After the heat.

Yesterday in the evening, we had a much anticipated thunderstorm that finally ended the heat wave. It was glorious. Rain! Cooler temperatures! Such a relief. I really did enjoy this over performing summer weather - I can´t remember a summer with so many dips in the pond and so many hours in the hammock - but at the end, it got too intense. The heat came with a drought that basically torched the entire walled garden. I am going to cut it back vigorously now and hope for a lovely late summer with more rain. 

Yesterday´s storm damaged an old plum tree, smashed the hydrangeas and brought down the first apples. Not a problem really! I´ll happily collect all storm victims in my garden (I can´t bring myself to cut any of my hydrangeas, but if a storm "helps" it is another thing entirely, right?). 

So many things coming out of the veggie garden, it´s a delight. On a different note, see those lovely tomatoes in the pic above? They are an orange variety, "Auriga", which used to be a very common tomato in Eastern Germany. It´s my first year growing them and I completely forgot that they are supposed to be orange. I kept waiting for them to turn red! Here is me wondering how much heat it actually takes for those darn tomatoes to get ready when they´ve been ripe for weeks! #winning

So, naturally I´ve been busy making tomato sauces and passata like a crazy woman. It has a bit more urgency than usual this year because this Saturday, we will embark a ferry to Sweden where we will spend our first real holiday in four years. We´ll stay on the coast near Gothenburg for a week and then another week in Smaland. I am a bit (ok very) nervous because we are taking Ludwig who still thinks driving in a car is torture, but otherwise I can´t wait. We´ll be off the grid entirely so the blog will stay quiet until we are back. Think good thoughts for us and have a great time yourself! See you in Mid-September with lots of pictures from our time in Sweden!


Tales of August.

Hi! I´m sorry for the silence. I´ve been sick and busy, never a great combination. Anyway here are a few pictures from the past two weeks. First things first, I finally came up with a wonderful solution for the space above the cupboard in the dining room. I had grown tired of the paper flowers and remembered that I still had this wonderful canvas print of a picture taken by my Flickr friend Penelope Fewster. I originally had it made for our kitchen in Berlin and somehow forgot about it after the move (?). Anyway I love it here. So perfect. Even the husband likes it. When I first hung it he came in and remarked how it had all the right colors in it (??).

In other news, we are having a proper heatwave here in Eastern Germany and it is so, so hot. I´m not cut out for super hot weather but I am trying to enjoy it as much as I possibly can. You shall not complain about a decent summer, right? The flower garden isn´t into it though. The walled garden is looking quite tired but I know it will all spring back to life once the temperatures drop and it finally rains (2015 - the year that taught me to cherish every single drop of rain). 

Since the veggie garden gets watered the most, it is still a very happy place. It´s the first year that my onion harvest has been nothing but successful and everything else is thriving as well. Now hurry up, tomatoes!

Last but not least, here´s Ludwig contemplating stealing my bikini and Emma being cute. 
Have a very happy week! Let´s enjoy summer while we can. 


Book Club: Decorate with flowers.

This is the start of a new series called "Book Club". One of the things I get asked the most is whether I can recommend any good interior design/garden books. In fact I can, and it is what I am going to do here hopefully regularly.

Let´s start with "Decorate with Flowers" by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring. Their German publisher Callwey provided me with a review copy of the, well, German version which is called "Wohnen mit Blumen." Thank you Callwey! Much appreciated.

Confession: I don´t really like formal flower bouquets. I mostly find them too artificial. What I can get behind though are simple, pretty arrangements like the one above. However I find these aren´t so easy to create so I was looking for some guidance, and I am happy to report that the book does give you exactly that. It provides some basic knowledge (tools a florist would use, how to select flowers and arrange them properly) without going too much into detail. Totall fine with me, I don´t want to be a florist, I just want to look my flower arrangements to look good.

I really love that they use herbs a lot in their arrangments. Look how cute this rosemary looks! I need to do this more often.

The book isn´t all about bouquets though, there are lots of ideas of how to use flowers in your home - like the simple wreath here. All of those ideas come with detailed instructions that are easy to follow.

Here´s one idea that I particularly loved: They wrapped multi-colored yarn around simple jars - voilá, a pretty vase!

Like the title suggests, the book is about decorating with flowers, from a stylist´s point of view. So there´s an emphasis on how to pick the right flowers for your room - what looks good where, which colors etc. This is obviously an approach that I appreciate. The book also offers a fare share of eye candy when it comes to interiors, like this dreamy dining room.

So with all that inspiration in mind, I tried to make a few arrangements of my own. Here´s a little wildflower bouquet that I made just yesterday. Love the colors of this one.

Dare I say I am getting better at this? I hope so!

Thank you again Callwey for providing the review copy, I loved the book.


Blooms in my garden, July edition. 

The walled garden is looking really beautiful these days. Take a look for yourself:

That red lily though... it needs to go. I am planning a few changes in my garden - there will be a large new bed in the chestnut garden (let´s just call it that) and I think this is where the lily will go.

This cute red flower can stay though! It looks lovely everywhere.

Speaking of the chestnut garden, this is one of the beds that already exist. The white echinacea is lovely but they aren´t super happy here (I think there´s too much sun/heat). Also I´ll do mixed borders here as well - I thought I´d only want mixed beds in the walled garden and a more mono-thematic style elsewhere, but I´m not happy with it. So we´ll mix things up!

I´ve mentioned before that I wanted to add more color to the vegetable garden this year and well, it´s been a bit of a learning curve. For example I planted marigolds in the tomato beds and for some reason, they grew as high as the tomatoes! Not ideal since tomatoes need all the sun they can get. I had to rip them out. This wildflower border is a bit more successful.

Also in the veggie garden, the cosmos in this old oil barrel look nice enough although I´ve learned that cosmos are definitely happier in solid soil. They need a lot of water and aren´t heat resistant at all when potted. You live, you learn!

Have a happy week!


The finished passageway. 

So, lets take about our passageway. First off, so that you know what space I am talking about: You know the huge barn door/gate in front of the house that I´ve painted and repainted in the past months? If you open that gate, you are standing in the passageway that leads into the walled garden. Above is what used to be a hayloft and is now our attic room. This space was a huge mess when we bought the house. The photo was taken in 2012 when we threw a garden party in here. I know it all looks very picturesque but trust me, things were bad. The old gate was falling apart. There was a dirt floor that looked terrible, plus our cats had taken to use it as a toilet. The walls had old plaster on them that was crumbling off. It was a shame and I mostly avoided thinking about it because we didn´t have the budget to do anything about it.

Fast forward to early spring 2015. I know, I know, this is the kind of "before" picture that usually makes me roll my eyes. *Everything* looks bad in a blurry picture taken with flash. Anyway it´s all I got so bear with me.
We got a new gate in 2013 which was such a relief. Otherwise, things were pretty much the same.

The plaster situation was really bad. This is the kind of cheap plaster that got used a lot in Eastern Germany. It´s the reason why people associate Eastern Germany with grey villages (although that has changed a lot). Originally I wanted to have the walls in here re-plastered so that I could paint everything white. It would have brightened the space up quite a bit. However the estimates for repairing the plaster came in at about 5,000 Euro which was way more than we wanted to spend on the space. Doing it ourselves was not an option because we aren´t completely crazy. What we could do ourselves though was to get rid of the old plaster altogether. So that´s what we did. I mean, it was mostly my husband who scraped and hammered and scrubbed for weeks while I cheered him on and provided snacks and coffee.
Side note: See that walled-up window? One of the secrets of this old house. It´s in the room that is now our library/my home office. The previous owners had it closed up but sort of forget to take care of the outside. Charming.

These pictures are from Easter this year. The brick walls are bare (such an improvement!) and we started on a new cobble stone floor. That project was intense. We borrowed a tractor from a neighbor which helped a lot with digging out the foundation. The cobble stones were provided for free by another neighbor which helped to keep the costs down.

After!! Yay! So much better. Double exclamation marks are usually one of my pet peeves but I feel they are appropriate here. !!
(Also, in case you wonder why there´s a chainsaw in almost all of these pictures, I cannot provide an answer except that my husband is very much into chainsawing things. Men!)

I love the bare brick walls. I was hesitant at first because with the new cobble stone floor, there are a lot of old stones now in one place. However, I think the combination works just fine.

As for the window, we came up with this solution. We had that old metal frame window lying around so voila, a window without a view! Love it.
All in all, this whole project came in at about 1,000 Euro. Not so bad for such a transformation! One more thing crossed of the list.