Saturday, October 03, 2015

Garden at the beginning of October 2015

Oops, bit of a break from blogging, but September was a busy month, and I'll blog about that more later on. Thought I'd better get the garden post done before November happens!

This month the 1st fell on a Thursday, when I'm not at work, so I was able to take photos in the morning. It's definitely getting more of an autumnal feel now.

Still plenty of flowers though. The Rudbeckias in both front and back gardens still look very bright and cheerful

And all the fuchsias are still covered in flowers. The roses I grow in containers on the patio have been disappointing this year, but I think next year I will revert back to using the compost I used originally (New Horizon organic and peat free multi-purpose compost), which they seem to like a lot better.

As I'm now fairly huge and gardening is getting difficult I'm letting most things run to seed and not bothering to deadhead. The sweet peas still have lots of flowers on them.

And the Japanese anenomes will soon have lots of fluffy little seedheads.

My Hydrangea 'Twist n shout' is showing off why I bought it five years ago - beautiful autumn colours

The Cosmos I grew from seed is still flowering away, and looking rather pretty next to the Heuchera leaves.

The sedums I Chelsea chopped in May are looking fantastic, with flowers at different stages. Or they were. Some wildlife (I suspect a fox or two) went on the rampage the day after I took this photo and they've all been flattened and most of the stems broken. Grrr.

Still harvesting a couple of bowls full of raspberries every week.

And this year we finally grew a decent number of apples. We picked 22 off the standard apple tree, and they taste delicious!

How is your garden doing now we're heading into Autumn?

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Garden at the beginning of September 2015

All pictures taken by the OH this time, as I wasn't home from work in time before it got gloomy!

We've had lots of rain so the lawn has greened up nicely. The OH also took out the Echinops from the raised bed as it was crushing the Escallonia and getting a Bit Too Big.

Apples ripening on the tree. It's covered this year, and it shouldn't be too much longer before they're ready to eat.

The one measly apple left on the other tree after all of the others (still unripe) were gobbled by a greedy squirrel

Instead of the Echinops, I moved this Fuchsia into the space - it's the one I bought at Croome back in June and had been in a container. It has tiny little flowers, and should grow reasonably tall now it's in a border rather than the container.

The autumny flowers are blooming. I'd like to move these up a bit too so they get more sun, but digging up plants and moving them is a bit beyond me at the moment!

This year's tomatoes have been pathetic. We haven't had one to eat yet, and when they eventually do ripen they invariably split

The Japanese Anenome is doing really well. I love its flowers, and also the little fluffy seeds that develop later on (I'm currently deadheading them, but will let some seeds develop later on in the season as it self-seeds well).

We've had lots of Gladioli this year, as I bought a bumper lot at the garden centre at Clandon Park, which we visited not long before it burnt down (Clandon Park that is, not the garden centre). I still feel really sad about that, as it was a lovely property to visit, and in my professional incarnation, I catalogued the library there.

There is a YouTube video showing the extent of the devastation.

Thanks to the OH for digging up the Echinops and taking all the pictures this month!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fair Isle sheep

Knitting tiny sizes certainly goes quickly! This is the front of the Milly tank top in size 3-6 months which only took a few days to do. I have realised that, whilst I like doing the regular type of Fair Isle with repeating patterns, I'm much less keen on the ones where you have to do lots of counting and it isn't regular, or you have to carry long floats behind the work to twist in every so often. It would probably also have helped if I hadn't also been watching 1864, which is in Danish with subtitles at the same time! Still, it was fun knitting on this size garment. I think for an adult size garment I'd want to stick to regular Fair Isle, as I learnt the holding-the-yarn-in-both-hands technique a few years ago.

This is my mitred square baby blanket made out of (machine washable) sock yarn oddments. I've finished all the mitred squares now and am planning to crochet a border, just had to wait for a 2.5mm crochet hook to be delivered as they don't have the Clover soft-touch ones at my local Hobbycraft.

And I finally got around to cutting out the pieces for a dress for the impending niece. This is the fabric I bought on holiday back in early June so it's been handing around for a while! This is the wrong side, the right side is much brighter. The local haberdashery is closing down at the end of this month, so I am going to have to be organised about going somewhere to buy buttons for the dress, as I'll have to get the car out and go further afield for them now.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Books read 2015 #2

#6 Pamela Cox and Annabel Hobley Shopgirls: true stories of friendship, hardship and triumph from behind the counter
I got this one from the library after meeting one of the authors when I was at work. It narrates the history of women working in shops from the mid-nineteenth century until the present day, and is full of little anecdotes and detail gleaned from the archives. I learnt a huge amount about social history, for instance, I'd had no idea that Sunday trading laws were a relatively new thing, and once upon a time shops used to be open very long hours to enable people who worked in factories etc to have a chance to shop. I think I'd been vaguely aware that shopgirls used to "live in", as a way of guarding their morals, and getting more work out of them for less money. It was also interesting to discover that the whole "demise of the high street" and move to big stores isn't a new thing, and the whole area of shopping has been in a state of flux ever since the nineteenth century!

#7 Deborah Cohen Family secrets: the things we tried to hide
This was another one I saw on the book suggestions pile near the self-issue machines in the library and picked it up as it looked interesting. It draws on archive material from the last 200 years to look at what families found shameful and how they tried to cover it up. So it looks at social attitudes, and how the law changed. It was really interesting seeing how things changed over time - Victorians were apparently happy to keep their disabled children in their midst, as they saw them as just one of those things and that they had a duty to look after them. But once the basic idea of genetics filtered through, having a disabled child indicated that something was wrong with your family so people (especially the middle and upper classes) were more inclined to hide them away in an institution. Obviously other attitudes changed over time too, including people having babies outside marriage, and whether adoption was OK or not (the changing ideas over whether or not children should know they are adopted were interesting too), and attitudes towards homosexuality, which was actually considered OK (even if illegal) most of the time, as long as people weren't too flamboyant about it. The book moves on to look at notions of privacy, and how they compare to now - once upon a time people tried to keep secrets within their family, whereas now people are more likely to share a lot of information via social media, but also be to be fiercely protective about what information search engines such as Google store.

#8 Julie Summers When the children came home: stories of wartime evacuees
In similar vein to the book above, this is another popular history type book, based on the accounts of wartime evacuees. It covers a lot of ground, looking at evacuation from the point of view of children and parents (plus people that went with the children, such as teachers), those that were evacuated to other countries, or evacuated from other parts of the world, and those for whom evacuation changed their lives in a positive way, and those who had an appalling time. It was a real eye-opener, as, of course, I knew children had been evacuated, but I had little idea of the logistics involved, or the different types of evacuation. From a 21st century perspective it sounds such a risky thing to do, to send children away to unvetted strangers, not knowing when you would see them again.

#9 Alan Titchmarsh Lawns, paths and patios
And now for something completely different! We're planning a garage extension and new patio/driveway so I thought I'd do some background research so got this from the library. It's fairly basic, but fills you in on all the basics you need to think about. It includes a lot of diagrams for how to do the work yourself, which we aren't intending to do, but it did help me to get an idea of what is involved in a project of this kind.

#10 Mary Gibson Custard tarts and broken hearts
Fiction set before and during the First World war, featuring the women who work in a custard factory in Bermondsey. I enjoyed the setting the scene and the attention to period detail. It's all a bit  predictable, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.