Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer Break

So it turns out that I am incapable of leading a busy summer and blogging, huh?  I'm very sorry to have left you hanging.  A couple weeks back, I entered an extremely busy point that corresponded with a bout of writers' block that left me lacking in the blogging department.
My blog isn't the only thing that's been neglected.  My poor camera.
But I did get a couple of pictures the other day.  My flowers are
looking so lovely this year!

Aaanyway, this is all a long-winded way of saying that I haven't dropped off the face of the earth.  The rest of my July will be pretty busy, so expect sporadic (who are we kidding?  Basically nonexistent) posting for the next couple of weeks.  My August is looking gloriously calm and I'm looking forward to coming back to this space.  I'm starting to get quite a few blog post ideas, so I'm filling up my drafts folder.

I've been reading up a storm.  Everywhere I go, I take a book with me and that's added up to quite a few books finished up.  I read (and loved!) How To Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster and then started in on Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.  I've been filling the margins with piles of notes and observations inspired by Foster's book.  I'll be reviewing both, hopefully before the end of July, but we'll see.

In the meantime, enjoy my archive and talk amongst yourselves.  I look forward to being back to consistent posting in August!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Happenings

Finally!  I have the time to devote my attention to my poor abandoned blog.  I have reached the end of my hours of working day and night and am back to a lovely, calm schedule.  Almost the beginning of a summer break.  When I got home yesterday afternoon, I determined that I would begin at once working on all of the projects I've been meaning to.  First, I got my camera out and took copious pictures of pretty much everything and everybody that would stand still long enough.  I've been taking gloriously long runs, performing all kinds of cooking experiments, and reading all those books that have been sitting on my living room side tables for months.

Here are a few pictures of what's been going on around here:

This year's piggies.  Photo Credit: No idea. Whoever was holding my camera at the moment.
Another thing I did: Go to the greenhouse down the road
and stock up on various pretty flowers.

One of the lovely Lantana plants I got at the greenhouse.
This variety is called Evita Red, which means that, every
time I walk past these plants, I get to belt Don't Cry for Me Argentina.
While I was moseying around with my camera, Grouchy Kitty walked up.  Grouchy Kitty is one of our many barn cats.  Her name has nothing to do with the made-famous-by-memes Grumpy Cat.  Actually, her name came before that famous cat, I think.  She was just a generally grouchy cat who didn't like other people.  But, over time, she started to become a people cat.  However, bless her heart, she has a very disgusted look on her face at all times.  Those who are her friends understand that she really is a very kindly soul who has unfortunate looks.  In all seriousness, we think she has some Persian in her blood.

Tomorrow, I've got another chatty post in the works.  It turns out that I had all kinds of posts churning around my head, so I'm excited to start regular posting again.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Rose Garden

This story begins when we bought our farm.  While the majority of the place was a bit dilapidated and run-down, there was one little bright spot-and that was the rose garden.  The previous owner had filled the little plot chock-full with all kinds of beautiful, highly scented roses.  Now, I am not a rose person by any means and I find them kind of fussy, but I did appreciate that beautiful little corner.  Well, several winters later, the roses were sulky and a couple had died.  The cause?  Ash from the wood stove being dumped in the garden (by certain parties who are going to remain nameless *ahem*).
The embarrassingly rackety, early spring condition of the flowerbed, pre-pruning.

See, the problem with ashes is that they're very alkaline on the pH scale.  And roses like very acidic soil.  So the poor dears were in very alkaline soil and they obviously were objecting.
After some tidying up and pruning the roses

While walking past the poor dejected dears a couple of weeks ago, I suddenly had a wild hair to fix that sad little garden.  It started with pH tests, phosphorus tests, potash tests, nitrate tests, and about a thousand more.  After realizing that that patch of soil was devoid of absolutely everything except for potash which, surprise, surprise, is derived from wood ashes, I got to work.  I dumped and dumped all kinds of manure-mainly sheep and horse because they're very acidic.  I got Miracid and about 10 other products.  Then, I heavily pruned all the rose bushes that were still alive.  And, ta da!  the bed looks much better.  Now, of course, this is a work in progress and it's going to take awhile to get the soil back to the way it was.  I still have a couple of tricks up my sleeve-dumping cheap, steeped coffee, fish heads for a nutrient blast, chicken manure (which is supposed to be the most acidic).

My last step was to order some new, old fashioned roses for the garden.  I picked four, all highly scented in a variety of colors, plus climbers that I'm going to plant to climb up the side of the little summer kitchen attached to the house.  The plants came yesterday and, oh, it looks so refreshing seeing that little bit of ground coming back.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Thatched Roof by Beverley Nichols

Beverley Nichols is an author much beloved by both my grandmother and my mother.  Many times over the years, I have been discussing books with them and they stop to gush a little over how witty and sharp and generally great Beverley Nichols is.  I would always smile and nod, but, for whatever reason, never followed through and read something.  The other day, I finally borrowed a Thatched Roof and commenced reading.

I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed the book.  I love to read about people's decorating and gardening adventures and so Nichols's books really are right up my alley.  The gist of this gardening/home improvement autobiography is this: In the 1920s, Nichols buys a completely run-down little cottage with great potential and makes it over, with plenty of advice and opinions from the quirky locals.  In addition to this, it has a lovely garden, which he also fixes up, written about in another book.

There is, of course, much drama involving the whole house being turned into a "ye olde" cottage, filled with fake Tudor pillows and fake Tudor walls, and, well, fake Tudor everything.  I laughed out loud so many times at Nichols's wrath.  There are adventures and problems galore and the descriptions of the house make it sound perfectly lovely once Nichols finishes it.

Another thing that completely impressed me in reading this book was how Nichols made the house really come alive.  I could imagine every room of the house, every color scheme, every bookshelf, every open window.  Often home decorating writers have a hard time trying to describe their project.  In an era before beautiful home improvement books full of more shiny, artistic photographs than text, a book had to rely on the writer's skill as opposed to the crutch of photographs, a refreshing change.

Now, there were some lovely, lovely illustrations done by Rex Whistler did bring the personality of both the house and the book to life.  I appreciated how the illustrations were an aid to the writing, yet did not take the place of the writing.  I've included a sample illustration below:
Credit: Found off of Pinterest.  Not very credible, I know, I know...
The book is also laugh-out-loud hilarious at many parts.  All of the adventures were just plain hilarious, from the trials Nichols underwent, getting a housekeeper, to the descriptions of the nosy neighbors, judging him on the previous owner's choice of lawn statuary.

That said, Nichols got on my nerves by the end of the book.  He strikes me as a waspish little man, never pleased with anything and constantly critical of everybody around him, as well as being a completely priss about his house.  This is funny for awhile, but I couldn't read that indefinitely.  Oh and his blatant dislike for every. single. female who crosses his path?  Also quite annoying.

So those are my thoughts on A Thatched Roof.  Would I read something else by Nichols?  Maybe.  I loved, loved, loved this book, but I think, at least for me, his writing can only be taken in very small doses.  Maybe in a year, when I'm feeling inspired about gardening next March, I'll pull out another of his books about his beautiful garden and have another go.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gardening Reading

It's been so drearily bleak around here, but not cold.  It's my least favorite weather conditions-50 degrees and gray.  So, to distract myself from the less-than-ideal weather, I've come up with a nice big stack of gardening reading materials.  I'm already getting excited for the seed catalogues and gardening charts!

Here's my list:


  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver-I think this is my third time reading through this and I love it more each time I read it.  This does deserve its own review, so when I get around to it, I'll definitely write one.

  • How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jevons-Good, so far, although the man does seem to have a mad gleam in his eye.  I can't imagine doing all of the hoopla required for this kind of intensive gardening.  Interesting, though.

  • The New Kitchen Garden by Anna Pavord-A lovely, lovely book.  Not terribly informational, but full of gorgeous pictures and ideas for making beautiful little kitchen gardens with just a little bit of space.

  • The 12 Month Gardener by Jeff Ashton-A really great book all about gardening year round in a temperate climate.  Useful, interesting, and inspiring.
Now aren't you refreshed just looking at all those bright green books with the word "garden" in their titles?  I'm sure there will be more books like these as spring draws closer.  I'll be sure to keep you updated on what I'm reading.