In a Vase on Monday: a day late

Hello, hello. I hope you are keeping well. These beautiful Japanese anemones – which although are thugs in our garden, I forgive because they are so elegant and poised – were picked on Sunday, photographed yesterday (Monday) and uploaded today. I picked the pears, too, so they made a cameo appearance. I had full intentions of joining Cathy’s vase gathering yesterday but I hope she won’t mind me being a day late 🙂 Her vase this week is a riot of colourful zinnias in contrast to my very simple offering, so do click on the link to her blog for a blast of colour and to find links to many other beautiful vases from around the world.

My head is a jumble of everything that’s been going on here lately and all the thoughts that pass through a middle-aged mother of offspring who are on the cusp of flying the nest. After six months of having everyone at home (because of you-know-what), the boys will soon be going off to university – Thomas for his third year and Ollie for his first – and because of you-know-what, it is unlikely we will see them again before Christmas. They’re excited and anxious – it’s not going to be the usual uni experience – and I’m anxious and very emotional because I am going to miss them both very much indeed. Harriet is not looking forward to being the only child at home, nor is she particularly looking forward to starting sixth form (but she is happy at the thought of studying three subjects instead of 11). We are all dealing with yoyo-ing emotions on a grand scale.

I’m in the middle of two weeks of holiday (at home) and the heatwave that was bathing the UK in glorious sunshine earlier in August disappeared at the beginning of it. It’s mostly been chilly and wet and windy but I have managed some energetic and therapeutic clearing in the garden (my scratched arms are the scars of a perpetual war with brambles) and cut back the lavender. I’ve picked a load of raspberries and made jam and a raspberry and yoghurt cake (from Diana Henry’s Simple; I used orange zest and juice instead of lemon which was delish) and I’ve roasted loads of plums and greengages which are now tucked into the freezer to use in winter. I’ve stripped all the leaves off my tomato plants in an effort to get them to ripen – they seem very slow this year – and I’ve pulled and roasted the last of the beetroot. I’ve also been perusing the Sarah Raven catalogue and made a list of tulips – I’m going for ‘La Belle Epoque’, ‘Slawa’, more ‘Ballerinas’ and ‘Brown Sugar’ (because you can never have too many of these scented beauties), ‘Copper Image’ and ‘Spring Green’, which are meant to be highly perennial. I still dream of being able to cut armfuls in spring to bring indoors.

It’s back to work on Monday (still working mostly from home) but in the meantime I will be trying to make the most of my remaining holiday, seeing friends, catching up on household chores, as much gardening as I can fit in, shopping with my boys for uni stuff and trying to prepare all my children for their new academic years in this strange and confusing Covid world.
Wish me luck.

October garden


I am ignoring the rugby (England v Australia) which is currently on in the other room. My boys have just left the room in disgust. It’s just too much
to bear.

So… It’s been a glorious week, weather-wise. There was a keen wind here on the south-east coast earlier in the week but the days have been sunny and lovely and warm in sheltered spots. Yesterday, the wind dropped and I threw open the doors and windows to listen to the birds singing and fill the house with fresh sea air. Gorgeous.

There is still quite a lot going on in the garden and loads of jobs to do.

The self-sown marigolds are looking jewel-like with the dark purple nicotiana.
The self-sown marigolds are looking jewel-like with the dark purple nicotiana. This really is one of my favourite colour combinations.  I hoiked out the marigolds (calendula) this afternoon as they have somewhat swamped the other planting and I want to see where all the perennials are and fill the gaps. The planting here was rather thrown together for the Garden Safari back in June and I’d like to give it more thought.
The Tithonias are still flowering their socks off and providing welcome autumn nectar for bees and hoverflies. I’ll keep deadheading them and see how long they last.
Our autumn raspberries are laden with fruit. 'Joan-J' is the stand-out variety with large, well-formed delicious fruit. The 'Autumn Bliss' canes, while just as prolific, have smaller, less tasty fruit.
Our autumn raspberries are laden with fruit. ‘Joan-J’ is the stand-out variety for me with its large, well-formed delicious fruit. The ‘Autumn Bliss’ canes, while just as prolific, have smaller, less tasty fruit (in my opinion!). I’m picking about half a colander-full of raspberries every other day at the moment (some don’t make it into the colander) and we’ve been enjoying them with Greek yogurt. 
The border along the back wall needs a good weed and tidy but it's still colourful.
The border along the back wall needs a good sort out but it’s still looking lush.
This pretty clump of pink Japanese anemones is on one side of the front steps and a large swathe of white ones is on the other side. The whites are much more invasive and have started to creep across the steps to join their mates.
One of our two cats – Alfie – posing for the camera. Those meddlesome white anemones are in the foreground. The Erigeron on the steps has been flowering non-stop since April.
Erigeron is also growing in the back garden wall. This plant can spread itself all over the garden if it wants to. I love it.
The wilderness at the bottom of the front garden. We sowed chalk grassland wildflower seeds here in May but there are too many weeds that have out-competed the wild flowers. Some, such as the ox-eye daisies, have come up though. It's a tricky area and we need to rethink it.
The wilderness at the bottom of the front garden – we sowed chalk grassland wildflower seeds here in May. Unfortunately we didn’t do a thorough enough job of clearing beforehand and too many weeds out-competed the wild flowers. Some, such as the ox-eye daisies, have come up though.
The climbing rose (unknown variety) at the front of the house has been flowering since May.
The climbing rose (unknown variety) at the front of the house has been flowering since May. You can just see the lavender in the background – it’s put on sturdy new growth since its hard cut at the end of August (phew).
Cassie has been enjoying the autumn sunshine too.
Cassie has also been enjoying the autumn sunshine.

Wishing you all a good rest of the weekend, with plenty of sunshine and relaxation wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

Autumn light



I love the sunlight at this time of year, especially in the late afternoon. There’s a gorgeous softness, depth and warmth to it. Other than to sweep up a tonne of leaves and pick up windfalls, I haven’t spent much time in the garden lately but I did pop out this afternoon to catch a little sun.

Miscanthus flowers. These plants are from a chunk chopped off a big clump of Miscanthus in our previous garden.
Miscanthus sinensis: these plants were propagated from a chunk taken from a big clump in our previous garden before we moved here. We originally bought this beautiful ornamental grass about 12 years ago from The Plantsman’s Preference, a fabulous nursery in Norfolk that specialises in hardy geraniums and ornamental grasses. I can’t remember the exact variety of Miscanthus – the label is long gone – but there are over 40 of varying sizes and colours on their website.
The raised planters either side of the steps have really filled out and are looking rather overgrown and chaotic. Annual grasses, including Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’, Salvia ‘Hot Lips’, rudbeckias and snapdragons (emergency planting for the garden safari back in June) have grown together in a frothy mass.
This is one of the planting combinations I’m most pleased with this year – Verbena rigida (which has been flowering for months), a blue/purple geranium of unknown variety, Gaura ‘The Bride’, a bronze fennel (that appeared out of nowhere) and more annual grasses.
As much as I dislike the invasive habit of Japanese anemones, you can’t deny they look completely beautiful when they’re flowering en masse.


In other news… It’s been a busy, long week. As well as the first full week of Back to School with all three children having to be out of the house by 7.35am, David has started a new job which means he’s away from home for most of the week. We’re all getting used to this and settling in to our new routines which means Being Organised: packing school bags the night before; eating a good breakfast to keep you going throughout the day when you’re too busy ‘socialising’ at lunchtime; keeping on top of increasing amounts of homework after a long summer of not picking up a pen; going to bed early… We’ve managed one week. I wonder how long it’ll last!

I hope you’ve had a good week and are enjoying some September sunshine wherever you are.


My sunny middle son is 14 (14!!!) today. He requested burgers for dinner and a coffee and walnut birthday cake. I was pleased to oblige.