Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon! Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter...

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Gina on Viggo

Just to set the record straight!
You have been reading all those stories about me, Haikus even, by my cat Viggo, and I just want to tell you that Viggo is a fabricator of fibs.

Yes, I am an older dog, but I am NOT decrepit nor smelly and I hardly ever fart. Well, only when I have had cheese.
The only truth Viggo has told you is that he isn't allowed in my basket. Too right he isn't!
So let me tell you something about that cat: he snores! There, I've said it.

And you can understand why I keep some distance between us, can't you?

By the way, the chain was an experiment, but I didn't like it. So it was not repeated.
My Master fenced in the entire garden instead. I don't mind that.

Any way. Do NOT believe anything that cat tells you!

What is it You Love about Flowers?

Flowers have fascinated, cheered and comforted me from my earliest memories onward. 
Do you know those little illustrated books called 'The Flower Faeries"? They became quite the rage in the Seventies. I had a couple, but sadly they were lost somewhere in between my 16th and 17th house move.

Will you just look at that wallflower? Isn't it absolutely stunning? It has seeded itself and crossed itself with a yellow one, the original being a red one I brought as seed from Hampton Court Palace (Yes, I admit it, guilty. I nicked the seed. So if there are any Brits reading this: I apologize profoundly.)

The thing is, ever since those little books, I have had a thing about getting right up close and personal with flowers. Can't help myself. I have to stick my nose in. 

The artist portrayed flowers as being Faeries, very sweet. And looking at this Amaryllis I can relate, totally.

This is the original yellow wallflower, by the way.

And no Dutch garden without some red tulips, obviously. Mine are just coming into colour.

So, I wonder. What is it you love about flowers?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Glorious, Glorious Gardening Weather!

Today was the third day in a row that the sun was shining, the temperatures were above 17 degrees and thus I have been enjoying my freshly blossoming garden 100%!

After years of trying to get a Camelia to settle in our difficult soil, we finally have one that seems to enjoy staying with us. Last year it had three  smallish blooms, and just look at it now!

And our Japanese maple has produced tiny clusters of blossoms, just before the leaves are about to unfold. Isn't it gorgeous?

Unfortunately I will have to work a long day tomorrow, but perhaps the sun will be gracious and allow me some time after seven, to sit next to the pond on my make-shift seat on the compost heap and enjoy its last rays.

I'm wishing you a super gardening weekend, where ever you are.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Empty Nest Syndrome

Have always laughed this off. ENS. What nonsense! When your children are children no longer and fly the coop, you simply start doing 'fun things' again yourself. ENS is a silly 'oh look at poor old me' attention grabber for menopausal  women.

Or is it?
There I was, Saturday evening. Son was playing a tennis game; ETR not before midnight. Daughter was with her lover; ETR not before Sunday afternoon (when I was expected to pick her up from the next island over - did I mention we Wetlanders live on islands?). Husband was having a middle-aged snooze above his accounts.
And there I was. Alone (well, with Gina and Viggo, but they didn't say much) in a suddenly deadly quiet room. Thinking that this ENS lark wasn't as ridiculous as I'd thought.
So I shook myself, lit some cosy candles, put on some cheerful music, poured myself a whiskey (I drink Jameson these days) and despaired.

Usually I can entertain myself (and aforementioned cat and dog) by practicing my singing, but this would mean waking up my husband, so this was a definite no-no. Also, it meant practicing my guitar was out of the question, especially as these days I try to play slide. (Helped by a wizard on YouTube called Matt Smith).

So. What to do? The only thing I could do. Write.
I wrote a Haiku.

Empty silent room
both kids in pursuit of love
empty nest syndrome
It didn't help.
Help! I believe this ENS is here to stay...

Photograph by Wibe Koopman Photography

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Gardening Season in the Wetlands Officially Opened!

Suddenly it is a done deal: temperatures above 10 degrees C and dry weather.
In The Wetlands this means a quickening of the gardener's blood! Like the sap stream in a tree, our own sap stream cannot be stopped and we wake up with pleasant anticipation and tingling fingers. Out of bed and into the garden we go!

We have plans. But then, we always have plans. Every year for the last 21 years we have changed things in the layout and planting of our suburban garden of 25 x 16 meters, North-East facing mostly, and in the front West facing.
Some years we have put a lot of money and effort in something large, for example a greenhouse, or the pond, and other years we simply change the planting of the borders around because it turned out not to work in the way we thought it would.

Gardening in the Wetlands, on heavy clay (great for potatoes, not so great for the Roses I adore) is challenging to say the least. And we face an even greater challenge (not counting the North-Easterly winds which howl across our plot in March and April), for the largest part of our garden has, as the locals call it, "hunger soil". In other words, it is poor soil.

It took some years before we sussed out that this soil made our plants struggle (we were absolute beginners with this garden), but after that we have started mulching, mulching and mulching.
Also, after April the prevailing wind is Westerly, bringing with it the sea salt from the North Sea which is only 13 kilometers away. And there usually is a lot of it, wind, even in high Summer.

This is our third Camelia, the first two died. But this, finally, is in the right spot, sheltered from the wind by the fence on one side and a hedge on the other.

Today we have emptied the planters on the balcony, and have planted them with purple, pink and orange pansies and the white creeper from the photo above. And we have tried to get some order in the rest of the garden, and I've been planting out seedlings of the Digitalis which I love.

They seed themselves in between our cobbles, and I painstakingly uproot them and plant them out again in the borders.

This year we have decided to uproot some shrubs next to the pond and move the compost heap (also next to the pond), as the best place to catch the late evening sun next to the pond is...on the compost heap. We will ask our son in law and both kids to help us, and hopefully we will be able to do all this in one day. It also means uprooting the box hedge, and resurfacing with pebbles. But when it is finished, we'll have a wonderful place to put some chairs and watch the fish and frogs in the pond.

Viggo loves gardening as well. He has 'helped' me today by digging up my Digitalis seedlings as fast as I could plant them. I had to resort to locking him up inside.