Sunday, 31 May 2009

Work in the garden

I have been busy in the garden since I got home. What follows is definite actions - not general weeding.
On Saturday I transplanted some of the first sowing of lettuces to make another row. I also thinned the beetroot.
On Sunday, we spotted the work of a badger in a prostrate conifer. It had dug a hole out sideways, it could not go down because of the rock being only a few inches below the surface. It had damaged the plant a fair amount but not done itself much good. It has not been back. You can see the fawny under-belly hair.

That day, we scattered Elizabethd's French seeds.

Monday was just weeding, hoeing in the veg garden etc. Tuesday, I went with G to the RVI for a check-up by his dermatologist consultant. He was discharged. Wednesday as Monday.

On Thursday, the Tree of Idleness (ref Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell) was moved to the front of the house for the summer. I should explain that LD used to drink under the Tree of Idleness. When we visited the place, we found the drinking hole and the owner gave me a handful of seed from the tree. I sowed it and forgot about it for two years, after which one germinated and it is growing nicely in a large pot. It gives me much pleasure.

My two Azaleas were sunk in the ground in front of the greenhouse (as usual) My two original Cymbidiums and the 4 remaining 'babies' from Madeira, now quite old but yet to flower, were moved from the greenhouse to the cold frame. I potted on two Abutilon cuttings (Nabob) that had rooted. I have an orange Abutilon that needed potting on too - it was already quite big and flowering well. It looks happy in its larger pot. Then I tackled the two hanging baskets, a job I do not enjoy, though the result usually gives me much pleasure. I think the colours may clash this year - I wait with baited breath. If they are reasonable, I will post a picture as they mature.

Next day, Friday, Petunias were put in a couple of containers by the front door. Lobelia, Crystal Palace (a very deep blue variety) were planted to line two narrow and short accesses to the two lawns. Mini hard work that - the soil was not exactly receptive - but they look fine now. Yesterday, I planted a Weigela florida 'Monet' in a bed where there was once a cherry. The area where the cherry grew is very difficult and I have tried a number of things. Hoping for better luck with the Weigela.

Maybe that does not sound much, but in amongst it I have hoed the vegetable garden and done quite a lot of work on the ornamental garden, where it is like the Forth Bridge. When you finish the first round, as I did before we went away, you have to start again. I have finished going round the smaller lawn today and tomorrow start on the larger one.

Shortly I will be able to plant the runner beans, which germinated well and are growing fast, and the courgettes should develop proper leaves soon, so will then plant them. They germinated well too. The broad beans will need supporting. Another sowing of lettuces is due and the weeds continue to grow despite the lack of rain for the last few days. Soon, there will be pruning of spring-flowering shrubs ...........I lurve gardening...........

Saturday, 30 May 2009

A Few More Odds and Ends

We stayed in a Guest House, Bryngwr in Trefin. The couple who run it are a lovely pair. She does the cooking and mostly is behind the scenes. He is up front. Serves the drinks before dinner and the dinner itself. Who ever is there shows the new arrivals around and explains the system. There are only 6 rooms, 3 up and 3 down. Dogs are welcomed but there are strict rules, for the sake of other guests. (There are 2 house dogs - both black labradors, but they are only seen in the garden) We were lucky in that they were a friendly bunch and we gathered before dinner for a drink and when turfed out of the dining room after dinner because they wanted to clear up, we moved to the lounge and continued our chatter. Repeat guests said that it was much better than usual.
The first day I had my gathering and G did a little walk to himself and a picnic lunch in our room. The second day we went to St David's as told in a previous blog.
Next day we had a look at Fishguard. This was the least rewarding day. It started on a high with a visit to The Last Invasion Tapestry. I bet you thought that was 1066 and the Bayeux Tapestry told the story. Well, you would be wrong! The last invasion was by the French during the Napoleonic wars in 1797. On 22nd February a French force of 1400 men, landed on the Pencaer peninsula just north of Goodwick. The story of their defeat by a much smaller force is too long for me to tell but it can be found at
Enjoy it, it is worth reading - or better still, if you can go to Fishguard, study the Community tapestry - a remarkable feat - copying the idea of the Bayeux tapestry, but done by the community. "The internationally famous Last Invasion Tapestry was commissioned as a permanent legacy of the Bicentenary Commemorations in 1997 and depicts the story of the Last Invasion of mainland Britain. It was designed in a similar format to the Bayeux Tapestry and embroidered by seventy-seven local people." This is a simplistic version of the enormous labour of love that produced this fabulous piece.
After a walk up to the new and very modern Information Centre (which did not appeal to us) and then down a steep path towards the sea and a return up a road as we seemed never to be going to reach it, we had lunch in an apparently disappointing cafe which produced the most remarkable tomato soup - full of fresh tomatoes. We then tried to achieve the coastal path but all we managed was a walk through a housing estate, till we gave up and went back to the car and to Trefin. The day was undoubtedly saved by the tapestry.
Thursday was a magical day. The sun shone from a cloudless sky and there was only a light breeze. I set off alone for the Coastal Path and walked north towards Abercastell. I love my own company and it was a joy to go at my own pace, take pictures and just gaze at the view. I did meet one couple who were very chatty and interesting. At about mid-day, I was a familiar figure approaching - G had taken the car to Abercastell and was walking to meet me. We back-tracked a little so that he could see the bluebells and sheets of thrift that have already been seen in a previous blog. Then we went down to the tiny harbour and had our picnic lunch sitting on a rock and absorbing the peace and beauty. I left him to follow later in the car and set off back to Trefin. It was very hot and in the sunk roadway there was no wind at all and it was a long steady climb up for at least 3/4 mile. Shortly after I reached the top, there was a sign to a prehistoric tomb. Absolutely fatal for Withy. Can't resist such things. And it was only .27 of a mile. (.54 both ways - added to what I had to do anyway) I had to go. No question. And there in a field, amongst a flock of sheep were some stones arranged as you would expect, except that I would not expect to find them just solo in a field!

When I got back I found a bewildered G, who had not passed me and yet I was not there! He was soon pacified and retired to his bed for a snooze. I took the Purple Coo Book Club read and went to the far side of the garden and sat in the sun and read, and listened to the silence and was very happy (and burnt my cheeks!) A magic day to end our short holiday
The next day we travelled up through Wales (4 hours) and slowly up the M6 from Manchester to about Blackpool and then the road cleared and we had a lovely drive up through the Lake District and along the Military Road to home.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Flowers on the Coastal Path

This is a short blog re flowers on the coastal path. It was the very best time to visit for the wild flowers.

We expect bluebells to grow under trees. Here, they are growing in profusion on a windswept cliff top. They are the proper English type

There are plenty of these pretty blue flowers
There is much Thrift everywhere

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

Here are some pictures taken on the Coastal Path

Below is a ruined mill, about which a poem was written, when it closed, that is widely known. Can anyone find it for me?

This ruin is old mine buildings

An excellent example of a natural arch

Flowers on the cliffs and more pictures will come in the next blog.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Trip to the South, stage 2

On Sunday, we wended our way up to the second Severn Bridge and across into Wales. Then all the way to the far West of Pembrokeshire and a Guest House in Trefin. I had picked this place on the Net, but could not have chosen better. We were greeted by the most welcoming host, who gave us a thorough tour and explained the "rules" - only the way things are done there.

When I looked out of our bedroom window, this is what I saw:

I have to admit that that first day, it was cloudy and very windy and the grass had not been cut! This was taken at the end of our stay.

Monday was a rest day for G but exciting for me. Sadly, a message was taken for me early on to say that Celtic Heart would not be able to join us as her mother had been poorly in the night, so could not be left alone, to care for CH's father. However, I set off to Newport, near Fishguard, getting there a few minutes late. There, by the entrance to the car park, were two girls - tall, good-looking and very clearly two Purple Cooers. I waved like mad as I drove in and so the three of us met up - ChrisH and Preselli Mags. We walked up to a caffe called The Canteen - a very strange name for a very nice place. We talked and talked and laughed and analysed our Purple Friends and drank coffee and had soup and all too soon, the others had to make tracks back into their real lives. I returned to base where G had had a pleasant day, recharging his batteries and walking. Not a picture was taken. I had my camera but did not use it. Sorry folks!

On Tuesday, I achieved a long-held dream. A visit to St. David's Cathedral. This time pictures can do the talking -
Cathedral and Bishop's Palace.

The sloping nave

Fan Vaulting in the tower

A good place to make a home.

Add Image

Just a few from the Bishop's Palace.

This is going up as it is, I will edit it more tomorrow.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Trip to the South Part 1

Had a horrid drive to the south. First of all, we came to the Military Road, not far from home, and it was clear that there had been an accident on the A69, because there was a great queue of traffic coming up from Hexham, with many heavy lorries. Someone kindly let us in and we joined the continuous string across to Carlisle. Luckily, it movcd at a reasonable pace so we were only about 10 minutes late joining the M6.
As we reached the Lake District, the rain started and poor G could hardly see where he was or where to go - falling rain and spray from lorries horrendous. It stopped not long after the Lakes and we stopped for lunch at Charnoch Richard. Then I took over and had 'weight of traffic' hold-ups most of the rest of the way. There was only one accident to blame. It took us about 8 hours to do a 6 hour journey.
We finally arrived in Ilchester and the Ilchester Arms. I had found it on the internet and luckily it was a lovely small hotel with good food and a cheerful, helpful staff of young people. Our room was very small but the beds were comfortable.
On Saturday morning we went to Sherborne. The School is partly in the old Abbey buildings, alongside the Abbey itself. This is a fabulous building with stunning fan vaulting. Sadly I do not have any pictures. For some mad reason unknown to me, I didn't take any. The town is attractive too.
We returned to the hotel with time for a short rest before changing into "smart casual" and warm with it! Then we managed to find our way through the Somerset lanes to Thorney Lakes and Caravan Park. We drove through the park and set off down a track through the fields. After a while we saw a sign that said "Wedding Car Park" so we knew we were in the right place.
It was fabulous. A wild life reserve with a fishing lake, with stringent controls. On a level area of grass by the lake, was a marquee. We found some 70 or so people, many of whom were my relations. The bride, (my youngest brother's middle daughter) was beautiful and her new husband a very happy man. Although not too warm, and with heavy showers, it was a very happy occasion.
I was wearing my mother's pearls and a diamond bow brooch, to bring Ma to the wedding. This gave the bride much pleasure. She was wearing her other Grandmother's pearls. When the group photo was taken, there was a race with the rain and there was a double rainbow. The bride was convinced that both Grandmothers were there in the rainbows. I am tempted to agree!
The barbequed pork was delicious. The speeches were not too long! As the driver I did not have much to drink, so kept a clear head. My youngest great neice possited on my shoulder, but I had a lovely time with her, she was 8 weeks old. The next, and last, two of that generation left to get married were there, discussing when each would have their weddings. They both got engaged recently A really happy evening. Sadly, G had had enough too long before it was dark to wait, so we left before the fire balloons were let fly. I gather that they were magic.
Of course we got lost on the way back through the lanes, but we made it safely and slept the sleep of the just.
I am afraid that all the pictures are explicitly of people, so I cannot post any. Result - a boring blog!
Hopefully the rest will be better, with pics.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Garden Update

Things move fast in May -
This is the Amelanchia that was just coming out on May 1st
Do you remember the Broom that I had to take out last year? Some will. I was begged to leave it! This is how it looks today -

And here is the Clematis armannii that also was just coming out on May 1st -

Monday, 4 May 2009

A Baptism, continuing Flower Festival, Food and Craft Fayre and a Baroque Concert

Sunday morning saw Kirkharle Church nearly full with about 50 people for a Baptism with Eucharist. Surrounded by all the beautiful flower arrangements and with the joy of a Baptism, it was a service to be remembered. It is rather sad that the wee fellow will not remember any of it but surely his parents will treasure the memory - and the Godparents too, I shouldn't be surprised.

An hour or two later, I was on duty in the Church and it was a rewarding job because most of the visitors really appreciated the flowers and the interesting Church. The weather was cold but mostly dry, though there were showers about, with hail in them. A reasonable number of people kept the craftsmen/women and food providers busy in Kirkharle Courtyard.

Monday was expected to be the really busy day though, being a Bank Holiday. And what happened? We woke to heavy overcast and a bitter wind and damp in the air, with occasionally more determined wet. All the same, a surprising number of people turned out to visit the Fayre, but not the huge numbers that they have come to expect.

In the afternoon there a was a concert in the Church, by Plura Videte Baroque. Again the Church was full with people standing at the back. The ensemble consisted of two girls playing violins, one playing the Viola, and two men, one on the 'cello and one on the harpsichord. They had played for several years as part of the University of York Baroque Ensemble. They are now a Chamber Ensemble and are passionate about creating exciting, historically informed performances of both chamber and solo works. We heard both, including a solo harpsichord piece which was astonishing when you know that the player had recently broken the 3rd finger of his right hand in 2 places. It was splinted with the middle finger.

After the concert, a friend and I warmed up in the Coffee House with a cup of tea, a freshly baked current scone, butter and strawberry jam. As we left, at 4.30ish, there were still a lot of cars in the parks, despite the worsening weather. We are a tough lot in Northumberland.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Capability Brown and Kirkharle

In 1716, Capability (Launcelot) Brown was born in the hamlet of Kirkharle. (He was known as Capability Brown because of his habit of commenting on gardens as having "great capabilities")He was baptized in St. Wilfrid's Church and at first attended the local school, but then moved on and walked to school in Cambo. When he left school, at 16, he worked for Sir William Loraine, 2nd baronet, of Kirkharle. If you visit you will find a developing site that is writing his story. This gives some of his history after he left Kirkharle and lists gardens that he designed or was associated with.
He became, arguably the most famous landscape gardener in English History, and was described as 'the Shakespeare of Gardening' by the German prince, Hermann Puckler-Muskau, in the early 19th century.
A few years ago, the current owner of Little Harle found a plan in the draw of a desk that had belonged to his grandfather. This plan shows a design for a lake and landscape for Kirkharle Hall. There is much mystery here. The date of the plan is uncertain. It could have been the very first one that he did, before he left for Kiddington Hall in Oxfordshire. Or it could have been done in 1770 when he stayed with Lady Loraine at Kirkharle. The next mystery is exactly how the buildings were. There was a Peele Tower there originally and the plan shows buildings incorporating it, in what appear today to be the wrong place.
The plan currently is to create much of the lake, shown on the plan. It is not possible to do the whole plan because the A696 was cut through the land, not so very long after the plan was drawn. Much of the funding is in place to dig the lake, put in walks and plant many trees. More is still needed but a start can be made and the digging will begin in a few weeks, weather permitting. In Capability Brown's day, it would have been dug by a large labour force wielding spades etc. Now mechanical diggers will be used.
The 'Offices' of the house, whose East Wing is all that remains, were built round a yard and are now converted into units for craft shops, a café and a Day Conference facility - Kirkharle Courtyard. Yesterday, an exhibition dedicated to Capability Brown was opened by Marion Foster of the BBC. This consists of a number of plaques around the area, telling of his life and also the plan that is to be developed. Down at St Wilfrid's Church there is a Flower Festival. The theme is Water, which played such an important part in his designs. (Think Chatsworth, Stowe and many others). This ancient church is transformed by the most lovely floral creations. My pictures only give a slight idea of the beauty and only three of many arrangements.

Three constrasting pictures. The first is done by a friend of mine, using Rhododendrons from Wallington Gardens. The second really recreates the theme of the display, Water. It looks like water falling over a shallow fall. It was a joint effort by two people I know. The third is so delicate and has a strong pedestal beside it, which emphasises the delicasy of these arrangements.

Friday, 1 May 2009

May has arrived.

Let's not waste time, on with the flowers:

Some will be named, some won't. You can offer names, or ask - as you will.

I am afraid this water plant/flower is a bit eaten by some hungry insect.

I love both these plants and their fluffy seed heads

This is the original Osmanthus delavayii. It is beginning to go over now, but still shines in the dusk. The baby is in the bed behind.

Kerria japonica fl pl (double flowered) makes you think the sun is our, even when it isn't.

This pink thing is great at this time of year, but tries to take over.

Clematis armannii is a favourite of mine. It has Ernest Markham growing amongst it for later on.

What is this bright marsh plant?

These Bergenia lighten their corner for now and their leaves being there all winter is a bonus.

Aubretia out now, geranium to follow, lavender at the back and David Austin roses to flower above them. There is a self-sown 'hedge' of potentilla behind the lavender

More aubretia with box balls that are beginning to get more solid. Sad about the anti-rabbit wire.

This anemone fills my heart with joy.

Amelanchia and cut-leafed golden elder behind cotoneaster

Another sort of amelanchia - only takeable from a window on the back stairs that does not open at this time of year, so taken through glass.