Tag Archives: gardens

Saturday Again

Six word Saturday buttonIt’s Saturday again and so time to rejoin the gang at Six Word Saturday.  If you’d like to play along just click on the badge above.


And what a beautiful day it has been.  Summer has kicked up her skirts and her heels and come back to New Zealand where she belongs.

Lawn mowing was the order of the day.  And if you know me you’ll know that lawn mowing is as rare an occupation as silver cleaning.  But it’s a very small garden and so armed with a new, small lawn mower I set to work.  But not before I had to go back to the shop where I purchased the mower earlier this morning.  I couldn’t get the danged thing to work.  Two charming young women at the store sympathised with me, connected the machine to the power, turned it on and hey presto! you guessed it, it worked.

So sheepishly I took my leave and came home.  But I still couldn’t get the thing to go.  Capable daughter to the rescue.  She pushed the switch and again hey presto!  Apparently, I had been pathetic and hadn’t hit the button hard enough.  So again, egg on my face but at least the grandsons were not on hand to see the fiasco.

Lawn, mostly weeds after the jungle was cleared, is now mown (mowed?) and things are looking much better. Task  No 2. I had purchased a garden storage box online and you guessed it, it comes as a flat pack.  Obviously,  I’m not the most practical person around but it looked easy enough to put together – no tools needed, read the advertisement.  Well, what an impossible task this was.  Grandson No 4 (16 years old) came to the rescue but after about 15 minutes declared he couldn’t put it together. So back to me.  Of course, I couldn’t do it at the second attempt so Grandson No 4 called his mother, the ever capable, but she threw up her hands in disgust.  This is honestly the very first flat pack she hasn’t been able to put together.  So now begins the no doubt protracted dealing with the supplier to take it back and refund my money.

But this is only the second Saturday in the year there are another 51 to get through.  Happy Saturdays.

Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine,
and a little flower.
Hans Christian Andersen


Five Day Challenge – Day 2

Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.”

So, Day Two of the Five Day Challenge.


The Architect’s New Toy

When we were in Lake Como last year staying with friends, we espied a small ‘thing’ running around a neighbour’s garden.  After asking questions of our hosts we determined that it was a robot lawn mower.

Once we returned home, and the grass was beginning to sprout in our new garden, the Architect set about finding where one of these machines could be purchased close to home.

We found a stockist but unfortunately, they had never sold nor installed one of them and so after purchasing our new friend “COMO” we became the guinea pigs for the dealer.  And it took some re-jigging of wires, choosing another part of the garden for it to be ‘home’ before everyone, including the Architect, was happy with our latest purchase.

I wonder what he will buy next.

Thanks again to Cat at caterel  for setting me this challenge. She says nice things about me so do go over to see what she is up to.
Today I nominate Dor at Virginia Views.  Her blog posts are always entertaining and show a facet of life to which I am a complete stranger.

It’s Six Word Saturday Again

Six word Saturday button

How quickly the weeks pass and it’s already Saturday again and time for Six Word Saturday.  If you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.


At the beginning of my blogging adventures I wrote a post about Gardening and Other Pleasures and bemoaned the fact that I had a tree that dropped its leaves all around the back courtyard.  I quickly reminded myself that I should be grateful that I had a back courtyard and the lovely tree to drop its leaves.  That was in April.

By May I had the offending tree cut back ( not down because the tree man thought its roots were probably holding up the bank) and I wrote a blog What a Difference a Day Makes about the patio minus the leaves.  Now some 14 months on and the tree is sprouting (and has been for some months) and dropping those bl–dy leaves again.

After days of rain when leaves and everything else is damp underfoot,  today dawned bright, sunny and dry.  And the temperature even climbed up to about 15 degrees Centigrade (about 60 degrees Fahrenheit) so we swept up the leaves again.  What a difference looking out the dining room doors now with the leaves gone – until tomorrow or Monday that is.  Yes, I am reminding myself again, just how lucky I am to have this pleasant, safe and secure, warm house, a courtyard and trees and of course, my faithful companion Lotte.  Not to forget my friend who willingly helps me with these chores.


Leaves have gone

So now the next job is to paint all the brickwork white.  As you can see parts of it were white at some stage.  And from that post in May last year :

“A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit. ”
D. Elton Trueblood, 1900 – 1994,
noted 20th century American Quaker author and theologian.

Rosemary and Thyme

Are you going to Scarborough Fayre
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine.

Some of you will remember the line about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in the old British ballad  “Scarborough Fayre” and later made famous by  Simon and Garfunkel with their hit song  “Are You Going to Scarborough Fair”.

Well here in New Zealand we see a lot of sitcoms both from the US and the UK.  We were recently being shown a series called Rosemary and Thyme, the general theme of which is that two women each with a love of plants, get together to form a gardening partnership.  They are Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme hence the name Rosemary and Thyme.

Rosemary & Thyme

Image via Wikipedia

No ordinary gardeners these.  Laura Thyme was married to a policeman, was in the police force herself and has a son who is also a policeman.  You can guess where this is going?

Rosemary Boxer was a former university professor and they share a passion for horticulture.

They are also amateur sleuths, with Rosemary being the intuitive one and Laura the practical one.  It seems that as soon as they start a new assignment some dastardly happening occurs.  Plots, conspiracies and killers abound amongst the gardens they are asked to tend and put right.  And in each episode there is a dead body and sometimes even two dead bodies.

A recent episode was entitled ‘Three Legs Good”**.  In it the two women are hired to help recreate  an old garden in Regent’s Park, London.  We are told that the garden was originally created by garden great William Nesfield.   Joggers, students, tramps and even nannies who have lost their charges, constantly interrupt them in their work.  Then their peace is shattered when a little three-legged dog leads the ladies to the body of its owner who has been murdered.

Another murder rapidly follows and they determine (before the police of course) that the original murder was a case of mistaken identity!  They adopt the dog and then in a convoluted way (such is the case in all these sitcoms) they find that the dog had lost its leg in a car accident.  Its master was driving the car with his married lover – she was killed in the accident and the dog lost its leg.

The show is peppered with shots of beautiful gardens, fantastic places to visit and quite often, lovely gracious homes in which they stay.

In all an innocent series and although there are murders and mayhem, we dont see the murders being committed.   The series takes me back so many years, when violence was not shown on television.

**The title Three Legs Good is an allusion to George Orwell’s book Animal Farm. When the animals first turn out the farmer and start running their own lives, their slogan is “Four legs good, two legs bad”. Eventually the pigs move into the farm-house and learn to walk on two legs, and the slogan becomes “Four legs good, two legs better.”

Our England is a garden, and such gardens
are not made
By singing: -“Oh, how beautiful!”
and sitting in the shade.
~Rudyard Kipling, “The Glory of the Garden”

Lunch in the Garden

Monday was a holiday – Labour Day – so we took ourselves off for lunch with some friends.

It was a dull, overcast, windy day in Wellington when we set off, but when we arrived there some 1.5 hours later the sun was out and lunch was set outside.

lunch settingA really sunny spot in which to have lunch.

JasmineLots of paths to wander.  Jasmine with its strong and distinctive scent,
always reminds me of New Zealand whenever I am away.
This one was growing up a tree trunk

Blue potThis old blue pot was nestled snugly amongst the ferns

Seat and rhodosSeats are scattered around the garden where one can sit to take in the scene

bluebell pathA shady plot under the trees

StudyThe studio has its own outside seating in case one wants to sit in the sun

the garden pathWe can see where this path leads

a place to sitA shady place to rest on a hot day with a cool drink
after tending the garden

water featureAnother seat with another view

As you can see my friend is a keen gardener and has turned this 3/4 acre garden into a virtual haven.

It was a lovely afternoon; great food, good company, loads of laughter, fantastic scenes and fine wine to quaff as the day wore on.  What more could one ask for?

“After all, Eden was garden… the garden is a place to go for quiet contemplation, a source not only of food but also of spiritual renewal and intimate contact with life’s most basic processes. 
Ed Smith “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible”

Note – all photos taken with my trusty I-phone with the blessings of the gardener and her spouse.

What Lurks in Your Garden?

Coffee.  Garden.  Coffee.
Does a good morning need anything else?
~Betsy Cañas Garmon, www.wildthymecreative.com

The rain had stopped and the sun was trying really hard to shine.  So I put on my gumboots and went out to look at what damage the hail and rain had done to my patio  garden.


I was amazed to see just what lurks in my tiny patio garden.

Fly on ranunculas

The fly was just having a rest in the sunshine. 

LotteLotte was checking things out

Statue sistersThis statue always reminds me of the closeness of my sisters
and has moved with me many times over the years

Mexican thingIt’s sad that this thing has lost it’s tail and has to rely
on the pot to hold it up

GnomeThis was the most hideous thing you have ever seen
given to me as part of a joke by 2 grandsons last Christmas.
Fortunately Unfortunately, it has lost all its colours

DuckThe duck lurks in amongst the planting

MexicanThe Mexican sleeps among the plants and weeds

StatueMy daughter bought this at a charity auction and it has
now been in four different gardens

Most of these things that lurk in my garden have been bought for me by the family.  Some as jokes such as the gnome and the Mexican but all have special memories attached.

So what lurks in your garden today?

Preserves, Conserves, Jams and Jellies

Between friends differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality.
W. H. Auden

When I saw the title of Robin’s Blog today – Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve – I thought we were about to get a recipe for making a preserve of wildflowers.  However, this was not to be.  Instead, we were shown wonderful photos of this wildflower preserve.  Of course, I then had to go to the website to find out more about this wonderland.

Shenksferry flowers

Picture from the website.

After that, I remembered that my late husband’s maiden aunts used to make wildflower preserves or jellies.  So I hunted in one of their tattered books that I inherited when the second one died, and found this:


2 cups flower petals (or fresh young herb leaves)
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups peeled and chopped apples (for pectin) or 600 oz liquid pectin (2 packages) or equivalent powder*

Note – I added the pectin which wouldn’t have been available commercially when the aunts were making jam or jelly.  They would have had to stand over the pot of boiling petals stirring, stirring until the desired consistency was achieved.  Hot, tiring work.  It’s so much easier now.


The basic recipe is to use the same amount of water and flower/fruit material.

In a small stainless saucepan, bring the flower petals or fruit to boil in the water.  Cover and let this sit preferably overnight or for at least  several hours. Strain, squeezing out all the water into the saucepan. Bring the water to a boil with the lemon juice and stir in the sugar until all is well dissolved.  This is where they would then have had to stand and stir for however long it took for the jelly to thicken.  There is no note of this in the cook book. 

Stir in the pectin and boil hard for two minutes. Pour into hot, sterilized jam jars. Put into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.. Store at room temperature.”

Obviously, there was no refrigeration in the early 1900s but in the unlikely event that I were to make this today, I would refrigerate the  preserve/jelly/jam  once the jar is opened.

And then I found this gem in my old copy of Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book.

Mrs Beeton's cookery book

1894 Edition – Cost One shilling

“Carrot Jam to imitate Apricot Preserve

Ingredients –  Carrots; to every pound carrot pulp allow 1 lb (1 pound) pounded sugar, the grated rind of 1 lemon, the strained juice of 2, 6 chopped bitter almonds, 2 tablespoons brandy.

Mode – Select young carrots; wash and scrape, cut into round pieces, put them into a saucepan with water to cover, and simmer until soft; then beat them through a sieve.  Put the pulp into a preserving pan with the sugar and boiled for 5 minutes stirring and skimming all the time.

When cold add the lemon-rind and juice, almonds and brandy; mix well with the jam; then put into pots well covered and keep in a dry place.  The brandy may be omitted, but the preserve will then not keep; with the brandy it will remain good for months.

Time – about 3/4 hour to boil the carrots; 5 minutes to simmer the pulp. And here is the best part – Average Cost – 1s 2d (one shilling and two pennies) for 1 lb of pulp with the other ingredients in proportion.  Sufficient to fill 3 pots.  Seasonable from July to December.”

Note the words in italics are mine.

But what a mine of information this little book is turning out to beBut overall I think/know I prefer to buy my preserves ready-made.

Crab apple jelly

Jelly – From my larder

And for those of you who like me prefer to spend their time in other pursuits

“There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.”
Bette Davis 1908 – 1989 American actress

Bottle of Champagne


Gardening and other pleasures

I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border.  I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.
Sara Stein, My Weeds, 1988

I love looking at gardens.  I appreciate the work that goes into keeping them looking so beautiful.  But I don’t have the inclination to carry out that work.

Here in Wellington we have The Wellington Botanic Garden It covers 25 hectares of land on the side of the hill near the central city.  One of the real attractions is the Lady Norwood Rose Garden, with more than 300 rose varieties in 106 formal beds.

This open space  is a particularly peaceful place to withdraw to as it is within 2 kilometers of the thriving commercial hub of the city.


On my walks around our suburb with Lotte my Tibetan Spaniel, I see the results of many hours of patient work in gardens.  I have had large, well-tended gardens in the past, but the tending was done by others.  I have lived in an apartment with a large terrace filled with pots and plants.  These I tended.  And now I have a very small patch in an inner city suburb that requires tending by me. Today was a day for mowing the lawn – all 4 sq meters of it (well I don’t know how big it is but it certainly isn’t any bigger).  Now all I can think of is that old children’s song ‘One Man Went to Mow’

Preparation time approx 10 minutes

  • Find key to outside cupboard
  • Remove tools and paraphernalia to allow access to Flymo
  • Find power cord for outside use
  • Connect cord to Flymo now we are ready.

Mow lawn – time approx 10 minutes (because of the heat and the rain over the past week the grass was much longer this time and consequently took more than the usual 5 minutes to cut)

Tidying up – time approx 30 minutes

  • Rake grass and put into bag for disposal (no room for a compost heap here)
  • Unplug Flymo and return to outside cupboard
  • Replace all other paraphernalia
  • Lock cupboard and return key to its rightful place
  • Return power cord to its rightful place
  • Pour a cup of coffee and relax knowing that it will all have to be done again in a week’s time.

As you can see it takes longer to begin and to finish than it does to actually mow the grass.  A suggestion has been made that I turn this absolutely tiny area into a patio with paving and lots of pots (of which I have plenty).  Meantime, until the decision is made mowing is what I do.

And now the weeding – but first, another cup of coffee.  And I  just know that Mother Nature thinks my tiny herbaceous border is really a meadow.  Why else would there be such a proliferation of weeds.  Doesn’t matter how often I tell myself weeds are only flowers in the wrong place.

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. Lindley Karstens,

OK, that’s done but need another cup of coffee before I start on the back patio.

It’s an ongoing task – the leaves fall from the plane tree and I sweep them up; the next day they are all back.

Squirrel in tree

Is there a family of squirrels who live in that tree and delight in watching me sweep leaves? Well, I hope they enjoy it for I most certainly do not.  But what did I say about gratitude?  So I am grateful that I have a courtyard to sweep and can provide a home for these squirrels so close to town.

Cup of coffeeAnd now armed with another cup of coffee I am ready to take my book into my newly tidied garden and relax for the afternoon.  Having said that I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed :

Science, or para-science, tells us that geraniums bloom better if they are spoken to.  But a kind word every now and then is really quite enough.  Too much attention, like too much feeding, and weeding and hoeing, inhibits and embarrasses them.           ~Victoria Glendinning – (The Hon. Victoria Glendinning, CBE British  biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist.  1937 –