Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Through the garden gate in May

Welcome to our monthly view through the garden gate.  I realised this month that there is never a good time to leave a garden once the growing season gets under way. We usually go away in June or early July, so we were amazed on returning from our holiday down the Rhine, how everything had increased so much in size, in the short time we had been away!

Thanks to our dear daughter the plants in the greenhouse and conservatory had been well looked after (she has had the house and Tavi and Twinkle too !)

There had been sunshine and heavy rain, which had brought out all the slugs and snails. I think many must have choosen West Bay as a holiday destination - as  last year we didn't need to use a deterrent against these blighters! I was saddened to see that the achocha seedlings that I had raised from the seeds Caro from An Urban Vegetable Patch had sent me had disappeared, and also the honesty seedlings from CT's seeds from Countryside Tales  were covered in many holes.

We were delighted to discover that there were many Granny's Bonnets (aquilegias) in flower. We brought the seeds with us from our previous home and it was wonderful to see them flower for the first time and to welcome the varieties we had previously loved.

 The scent and colour of the Matthiola perennial is lovely, We found this flowered for several months last year.
Fresh green growth is everywhere - the cuttings we bought with us and planted in November 2014 have obviously taken quite some time to settle but they are triple the size this year.

 The winter sprouting broccoli was badly hit by the strong winter wind,s and has only now started to
produce florets. I expect it will go to seed very quickly, but it is good to eat especially after waiting for it for so long.


In one of the vegetable beds we have a variety of different of salad leaves with a small crop of shallots and this year we are trying elephant garlic. Has anyone ever grown this?

The highlight in the flower gardens apart from the Granny's bonnets is also the French lavender and a beautiful pink rhododendron. What is the best thing in your garden at the moment? Although we have many buds of the roses none are in flower. We saw so many wonderful roses already in flower as we travelled through France and Germany. Thank you for all your comments about travelling down rivers, it was interesting to read of many other stories of boats stranded because of high or low water,

Others who usually participate " Through the garden gate" are :-
Margaret's Patch
Vintage sheet addict.  - (Down the garden path)
County Lovers
Coastal Ripples

If any one else wants to join in please just let me know in the comments below, I have found already that it is a good way to keep track of the changes in my garden and notice the changes in the other gardens too.

It has been lovely to have a warm bank holiday weekend. We seem to have spent most of it in the garden. I did manage to attend the Bridport Vintage market and meet up at long last with Vintage Jane. It is always good to meet up with someone you have made friends through blogging. She had some lovely things to buy including some fantastic vintage clothes and homemade cards.

I hope you had a good weekend too, until next time.
Sarah x

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Journey down the Rhine

One of the items on our bucket list has been going on a small cruise preferably with land either side, so when the opportunity arose to take a cruise down the Rhine, in the company of two of our favourite bands, (Show of Hands, and India Electric Company) our names were among the first ones on the list!

On the first day the sun shone and we all sat out on the top deck enjoying the warmth of the sun. We glided along the winding Rhine river, admiring the ever changing scenery of quaint villages and old churches, some lining the water;s edge and others clinging to the sides of the hillsides. Crowning the top of the hills are many ruined castles that were once maintained from the tolls that were charged to allow access along the river. Vines also terrace the steep hillsides, it must be quite a task to maintain and pick the grapes!

The journey wasn't all plain sailing however, as we were sitting at dinner the third evening there was a sudden change of plan, due to the conditions on the river. An accumulation of melting snow on the Swiss Alps and heavy rain had caused a huge rise in water levels, We set out immediately for Strasbourg but during the night all boats on the river were ordered to moor up. After breakfast many of us ventured out to investigate our new surroundings only too discover that even the roads out of the hamlet were flooded too and we were stranded! At least the swans were enjoying the additional swimming areas and we had plenty of musicians on the boat to keep us entertained,

Half-way through the afternoon it was decided that it was safer to allow our boat to proceed down river rather than stay where were. We were apparently the only boat out of the 1,600 vessels that on average use the Rhine on a daily basis who were given permission! We proceeded slowly as there were concerns that due to the high water level that we might not be able to fit under the bridges, some did look quite close!

We reached Strasbourg and although the boats weren't allowed further for a few days it did allow us to get out and visit other places.

From a wine tasting in a French village

Seeing many storks nesting and feeding.....

We also visited the Rhine Falls in Switzerland,  which is the largest waterfall in Europe and felt the power of the water has it thundered past us! We were told that it was at it highest flow level for 100 years!

 The two ducks sitting on the rocks (mid-right of the picture didn't seem to mind the noise or spray!

Despite the high water levels and eating too much food we had a wonderful time. It was a relaxing way to travel and see so much. It's amazing how many goods are still transported along the river and despite passing some industrial areas we won't forget the wildlife we saw. The storks flying over head were a highlight for me. Have you been on a cruise or visited this part of Europe?

Returning home, everything has grown so much in a week, so we shall be busy this week in the garden and catching up on other blogs. Wishing you a happy week, sorry for the long post!

Sarah x

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Nature's seasonal make over

I welcomed in May last weekend with an another early morning rise at 4.45am, (my husband being more sensible just rolled over, and stayed in bed! ) However, just look what he missed - the colours in the sky were just breath- taking. 

So why was I up again so early? I was following an ancient tradition of getting up before sunrise on 1st May, I didn't wash my face in the morning dew or bring in garlands of flowers, but instead watched some local Morris dancers celebrate by dancing on Stonebarrow Hill. (For further details of May celebrations see here.) Did you do/see any celebrating on May Day? It's good to see these traditions to celebrate nature's seasonal make-over haven't completely died out.

Although it looked so beautiful, it was so cold, I had to scrape the ice off the car window before setting off. Those watching were wrapped in warm coats and hats while the dancers, wearing just white shirts and trousers, really felt the cold!  This image below could so easily be straight out of the pages of a Thomas Hardy novel!

The light and colours changed as dawn broke....

and the sun slowly rose in the sky, at the end of the lane, and you could instantly feel and welcome it's heat.

I couldn't resist a detour on the way home to Charmouth beach, which not surprisingly at 6.30 am was deserted, apart form a distant lone walker. The beach huts I mentioned back on this blog in the Autumn, were back in place, ready for another season.

Later in the day, walking through woods smothered in a carpet of wild garlic, we spotted this deer, who was just standing very still watching us.

It was lovely to see fresh green leaves appearing overhead. This week everything seems to be just bursting into life before your eyes!

The fields close by are now full of sheep and lambs. It is wonderful to see them jumping around and enjoying the May sunshine.

  The blossom is also wonderful, whether it is in the hedgerows

or on the apple trees in our garden.

The forget-me-nots in the garden are still providing such a carpet of blue (sorry for featuring it again, my excuse is it is even better than last week! )

Last evening we took another walk in a different direction, up Eype Down and I accidentally discovered how to capture that vivid blue colour of the bluebells that previously has eluded me. The solution is to take the photographs at dusk! The added bonus, was the scent from the flowers was much stronger in the evening too.

Blue seems to have dominated this week on a shopping trip to Weymouth with my daughter,we ended up looking like tourists by stopping at the top of Abbotsbury Hill  (a well known viewpoint)  and capturing this misty blue view on the mobile phone, 

Thank you as always for your comments and popping by to visit me, wishing you a fun week!

Sarah x


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