our meadow

My vegetable garden, made with such love and care a couple of years ago is now a meadow.  Taming it will be a job for next year I think, but I’m not sure I want to.  There is a little growing however – since creating a permanent run for the chickens rather than having them loose in the garden (chicken poop + toddler didn’t seem like a good combination) I’ve been able to plant a few things at the back door and not have the pots acting as dust baths five minutes later.  Its just strawberries and herbs, but its a start. Alana pointed excitedly at the one red strawberry today, hopefully next year she’ll have her own little plot.

And for the first time, the apple tree we planted after Charlie died is covered in little fruits.  I can’t find many more words about that today, but seeing Alana’s little clothes hanging from the line beside his tree is a little bittersweet.

outdoors play

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We headed outside today.  The vegetable garden is a bit like a time warp, exactly as I left it back in July when pregnancy symptoms were in full force and I was so scared that something, anything, could cause things to go wrong.  I remember so clearly this time last year, when I was venturing into the garden for the start of new season and being so unbearably sad that I was doing these little springtime tasks alone, rather than with the child that should have been there with me.  Of course this year it is all different.  Alana slept in her sling as I cleared away a few old pots and planted some seeds.  My vegetable gardening plans this year are pretty tame, just lots of potatoes and a few things in the greenhouse.  I think in the past I’ve been a bit ambitious and it all gets a bit overwhelming.  I hope she loves being outside as much as me.  I want to her know the smells, and the feel of the earth.  Is it selfish to hope that your children love the same things as you?  I want her to love what she loves too.

But anyway.  There are lots of dead vegetables.  Some gigantic weeds.  The kind so big that if you dig them out you leave a huge, clear patch of earth.  A couple of weeks ago we had some tall, wobbly trees cut back and my lovely inlaws have chopped and cleared the wood while we were up north.  The chickens are as cheeky as ever.  They gathered at the gate while we explored and I swear they were whispering excitedly to each other ‘the lady is back growing things, sure, the man build a new fence but we will find our way through!’  Sure enough, I turned and when I looked back Scarlet was pecking about on the wrong side of the fence.  I have no idea how she did it.  She looked pretty proud of herself, as if she just wanted to show me that she could.

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shades of green

Finally, lush is the word for the garden right now.  Not so much in the vegetable garden, yet, but definitely everywhere else.

As the weather warms up a little and we spend more time outside, my mind keeps wandering into to the woods at Squam Lake.  I’m not going this year, but I can feel the excitement building anyway.  I am imagining students and teachers getting excited, making plans, gathering supplies and headlamps.  I sit outside with Penny and if I close my eyes and ignore the quiet chatters of the chickens, it almost seems like I’m there.  If you’re going, have a wonderful time x

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slowly emerging

It’s been a while since I last posted, how it can it nearing the end of May already?!  For almost two weeks I’ve been floored by something nasty called the flu.  It wasn’t pretty.  Neither was trying to look composed in my brother’s wedding photos when there was no-one behind me to hold onto.

This week I’ve been attempting recovery in the fresh air, which has mainly involved drinking herbal tea outside my greenhouse, giving directions to my lovely father-in-law John and coughing a lot.  I am starting to see changes in my garden, finally, after almost 3 years of battling weeds, overgrown everything, endless rain and that feeling of where do I start?. The answer – a little section at a time.  Eventually it’ll all be beautiful.  This year’s tasks are the front door, and my favourite bit, the vegetable garden.

I found this picture from 2 years ago –

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And now, today, from roughly the same place –

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This gate is the sole reason my vegetable garden exists, and there are things growing in it (though not as fast as I’d like, it is Scotland in May after all…).  This gate is the difference between my chickens gorging themselves on tasty, organic fruit and vegetables, and the humans gorging themselves on tasty, organic fruit and vegetables.  I mentioned to John a few weeks ago that ‘hmm, maybe a gate here would be a good idea?’ and then a few days later we got back from a trip up north and he’d built one from scraps of wood from our garage and installed it in the perfect place. Such a wonderful man.  I cried when I saw it.

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The parts of the garden John and I have worked in feel so full of hope, and right now I’m clinging tightly to that.  The last three years have started that way too, then all that hope has been washed away by crappy weather.  It seems like this year we’ve got a better start.  Does anyone have any favourite rhubarb preserving recipes?

silence

These days I am not as sociable as I used to be.  This past weekend was lovely, filled with loved ones and laughing and fresh air.  Every day I feel fortunate to have such wonderful family.  But suddenly now it is silent, and just as lovely.

This afternoon there will be quiet work in my office, with just Penny curled up behind me.  Chocolate cake.  Maybe a little seed planting.  Maybe a little snooker.  And definitely an epic, muddy hike.  (We can’t say the ‘w’ word around here anymore, it puts sweet Penny into a frenzy.  Soon that will happen for the ‘h’ word too and we will have to find an new one.)

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happy mail day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m about to go on a little trip, and take a class a class with Tilly at Ray Stitch.  I am beyond excited about this, my dress-making skills have slipped a bit and a refresher is required.  Especially when there are 3 metres of blue silk waiting for me when I get back, ready to be transformed into something amazing for my little brother’s wedding next month.

Before that though I am squeezing in some last-minute decorating (what do you think about the grey wall?, I am a little in love with it) and getting my crafting ready for the trip.  The new plants will be potted on in the greenhouse and will need to wait until next week.  So much to do!  It’s starting to feels like the season of doing and growing.

sniffing out spring

So according to the calendar it’s spring.  The snow might have gone but I’m not so sure.  Penny and I went hunting for evidence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA worm buddy!  I love worms.  I wish there were more of them in my garden and I’m working on it.  I picked this one up and put it into the grass, to make it less likely to be snaffled by a bird – is that the wrong thing to do?  It seemed grateful, I think.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALambs!  I was getting worried, usually I can hear them bleating when I let out the chickens, but nothing so far.  Turns out they’re just in a different field this year, and all is fine.  I couldn’t get that close without spooking them, but the muncher above was totally uninterested in me or Penny.  Clearly the grass was too tasty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy garden!  I spent the weekend in the front garden carrying out what felt like an archeological dig.  Clearing away 15 years worth of dead plants was a big task.  I found a rockery, paths, and these lovely daffodils which have been flowering every year under a mass of dead branches.  It feels like I haven’t even scratched the surface, but the two-car loads of weeds I took to the community recycling centre tells me otherwise.  (I am starting to make friends with the guys who work there.  I love too that they take away my weeds and stuff I don’t want to compost, and then give me free compost in return.)  I am utterly determined that this will be the year my garden will be returned to former glories.  I’ve heard that 15 years ago it was loved and a thing of beauty, but the previous owners obviously neglected it, and did nothing but cut the grass occasionally.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANew plants for my doorstep…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis might look like a picture of soil.  I guess it does, really.  But right in the centre, that teeny tiny speak of green is actually a baby carrot!  I had one good carrot year back in 2006(?), and have had no success since then, struggling even to get them to germinate.  I have a good feeling about this year…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOut of the 100+ teeny seedlings in my greenhouse, this little cauliflower is my favourite.  Something about the way it stands seems so earnest, and it looks like it waves to me whenever I go in.  It’s so friendly.

Our local ice-cream man says that May is going to be a hot month.  It doesn’t feel like it, but he is wise and all-knowing, so I’m choosing to believe him and be optimistic.

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