Thursday, 21 April 2016

Dreaming The Green


Gardener's Question Time had just started when I turned on the radio the other day. I've just moved to a house with a huge neglected garden and know nothing about gardening, I'm confused by all the advice I keep being given, an audience member told the panel, What the rules do I need to follow?


I better listen to this, I thought, resisting the urge to re-tune to pop-tastic Radio One. With a garden over a hundred metres long containing twenty six trees, fourteen of which have protection orders slapped on them, which means that we can't even prune them without seeking prior permission from the council and, even if that is granted, we have to use their approved (& extremely expensive) tree surgeons unless we want a hefty fine. 


Our garden is almost constantly in the shade, anything we plant has to compete with the trees to get any nutrients from the already over-stretched soil and other than the ferns, wild garlic and feral blackberries, very few plants thrive on the lack of daylight. Neither of us like gardens with neat borders or rows of flowers beaten into submission or fancy being a slave to the hosepipe like our neighbours.


Our wilderness does have its advantages. Despite being just a five minute walk from the bustling town centre in our garden you could be a world away. During the day we're visited by birds, butterflies and bees, the neighbourhood cats bask beneath the trees and I can wander around in my pants if I want to as we're never over-looked. The shady pond is home to frogs and toads love the decaying stumps of trees long dead from natural causes.


At night owls hoot from the canopy of lime trees, bats skitter from under the eaves of the house, hedgehogs amble across the overgrown lawn and the urban foxes have made a home under the tumbledown shed Grandpa built in 1951.


So how did the experts on Gardener's Question Time advise the novice? They told her that there were no rules. She should do exactly what she liked, have fun experimenting and if something didn't work not to be put off & just try again and best of all, to disregard any advice, no matter how well intentioned, if it didn't suit her. This made me happy as its exactly the same approach to the way I get dressed in the morning.


A fashion expert would probably tell me to chop off my long locks (overloaded with static today as I re-blackened them earlier), to make up my eyes or my lips but not both, never to mix gold and silver jewellery and would, no doubt, have an absolute fit over the vintage St Michael nightie and suede boots I wore to Lidl this morning. The way I dress isn't everyone's cup of tea but it suits me & makes me happy and that's all that matters.

Wearing: Vintage 1970s St Michael nightie (£1.99, local Hospice shop), Suede boots (Half price sale, Schuh), Bespoke vintage Murano glass & beaten brass pendant (Jolene Smith, Walsall jewellery maker)
So I'm applying the same non-rules to the garden. I'm creating something just to suit us, a wild space with the feel of a festival arts trail. I've ransacked the clearance rack at B&Q for bargain plants and dug up interesting looking greenery from the garden of the parental home. I've planted things up in broken Thermos flasks, enamel teapots, rusted vintage tins and cracked terracotta pots and I've a plan for a weird and wonderful art installation. If it doesn't work then it isn't the end of the world, it hasn't cost more than a couple of quid.....Watch this (green) space!

PS We're trading with Judy's in Liverpool this coming Saturday (HERE), come and say hello!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

109 comments:

  1. Your garden sounds lovely! The garden we left behind when we moved had oodles of beautiful mature trees, lots of them bore fruit. There was a pond and lots of shrubs. I was appalled when they chopped EVERYTHING down the minute we were out :(

    Love the nightie! It makes a fab dress xx

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    1. No! What is the matter with people? I know the same thing will happen when we sell Dad's house, I'll have to go abroad for a month so I don't have to witness it. xxx

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    2. I wish I could buy your dad's house...I doubt I'd change a thing!! Love your gardening plans, can't wait to see the installation! Every year I seem to swap stuff around, makes a tiny space more exciting. Zxx

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    3. I wish I could buy your dad's house...I doubt I'd change a thing!! Love your gardening plans, can't wait to see the installation! Every year I seem to swap stuff around, makes a tiny space more exciting. Zxx

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    4. You'd work wonders at Dad's house and would make a brilliant neighbour! xxx

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  2. Well, I love your naturalistic gardening style and that little pond with the flagstone path is just fabulous! It suits your enviably mature trees & shady situation brilliantly! It's like a little fairy woodland wonderland & you're Tinkerbelle flitting about in that diaphanously divine gown!
    Bravissimo!!!
    http://calmlycookingcurry.blogspot.com/2016/04/our-ms-chinger.html

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    1. Thanks, Bibi! That teeny pond was something installed by my Grandparents in the 1970s, so typical of the era with that crazy paving. Shame it's under a tree and fills with leaves at the slightest breeze. xxx

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  3. Ooooh you gorgeous green goddess! I'm with you on gardening...no rules and go with what you fancy. I have teapots and colanders filled with plants,old boots, and big ballcocks in the boarders and as much colour as I can cram in. If a garden doesn't reflect you and make you happy, there's something wrong I reckon!
    Loves ya!
    xxxxxx

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    1. I love your creative planting, i'm always inspired by your garden pictures. We've got a tumble dryer drum we found in the road somewhere in the garden, that could be good. xxx

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    2. Those make superb fire rings, boosted up on bricks. Thanks for the eye candy and word count, you're a breath of fresh air. : ) nicetomeetcha from Minnesota

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    3. Great idea, Elizabeth! We could sit outside for hours then. xxx

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  4. What a lovely garden you have, Vix. Wild and shady gardens like that are so up my street. And what a bonus that you are not over-looked. Our garden is wild like that, but many times smaller, and over-looked by our next door neighbour, who isn't a nice person at all. Do you have a lawn at all? We don't have one. Love the colour of your nightie-cum-dress. I bet that caused a stir at Lidl. xxx

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    1. I love a wild garden. We have got some lawn, it needs serious work though, there's more weeds than grass. xxx

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  5. Loved this post it was so floaty, magical and whimsical. Love you in the nightie with the yellow tree flower which for the life of I cant remember what its called. I salute your idea to gardening I have tin baths and buckets and wooden crates and broken pots etc in my new garden and I love the natural earthy look and feel to it. Gorgeous photo's today, dee xx

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    1. Is it Forsythia or Broom? I never know if its the same thing.
      You've got a gorgeously quirky garden, I love seeing your posts about it. xxx

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  6. gold and silver together? A nightie as a dress? Are you crazy? I was going to say "Nice dress"....but, well nice dress. My yard is also a "hot mess", or what I prefer to call it A Crazy Garden. It's my yard not a golf course. My first stop at the garden center is the half dead rack. It's surprising how well those $1 plants do with a little re-plant and water.

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    1. I like the sound of your "hot mess". I love the half dead rack, got some fab daisies for £1 rather than £8 apiece as they were a bit sad looking, a few pints of water and they're as good as new. xxx

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  7. Your garden is stunning and you look like a beautiful wood nymph in your floaty dress/nightie. Do you like Hydrangeas? They like the shade. Mine are in full morning sun and fry to an early death. Feed them tea leaves and they'll thank you with massive retro blooms. xxx

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    1. I love Hydrangeas. I didn't realise they were shade lovers. I was admiring some in the greengrocers last week and they weren't expensive. We always have tea leaves so I'll buy a couple now. thanks for the inspiration. xxx

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  8. When I visit your blog, I am on not only for beauty but also a good and well written story from the heart. Like you I have always hate rules.
    You are so wise, dear fairy in the garden
    Much love from Málaga.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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    1. How kind, dear Sacramento. Thank you. xxx

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  9. it looks like a lovely place to stay and enjoy, and that's all that matters!, and you look like a fairy of the woods in your green dress-nightie-whatever, it's a fabulous piece!, absolutely whimsical!!
    Lovely to see you enjoying your garden!. As an urbanite, I've never had a garden, even my flowerpots were always really tiny!
    besos

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    1. Thanks, Monica!! Its lovely having some outside space when its been as sunny as the last couple of days. I'm not sure I'd be that enthusiastic in the Winter months. xxx

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  10. Love that dress Vix, it's gorgeous xx

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  11. We have both gone green today~! Mentioned you in my Ruffles post.

    http://www.thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com/2016/04/ruffles-and-refashioning.html

    Gardening is like any canvas - a place to create beauty in whatever way your heart desires.

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    1. Thanks for the mention on your blog, Tami! I'm honoured! xxx

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  12. I love your garden! Low maintance and I would love to see the owls and the bats at night!

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    1. Thanks, Tracie! I love seeing bats flitting about in the dusk. The owls are very evasive, I rarely see them but they're very vocal. xxx

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  13. Fresh and minty!! Your garden sounds magical. No chance in ours of wandering around in pants unseen... Love that nightie as a dress. Why not? I bought some compost yesterday, we're going to get some veg seeds on the go tonight xx

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    1. Gardening in your pants is great - not that its that warm very often!
      Good luck with the veg planting, I've only been successful with tomatoes! xxx

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  14. That's my kind of garden - ours is only about 40 ft long if that so not much room for trees although we have the woods behind - I would love a little pond like yours, I think you could grow lilly of the valley well but maybe your garden is just perfect the way it is.

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    1. Thanks, Betty! Lily of the Valley is so pretty. That's something I'll keep my eyes peeled for when we go car booting, there's a few elderly gents who sell their plants really cheaply. xxx

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  15. Whew...I was holding my breath waiting to hear the garden advice. Such a relief to read the 'no rules' answer. Every plot of land has it's own voice and it's really about listening and following along organically. I can't tell you how excited I am to see your magical setting Vix!!! Your garden sounds a treasure already, what with the foxes and frogs and birds...but the addition of some Vix magic will surely add beauty and whimsy to the space!

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    1. I like the idea of every plot of land having its own voice, Sue. Hopefully our garden will evolve over the next few months and the plants I've transplanted will adapt to their new surroundings.
      I'm dying to get cracking on my art. xxx

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  16. Your garden sounds like my Grandad's as he had sone trees with preservation orders on them and 100m + . I like that advice-tis good. That dress is v beautiful-I saw something similar by Bertex bride in the Chazza earlier but it had a £34.99 price tag So I left it!!

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    1. I remember loving the photos of your Granddad's garden you shared on your blog, Kezzie. It did remind me of our garden.
      Blimey - £34.99! A friend has just sent me a link to the H&M blog, there's a mint green chiffon maxi currently on there for £49.99! On trend , me! xxx

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  17. What a gorgeous looking garden! You didn't mention grass so I'm assuming you don't have a lawn to keep in order? Thank God for that. When I was married we had a 100 foot long garden and I got lumbered with mowing it - what a pain it was. Luckily we now have a teeny tiny garden and OH loves looking after it but it is mostly trial and error with gardens. Lucky you having a pond and lovely protected trees.

    I knew that was a nightie as soon as I saw the post (it's the sleeves giving it away) but it looks lovely on you and those boots are smashing. Keep on breaking the rules, Vix. I bet the people in Walsall look forward to you in your finery everyday!

    xxx

    Veronica

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    1. We do have lawn - but that's Jon's domain, his ancient petrol mower weighs more than me! xxx

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  18. What a wonderful wild escape you have as your backyard!

    I knew right off the bat they were say there are no rules. Although when I lived in England there were plenty of people that I worked for that had very specific ideas of what a proper garden was.

    I've wanted to change our backyard into a wild English garden with a little pathway. The amount of work that would be required to do that is far beyond me. Already just planting and maintaing what we have is a challenge.

    I love that you got out in that nightie. The colour is wonderful! My Mom had one very similar to this but in peach.

    I agree...we need only to dress for ourselves.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. The Brits are so particular about their gardening, I bet a lot of them were up in arms over the expert advice.
      Not sure if they're available in Canada but our gardening superstore has bags of English country garden seeds which you apparently can scatter on a raked surface and leave to their own devices. Sounds a bit too good to be true! xxx

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  19. I don't have a garden and houseplants tend to die on me, but I'd be tempted to plant some edible plants that don't need a lot of work. My mum planted scarlet clover on her allotment, which she uses for green compost, but it's also really pretty and the leaves make a nice pesto! And the bees love it. (Quite a few of the weeds from there have ended up in pesto or salads actually...)

    I do love the forsythia at this time of year, it's so cheering after all the grey days. It looks lovely against that seafoam green.

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    1. We've got wild rocket, fennel, rhubarb and Alpine strawberries that grow in abundance - not sure where they came from. I Googled scarlet clover and it looks fantastic, I'll definitely invest in a packet of seeds . thank you! x

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  20. I love to garden , but I'm a bit of a bug nerd , so I plant to try and attract different sorts . Drives the council mad. I have orchids in the lawn , at least 3 different protected bees, and shield bugs are my favourite thing .

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    1. I do like a bit of insect life, those shield bugs are stunners. xxx

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  21. Its only as I had expected of you! No rules RULES!

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    1. Unless it's committing murder, fraud, bodily harm or theft I reckon that's the way everything should be! xxx

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  22. I love your garden and your rules match mine on all accounts. We've got the same problem with trees except they are a neighbours. I'll tell you the saga when I see you.
    You look gorgeous in your nightie heehee. I'd loved to have been a fly on the wall in Lidl,
    Can't believe what I picked up in our local hospice shop today. I'll take some pics and show you. A bit of vintage in Whitworth, gawd knows who owned them. I'm going back for another look tomorrow. It's all miles to small for me but at a £1 an item they had to be bought.
    Think we should do a house swap holiday. What do ya reckon xxx

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    1. Forgot to say Jon is very good at his photography bit xxx

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    2. A house swap! That would be amazing (except I'd prefer you both to be there!)
      Can't wait to see your hospice finds! xxx

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  24. You neo-pre-raphaelite beauty you with your flowing gown, forsythia and is that pussy willow, too? xxoxx

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    1. Thanks, Carol! It is - eagle-eyes! xxx

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  25. Rules...bah. Good on you doing your own thing.
    Trial and error is a good approach with gardening. I don't do anything special beyond plunking things in dirt and hoping for the best. Bluebells do well in shade.

    I love that nightie-and the colour is so cool and beautiful. Ignore the experts and keep doing what you do so well.

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    1. We've got bluebells galore - I go off them when they've stopped blooming though, those leaves are a bit boring! xxx

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  26. Love love love that advice. i adore your shady garden. we have an old garden too. parts are v shady and others quite sunny and it has a mind of its own and i'm just here to help it along. being in the garden (any garden) is the best thing in the world to me.xo

    ps - i love your outfit today and i would have loved seeing the other shoppers watch you pass by. :)

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    1. Your garden is gorgeous, it looks effortlessly stunning, just how I want ours to be! xxx

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  27. Your garden sounds magical! I imagine lots of fairies and other little creatures living a happy life with the frogs and owls.
    You look great in the spring green dress!

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    1. Thanks, Bobbi! How things change, it's far too cold to contemplate that dress today. xxx

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  28. So, so beautiful! Everything! The philosophy, the dress, the cat, the garden, You.

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  29. I quite like a garden to look like it has just happened not planned. You have that gorgeous path and big trees and by adding your potted up or not trinkets it will be very you Vix. There should be no rules with things like gardening and getting dressed, I am with you. So garden like you dress and it will be awesome.

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  30. Love your attitude to gardening,

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    1. Let's hope the attitude transforms the wilderness into something less daunting! x

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  31. the nymph of the woodsy garden :-)
    wonderful "dress" in a gorgeous color! love that little pond - even more because of the frogs!!!
    our garden is quite the opposite of yours - located in the midst of a green wilderness with huge trees it is like a little glade in the jungle. so mowing and cutting is a lifetime job :-) thankfully our little island has mostly good soil - that i pimp up with homemade kompost - a good corner of the garden is dedicated to the "compost plant". it works wonders :-)
    much love and greetings from all the flowers, little animals and me! xxxxx

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    1. You're lucky to have good soil! These trees do their best to sap everything from the soil but I won't gibe up! xxx

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  32. I love your garden - I'd love to have that much space and have all kinds of animals visit. I'm glad the gardening folks on the radio gave good advice, rather than telling that person she had to follow rules - if only more "fashion" experts would take that approach. I love that colour of you and its so pretty and floaty!

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    1. Its great having so much space, trees, I don't use it enough! x

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  33. I, too, favor the "native plants and grasses" theme in my home landscaping. However, a pretty patch of forsythia does brighten up the greens! One wonders if your parents and grandparents brought home cuttings from excursions to stately homes as living souvenirs? (And how is old Jacob?)

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    1. Hi Beth! My grandma regularly brought back cuttings from her expeditions (naughty!) The trees weren't all protected when they lived here, I think the protection orders were a more recent thing.
      Jacob's 41! He's confused by the weather (aren't we all?) xxx

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  34. Your garden looks like paradise to me - our old cottage had a similar. We felt like we were miles from civilization back there (until a fire engine would zip by). I like a natural garden, and we had no grass to mow. Oh, and your pale green gown is delicious as well, xox

    Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. I've got the doors open this morning and all I can hear is birdsong, nature rocks! xxx

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  35. Hear, hear! Gardens with personality, spunk and overgrown bits and bobs are the best! They call to me more than perfectly manicured ones ever will and, in some ways, mirror my own love of the imperfect and yet perfectly eclectic at the same time.

    Your mint green frock is a total dream. I'm always struck by how great that pale shade looks against a darker verdant background like this.

    Have marvelous weekend!
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. That probably explains why we love vintage clothes, too - a love of the imperfect. Modern clothes never have the personality or appeal of a well loved dress, a bit tatty around the edges. xxx

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  36. I am green with envy about the size of your garden! Pun intended, hee hee. Love that outfit. Reminds me of Green Mansions, where Zsa Zsa wore fancy lingerie while trailing about a farm like home - did you ever see that program? x

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    1. I've never seen Green Mansions but it sounds right up my street, I'll go and have a look on You Tube. xxx

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  37. Gorgeous, green dress! That's a lovely colour. You look like a wood nymph.

    I love your big, wild garden. It reminds me of a neighbour when I was growing up, planted a wild, butterfly garden and put sculptures in it (he was an artist) it outraged the suburban neighbours :). We only have a very small garden, but we have lots of pots of various sorts, love planting in found containers, and lots of solar fairy lights.

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    1. Your old neighbour sounded like a fabulous person!
      I love container gardens, my parental home has an outbuilding full of terracotta flower pots which belonged to the previous owner who died in the 1950s. I'm slowly bringing them over and potting them up when I find plants cheap enough. xxx

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  38. Love the sound and look of your garden; its so important to have wildlife havens in gardens. I'm all for individual, creative gardening that helps biodiversity. We leave large clumps of nettles for the butterflies to enjoy in the summer and they also screen us off from our neighbours - double bonus!

    Have fun trading today in Liverpool xxx

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    1. We've got lots of Buddleia which the butterflies like, not sure if we've got nettles - the very bottom is a no-go zone until Jon gets the scythe out! xxx

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  39. Your nightie is such a gorgeous colour - perfect for a wood nymph. Can't wait to see more of your intriguing garden. x

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    1. Thank you! Not a colour I'd normally wear but was pleasantly surprised when I tried it on.
      Might tackle a bit more today, the sun is shining! x

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  40. Love the nightie, it's very similar to a bridesmaids dress I wore in 1984. You're Walsall's very own flower fairy. I can just picture you wafting down the aisles at Lidl.
    Great advice on GQT. (is it still Stefan whatsisface and Bob Flowerdew, who wees on his compost?) Hellebores seem to like shade, I got mine from the market and when the clump gets too big I just divide them. Perennial geraniums seem to do well anywhere also. I've had some great clearance 'refugees' (as Mum called them) over the years, one of them is now over six foot. Waiting with bated breath for tomorrow night. xxxx

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    1. Hellebores? I shall have a Google and see what's on our market when I pop down this week. I've got a few "refugees", I hope they like their new space.
      Counting the hours till 9pm! xxx

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  41. I would love to have a wild garden like yours. As I've only ever lived in apartments, the most I've had has been a small flowerbed, but I enjoy tending it just the same.

    You're a lovely garden fairy in your floaty green gown.

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    1. If I'm in the mood for messing around or it's a sunny day then it's a wonderful space, the rest of the time it hangs like an albatross around my neck! xxx

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  42. Vix, your Garden is Titania's dream. It sounds magical and wild and wonderful and it suits you to a T. I love how you leave it to Mother Nature to tend and all the wildlife you support is amazing. You look like a very chic fairy in your nightie. How beautiful and ethereal and very lovely. Xx

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! It isn't looking so good this morning, we've pre-booked a trip to the tip to take all the garden waste we can't fit in the wheelie bin and it hasn't stopped raining since 5am. xxx

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  43. Oh I love your garden! Wish mine had a fox, I'd be in heaven! :)

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    1. Foxes are so cute. Ours are very partial to jam sandwiches and leftover cat food. xxx

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  44. This garden could be the achievements of many of my dreams! I love the nature, the trees, the orderly disorder of the left trees grow naturally, and then the shadow! These photographs are amazing, you are a nymph? You are divine, I really like this dress, and your cat is a real character!

    baci

    serena

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    1. She only ventures that deep into the forest if Jon and I accompany her, a proper scaredy cat! xxx

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  45. We had trees, lilacs and a wonderful plum - both became victim to the dreaded honey fungus. Your garden is lovely, a fairyland.

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    1. Eeekkk! Not sure what that is, I better Google it and see if it's lurking! xxx

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  46. Look at you, wafting about in your wild garden like a St Michael-clad goddess!
    I like the gardening advice very much, and it certainly suits your approach. No rules! Your garden always looks beautiful, despite its challenges, and of course it goes without saying that you look equally gorgeous in your nightie. Some fab writing here too, Vix - a flair for style isn't your only skill, not by a long shot.
    I am sooooooo behind with commenting and feeling utterly guilty and useless, but I will always find time for you, darling.
    Love you! Xxxxx

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    1. Hello, darling! You've got so much on your plate, I'm amazed you can find the energy to read my witterings! xxx

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  47. Your garden sounds fab! Especially the trees. Nothing is as good for lifting the spirit as large trees. If the soil is that tired, I'd grow things in large pots - you can get really nice, colourful pots, and move whichever flowers look best to the font. Ferns would love the shade, and look really good.

    Your nightie is ace. I thought it was an evening dress.

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    1. Thanks, Mim! I've got hundreds of terracotta pots (the original owner of my parental home stashed them away in an outbuilding in the 1950s) - I could try mosaic or spray painting some. xx

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  48. I love the idea of a wild space in the garden with lots of wildlife. I think our cat would love it too.We are sewing some wildflowers this year.Your dress is lovely, such a beautiful colour.

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    1. Thanks, Ceri! Cats certainly love a wild garden, wish they wouldn't torment the frogs, though! xxx

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  49. Hi Vix, I love your garden and that little . So pretty the way you described your outdoors. Looking forward to seeing your "green" art installation.

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    1. Hi Cherre! Glad you enjoyed the post. Snow, hail and thunder storms have curtailed any gardening activity this week but hopefully I'll be cracking on again soon! xxx

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  50. The spring after we moved into our place we got an anonymous letter in the mail stating that the writer was disgusted at the untidy way we were keeping our garden! I couldn't believe it. It's still wild and crazy to this day, and I love it, as do all the creatures that share it with us. And I hope that anonymous letter writer still passes by everyday and sees it!

    Your garden looks dreamy, as do you in that nightie!

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    1. What a welcome - not! I don't think our neighbours are best pleased with our wild space, they're all lawns mowed with an inch of their life and rows of colour coordinated flowers. xxx

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  51. Your garden sounds lovely and a lot more interesting than most peoples! Best of luck with the art installation - I look forward to seeing it when it's finished xx

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    1. The weather's curtailed my gardening this week, but I'll be back! xxx

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  52. I love your Gothic garden. It really suits you and Jon. I can't imagine you with marigolds in a row. When we were kids we had a kind of secret garden in one of our houses and we used to spend all day down there making witches spell and things. Your garden reminds me of that. I love the sound of all the wildlife and the fact that you can go in there and nobody can see you. You look wonderful floating around in your mint green gown with your newly blackened hair. Xxxx

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  53. Beautiful, romantic garden! Do shade-loving hostas do well in your part of the world?
    Endlessly fascinating textures, gorgeous blue, golden green/white varigated leaves, Solomon Seal, violas, clematis, wisteria, trumpet vine are worth a try.

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xxx