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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!

Sunday
May072017

A tentative spring. 

This spring in two words: Very cold. Like winter coat cold. It was slightly better this week, and I could literally hear the garden sighing with relief. However the forecast predicts night frosts for next week, which isn´t unusal for this time of the year (ice saints!), but good God am I ever over it. 

Regardless, the garden is chugging along nicely. The tulips are out and the geraniums are huge already. I´ve become such a fan of geraniums, they do so nicely in our soil and are such grateful plants. The middle picture shows a variety that our local plant nursery offered last year; it has lovely colorful leaves and tiny, dark purple flowers. So pretty.  

 Ludwig says hi! Did I ever tell you that we have the best dog? Because we do. 

Because the light was so nice.

This is another angle of the first picture. My garden isn´t a great spring garden (yet), but this corner is nice. I hadn´t planned to have two varieties of white tulips here, but I placed a wrong order and frankly, I don´t mind one bit. The simple, large white tulips are perfect for the background and the smaller, more ornamental ones (these are "White Triumphator") can shine in the front. 

The chicken gang! I love them so. Above is Lore who is such a character. She is our green laying hen, the smallest of the bunch and so so funny. And the last picture shows Luzia who has just eaten quark which is now all over her face. 

Have a happy week! Keep your fingers crossed that my garden survives the upcoming frost!

Tuesday
May022017

More about Fred.

At long last, a bit more about Fred! Judging from your comments, robotic lawn mowers aren´t a thing (yet?) in the US, but by now they are quite common in Europe - or at least in Germany. Fred is the third of its kind in our little village! However this is probably not due to the fact that we are all such early adopters but more because the gardens here are huge and it´s quite handy if someone else does the work for you (which took us about 5 hours a week with a regular lawn mower). 

Enter Fred! Fred is a heavy duty model (because remember, large garden) and wasn´t cheap. I have to admit that at first I was very sceptical because Fred was such an investment and while the other Freds in our village were doing a fine job, our garden is a bit different with its many beds and borders and trees and shrubs (which is also why a lawn tractor didn´t make sense). The question was, would Fred be up to the challenge? 

The answer is, yes he is! I have to admit that the results were lacking in the first few days but Fred is supposed to "learn" his way through our garden over time - something I was very sceptical about but by now he actually does know (and mow) every nook and cranny in our garden! It´s really quite impressive. Also quite impressive was the time it took to prepare our garden for Fred. We (well, by "we" I mean mostly my husband, because Fred is his baby...) had to set up a border wire (a little information about how Freds work is here), Fred needed a power supply for his docking station and then we had to eliminate any possible obstacles - which included leveling out some of the bumpy areas in our garden so that Fred wouldn´t drown in a puddle! Which is why there are so many freshly sown areas in the pictures. Anyway now that all is done and Fred is doing a good job I can whole-heartedly say that it was worth it! Yay Fred!  

Just for funsies I searched my hard drive for this picture from more or less exactly 6 years ago. It´s the same area that you see in the picture above. And NO, it wasn´t better before. This was a jungle and not a garden. 

Bonus picture! My fabulous husband built me tomato houses! Gosh, aren´t these so pretty? We still need to put up the greenhouse film and I assume after they won´t look that lovely any more, but until then I get heart eyes whenever I look at them. And see those large areas between them? Two words: Dahlia borders! Can´t wait! 

PS: This post isn´t sponsored by Husqvarna, although it totally should be. 

Tuesday
Apr252017

I like to paint. (Not really). 

Every winter I have one or several "rooms to paint" on my list, sometimes because they need a new coat, but more often because I fancy a change and paint is a relatively cheap way to transform a room. So this year I originally had planned to only paint the dining room, but then decided to tackle the living room as well. 

But let´s talk about the dining room first. Since I loved the paint color we had in here before (Cornforth White) I was going to just freshen up the room with a coat of the same (and yes, this room really needed freshening up, much like the kitchen it´s a space that somehow gets filthy really quickly.) However when I mentioned my plans to my husband he said something along the lines of "well if you´re going to paint, wouldn´t it be more fun if you tried a new color?" Wise (and unexpected) words. So I pulled out my F&B color chart*, narrowed down a few greys, he pointed at Lamp Room Gray, and that was it. Very straightforward for someone who usually obsesses about colors for weeks or months.

Lamp Room Gray is a very lovely soft color, a medium grey with a blue/green tint. It took me a few days to get used to it, but I absolutely love it now. It is the most beautiful when the room doesn´t get a lot of light like in the mornings. I imagine it would be a great color for a North-facing room (this is a Southern exposure though). 

Looking through my beloved doors to the foyer and the living room. I think the colors go very well together. 

I originally had planned to paint this room a darker brownish grey but then at the last minute switched to Plummet*, the lighter brother of my favorite color Down Pipe. I absolutely love it in this room. It has a blue tint that is just right, and it is strong/dark enough to give that room a personality that was previously missing.

I got new art too... some botanical prints that I love. Back story: My mother gave me a RHS desk diary for my birthday - these are so so lovely, filled with loads of beautiful botanical prints. After a bit of searching I realized that there are lots of very cheap offers on Amazon for desk diaries from previous years, so I bought one from 2016 for 2 Euros and ripped out the prints and got some Ikea frames and there you go. New botanical art for very little money. I feel pretty smart about that project. 

And another shot through the doors in the other direction because it was requested on Instagram :)

Bonus picture of my kitchen, no new paint here, just looking pretty.

*I am not sure who can still afford Farrow & Ball paint after their latest price increase, I certainly can´t, so I had my paint color-matched. Good news for all Germans: Bauhaus now has the entire range in their paint computer thingie. Buy the best quality of paint available and you´re all set.  

PS: Thank you for your comments on my last post! I will post more about Fred next week, and I will also show you the fantastic tomato houses that my husband built. (!!) 

Tuesday
Apr182017

A cold Easter.

Easter is my favorite holiday and I always get terribly disappointed when the weather doesn´t cooperate - like this year, sadly. It´s so so cold! I can take the capricious April weather (we need the rain after all), but I am having a hard time getting used to wearing winter coats again. Anyway this Easter was mostly spent slaving away in the garden - we finally got a robotic lawn mower and it took forever to get the garden ready for it, and it involved lugging around lots of stones and soil and on Easter sunday I might have had a little meltdown because I was just so exhausted but anyway we got the roboter (we named him Fred) up and running yesterday evening so all is sort of well. Maybe I´ll write about Fred in detail another time, it´s quite the saga, and maybe helpful for other people?

(Fun little Fred story: All our precautions notwithstanding, Fred managed to fall head-first in our little stream today, and when I came and rescued him he displayed the cutest/sadest error message "steht auf dem Kopf" which literally translates to "standing on my head". Aw Fred, I like you already). 

Despite the cold the garden is very slowly evolving. In the walled garden, everything takes longer than elsewhere because we only have had sun in here for a few weeks now (it´s a Northern exposure and in winter the sun disappears behind the house). Anyway look at that tulip, I have never seen anything like this, so elegantly wrapped! I´m curious to see how it develops. 

These pictures were taken a week ago or so but you can still go ahead and marvel at the fact that my daffodils are just starting to bloom when they are already done most anywhere else (we folks from the East have proper winters, you know).

My tomato babies don´t like the cold, no surprise here. I am trying a new approach this year where I put them out way sooner than in previous years in the hope that they toughen up a little more (another nice side effect being that not every inch of my house is covered in baby plants). We´ll see how that goes. So far they´ve grown maybe half an inch in two weeks but they do look happy and healthy, so there´s hope.

The light is really nice though these days. I like this picture. Particularly because of the clothespins.

Bonus picture that doesn´t really fit in with the rest, but I love forget-me-nots so much and have been trying to get a decent photograph for years, and this is the first one that I really like. Have a happy post-Easter week!