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.

Always label your freezer bags

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On Tuesday the blanket of grey, drizzly cloud that seems to have settled over us here in the south-east shifted temporarily. The sun shone, the birds sang, the sea glistened and I was invigorated enough to get into the garden. I weeded the back border and pulled out the annual grasses that had finished doing their thing and were flopping all over the place. I pulled out the tomato plants and cut back the first-year asparagus fronds to 5cm, then mulched the bed with compost (home-made – yippee!). Unsurprisingly, the cats made a bee-line for it and it wasn’t so neat the next day.

The asparagus bed, tucked in and put to bed for the winter.

I picked another load of raspberries (they are still going strong) and decided to freeze some so we can enjoy them in the depths of winter. I washed, dried and arranged them on a baking tray and carefully laid it the freezer. Once frozen, I tipped them in to a bag and put them back in to get lost underneath the unidentifiable bags of mince-based dishes. I know I should label them, especially as I’ve defrosted a bolognese and a chilli-con-carne together in one pan before now…

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The clocks go back tomorrow night (an extra hour in bed – bliss) and it’s half term next week. Is it me or does time seem to be speeding up? It doesn’t seem five minutes ago that it was the start of the autumn school term. Before we know it, it will be … No. I can’t mention ‘it’ yet. The children will be home in a couple of hours and I’ve a pile of ironing to do. I’m looking forward to slowing down later this evening and curling up by the wood-burner with a glass of something warming. Here’s wishing you a lovely relaxing weekend.

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A weekend’s work

The veg patch is slowly starting to look like a proper veg plot rather than a neglected, overgrown heap. After two full days of digging and weeding, raking and levelling, and putting in posts and supports, we finally planted our new bare-root raspberry canes as the light was rapidly fading yesterday.

There are six plants each of two varieties of autumn-fruiting raspberries – ‘Joan-J’ and ‘Autumn Bliss’. According to the books, autumn-fruiters don’t usually need supporting but as it gets very windy here, and ‘Autumn Bliss’ is a tall one, we thought we should give them a hand. The supports also mean we can throw over a net if birds start pinching the fruit later in the year.

Two neat rows of raspberry canes.
Two neat rows of raspberry canes. Not bad considering it was dusk (then dark) when they went in!


It was David who did the final planting as I took the opportunity to stand upright for a while and cook dinner (late again). The children are getting fed up with later and later mealtimes as we make the most of the longer days. I did point out that they could cook dinner themselves and that would actually be very helpful occasionally, thank you!

Calm sea and lovely light today.
Calm sea and lovely light today.

It’s a lovely, calm day today after yesterday’s gusty wind. I went for a quick stroll round the garden first thing. There is something new to see every day this time of year and you can almost hear the buds popping. The most pleasing sight this morning are the tulips. The flower heads are peeking out (happy, happy) and they should be in full bloom soon.

Hello tulips!
Hello tulips!

A not so happy sight was a tray of snapdragon seedlings in the greenhouse munched to stumps by a snail. I found the culprit nestled snuggly underneath. The ‘greenhouse-keeping’ has been a bit lax. Will have to check all the nooks and crannies for rogue snails today.

The asparagus crowns we ordered arrived in the post on Saturday. We’re behind with preparing their home (over-ambitious plans!) – they’ll need to go into a tray of damp compost somewhere light and cool to await their new bed. I discovered some ground elder where we want to put the asparagus, which is a bit of a blow, so there’s a lot more hand weeding to come today. Digging, sifting, trying to find every tiny bit of root. Curses! Having spent most of yesterday hunting and pulling out perennial weeds and roots, I’m not relishing the thought. Thank goodness there’s a yoga class this evening.