A Christmas Letter – Part 1 “us”

I was an early adopter of the idea of writing Christmas letters. Some people call them Round Robins. Many ridicule them. But general feedback on mine is that they are welcomed and received with interest. So I shall continue to write one even at the end of this very strange year of 2020, even though I don’t necessarily feel like it. Like so many of … Continue reading A Christmas Letter – Part 1 “us”

Plus ça change plus ç’est la même chose

One of the few artefacts I have from my childhood is a composition (as they were called in those days) I wrote at primary school where I expressed the desire to live in a house in the country with roses growing over the door. I never lost that wish despite decades living in (albeit leafy) suburbia. Someone once accused me of having a romantic fantasy … Continue reading Plus ça change plus ç’est la même chose

In a vase on Monday : peonies from France to West Sussex #IAVOM

These are in a vase on our dining table today: I can understand you might look twice, trying to work out what they are. I’ll tell you: they are peonies after all the petals have fallen. What was left as the petals began to fall was so beautiful that we decided to keep them for a few more days to enjoy the architectural form. This … Continue reading In a vase on Monday : peonies from France to West Sussex #IAVOM

Six on Saturday, life in lockdown, volunteers, and self seeders

Somehow, during lockdown, I’ve been completely unable to write a blog post. I don’t really know why. Perhaps one reason is that for me to retain my sanity in these strange days, these days when I should have been building my new non-working life, I’m focusing all my efforts on the here and now, counting the blessings I have, enjoying where I am. Perhaps writing … Continue reading Six on Saturday, life in lockdown, volunteers, and self seeders

Here? There? Roadblocks in a no-man’s land …

2020 is a year that marks a new beginning for me; much more time at my disposal and a long list of things I wanted to incorporate into my days. By the end of March I would have expected to have been at the French house several times, quite worn out from heavy-duty gardening for hours on end, but oh-so-satisfied with the progress that would … Continue reading Here? There? Roadblocks in a no-man’s land …

#IAVOM – almost 5 months later!

#IAVOM – In A Vase on Monday – is a great idea which I’ve used a few times. You pick some flowers from your garden, arrange them, photograph them, and then write about them. I’ve cheated once or twice using bought flowers, mainly because the opportunity to use garden flowers for me is limited, and until recently my time has been very limited too. Its … Continue reading #IAVOM – almost 5 months later!

Chionodoxas: a sparkling thread linking my homes across the years

Just four days after my 22nd birthday I moved into my second house, one I was to stay living in for almost 39 years. 13 days before Christmas, cold and dark, life remained mostly on the inside. Christmas Eve brought the arrival of a 9-week old Irish Setter, a surprise Christmas present (not something I would either recommend or wish on anyone). The puppy arrived … Continue reading Chionodoxas: a sparkling thread linking my homes across the years

Snowdrops and me; is this a virus?

We had many snowdrops in our Surrey garden from where we moved nearly five years ago, as the first stage in our French adventure. Mostly they were Galanthus nivalis (i.e. the common snowdrop) but I’d also introduced a few choicer cultivars. I don’t remember where the first snowdrops came from, whether they were already in the garden in 1975 when we moved there, or whether … Continue reading Snowdrops and me; is this a virus?

Compost, communication, and pain

Taking on the development of a 3-acre garden in another country was never going to be for the faint-hearted. At the best of times we can only be there between a third and (absolute maximum) half of the year. The land is fertile, the rainfall plentiful, and the temperatures temperate throughout most of the year. So the plants grow fast. We can only do what … Continue reading Compost, communication, and pain

Spring bulbs: success, failure and looking ahead to the future

Planting bulbs is one of my least favourite activities. The task usually falls to my trusty OH, with my responsibilities lying with research, selection, and buying. Last autumn I was determined to get ahead and made a wonderful selection from Peter Nyssen whose excellent customer service (via Karen and colleagues) is renowned on social media. The plans were limited to the Sussex garden, as I … Continue reading Spring bulbs: success, failure and looking ahead to the future