Sunday, 31 December 2017

Review of 2017

As the year draws to a close a short moment to look back at the highlights of my year......

The Cobb at Lyme Regis December 2017
Looking out to sea is a big part of our lives and the views change constantly from one moment to the next. There is always something different to see and photograph.

From stormy seas to sunny days......

Tavi enjoys the water too and the countryside, he is not so keen of walking in towns or cities.

In 2017 we sadly said goodbye to Twinkle and we took Jackson a rescue cat into our home.  Initially he spent most of his time eating or sleeping, but after having previously lived in a town he soon started to appreciate having a huge field next door to explore.

Looking back over the year it is always the pictures of spring and summer I find the most appealing. From the beautiful bluebell covered woods to our visit to David Austin's Rose garden.

Our holiday to Anglesey gave us the opportunity to see puffins and seals close up in their natural environment.  

Our year has been full of  involvement in community projects from running a Green Fortnight, and a street party, to community walks, community gardening, beach cleans, helping at the museum and redeveloping an old building for community use.These projects will continue, some at a more demanding pace as 2018 proceeds. We also aim to drastically reduce the amount of plastic coming into our home in 2018 and produce a local directory of plastic free alternatives!

West Bay - looking towards West Cliff

 Thank you for all your comments and friendship during the past year, especially as I don't have so much time to blog. It was so good to meet some blogging friends face to face for the very first time, it always feels as if you are meeting old friends rather than strangers.

I would love to hear what has been good for you in 2017 and what plans you to have in 2018. Wishing you a very Happy and healthy New Year!

(In case you missed it the last look of 'Through the Garden Gate' was posted a few days ago.)

Sarah x

Friday, 29 December 2017

Through the Garden Gate in 2017

December is quite a bleak month in the garden so this month I am going to concentrate instead at looking back at just a few highlights from my gardening year......

It wasn't a bad year in the garden we had an abundance of flowers and vegetables, the bulk order of cow manure did  help. We did run out of water from the water barrels, the slugs and snail numbers are increasing and they have now been joined by moles!

I aimed to produce the same view from 3 locations in the garden each month - I have just realised I wasn't as strict about doing this as I had thought!

Although my favourite flowers are tulips, roses and geraniums, sweet peas and cosmos and they always feature, some less popular plants should also be given some of the limelight from the Blue echinops above to this wonderful pink hollyhock.....

and finally this white verbascum chaixii  album, which was magnificent with so many flowers from May-July that were also such a favourite with the bees. We find them so much easier to look after compared with lupins or delphiniums. This is the second verbascum we have planted in the garden, after this success I will try and source another one next year!

What is it like in your garden in December? What were your favourite plants in the garden this year?

 Thank you to everyone who has joined in with Through the Garden Gate this year, I have really enjoyed visiting your gardens through the months too.If you would like to join in with Through the garden gate each month please let me know in the comments below and I will add your site. 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Merry Christmas

It's that time of year!
I'm keeping one eye out for Santa!

On the local radio yesterday morning they were mentioning that a Dorset out of town shopping centre was expecting 18,000 visitors just in one day.

Our Christmas preparations were slightly different we headed to the woods and visited the cottage where the famous Dorset author Thomas Hardy was born in 1840. I first came across his work while still at school.His description of the Dorset landscape and way of life left a lasting impression on me.

The cottage was beautifully decorated with natural Christmas arrangements produced from the local branch of NAFAS (National Association of Flower Arrangers.)

It really showed how much simpler and uncommercialised Christmas was in those days!

 As in other years, I have tried to capture some of the essence of that in our home too, with homemade natural arrangements. We have attended a few meals, had the neighbours around and attended a few concerts, done our final visit to the local butchers and greengrocers. It is good to now slow down and spend Christmas with our children. How do you prepare for Christmas?

Another sunrise in West Bay this time over the golf course.

 On the 6th Anniversary of starting this blog, I thank you so much for visiting me and wish you all a very Happy and peaceful Christmas!

Sarah x

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Perfect moments but for how long?

Occasionally  I have stood on the pier in the morning, waiting for the sunrise and have been disappointed when a cloud has blocked the sun just at the vital moment.One morning earlier in the week didn't look very promising, so we just took Tavi down to the beach instead, and were amazed by the colours, luckily I had the camera in my pocket to capture it.

 I wish that this scenery will continue to be a backdrop to these special moments but I am only too aware having being involved in beach cleans over the last twenty years that the tide of plastic in the sea is only increasing......

I took this photo during the bad storms of 2014 and it goes to show that although huge amounts of plastics are not currently landing on the beach they are filling the seas, affecting marine life. It is not only the plastic that we can see, but the sea is also littered with microscopic fragments of manmade products.

Plastic has become so much a huge part of our modern lives that it is easy to ignore and not question if it is really necessary. Do you remember a time when multiple toilet rolls were covered in paper rather than plastic, fizzy drinks and milk came in glass bottles and fish and chips were wrapped in newspaper? Forty percent of the plastics we use is for single use items such as packaging, which have a short shelf-life but are likely to remain in the environment for centuries to come.

It is good to see that this issue seems to have recently come to the top of everyone's agenda and a week doesn't seem to go by when this isn't featured in newspapers, tv or social media. Did you see those pictures recently from  Blue Planet? I think it is up to all of us to evaluate what we buy and seek out non-plastic alternatives. After all, the levy that was introduced on plastic bags in the UK has reduced usage by 85%, wouldn't it be wonderful if a deposit scheme on plastic bottles and other measures to reduce single use plastics could have a similar effect?

If you are interested in this, these links may be helpful:-

Sarah x

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Through the Garden Gate November 2017

There isn't much colour to look at in the garden in November, so I have picked out the structures and textures of plants to show you as highlights this month.

This Cordyline Australis started as a container plant many years ago. The year before we moved we cut it right back to a stump and we were going to throw it out until we discovered new shoots that produced two new plants. These plants have loved their new conditions and have given us a great display!

The grapes and leaves have now fallen off the vine and we are can see clearly the wonderful textured bark of the branches. My attempt to make wine was a dismal failure as I didn't give the process significant attention! Lessons have been learnt and I will attempt it again next year, hopefully with a better result!

 I'm not sure of the age of this potted Christmas tree. It was in the garden when we arrived and comes into the conservatory every year and is decorated for Christmas.  Surprisingly it seems to cope with our coastal gales and lack of regular watering.

There are a few flowers still blooming - this Winchester Catherdal rose and a white daisy.

Colour is provided by a red New Zealand flax and euphorbia oblongata.

The first frost has hit the nasturtiums and the resident mole has reappeared in another section of the garden. I'm not sure why Tavi's ball ended up right next to it!

Finally the usual views of the garden. I planted lots of tulips and some daffodils at the beginning of the month, so hopefully they will appear next Spring.

Although there hasn't been much colour in the garden, we have had views of magnificent sunsets over the garden fence.

What has been the best thing in your garden this month?

If you would like to join in with Through the garden gate each month please let me know in the comments below and I will add your site. 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Returning Home

How many places have you called home? I have lived in about 15 locations and all of them have had left a marked impression on me, through different stages in life, and all of them I have revisited at one time or another.

Some of them have changed almost beyond recognition, some have remained much the same and other places look much smaller than you remember depending on the age you were when you lived there such as my old primary school.

This morning we took a walk around Littlebredy where I lived for a few years and apart from enjoying the scenery we were delighted to meet a Little Egret who was obviously very much at home in its surroundings. It didn' t seem to be at all bothered by us and Tavi and just flew over to perch on the bridge close-by. Egrets seem to be more common now - I don't ever remember seeing them when we lived here (just found out that they first appeared in numbers around 1989).

Despite the first heavy frost having already melted down by the sea, the temperature guage in the car fell as we headed inland. The smell of the wood smoke filled the valley accompanied by the sound of falling water from the waterfall, which was accompanied by the sound of the village church bells.

 Autumn is starting to fade with fewer leaves now remaining on the trees and the windfall apples are left for the wildlife and the temperatures are starting to fall. Before heading home for a warm bowl of homemade soup I took a final peak at the house and garden that was once home and remembered how life was then.

See you later in the week for 'Through the garden gate' you are welcome to take pictures from your garden and join in too.

Sarah x


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