garden

Browsing Tag

In Outside

M.I.A

And all of a sudden May is here. The trees are unfurling their fresh foliage, the veg patch needs tending, the bluebells are nearly over and the evenings are long. April felt like it was missing in action. Disappearing before my eyes like the early morning mist. I hope this isn’t an indication of how quickly the rest of the year is going to vanish.

April was a month of surprises. As the first month of spring we are used to expecting the showers, but the glorious sunshine of Easter seduced us into thinking it might even be summer already. Deer bounded in and out …

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In Outside

A seasonal tilt

International Coffee Day, Chocolate Week, Halloween, my mum’s birthday, the extra hour in bed: some of the reasons I love October. But here’s my confession; I don’t like ‘spiced’ things – lattes or biscuits, I can’t stand pumpkins (except carving them), I’m no fan of trick or treating (American import) and I don’t like dark afternoons. I do like getting cosy though and starting the move towards winter hibernation and everything hygge. To the Anglo-Saxons this time of year was known as ‘Winter Fylleth’ because at the full moon winter was supposed to begin.

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In Outside

Blessed be…

…the fruit.

I used to think blackberries were only for picking in September; a truly autumnal fruit, so I thought. Every year I was disappointed to have missed the best of the crop. Amateur. Because the secret to blackberry picking is to go earlier than you think. The last couple of weeks of August is probably the best time, before the birds have pecked at them, before the weather rots them and before others pickers have been out. This year they seem to have ripened even earlier.

I have always gone foraging for blackberries – even in London on Putney Heath. Blackberry picking offers rewards …

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In Outside

August August

August, the height of summer, some may think. Or perhaps its depth.Either way this year has been the kind of summer that children store up as memory of all summers. Sunshine and barbecues, icecreams, open windows on hot nights and paddling pools.

In one of those neat word plays, August is named after Emperor Augustus, (after the latin for venerable or consecrated)  and originally had only 30 days. It was thought necessary to add another day in order that Augustus might not be in any respect inferior to Julius. Thus Augustus was exceptionally august in altering August. The only Augustus I can think of is …

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In Outside

Dog days and birthdays

Seamlessly we sweltered from June into July with a prolonged warm dry spell that children will remember in their adult years and adults will remember in their dotage. The dog days are truly here,  sultry days and still nights of heat, drought, fires, thunderstorms, lethargy, mad dogs and Englishmen out in the sun. Even the birds seem to languish idly in the suspended in the humid air, barely moving their wings for flight, as if it’s too much effort. The buzzard is more present and seems to follow me; flying over the garden, perched atop his telegraph pole on the school run. Hot and hungry …

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In Outside

The greatest show

Once you start opening your eyes and training them to see, you will notice all sorts of wonderful things. Whether it is the flower that grows in a crack in the pavement, the buzzard circling overhead, the damselfly zipping through the air. You may even start to appreciate that just like humans, wildlife have their preferred spots to hang out, it may be the same branch, the same telegraph pole, the same field. I used to notice all these things as a child on the way to school; there was a favoured spot of an owl and I would look for him (or her) most …

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In Outside

In the June light

The bliss of June has already arrived. We have passed from spring to young summer and the delights the new season brings could not be surpassed by John Clare’s poem;

‘Now summer is in flower and natures hum Is never silent round her sultry bloom Insects as small as dust are never done Wi’ glittering dance and reeling in the sun And green wood fly and blossom haunting bee Are never weary of their melody…’

We have been away for four days and there has been a heady mix of rain and heat and now the garden seems full of green, and colour everywhere. I …

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In Outside

Spring Snapshot

Finally. It’s here; the lime chlorophyll of new leaves clashing against the periwinkle blue sky, so bright and vibrant it almost hurts the eyes; but I can’t look away because I can’t get enough of it. There is fullness where once there were naked skeletons. As the saying goes, no winter lasts forever and no spring skips its turn. The soil is warming, there is green abundance along the roadsides, purple mosaics of bluebells, dazzling yellow dandelions.  I’m a pretty careful observer of nature in the garden, but one blink and everything has grown again, or blossomed or bloomed.

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In Travel

Time to get lost

One of my favourite books as a child was The Secret Garden; the story of a hidden garden abandoned and unloved, like the children in the story, all of whom are transformed through the power of kindness and caring for others, as they bring the  garden back to life.  The book is captivating and magical, rejuvenating and ultimately uplifting. But, there is a real life secret garden that was similarly left to languish and crumble but which was rediscovered in the 1990s and has since been restored to its former glory; The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

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In Outside

Sowing the seeds

Babbitty Bumble literally buzzed right past my nose, a black and yellow ball of fuzz, too busy to stop for me. A fat tubby thing with stubby wings, humming as he went. He is the first bee I have spotted this year on a day of sunshine, when it was still cold enough for coats and hats but lovely enough to open the windows of the house and let in some fresh air, to push out the stale musty air of winter. I stopped for a little while to listen to a blue tit, a welcome change from the harsh croaks and caws of all …

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