There isn’t a whole lot to do in the garden this time of year but I wanted to try out my new secateurs.

Here they are! Japanese and very sharp

I ended up chopping a load of lavender that I hadn’t wanted to cut back at the end of August as it was still flowering quite well, some grasses that had got out of control and some nepeta.

I still have a globe thistle that is in flower and the winter flowering heliotrope is doing awfully well.  Everything else is pretty dormant – perhaps unsurprising as it got down to 2C the other night.

Winter flowering heliotrope


One of the things my children got for Christmas was a crystal making kit (they got one each – I know that they’re not going to, like, share).  So on the third day of Christmas, I spent most of the day making crystals.

Here they are

The children got a bit fed up with this after the first, large, crystal solution had been made.  I like to think that my children are interested in science but most science is just waiting around for stuff to happen which hardly interest anyone.  I was tempted to leave the rest to another day but knew that I wouldn’t have enthusiasm to come back to it – plus I didn’t want a load of open packets of evil solution mixture of DOOM sitting around.

The kit includes lots of terribly serious warnings about the ingredients being terribly dangerous and / or likely to stain stuff.  The crystals also need a spot to sit undisturbed for about seven days, ideally at a temperature above 20C.  So I put them on the side in the library.

The kit came from a place called Cass Art, which is a lovely shop.

Here’s the box

It’s the fourth day of Christmas

So we get four calling birds.  I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas.  We’re still in the thick of it, with lots of people staying, leaving and arriving.

Wreath – I got the foam ring from Amazon

My wreath is starting to look a bit tired now but it looked terrific when I first made it.  I originally consulted Celebrate but Pippa Middleton more or less told me what I already knew – except she recommended that I add roses to it, which I didn’t have and even if I had, I probably wouldn’t waste roses on a Christmas wreath.  In the end, I used holly, teucrium, Californian lilac and rosemary.

Christmas cake – it’s a bit minimalist

I made the Christmas cake at the start of December and my husband has been in charge of feeding it with cherry brandy.  I ended up using ready rolled marzipan and royal icing – they are only sold for round cakes but were JUST big enough to cover my (slightly larger) square cake.

Garden at the end of November

This weekend I did a bit more of the Autumn clearing work.  I’m pretty much finished, except that my hydrangeas still have their brown flowerhead on.  I think Kim once said that the flowerhead help to protect the plant so I might leave them there until February.

Herb garden

The herb garden is looking a bit sparse but I hope that it will perk up once we get back into Spring.  I need to put a load of wood chip down, which I’ll do next time.

The slugs have eaten this pelargonium
This is still pretty (and there are still some bees around to enjoy it)
Rose garden

I spent ages clearing out the weeds from the rose garden.  It’s the sort of job that I always think is going to take about twenty minutes and then I ended up filling a builder’s sack (which is yet to go to the dump).

The foxgloves are doing quite well
Lawn is covered in mushrooms
The Japanese garden is looking quite bare but I like it
Sweet violets. I tried to grow these from seed but it didn’t work. My gardener brought me a tray of them (he’d had more success in his garden). I’d assumed they wouldn’t survive but they are doing really well

The Red Lion

On Sunday we went for lunch at the Red Lion.  This used to be a place where dogs could go absolutely anywhere but children had to stay outside but I think they’ve changed management and are now quite pro children.  We did sit outside though (turns out you really need to book) and it was pretty nice.  My children got to say hello to several dogs that were being walked and, at one point, an old horse called Albert who came up to our table in the hope of biscuits.  He was very round and stuck his tongue out (he had no front teeth, being over 25, which is ancient in horse years).  There’s something very comforting about having a horse breath out of his nostrils into your right ear (I am serious).

I had mushroom and blue cheese risotto and my husband had a steak pie.  My son had a burger and my daughter had fish and chips.

The specials board

Afterwards, we went for a walk around the churchyard at All Saints’, which is where Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s wife Emily is buried.

Emily Tennyson

Yippee! It’s Autumn!

My son went back to school last week – my daughter goes back to preschool tomorrow.  It’s sunny but still chilly enough for me to be wearing a cardigan.  It’s Autumn!  My favourite month.  I love September.

My favourite month

My garden has been bumbling along, same as usual.  My husband has bought a chainsaw and has done a deliciously brutal hack of a load of shrubs in the bed outside the library.  I hope that this means that the hydrangeas end up being a bit happier – I think the spot has been too shady for the oak-leaved hydrangeas (the American ones, with flowers shaded a bit like the buddleia).

The flowers were finished much earlier than usual – I think this is because we had such a hot, dry April.  We gave the wildflower patch a brutal hack well before the end of August.

Wildflower patch

The plants left are the foxgloves that I grew from seed.  It should do the jasmine some good to have nothing in its way before the sun disappears.

Over the summer, we also got a couple of conifers taken out at the front.  They had terrible wind burn (that spot gets a lot of wind and sea spray).  In their place, we have put an arch and planted a couple of roses.  I can’t find a picture so will put one up a bit later.  The roses we planted are Malvern Hills by David Austin.  There were only a few climbers / ramblers that were okay for a coastal spot and the yellow roses should look pretty in that spot.