Tuesday, 10 August 2010


New baby in the house....12 weeks old and very confused but willing to wag a lot and keep trying.
The old lady
Couscous the Queen of Iraq has come to keep an eye on developments for a while..can't have this young upstart rocking the boat, upsetting the applecart, or diverting affection that should rightly be hers. And she obviously needs to be taught the intricacies of 360's...complete body spins for the uninitiated.
Do not disturb..I am trying to snooze...
I really mean it..Do not disturb!

Snooze over what can we do now..garden patrol sounds like a good idea!..I'm sure I left a few blades of grass unchewed..and I could probably do a quick poo.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Wild flowers in patches

This is the little apple tree that rose like Lazarus, after being buried by the digger for a couple of months...the pies from next years apples will be so sweet. It could be argued that the plants surrounding it are weeds but I like to see them as adoring flowers of the wilderness..In the light of democracy and reformation a few thugs..hog weed and dock..have been allowed to set up residence. A close eye is being kept on them to ensure they behave. Any sign of out right thuggery and asbos will be issued with a spade.
Chooks quite like the additions..especially when I lob a few milky thistles over the wire.

I must look this tiny fungi up..it is pale and slender and has found a way to grow on the driest of soil.

Poppies marking what was a war zone after the retreat of the digger.

Such a variety of little gems..the cover is still patchy and thin but I have great hopes for next yea

The old Queen Couscous and her devoted subject, the naughty, bouncy Scrabble who so wants to lick her..but is not allowed to touch. Gummy jaws can still nip..

Cous sharing state secrets with her envoy. He seems a bit worried but she stayed calm.


Thursday, 27 May 2010

A little tree shaped miracle

A new potato patch...the soil is so hard and crispy due to lack of rain..proper drenching down pours are needed..I flit around every day with the hose pipe but if I stick my fingers into the earth afterwards its surprising just how little penetrates. The black membrane is part of my effort to suppress the weeds..mother nature has a way of winning through...hogweeds and thistles are such loutish thugs though..they bully the pretty little vetches.

My radiccio survived our extended trip to Italy but the neat little rows of lettuce seeds I planted next to them ended up being Chicken dust baths..hence the need to restrain the chooks in a pen!!! Naughty madams.

Above and just below are pictures of how the ground is very slowly, recovering from the drastic scalping earlier in the year..when the clumsy nitwit of a digger driver took out two of my lovingly nurtured young apple trees...a gift from my father. You can just make out how the ones that were left are blooming...still not very big but covered in leaves and looking good.
I water the bare ground everyday but the wild flower and chalk land grass seed is taking such a long time to burst into life.....and I am so impatient. Each day as I peer at the naked earth I spot one or two tiny clusters of wild flowers..mostly poppies, that rugged little survivor of the Somme...and yes more than one happy soul has likened my garden to that sad battle field.

Well...as I inspected the earth the scorched earth a short while ago, imagine my surprise when I spotted a small bunch of pale pink blossoms just below the soil...weird! I knelt down to investigate and to my amazement ..they looked like apple blossom..what was this...Persephone sending up a song from the underworld?

Yipes I realised...this little posy was directly where one of the apple trees had been flattened into oblivion.
Maybe some how the stump was sending out a shoot was my first thought..then on hands and knees I very carefully pulled away the impacted soil..and imagine my delight when I unearthed not just the stump but the whole tree...very manky and with only one or two leaves pushing up towards the light and like a little beacon, right at the very top the cluster of blossoms that had alerted me. As I gently eased it into the upright position and washed the soil from its..well not exactly branches as it looks more like a giant piece of asparagus than a tree at the moment.. I swear I could hear it whispering in a very wobbly voice.."At last what took you so long"...

So then I thought well..if one of them is alive underground..maybe the other one is too....and yes there she was...a little less under the earth than the first poor thing but horizontal and totally hidden by last years long grasses and mud.....So she too was hauled upright and washed down...and now they are improving visibly day by day.

This is the top of the first tree that had the blossom peeping through the soil. They quickly fell off and these leaves unfurled where there were no leaves before..just teeny bruised bumps. Pity I didn't take a photo of it fresh out of the ground..such a sorry skinny sight!

See there is even an almost proper branch with leaves on it now.
Hope sustains.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Girls have a new home..and they are so very cross!!!

Well..the giant roll of chicken wire came through the post...the man with the rogue digger had erected the up rights so away I went..the girls looked with the odd quizzical eye..and trotted off to forage under the beech hedge..just next to the freshly dug spud bed..they, trusting little lovelies had no idea that their spell of freedom was coming to an end.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Buried red treasure

Fantastic burst of colour...steel blade strikes through the dark brown of soil and Khazzam...a rich, vibrant, slash of deep red....a buried beetroot explodes into scarlet, clean and glistening concentric circles of different densities of shade. Buried under the soil all the while the snow lay thick and bitter.
I love spring time......so many surprises.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Oh my goodness what have I done......

Well the idea was to put up a chicken run to contain the little witches....but when the man came he said he could level up the ground a bit and no I shouldn't get a rotovator...I should let him scrape the soil and all of the nasty bramble roots away with his digger..and no it wouldn't cost much.....

The digger arrived and he went at it like there was no tomorrow....will tomorrow ever dawn one wonders...I have resolved never to use a lawn mower ever again..so that decision had already been taken...it stood idle all last year and the grass grew long and shaggy and the little beasties that live in the grass all had lots of parties and probably went forth and multiplied..a lot.

It rained most of today and he toiled on...now...everything is totally scalped..did I mean it to go quite this far...hmmm..I suppose so. Now I have an awful lot of mud where there used to be log and shaggy grass..and not even a scrapper by the door..I also have an awful lot of mud down the hallway and into the kitchen.

Yikes and rats..just found he demolished two of my precious apple trees..a birthday gift from my father last year..kept watered and fed all through last years warm spell....buckets lugged to no avail. I am going to buy sacks of wild flower seeds to make up for the carnage...to make a fragrant patch like at Butterfly World last summer....covered in butterflies. At least that is the intention....a sweet dream...to spur me through the mud and mire.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Chooks taking gardening seriously

Spring is in the air..Helen is no longer broody and they are up and at 'em. They see me coming across the garden with my spade and their little legs fare go like the clappers to get to me. Not worshipful love of the mothership...no..the chance to catch wild game..fresh flesh.
The girls are now red hot at hoicking out the militant worms and bugs.

Not so keen on them gobbling all of my lovely juicy wormies..they are my friends after all as they improve my thin and precious soil. Up here on the top of the South Downs the rock chalk is just below the surface and I have to compost and add manure to get anything to grow.
You can just see the remnants of last years radicchio crop.
I don't like the bitter tang they leave on the tongue but the old man loves them.
I am trying to break into the heavy grass..formerly a field for grazing..to form a new wedge shaped veggie bed to complete the pattern of beds surrounding the clump of lime trees..the idea is to make a circular shape with each of the segments holding a different crop. It worked really well last year but it is so hard to dig the beds in the first place.
I just love it when the plants grow tall...graceful aliums. I let some of them go to seed just so I can enjoy their huge balloon shaped heads like stars on sticks. Brilliant.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Funereal weeds

Today I went to an old and sadly, long lost, friend's funeral. Maureen aka Poddy. Not yet 60 and while certainly not in the bloom of youth, still far too soon to stop playing this crazy game of life. There were still lots of moves to make and dice to throw.
She was one of life's eccentrics..right from day one probably. I must have been around eleven or so when I first met her, maybe slightly older...she sat me on a pony..pointed me towards the horizon and let it gallop off into the distance bridle jangling. The little devil finally slowed down for a moment when it came upon a barbed wire fence...then it cannily dropped a shoulder as it continued at full pelt to run parallel with the wire...I didn't make the turn.... I flew straight ahead and with no grace, to land in a pile on the hard, hard earth. I still recall the feel of the steel stirrups banging relentlessly against my bare and bony ankles. And as I recall just next to the place where the bone is most prominent there was also sticking a huge, bloated horse fly.
I remember her laughing like a drain at my sprawled discomfort and being told to catch the wretched pony and get back on again..what did I think I was doing down there anyway. Quick before he hurt himself on the trailing reins!! Nothing like learning the hard way.
Her life seems to have been centered around her love of animals both great and small and her mother, who died last year after ten years of ill health. She and Maureen shared the same home for 50 or more years in Shillinglee. Daughter became mother and carer. It must have been very hard for her when her mum finally died and left her, for the first time really, on her own.
Maureen pretty much only did things her way. But then why not! If it worked for her. For all of her wry humour and whimsical ways she never put on a front..there was never any side to her..what you saw was what you got
The other pea in the pod, Christine, bravely read her memories and recollections and as if the reality had only just sunk in that she would never see her lifelong friend again a hint of panic as she turned to talk to her friend inside the coffin. Maureen was far too much of a free spirit to be cooped up inside a box. No, she was not in there...she was off riding Gelert and romping with her lurchers. At one with herself and no longer tied into that painful hand she had been dealt.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

It's my room now..ha,ha,ha

I so love this little room.
This is where I now sit and write..and sometimes draw or paint and generally distill the essences to be made giddy by their fragrance.

It used to be the place where my oldest daughter slept, schemed and dreamed, broadened her mind and focused her attention. But one of the upsides to children growing and moving to another place is that they leave behind a space and that space calls out to be filled...and as this one has access to chooks/kitchen/garden/wild birds/broadband/all of my children's works of art...and a bed for the Divine Empress of Mexico, Choochi to bury herself in, while I work...I bagged it. The husband has the garden shed so I now have for the first time in my life a room of my own..what riches.

Have to tell you that as I tap..two robins are scrutinising me each with beady eye..I always heard they would kill each other for territory..normally a human trait.. but these two look like portly father and skinny Asparagus Man son. Little and Large. Maybe when spring comes and the ladies confuse the issue they will then become adversaries but right now they seem to be living in harmony...along side a whole tree full of tits...not bosoms of course..just blue tits. Americans probably don't call them tits...a bit too permissive for the nation that couldn't look at Ms Jackson's nipple...a little like the Brit farming community in their conservatism.

The sound of Kate McGarrigle singing with her sister Anna fills the air...so sad that she fell and is gone like a big and bountiful Copper Beech that has crashed down and no longer brings shade and beauty and a place for life to sit and nest. She is and will remain forever missed. What a beautiful woman and what a great spirit. Her voice, like Joni's pulls my youth around me like a warm blanket to nuzzle.