Monthly Archives: February 2015

Childhood garden memories….

‘It often happens to children – and sometimes to gardeners – that they are given gifts of value of which they do not perceive until much later
Wayne Winterrowd

I started gardening a long, long time ago – about 40 years ago I think. My Mum gardened when I was little; she still does – but only when it’s sunny. She gets my chap to do the heavy work now like digging or pruning.   My Mum, Dad, little brother and me moved into a new build house in the early 1970s – I was four.  The garden had 6 foot fences, a tiny patio and a lot of sticky, London clay and no grass at all.

I don’t remember much about this time but I know my mum and dad put in a lot shrubs that didn’t need much pruning, including honeysuckle on the fence by the back door and vibernum which also has a beautiful scent (in May/June).  They put grass seed down as soon as they could so we had somewhere to play.  Random plants grew too from dormant seeds in the fields that the house was built on.  The best were blackberry canes and my Dad cooked a lot of Apple and Blackberry Pie. When I see these plants in other gardens it reminds me of my childhood and my parents’ garden.

My mum took a cutting from the replacement honeysuckle a few years ago and gave me a bit which I put at the bottom of the garden.  It took a good few years to get going but soon clambered over the fence onto bushes in my neighbour’s garden.  It smells wonderful and is even stronger in the evening; its scent wafts across the decking at the bottom of the garden (Where I Sit Part 1).  I don’t know the variety (said I’m an amateur gardener) and don’t have any photos – I’ll take some later in the year.  Honeysuckle is great for growing through other plants though and it’s the unexpected flowers peeping out that I like.

My mum also rescued a silver birch sapling that had been ‘run over’ by the council grass cutting chaps (in a skip she claims) and planted it in the back garden – it’s now a 40 year old, 40-foot beauty with plenty of birds using it as a base to nip down and eat the strawberries, etc.

My mum did a lot of pot gardening with your typical ‘council park’ style bedding plants, like violas, pansies and begonias – it was the 1970s and there was less choice than there is now – none of these huge garden centres.  But every pot had a fuchsias of one sort or another – some standard height, some trailing and some bush varieties, pinks, purples. I adored the flowers which I imagined were ballerinas.   Often, I helped her put broken pots in the garden for drainage, fill with compost and plant the flowers – and a lot of watering and dead heading flowers (to keep them flowering).  She had pots full of plants that wouldn’t grow in the garden because of the clay soil – rhododendrons, for example.

My mum still loves fuchsias, still pot gardens and has a huge patio covered in pots.

So when I moved into my house, the first thing she did the following Spring was buy me some terracotta pots and some bedding plants.   Here’s what I planted:

Pots summer 2010

White lobellia, pink petunia and fuchsias

I’ll let you know what I plant in the pots this Spring but there will definitely be fuchsias – I’ll tell you more about my love of fuschias another time.

Things to do in the garden – February

There are all sorts of suggestions online and in magazines – mostly for people with huge gardens, loads of time or very organised – I’m none of these.  Here are a just a few:

  • plant veg seeds indoors – I’ve only got v small window sills so it’s tricky deciding what to plant. Whatever you choose it’s got to be worth it in the garden either flowers or vegetables.
  • tidy the shed (yeah right I haven’t got space for a shed) and scrub your seed trays (I’ve only got two).
  • prune autumn raspberry canes – there are two sorts of raspberries – I’ve got the kind that fruit in the early summer.  Now’s the time to plant raspberry, gooseberry and blackberry canes too.   Blackberry and Apple pie – Lovely!
  • plan your borders and new beds – oh yes I’m definitely doing this but more about this soon.

Have you managed to do anything in the garden in February? and what do you fancy planting?

Have a lovely week

Carpe Diem

love Bec xx


Spring – daffodils and a lavender project

A couple of the tête-à-tête mini daffodils flowered in the garden yesterday (21 Feb 2015) – they look lovely and are definitely a sign that spring is on the way.  We’ve also got a fair few in a couple of pots which should flower soon.  I know we planted a lot of these bulbs around the garden last autumn as I’d never had mini daffs before and I liked the look of them. Not many are showing signs of growing let alone flowering – they might have rotted or the squirrels got them will have to wait and see – oh well.

As I said in my previous post, Spring makes me think of change and new or different things to do.   One thing I decided to do this year was some sewing projects.   I can sew; I did plenty as a child and teenager, it was just one of those things you learnt to do in the 1970s.  My mum made clothes and knitted jumpers for us. She taught me to do a lot of different crafts. I wasn’t any good with a sewing machine – I remember the look of disappointment on my teacher’s face in 1st year of senior school when I made a right mess of a simple blouse pattern.  I can knit and crochet too but not done any for over 35 years and I can’t see me starting again.

But, I’ve not done anything except buttons and hems in over 20years.  I decided to have a go at small projects so I didn’t have stuff hanging around making me feel guilty that I’d not finished it.  I’m pretty sure the last major project was a cross stitch lighthouse picture – in 1989ish.  It’s probably lurking somewhere at my mum’s house.

A pal at work was making lavender ‘bags’ sell for Red Nose Day so I asked if I could make one or two.  Here’s some my pal has made – aren’t they great. Lovely material too.

Lavender bags - my pal made these

Lavender bags – my pal made these

Lion heart lavender bag - Feb 2015

I made this lionheart lavender bag – Feb 2015

To make:

  • 1 heart cookie cutter – 10cm long or more
  • Cotton material – anything you like really or one side could be felt.
  • A length of ribbon – I have a ready supply of ribbon
  • Kapok
  • Dried lavender
  • Thread and needle

Cut two pieces of material pin inside out and hem carefully 5mm in from edge. Start sewing from left side. Double over a piece of ribbon so that loop is inside the material and ends sticking out.  This is because it’s turned inside out before you stuff it.  Sew all the way round leaving a 3cm gap.  Turn inside out with pencil.  Then stuff with kapok – make sure you fill in all the edges and it feels solid. Spoon in a couple of tablespoons of lavender.  Manipulate it a bit to make sure it’s not lumpy. Carefully sew up the gap you’ve just pushed kapok and lavender through and you’re done.

And hang up on a door knob or in the wardrobe (or sell it for charity?). I think I’ll make some more…

This took about 45mins to make – though there were lots of us chattering away.

More about lavender
I’ve always loved lavender – the plant and its scent – it’s supposed to be old fashioned but I prefer to think of it as timeless.  The scent also helps you sleep too; I have a lavender oil spray as I have a problem with insomnia. Traditionally, it symbolises devotion and was often included in bridal bouquets especially in the 19th century.  There are lots of different kinds of lavender but you usually find French and English Lavender in garden centres.  French has fat looking flowers and English tends to have thinner flowers.

Two summers ago, I planted English lavender along the edge of my front garden which gets full sun all day.  The plants have thrived and it’s surprising how much scent comes off the silver/grey foliage throughout the year.  It flowers from June/July through to late August depending on how sunny it’s been. I love coming home and smelling the scent and seeing the flowers – purple is my favourite colour after all.

I’ll take some photos this summer I promise. I think I’ll also write more about lavender another time too – lavender biscuits anyone?

I really must have a go at drying lavender this year – it looks easy.

Tips from an amateur gardener

  • lavender likes full sun and doesn’t mind drought / lack of water.
  • bees absolutely love the flowers -so please do your bit for the bees and plant some.
  • it loves gritty, poor quality soil but it needs to be free draining – so no compost.
  • it will grow in pots but be careful where you put it especially in the winter. It’s hardy but I’ve had plants in pots die over the winter when it’s been below freezing for a few weeks.
  • trim scraggy looking parts in the autumn after it’s flowered.
  • If you want more information – have a look on Royal Horticultural Society website – lavender – they’re the experts.

Have a lovely week

Carpe Diem

love Bec xx

Bulbs are up – spring is nearly here

I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older. ― Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

Crocuses flowering in the front garden - 15 Feb 2015

Crocuses flowering in the front garden – 15 Feb 2015

When I was younger I thought Autumn was my favourite time of year – it’s when my birthday is after all.   I like watching the leaves change, kicking my way through piles of leaves on country walks and relaxing next to a real fire.  I love crisp autumn and winter blue skies as long as I’m wrapped up well – I hate being cold. But over the years, I’ve got thoroughly fed up with months of rain, overcast skies and dark evenings. I’ve never been diagnosed with SAD syndrome but I do think I have tendencies towards this.   I find the Autumn and Winter make me glum a lot of the time – though I have all strategies to try not to sink further into gloom.  They don’t always work – for a start I miss sitting in my garden in the winter – and that doesn’t help much either.  Maybe this year we’ll get a fire pit.

So I’m definitely with Virginia – I love Spring. It’s all about new beginnings, opportunities and change.

I don’t do New Year resolutions either; I make all my changes on in mid Feb usually – I do it on my terms and just get on with it.  I don’t beat myself up about what I don’t change or keep having a go at and not quite succeeding at (getting into smaller jeans, for example).  I do believe that if something didn’t work out today have another go at it tomorrow.  But, it’s also just as important that I need to do things differently or look at the problem differently and try to find a new way to do something.

As  I make changes at a different time of year there’s no pressure from ‘new year new you’ articles and no smug celebrities flogging books, new wonder drinks or food.  And as for ‘detox’ with this or that juice? Don’t even get me started on this – it’s tosh.

There are quite a few things I’d like to change or try this year and this is one of the reasons I decided to write a blog.

There are many things I love at this time of year:

  • It’s NOT dark on the way home from work
  • It’s not January anymore – Hurrah! I really struggle with January
  • The snowdrops are out – though I can’t get them to grow in my garden.
  • Crocuses are out in OUR garden – only purple ones so far
  • Planning trips out – the National trust card is going to get some use this year

So spring is definitely on its way – here’s the crocuses came up in our front garden – it has really brighten my mood. We’ve even booked a holiday – to Cornwall in May.

Tips from an amateur gardener

  • Usually I buy my bulbs from Wilko – there’s a great selection at a good price.
  • Buy your bulbs in the winter for summer flowers like lilies and in September for Spring bulbs
  • Plant them in little clumps not in rows and check the depth!
  • Have fun! And if you don’t like where they are you can always move them for next year.
  • Label them if you dig them up

What would you like to change from tomorrow? and what are your favourite bulbs and why?

Carpe Diem

love Bec xxx

I waited a long time for a garden of my own – well into my 40s

It was worth the wait.  It’s only small.
I bought my house because of the garden –  I can sit on my sofa and look at the view. The view has changed a lot in five years mirroring the changes in my life.
My garden has been my sanctuary and escape from the aggravations of life in a busy Northern city.
Planting, weeding and watering is my relaxation, but most of all, I love sitting in the garden usually with an earl grey or a pint of pimms.
All sorts of wonderful things happened since I got my own garden including an inspiring, energetic, incredible Chap storming into my life and staying.
I plan alot of adventures sitting in my garden.

I think this blog is going to be about:

  • where we visit – I love history as well as gardening – there are many wonderful gardens nearby like Tatton Park, Dunham Massey and Bodnant
  • what’s been happening in our lives
  • the odd bit of cooking and crafting too.
  • my thoughts and dreams for the future
  • many pictures of the garden, plants, flowers and the veg plot.
  • And maybe, just maybe, some campervan adventures…

I am most definitely an amateur gardener though – I’m rubbish with latin names.

Currently, I’m waiting for the daffs to arrive (Feb 2015) – Spring is nearly here.


tete-a-tete daffodil and english lavender in my front garden – Spring 2014

Carpe Diem