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Monday
Jul202015

Surrounded by sunflowers. 

Our village is surrounded by vast fields. Every year there is a different crop - I think so far we have had corn (not very pretty), rye (pretty enough), barley (very pretty) and this year "our" farmers are growing sunflowers (beautiful!). I nearly fainted when I heard the news in spring. I had hoped for sunflowers for the past four years! 

However, as it turns out, it is super hard to photograph the village *and* the sunflowers, especially since sunflowers follow the sun and when the light is pretty in the evening, they are looking in the wrong direction. Here´s proof: 

Yeah, well. 

Anyway I did manage to take a few decent shots even if I had to fight my way through half a field of sunflowers (very scratchy plants, by the way) and then hold the camera high above my head because those sunflowers are taller than me! Worth it. 

And then I took a few home with me as a revenge (don´t tell the farmers). Also, should you ever plan to walk into a field of sunflowers, don´t under any circumstances wear sandals (ouch). You´re welcome.

Thursday
Jul162015

A Garden trip to England: Scotney castle. 

We had a few hours on our third day in England before we had to rush to the airport, so we decided to visit Scotney Castle which came highly recommended by my mother. Scotney actually consists of two houses - the ruins of the "old castle" in the valley and the "new castle" on the top of the hill. Here´s a bit more background on the history.

When the former owners decided to build the "new castle", they partially destroyed the "old castle" because apparently back then it was trendy to have a ruin in your garden. While I think it is somewhat decadent to destroy a perfectly good castle I also kind of get it since it really is an enchanting and very romantic place.

There are dozens (hundreds?) of azalea and rhododendron bushes on the hill leading up to the "new castle". I am sure it looks fantastic when they are in bloom.

The "new castle" is open to the public. It´s a lovely house, reminded me a bit of Downton Abbey. In houses like this, I am always particularly fascinated by the servant´s quarter. For example, the kitchen at Downton Abbey is just perfect - right?

The British and their love for vibrant color. This blue was everywhere and it was so lovely. Pretty sure it´s a Farrow & Ball color, any guesses?

Scotney also has a giant walled garden that used to provide the house with vegetables and cutting flowers. It´s still quite lovely these days, very orderly and everything done by the book. And I loved that scarecrow!

All in all, such a good trip - we´ll be back for sure! So many gardens still to visit in England.

Wednesday
Jul152015

A Garden trip to England: Charleston and Monks House.

I am trying to wrap up my garden trip posts real quick now so that I can blog about other things! The last post of this series is (hopefully) coming up on Friday, and today´s post is about the second day of our garden trip to England when we went to see Charleston and Monk´s House.

As for gardens, there probably would have been a dozen more exciting destinations nearby. But after reading this wonderful book last year, I really wanted to see Monk´s House and since Charleston is nearby, it made sense to go there as well. A Bloomsbury day, so to say.

Because of the tricky opening hours, we went to see Charleston first.We arrived around noon and it was super sunny so not the best condition to take pictures, but I hope you get an idea anyway. Incidentally, Gardenista recently posted a Charleston garden tour with much nicer pictures so do hop over there as well!

The most interesting thing about Charleston is the house, really. It reminded me a lot of the Münterhaus with all the painted furniture and the murals etc. If you visit, make sure to pre-book one of the guided tours which are really great.

But Charleston also has a really nice, small-ish garden that both my friend and I loved. It truly is a "painter´s garden" with a great sense for color and texture.

One thing to take away from the garden at Charleston is the exuberant use of white flowers. It made everything seem so light and bright. Really lovely.

So, yes, definitely do visit Charleston if you are in the area.

Then we went to see Monk´s House and alas, it was very disappointing. I really, really love that book but it is a good example that pictures can lie. First of all, the garden is tiny. Like, really tiny. You´ve seen everything in 30 minutes, including the few rooms in the house that are open to the public. That was the first surprise.

The second surprise was that the garden looked tired and frankly, neglected. Maybe it was just a bad day, but still, I was very disappointed. I know that people who visit Monk´s House are usually interested in all things Virginia and not so much the garden, but still... disappointing.

And that was the second day of our garden trip!

Sunday
Jul122015

The veggie garden, July edition.

Plenty of produce coming out of the garden these days - the first carrots and beets, sugar snaps, cucumbers, cauliflower, zucchini, fennel, salad... so good. And it doesn´t hurt that the garden looks really pretty, too.

The tomatoes aren´t there, yet. I wonder how much of a success these will be... I mostly planted cherry tomatoes this year which need a lot more space than I thought and it´s really getting crowded in the beds. The marigolds don´t help but again, they look really pretty. 

Sugarsnaps, cucumbers, fennel and basil happily growing in one bed. Also, see the black hose? My heroic husband built me a drip irrigation system for all of the beds so NO MORE WATERING THE VEGGIE GARDEN. Huzzah. 

One of my goals this year was to add more colors to the veggie garden. I planted marigolds, cosmos, nasturtiums and a few wildflower seed blends. It´s not all blooming yet but it does look promising. 

Parnips, carrots, onions, garlic. Such a good combination, very happy with this bed. 

The potatoes are looking promising, too. Did you know that for a while, people grew poatoes for their flowers? I can see why! 

The cabbage bed is a joy every single year. Cabbage seems to love our soil. Also I tried growing sweet peas just for cutting. They´re growing well but not a lot of flowers yet. I have a feeling that trellis wasn´t the best choice. You live, you learn.  

Hi, butternuts! You seem to enjoy your new digs in the cold frame. Now grow some nice pumpkins, will you? 

Tuesday
Jul072015

This and that. 


Here are a few random pictures that I´ve taken over the last few weeks. Starting with my lovely rose that is in full bloom now. (Because somebody will ask, it´s a rambler named Filipes Kiftsgate).

I have a huge peony in the garden just for cutting. It doesn´t really smell, and the pink is a bit too vibrant for my taste, but hey! Not complaining. 

Emma and Marlene. The tomboy who rarely is at home in summer and the old lady who sleeps through the the entire summer (and winter). 

Cherries! 

I repainted the gate two weeks ago and I love the new color. I am planning to paint the gable the same color in autumn. As for the door, it might stay as it is since the colors are in the same family and the combination kind of works, I think. 

One day I´ll write a post about our passageway, I promise! But here here is a sneak peek of its new glory. It turned out so well. 

Since the recent heat wave has put a temporary stop to any gardening, I´ve been spending quite a bit of time in the hammock! It´s actually awfully nice. (The pink rose is a rambler named "Raubritter". How someone can name a sweet, pink rose robber knight I do not know).