A Brief Summer Update

Hello dear friends! I know I have been silent for a while and do apologise! As several people have asked, I thought I would just briefly interrupt my blogging break to post a few photos – all is fine, but we have moved to our country house to care for our hedgerow shrubs and trees which were planted in April. Needless to say, the weather has been challenging; temperatures were in the mid to upper twenties all through May and June, rising into the thirties in July, and we have hardly a drop of rain for months. So watering is the main activity here – mostly at night to avoid the heat. No rain forecast for the near future and the heat goes on…

Back at my garden things look fine. Only a couple of hours of care over the last two months and it is still bearing up well in the heat and drought. This is the Perovskia mid July in all its glory.

Thank goodness my rockery doesn’t need watering!

Here is the Perovskia again a couple of days ago… fading a little, but that isn’t bothering the bees. The Scabiosa ochroleuca is wonderful again, but one of my favourite plants in this view is the Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’.

I hope you all have a wonderful August. I will try and catch up with all your posts I have missed very soon!

😀

Book Review: ‘Lab Girl’ by Hope Jahren

I have just finished reading this great book, recommended to me by Sheryl at Flowery Prose last November and immediately put on my Christmas wish list. You can read her review here, but I will add a few words too.

Hope Jahren is a scientist with a gift for writing, and the book flows right from the start. She recounts her life in an enchanting and extremely readable way, mixing in fascinating information and descriptions of trees, plants and her work. The story is full of ups and downs, telling candidly, passionately, and often hilariously of her (sometimes unconventional) struggles to set up labs, her discoveries, her dedication to her research, and the dear friend Bill who accompanied her through it all. Her style of writing is fluid and amusing, but also incredibly poignant when we note the hidden comparisons between the lives of trees and those of humans.

I really loved this book and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with a vague interest in trees, botany or science in general who wants a good weekend read.

Take a look at Sheryl’s review – she can say it so much better than I can!

😀

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

A Gardener’s Paradise in Freising

I had the rare opportunity to go to the one and only proper plant sale in Bavaria last weekend: Freisingergartentage. Freising is a large town just north-east of Munich, and well over an hour’s drive from me, and every year this festival takes place in early May – the same weekend as the German Mother’s Day.

Most garden festivals/shows in my region sell around 90 percent garden decoration, tools, gadgets or food, and just 10 percent plants… this sale in Freising is probably 95 percent plants! When I walked through the gates my eyes opened wide and a broad smile took over for the next 3 hours!

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Stand after stand, nurseries and specialist garden centres from Berlin to Leipzig and Belgium to Austria were offering their well-cared for and properly labelled plants. Sempervivums, roses, hostas, irises, grasses, water plants, annuals… they all had a spot somewhere in the grounds of the Freising County Hall. Everywhere I went the people selling the plants knew the answer to all my questions, offered planting advice, and were genuinely caring and knowledgeable about all they had on display. I felt like a child in a sweet shop! I felt like weeping!

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I managed to get through the first 30 minutes without buying anything, but then I saw this Corydalis flexuosa ‘China Blue’. There were several blue ones to choose from, but this seemed bluer than all the others.

Corydalis flexuosa ‘China Blue’

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And next to it a Dicentra formosa ‘Burning Hearts’ caught my eye, which is supposed to bloom all summer… I have been looking for one for several weeks.

Dicentra formosa ‘Burning Hearts’

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At the next stand a chocolate mint and a pineapple sage – both of which I had also been looking for nearer home, were added to my basket… I had come prepared with several bags and a large shopping basket!

Chocolate Mint

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Pineapple Sage

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A pale pink Epimedium was one of the plants on my list, as was a pale Aquilegia. I found an Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilafee’

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… and a small rose Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Nora Barlow’ – which will have rosy pink flowers with a tinge of white, yellow and green. I chose a small plant as I was worried a larger one might get damaged while walking around.

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Imagine how happy I was to find this though…

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An Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)!

I have never seen one in Germany before and several people asked where I had found it as I walked around the stalls a second time. This is real treasure for me… even if we don’t get any hummingbirds to hover around it. (See Susie’s post here!)

The stall where I found Nora Barlow also had an Echinacea purpurea Orange Passion.

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This stand was from a southern German nursery which actually specializes in irises… next time perhaps I will look at the wide choice of irises they have.  I also bought a red rock rose Helianthemum x cultorum ‘Red Orient’ from them. It’s actually a deep pinky red…

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This is Anthyllis vulgaris –  a member of the pea family with a resemblance to clover – which should love the warmth of my rockery in summer and hopefully set seed.

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And my final purchase was a white Cymbalaria pallida ‘Albiflora’.

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I debated some time about a Geum, but decided I couldn’t carry any more! 😉

Phew, my arms were aching as I walked back to the car with my bags, but the smile was still there, and to cap it all I was allowed to leave the car park free of charge because my ticket wasn’t accepted in the machine!

That was my idea of a Grand Day Out!

😀

How about you? Do you often get the chance to visit a really good plant sale?

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Whatever you are doing, either with loved ones or not, I hope it’s a lovely day for you.

ValentinesDay

Smile at a stranger – they’ll smile back, guaranteed!

Wave at someone you have never seen before, and I bet they’ll wave back!

And if something makes you happy, Laugh Out Loud – it’s good for you (and it’s catching too)!

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“May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day…”

(from an old Irish blessing)

Love, Cathy xxx

What IS a Garden?

I am reading a lovely novel at the moment about a botanist in 16th century Somerset (The Knot, by Jane Borodale).

I will write a review of it very soon, as I’m sure it will be of interest to many of you gardeners out there, but I have to share these lines from it today!

When asked by a botanist colleague what his garden is: “So if it is not a work of art, what do you call it?”

Henry Lyte replied:

“A garden is a deliberate gathering together of living things, partially governed.”

I think that sums it up perfectly!

Definition of a Garden

What do you think?

Tuesday View (31st December) and a Happy New Year!

Alfred Tennyson’s famous words:

“Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow…”

What snow?! I think I need to change that line to “green, green grass”!

Here’s the view today, as the light faded at around 3.30pm (compare with the next photo, taken last summer!)

TuesdayView31stDecember

~~~

And my message for 2014…

Embrace the new year with upturned eyes and an open heart

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Look forward, stride forward, over new ground

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Leaving footprints behind you as you step into the unknown

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It’s time once again for me to thank you all for a great blogging year.

Thank you for being there, for liking and commenting on my posts, for your loyalty and support, and for putting out such inspiring, interesting and positive posts yourselves. All this means an AWFUL lot to me!

So now I wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year, full of joy and harmony, kindness and laughter, and good food and flowers! I hope it brings with it all you could wish for.

Talking of wishes, here are a few things I’m hoping for this coming year….

A sudden exodus of slugs and snails to the woods beyond the garden

Success with my poppy seeds

That our resident mole does not bring his family with him to settle down for good

A glimpse of a rare butterfly

To smell the elusive scent of Hepaticas in the woods this spring

Time for the hammock (and no mosquitoes!)

Plenty of sunshine

😀

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What are your hopes for 2014?

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Happy New Year!