The First of June - already - though outside the clouds are grey and the wind is rising. O, our British weather!! We are warned of winds of 60 miles an hour this evening - but also given the promise of rising temperatures and the arrival of 'proper' summer by the end of the week. Something to look forward to in sybaritic terms - I look forward to basking in the warmth on the 'Mediterranean terrace' at the back of the house (my fanciful description of 'the hot bit' where I keep my more tender plants) - but also a reminder to get as many plants in the ground as I can before the soil becomes hardened and unworkable and wilting is more of a problem than waterlogging!
Five weeks lost to being medically poked and prodded (outcome positive, with some provisos) at a time when the most work needed to be done in the garden was frustrating, but priorities change when health issues call; I am just happy to now be in the position of being able to get digging, planting, propagating and harvesting with full enthusiasm once again.
For a break from all the gardening work, however, we made a journey last week to a place I have been longing to visit for twenty years. Whichford pottery is not at all far away (about an hour), situated in a very pretty little village on the edge of the Cotswolds and has been making high quality terracotta garden pots for nearly 40 years. I bought the book -written by owner Jim Keeling - on the subject of terracotta container gardening twenty years ago and since then I have only developed further my passion for growing things in pots; the more varied the pots, the better.
Whichford's website will tell you all about the process and their history - what I can tell you is just what an immensely friendly place it is to visit. I was positively encouraged to wander through the potting sheds and past the kiln, to see the various stages in the creation of some of the most beautiful pots I have seen, all very subtly different as is to be expected from hand thrown pottery, but all of the very highest quality. Not cheap, but you very much get what you pay for here; in these pots I feel I am getting something which will in time become loved family heirlooms.
There is an attached art gallery, displaying other potters' work (though I got so excited at buying our own particular pots that I did not even make it around the gallery!), whilst outside there are several different areas of garden, each with planted-up pots inspiring you to have a go at making your own little pieces of Paradise. That is the joy of 'pot gardening' - even the smallest spaces can be enhanced and made into little havens of pleasure, which can be easily changed around as the seasons pass.
Enjoy the photographs, which will give you just a flavour of our day - centred on the pottery, but also enhanced by our ramble around the lanes of a particularly beautiful part of the English countryside, at one of the loveliest times of the year.
One of five different 'Shakespeare' pots, all bearing quotes from The Master
Back at Autumn Cottage - two more pots which came home with me.
Now about that return visit...