2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 210 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Almost a year

In three weeks time it will be a year since my last post. It seems like only last month but I know this is not true as there have been so many changes both inside and out, the garden having been neglected all of autumn and winter has had much attention lavished on it over spring and into summer but i still feel I am barely scratching the surface.

Back in April on a beautiful saturday morning I was trying to explain my garden plans to my very patient husband, it was months since I had been out there and I was desperate to get on with things, I had been enviously watching my neighbour pottering about in his garden with all it’s early spring colour from bulbs that I had had every intention of planting last year but didn’t. I had months stretching out ahead of me at home on maternity leave and i had visions of my beautiful daughter contentedly sleeping in her pram or watching and cooing as i created a garden for us all to enjoy. My husband needed to see a drawing, it was no good me having these ideas and plans in my head, if I needed help he needed an image, so what follows is a very poor sketch, not to scale obviously and produced quickly on my iPad whilst he thought i was wasting time on Facebook 🙂


I know, I know. It is terrible but it did the trick, I now had the help I needed. The idea was to fence off an area of lawn from the dog where we could eat and Flossie could crawl around and play on her own patch of grass. This would have an archway and gate in the middle leading to the rest of the garden and acting as a central focal point from the dining room. Down the side of this area would be flower beds with simply lavender and annuals such as cosmos, very baby friendly, lavender for it’s scent and cosmos for the colours. 

Beyond this archway and fence would be grown up garden with swing seat and big flower beds and beyond that would be a fenced off veg garden.


The fence could not be too imposing, we chose trellis to make a fence so that we could see through it and grow things through it to soften it slightly. We still have the water feature in the lawn that was there when we moved in, it would be too much work to take it out, it is all concreted in, but I think we will change it eventually.

One problem area that i am currently ignoring is the lower patio. In the image below you can see the over grown ivy and then the bath we found underneath it. I have left it as you see it below at the moment as not sure what to do.



The visions I had of Flossie patiently and contentedly spending time in the garden sleeping and watching were just that, visions. I grab time to spend outside as and when I can, an hour here and there when my hubby can entertain her for a while. In three weeks time my maternity leave will be over and I will be back at work, but we have had a lovely six months visiting other gardens, sampling tea rooms and I will post some pictures of those too when I get five minutes. I also have news of some other new arrivals in the household which entertain us all greatly 🙂

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The completely neglected garden

My garden has now been completely neglected for the past 5 weeks, I have not been to investigate the greenhouse in 2 weeks and the veg patch is now hidden out of sight by the weeds that have taken over. I can see from the bedroom that the mallow plant I grew from a cutting is now 3ft tall and about 3ft wide and is covered in lovely pink flowers, this makes me smile.

I have been diagnosed with hyperememesis gravidarum, the most severe form of morning sickness, I have pretty much been rendered useless. Imagine having horrendous food poisoning for a couple of days and how drained and exhausted it makes you feel and then imagine having this for almost 5 weeks!
The beginning of this week saw me admitted to hospital and attached to a drip until they were happy I was once again hydrated.  

I now find myself at home, signed off from work for 3 whole weeks and still unable to do an awful lot. One of the main things I am struggling with is the state of the garden, I see glimpses of the mess every time I pass a window and feel a little helpless. I can’t imagine what the neighbours must think of this abandoned jungle 🙂

One thing I have had plenty of time to do is read endless seed catalogues and make grand plans in my head, I am just desperate to out the plans in to action, new beds need to be dug, trees need to be dealt with. All that is left to do is break the news to my wonderful husband how much work he is going to have to do to help enact these plans 🙂

Hubby has been busy building and painting a lovely new chicken coop and run, I am quite excited about this but think we may delay the chicken purchase until I am feeling just a little bit more on track 🙂

I apologise for the lack of pictures this week, they will come as will many more posts when my garden realises that I really do still love it and hopefully it will forgive me for the complete neglect it has suffered.

Please visit this website which aims to raise awareness of this condition: http://www.helpher.org/

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A little bit about wedding flowers

Well I did warn you, it was there plain for all to see in my last post, not all posts will relate to my garden. The majority will but I will occasionally get distracted and go off on a tangent. This time I want to share some flowers with you, the lovely flowers that we had at our wedding last month.

We planned our wedding in 5 months, there was none of this pre-wedding stress you here about, it was all very simple and easy.  We knew what we wanted but were very laid back about it all, it was a day for us and our friends and family.  I remember back in February the question of flowers came up, we were sat in my mums living room and on the wall was a photograph of some pinky/lilac peonies, something like that I said would be nice. This then gave rise to a whole discussion on colour themes for the day, things that I just hadn’t considered. I was told that peonies were too heavy for a bouquet and a pinky/lilac colour theme would be hard to match up.  I toddled off thinking nothing more of it until the day I had to go dress shopping.  I bought one wedding magazine at the beginning of the 5 months and this became a little bible for a few weeks.  In the back it had a photograph of a handtied bouquet made up with pink peonies, lilac roses and orange roses.  I took this tiny photo to show the florist that afternoon and explained we wanted informal english country garden flowers for our wedding in May, she knew exactly what I meant and told me that the orange flowers in the picture didn’t work, I agreed. Here is what she delivered:

The Bouquet

Everything else fell into place, the men had lilac waistcoats, ties and handkerchiefs with a cream rose buttonhole. We had pew-ends with a pale pink rose, green leaves and lilac ribbons which looked lovely and we had two podiums and a table piece.  Being the very relaxed people that we are I left pretty much everything up to the florist confident in her ability to provide a stunning display and she did not disappoint. Whilst out having photos taken you can see in the middle image that a bee thought it had struck gold when it discovered the bouquet 🙂

The podium display

I don’t think the photo does this justice, it was huge. I did not see these until I was in the ceremony but when I did I was thrilled, she had captured May in an english garden, the display was full of hollyhocks, alliums, roses… and all in pretty colours, it worked wonderfully.

The Wedding Cake

The theme continued through the the wedding cake with cream and pink peonies, roses and some wax flowers. The cake was from Marks and Spencers, it came with ivory icing and a ribbon round each layer, to decorate it I again asked the florist to provide flowers for between the tiers, a really affordable way to have a perfect wedding cake 🙂

The Tables

For the tables we wanted to again keep it informal and pretty. I was trying to work out the cheapest way of doing everything and was not sure whether to go to Ikea and buy £1 vases and fill them with little bouquets of mixed flowers from somewhere or get it all done together, I told the florist my dilemma and she again took it all out of my hands and hired in the vases and filled them with pretty hollyhocks and roses, she also tied the table bouquets together so that people could take them away at the end of the day, very reasonable for £10 🙂

The Wedding Favours

For the wedding favours and still trying to keep costs down I ordered personalised M&Ms in pink and lilac to match the colour scheme. They were very cute but the week before the wedding I discovered that Marks and Spencers had some seed favours at only £1 a packet and with a week to go I ordered them. They contained forget-me-nots and had lovely slogans written across the front 🙂

The seed favours

There are more flowers in the portrait photos but I still have all of those to edit but we got some lovely shots against some lupins and aquilegia  and set against a wall of ivy, that is enough though of me waffling today, my lawn needs cutting and there is weeding to be done 🙂

The photos are by Fossca Photography and the flowers from Orange Blossom Florists

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The abandoned Garden.. That is how mine feels.

Well I will not lie to you, I wouldn’t dream of it, these last few weeks have not been all about the garden, and I have to say looking at my garden at the moment you can certainly tell. At present it has a slight look of neglect about it, weeds are doing their best to start a new life in amongst my plants, the grass is looking sorry for itself and the dog has managed to leave a trail of rubbish and destruction where ever she has been.  Whilst this will mostly be all about the garden there will be times when other parts of life will spill over into this blog  and it can’t hurt can it, after all gardens reflect their owners don’t they?

I wanted this post to be about flowers, wedding flowers! I became Mrs P two weeks ago today and I wanted to share the amazing flowers that helped create a magical english garden feel to the day but you are going to have to wait a week until I have the photos. That could be an advance warning to those of you who really are not interested in wedding flowers to miss next weeks post 🙂


The garden has carried on without me though. This Digitalis was one of the few to survive the batterings from the wind and the dog. I absolutely love these, I brought them with me from the last house. We only had one in the garden last year which was such a colourful surprise, I was delighted. This year before I left I spread the new plants from the seeds around the old garden and brought some of the stronger looking specimens with us.

When we moved here almost 2 months ago now I brought a number of plants with me.  This is something I wasn’t sure about doing, when you plant something in a garden does it then belong to the garden or to you, are you not stripping away life from it that someone else could have enjoyed? I sound like I stripped the last garden bare don’t I but I promise you I didn’t, I just bought a few with me that meant something, I don’t think I left a great big gaping whole anywhere 🙂

The new garden just had a great expanse of lawn, no borders, no plants and this was just too much for me to bare for a whole year whilst I decided what to do and monitored the conditions etc, I am not a patient gardener at all although I am changing slightly I think.  I set to work digging a new bed, I knew I want large beds in the garden and I knew I wanted one down towards the bottom of the garden as this is where I eventually want a summer house and my new plants needed somewhere to live temporarily.

The First flower bed

The small conifer I moved from a bath I found under a lot of ivy in the garden, this immediately gave the bed height and a certain look of majority, I had two azalea japonica plants, one bright pink and one red, and a Rhododendron September song to home. I also added a container of chives to fill the gap in the middle for now.

The flower bed

The very lovely Callistemon Citrinus Splendens (the spiky red thing) was a present from my other half when we were out shopping for DIY goods for the house, he knows just to take me to the garden section to revive me from the endless aisles of tools, wood, paint, pipes…., he is ever so good 🙂  I have potted this in a container  for now having read they are happy as container plants and also knowing that it needs to be moved inside when it gets colder, I shall assess it’s future beyond this next year.

The flower bed at present

The photos above were taken last month when the azaleas were in flower as well as the rhodo but here you can see in june it is looking a little tired and slightly neglected. The Callisteman is looking a little battered by the recent winds which also blew down a few foxgloves too.  I have however planted some baby sweetcorn around the edges and some broccoli plats too which will bulk it up a little, also my veg bed is full of onions and leeks and I just haven’t gotten round to sorting out a second.

The Greenhouse in June

The greenhouse did not miss me at all, everything is flourishing in there, the aubergine plant (on the right) is about to flower and the bench is crammed full despite the courgettes now being moved outside. Three cucumber plats are doing very well and have all got a flower on, I have never grown cucumbers before so we shall see how they turn out.  The other day I received six penestemon plants from Thompson and Morgan so these have been potted up and can be seen in the terracotta pots along the front, I am an absolute sucker for all the Gardeners World offers they send me, I am going to end up with a very mis-matched garden at this rate 🙂

The Pepper Plant

One more thing that has grown considerably whilst I have been busy is this pepper plant. My brother in law delivered it as a reasonably small plant a few weeks back and now it has these huge peppers growing which will be black when ripe, exciting.

You can tell I have been away for a few weeks, if you have stayed with me up to now then thank you very muchly, you are very patient 🙂

I will be back with wedding flowers pics next week, you have been warned x

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Back next week

The contented gardener is busy getting married at the moment 🙂

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Warmth in a Greenhouse

It is grey, the kind of grey that sends you scuttling to find a big comfy jumper and a mug of something warming, the clouds look like they hold the promise of rain but nothing happens and the trees are bent double battling against the wind, this is exactly why it took me 2 hours to leave the safety of my bed this morning. I had booked today off work with grand plans of gardening, I had lists of jobs in my head that needed to be done but one glance outdoors and I buried deeper under the duvet.  I could have easily stayed there all day but I was brave, I made my way to the greenhouse and shut the door.

The Greenhouse

If you remember from the first post the greenhouse was one of the reasons we moved, I didn’t exactly know what I was going to do with it but I thought I must have one in order to complete those Greenhouse To Do lists in Gardeners World 🙂 It looked in a sorry and neglected state but after 2 hours I had it gleaming and ready to go.  I felt a little behind with seed sowing so I got a few tomato plants and chilli plants to it felt as if it was being put to good use.  This weekend my future brother in law arrived and filled it up with plants he had been raising from seed.

Greenhouse in May

Knowing all these plants were awaiting my arrival was eventually what persuaded me outdoors this morning. The left image shows my Calomondin plant – The miniature Orange. I picked this up in a neglected state in Homebase last year for half price and it has just flourished this year. The greenhouse if full of the scent of citrus blossom, it is heaven. Last year I got a handful of Calomondin fruits from it and these have been sitting in a kilner jar with white rum, I am just waiting for the right moment to try it, Yum.

The rest of the pots are  the result of Mark’s visit. There are many chilli plans of various varieties, cucumber plants, courgettes and a black pepper plant as well as a few more tomato plants. Last year I had 3 chilli plants and made chilli jam with them using Nigella Lawson’s recipe,  I still have 12 jars of this left as it is just too hot to eat. Who knows what I will do with all of this years harvest, thank goodness I have plenty of time to think of new things.

Finally here is my cold frame, this is in a sorry state despite me showing it I cared by giving it a lovely coat of dulux weathershield paint, I found it under one of the huge evergreen trees, it has still served its purpose though.  In it you can see my sweetcorn and broccoli are about ready to face the outside world properly, I just don’t know where to put them, last year inspired by Alys Fowler I had broccoli and cauliflower growing in my flower beds and it really did look lovely so that will be the way forward again this year I think. More on flower beds next time though 🙂

Cold Frame in May

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