Dahlias

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This year is the most successful yet in my dahlia production but I must admit I completely missed the spot for growing them from seed and it is only the mature tubers that are flowering. My favourite so far is this purple ball (or is this pom pom?), don’t ask me for a name, I am rubbish at keeping these recorded. Next year’s plan is to sow Bishop’s Children in February, at home, and perhaps add a couple of new tubers too.

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On my visit to Wales we went to the wonderful Carmarthen car boot sale which was full of enamel and galvanised goodies at the fraction of London prices and I became the proud owner of these two tubs. I am yet to decide what will grow there permanently but at the moment the dahlias are sitting there happily.

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Arranging dahlias is so easy, they are very showy and make any late summer flower combination look spectacular, I like to arrange them with zinnias and cosmos.

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I find that the best choice of dahlia tubers comes from Peter Nyssen and Sarah Raven.

 

At Wisley

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August at Wisley is fantastic, there are some beautiful late summer borders with echinacea, rudbeckia and helleniums, there is a wildflower meadow, and there is produce at the allotment. There is also a very good cutting garden, something I would like to achieve at some point, it included a plan which I thoroughly photographed and the main flowers at the moment are zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos and scabious. Feast for the eyes and lots of inspiration.

The meadow.

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The cutting garden.

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The produce.

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Few summer trips

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In the past two weeks we’ve made a couple of fun trips trying to make them as Freddie friendly as possible.

We went to  Bodiam Castle to climb those thick medieval walls.

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We went to a picturesque Surrey village for a country walk and picnic. Compton is a lovely little place and a home to Watts Gallery and Watts Chapel, one of the best examples of Art Nouveau in Britain.

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We also went to the beach.

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The boys went to Brooklands Museum and I went to Eltham Palace which was rather disappointing and completely not worth the trip, I was hoping for a great Art Deco interiors and got a dusty dull museum.

 

Lately

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I had an exciting week with few trips out of London (of which later) and came home to a wonderful produce in the garden, cucumbers, potatoes, courgettes, rocket, chard and beetroots are abundant. Rocket is the best salad leaf ever, it just keeps producing new leaves without the need of re-sowing and I’ve been giving away lots of it. I have a couple of neighbours with allotments and I always get things from them which makes this street of mine even lovelier that it was.

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Having hubby at home is great, I get freshly baked brioche for breakfast as well as lots of DIY done.

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I I watched Cars with Freddie about a million times and read Moomin stories for toddlers every bedtime and then some. We also had a small big success – Freddie slept in his own bed the whole night waking up only once but not wanting to go to our bed. A massive thing in this house because ever since we brought him home from the hospital he slept with us for at least half of the night. He woke up happy and rested, and so did we.

I am so grateful to everyone who leaves comments here, I got so many wonderful book recommendations and have been reading constantly. More book posts are coming up soon of course.

Tomorrow is the last episode of Top of the Lake, very exciting after a couple of twists in the last week’s episode and I also learned that Under the Dome series two is going to happen which means it won’t resolve anytime soon, still hooked like a fat pigeon on a chip.

I stopped going to galleries because Freddie is not so keen anymore, he just wants to run where he is not supposed to so we only got to the Science Museum or Natural History or anything to do with cars, planes and trains. But there are a couple of exhibitions that look wonderful and hopefully I will get a chance to see them:

Laura Knight at National Portrait Gallery

Lowry at Tate Britain

V&A has got the best jewellery rooms so I am expecting Pearls to be a great show, coming in September

August blooms

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Is it just me or does everyone always plan for the year ahead instead of enjoying the present? And isn’t it annoying that if you want to change something you have to wait till next year? Or maybe it just teaches us how to be patient.

The things that make me happy right now are cosmos and tobacco plants, which for me, are the best annuals that just keep giving.

I have some echinacea in full bloom, grown from a supermarket packet of seeds (a bugger to germinate) and it is looking lovely, the bees love it too. The bees are enjoying several things at the moment, especially sunflowers and sea holly.

More work needs to be done and I just have to learn how to wait.

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Henrietta’s War

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My love affair with The Bloomsbury Group publishing goes on, I adore their covers (and the content of course too) and although I read them on Kindle I was more than happy to buy some books for gifts.

Growing up in Poland our war literature was extremely depressing, dark and intense. We also, as a nation, like to be martyrs and obviously the circumstances and experiences were completely different and that’s what the literature portrayed. The books were brilliant and I still like to re-read many of them, this is probably why I like dark realistic literature with no happy endings.

Living in UK however made me look at war from a different perspective and recently I read many war books that were cheerful, motivating and humorous, books about bravery in everyday life.

Henrietta’s War by Joyce Dennys is one of those books. It tells a story (in letters) of inhabitants of a Devonshire village and their daily struggles and challenges during the war years. Dennys created a wonderful set of characters who are trying to survive the war by keeping together, taking up odd activities, being creative with food shortages and still stressing about weeds in their gardens. The book is hilarious and as a bonus there are delightful little illustrations throughout which will make you laugh out loud.

This book is probably the funniest war book I’ve ever read and it has a second part – Henrietta Sees It Through, which I can’t wait to read.

Here are some of my other favourite books describing WWII:

One Pair of Feet by Monica Dickens

Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford (and her other books including The Pursuit of Love)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

What are your favourite books from the era?

Late July produce

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My thoughts and notes for next year on late July produce:

grow again: chard, more beetroot and salad potatoes – fingers crossed for allotment

La Diva cucumbers are delicious and very productive

grow more salad potatoes and make note of the variety, doh!

grow more regular carrots and forget Purple Haze which came up tiny and deseased

more pots of spring onions at regular intervals to provide steady crop

onions grown from seeds are cheap and easy

less Aldermann peas and more modern varieties, the heritage peas got worms and were not as sweet

grow French beans! this year’s seeds from Wisley flower show produced one plant which was sick and died, none of the seeds we purchased at the flower show worked (from independent seed producers not RHS)

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Another visit to Petersham Nurseries

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I don’t think I ever saw sunflowers at Petersham but here they are, looking glorious. There were also nice lime green zinnias and obviously lots and lots of dahlias and other flowers that I love. I went with a mission of buying late summer flowers – ideally rudbeckias and heleniums and came home with two big healthy plants of the latter in beautiful copper colour.  I will add rudbeckia to the mix at some point but I am hoping to find the brandy variety.

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I was very happy to see the orange & almond and flourless chocolate cakes to be back.

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Hydrangeas looked so pretty in containers I might do it next year.

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Refreshed garden and liles

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At last I don’t have to water the garden every evening! What a relief. All of a sudden everything looks green and lush again, and the lilies have opened. Apart from white lilies I also discovered day lilies after chopping down bushes and brambles last autumn, sadly there was only one flower stem so I am thinking some dividing must take place later in the year because all the crocosmia that I split in spring is doing fantastically well and flowering beautifully.

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I am planning to invest in more lilies, I suddenly started to love them so much I became slightly obsessed. Here are two collections from Sarah Raven that I have my eyes on.

 

My few favourite things

Barbara Comyns. I seem to be reading one book every weekend, the books are delightful reads if a bit strange at times. Comyns draws a lot from her experiences which you can find in her biographical Sisters by a River, Our Spoons Came from Woolworths or Mr.Fox. Virago, the wonderful publisher of books by women, printed a number of the works and I just love these editions, if I didn’t own a Kindle these would be adorning my shelves.

Paul Gallico’s funny and heartwarming Mrs Harris series has been republished by Bloomsbury and everyone should read the adventures of this brave and resourceful charwoman. Mrs Harris Goes to Paris should appeal to everyone who loves a little bit of glamour in their lives, it’s a great account of the past which doesn’t exist anymore. These books were out of print for many years and I was so happy to see them again, they have pretty good covers too. Apart from Mrs Harris a lot of other gems got reprinted and I couldn’t be happier.

I found a couple of good things on TV which rarely happens in summer, first one is Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake with the wonderful Elisabeth Moss and Holly Hunter. This mini series is pretty perfect if you miss Sarah Lund, it’s dark (in more than one meaning and Robin could do with a torch), it has strong female protagonists, there are plenty of shots of stunning scenery and there is a great suspense. The other series I am watching and loving and regretting the episodes are only half an hour long is Under the Dome. Steven Spielberg and Stephen King created, as you would expect, a very very good drama, great set of characters and a supernatural mystery.

If you however like something lighter for summer I highly recommend Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee which includes Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman and Kramer!

The last thing which made me very happy was the Swedish Hasbeens sale and these Papillon sandals just got delivered.

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