Sunday, August 29, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
"Don't!" he cried, swinging his arm away, "You'll break its legs!" He then proceeded to lift the beetle on a leaf to safety.
wildflowers and mountains of Switzerland
Jon-Paul lives and works in Switzerland and this is how he describes part of his journey to work:
".....every day I walk down the little hill to the train station to go to work I see the Swiss/French Alps and Lac Leman. Every day I see birds of prey flying overhead, hunting or playing with each other in flight, and quite often over the rooftops of the houses in Vevey, they seem used to civilisation here. See quite a few different kinds of birds, and lizards too, the fire salamanders are my favourite, black with yellow spots/splashes."
....... just me having a few sentimental moments.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
One of the joys of having a garden is being able to bring some flowers indoors. This simple arrangement consists of Sweet Pea, Purple Loosestrife, wild Yarrow and Achillea 'Summer Berries'.
This is Buckwheat, a useful and very attractive plant. If you double-click the photograph you can see each individual floret in detail. Seeing it close up, it reminds me of apple blossom. Buckwheat has many uses including feed for livestock, food for humans, honey crop, weed control and green manure.
Buckwheat is not a true cereal but is related to sorrels and docks and, in my opinion, is as pretty a plant as any other in the garden. I've grown it as groundcover previously, to protect the soil from being leached of its precious minerals by the rain. Next Spring I want to grow lots more just because of its pretty flowers, which are also of great benefit to bees because of its long flowering season.
This is Achillea 'Summer Berries', which produces flowers in various shades of pink. It's extremely pretty and looks wonderful grown en masse.
And here is the common Yarrow, one of my favourite wildflowers.
Folklore tells us that if some Yarrow is sown up in a little pouch and placed beneath the pillow, you would dream of your future husband/wife. You also have to recite the following charm before dozing off to sleep:
Thou pretty herb of Venus tree
Thy true name be Yarrow
Now who my bosom friend must be
Pray tell thou me tomorrow.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I particularly enjoyed 'Father Figure' in which he freely confesses to attempting to murder his alcoholic father several times, all of which failed. Although he describes the fear that his father inflicted upon the family, written in Nichols's own style, it becomes a hilarious and heartwarming read. Believe me! :O)
It's his books that he wrote about his house, garden and nature that I enjoy the most however. Today, I'm not sure how many people remember or know about the writing of Beverley Nichols. If you enjoy reading uplifting books, sprinkled with lots of humour throughout that leave you feeling sorry when you've read the last page but feeling good, then you should seek out his novels. Luckily that wont be too difficult as Timber Press are offering re-prints of many of Beverley Nichols's books. Here's a direct link to those available.
Here also is an excerpt from his book, 'Laughter On The Stairs'.
"This fourth spring I went bird's-nesting, by which I do not mean crashing like a bison through the bushes, wrecking other people's houses. It was a question of watching, and listening, and, when the time came, of standing and staring. For the miracle of a bird's nest is almost the greatest miracle of all. Think of it like this....... An aery meeting, a flutter of feathers and then, before you know where you are, a beautiful house, perched in the branches of a tree.
That is only the beginning of it. Shortly, on the floor of the house, exquisite ornaments are deposited by unseen hands. These ornaments are light blue, or pale green, or speckled like a fritillary; they are oval in shape, and fashioned from the most delicate, fragile porcelain.
Even then the miracle has only just begun. For each of these ornaments contains music. Liquid music, sleeping music, disguised in the form of two magic fluids, one gold and one white. Unwritten music, as yet, but music which one day will echo through the woods like distant flutes.
These ornaments are filled with unwritten music. It is all there, 'tuning up'. There is the white and there is the yolk, and between the two of them there will one day be a bird, with a swelling throat and an eager heart, singing for you and me.
You may tell me that you could rhapsodizde, in the same way, about the embryo of a baby. Perhaps you could. I couldn't. Having babies is in no way to be compared with depositing delicate pieces of porcelain in the branches of cherry trees. It is a far less decorative process. Whether it is a more useful one is open to question."
'Laughter On The Stairs', pages 151, 152
To find out more about Beverley Nichols, go here.
Timber Press publish books about gardening, ornamental and edible plants, garden design, sustainability, and natural history. For their UK website, go here.
For their Oregon USA website, go here.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
During a quick tidy-up in the greenhouse last Summer, I came across some lily bulbs. I always grew the lilies in containers but because of the time it takes to water them, I decided to cut down on containers. Having come across the discarded bulbs I thought it was a shame to leave them there, so I planted them in the nearest little plot of ground at the side of the greenhouse. I'm so glad I did. They're one of the highlights in the garden this Summer. Their roots not being confined to a pot (and a couple of liquid feeds), allowed them to grow almost to the height of the greenhouse! I took this photo early in the morning and the sun was shining on them making them seem paler than they are. The colour is more intense.
The Millenium Bugs at Durham Botanic Gardens..... and 13 year old daughter. :)