Tag Archives: Elly

the green green grass of home

When we get snow, it looks magical. The kids love it, the fields and gardens look stunning…….and then we get bored with it. What was a beautiful carpet begins to turn into slush and finally looks dirty and unkempt. There it is, the ‘tidy’ side of me coming out again.

I admit to being pleased when the green green grass of the garden came into view again – so Elly and I took a walk around the patch to see what damage had been done.

The trampoline gets a post-snow workout

Priority for Elly was a chance to get on her trampoline, sweep off fallen leaves and remind me what it’s like to have flexible knees!

On the other hand, the old man strolled around to look for snow and ice damage – which was strangely very limited. My favourite spot in the garden is a little brick paved area between the lawn and the trampoline – screened by some trellis. I have divided the garden into areas or rooms, the paved seating area, the lawn and flower beds, this area, the play area with Elly’s trampoline, and then…….the shed and total mess.

I’m actually colour blind, mainly shades, but do need to ask people to confirm certain colours for me sometimes.  So, my taste in plants is very much on strong form, architectural shapes and lush greens.

Anyway, in this area, is one of my favourites – a large Phormium, one that I bought in Cornwall some years ago. The last time we had a dump of snow, a nearby apple tree lost a large branch and crushed it, so I was a little worried about it this time around. However, apart from a few bent leaves, it looked surprising well.

I’ve still got the remnants of the apple tree though – I let the stump be covered in ivy, and it acts as a bit of ‘marker’ to the bottom of the garden

There not everyone’s favourite, but I like them for their glossy leaves and the structural framework they add to the garden – is the Choisya ternata.

Choisya ternata 'Sundance'

Every year, this particular variety gets badly stung by the frost, but it got away without a scratch!  At least I don’t have any major plant replacements at this stage of the year.

So, with a mug of tea in hand, I made plans for the areas that will have my attention this year.


This is an area once used to grow a limited amount of vegetables, but has always been restricted by nearby Laurel trees, the ever encroaching ivy – and a badly postioned Sambuscus. This is west facing and will get a lot of sun and it shouldn’t take too long to get in shape.

The borders in the main area of the garden need some much needed attention too.


Too narrow, lacking in imagination, colour and shape – although I do like the row of galvanised obelisks……available at The Town Garden.

And finally…..


…need I say more?

Let’s see how I get on this year.



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how many food groups make up the balanced diet?

Pete did the favours and was in the shop early this morning, which gave me some time to have breakfast with Elly and to learn about the foods that make a balanced diet – she’s revising for school.  Not only am I picking up foodie tips from Pete, it’s great that I’m paying more attention to the benefits of great food from my daughter. I’m seriously enjoying re-learning things I’d come to neglect.

However, the time this morning was also an opportunity to walk around the garden and carefully brush off the snow that had accumulated on the plants and shrubs. Although it looks picturesque, the weight of the frozen snow causes a lot of damage and I’m keen not to find the garden devoid of some of my more established plants once the thaw comes.  When is that going to happen anyway?

I wish I had my camera with me as a Winter Jasmine looked stunning with an array of icicles hanging down from it, small box bushes looked as though they were wearing white bobble hats and the coloured dogwood stems contrasted against the blanket of white stuff.

A few years ago I lost an old apple tree which collapsed under the weight of a lot of snow. That alone was bad enough, but the large branches crushed a beautiful Phormium I’d brought up from Cornwall. It’s recovered since, and last summer it was a grand old specimen again – but it was looking very sad this morning.

Probably like most of the country, I’m already dreaming of Spring and warmer weather, but without wishing my life away, it can’t come soon enough. I’m going to spend much more time in the garden this year.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve let things slip since the shop started, and this coming year I’m going to revisit every border, plant, shrub, the shed, the compost bin – and with Pete’s help, I’m also intending to devote more space to growing vegetables.

So, like an episode of ‘Gardener’s World’, I’ll be updating my progress step by step. I’m looking forward to it…..but at the moment I’m still trying to get my feet warm again.

By the way, Elly tells me there are SEVEN food types that make up a balanced diet. I’m unfit and have a penchant for sausage sandwiches, so who am I to argue.

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whilst in Cornwall….

…I was walking around Falmouth with Elly, and one of the shops she likes to visit is WH Smith. It’s not so much for the books and newspapers, but a chance to go upstairs and get mesmerised with all the glitsy pens and coloured pens and pencils.

My sight is normally taken up with magazines on the Cornish coastline, a bulky gardening book, or the odd biography – if it’s someone I know about. Not this time though…

…I choose, and buy – Nigel Slater’s book.

Pete’s getting to me again.

Incidentally, I haven’t stopped thumbing through it since I took it home!

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the english pair

As I wandered through ‘village’ Oxford with Elly during the summer, I passed by some people at the rear of the Turrill Gardens in Summertown.  They were helping load a garden sculpture onto a trailer after an exhibition…….the ‘English Pair’ by Sioban Coppinger.

It caught my eye immediately as it was such a stunning fit for the garden, a 2 metre high piece of art – a sculpture of bronze leaves made in the form of male and female faces .  What was so intriguing for me, is that this part of the city is often known as leafy north Oxford. What a fit.

 I’ve always thought that North Parade Avenue should have a landmark to attract more attention, customers and visitors alike – and I mentioned this to Sioban, who was thrilled to come along to the town garden to learn more.

Last week, Sioban arrived at the store, complete with the English Pair, and it now sits proudly in the conservatory on display.

I’m hoping it attracts a lot of interest (and maybe a buyer!) – and local traders and residents may also see the potential of having a landmark sculpture at the entrance to North Parade Avenue from Banbury Road.

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Harry Pumpkin

Harry (Potter) PumpkinMy daughter Elly had a great idea for this year’s Halloween……it was to make a Harry (Potter) Pumpkin – and she did as you can see from the picture. I freely admit to being a little sceptical that she could cut out the trademark Harry Potter glasses, but she managed it perfectly – and it looked great lit up last night.


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the kitchen garden

Vegetable gardening has never been a strength of mine I must admit. Apart from the easy task of growing potatoes which we do every year, for some reason I do not have the patience (see – about me) to sow, tend, and harvest my own vegetables. Equally embarassing is the squirming I have to do in my own garden shop, where I’m probably expected to be an expert. My hand is up – I admit to being a complete novice.

Anyway, 2009 is going to be a new beginning in more ways than one.

Today, the temperature soared from a miserable minus 6 degrees, to a sweltering plus 8. Not quite shorts and sandals, but enough to get me in the mood for some long awaited gardening. And the purpose built raised kitchen garden was the focus of my attention.

Local college caretaker and ex-Coldstream Guardsman, Paul, built a raised brick bed under the kitchen window last year. It took me ages to fill it with soil, manure and decent compost, but it was going to provide all the vegetables needed throughout 2008. Well not really, it isn’t that big.

Well, as we know, the summer of 2008 along with the summer of 2007, didn’t quite materialise – and nor did most of the vegetables. Lots of potatoes, and a decent crop of carrots, but the long awaited kitchen garden faded with the last of the ‘summer’ days. In its place became the biggest cat litter tray known to man.  Unless I did something today, this years salad and vegetable crop will have an infusion of cat jobbies. How would you like your salad garnish…..sans au avec jobbie de chat?

umm, this is the umm, er..

umm, this is the umm, er..

So, out I went with Elly and friend Honey in tow. The last of the carrots and onions were lifted. Probably months overdue? Comments? And the bed lifted of any signs of cat visits, weeded and turned over. Now that’s what I call therapy. I hate clutter and being untidy and always feel so much better afterwards. I may have little or no vegetable knowledge, but do love having one of the tidiest gardens.

now that's what I call therapy!

now that's what I call therapy!

Which reminds me. I lent my digging Spork out to someone to give it a test in their own garden. I really did miss having my favourite garden tool to use!

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