Monday, 30 October 2017

Through the Garden Gate October 2017

The glory in the garden has faded fast in the garden this month. Everything was still looking quite colourful until the remnants of  Hurricane Ophelia and then Storm Brian hit. The cosmos turned into dismal weeds and many leaves were whipped off their stalk. There is however an small element of colour if you care to look........



Michaelmas daisy novi belgii

The sedum are still providing a colourful base to the hazel bushes, although a mole that was in a nearby garden seems to have found a new location to create his mounds under these flowers. Do you have any hints to encourage it back into the field?

The nasturtiums continue to roam in each direction. I do enjoy the peppery taste of the smaller leaves in a salad, last year they were destroyed by caterpillars. Maybe this year I will find enough seed pods to make poor man's capers.

The usual views looking more bare!

Most of the leaves of the grapevine have blown away. There are a few bunches of grapes still  hanging that we have left for the birds. On Friday morning we noticed more blackbirds feeding on them than usual and when took Tavi for his morning walk we discovered these birds were rather special.

We met with a naturalist who told us that there was a huge number of birds passing through including flocks of blackbirds that had flown down from Scandinavia.It's amazing to think that these birds may have been feeding in gardens of blogging friends in Sweden and Finland! Obtaining more knowledge about wildlife and growing plants makes me appreciate how wonderful nature is and how we should more time observing it.

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, 22 October 2017

Apple Day

Each season has its highlights, and one of the highlights of the Autumn is the Apple Day that is held in our Community Orchard. Most of the apples have been picked and juiced, and it is a time to look back over the season, celebrate the harvest and raise money to pay for any tools that are needed in the following year.

In the community orchard we have over 60 fruit trees. These include apples, pears, plums and we grow over 30 varieties of heritage apples. Visitors and volunteers always enjoy tasting the different varieties and choosing their favourite. It is amazing how different the apples can be in taste, colour and size.

The apples have some great names too, a  local song has now been written so we can remember some of the names! Slap-ma-girdle, Golden Ball, Hoary Morning and a Buttery D'Ore. You can see by this clip that the chorus is quite catching!.

The view of the orchard before the event started.

Pressing the apples

It has been a strange type of week weather-wise, the first thing to appear was these strange  dangerous Portuguese Men Of War appearing on the beach......

Hurricane Ophelia passed through - initially everything was very still and then mid morning the sky  turned red and orange- (we later learnt this was due to air and dust from Africa), then the wind got up creating huge waves but with high temperatures and no rain.

This weekend Storm Brian arrived which bought more high winds and heavy rain. Luckily it didn't cause too much damage here but sadly it did affect a huge event we had in the Bay this weekend.

We had the ' Onion Johnnies ' visiting from France and they have spent months planning it and had spent all week setting up marquees, only to have take them down because of the wind. It was even to dangerous to leave their boats in the harbour and had to move them boats further down the coast to Dartmouth. All their arrangements had to be changed but they still managed to smile and give everyone a good time. With all of the issues with Brexit, it seems even more important to join together to celebrate old traditions and make new friends.

The Onion Johnnies were a familiar sight in England prior to the 1970's, see my previous post here. We are now all stocked up with onions and garlic and the taste of them is so much better than from the supermarkets!

Hope you have all had a good week and those in the UK have not been affected too badly from the storms. Take care, thank you for visiting me.

 Sarah x

Monday, 16 October 2017

The fishing boats and wide landscapes of Suffolk

We have recently returned from a weeks holiday in Suffolk, on the East coast of England (opposite Holland.) We spent the week enjoying time exploring it's coastline, river estuaries and birdlife. It seemed a flat landscape compared with our cliffs and rolling hills. 

One of my favourite and fascinating places was the tiny village of Dunwich. In the 13th century it was the 10th largest town in England, but severe storms in the 13th and 14th century lost most of it to the sea.  Legend has it that if you stand on the beach and listen carefully you will hear the sound of the bells tolling beneath the waves, they didn't seem to be ringing when we visited!

It was a tranquil place to sit and enjoy the sunshine, although hard to comprehend the scale of land that had been lost below the waves. The only buildings close to the water were fishermen's huts.

We rented a cottage in the attractive town of Aldeburgh. The seafront overlooking the pebble beach is lined by colourful buildings. It has been a popular seaside resort since the 18th century. This was also the home of Benjamin Britten and his opera telling the tragic story of the fisherman Peter Grimes was based here.

It was lovely to walk along the seafront and on a Sunday morning and watch children having fun sailing their boats on the Model Boat Pond, helped by their parents and grandparents. It was almost a scene from the past.

The fishermen launch their boats direct from the beach and sell fresh fish from their wooden huts that sit on the edge of the beach, you couldn't get much fresher than that! The local fish and chip shop was very popular and it was worth the long queues to taste their food.

The fish and chip shop in Southwold also caught my eye, as did the beach huts and views from the pier.

Over the last few years I have become interested in how settlements along the coast have developed.  The tiny fishing hamlet of Thorpeness was bought in 1910 by Stuart Ogilvie ,a Scottish baron who converted it into a fantasy holiday village for the upper middle classes.

The most eye catching building is the ' House in the Clouds', which was converted from a water tank into a very different holiday home.

There were some grey days but the colour of the skies just seemed to enhance the landscape.

We enjoyed exploring the distinctiveness of Suffolk, I hope you enjoy this sample of it too. Finally I couldn't finish without featuring this amazing sculpture of a scallop on the beach, which was designed by Maggie Hambling to celebrate the life of the composer Benjamin Britain, mentioned above.  The sculpture splits opinion, I loved it and it seem to encourage many to walk a distance along the seashore to see it close up. 

Those words ' I hear those those voices that will not be drowned', almost take us back to those lost bells at the beginning of this post.

Sarah x

Monday, 9 October 2017

Beth Chatto gardens

When we were planning and designing our previous garden, over 20 years ago, we would read many gardening books for inspiration and advice. There were many garden designers whose ideas and vision helped us along the way and one of these was Beth Chatto.

Her own garden, which has been developed since 1960, contains many different planting conditions including dry, wet, and shady and the manta 'Right plant in right place' helped us to avoid making too many mistakes over the years.

It was therefore a great treat to have the opportunity last week to visit the garden that we have often read about. As you can see by the pictures it was fabulous. Just look at the amazing colour at this time of year and how the colours and contrast in textures look so good together.

Have you been to Beth Chatto Gardens or read any of her books? My favourite ones include The Dry Garden and Dear Friend and Gardener Letters of Life and Gardening the latter one contains letters between Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd (gardening at Great Dixter), who share their gardening achievements and failures.

Beth Chatto is now 94 years old, it must be amazing to look out on to this wonderful garden from her home and still be involved in it's development.

My only regret in visiting this fantastic garden was only having limited time to view and enjoy it. Needless to say I didn't leave it empty handed, despite limited space in our garden, I returned home with two plants that hopefully will thrive and remind me of this wonderful garden.

Sarah x


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