05 August 2010
August at home and in garden - when it isn't raining!
This is a picture of my herbs and oils shelf which reigns supreme in my tiny kitchen. When I first moved back home I had a job sorting out Mum's kitchen - not that there was much, she had infinite patience for the garden and little or non for kitchen and in thirty years she saw out seven sets of saucepans to my one! I love to cook, and although I am not a cake-maker, I love traditional main courses - with a twist...my own version of the recipe.
OH and I spent two full days clearing out Mum's tiny kitchen, and repainting it to brighten it up. Under the sink we took off sliding doors that drove her wild, they never ran smoothly and I replaced them with a curtain hurriedly made up from an old curtain. In time this was replaced with "The Great Idea", otherwise know as maternity dresses that I found in the attic in our previous home. Well worn and used back in the day, I washed them, cut the ends off them, turned them down at the top and slid them onto a curtain wire. Now I have curtains, in floral patterns, plain and with lines on them. God bless the nuns for at least managing to teach me how to hem neatly. The girls love my recycled curtains, as they call them.
So far August has been a major disappointment with the weather. OH and I set out to freshen up the back patio with some exterior wall paint we found in a shed. Hopefully building work will start in the next two weeks or so on our new extension on the far side of the house. In the meantime I felt that the patio was sadly lacking in "relax" appeal and we got one half wall painted on Saturday morning before rain and relations visiting put paid to our efforts. That said, the Bizzie Lizzies [Impatiens] are looking much chirpier. I tried to get a picture up, but things are not going smoothly on that side this morning.
Winifred Wood-Pigeon, a stately dame of her kind, is currently trundling around the Blue Cedar followed by P.C. Magpie, who is, akin to all his brethren, permanently terrified that another bird will discover a juicy morsel that managed to escape the Magpie Brethren. Winnie shows scant interest in PC Magpie, she's well used to their ways and her complacent attitude serves her well, he gives up and flies off to find more interesting things to investigate such as OH's newly planted Monbretia at the end of the garden.
I sat up in bed early yesterday morning, bedazzled by the joys of a sunny morning, albeit six a.m., and there, grazing on the lawn placidly as ever was Winnie and six Magpies. A comment a friend passed recently came to mind. "I know this used to be a dairy farm IE, Frisians grazing down there and all that, but honestly IE, six black and white magpies...what's this? the economic version of black and white grazers?" I had to chuckle at that, while at the same time ruefully wishing that there was at least one bovine view to be seen. OH would have a fit! His lovely lawn, retrieved from a wilderness? NEVER! Of course, back in the day it wasn't Frisians grazing there, but a motley crew of multi coloured placid cud chewers. I remember Molly - the last of my Grandfathers dairy cows. She was elderly and past milk production but Mum kept her on for sentiments sake. Molly would back up to the end of the house wall, and blissfully scratch her derriere while lowing contentedly. She provided the inspiration for a blog some time ago.
There is something about cattle that appeals to me. From their gentle brown eyes, inquisitiveness, and soft gentle voices. No matter the breed, no matter whether they are beef or milk producers, give me cattle over sheep anytime. Eek! I can hear all my sheep farming blogging friends hurl insults at me, but no my friends. I am not averse to sheep, it's just that sheep are clannish, stand and look at you as if they can't work out who or what you are [but instinctively know you are inedible], whereas cows come over for a chat.
Have you ever stepped over a stile into a field of cattle? Some people are afraid to do so, the size of the beasts intimidating them. I have always found that if you step smartly down and head straight for your destination they stand back respectfully and let you pass on. Mind you, dear reader, I haven't put this theory to the test with bulls.
So, back to gardens. Well, I do have to confess that it does my heart good to look out [on wet days] at the splash of colour around the garden and to think of the difference in the summer of '08. There are three more flower beds since we moved back in, Mum's bed still reigns supreme. There are pockets of colours of every hue brightening up previously dull and uninteresting corners; the bee and butterfly population are holding their own with all the buddleia's that have come into prominence after the clearance. The fragrance of roses abounds. Since that first summer we have added ten new varieties, some old favourites like Albert Darcy, some redolent of honeysuckle and some we may never know the names of because of my penchant for buying the "cast-asides" in garden centres.
I think it is a source of bemusement to OH how I can go into a garden centre, pick out the runts, the plants that the centres consider are no longer commercially viable and so place them on the half price counter. I bring them home, plant them and tell them "grow or die" and within two years they are off, racing up walls, and making a laughing stock of the "commercially perfect" pieces that cost an arm and a leg. What the heck, if you are supposed to hard prune roses, doesn't it follow that they must be strong, ergo the runts are worthy of a second chance?
My joy will be unconfined if I can encourage rabbits back into the garden. OH says, with some cynicism, that I only want them back to feed the five foxes who reside here. My reply to that is that we will be lucky to have even one fox left considering current happenings. It appears that someone heere in the village is poisoning them. A lingering and awful death - we lost the Hopping Fox on Tuesday. She was a quiet little charmer, almost tame and would often sit under a nearby Forsythia of a summers evening as I sat reading a book on the patio. We didn't trouble each other, but I think she liked the company. The others would either race through when they saw someone was about or turn back the way they came, but she would come down off the hill, have a good sniff around, stand and look at me for a while and then walk over to the Forsythia and curl up, occasionally looking up and then wrapping her brush around her.
We were at a Blessing of the Graves down the country last Sunday night. As the Priest gave a long sermon on a rain-lashed hillside, my attention wandered. I looked across the fields to a nearby ditch dividing two fields. There, betwixt a rowan tree and a hawthorn bush, outlined by the weak rays of a sun trying to shine through the rain, sat a rabbit. Upright and engrossed in washing himself, he reminded me of Fiver in Watership Down. "Bright Eyes" came to mind and, I have to admit, this view made more impression on me than Fr. Doyle's sermon.
Autumn is coming, and with it a whole new adventure for this years garden.