Sunday, 12 October 2014


It's my birthday tomorrow.  The big 60. I suppose it is a milestone in life ... step over the line and you enter old age ... they used to give you a bus pass (as compensation perhaps?). Well to me it is just a number. It won't make any difference.  I'm not going to suddenly need a walking frame: I already walk upstairs and forget what I wanted up there! You can't fight age but you can enjoy it. Today was lovely.  We visited Buxton for The Great Peak District Fair

It is an annual Real Ale festival and Craft Fair held in the grounds of the Buxton Pavillion Gardens ... so that's where we started.  The Gardens were designed by Joseph Paxton (of Chatsworth fame) and opened in 1871.  The glass house was beautiful ... packed with flowers and texture and foliage.  I would love to have just one part of the display in my greenhouse! Spider plants tumbling over walls; banana plants reaching for the ceiling; maidenhead ferns waving in the slightest breeze .... everything so lush and healthy. 

There was a large exhibition of work from local artists on display.  Paintings, textiles, multi media and pottery. I was particularly taken by the linocut work of Jill Kerr.  So detailed.  Another favourite was Pauline Townsend, silk painter, I have come across her work before.  She produces beautiful flower images.  Oh to be that talented!

Well, hopefully, I will have plenty of time in my old age to develop new skills and collect houseplants!

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Last of Summer

Nearly time to dig up the Dahlias.

Originally there were only 30 different types of Dahlia but that was back in 1615 when  Francisco Hernández de Torres first found them in Mexico.  Now there are thought to be over 57,000!

According to the experts you should dig up Dahlia tubers after they have been blackened by frost or by the end of October if the weather stays mild.  The soil should be carefully cleaned away and the tubers placed upside down to let moisture drain away. Store them in a dry, frost-free place. 

Next year I want a "hot" border with dark Dahlias, Cannas and Lucifer Crocosmia mingled with tall grasses. I have to move a couple of roses and a few lupins but the only other plants in the chosen spot are a dark red tree peony and a yucca so they can stay. I found these inspiration shots on Pinterest:

I think I will aim for the orange/yellow combination.

My 92 year old mum is staying with us for a few days.  We visited Felley Priory yesterday where the Plant Heritage Rare Plant Fair was taking place.  Loved it!  Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera so you have to imagine the beautiful gardens with the plant stalls covering the front lawn; the gorgeous tea and cakes; the late summer sunshine and the cars full of colourful purchases.  
Mum bought a chrysanthemum the same colour as her outfit here.  I bought a bamboo - she wasn't impressed as it didn't have any flowers on it!

Felley Priory Garden

Sunday, 28 September 2014


We bought a bread making machine a few years ago and went mad buying lots of different flours ... like you do! The cupboard was eventually cleared out ... and all the out of date bags thrown away!
A more sensible approach was adopted and we now use the machine most weeks but the majority of our bread comes from the shops.

Well, yesterday I popped into the Oxfam Book Shop and browsed through The Complete Bread Machine Cookbook by Sonia Allison.  It became a must buy within a couple of minutes!  I wasn't bothered about the traditional recipes; I was captivated by the range of lovely sounding breads I could produce just by measuring a few things into the machine.  So today I am addicted to this Apple and Cinnamon Loaf made using the basic white bread recipe but with Apple juice instead of water (and 2 tsp of cinnamon obviously) ... how simple was that!  It is absolutely the best tasting loaf I have ever made in that machine.  By teatime we will be sampling a Walnut Loaf as I work my way through the rest of the recipes.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Happily Tired!

Took all day to complete it but I'm very pleased with the result.  You now walk under the rose arch and the whole feel of the garden changes.  There's no grass just paths, borders and trellis ... oh, and the pond (which you can't actually see at the moment because of the massive water lilies).

This morning:




So now I can plan what to grow where .... that's the best bit!

The same area in  2012:

I know I'll sleep well tonight!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Slabs and Stones may break my bones ....



A 7 feet by 6 feet rectangle of grass remains .... but not for long! 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hello Autumn, Farewell Persephone

Today is the Autumn Equinox: the day Persephone had to return to the Underworld.
It's a good time of year.  Still warm enough to spend the day outside with the beautiful trees and you can look forward to a long evening snuggled up in front of the fire with a good book.

Here's what I found in my garden today:
Snails' eggs or should that be Snail's eggs?  Apparently they do lay a lot but I found thousands of them!  I lifted the turf near the pond and there they were.  Do I want that many snails in my garden?  It might explain why my small pond has a huge frog population but the amphibians are going to starve next Spring, I fear, as I collected this lot and threw them in the field (hope the farmer never discovers how many pests I throw his way!).
It was only later I discovered I had made a mistake.  Top chefs regard snails' eggs as White Caviar and pay up to £1,600 per kilo!  They say they are delicious fried up with herbs .... some people will eat anything! 
Unfortunately this little Greenfinch wasn't eating anything at all  today .... it has probably BEEN eaten by something by now.  It was sitting in the middle of the garden and hardly bothering when we went near it.  I had to lock the cat inside to protect the poor thing.  Finch populations have declined since 2005 because of a disease called Trichomonosis.  Infected birds die because a parasite lives in the upper digestive tract and blocks the bird's throat.  It can't eat so it starves.  We have taken the feeders down ready to wash and disinfect tomorrow in order to stop the infection being passed on.

Monday, 22 September 2014


I must love procrastinating .... I do it all the time!
No, I didn't build the Bug Hotel today!  I'll do it later! 
Today I decided to get rid of more grass. When I started working on the back of the garden I envisaged huge borders and some grass but as the changes have been made I now know I just want a path meandering through tall flowers so the grass has to go.  Last year we visited a stone merchants where I had seen a fish mosaic and I quite fancied that in the middle of a patio area on this square.  Off we went on a whim to buy the fish.
The place was locked up when we got there.  It had gone into liquidation. 
A guy told me to call at the house next door and I might get a bargain.  He didn't have to tell me twice. 
I didn't get the fish ... it had been sold ... but I did get 13 edging blocks for £30 (originally sold at £8.50 each!)
I've placed them along the front path to see what they will look like ... very pleased with them.
Then I got some normal edging blocks and six bags of white stone. 

Well it wasn't what I thought I would achieve today but I'm happy! 
Yes, I know it doesn't go in a straight line ... that's part of the charm of it ... really there was a great big root growing exactly where I needed to dig so I had to go round it!
I once saw a cartoon of a protest march where a woman was shouting, "WHAT DO WE WANT?" The answer was, "Procrastination!"
First woman, "WHEN DO WE WANT IT?"
Answer, "Tomorrow!"