Friday, November 13, 2015

"Autumn is the mellow season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits." Samuel Butler

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Oh to be a biennial!

I spent a large part of Saturday outside on my hands and knees. 
Weeds, trowel, barrow.

Wisened sunflower heads swayed overhead, meting out the pendulous tick of autumn. 
Badly behaved dahlias tapped me on the shoulder, stems snapped awkwardly and flower heads awry.

It was warm in the sunny kaleidoscope of the undergrowth. And as I tugged, there hidden beneath the weeds, 
I found a thousand tiny foxglove seedlings chuckling at the surrounding decay. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ten hens, no eggs…again

I’ve been here before. Completely egg-less because my little flock are not laying. 

Two of the ten are definitely excused. They’re cockerels. Hatched earlier this year we now hear a strange co-ck-a-d-d-d at dawn. It sounds like an eager learner driver crashing through the gears but no doubt fluency will come with practice.

The remaining eight I suppose are excused because they’re either too young, too old or mid-moult and too dishevelled to lay. 

Hulanicki’s discarded tail feathers, white tipped with black, are looking lovely in a pot on my desk. Meanwhile she is wandering around tail-less, like some poor dear with dementia unaware that her hemline is caught up in her knicker elastic.

Bare necked Peggy on the other hand, reminds me of a child who has been rummaging around in the dressing up box and has emerged in an over sized vest, already slipping from her shoulders.

Oh well, at least I have the perfect excuse to scrounge some beautiful eggs from a chicken keeping friend...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A look at Lecce

Last weekend I went to Italy with my husband and a tin of coloured pencils.

Breakfast on our flowery roof terrace was served with the recurring quarter peal from a dozen Baroque bell towers.

The sandstone of the Duomo throbbed in the afternoon sun.

We ate olives in the piazza,

ordered coffee from a barista who spoke mainly with his hands,

and simply enjoyed watching the world go by!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Darsham Nurseries… good things come in threes... Nursery, Cafe, Shop

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.
Rudyard Kipling

Last Saturday I pulled a shameful amount of weeds from my vegetable patch.
So the following day I felt perfectly justified in wandering around Darsham Nurseries trilling ‘Oh how beautiful’.

Forget the shade bit, I enjoyed coffee and incredible pastries in the autumn sunshine and discovered the most enchanting potager.

There were cosmos bobbing among the cabbages and onions sauntering through garlands of amaranthus. Chives elbowed their way past purple ageratum while haughty zinnias commanded over regiments of salad.

In my exuberance I stopped the gardener in his tracks. I detained him with questions about lettuce seeds and climbing beans, annuals and artistry, then departed, inspired to exchange weeds for flowers in my own patch next year.

And the gardener? He got straight back to work of course there's no sitting in the shade for him!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A fishy tale

A few months ago I was sheltering from the cold and rain in the Brighton Sausage Co. shop. 
What I needed there and then was one of their famous hot sausage rolls. 
What I didn’t need was a can of cold soup. 

But scanning the shelves, this Soupe de Poissons tin caught my eye. 
Classic French typography, jolly colours and some disconsolate fish swimming around in a large citrine tureen. 

I recalled a quip from my local scrap metal merchant... 

“If I only sold people fings they need, I’d go broke.” I put the fish soup in my basket along with my hot sausage roll.

I was back at the scrap merchant's this week. 
I found a battered ex-army jug and an aluminum jelly mold. 

I didn’t need them, and my £3 will hardly make the proprietor wealthy, but my purchase might well be invaluable for my next painting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Almost caught out….

Last spring, after much umming and ahing, I replaced some disintegrating willow hurdles with a Rosa rugosa hedge. It backs the mixed border that edges the front path. I wanted something that would provide a long season of interest, plus a harvest (rose-hip syrup) and be beautiful to paint. Who says I’m demanding!

Kept in check, it should provide me with dense glossy foliage from spring to autumn, floppy magenta blooms all summer and corpulent orange hips in the autumn.
And... the old hurdles will make nice dry for kindling for the woodburner!

Having planted the thorny twigs with plenty of compost I kept my fingers firmly crossed. 
As self elected ‘bud monitor’ I watched closely for the first signs of life. Sure enough, over the next few weeks, ruby red swellings erupted into fresh green foliage. And all summer I have enjoyed vibrant splashes of pink followed by those unbelievably glossy hips. Perfect!

Only I never quite got around to painting the wretched things. Until last week. I picked what is probably the last flower of the season, wet my brushes, made a nice cup of hot tea, and settled down at my desk