2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work

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Blossom time



This is proving to be a seriously good spring for all types of flowers – tulips are coming out all over the garden, the forget-me-nots are just getting into their stride and I don’t think I ever remember seeing so many flowers on the magnolia and camellia.


IMG_2671To give you an idea of scale, I can just about stretch to reach the top of the magnolia, and the camellia outgrew me a few years back. We planted both of them the year we moved into this house over 20 years ago and they’ve brightened every spring since.

IMG_2672Today had been grey with low cloud until about 5pm when the sky cleared and there was the most amazing low angled sun lighting up all the flowers.

IMG_2677I’d been reading the Portraits of Wildflowers blog earlier today about the amazing wild flower meadows in Texas at this time of year and thinking how marvellous it must be to see that. But honestly, the forget-me-nots, celandines and all the other parts of an English spring aren’t half bad either.



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Perfect garden afternoon

IMG_2648The warm weather this weekend seems to have resulted in lots of wildlife getting out and about. I saw three different types of butterfly this afternoon: the Peacock above and the Tortoiseshell below. I also had a Comma land on the table, but couldn’t get to my camera without frightening it off! I’m sure these must all be ones that have been hibernating through the winter.

IMG_2646The birds are also thoroughly enjoying the warmer weather – the bowl we have for Tilly to drink from in the garden makes a perfect sized bath for two or three sparrows, or a solitary starling or blackbird – this one today was having a really good splash!

IMG_2645So, so nice to sit in the garden with my flip flops on (with my feet hideously whitened after many months of thick socks!), read (currently revisiting Enchanted April, which I wrote about last year, and is one of the best books about finding joy by following your heart), journal, bask in the sun and listen to the bird song. Not warm enough to be out of long sleeves yet, but pretty good all the same.

IMG_2650I always want to grab hold of spring this time of year and make it stay longer – things seem to flower and change so quickly, and after a long winter you feel like you want the magnolia and quince blossom to last just as long as the cold weather did.





Wednesday in white

IMG_2624The whites in the garden have been dazzling today, although when you start to look more closely it’s clear that quite often there’s a tint of another colour in there too – this Chaenomeles or Japanese Quince is a variety called ‘Apple Blossom’ and you can see why when you look at some of the other flowers:


IMG_2623The exact balance of pink to white on each flower is different, giving a lovely overall effect. The magnolia is similar, with a faint blush at its base:

IMG_2619Totally different effect with the daffodils though – this is definitely a creamy yellow:

IMG_2628There are two icy whites in the garden though – the Osmanthus delavayi (I don’t know its common name, sorry!) which is just smothered in pure white honey scented flowers that some early bees were enjoying:


IMG_2637And the honesty seed pods that have lasted right the way through the winter.

IMG_2629Loving this spring light and freshness!



Monday magic

IMG_2566It really does feel magical at the moment as everything starts bursting into flower – and we have a whole week of fine weather forecast for what must surely be the first time this year. Had a lovely afternoon yesterday gardening in a t-shirt, but it wasn’t warm enough for that today.

IMG_2576Still great to be outside though. Also wanted to share my coffee cup this morning with you – couldn’t believe how the coffee grounds had formed a perfect ‘I love…sign’! And it’s true, I really do love coffee.



Soft light

IMG_2507The yellow and green of daffodils just seems to perfectly pick up the light at this time of year. The days are rapidly getting longer, and when I went for a run this afternoon there were sheets of crocuses out – so much earlier than last year.

IMG_2509White, yellow and green and this soft, low angled light just sum up spring to me.

IMG_2511IMG_2521I’m thinking that next weekend might involve a bit of tidying up the pots, buying some flower seeds and getting out of the office and into the fresh air of a new season. Can’t wait.

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Garden thoughts

I’ve been out in the garden all day again today, and thought I’d write some more about it. When we moved in here over 20 years ago, the garden was completely overgrown. There had been a huge veg plot that covered virtually the entire garden area (about 25 x 70ft), but hadn’t been touched for about five years. We didn’t even realise there was a pond till we’d been there about two months. So we had the rare opportunity of being able to design a big garden from scratch – after clearing the weeds, the only things we kept were a couple of pear trees and a huge flowering cherry. After buying some turf, we were broke, and so grew virtually everything else from seed. Relatives and friends gave or bought us plants, and gradually the garden stopped being just a meandering lawn with flower beds and grew into three dimensions.


Now, looking around the garden, so many of the plants bring back happy memories. The pink camellia, now twice my size, was a birthday present from my in-laws when we first moved in.They also gave us the lily of the valley that’s just coming into flower under the cherry. When I left working in retail to move into horticulture, my friends at work bought me plants to remember them by – kerria, spiraea, weigela and a yew. And my boss in horticulture passed onto me the huge white climbing rose that’s now over 30 feet high in the cherry (I think it’s Rosa mulliganii), the dogwood with its peach stems and leaves, and the ornamental quince Chaenomeles ‘Apple Blossom’ that looks just like its namesake at the moment with its white and pink flowers.


We never wanted a ‘manicured’ garden, but wanted an impression of lush abandon – not easy seeing as we garden on very sandy soil (we’re only about a  mile from the sea) that dries to dust in the summer. But looking around now, the plants that suited our climate have settled in and flourished, and seed themselves around quite happily. Usually by mid summer, there’s no spare soil left for any weeds to get a hold (other than the dreaded horsetail and bindweed, which come up through anything).



We did the garden up before the house, and, in fact, we’ve always preferred it to the house as well. On a quiet, golden evening like this, full of blossom and with birds singing their evening chorus, it’s pretty close to my idea of paradise. Particularly with Tilly close by.