Secret garden update!

I’m still clearing the ground and the compost heap is getting higher. I’m starting to lop off some branches from the larger trees to get more light into the space. In this January sunshine we’ve been having on the Island its all looking lovely.

I’m still discovering new things like these plaques. I’ve no idea what they say or even which way up they should hang….but that’s for the future!img_20170122_1523000_rewind

I made a trip to Ventnor Botanical Gardens this week as they had a pre season plant sale.

When we moved to the Island ten years we took on a garden that was just a couple of old bushes and a big lawn. Bit by bit we filled it with plants, mostly from the botanical gardens. Our theory was that if they thrived just along the road then we would be pretty safe with them in our garden. When we left the house everything went into storage and we simply had to say goodbye to all the lovely plants we had collected……so it’s back to square one. img_20170122_1520275_rewind

We had the Lampanthus all along the outside hedge hanging over the wall along the front of the house. It thrived in the poor soil and in full sun. The almost day glow colour of the flowers could hardly be photographed as they were so bright . Lots of people took cuttings and then complained that they had died. They’d put the cuttings in potting compost, kept them in the greenhouse and watered them regularly but still the cuttings had died? We had to explain that in fact they thrive in poor soil and don’t need watering….just stick them in a sunny spot and leave them! I’ll be able to take loads of cuttings from this and so we’ll soon have plenty around the garden.

The Agave (filifera) is a baby from a plant that they are excited about at the botanical gardens as it shoots up a dramatic flower (eventually) so I’m looking forward to how that develops.

The Hebe (brachysiphon) is another of those terrific plant that once planted can just be left alone and will be soon be covered in lovely flowers.

The other plant is labelled as being Euryops but looks nothing like the plant I looked up on Google so I’ll just have to wait and see what develops.

It was a lovely day so after looking round the gardens I made my way down to Steephill Cove which is at the bottom of a steep path below the botanical gardens.

I was the only person there (well I didn’t see anyone else anyway) and it was really magical. The sun was shining, the sea was calm and the little collection of houses, shacks and beach huts looked wonderful.

Rain stops play in the secret garden this afternoon

It rained quite heavily last night but it was dry this morning so armed with my loppers and new gardening gloves (why has it taken me so long to get a pair?) I ventured into the secret garden. It’s hard going but we’re really starting to see some results now. The heap of cut down undergrowth and branches runs along the end of the garden and is getting higher daily but will soon break down………….well it will do eventually!

An hour ago the rain came back and I got soaked and filthy however with my clothes in the washing machine and my gloves drying out on the boiler I’m going to spend a bit of time looking at the gardening books for planting inspiration.

I think that if you compare these two photos taken today with these….

taken last week you can begin to see just how far we’ve come!

It’s Christmas!!!

Well actually it’s boxing day.

I’ll start by saying that the panto was fabulous, rather too many children there for my liking but you can’t have everything. The script had enough ‘adult’ content to keep us laughing and enough child centred stuff to keep the whole audience entertained for the two hours. The Shetland Ponies were everything I’d hope they would be and more, completely adorable. I’d been looking forward to it and it far exceeded my expectations.

That and the carol concert in the local pub (always a good idea) got me in the Christmas spirit (only the two glasses)

Christmas day was quiet with just the two of us, a bit of a change from previous years but nevertheless lovely with messages and calls from loved ones.

We woke this morning to beautiful sunshine so simply had to walk to the beach and watch the mad boxing day swimmers. There were hundreds of people, far more than in previous years, swimmers and enthusiastic observers.

I hope you’re having a terrific Christmas and I send you love and very best wishes for the new year.

Pre-Christmas gripe!

Well this has been a long time coming!

We’ve moved house……………….and have had no internet for two months!

The move itself was a nightmare. When we moved out of our previous house we actually had no idea where we were going. The solicitors couldn’t tell us if the purchase of the new place would happen or not …….or even give any indication how the purchase was going. The idea that we might want to move out of one property and straight into another seemed like a completely new concept for them. The quite understandable (to us anyway) worry that we might have to put everything into storage and find a short/longterm interim rental property that could (at very short notice) take us and the two cats was beyond their comprehension! They had no understanding that moving into a rental property would mean that we would have (certainly initially) no internet access and as it turned out no mobile phone signal.

Even though we explained that we had no internet or mobile phone signal they still insisted on sending texts and online messages and got quite shirty when we didn’t immediately respond.

As soon as we heard that our purchase was going to happen we contacted the internet provider to get connected. It’s taken two months and hours on the phone. Hours of being ‘on hold’ whilst listening to tinny sounding carols while someone in a call centre tried to find out what was going on. We must have spoken to every person in the two call centres, one in Darlington and the other in Plymouth, and had four or five case workers who were going to make our case their top priority (only one of whom ever rang back)

However…….yesterday the router arrived and today we have access to the internet.

We’ve spent most of the morning setting up our bits of equipment and everything seems to be working so fingers crossed!

We’re off to see the local panto now, it’s Cinderella and there are going to be Shetland Ponies on stage from the donkey sanctuary…..fabulous, I’m actually a little excited.

Twiddlemuffs!

As I think I’ve probably mentioned before, I run a monthly arts and crafts group at the local community centre. We’re called the Crafternooners!

We work at all sorts of crafts from knitting and crochet to jewellery making, patchwork and rug making, glass painting and paper cutting.

The idea of producing things called Twiddlemuffs for hospital patients was drawn to my attention.

Twiddlemuffs provide a wonderful source of visual, tactile and sensory stimulation and at the same time keep hands snug and warm for patients with dementia in the community and in a hospital setting. They are knitted muffs which are decorated inside and out with buttons, bells, pompoms and….. whatever really.

They have proved to be very popular with dementia patients who often have agitated hands and are in need of some gentle reassuring distraction.

Having recently had experience of the devastating effects of dementia I was thrilled that the Crafternooners were so eager to support this venture and have already, in just a few weeks, knitted over twenty Twiddlemuffs for our local hospital of St Mary’s which we’ll be able to deliver next week.

They are easy to knit, quick to make and help to use up all those odd buttons, bits of wool etc that all crafters seem to have hanging around.

It’s terrific that something so easy and straightforward to produce can provide such help and comfort for dementia patients.

There are full details and instructions on the internet, it looks as if all hospitals will eagerly accept them so have a go at making one!

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Crafternoon party

Last year I started a craft group in Shanklin. We meet once a month on a Saturday afternoon to ‘do’ crafts. There are usually about fifteen of us and a wide range of crafts on the go. From knitting and crochet to needlepoint and cross stitch, rug making, glass painting, paper cutting and jewellery making.

We’re called The Shanklin Crafternooners (you see what we’ve done there……..crafting in the afternoon- crafternoon….genius!)

We meet at the community centre but in August we decided to do something a little different and have a summer garden party here at The Hazelwood. People would still be able to craft but the afternoon would be more of a social affair and we’d all bring food along to share (though in fact the Crafternoon is usually just a excuses to eat copious amounts of home baked cake anyway)

As it got closer to the day of the party we began to get worried that we might have rotten weather so of course if you can’t have a garden party actually  in the garden the only alternative is to bring the garden inside……so that’s what we did. We moved a lot of the furniture out of our breakfast room and brought our big plant pots in. Infact the weather wasn’t too bad and it was quite a sight to see a group of crafters sat in a big circle in the middle of our lawn with glasses of wine, plates of food, all talking and joking whilst happily knitting and crocheting away!

To make the breakfast room a little more ‘gardeny’ and ‘crafty’ I made a hanging of big dramatic white paper flowers to hang over the fireplace………IMG_20160211_080415_kindlephoto-46072533

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