Sunday, 18 April 2021


That is what I call this bed, which I look out on when sitting in Dad's old rocking chair. It is tucked beneath the western boundary of the garden, on the north side of the house, so shady, with hazel up by the well, and flowering currant to add protection. As you step out of the sitting room, the Japanese lady welcomes you along the path.

You walk down, not knocking your head on the multitude of bird feeders that hang from the tree you pass: a good place for a cat to watch for a mouse. At the other end, a Japanese lantern is tucked beneath a rhododendron.

Halfway down you might notice this carefully tied back chaenomeles. Planted a number of years ago, it was subjected to indignities various as the path was constructed, and then reconstructed. I thought it lost, but it managed to hang on by the skin of its teeth, and is now bravely flowering at the base of the fence, more coral than pink as here. The lovely twisted ironwork is the lantern stand my son in law made me, some years ago - it holds a glass candle holder lantern we bought in Istanbul, you can see that in the first picture.

At the base of another leg, epimedium at its delicate best, with bishop's hat leaves and fairy flowers

it makes a beautiful backdrop to this little self seeded primula

Tucked away in its new home, fiercely protected with canes against badger and cat, some Solomon's Seal, generously offered to me from the garden of some friends, a few weeks ago. The leaves are just starting to unfurl. They are bathed in sun in the morning, protected by the shade of the house and flowering currant for the rest of the day,

If you turned your back on them, and looked across the garden you would find windflower and primrose, trickling down the bank opposite

and if you walked back up the path to the little waterfall by the pond, perhaps followed by a cat, 

you might find a few garden gods gathered over the years. They stand guard at the top, where the little birds come down to drink, and the blackbirds to bathe

Down by the pond the waterboy holds out his shell, reminding me it needs refilling

and the big and little fish bask in the afternoon sunshine

 Above, that cat has settled in his pot

and a daffodil by the door seems the perfect colour to be tucked into the woodland bed; to settle there once it has finished flowering.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

My "Water Music"

I was reminded of this today, because I have been playing the piano just a little bit recently, revisiting a simple Bach prelude which remains in my fingers. 

This piece is not Bach, but Chopin, Nocturne in E Minor, and has never been in my fingers. It is something my beloved Mum used to play, when I was a small child and we had moved "back" to Ganna's house in Hastings, after Dad died. I called it "Water Music" because of that wonderful flowing rippling line in the left hand.

So imagine, if you will, this little girl, twirling and swirling, arms outflung, toes pointing, using all her best ballet steps, round and round on the carpet in the drawing room, with its centre medallion,  knowing the music so well that her final dying swan was always at the heart of the motif. 

The pianist here plays it just as Mum used to - with my eyes closed, I could feel myself there.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

In the evening garden

A cat who is sure that ~ some day his mouse will come along

a soft, warm fading light 

and Down in the Dell, yes a badger really does dwell

fossicking about, snuffling up goodies

Then the following day, lady fox, snooping about beneath the bird tree for tasty morsels

before scooting up the big yew for a quick check for birds eggs or baby squirrels - can you see the tip of her brush as she jumps back down?

such treasures

Sunday, 4 April 2021


As I was taking this picture, to give you the context of my more usual close ups of flowers, a small group of jackdaws took flight across the garden. If you look closely you will find five black shapes, mid flight, with their shadows following them on the lawn. 

They have just swooped out from the bird feeding tree you can see at the very left. This holds many delicious things; fat balls, mealworms, peanuts, mixed seed, soggy bread and our wind chimes. Just opposite it across the path is the water bowl/bird bath in which the starlings, sometimes more than one, take excitable baths, or leisurely drinks, along with other birds when they can get a look in. The smaller birds avail themselves of the little cascade that ripples it's way into the pond, looking rather unglamorous at the bottom of the picture under its cover  - very necessary for heron visits!

The image shows our rear garden, dropping away down the hill behind the house, narrowing slightly as it goes. You can just see the roof of the greenhouse in the "kitchen garden" which sits below and behind the yew tree. Beyond this productive space there is the Dell where the badgers dwell; left wild for their delight, apart from an apple and plum, planted about five years ago. Beside the pond is an old stump, now support for honeysuckle, jasmine and clematis, on the opposite side our smart new shed and just behind the camellia, a trellis panel which forms the boundary of the new seating area we had made between the two sheds this time last year, before we knew how precious our garden was about to become as a space for musing during the impending lockdown.

So, this top bit is where you'll find hellebore nestled beneath the rhododendron

a ribbon of daffodils catching the sunlight as it peeps over the roof of the house

and pulmonaria, so vivid with their varied flowers and spotty leaves

Above, in one of the many trees that line our plot, Columbus the crow stands guard, shouting at the cats or foxes, or at his fellow crows in oaks at the other side of what was once a farmer's field but is now five gardens. What does he know of gardens, other than what he can find to eat in them?

The rescue camellia is doing well this year; one of four we have now

and the grape hyacinths are bubbles of blue beneath the yew.

Meanwhile in the front garden, always full of sun, the first of the pasque flowers are opening their purple blooms, so their shining yellow eyes can greet the rising sun on Easter morning,

My little corner of colour is shimmering; the soft blue grape hyacinth provide a lovely contrast with the singing colours behind them and the gentle yellow of the primroses

another ribbon of daffodils provides nodding spots of captured sunlight, now they have opened beneath the weeping birch

a double celandine is a little spot of wild yellow by the fence

the tulips, given us by a friend as a wedding gift three years ago are ready to burst into bloom

and, just by the front door, a delightful shadow echo provides brief pleasure before, with my late mother in law's warning in my ears ("one year's seeding, seven years weeding") I nipped it off to save myself later effort!

Happy Easter to you and yours, I hope the season brings you pleasure.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

An expedition

We took ourselves out this week to a garden centre to do something other than essential shopping and exercise. The trip was to find some primula to plant in our front garden.

Last year my lovely rowan, which I had nurtured since Jen's childhood, got some sort of unpleasant canker and died. Not as large as you might expect since it spent many years in a pot, I tucked it into a corner when we made our front garden in 2011, so it had a number of years of happy growth. In the Autumn it had to come out, so I replaced it with another "slow tree", which needed it's freedom. This time a crab apple; again, very small as it goes in, but we will see what happens.  My greatest fear is that, as part of the rosaceae tribe, it might succumb to whatever took its cousin. Then I will have to think again. For now, it has overwintered, and the buds are swelling with growth, so I am hopeful. 

Yes, it really is that small! 

Today I tucked those little primula around the base to welcome in its first spring of freedom, in open ground. I hope they settle in, and self seed. 

There is a great splash of native primroses self seeded in the same space, so there is a chance - time will tell. 

And that, of course, is the the pleasure of a garden - time, and anticipating what it will bring

Monday, 8 March 2021

some more Sussex springtime

It was a chilly morning, with a lovely impromptu tonal patchwork on the roof

But the sun was shining and the garden beckoned

The little old lady was holding her shawl close to keep herself warm in the chilly breeze

Then suddenly, above, a swoop and swirl of many many jackdaws, calling and congregating in the blue sky. There must have been almost 100. Can you see them?