Monday, 4 June 2012

Our dear little garden

This is a blog mainly intended for our family and friends to see what our garden looks like. Enjoy reading it, if you like.

We have a dear little garden. Not a secret garden, not a fabulous garden, not a sculptured one, not fancy, formal, flightful. Just a dear little one.

If you look carefully at the photo below, just in front of the garden shed you can see a row of paving stones. This garden is a mere seven paving stones wide. Very typical of the area we live in, which used to be cottages for the railway workers, as Eastleigh rose to "fame" as a railway town. In this first photo, I am standing alongside the wall of our kitchen looking back towards the gate. You may also notice on the lefthand side, the Weber and the braai. That braai actually comes from the Kruger National Park. An ex-colleague of mine from IBM gave it to me after his father passed away and he had bought it in KNP! Another thing to notice about our garden is that all of our gardening is done in pots or bags, as then we can take it with us should we decide to move. Why fix up a rental garden if you can take it with you to the next place? Right at the end is our car - VW Golf 1.8, a rather older model than you will see running around new these days! 

Taking a step or two forwards allows you to begin to see some of the detail. The splitpole garden fence is exactly the same as we had in Kareeboom street in Joburg and they are very popular here. The bag looks bare, but is in fact about to sprout and produce a crop of lettuce. That is if the giant killer slugs and the marauding sparrows don't get them first!

The scabius has been blooming for weeks already and is just beautiful.

Further along we have a number of pots that were planted up yesterday. At the left is a dahlia, then a yellow daisy-like plant. I am nuts about yellow plants, it seems. We also got some lobelia and marigolds to add colour. Behind them all and about to bloom is a lavender bush which gives us a wonderful display.

Next comes the campanula, a groundcover which was here when we arrived. It is simply glorious and has always been fabulous. It comes back every year after having been buried in snow and/or frost and gives us this delightful display.

And a close-up of the campanula

Beyond that are two hanging baskets of "pretty faces" as Robyn loves to call them, or pansies to the rest of the world! In amongst this shot is a small red rose which has survived all the neglect and abuse that I have thrown at it and still comes back for more. Earlier in the season, Elseline re-potted it and it is now presenting us with buds like there is no tomorrow! I cannot wait to see it in full bloom. In front are two small troughs of ranunculas and freesias. These are struggling! Possibly because there is not much soil for them, but also possibly because of the drought then flood then heatwave that we suffered in the space of 2 months.

Although none are present here, we have many sparrows visiting our garden and normally they are there all day long, helping themselves to the seed we place out for them. Camera shy, I guess. We also have some fatballs out, but we seldom have more than sparrows or starings in the garden. On two occassions we have had a sparrowhawk trying to get a free meal!

Our garden wouldnt be complete without some vegetables. Here are my garlics. They are thriving and I cannot wait for the end of the season so I can harvest them. Of course there is also the lettuce previously mentioned. We have 3 bags of potato plants and hopefully we will get a crop from them too.

Here is our pride and joy! Doesn't look like much, does it?  This is again planted in bags, but BIG bags this time. The plants are wildflower or meadow plants and are just beginning to provide a bit of colour. We decided to have meadow flowers as we are aware that the insect population in this country has been decimated and need as much help as they can get. So we got a couple of packets of seed meant to provide flowers that bees and butterflies are supposed to go ga-ga for. Time will tell. So far we haven't seen much insect activity around these bags. I suspect that as they bloom more and more that we will start seeing hover flies and different sorts of butterlies, over an above the several sorts of bees we already have coming in for the campanula and other flowers.

If I had kept the seed packets I may have been able to tell you what this is. However, it is very pretty. The flowerhead is a tight ball of buds and unwinds as each opens. there are hundreds of these flowerhead, all about to open. C'mon bees!!!

Another delightfully delicate flower in the bags is this pale cream one.

And the last of the wild flowers to have blossomed is this yellow one. Again, I wish I had kept the packet.....

Looking back towards the house, we have this view. It is not unusual to see Elseline sitting out in the garden and spinning. And who can blame her? 

This is another groundcover (name unknown to us) which is an amazing feast for bees and bumblebees. Very small, pretty pinkish flowers.

And here you can see them behind the entrepid spinner who was determined to be outside too, even if she had to wear a shawl to stay warm!

And as a finale, here are three photos of some of our flowers in the garden. As you can see - all have YELLOW, which is just fine by me!

So there you have it - hope it gives you some small pleasure. Goodness knows it gives us a lot!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Every journey starts with but a single step.....

This statement (or one in the same vane) seems by all accounts to be attributed to Lao-Tzu, a Chinese philosopher in the 6th century BC.  How does this have anything to do with me, you ask? After too many years of a sedentary life in front of the TV, I have finally came to the conclusion that I need to become active and have decided to take up walking. I know, I know - I have been doing that since I was a mere, well, toddler. However the walking I wish to be associated with now, is out of the urban structures and in the countryside. Perhaps I may become a Rambler, yet I lean more towards being a Hill Walker at this stage.

The first steps were taken with a good friend, Ian, who accompanied me on a circular walk from Avebury in Wiltshire. Now many of you may never have heard of Avebury. It is rightfully famous for having the largest stone circle in all of England and one of the largest in the world.  Considering when it was all erected (sometime between the Mesolithic and Neolithic eras), it was a monumental (no pun intended) undertaking, the digging tool of the day was the shoulder-blade of an aurochs or some other bovine beast.

Anyhoo... we left Avebury on a southern trajectory and soon found ourselves wondering past yet another impressive Neolithic item, Silbury Hill.

As you can see, we had chosen a typically wonderful English summer day for our walk! This hill is entirely man-made. It is 40m high and was created about 4600 years ago. Why? Many theories abound, some more fanciful than others, but truth be told, no-one knows. Maybe an evil person, or tribe of evil people had been killed and they wanted to make really, really sure that they couldnt come back. As good a guess as any......

We continued on south and found ourselves at the West Kennet Long Barrow. Looking back from the top of the long barrow,  you would normally see Avebury but the mistiness allows only the view of Silbury Hill.

Wildlife-wise, there was not much to see. Ravens, blackbirds, jackdaws, various LBJs and this inquisitive beast who interrupted it's head scratching to inspect us closely as we wondered on by.

Most of the walk was in wide open terrain with almost the only overgrown area being at a stile leading into a veritable green canyon.

We only took a wrong turning once and thanks to my fetish for maps, we were able to discover where we actually were and get back on track. Part of the path we walked is the very beginning of the Ridgeway National Trail at Overton Hill. The walk was easy (thankfully) and without and ascent or descent to speak of, the highest point being about 225m.

This was all topped off with a fine ending at The Red Lion where we both decided that bangers and Devon cheddar mash was an appropriate choice.

Next? I need to continue to build my walking stamina and Ian and I are already talking of another, longer one in a couple of weeks. Pilgrims Trail and GR10 - here I come!