New Wheels – Mini Road Trip!

The Mazda MX5 RF has just been announced as the What Car top Cabriolet for 2018. The long-suffering is feeling smug with a told you so look on his face. It may be top car but I (and him) have not seen another one on the road since his purchase last summer!

In June 2017 the long-suffering suffered a mid life crisis and as such traded his old ‘sensible’ Mazda 3 Saloon for the new ‘convertable’ Mazda MX5 RF. Of course ‘he bought it for us…..to make us drive out on warm, sunny days/evenings/weekends’. Who is he kidding!

IMG_2339

Practical it is not in our rural location – hedges are high while we travel low, dwarfed by large oncoming vehicles in the middle of narrowing roads and liable to bottom out as we swerve to avoid collision into a potholed passing place!

However what it lacks in practicality – small boot, only room for two – it more than makes up for in its frivolously fun drivability. With the roof down, wind in our ‘greying hair’ I am transported back thirty years to our first date in long-sufferings original soft top, the characterful lopsided Triumph Spitfire.

The RF has an electronic retractable hard roof meaning boot space is tight. On the upside with the roof retracted we are a little more enclosed than the traditional MX5 – my hairstyle if not perfect at our destination does not now resemble a birds nest!

IMG_2342

Although the hip outwardly groans getting in, once down into the seat it is comfort supreme, my exit is a little more tricky and as after any journey of more than 30mins I revert once more to my ‘Quasimodo’ style of walk until limbered up again.

After a few evening drives out locally to Weymouth……. IMG_2337Studland…….

and Lulworth Cove…..

we were ready for a two day mini road trip to Cornwall……….

Day 1….. Our early start on a warm July day paid off and we arrived at Trebah Gardens – our planned excursion – just after opening. The leisurely stop for breakfast along the way had not happened as in a blur we passed breakfast vans and cafes at speed. Long-suffering muttering ‘there will be another one further on’ of course eventually there was not!

Instead almost at Trebah, hunger getting the better of him he pulled into a garage, where we had words over inedible warmed bacon rolls – me, and spilt hot chocolate over the RF floor – him!

Cornwall-4

Trebah Gardens –  beautiful 26 acre sub-tropical ravine garden.  Australian tree ferns, lush waterside plantings, majestic, stately specimen trees, blue Hydrangeas on mass and its own private beach. A gardeners delight!

IMG_0867

Gunnera Plantation

IMG_0862Bamboo Forest

After lunch on the private beach, our next stop was Portloe – a pretty unspoilt fishing village in the Roseland Peninsular. We walked up one side of the steep valley before stopping off at the Lugger Hotel where we sat outside drinking cold beer looking out to sea.

IMG_2552

On to Portholland beach – a granite wall backs the rocky outcrops of this beach, between the small hamlets situated to the east and west with a total of only forty residents between them. We sat for a while in the warm sun reclining in two travel deckchairs we had crammed last minute into the boot along with the cabin size case, holdall, coats, and walking boots. Not such a small boot after all it would seem!

Off the beaten track……..

And finally our stop for the night Mevagissey….

IMG_2558

A walk where we shouldn’t with the aid of a kindly villager!

Evening Sunset View from our B&B terrace

Cornwall-19 Day 2 – After a good nights sleep and a ‘Full English’ for breakfast we set off heading east to Charlestown our morning stop-off on our route back home to Dorset.

Cornwall-36The working Port here dates back to the late 18th Century and little has changed in Charlestown since. It has a lovely old charm with little in the way of any large scale developments and creates the perfect setting for period dramas such as Poldark, Mansfield Park and Hornblower to name a few.

We explored the resident Square Rigger ship moored against the harbour walls, an area busy with tourists and a party of artists busy sketching and painting the scene before them.

The Shipwreck Rescue and Heritage Centre centre located in an a historic China Clay building kept our attention for a good hour, following the history from its early beginnings as a small fishing village to present day. We walked underground tunnels where the clay trucks were pushed out to ships in the port for the once thriving China Clay industry which followed on from the transport of copper from nearby mines. The construction of the port dock and harbour began in 1791 by Charles Rashleigh.

We had time after our light lunch sat overlooking the port for a quick walk on the beach before heading home roof down until the rain stopped play, however this small inconvenience only served to enable the long-suffering to demonstrate once again how quick and with very little effort – just the push of a button – we could be watertight once more!

My thoughts on this Cabriolet of the year….. It is fun, economical – compared to my 4×4 – a responsive drive – according to long-suffering and it IS making us take time out especially spur of the minute which suits my personality.

However It is NOT practical for visiting gardens that have either plants for sale or any gardening related paraphernalia as there is just not the room for impulse purchases unless the boot is empty and even then there is a severe height issue!

Having said that I did manage to squeeze in the boot some iron sculpture for the garden from Trebah, but the coveted tractor seat had to reluctantly be left in the shop.

This year 2018 I shall hope for a good dry summer and lots more garden visits after all isn’t that what he bought it for? Oh and maybe I will spot another Mazda MX5 RF on our travels this year. Are there any other owners out there to back up the accolade?

 

Ne’er cast a clout till May be out!

IMG_1769And so the saying goes, but ….. does it mean The month of May or when the Hawthorn fills its branches with ‘May’ blossom?

It seems on this we mortals are divided, but whatever your preference our ‘May’ Hawthorn blossom is out in all its glory, however I am still wearing scarf and fleece, and if the last two weeks are anything to go by I will not be casting them off any time soon!

For the last six weeks or so summer bedding and vegetable seedlings have been available to purchase alongside the weekly grocery shop as well as the usual horticultural outlets. I wonder how many new enthusiastic gardeners were caught out by the late frosts of a fortnight ago, and then watched as they blackened and died, or sat and sulked becoming slug bait in their weakened state.

IMG_1649

I myself got itchy fingers with a cold frame bursting at the seams but luckily common sense prevailed on that occasion.

Instead my attentions went elsewhere in the garden specifically to my outdoor summer-house.  Until a couple of weeks ago it had become a second shed with folding garden chairs/tables, empty plastic plant pots and anything else that never made it back to the actual garden shed!

The idea was to create a calm space to read, write, paint or retreat to when I am either too jiggered to work in my own garden after toiling away in my clients, or long-suffering has his all things sporting day(s) on the TV!

IMG_1794

First a complete clear out of items to be stored elsewhere, the remainder sat outside waiting while I brushed and swept, disappearing in a cloud of dust sending any resident spiders heading for cover deep in any vacant nook or cranny.

An old table I up-cycled years ago was to become – with modification – my desk, all I needed was an upright chair to sit on……. Oh the beauty of the internet, at the touch of a button – or two – a second-hand furniture store was located in Dorchester not far from us.

Dorchester Curiosity Centre trading from the Old Bus Depot. An Aladdin’s cave greeted us as we moved from room to room full with furniture, bric-a-brac, collectibles and more. It was easy to lose yourself there for a couple of hours especially with the added temptation of a hot cuppa and glorious home-made cakes to die for!

In the end decisions had to be made and we settled on a painted chair for the desk, a comfy ‘Lloyd loom’ style chair to relax in and an old milking stool to use as a side table.

My ‘haven’ is now complete with gardening, art and writing books/magazines, there is power too extending the hours I can indulge out there!

IMG_1806This last weekend although sunny, was cooled by a chilly breeze, the welcome 12mm of rain did much to perk things up! The Dahlias in the cutting patch have come through the winter and are showing strong – if a little munched – growth, hopefully the late addition of copper rings will help keep invadors at bay! Long-suffering has given my retreat a fresh coat of paint – giving up Saturday afternoon sport fixtures to do so!

The autumn sown onion sett’s planted before our Road Trip have not been a success, appearing to my eye neither strong or prolific, in our reduced plot there is not room for more! Saturday I succumbed although ‘May is not out’ to the planting in the veg plot of runner & french beans, along with nurtured flower seedlings for the cutting patch. The courgettes will be waiting another week yet though!

The fleece is ready should frost threaten although the weather man is predicting rain for the days ahead. Fingers crossed then!

Some new – car boot and bargain basement new – additions to the garden for the toddler – from the house of two halves in Cyprus. Hopefully come August when next she comes to stay pressure on the wooden duck in the border who is almost headless from being continually thrown down the slide will be relieved.

Some May flowers in the garden……….

And a Sunday morning breezy steep coastal walk to keep the hip from getting complacent at West Bay Bridport……..

Inspiration

My parents both loved to garden although my mother had less time to indulge busy as she was running their village stores and off licence.  My father was twenty years older than my mother.  As I grew up – the youngest of four, he was by then semi-retired. His main jobs in the business were newspaper man, stocking up and serving on occasion in the off licence and all the general maintenance in and around the property.  This left plenty of time for looking after us younger children.

School holidays and weekends I was often to be found pottering outside in the garden with my father.  Sweet Peas and Snapdragons were his favourite, not for him the tricky latin names – Lathyrus odoratus and Antirrhinum respectively,  I was encouraged to learn throughout my horticultural training and working.

His way to garden was a relaxed romantic style, plants billowing over the edges every bit of earth planted, in contrast my Mothers preferred style was and still is of controlled formality.  Shrubs are kept small and regularly shaped, only plants that behave in an orderly fashion are allowed to stay, Hydrangeas rule.  Flopping is never allowed only bare earth between, devoid of all weeds and in autumn every last leaf!

However when it came to propagation my mother ruled.  Not for her following rigid instructions, she was an opportunist.  Cuttings, seeds, seedlings, the latter stuck in anyhow and any where grew strong healthy and productive, indeed her tomatoes were of show quality.  My father on the other hand following meticulous instruction from his trusty Readers Digest ‘The Gardening Year’ could only look on in despair as his carefully tended plants never quite showed the same promise or yield.

I like to think both their styles and techniques have been instrumental in shaping the type of gardener I am today.  My personal gardening style follows more my fathers relaxed approach, my own borders billow and undulate in an unruly fashion, that is on the surface…… Behind the scenes though I do exercise some of my mothers ‘crowd control’, thinning the thugs to allow the weaker plants to shine through.

My everyday work in Design and maintenance of gardens requires me to adopt both my parents approaches this manifests itself in design styles as Contemporary, Country, Formal, Informal and more besides.  Because of them I am able to shift easily between different styles respecting my clients individual tastes.

A few of my clients are new gardeners tentative, unsure where to start, many are elderly and have great knowledge and technique but not the strength to work as hard.  I hope to teach and inspire the learners as my elders continue to teach and inspire me.

Our gardens like us gardeners are all different and we like our gardens have to adapt to new and sometimes harsh challenges throughout the ever changing cycle of life.

 

 

Four Years Today

My title for this my first post, originally included the word Anniversary however, that word seems to  convey something to celebrate of which a head on car collision is definitely not!  As I write this post memories of that late afternoon come flooding back all too clearly…………

The car suddenly swerving onto my side of the carriageway, the realization impact WILL happen, brace myself, oh my god the bang, scraping, explosion of frosted stars in front of my eyes, I cant see and then silence.

Sirens getting louder, a stranger is talking to me, stroking my hand, comforting.  He knows my name? I want/need to get out in case my van explodes, can’t seem to move my legs, numbness.

Fire brigades, paramedics, police I am surrounded in the confines of the cab, red liquid is everywhere, is that coming from me? I am trapped in the seat, fireman cut away rigid panels, paramedics cut away clothing am I going to die I feel strange? My head and neck are immobile, laying on a hard board, tight straps, I can’t move but somehow I’m sliding out the rear of my van. Bump onto a trolley, two more and I am in the ambulance.

Questions from the policeman, my Husband on the phone from London, “Its okay” I hear myself say, “I am fine, just cuts and bruises, go to your football match, nothing to worry about”. Little did we know that was the biggest understatement the policeman and I ever made!

Today much like then I have worked outside in my clients gardens. I consider myself very lucky to be back working in a profession I am passionate about. My business provides Garden Design, Consultations and maintenance services. Without the love and support of my family as well as my love for all things horticultural I would still be in the dark place I sank into as the aftermath of that day slowly revealed itself.

Earlier this year we moved house there have been some wonderful surprises in our new garden, one it has to be said I could happily do without. For the past two weeks every morning facing my kitchen window directly below a north facing wall a row of Nerine bowdenii stand to attention. Personally these Pink confections do nothing for me but I have not the heart to dig them out. Nerines like their feet in the sun, baked throughout the summer ready to throw up their flowering shoots come early Autumn.

I admire them, their pink fluffy heads defying the odds of being planted in the ‘wrong place’. I have over the last week come to have a love/hate relationship with them, they make me smile, maybe because they remind me that even when you are up against it anything is possible!