Thursday 27 June 2013

A day of two halves.

As it was such a lovely day, after doing the weekly shopping we decided to have a picnic lunch by the canal at Frampton-on-Severn.   I love this village.  I has wide greens on either side of the road through it and two large ponds with ducks, irises, water lilies - the lot.   Above is the scene across the road and over the gate from where we parked the car.  

We sat opposite this quaint little Georgian cottage which may have been the lock keeper's home but now there is a swingbridge to allow vehicles across the canal.  It was so quiet and peaceful listening to the birds and watching one skimming the water trying to catch small fish.   It looked very much like a tern although I thought they were only coastal birds.

There were quite a few longboats moored in both directions, and several walkers and cyclists along the towpath.

Siesta time for this foal and pony.

A view across the Severn.   As you can see it was quite hazy but a lovely cool breeze blew across from the river so that we didn't get too hot.

The village church nestling among the trees and houses.

I love this magnificent barn with it's wattle panels.  I'd love to know how old it is.  It has certainly been well looked after.  

I don't think I have seen such a wide variety of architectural style in one village anywhere else.  There are delightful cottages and houses from all eras - Victorian villas and modern bungalows as well as a Georgian mansion, a Gothic folly and a wonderful possibly Elizabethan manor house which I couldn't photograph as it was mostly hidden by trees.
This was a very pretty cottage with another much more ordinary one tacked onto it.   I didn't get a good shot and felt I was intruding even taking this one.   
The first spots of rain fell as we were driving toward home along the A38 and my husband just managed to get the lawns cut before the rain fell in earnest.   The garden has had a good little soak which has saved me a job and with any luck we might get another nice day tomorrow.   Glad I'm not in a tent at Glastonbury though!

Tuesday 25 June 2013


I have always tried to make sure that I grow plants which bees like and have often been surprised by their choices.   This black elder, which I love, has such tiny flowers I didn't think bees would be interested in it and grew it for my own pleasure, but they love it.  It is smothered with flowers this year and a wild elder just up the road from us is covered in flowers.   There'll be plenty of berries for the birds this autumn.
A close-up of a flowerhead.  Each time I focused the camera the breeze blew so I had to hold it steady.

I used to spend ages trying to get close-ups of bees on various plants but have given up - there are too many other things which need doing!   Across the lawn is what we call a sage bush - it's that one in the middle.  I'm sure it has a proper name but I can't remember it and the garden encyclopaedia is downstairs and I've been gardening all afternoon and am too tired to fetch it.   The leaves are very sage like and the little yellow flowers are like those of sage but in little round clusters.  The bees like this plant too.

Resting with my cuppa at half-time I noticed 5 or 6 bees on these heuchera flowers.   They are almost insignificant but again, the bees love them.   With the plight of our wild honey bees being in the news so much recently I began to take notice of those that visit our garden and can't recall when I last saw a honey bee.  All our visitors are bumblebees which seem to come in all sizes.  Some are quite tiny and others are of the heavy bomber type which make me think they'll never take off!  

A couple of weeks ago my husband went to see if the compost in one of our bins was ready for use and noticed a lot of buzzing when he began to lift it.   He hastily replaced it and now we daren't investigate any further.   Every time we go near, there are as many as a dozen large bumblebees going in and out of the holes in the sides of the bin.   I am quite honoured that they like our garden so much, but I would like to be able to make use of the compost.  I think we are going to have to learn about the habits of bumblebees so that we can live amicably together.

Thursday 13 June 2013

My lucky day.

I took part in a giveaway on Gina Ferrari's blog 'Fan my Flame' recently and was the lucky winner of her charming collagraph print seen here.   It arrived in the post yesterday and I am delighted with it.  My photography is not good and I have deadened the colouring in this shot, and took the photo in haste anyway and the light was not good.   Excuses, excuses!

Gina had taken part in a print exchange and decided to offer one of hers for the giveaway.  All the prints are so varied in subject and technique.  If you are interested she has posted them on her blog which is always worth a visit.

It is wet and very windy this morning and I am off to do the week's shopping shortly.  The forecast is for very strong winds which may cause structural damage and bring down trees.   That's not seasonal is it?   I find it heart breaking to see a tree in full leaf which has been brought down.   Keep safe, all of you.

Monday 10 June 2013

Two surprises.

I bought this pond iris three years ago and have been patiently waiting for a flower.    I had almost given up, but suddenly last week I noticed a bud and my patience has been rewarded.
I didn't realise this plant had a flower and thought it was just an oxygenating plant.   I was told to just drop it into the water and it would sink to the bottom and do it's stuff.   Again, three years on and I noticed this lovely fat bud.
These irises are my old faithfuls and come up every year for me.  Their true colour is a glorious rich royal blue, almost purple.
I have broken my rules and couldn't wait to add some decoration to a page or two rather than wait until all the pages were prepared.   The creases in the double spread above can be tidied but will be permanent as it is folded in on itself on both sides.   I haven't stuck the houses in yet - couldn't wait to photograph it!   The design came from a rubber stamp which I then had photocopied and enlarged.  I coloured the houses with marker pens and cut them out.  I used other rubber stamps to print three distant tree shapes behind the houses.  The words were part of the stamp and I cut them all out and applied them separately in a higgledy piggledy fashion.  
I stuck these drawings on the folds which open out to reveal my street.
I did a few others to decorate other pages.
I tore them out of the sketchbook and aged the edges with an ink pad which doesn't seem to show up very well in these photos.   I quite like the way that where the gesso is unevenly applied, the paint appears stronger and the pages have a distressed look.    Now I've had some fun it's back to more glue, gesso and colourwashing before the next fun can begin.

 I've been planting a few bedding plants today and had work really hard to break up our heavy clay soil.  Needless to say there were quite a few weeds to evict first.   My hands, arms and shoulders are complaining!   I'm thankful that it is our group meeting tomorrow and all I'll have to do is sit and talk to nice people all day.

Friday 7 June 2013

Nothing very exciting.

I loved the comment left for me the other day from Sweetie Pie which said:  'Stop gardening and get on with your book!'    So I thought I'd better do just that.  By the way she makes the loveliest things with fabric and stitch.
  I have at last stuck all the pages together and gessoed most of them.   They need colouring now and then stitching.   I haven't removed any pages from the second half of the book as I have other plans for that section which I'll show you when I get there.

I have made a simple pocket on this page by folding the side of the page in on itself.   The colour is rather drab but will allow for more colourful decoration later.

Another lovely day though there is a lot of cloud building and it is cooler.   I have just been to the chiropractor so light duties for me for the rest of the day to allow the treatment to 'soak in'.   More work in the garden tomorrow perhaps.  The amount of growth in the last three weeks is astounding - the compost bin will be overflowing again.  Enjoy the sunshine.

Monday 3 June 2013

This and That.

During my recent great clear-out I came across this old copy of the Radio Times which has survived about 8 house moves and the longer I keep it, the longer I feel I should keep it.   It seems fitting to post it this week.   I can't believe I've had it for 60 years.  How times have changed and what a lot has happened during that time.

I have been catching up on lots of gardening in this lovely weather and couldn't help noticing how attractive the flowers on the broad beans are.   The bees have been enjoying them too.
Last year we came upon a nursery which specialised in heuchera plants and I began a small collection.  I love the huge range of colours that their leaves has.   The one above is a gorgeous lime green and the one below is far more caramel than I have captured in this photo.
The third one below is such a dark burgundy red that it is almost black and when the sun shines on the leaves they take on a bronzed appearance.   The flowers are almost insignificant but who cares when the leaves are so interesting.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of the first rose of summer.   There are dozens more buds to open and it has settled in well and seems to be flourishing since we planted it only about 18 months ago.

 Acquilegias are another favourite of mine though most of ours are the more mundane 'granny bonnet' ones.   They look so dainty but will tolerate our awful soil which thirty years of 'improvement' hasn't managed to change to any great extent.

The wisteria is just coming into full bloom and if the weather stays gentle we will enjoy it for a while before the flowers drop and make a terrible mess everywhere.   I love the ochrey colour of the leaves as they open - a perfect contrast to the soft mauve flowers.   It is well established now and stretches right across the front of the house, meeting up with the winter jasmine over the garage door.  

There are still plenty of weeds to pull up, but after a very busy weekend I am having a day off.  I know they will wait for me!