Roses! - Paul's Himalayan Musk winding through the Weeping Pear; Gertrude Jekyll in the flowerbed
...I ask myself this on a daily basis as I ponder writing another post here; how can I possibly cover all the 'stuff' that has passed by - that's fit to print! - and not feel that I am serving up a trivial and superficial skim that will be of no interest to anyone. But I miss writing - and one or two of you have contacted me to say that you miss reading - so here I go again - and if you *do* find this superficial, I hope you will forgive me.
Unsurprisingly, when I look back over the last couple of months, time spent in the garden - my own and other people's - seems to head the top of the list. Just trying to take advantage of the good weather and long evenings while we can!
In the garden here at Autumn Cottage, I'm still doing a lot of heavier, harder landscaping jobs - harder for me, anyway. Still much digging and planting to be done in different areas, though I have had the assistance of a local handyman and his team for the bigger jobs of reinstating the pond in the herb garden (the one that cracked, emptied and then 'rose up like the sun' out of the ground after 24 hours continuous rain in a high water table area)...
The dire state of the old herb garden pond
The new liner going in - using the old shell underneath for protection
...and - biggest of all for this year, the new pergola along the back of the house. We've become rose enthusiasts after the glorious showing of Paul's Himalayan Musk along the trellis and over the loo this year (must have been 20 feet of growth from a little cutting given to me three years ago by my friend Shelley - since when it is informally known as 'Shel's rose'), so decided to give ourselves and the house a present, (we've been here for 30 years in October), and also provide a proper support for the wisteria, which was Alec's 60th birthday present this time last year. (We sure are good at finding excuses when we want something new for the house!).
Before the pergola arrived...
...and after - now all we need are roses, roses, roses! (and more plants where the new bed has been cut, where at the moment only those two pots stand)
In other people's gardens - we have decided to heed the words of UK gardening guru Monty Don and get out more - to see other gardens for inspiration, and to stop us doing nothing else but working on our own. It can otherwise become obsessive, exhausting and introverted if you don't watch out. Many gardens each week open here in the UK under the National Gardens Scheme - all so different - humble and grand, big and small, expensive and created on a shoestring (though all adhering to some strict criteria for safety and interest). Each visit offers opportunities to build a library of inspirational ideas which might be incorporated at some time into one's own garden, and at the same time raises millions of pounds for charity.
The pigeonnier and terracotta pot collection in the herb garden at Dipley Mill
A dazzling corner at Wickham House
A quiet little corner in a local village garden
But more than just creating a garden for our own pleasure, however, I have a very strong desire to create a therapeutic space here; I'm very conscious of the healing power of being in nature - of just sitting by a pond, or inhaling the scents in the herb garden…watching a bee fossicking for nectar or a kite gliding and swooping overhead. They are all such restorative experiences for me and I want to be able to share these experiences with others, through the writing and expressive arts workshops that I have run over the years. I've taken a break from those recently - but as the new academic year approaches in the distance, they will be back on the agenda again. Meanwhile, it's back to the spade, fork and hoe for me - to make the place even more welcoming for visitors.
Now where could I squeeze in another statue, I wonder?
The 'Mediterranean' Terrace - hot and protected from the wind, a happy home for the orange trees, wisteria and fig