Tag Archives: Gardening

Rocking Dog Holiday Snaps

Salami In Spello,Rocking Dog

Salami In Spello

A while ago I promised a white post. It seems really on trend to produce beautiful faded pearlescent blogs. Rocking Dog loves colour but I challenged myself to do a post using less eye poppingly colourful snaps! With temperatures in Umbria hot enough to want to whip off the pool cover, there was certainly no shortage of colour. Skies were lapiz blue, ploughed farmland rich terracotta and trees were clinging onto their beautiful yellow and rust cloaks.

In my collection there are many photo’s of gaudily lovely geraniums, harvests of rosy apples, pomegranates, sun dappled buildings and of course THE olives! Yet this post shows off timeworn hand painted ceiling friezes, ancient stone masonry, Umbrian autumn mists and delectable Umbrian produce.  Also included in my white post is the pristine white marble
Flying Services Memorial at Arras, France.

In this post I think I should have included our poor garden. With the intense heat of the summer the “grass” resembled Texan buffalo herding scrubland. Soon it will be seeded with a coarse and very hardy Argentinian grass. We are hopeful it will look green and verdant when spring arrives.

During our stay we used the chainsaw, electric hedge trimmer, branch lopper, wheelbarrow and rake. Alas the hammock remained unused and the telescope never got to view twinkling constellations. One day!

Number 5 now has a beautiful wood-burning stove (thank you to Firebox, St Werburgh’s for supplying our Mendip Woodland, it looks great). The stove installation necessitated  the building of a new chimney. I couldn’t help thinking that the style of chimney probably hadn’t changed since Roman times. Testing the stove for the first time, felt like watching for the smoke from the Vatican when choosing a new pope!

In between heavy duty gardening and olive picking there were opportunities to explore “new” hilltop towns, to take part in the bread & oil festival and to come together for the village halloween party. There was also the small matter of partaking in a number of wine tasting evenings in preparation for an Umbrian wedding (the daughter of good friends). It was such a good excuse to sample Umbrian grapes in a glass.

Friends and family came to pick and to ultimately taste the new olive oil. It was lovely to share the sun and spend time enjoying autumn in Umbria. Real Live Rocking Dog very quickly realised that he could gather extra food rations if he hovered under baby Douglas’s high chair!

We had a truly lovely time and the village couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. It really is time to learn the language. Ciao!

 

Arras Memorial,Rocking Dog

Arras Memorial

Fortress, Cortona,Rocking Dog

Fortress, Cortona

Morning Walk,Rocking Dog

Morning Walk

Lovely Lighting,Rocking Dog

Lovely Lighting

Timeworn Numero,Rocking Dog

Timeworn Numero

Ceiling Whimsy,Rocking Dog

Ceiling Whimsy

Cheese,Rocking Dog

Cheese

Gelato,Rocking Dog

Gelato

...& Aragosta!,Rocking Dog

…& Aragosta!

A Week Of Bits & Pieces

Noddy Ready To Embellish,Rocking Dog

Noddy Ready To Embellish

Rocking Dogs week has been one of bits and pieces. I have been sewing Vintage fabric Christmas stockings. Jolly 1960’s Noddy material has been joined by small check gingham and woolly ric-rac. The stockings will be given hanging loops and some jingly bells. I made another stocking from a vintage tablecloth printed with the words and pictures for “Waltzing Matilda”. I lined the stocking with silk embroidered with images of broom. A mustard coloured fringe finishes the stocking. So now it is looking for an Aussie friendly house this Christmastime.

Whilst I sewed, tree surgeons took down three 50ft conifers in our back garden. We started life at the kennel with about 20 conifers (the work of the devil!) Shortly after we moved in, Andyman came home to find i’d sawed down about twelve of them and was in the process of chopping them up. Over the years we have removed more, and now there are just three left to go! With the tree surgeons having packed up their chain saws for the time being, we can concentrate on planning and planting a kitchen garden. There are going to be espalier fruit trees and old cast iron baths for raised beds amongst other features. I loved the beans growing in a little community allotment that I spotted whilst walking Real Live Rocking Dog. I also enjoyed eating the most voluptuous and delicious figs grown by our lovely neighbours. Definitely food for thought for our garden.

Beautiful flowers arrived through the door (thank you Ella and Josh) whist I bought a remnant heavily embroidered with flowers (thank you to The Boys That Sew at Whittaker Wells). In an ideal world i’d put it with an amazing copper bath, basin and is there such a thing as a copper loo? I’d add dramatic lighting, amazing flooring, mirrors stop,…..stop!

When not sewing I have been planning some forthcoming cooking sessions with Young Adult Carers. I have also set myself the challenge of researching all the names on the local War Memorial. I am looking for any knitters or crocheters who would kindly make me some poppies for this project. Thank you.

We have been enjoying the World Athletics Championships and last weekend saw Bolt run his last solo race. I think everyone expected him to go out in a blaze of golden glory – but alas it wasn’t to be. It was all rather flat but we did have the funny memory of a streaker ripping his trousers off Full Monty style and running down the track. He was eventually tackled to the ground by a tangle of security staff!

Whatever you are doing this weekend I hope it will be relaxing, sunny and happy.

Love Rocking Dog x

Winter Fuel,Rocking Dog

Winter Fuel

Summer Blooms,Rocking Dog

Summer Blooms

Embroidered Blooms,Rocking Dog

Embroidered Blooms

Garden Planning,Rocking Dog

Garden Planning

Magic Beans,Rocking Dog

Magic Beans

Fabulous Figs,Rocking Dog

Fabulous Figs

World Athletics,Rocking Dog

World Athletics

WW1 Research,Rocking Dog

WW1 Research

Baking,Rocking Dog

Baking

Glitter Shoed Gardening In Umbria

Hanging The Hammock,Rocking Dog

Hanging The Hammock

Good morning from Rocking Dog. I had good intentions of continuing to garden at 5.30 am on my return to the kennel, but alas….! To escape the piercing heat of the Umbrian sun I did indeed choose to garden as dawn arrived in the garden. I was awoken by my own dawn chorus of naughty chattering birds flitting busily on the ancient olive tree outside our bedroom window. I gardened in linen nightie and glittery sandals and as a result my legs are in a scratched and sorry state! The Italian version of Sticky Willy is coarse, barbed and unforgiving.

Umbria has had no rain for a few weeks now and the land is parched. It has been unusual to have such high temperatures so early in the summer season and there are real concerns for this years olive crop. The little olives have had no chance to develop before being hit by temperatures nearing 40 degrees. For those of us who pick olives as a pleasurable hobby a poor crop is sad but not an economic disaster. Meanwhile for those who depend on the crop for their livelihood a poor harvest is a severe body blow. Of course a poor crop trickles down to whole communities (pickers,olive oil pressing facilities, bottle & can suppliers,retailers etc…) Olive oil really is a way of life in Italy.

It is not only olives which have been affected, we witnessed vineyards blackened by fire and food crops struggling in the earth for moisture. A huge field of sunflowers have been planted over the garden fence and we hope that in a months time there will be a blaze of yellow on the horizon. Sunflowers are a rotational crop, so it may be a few years before the cheery yellow field reappears so close by.

Our grass resembles cattle driving prairie land. We hope rain will come soon. It was too hot to plant anything new, so leaf clearing and tidying was the order of the day. Planting will be done in October when we will assess what needs replacing after the sweltering summer.

We hung the hammock, added pretty lights and watered the thirsty geraniums. I found the most exquisite little nest on the path. It was truly an architectural masterpiece with grasses and soft pulpy seed heads. It was so soft, so delicate and tear jerkingly beautiful. I didn’t get to sit in my oak tree’d reading nook, nor use my telescope, the swinging chair remained un-sat in .. but getting close to unfamiliar plants was enjoyable.

And Suddenly it’s Evening by Salvatore Quasimodo

Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth
Pierced by a ray of sun:
and suddenly it’s evening.

It wasn’t all about work in the garden, we managed to fire up the ancient pizza oven after some remedial internal grouting. Of course the pool provided delicious respite from the unrelenting heat, and Michele’s provided the perfect escape for Prosecci and cake!

So, it’s back to verdant woodland management back at the kennel and I think wellies may be rather more sensible than glittery shoes!

Have a good week and at least the rain is on the way here.

Love Rocking Dog x

Watering The Geraniums,Rocking Dog

Watering The Geraniums

Garden Treasure,Rocking Dog

Garden Treasure

Unpromising Crop,Rocking Dog

Unpromising Crop

Lighting to Hang,Rocking Dog

Lighting to Hang

View To The Village,Rocking Dog

View To The Village

Early Morning Dip,Rocking Dog

Early Morning Dip

Escape For Cake,Rocking Dog

Escape For Cake

Fire Up The Oven,Rocking Dog

Fire Up The Oven

Back To Woodland Gardening,Rocking Dog

Back To Woodland Gardening

I’m Done With The Leeches -It’s Bunny Therapy Now!

Favourite Floral Pots,Rocking Dog

Favourite Floral Pots

I’m done with the leeches and the Sourdough bread poultices I have joined my own self help group and taken up cheery bunny therapy!

I know it’s early and oh so tempting to eat chocolate eggs every time you pass the table but I thought I could do with a cheery styling project.I started with a wallpaper runner (Laura Ashley “Grapes” in the £5 bargain bin). I then collected together lovely florally china bits, wooden farmyard animals and Easter paraphernalia which I have collected and hoarded over the years. There were also foil wrapped eggs (M&S and Sainsbury’s), and bunches of spring flowers from shop and garden. My garden is a wonderfully weedy mass of Forget Me Nots and Soldiers & Sailors at the moment. Now these are weeds I really do like!

My Easter tableaux is still work in progress and gradually there will be more frou added. No doubt replacement egg supplies will be required. Meals will be taken in the kitchen for the next month!

Yesterday I also did some therapeutic spring clean therapy and gardening therapy. Oh blooming dear those pesky moles have been having a field day over the winter!

On a less cheery note our youngest daughter had a frightening experience in London last night. She was waiting for a bus at Highbury & Islington when two moped riding muggers mounted the pavement at high speed and stole her phone. Though not hurt she was desperately shaken. Witnesses were very kind and found it incredulous that in a matter of seconds this awful crime had occurred. It was well lit, busy and in a CCTV covered area. A concerned stranger let our distressed and shocked youngster borrow their phone to call us. It allowed us to get on and block the phone etc.. Thankfully there were no online banking passwords, but lots of other data available which made us all feel uneasy. We would hate this to happen to anyone else, please check data held on your phone and carefully think how and when you use your phone. There will be big hugs for Little Liv when I see her tomorrow.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead of you and that the sun keeps on shining. Love Rocking Dog x

Easter Tableaux,Rocking Dog

Easter Tableaux

Easter Loveliness,Rocking Dog

Easter Loveliness

Easter Wrap,Rocking Dog

Easter Wrap

Backpacking Bunny,Rocking Dog

Backpacking Bunny

Cleaning Therapy,Rocking Dog

Cleaning Therapy

Gardening Therapy,Rocking Dog

Gardening Therapy

Rocking Dog’s Taste Of Spring In Umbria

Eating Alfresco In The Garden,Rocking Dog

Eating Alfresco In The Garden

Rocking Dog went to check on the olives. In Umbria the land is awakening and Spring has arrived. Fields have been tilled, the rich earth is the colour of ground Cinnamon. Soon the land will be planted with sunflowers, artichokes, maize and pumpkins. Gnarled old vines have been viciously pruned and tied tightly to their support wires. Soon leaves will sprout and in the autumn the vines will hang heavy with luscious black fruit. In the groves there is the noise of tractors, the smell of bonfires and the clip, clip, clip of the olive trees being harshly cut back. There are the sound of happy voices from 8 until 1 when the workers head off for their three hour siesta.

Spectacularly yellow Mimosa trees are in full bloom and look heavenly against the impossibly blue March skies. Cherry blossom, Magnolias and Camelias ornament many Umbrian gardens. Vast patches of wild violets, flowering rosemary and spring bulbs add to the feeling that Spring has indeed arrived.

Andyman and I worked enthusiastically on house and garden. Kitchen chairs were painted Macaw Green, Mister David and Drawing Room Blue, pictures were hung, Wifi installed and storage was tediously organised. In the garden hedges were trimmed and leaves swept. Olive trees were stripped of their suckers and Cypress trees worryingly counted (16). I think we need to make good friends with a tree surgeon and his cherry picker sometime very soon!

We did manage to escape to Rome briefly for the rugby and had a wonderful midnight stroll around the city. Bathed in atmospheric lighting and with an inky starry sky it was all very magical.

Somewhere along the line I completely forgot to eat ice cream during our two week stay….another time! We did however manage to eat one or two meals alfresco, it was an unexpected sun basked treat.

After the very long drive home it was lovely to see England verdantly spring like. Rhubarb, Tete de Tete, Japonica, Forsythia, limey green Spurge and hellebores are burgeoning after their winter slumbers.

I hope you have a great week and hope that there is chance to witness everything glorious about spring. Love Rocking Dog x

PS Looking forward to meeting our new close-ish neighbour Ed (Sheeran). Maybe he has a spare cherry picker kicking around!

Mimosa, Rocking Dog

Mimosa

Flower Strewn Bun,Rocking Dog

Flower Strewn Bun

Spring In His Step,Rocking Dog

Spring In His Step

Whispering Reeds,Rocking Dog

Whispering Reeds

Room With A View,Rocking Dog

Room With A View

Letting Spring In,Rocking Dog

Letting Spring In

Spring Night In Rome,Rocking Dog

Spring Night In Rome

Sunset .....,Rocking Dog

Sunset …..

& Moon Rise,Rocking Dog

& Moon Rise

Little Hints Of Spring In The Air

Bough Of Catkins,Rocking Dog

Bough Of Catkins

Looking back at the Rocking Dog blog posts of the first month of 2017 it must seem I have been tucked up in the kennel and not ventured out much. Although highly tempting to huddle somewhere warm and cosy there is an energetic Real Live Rocking Dog to walk. Through mud, rain and wintry greyness he tackles his twice daily treks with gusto. With a new pair of unleaky sale price “Hunters” my walks are thankfully definitely more pleasurable than they have been over the last few months!

Yesterday there were tantalising little hints of spring being in the air. Boughs of citrine yellow catkins swayed in the breeze enjoying a brief window of winter sunshine and blue tinged skies. I loved the branches of pretty pink blossom and vowed that “yes” I wanted one of these early flowering shrubs in my garden. In the nook of an ancient Copper Beech  someone had carefully positioned a jar of cheerful daffodils. Whilst I walked I wondered whether the lovely floral shrine had been created to remember a much loved human or pet. I pondered a lot.

Meanwhile on the swollen river a forlorn Cormorant seemed to be waiting for a mate to swoop in. I hope St Valentine lends a helping hand.

At home the snowdrops have gallantly pushed through, poor little things they have had quite a struggle to get through a thick layer of decomposing leaves. Why oh why didn’t I get around to “closing up the garden” in the autumn! With drier days hopefully in the air I can get on out there and absolve my guilt for abandoning all plans and hard grafting during 2016.

I hope hints of Spring are beginning to spring up wherever you are in the world. Love Rocking Dog x

PS. The food just keeps a comin’! Recipe tested yesterday a Courgette, Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Gratin and a  delicious Caramelised Carrot, Red Onion and Feta Tarte Tartin. We are being truly spoilt by talented recipe developer daughter. Thank you. Slim Fast next week me thinks and some jet propelled walking in the new boots!

Pretty Pink,Rocking Dog

Pretty Pink

Blue Tinge Sky, Rocking Dog

Blue Tinge Sky

Hardy Snowdrops,Rocking Dog

Hardy Snowdrops

Looking For A Mate,Rocking Dog

Looking For A Mate

Promise Of Spring Shrine,Rocking Dog

Promise Of Spring Shrine

The Food Keeps A Comin'!,Rocking Dog

The Food Keeps A Comin’!

Where Do I Begin? Rocking Dog Ventures Into The Jungle

Get In The Weed Squad!, Rocking Dog

Get In The Weed Squad!

Where Do I Begin? I finally ventured into my jungle of a garden yesterday. The sun together with rain spells has meant that my wild garden is even wilder than usual! Though the prospect of tackling the garden was daunting, it very soon became apparent that at least the weeds were deliciously big!

Weeding and pruning kept me busy in the heat, and I was able to release the fig tree and roses from Triffid sized weeds. Gardening is like sewing, you at least see results quickly. The play house can now be seen, its rambling Kiwi hair style severely trimmed! More borders and banks await their turn in being cultivated. It will take a while, and I hope gardening time won’t be punctuated by rain or unbearable heat.

While the brook is low I need to wade out and bale out the acrylic bath which has floated down stream. Sadly my boots are leaky, so it may be a somewhat uncomfortable task.

Perhaps when more progress has been made I can treat myself to some seed scattering and a trip to Riverside Garden Centre. I love this garden centre….because it sells….plants! There are no ghastly bloated concessions selling lap top trays, floral teapots, magnifying glasses, fudge and other nick nackery! These shops are definitely something that i’d put into Room 101.

So I have begun. I will try to keep going, I really will. Then there’s the awful prospect of the back garden…..aggggghhhhhh! Oh for a courtyard with potted plants and dribbling water feature!

Perhaps I need to organise a vintage afternoon tea event to give me something to work towards. Does tea in a vintage cup, together with home baked cakes and scones whilst sat in a blousy verdant garden with friends appeal? Let me know.

Love from a very back achey Rocking Dog x

Spot The Play House!, Rocking Dog

Spot The Play House!

Pretty Lawn, Rocking Dog

Pretty Lawn

Shady Dell, Rocking Dog

Shady Dell

Weedy Bank, Rocking Dog

Weedy Bank

Spot The Angel, Rocking Dog

Spot The Angel

& THAT Bath!, Rocking Dog

& THAT Bath!

Unlike Elvis I Want To Go To Chelsea!

Favourite Garden, Rocking Dog

Favourite Garden

As the song went Elvis Costello didn’t want to go to Chelsea. But I SO want to be at Chelsea, specifically the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The sacrifices I make for my boy! So this year the gardens will have to just be sadly viewed on the television. It’s one occasion I would like smellevision!

Yesterday I took the opportunity to give my lists an overview in the garden. The sun was intoxicating and calming. In amongst very healthy looking weeds I spotted some gorgeous Chelsea Flower Show 2015 purchases. I ended up feeling so guilty that these lovely splashes of colour were being inhibited by shrouds of Ground Elder and the like. For a while now I have actually been talking to the garden saying “After the wedding…” . How lovely on Monday (well maybe not Monday, there’ll be be beds to change, china to put back in cupboards and the family to reinvigorate and rest in equal quantities). So… on Tuesday there’ll be beds to weed, a lawn to nourish, poor Clematis plants to move and lots of tidying. There is also a fibre glass bath to retrieve from the brook. Washed downstream by heavy rains this unsightly bit of flotsam needs dealing with.

How lovely to see the L’Occitane garden win another gold medal this year at the show. It was my favourite garden last year. I wanted to sit amongst those olive trees with all the aromatic underplanting. A manicured garden it was simply not..but oh so beautiful. Talking of L’Occitane I was recently at Stansted airport and going through security on a flight to Perugia. As I came through the security gate I set off the bleepers. I was taken to one side and had my hands swabbed, again I set alarms ringing. Bemused I said to the security officer,”Is this to do with drugs” to which he replied “no, explosives!” Next I witnessed a walkie talkie conversation “we have a female suspect at Gate 12 and need a female operative”. In due course I was taken to a small room where two female officers frisk searched me. It was all very serious until one of them piped up “Is your jumper from Primark?” to which I replied in a rather disgusted tone “No, H&M!” (as if H&M was a high end label) Eventually, I escaped the room and the officers concluded it was my rather lovely L’Occitane hand cream that had set off the alarms. Be warned!

As May hurtles to its sunny conclusion I hope everything is growing beautifully in your garden or window box. Seasons change!

Marquee Iris Display, Rocking Dog

Marquee Iris Display

Divine Shed, Rocking Dog

Divine Shed

Sentebale Garden, Rocking Dog

Sentebale Garden

Cheery Auricula's, Rocking Dog

Cheery Auricula’s

Delicious Digitalis, Rocking Dog

Delicious Digitalis

Ceiling Flora, Rocking Dog

Ceiling Flora

Conservatory Soak, Rocking Dog

Conservatory Soak

Out On The Street, Rocking Dog

Out On The Street

The Other Elvis!, Rocking Dog

The Other Elvis!

Grub In A Jiffy For The Workers!

Ferguson Caprese, Rocking Dog

Ferguson Caprese

The border is dug and the plants are in! All looks rather sad, but know the bare earth will soon have a plethora of plants burgeoning forth. In the seventeen years of living here I don’t think the monster border has ever been dug in its entirety. Three more borders beckon and it’s when I wish I had a tiny courtyard garden. Maybe tomorrow will be a sewing day after eight hours of continuous and laborious digging.

In the sun we ate a Caprese style salad. Ripped Mozzarella, a variety of cherry tomatoes, torn Basil, seasoning and a glug of Umbrian Virgin olive oil. Served with some lightly toasted Ciabatta wiped with a garlic glove. Delicious!

I hope you had a good and sunny relaxing bank holiday weekend.

Roses Lime Cordial Too!, Rocking Dog

Roses Lime Cordial Too!

Two Summer's Ago, Rocking Dog

Two Summer’s Ago

Over For Another Year- Chelsea Flower Show

Artisan Garden, Rocking Dog

Artisan Garden

A few more images from my time at Chelsea Flower Show. In time I hope to post some images of my garden. The last few days have been spent tackling a very deep and overgrown herbaceous border. Newly purchased plants from Riverside anxiously await my getting to grips with a sea of Ground Elder. There are Angelica, Cardoons, Foxgloves, Penstemons and a host of other green lovelies to dig in. I’m hoping today will be planting day….and then onto another tangled border.

Meanwhile Andyman who is not a gardener, is repairing Compost Cottage. In 1988 we bought a wooden playhouse, as it was put on the site of an old compost heap it seemed apt to call it Compost Cottage. It has moved with us, and numerous children have played in it. I remember one or two uncomfortable nights sleeping in it with our three! Now with young Noah living next door Compost Cottage is getting a spruce up ready for the sunny hazy days of summer.

Over the last few days I have thought of tips for going to a show such as Chelsea (lots of RHS shows yet to come in 2015)

1. Get to a show early. When I arrived at Chelsea at 8.30 am it was quite bearable, by 11am life was pretty frenzied!
2. On getting there early, visit show gardens (or indeed anything you desperately want to see) first. You will be three or four people deep later on.
3. Wear flat comfortable shoes!
4. Take your own picnic or time visits to food/drink kiosks early. There were long queues for many eating places.
5. Take a few minutes to plan your day. Sit with a catalogue and work out what you want to see and create a rough plan.
6. Take cash. One or two of the trade stands only took cash or cheque. There were Cashpoints, but there was a £2 charge per transaction.
7. Take a notepad or phone to jot down info you want to retain. Growers are incredibly knowledgable and helpful in recommending plants for your own garden. Additionally many of the Show Gardens, artisan gardens etc.. were handing out planting lists which were helpful.
8. Accept that you probably won’t see or remember everything!
9. Book tickets early (Put them on a Christmas/Birthday wish-list). Chelsea was a sell out.
10. I can recommend the Purbeck ice cream. Truly delicious!

Apart from the Show itself many of the shops in and around Chelsea had wonderful window displays and plant installations which spilled out onto the street. Therefore it’s lovely to spend a little time around Sloane Square and Kings Road viewing imaginative visual display and enjoying a coffee.

Chelsea Done and Dusted!

Aquilegia, Rocking Dog

Aquilegia

Iris, Rocking Dog

Iris

Jack's Beans?, Rocking Dog

Jack’s Beans?

Breakthrough Garden, Rocking Dog

Breakthrough Garden

Pavilion Iris's, Rocking Dog

Pavilion Iris’s

In The Purple, Rocking Dog

In The Purple

Evaders Garden, Rocking Dog

Evaders Garden

Alexandra Of Kent, Rocking Dog

Alexandra Of Kent

Out on The Street, Rocking Dog

Out on The Street