Botanical

Well worth a visit . . . .

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Westonbury water gardens

So much in these beautiful gardens to stimulate both gardening and artistic inspiration! The whole area is crammed with plants and some very unusual “follies”.  Took a friend for the day who has been going through a bad patch with health problems and is now recovered.  Lovely day in the sunshine ….. in peaceful surroundings…….. a completely unpretentious place, quite unkempt in places which added to the charm

Determined to return with sketch book and paints and do lots more!

Categories: Botanical, Nature, Watercolour | Leave a comment

Pay back . . . . .

For the glorious, unseasonably, hot weather in May.  It is now hammering down with rain.  it is much needed for the ground as there is very little moisture in the soil, but it is pretty miserable outside.  The poor old horse has had to stop out in the wet and wind tonight as GOS is in the process of laying a new concrete floor in her stable.  he is having to do this section at a time using our 30 year old concrete mixer.   The floor is cobble stones currently and these have lifted in a lot of places leaving large holes in the surface.  It makes it extremely difficult to muck out.  Anyway in a few days we will be able to use the stable again.  She’ll just have to rough it for a couple of nights as it promises to be wet for a few more days.

The warm dry has been great for keeping up with the lawn cutting, but this wet is going to test us!

Although with it being so wet I did take the opportunity to do some planting.  I have been away a bit as you know and have a got a  bit behind with the garden.  I nipped down to the garden centre first thing after breakfast and purchased 3 butternut squash plants,  a cucumber, an aubergine and an outdoor tomato plant; all of which I want to try outside this year.  These were duly planted along with my runner bean row.  I had managed to prepare a manure trench for these on Saturday.   As long as the slugs don’t get their teeth into my plants we should be well away!

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Heralds of summer

I have been following a fellow blogger – jeanmakayart : “Drawn In”  – who often includes art “lessons” on her page.  She does some marvelous illustrations.  Recently she explained how she often uses a grid system of illustration  and suggested people try it – so I thought I would give it a go and I am pretty pleased with the result.

I have resolved to do one of these at the start of each month to give a flavour of what is happening at this time of year. . . . .  above depicts . . . .

“Redstart” which are back in the garden, which is fabulous.  We haven’t knowing had them here for a couple of years.  They are quite shy summer visitors, but very striking in appearance if you catch a glimpse of a male redstart.   About the size of a robin, with a really bright chestnut red breast and under carriage, black face with a bold white flash above the eye.  There has been one flitting about regularly between GOS’ golf patch in the garden, the hawthorn hedge and the front paddock.

Although its is June the hedge rows are absolutely thick with hawthorn or “may blossom” as we call it, though it will be starting to drop its petals following today’s battering by the weather.  In this part of the world it generally comes out latish May.  It does not however give off the most pleasant of smells rather a “stale” sort of odour.  When I  was a child it was always considered very unlucky to bring may blossom into the house; that it invites death, but I haven’t heard anyone say that for years.

The foxgloves are also coming into their own.  I did have some white ones in the garden, but gradually they seem to have reverted to the pink of the wild ones.

On warm evenings too, although they are called “Maybugs”, we still hear the drone of the occasional cockchafer.  After dark they will often startle me crashing, disorientatedly into the lit windows of the house.

What we also have a lot of this year around the garden, as I may have mentioned before, is rabbits.  We have not had many for a long time.  I think this has been a lot to do with having a very active cat.  But now she is twelve or thirteen and has become quite sedentary  over this last winter .  However, she has livened up a bit in this recent warm weather and has  been out hunting .  Witnessed by the rabbit she dragged back into the porch the other morning.  Yowling pitifully;  pleading to bring it into the house.  No way! Eventually,  she took it off elsewhere presumably to eat it.

Anyway, best go and push her outside now for a little bit – she won’t want to go outside in the wet. . .   She can come back in for bed then  a bit later.  In her dotage she is allowed to stay in the kitchen at night on a cushion.  If she is let loose in the rest of the house at night she prowls round seeing whose bed she can curl up on.  If the bedroom door is shut she will keep knocking at it until the occupant of the rooms gives in and opens the door.  She seems to be quite happy on her cushion in the warm though.  . . .

 

 

 

 

Categories: Animals, Botanical, Nature, Uncategorized, Watercolour

“Scorchio”. . . . . .

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Map showing our route and some of the highlights along the way

Another week of ups and downs.  Wonderful, unseasonably, hot weather for a UK May.  Some days it has been as much as 25-27 centigrade;  where I think the usual average is 15-16.  I have been away for three days on,  what has become an annual pilgrimage with “horsey” friends.  We undertake approximately a 70/80 mile loop around the Black Mountains, which straddle the English Welsh border.  If anything it was a little too warm for the horses who still have some winter coat and we cut out the long canters on the way home.   It was particularly hot on the return journey last Wednesday with the warm sun reflected off the south-west facing slope of Wern Fawr as we traversed across the mountain on the final steep descent.

We use a wonderful B&B for 2 nights and stable the horses a little way away and it usually works very well.  Unfortunately, this time someone had been through and left open a normally closed road side gate and the horses went AWOL out of a lush field of grass and after a very hot 20 mile hack!  As half the party arrived at the pub for supper we were met by “Malcolm” who shouted that someone had seen seven horses making there way along the road heading for Abergavenny.  Four of us, hardly dressed for the occasion,  raced up the road with Malcolm.  Luckily a passing motorist had managed to turn two or three of the horses whilst the others had slowed, and as they headed towards us I manged to catch my mare and slip the strap of my shoulder handbag round her neck to lead her back to her field.  Another friend did the same with her horse and a couple more of the escapees trotted on to follow their “friends”.  We got them back to the field and double tied the gate!   The building line of cars were all very patient thank goodness!  The rest of the party turned up at the pub five minutes later blissfully unaware of the what had been going on.  Also by the time they arrived bar talk had increased the escapees to numbering a dozen!

But then all our excitement the following morning was tempered by the awful happening in Manchester, which was by then all over the breakfast news.  Oh dear. . . .  I can hardly imagine what those families involved are going through. . . . .  Enough said tonight . . . .

 

Categories: Animals, Botanical, geography, Nature, Uncategorized, Watercolour

Sun, sea and sand. . . . .

We are just recovering from a toddler fueled couple of weeks!  I have been in the throes all day of stripping and washing bedding, tidying away toys and generally getting back to “normal”in the house.  It has been great fun ( if quite tiring!) to take all the family away as well for a few days at the coast; giving our little granddaughter her first taste of a british seaside holiday.  We were blessed with wonderful sunny weather for the whole  holiday  and were able to make the best of the beach as well as having a couple of family cliff -top hikes. The youngsters even went in the sea a couple of times!  But they did not stop in long I can assure you!  If not the cold, the jelly fish floating about put them off .

We had many happy summer holidays on the same part of the Cardigan coast when our two were very small and it was lovely to repeat this with our little granddaughter. Her excitement was a delight.   It has been a long time since I built sandcastles!  As it was so early in the season the roads and the beaches were reasonably quiet so it was lovely.  Some of the single track roads down to the sea are fairly precipitous and very narrow so the lack of traffic was a bonus.  We, ( that is GOS and I,  granddaugher, our daughter and son in law, son and his fiancee) based ourselves in a cottage in the  pretty, little town of Aberporth which is right on the coastal path;  giving access to other beautiful beaches, which we know well from frequent visits in the past.

The cliff top paths here boast stunning vistas across the Cardigan bay and views along the  rocky coastline.  If you are lucky at certain times of the year dolphins can be spotted in the bay.  (Aberporth has a beautiful sculpture of one on the front),   These stunning views are often glimpsed between between idiosyncratic tunnels of stunted blackthorn and other trees which cling to the cliff tops.   And bathed in very warm  May sunshine the gorse bushes, which also lined much of our way on our walks, were exuding a thick and heady smell of coconut which was  interspersed occasionally by the sweeter scent of the bluebells which were also in full bloom. The fragrance was wonderful.   I felt to lucky to be enjoying all this.   The coastline is very much unspoilt and not at all commercial.  My favourite place to walk; the coastal paths of Wales.

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Llangranog  (done “au plein air”)

I read that gorse bushes are highly flammable, and in many areas, in years gone by, bundles of gorse were used to fire traditional bread ovens. The ashes made an excellent soil dressing. Another use for the ashes, which are rich in alkali, was as a detergent in washing soaps.  I know, locally, the fresh young tips are considered a tonic for horses.

I found a recipe for gorse flower cordial on the internet (see recipe page) which I think I will have to try.  It sounds delicious.  . . . . . perhaps it will do me good. . . . .   could do with a “pick me up” after all this housework!

gorse

Categories: Botanical, Nature, Watercolour

At last …

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Red kite

The last lamb has been born; Easter weekend.  What a little scrap of a thing she is.  Her mother has no milk so we are bottle feeding her.  This is now three times a day.  We have turned her and mum out into a field with the other sheep just up the road as the ewe was distressed away from the flock. So now one or other of us has to trail up to the field with a bottle of milk.  First feed 7 am.  With a little persistence “Daisy”, as GOS has named her,  is doing really well.  It was touch and go the first couple of days.  Little granddaughter will enjoy doing this when she visits.

My highlight this week has been to have a friend down from Edinburgh for a couple of nights to stay over.  I have been able to show her some of our countryside at it’s best.  On Friday I arranged for a group of us to walk the two hills behind the house with her.  She is a great “hiker”.  Six of us and three dogs had a lovely day walking the footpaths that join and transverse the two “commons”. At our picnic spot in the bottom of a little sheltered wooded valley my friend was excited to see a red kite wheeling round only feet above us in a gap in the tree tops.  She said she had never been so close to one before.  They live by scavenging so we reckoned it had spotted the sandwiches!bluebell We walked not far short of 9 mile and in that distance had been through various habitats and environments; ancient woodland, open moorland, cultivated farmland……..  ending our trek walking down the steep  flower lined lane back to the house;  comparing the colloquial names for the various wildflowers as we went.

I am away for a couple of days myself now so will write again on my return….

 

 

Categories: Animals, Botanical, Watercolour

Spring posy. . . . .

Happy Easter

posey1

Watercolour on canvas

Categories: Botanical, Watercolour

One more to go…….

pink fir

Commitments over the last week I have got me a bit behind with my posting, but I am here now. . . .

Only one more ewe to *pop* and we are there!  One large ram lamb was born to a “first lamber” in the early hours of this morning.  She seems to have taken to her baby really well.  Fingers crossed.

We have had friends for a night over the weekend; a catch up from college days.  They had come over to our area from Suffolk to pick up a springer spaniel pup they had bought.  A dear little chap called “Fred”.  He will be a companion to their other shooting dog. “Arthur”.  They had very kindly brought a big bunch of roses with for them me as a wedding anniversary present.  GOS and I were celebrating our 45th!  That apparently is a sapphire wedding anniversary.  In deference to this information I have bought a sapphire blue plumbago shrub for a corner of the garden.

It is a long story but suddenly we have a sizeable patch of ground that needs to be cultivated and eventually planted.  Presently the ground is very compacted and full of large rocks;  very hard work to remove by hand!  Which is what has to be done as anything mechanical would be damaged by the quantity of stone.  Slow job.  But it will be exciting planting the area up from scratch with shrubs.

I also need to get started in the vegetable garden.  Following in family tradition ,I will be getting the early potatoes planted on Good Friday.  I have chosen “Charlotte” to start off this year.  I like Pink Fur Apple for flavour, but GOS doesn’t like them; so little point in continuing to grow them!  After the third attempt, and putting the tray somewhere else, away from mice , I think I will get some broad beans.   There are peas germinating as well.

Good Friday is also the day for my choir’s next performance.  We are doing a concert in one of the local churches for charity.  All very challenging music.  Our MD has been working us until quite late on practice nights.  I am sure it will be worth it in the long run.

We have had a dry and fairly sunny week weather wise.  The verges are starting to look very lush – full of yellow dandylion, celenadines. The cow parsley and bluebells are starting to shoot up in sheltered spots;  all very early.  A great many of the wooded areas against the main roads locally are planted with wild cherry and  with that, and the blackthorn, the blossom at the moment is beautiful and in profusion.  I am never really sure about the council’s planting planning.  Where roads are improved or a by-pass constructed the highways people plant  a lot of trees on the banks pretty close to the road. Very nice; but then they seems to spend an inordinate amount of time trimming said trees back after adandeliondandeliondandelion few years of growth.  A process repeated again and again every few years??

 

Talking about the Council we have the council elections coming up the first week in May.  It looks like it is going to be a proper contest in this ward for a change!  We have had two of  the contestants coming canvassing already – one Tory and one Independent.   Our ex-MP is also standing.  This could become quite interesting. . . . . .  will keep you informed  . . . .

Categories: Botanical, Nature, Watercolour

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