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Friday
Jun302017

Book Club: Romantische Gartenreisen.

I very much wanted to go on another garden trip to England this year, but that didn´t work out for a few different reasons. It´s okay though, the next few months will be busy enough as they are. And on the plus side, there´s lots of time to plan my next trip, which isn´t actually so easy now that I got most of the major must-sees out of my way. So that´s when the book "Romatische Gartenreisen in England" (romantic garden trips in England) comes in!

The book was published last year and got many positive reviews and I agree! It´s an all-around lovely guide that manages to provide relevant information while at the same time being an eye-pleasing coffee table book. What I like most about it is that while it does cover the usual suspects like Sissinghurst, the author also introduces the reader to lots of gardens which I had previously never heard of and which all sound very interesting. I do have a few concerns though, mainly that there aren´t a lot of pictures of each garden - I get that there is limited space in a book like this, but I feel like it´s so important to get a visual impression of a garden to avoid disappointments (like when you have travelled so far for a garden that´s just not your cup of tea). Also the layout/design is maybe a bit on the cutesy side, but that´s probably to be expected when a book has the word "romantic" in its title :) But these minor details aside, this is a very helpful and beautiful book.

The book got a little sister this year: "Romantische Gartenreisen in Deutschland" (romantic garden trips in Germany). This time there are several authors who each cover a different region in Germany. I was very interested in this book because I feel like there aren´t many guides like this for Germany (or maybe I am just not aware of them). I was sort of hoping to discover a German Sissinghurst but unsurprisingly that didn´t really happen. Germany just isn´t England and we don´t have a RHS or a National Trust which is the reason why the book covers a lot of botanical and private gardens and also a few castles that seem to have these very formal gardens that I personally don´t like too much. There´s nothing wrong with the selection and/or the book of course, and a lot of the featured gardens (especially the private ones) sound appealing. I guess I´ll have to visit a few and paint my own picture!

Bonus picture - I saved one of my giant delphiniums from the rain and it looks so pretty in my dining room! Have a very happy weekend - I´m terribly behind with my blog so I am trying to put together another post soonish!

As always with Callwey books, they have their own websites: Romantische Gartenreisen in England and Deutschland. Thank you Callwey for sending over review copies!

Thursday
Jun222017

A bunch of garden pictures.

I am posting this while a major storm is raging outside and all I can think of is how will my garden look like in the morning? So this is a good distraction. I think. Here goes!

A lot of these pictures are repetitive. Bear with me. But I can´t get enough of these roses. When I painted the chicken coop this color I thought how nice a pink climbing rose would be next to it. And now it´s reality!  

Same with this lavender border which I planted over the course of three years because I couldn´t afford to buy so many plants at once. And now look at it! 

Another rose, this is rambler "Raubritter", quite possibly the cutest climbing rose one can grow. It´s been struggling the first few years after I planted it, but it has really taken off this year and it´s all over that old plum tree now! Very hard to photograph so you´ll have to believe me. 

More roses. These are "old" (once flowering) white roses and a lot of alchemilla mollis. The roses will need a few more years to really shine, but they are nice enough already! 

On to the veggie garden! I´ve tried to incorporate even more flowers this year. Because never enough flowers.

This is our large raised bed which is now divided by a line of asparagus (in it´s second year, can´t wait to harvest our own asparagus next year!) I am growing zucchini, eggplant, chilis, cucumber and artichokes (their first year - we´ll see) on one side and carrots, onions and garlic on the other - plus a patch of strawberries. And like I said lots of annuals, like...

...sweet peas, which have taken their sweet (ha) time to germinate and grow this year, or maybe it´s like this every year and I just forget? Anyway we are slooowly getting there. 

The salad bed features nasturtium in a very dark red (so pretty that I make an exception from the "no red in my garden" rule), and in the background is larkspur (annual delphinium). I´ve tried to grow larkspur for several years and it always failed to germinate, so very happy to see it thriving for once! Can´t wait to see them bloom.

Sunflowers-to-be in a bed of french green beans, beets and cavolo nero (black kale) which I´m growing for the first time this year. 

And lots of poppies in the cabbage bed! Ah! I bought a ridiculously expensive seed package with rare poppy seeds this spring and when I opened it there was maybe a teaspoon of seeds in it and I was all like "you better be pretty". We´ll see, so far it looks promising. 

That´s it for today! Now keep your fingers crossed that my garden survives this stormy night. 

Monday
Jun122017

Back in the garden. 

I am still trying to figure out how to have a large garden and being able to travel during summer time. I think it´s all about the timing and what you´re willing to miss while you are gone. Over the past few years I´ve observed that there´s a short window of time when my garden doesn´t really need me at the end of May/beginning of June. That´s right after I´ve planted all the seedlings out in the veggie garden and the perennials are big enough at this point to not be bothered too much by weeds or slugs. I mean, there´s always something to do in the garden, but basically what all the plants need to do at that point is grow, and they can do that just as well without me staring at them, if you know what I mean. So I figured that maaaayybe if I did a very thorough weeding just before I left, this could actually be a good time for a holiday? 

Well very happy to report that I was right. It all worked out beautifully. I missed the Irises blooming - which is tragic - and also my late white lilac and the jasmine. But everything else kind of waited for me to return, including the paeonies which are stunning this year. 

However it was a bit of a shock to see just how much everything had grown in the two weeks we had been away. I guess that´s what happens if you don´t stare at the plants every day willing them to grow already. The best example is this newish long border! Love. This year it looks almost like I´ve imagined. I finally have foxgloves in my garden! This makes me so happy. And my lavender border is looking pretty good too.

However if I´m completely honest with you I missed my garden so so much while we were gone. I loved our time in France but I worried way too much, among other things, whether my salad bed would survive the neglect! Ha. What didn´t help was that I read this book on holiday and while I thought it was excellent, the author talks a lot about the terrible neglect his garden suffers during his travels, and this wasn´t exactly what I needed to hear! (There´s enough salad to feed the crowds, as you can see).

Fun fact: The day we returned I went straight from the car to the garden and didn´t leave it until a good few hours of work after... because I am insane. Anyway so happy to be back in my garden and see it thriving. However maybe next time I should just hire someone who takes care of it while I am gone (but would he or she do it right... that is the question... yeah I am insane.)

Thursday
Jun082017

A holiday in France.

So we are back from a very beautiful holiday in France. The back story is that almost 20 years ago, on a roadtrip with my then-boyfriend, I had briefly visited the Cotentin peninsula in the Normandy. I had loved it, and when I stumbled upon a promising airbnb-listing at the beginning of this year, I thought it might be fun to visit again and see whether I still liked it there. Spoiler: I did. 

But first things first: Our holiday cottage which was just fantastic. It is the former bakery house of a still-active farm. The whole farm is gorgeous, complete with a manor house (which is for rent too) and several lovely outbuildings. We basically had the lake for ourselves, and the house itself was so cozy and tastefully furnished. 

The view from our deck over the lake was fantastic at any time of the day, but particularly in the early morning with the mist hovering over the water. If I ever buy or build a house again, it has to be next to a lake (or the sea... you know, I´m not picky).

View from the farm towards the main road. No big deal.

The farmland looked like this. Talk about idyllic? They had sheep and cattle who seemed to enjoy it a lot too.

Ludwig love the lake, and especially the fishies in it! Oh boy! The thing is just that they don´t respond much to barking. Ignorant creatures.

The area has many, many gorgeous beaches which are literally devoid of people. The Cotentin still seems to be pretty much undiscovered by tourism, which I find strange but personally suits me very well. 

But such a pretty, pretty piece of the world! So lush and green and full of flowers and fairy tale villages. Go there! Or maybe don´t, so that it stays unspoiled for a little while longer. 

A little housekeeping: I quit Facebook a few weeks ago (because... well let´s just say it helps with my anger management), so the Taking Notes page is gone as well. Just as an FYI. I hope we can still be "friends". 

Wednesday
May172017

In the garden, May 2017.

I think the garden is just heartbreakingly beautiful right now, so I took a bunch of pictures this evening. 

My white tulips are gone, but the pink and almost-black ones are still going strong.

I love this picture.

Look how big that white lilac in the corner is. I very clearly remember how I planted a very tiny plant in our first year here, with the hope that one day it would look like this. Good things come to those who wait.

I think this long border will be very pretty this summer.

We finished the tomato houses this weekend. I was worried that they would look odd with the greenhouse foil up, but I don´t mind it at all. Now imagine these filled with tomato plants and dahlias blooming in the borders! 

The veggie garden is coming along, but still looking a bit sparse. Red cabbage is always pretty though, and so is that lonely aquilegia that self-seeded in my strawberry patch. 

Bonus picture! "Am I pretty mom?" "You sure are my love."

PS: I´ll take a little blog break since we are going on a holiday next week! If anyone has recommendations for the Cotentin peninsula in Northern France, I´d very happy to hear them. We´ll be back after Pentecost. Have a good few weeks!