strange summer for me this year; our beautiful old Irish wolfhound, who had been such a major and joyful part of our lives for almost ten years, died in early July. Hence the blogging break for a couple of months as I came to terms with that and all the ensuing changes.

Not only that, it was extremely hot and dry – the third hottest summer on record here, and the driest in over 50 years. I almost gave up on the garden as it shrivelled and burnt, with temperatures in the mid-30s all through July and August (apart from just a couple of cooler days in between.) We do not have a well in our garden, since we live on a very rocky hill, so watering long-term is not an option.

But then a last-minute attempt to save it with several evenings with the sprinkler proved a success and almost everything survived! Even my new dwarf Buddleia “Buzz Velvet” rewarded me with flowers after the first buds had been singed and failed to open.

Buddleia

Although the heat forced me to be physically inactive, I did spend some quality time with my family, partner and our other dog. I  also leisurely browsed blog posts, admiring your beautiful vases and gardens, while my fingers were kept active crocheting – yes, a new hobby of mine. My summer project was very calming, inspired by Eliza when she posted a vase photographed on a beautiful vintage pansy doily (Eliza’s Doily) in June. (Thanks again Eliza!) My sister helped me immensely, actually tracking down the original pattern in a 1949 pamphlet that some kind soul had scanned in and put on the internet!

My version is somewhat different, but I am quite pleased with it…

Doily

Another of Eliza’s posts was simply magical – do take a look at it here before summer is over: Lazy Summer Afternoon .

I thoroughly enjoyed all of Jason’s Tithonia posts this summer (Garden in a City) where he showed us his Mexican Sunflowers getting taller – I just love the way he describes how he deadheads them and would like someone to ring a bell each time he snips off a dead flower! (Jason’s Tithonias). A big thank you Jason, for introducing me to this plant last summer. I grew mine from seed and absolutely adore them – as do the bees and other insects!

Tithonia2

I also enjoyed reading about Cathy’s challenge to herself to not buy any plants next year… one I will not be joining in with as I do not have that same self-discipline but also because I need to make changes in the rockery to grow more drought-tolerant plants. Good luck Cathy!

EarthWalker2

Then I followed Christina’s plans for changing her view from her terrace – which she is already putting into action. Her planting has inspired me over the years, as she also has very dry summers and long periods of intense heat in her Italian garden.

Cosmos1

Annette’s Book, “Gartenträume”, has finally been published. Sadly it is only available in German (at the moment?) but I am taking great pleasure in reading about the gardens she has focused on  – including her own. Exquisite photography and a truly wonderful way with words makes this a joy to read. Well done Annette! If you speak German then do take a look at it here.

Valentine

Weather watching from a Scottish Croft Garden, glimpses of a Norwegian summer, Monday vases (Wild Daffodil gave us the tip to type in “In a vase on Monday” in Google Images – what a lovely sight!), butterflies and rainbows, hummingbirds and bloggers’ flings, all kept me well-entertained during my break. So THANK YOU fellow bloggers!

Cosmos2

Hope you all had a good summer, and thanks for dropping by.

🙂

 

 

 

The International Year of Soils

Did you know that 2015 has been designated International Year of Soils by the United Nations?

Logo of International Year of Soils 2015

I was a bit slow reacting to this, but then I finally got round to reading a few articles about it. And they got me thinking…

~~

“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
~~

SOIL

DIRT        EARTH

MUD     MUCK

COMPOST

It is under our feet, maybe covered with concrete, gravel or tarmac, but it is everywhere and we rarely give it a thought. Okay, if you’re a gardener then you probably do think about it. You think about it being acid or alkaline, sandy or clay, stony, rich, poor, fertile, compact, organic and maybe a few more adjectives spring to mind. But on a grander scale what about soil erosion or desertification, contamination and pollution, soil degradation, increased salinity, soil management in developing countries…?

The aim of the IYS is to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions

Raising awareness is only the first step. After all, we are all very aware of global climate change and yet our governments still refuse to sign this or that agreement, to invest more in renewable energy, or to reduce subsidies for blatantly environmentally-damaging products and processes. But it is an important step as, at the end of the day, it is down to individuals to bring about change.

~~

“The fate of the soil system depends on society’s willingness to intervene in the market place, and to forego some of the short-term benefits that accrue from ‘mining’ the soil so that soil quality and fertility can be maintained over the longer term.”

Eugene Odum (US biologist known for his pioneering work on ecosystem ecology)

~~

The next stage promoted by this awareness campaign is to educate people about how important soil is for our ecosystems as a whole and how it affects not only our health, but also our economic welfare; sustainable soil management is the practical form of this educational process and must be invested in – worldwide – with the support of government policies and protective legislation.

The EU – after many years of deliberation – still does not have a cohesive soil governance policy, relying only on environmental policies and legislation of member states. Do we need a single policy? Or should soil governance be a regional issue? After all, the effects of poor soil management can have global repercussions…

~

~

One square metre of rich soil can harbour as many as 1,000,000,000 organisms, including nematodes, bacteria, slugs, insects etc

~

I Heart Soil English Image - Small

In Germany I have only been able to find a few events taking place to celebrate the Year of Soils – mostly rather dry-sounding lectures in distant cities.  But I have found a few links to interesting sites. In particular this one: http://saveoursoils.com/en

Please take a look at it. There is a wealth of information here, with some great short videos and a list of things you can do to help;

Buy organic

Garden organically

Eat less meat

Compost

Look out for more information and pass it on!

(e.g. Write a blog post about it, however long or short, or simply add a couple of links to interesting articles or videos)

~~~

Did you know that earthworms can deposit up to 10 kilos per square metre per year of valuable worm droppings in the soil?

(Neither did I! 😉 )

~~~

“We are able to breathe, drink, and eat in comfort because millions of organisms and hundreds of processes are operating to maintain a liveable environment, but we tend to take nature’s services for granted because we don’t pay money for most of them.”

Eugene Odum

Here are some other links. There really is so much information online, so this is just a selection of what I found recently:

Earthworm Society of Britain

Global Soil Week

Video “Support World Soil Day”

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

The International Union of Soil Sciences

http://www.soilassociation.org/internationalyearofsoils

 So, have I got YOU thinking too now? I do hope so!

The Weary Garden(er)

OrangePassion1

Live each day as if it were your last, and garden as though you will live forever.

(Author Unknown)

~~~

After two years of posting a Tuesday view it was very strange not to do so this week… but the view is getting ugly and I am tired of it. On Monday I had cut back most of the shrinking plants and finished mulching with shredded leaves – not a pretty sight! Perhaps I will come up with a new view in spring, but for now it’s time for hibernation reflection and dreaming of warm spring sunshine and colour!

SpringCorner1stApril

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.

(Henry David Thoreau)

~~~

Whilst tidying up I noticed that the Centranthus, which still had a couple of flowers on it, was already sprouting new leaves from the base. I am always amazed at how few Centranthus plants there are that fill the whole rockery in summer. One small plant that got pulled up by mistake has been replanted and I hope I will now have those red flowers all summer on the west side of the rockery too. I also noticed some Hellebore flowers and a few grape hyacinth leaves, although most of the garden is now looking brown and bare. But wasn’t it glorious in the summer!

TuesdayView1st01

What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

(Author Unknown)

~~~

In December I shall be quietly reflecting on the year in my garden and will share a few of my favourite moments. It would be lovely if any of you would like to join me and also share some of your best memories of your gardens in 2014.

What do you say?

🙂

Just Beeing

A hot July afternoon

JustBeeing1

And the garden is buzzing

JustBeeing2

Lazily

JustBeeing5

Hazily

JustBeeing6

There’s climbing

JustBeeing3

And ambling

JustBeeing4

And bumbling

JustBeeing7

And swinging

in the hammock

Swinging

That last picture surprised you didn’t it?! 😉

This is the nearest I will get to posting a “selfie”, which was the recent subject of a great post by my dear blogging friend Nancy at “Life is Color“. Nancy also wrote a post about why she writes, after I invited her to take part in the blog hop. Take a look at her site some time. It’s precious!

🙂

Blog Hopping: Why I Write

"What's a blog hop?"

“What’s a blog hop?”

If, like me, you had never heard of a Blog Hop before, it simply entails writing a post based on a few prompts about a set subject…

Sarah at The Garden Deli surprised me with her invitaton to participate in this blog hop entitled “Why I write”. After all, Sarah IS a writer, and I’m not! I love reading Sarah’s posts. Her writing flows, and she somehow manages to move seamlessly from everyday stories about what she’s growing to wildlife topics to fresh seasonal garden ingredients, usually ending with a delicious homemade recipe.

Vase2ndJune4

I think part of the blog hop idea is to introduce each other to bloggers who may write about the same things as we do, or maybe something completely different, as the blog hop also requires passing on the challenge to another handful of people.

I was a little taken aback, to be honest, when Sarah asked me, and my first thought was “How can I write about writing when I don’t write…?”! Erm, but I do write, don’t I? I suppose I have never thought about my blog in terms of “writing”.

Here are the questions to be answered:

  • What am I working on?
  • How does my writing differ from others in its genre?
  • Why do I write what I do?
  • How does my writing process work?

So here goes! I will do my best!

What am I working on?

My blog. My garden. Improving my photography. Working out how to make short videos with my camera… All of those things, as well as some translation work from home. A Herbarium was started a few years ago, which I may return to one day, and new recipes are constantly being tested and refined.

Basil20Sep11

How does my writing differ from others in its genre?

I’m really not sure! I don’t claim to be an expert on growing things and am certainly not a top chef, but if I do know something useful I like to pass it on. I suppose then that my writing is fairly informal compared to some. My photos are also often the starting point for a post for me, whether it be a haiku or a plant description, and I like to share the beauty of the plants and wildlife I see, or the food I eat; the words are important, but not always the main focus.

Lavender

Why do I write what I do?

Because I love words. Because I love plants. Because I love food. The blog was originally intended to focus on wild plants seen while walking my dogs down near the canal. But our old wolfhound hasn’t been able to manage walks for a couple of years now, so the focus became the garden and kitchen. In addition, my Tuesday Views have enabled me to keep a (visual) record of my garden over the past 18 months, which has proved to be an invaluable way to really plan future planting. Writing my blog encourages me to look for those discarded plant labels or to look up unknown plants to put names to them (and now butterflies too). So it is an incredible learning process for me.

ButterfliesJune6

How does my writing process work?

Like most of you, I think, an idea pops up and you mull it over for a few hours, days, or even weeks. Then suddenly it materializes! My favourite place to write is at our dining room table… near the dogs, near the kitchen, and with a view of the garden. Perfect!

Paws1

So now I will hand the challenge over to just two other blogging friends. (I think three was mentioned, but I’m sure the rules can be bent!).

The first is a real writer whose blog I have been following for several years now. Nancy at StrawberryIndigo writes passionately and eloquently about life, nature, the environment and so much more. Her sincere and often humorous view of  life has made me one of her biggest fans!

The second is Alys at GardeningNirvana. I have only known Alys a few months and enjoy her site so much! She has a friendly and open tone that makes me feel as if we are talking over the garden fence. She grows beautiful plants and fruits, and also posts about her community Little Free Library project, the wildlife visiting her garden, garden design, as well as what she calls ‘Fairy Garden Frivolity’!

Please take a look at their sites. They will be posting soon on why they write… Thanks Alys. Thanks Nancy. I’ll link both of their blog hop posts on my site as soon as they’re published!

Thanks for reading everyone, and thanks again to Sarah at The Garden Deli!

Midsummer Haiku

June is a month for daydreaming.

Hammock

As I was cutting up strawberries for jam the other day, I took a trip down memory lane and thought about everything June is to me. Here are a few things that came to mind…

June is

Thunderflies!

Tickling my nose,

getting behind photoframes,

simply everywhere!

DragonsTeeth

Wimbledon! Walking home from the school bus on hot afternoons, the street would be quiet. Curtains were drawn against the sun, waving in the breeze – no sound except  the “pop”, “pop” of tennis ball against racket, heard from all the neighbours’ living room TVs. I would hurry as my thoughts turned to the glass of cold Ribena I would enjoy when I got in, and the match I would watch until tea time…

What’s for tea tonight?

Maybe there’ll be strawberries?

With a dash of cream.

Wild Strawberries

Strawberries! Early mornings, cycling to the strawberry fields before the sun gets too hot, daydreaming about lunch: a big bowl of strawberries with cream or yoghurt, or perhaps some creme fraiche? Picking them in the quiet is like meditating, and – totally lost in thought – the smell, sweet and sticky on my fingers, lingers.

Red, shiny plumpness

Waiting for me. The warm juice

trickles down my chin.

Elderflowers

Exam time! Being a teacher means I never left this behind after leaving school… June is always too hot for exams – sweaty hands, rolled up sleeves, long train rides for external exams with the air-conditioning barely cooling the carriages. And then the relief after it’s all over. Like the relief a thunderstorm brings after a heatwave…

The nervous laughter

rings out in the corridor.

Fears, tears, butterflies.

 

Hypericum

Glowworms! If they make an appearance, which doesn’t happen every year, the woodland path in our garden looks simply magical as they dance and hover silently in the darkness for just a few nights, and then vanish again until next year?

Little white beacon,

send your signal to be found.

A fleeting wonder.

Geum

What is June for you?

🙂