29 Feb 2016

Yellow flowers in a grey world



I've just been reading back through the comments left on my last post about my Dad and shedding a few more tears.  I was so moved by the shared experiences of others who had gone through the same thing and the messages of sympathy.  Thank you, everyone; your comments have touched my heart.

As expected, the funeral was very sad but a good many people came from all over the country to say last farewells. Despite the sombre occasion, it was good to catch up with old friends and family members who live far away - my father's cousin turned up with a treasure trove of past family history and old photos, a subject that I find fascinating especially as I've never managed to get further back than four generations. It's a sobering thought to know that I'll never be able to get either of my parents to tell stories about their lives again although I made frequent notes in the past - my mum loved to talk about her family and the tales she'd heard as a girl.

A week on and back in the garden I'm seeing lots of signs that spring has sprung - at least in my London microclimate. (The benefits of having nearby heated buildings!)  It's still cold but, my gosh, it's good to be spending the entire day outside again. As in, not getting rained on. Daffs are out, cowslips and primroses are out, snowdrops are still out and, yesterday, I spotted a tulip bud behind a lavender bush. Brave, but stupid. That flower might regret popping up so early if we have any more frosts; then again, I might be pleasantly surprised.



Leaves from last year's tulips are providing an overnight feast for snails and slugs (actually, the tulips are from the year before last - this is their third flowering!) Bog standard red pelargoniums are flowering now, after their third winter in the garden. (Yes, in the UK! Awesome.) When I picked them up for a couple of quid several years ago, I thought they'd be pot fillers for one summer. I'm guessing they're helped by being planted in the borders with a good root run rather than drying out in pots. That, and I deadhead regularly.

I'm trying to resist seed catalogues until I know how much space I've got.  That's a weird thing to say, given that the veg patch is now in it's seventh year but there's been changes afoot.  Half of my raised beds have rotted, allowing soil to seep onto the paths, so I've chucked them out. Rather than replacing them, I've created larger borders by edging the path with scaffolding planks.  I planned to grow lots of cut flowers this year alongside the veg and cleared a space for the purpose. But … we all know how nature abhors a vacuum and that area has quickly filled up with perennials and biennials that I've moved. I'm sure I could still squeeze in a few annuals though.

I dug up all the Autumn Bliss raspberries, an action that I'm not regretting in the slightest. (Tra-la-la!)  I've bought five more Polka canes which have been temporarily planted until I figure out the best place for them once I've finished the overhaul of the patch.  And the supermarket sweep has started already.  I'm such a sucker for a bargain.  I bought a blackberry cane for £2 last week and went back this week for a bush rose for the same price. (Next week: possibly 2 apple trees for £10! Woohoo!) It might seem weird adding a rose to the veg patch but my logic was twofold - one, I'll get beautiful scented long-stemmed deep pink roses for cutting (if the box is to be believed) and, two, the petals are edible and can be sugar frosted for cakes.  Roll on summer!

But there's more.  I've taken on another garden space, this time two floors down under my window.  This is going to be a major renovation project as there are hedges and shrubs to be brought under control, ivy to be cleared and ground to be dug and improved.  Thankfully it's not a huge space. So far I've only managed to prune a Kerria japonica. But I'm sure it will all be wonderful. Eventually.

This is where the project starts… the surrounding hedges are over 15 ft tall. 
Because I've embarked on this garden renovation project, I'm linking up with Helen's End of Month View over at her blog The Patient Gardener. With fair skies and a following wind, I should be able to chart the progress of the garden in the months to come.

25 comments:

  1. Oh this is going to be brilliant to watch! I putter around mostly on impulse, but to see someone with a trained eye developing a space is always an inspiration. Even better for you that you can look over it from your balcony. Plenty of opportunity to ponder on all the possibilities.

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    1. Gosh, no pressure at all then! :o) What's even better is that I know the space well so I know the hedges have to come down first to let some light in, then I can map out a structure. It's a challenge, but a good one!

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  2. Been away from blogosphere for awhile so a bit behind with news. Sorry to hear about recent events and thoughts are with you xxx

    But the cheer of Spring is starting now and lots of nice things to look forward to :)

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    1. Thanks, guys. I'm just getting back to blogging myself but have made time to follow your Madeira blog posts - lovely to have a burst of sun in winter! Yes, hopefully warmer weather is not far off so there will be lots to look forward to - ever optimistic about having a good summer!

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  3. Likewise the pelargoniums in next door's front garden has survived two winters.

    It's a sad fact that many of us leave it too late to start thinking about family history.

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    1. Wow, that's amazing about your neighbour's pelargoniums as I know your winters are much harsher in Yorkshire. Luckily it's getting easier to find out snippets of family history online but stories handed down in the traditional way are much nicer records (even if they may not always be accurate!)

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  4. Starting a new project from scratch is so exciting! I'm in the midst of clearing a patch on the hilltop behind my house that looks somewhat like your new space, only much, much worse - it will be a long, hard slog, but I'm taking the easy-does-it approach. It will take some time, but eventually, I'll get there. I'm looking forward to seeing your progress...I'm sure it will inspire me in my project.

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    1. Gosh, I hope I do inspire you Margaret, and good luck with your project - I hope you'll be blogging about it! Slowly but surely is definitely the way to get things done; I like to stand back and assess as I go along. Clearing a big space can be very tedious, but I bet you'll have lots of ideas while working! Take care. x

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  5. A lovely post and good pictures. Goodness me you are going to be busy one way and another. I look forward to seeing how it all progresses. Happy gardening. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks Flighty. Yes, I like to be busy, preferably outdoors kind of busy, so am quite enthused about this new project. Caro x

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  6. I love a garden project especially one that's recorded for inspiration. It's a great time of year for renewal and I'm finding the emerging leaves and buds very comforting-I'm sure you will too.

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    1. Oh yes, absolutely Sue. New leaves on the quince and bulbs popping up are a real indicator of life going on. I can always lose myself (metaphorically) in the garden. I'm fortunate to have such an absorbing hobby/lifestyle.

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  7. How exciting to have a new space to develop with the bonus of being able to look at it from above. Will you be using the garden or is it for a neighbour? I look forward to watching your progress :-)

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    1. You have some exciting plans and hard work ahead of you! I look forward to hearing how they progress.
      it's always cheering to see the first bursts of colour as you emerge from winter into spring. we are approaching autumn here in Tassie - I have found my first autumn leaves!

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    2. @acoastalplot: Hi Sam, yes it is exciting because I've watched this space become gradually unloved over the past couple of years. A friend of mine has been the custodian up till now (technically, it's a community space but there's a history of tenants taking over spaces to garden here) and my friend is happy for me to take over. So, the space will be for me, mainly, although I hope other people here will also enjoy the space. I plan for a flower garden with the added bonus of being able to pick blooms for friends who have a small local floristry business doing flowers for events.

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    3. @e/dig in hobart: I never mind a bit of hard work in the garden, it's just so satisfying at the end of the day to see what's been achieved! Or not, sometimes. ;o) I've been reading about your veggie exploits this year and your hot hot weather - it must be quite a relief to have the heat turned down a bit at last although perhaps not so good to know that winter is on it's way. The circle of life, eh!

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  8. How exciting to have a new garden project to do! I will look forward to watching your progress. You will have a good excuse to go out and buy some more bargains! We too have had pelargoniums surving a few winters. It just shows how different our winters are compared with our childhoods! It is a good thing that you have managed to record some of those family stories. Sarah x

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    1. I imagine that, in keeping with many other gardeners, the vision in my head might not match up to reality for quite some time! I hope that this will be mainly a cut flower garden so there will be lots of seed sowing (and weeding too, no doubt!) - and no doubt one or two perennials. It's lovely to know a bit about past members of the family and to see more photos was really wonderful. Caro x

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  9. I thought I'd commented this morning but it's gone AWOL.
    you have some great projects and work ahead of you - I look forward to reading how they progress.
    and there is nothing more exciting than seeing the first bursts of colour after winter. we are heading in the opposite direction of course, here I n Tassie - I saw my first golden autumn leaf earlier in the week.

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    1. Ah, I'm afraid that was me being lax in publishing the comments! I had to put controls in after receiving loads of spam although I think that's died down recently so perhaps Google is onto it. :o)

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  10. Family mystery is a most fascinating subject Caro. I just wish that I had shown more interest in the tales I heard when I was younger. My dad got back to 1780 with his family tree and I inherited all his research. I'm slowly putting all the pieces together and may have traced the next generation back. Another garden space! I admire your energy :) How great to have that aerial view as you make your plans. Look forward to hearing more about your progress.

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    1. Wow, that's amazing, lucky you! I need to find the time to connect my paternal grandmother's family with the 16th century Stow family - my gran always held that she was a direct descendant of John Stow who wrote Stow's Chronicles of London, several copies of which are in the British Library. The aerial view of the garden is great but it also reminds me that I need to get on with cutting the hedge which has got to be five feet wide at the top!

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  11. Ahhh, I'm so glad the funeral went well. Family history is important and I always wish my parents were still around to answer some of my questions. I hope you're bearing up well.
    How exciting that you have another garden, I shall look forward to following it's development!xxx

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    1. Thanks, Dina. Significant events like these are always hard to bear but life goes on and I'm fortunate that some of my work brings me into contact with very small children who are so full of life and laughter - an instant tonic!

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  12. As many others have said, I really look forward to seeing you develop that new space, what an exciting opportunity. The only thing that would perturb me about the rose in your veg bed would be getting scratched whilst weeding and picking, otherwise I am all for flowers in amongst the veg.

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Comments on my posts are much appreciated and help to build an online community of blog friends. Everyone is welcome! I love to discover new blogs so please leave a comment to introduce yourself.
Caro x

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