Thursday, 28 June 2012

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

I mentioned in my last post that we had seven different roses in our garden.  We inherited them all when we moved in - the previous owners had obviously loved them. I have to admit to having had a problematic attiude to roses until recently.  Most of the year they look like dry sticks and don't provide any greenery, and only look good for a few weeks in May and June.  I've always loved the roses themselves, but they seemed hard work with their aphids and deadheading and need for pruning.  I wasn't about to dig them up, but they seemed more work than anything else.

This year has been different though.  I've fed the roses early in spring, I've bought organic aphid spray  to keep them in check and I've deadheaded more often.  And this year they have rewarded me with the most wondrous smelling, beautiful blooms.  As an impatient gardener, I am learning a lesson here - some plants need a little more care, a bit more effort and planning in order to produce at their best.  I also seem to have fallen in love with roses a little.  So I hope you will forgive my indulgence and enjoy these photographs of all seven rose bushes in Hazel Cottage garden:

God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.
James M. Barrie

Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses, a box where sweets compacted lie.
George Herbert

They are not long, the days of wine and roses.
Ernest Dowson

Monday, 25 June 2012

Summer and the strange owl

It truly felt like summer this morning as I gazed out into our garden, wishing I didn't have to go to work.

I yearned to wander around deadheading roses and yanking out miles of the dreaded bindweed.  I've been really pleased with how the garden is coming on, in spite of the odd weather patterns this year.  This area was mostly barren last year - its a man made raised bed/rockery which was built rather badly and is mostly just brick rubble and poor soil in places  I've planted a couple of geraniums and thymes, and let the golden marjoram take over a little and it is starting to look lovely. 

Our fruit harvest is small, only two apples on the tree we planted last year.  Seeing as we had three apples last year, it should be a little better, although Mr C tells me this is the pattern everywhere, apples and pears have really suffered.  We have started to pick raspberries and strawberries though, although we will have to be far sharper with protecting the redcurrants from the birds next year.  We have only harvested 4 currants, although there were double that amount last week!

I thought I would share a picture of my random purchase that I made at the weekend at our local summer fete.  I'm rather taken with my strange little owl, though have no clue where it will live.  For now he lives on the dining room table next to the flowers....

A clock we found in a charity shop that will hopefully live in our study.  And some of the beautiful roses from one of seven rose bushes that bedeck the back garden.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

For the love of old books...

This blog may give have given you the impression that we spend all of our time in the garden or kitchen. I do post often about our adventures with creating a cottage garden or growing vegetables and making our produce into home made cakes and preserves.  Another passion of both of ours is books.  We do own a large number of books, and Mr C is currently building a large floor to ceiling bookshelf in what will be our study, to cope with the number of books we have.  

As the weather is not particularly summery, my thoughts turned to some of the interesting books we've found recently.  One of the most beautiful was this one, 'The Young Lady's Book' edited by Mrs Henry Mackarness and dated 1876.

It begins 'How common amongst  our young ladies between school-days and the much-looked-forward-to possession, a "home of their own" is the exclamation "I have nothing to do!"'  The book then gives advice on "What to do and how to do it", from housekeeping, nursing the sick, and working for the poor to home studies and indoor and outdoor occupations.  There are chapters on things like gardening and illumination and wonderful plates to accompany them.

I shall end with a quote from the chapter on reading:

"The habit of reading is one of the most valuable means of securing amusement; we can read when little else could be done without trouble...every book read makes us better able to understand others."

Sunday, 3 June 2012


At Hazel Cottage we are putting together the final touches for a Diamond Jubilee Tea Party we are organising at our local church.  Eggs have been boiled and blancmange made.  We have made about 30 metres of red white and blue bunting, the tables and chairs are in place and tomorrow anything from 60 to 100 people of all ages will turn up with varying amounts of food to share.  We've found that these events take on a life of their own, we've lost count of the number of people, and slightly lost a handle of what food people are bringing.  But we know that a crowd of people with turn up, and more than enough food will always appear. 

All of this work is because we really wanted to do something to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee locally and offered to organise something.   Central to our party tomorrow will be our fabulous portrait of the Queen, picked up a car boot or jumble sale a few years back. 

When we found the picture we weren't sure what we would do with it, although we are both monarchists we didn't envisage her sitting above the fireplace!  However this year she will come into her own.

The long bank holiday weekend has meant more work in the garden of course, the weeds seem to be getting the better of me, but I will prevail.  We are also doing battle with the vast number of slugs and snails - the problem with wanting a lush, cottage garden is that there are plenty of places for them to hide it seems.  Although I am trying to be clever and mostly grow plants that they don't eat, the difficulty is with the veg garden, those succulent young seedlings are very tasty.  Wish us luck, we have ordered some nematodes which will help with the slugs at least without harming the birds or our vegetables...

Have a lovely long weekend and God save the Queen!