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In the Garden

The recliner chairs have been sanded, ready for painting, and they already have new pale green cushions

Apart from watching Trooping the Colour yesterday, we’ve not watched any television yesterday or today but, instead, we’ve been in the garden … some work, some sitting, relaxing.

It’s been mainly dull but not cold, ideal gardening weather.  Our large walnut tree now has its canopy of leaves which makes the area behind it look rather dark from this angle (above), but in fact, it’s really a pleasant place to sit once summer arrives and the rest of the garden becomes too hot for us.

The garden boundary wall has now been painted, two coats both sides, and looks lovely and fresh, and husband has painted the garden bench in a slightly deeper shade of green than the summerhouse, Farrow & Ball’s Calke Green.

I love hostas but the only way we can get them to grow – as they are the chosen delicacy of slugs and snails – is to plant them in pots and stand the pots on gravel, and on top of the soil in the pots, sprinkle a good layer of grit.  So far this has worked, therefore I might add to the hosta collection.

There is also a camellia here, another shade-loving plant.  I might treat the bench to some new cushions – I’m considering a jungle print in yet more greens, or perhaps a total contrast in strong pinks.  But for the time being we can just bring out some of our old cushions from the summerhouse if we want to sit here for morning coffee.

We love this shade of green, it suits our garden.  And as we have plenty of it, husband is using this paint on what was our grandson’s toy box which he no longer requires (husband made it for him when he was a baby) and that now holds bags of compost.  Husband  has also painted two small tubs into which we will put some tomato plants even though we’re not very good at growing tomatoes!  But they were freebies from a neighbour, so we can at least try!  If they curl up and die – highly likely – I will replant these tubs with flowers.

Breakfast this morning was just a bowl of porridge while still in bed – husband kindly got up and made it for us.  Yesterday (below) it was fruit and then boiled egg for husband and a brioche and jam for me.  Nice, simple, easy-to-prepare food.

Our small garden has suffered a bit these past two years.  Either other things have taken priority over gardening or the weather hasn’t been gardening weather.  And so we are having to work quite hard getting it looking good again. Husband sprinkled lawn weed-and-feed the other day, but he was a bit heavy handed with it and it’s burnt the grass a bit even though he watered it in afterwards.  But a good shower will help and it will recover, eventually.

Last winter an old metal arch over which had climbed a clematis montana blew down. It was rusted anyway and so husband has cleared the area of the debris and we have planted a couple of new plants and once the new arch which we have bought has been erected, we will consider a climbing plant for it.  The two new plants are a pink Gaura Lindheimer and a Heuchera (called Lime Marmalade).

Gardening makes us hungry, and although we had a rather tasty lunch of roast chicken, stuffing, gravy and a medley of vegetables roasted (new potatoes, courgettes, yellow pepper, and shallots) and runner beans, by mid-afternoon husband suggested we had coffee and with it we had bowls of fruit, a change from cake or biscuits.

 Melon, strawberry, nectarine, pineapple, banana and slivers of stem ginger

We have only a few rose bushes but they are looking pretty, especially Gertrude Jekyll and You’re Beautiful.

And we have a lovely pink peony.  It’s first flower was so large that I thought if it rained it would be ruined, so I have cut it and brought it indoors.

Now fully open it is almost the size of a dinner plate!

We had a short rest after our lunch, and after we’d had our fruit and coffee we did some more gardening.  Later, we had mugs of Bovril with some cream cheese on some crackers, sprinkled with chopped chives.

Now it’s almost supper time. Something light tonight, I think, perhaps an omelette.  But first I must go and help husband put  the tools away in the tool shed (which he painted yesterday, cream to match the garden wall) and close the summerhouse for the night.

When not gardening or cooking, I have been reading Bella Figura and have been enjoying it very much.  Thank goodness for books when there are fewer and fewer programmes on TV that interest me.  Well, interest both of us!  Husband then reads the paper and younger son passes to him his weekly magazine, New Scientist, which is thick with the kind of informative articles that husband enjoys.

I hope you have had or are having a pleasant Sunday.

Until next time.

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Margaret, I vote for bench cushions with hot pinks or fushia colours and touches of green. Your garden is lovely and that would bring some cheer to the walnut tree. I love how you enjoy your home and garden and house keeping. The magazines can keep you growing with the new trends too. I love “garden rooms” outdoors. Some people are so talented in making every nook and cranny a place where you can relax and enjoy. You are one of those people. Bless you. Lucy

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I wish I was as talented as some people, Lucy, but sadly, much of what we do in the garden is very hit or miss! I think you are right, though, and hot pinks would look lovely on that green bench, and they would also work inside the summerhouse – we need new cushions in there, the old ones are what we had in the house (i.e. not bought specially for the summerhouse – we like to use what we already have whenever possible.) But you are right, we do love our home and enjoy trying to keep it maintained. It is where we spend much of our time therefore we like it to be as pleasant as possible but without spending oodles of money – anyone can have a palace if they throw money at it!

  2. I like your attitude, Margaret. You are an inspiration! Your garden is lovely.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Jeannine. Our garden is very small but we’d not be able to manage a larger one. Husband does the lion’s share of the gardening but I help, bagging up leaves, sweeping path, planting pots, fetching and carrying for him, we are a good team. I think he does very well considering he’s in his early 80s, a lot of younger chaps wouldn’t manage the amount of work he does in a day. But then he suffers from back and hip pains, but as he says, he can’t sit still all day! The next job for him is to repair the door to the tool shed (he built the tool shed many years ago) and then he will paint that, along with the small window frame. The tool shed is out of sight apart from a glimpse of it from our dining room window, but it’s nice to see it freshly painted and the area around it neat and tidy.

  3. You had better not fall asleep in your steamer chair or you might be painted too ! Ha ha.

    I like the colour of your garden wall and it looks very fresh with the new paint. The paint on the bench seat also looks very nice. I agree that cushions would look pretty and make the seat even more inviting. Your flowers are stunning. Thank you for including those photos.

    We are enjoying a lovely winter’s day here. This morning was fresh (which I enjoy) and the breeze was cool when we had our morning walk but the day has been bathed in sunshine since. I’m enjoying wearing long sleeves and a light scarf again.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I shall have take care otherwise I might well be painted, too, Lara, and not as a picture you could hang on a wall!
      How lovely for you to have a fine, winter’s day, after all the oppressive heat, and nice for you to be able to wear sleeves again, I know that feeling. Today it’s around 18C – 20C at the moment (it’s only 8.30am), just a nice temperature either for gardening or housework, or even for a walk.

  4. Thank you for showing us your lovely garden Margaret, I agree that cushions would look good on the newly painted bench, pink peony ones might be appropriate.
    We were also working in the garden yesterday, I have a gravelled area that all my herb pots sit on and we lifted all the gravel to lay a membrane underneath, hopefully that will stop all the weeds coming through!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, Elaine, I think pink floral (preferably peony) cushions would look good on the bench, and they would also go into the summerhouse on our chairs in there when they are not being used outside.
      Yes, gravel needs a membrane underneath it, otherwise you are pulling weeds out all the time. Bindweed is rife here, it has been for a couple of years. We never used to have much of it, but now its rampant. I would like to grow more herbs in pots; I tried growing them directly in the ground without success, so I need to start again in pots. Right now I have only two kinds of mint, and chives. I need to get marjoram, thyme and sage in the very least. Oh, and I’ve rosemary in the garden, that grows well.

  5. Your rose bushes are looking splendid in full bloom and the peony is such a lovely shade of pink:)
    Both of you are an inspiration! You are so self reliant and have such a ‘let’s get on with things’ attitude to life. It’s wonderful:)
    No wonder we all enjoy your blog so much:):)

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, we do tend to be self-reliant, Kavitha, and husband is always very reluctant to ask anyone for assistance and only this year did he agree to have our wall painted – he has always done such jobs himself. Right now, as we speak, he is painting our grandson’s old toy box, the one he made for our grandson but which the little chap now no use for; he has his toys on shelves in his bedroom. And so husband has put it to another use – for a container for bags of compost and such like for the garden.
      It’s so lovely to hear that you – and others – enjoy my blog. Indeed, it is humbling to know that we, of an older generation, can inspire others. You are quite right: we do have a “let’s get on with things” attitude to life! You have really hit the nail on the head there!

  6. The paint you have chosen for your bench is just lovely.

    I bought a Gaura a couple of years ago – the first year it was nice, the second year it was “rampant” and this year it was dead 🙁 I think it was the long cold winter although it was in quite a sheltered spot. I’ve put a pelargonium there at the moment while I decide if it’s worth trying another Gaura next spring. I’ve pulled out another plant today which was being rampant, which seemed a shame, but it was the wrong plant for the spot and it was taking over and smothering other plants. I had a salvia in a pot which I rescued from slugs and nursed back to health and I’ve put that in instead, along with the dreaded slug pellets, but sometimes needs must.

    My roses are doing well this year, that is one thing that actually seems to like clay soil!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I’d never even heard of a Gaura before, Alison, and it’s so pretty, I just hope it survives as I know gardening in theory but somehow it doesn’t always translate into practice! But what a pretty plant it is. I find that the cranesbill is the thug in our garden, it has gone all over the central flowerbed and smothered a Daphne and a rose and also the Alchemilla Mollis … I mean, how can that be smothered, that is usually a thug itself! I’ve tried salvias, but they’ve always disappeared, and dahlias have gone totally without trace. Yes, I hate slug pellets, but sometimes needs must. It must be a good year for roses, I think.

      • I had cranesbill a few years ago. After a while, almost all I had was cranesbill…All gone now.

        The salvia I put in yesterday is showing evidence that the slugs did indeed try to get it again but it’s survived so far.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I had no idea that cranesbill was such a thug, Alison. A dear little plant, so innocent=looking and then by stealth, it simply takes over! It should be a politician, ha ha! I do hope your salvia survives, slugs and snails are so greedy, why can’t they just much on the grass and actually perform a service?

  7. I very much like the colour of the garden bench. The roses are my favourites, I believe all roses are beautiful. Your peony looks fantastic. All in all I find your garden beautiful, it’s a lovely place to have a rest. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t compare it to the pictures from the glossy magazines, simply enjoy it!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, you are right, Maria … I mustn’t compare our little garden with any other garden, it is what it is and we enjoy it. The best things are it being fairly level, just a step down from the kitchen and two shallow long steps up to the grass, and of course, the shade from the walnut tree in the heat of the summer. And our little summerhouse which I love.

  8. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    Our shed/ summerhouse and the wooden surround of the raised fruit garden is green. I showed the bench to my husband and said, “We could paint ours green.” That ‘we’ word again!
    Your garden is so pretty. Ours used to be quite ordered but nowadays it’s ‘mature’. Everything grows like Topsy.
    We grow tomatoes fairly successfully and I chop and freeze lots to use as a base for sauces.
    I love the colour of the Gertrude Jekyll. We lost our beautiful Starlight Express this year but all the others seem to be ok.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I love the “we” word, knowing who exactly will be doing the job, and it won’t be me!
      I love the soft greens of both the summerhouse, which is a pale green (Farrow & Ball’s Vert de Terre) and the bench (F&B’s Calke Green.) Pretty the garden might look, but you can’t see the weeds on that photo or the untidy edges! I am funny in many ways – I love the bushes and flowers to look nice and full but I like the edge of the grass to be neat and tidy! Contradictions, contradictions!
      We are never very good at growing tomatoes although we’ve tried, perhaps as we don’t spend enough time looking after things. They need looking after and we always seem to be doing other things and then when we’re going to bed, say, “Oh, we should’ve watered …”
      I saw a rose I liked on an Instagram page the other day called Koko Loko (daft name!) – it’s a coffee colour, but husband just doesn’t like it and I don’t think it would look good in our garden. I love all the pinks and mauves and purples and here and there a splash of white. The first two cosmos are out today, one deep magenta (actually, the colour of my nail polish, OPI’s Miami Beet!) and one pure white. I have only two pots of cosmos this year, which is a mistake, I should’ve bought more. But I also have verbena, antirrhinums and geraniums. I’m not familiar with the rose Starlight Express, will have to Google that.

  9. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    Starlight Express Was more abundant than any other I have, and I have quite a few. A hundred flowers to deadhead every few days was not unusual. It was bright cerise and I felt so sad that it died as we’d had it for years.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      My goodness, a hundred flowers to dead head every few days, no wonder it’s keeled over, it was, to put it rather crudely, well and truly knackered! But sad to see an old friend go, all the same.

  10. Even though you say that your garden is small, Margaret, it certainly is at present a riot of colour! Lovely.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Ratnamurti. The garden is about 40ft by 25ft and it’s difficult having colour for the whole year round in such a small space as many of the plants are herbaceous and, of course, disappear below ground in the winter, and shrubs unless evergreen, lose all their leaves in winter, but we’re still working on it (even after 32 years!)

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