The Brilliant Blue Of Californian Bluebells

bluebells_29july13_02What a visual treat!

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THE BLUE BELL

The blue bell is the sweetest flower
That waves in summer air;
Its blossoms have the mightiest power
To soothe my spirit’s care.

There is a spell in purple heath
Too wildly, sadly dear;
The violet has a fragrant breath
But fragrance will not cheer.

The trees are bare, the sun is cold;
And seldom, seldom seen;
The heavens have lost their zone of gold
The earth its robe of green;

And ice upon the glancing stream
Has cast its sombre shade
And distant hills and valleys seem
In frozen mist arrayed –

The blue bell cannot charm me now
The heath has lost its bloom,
The violets in the glen below
They yield no sweet perfume.

But though I mourn the heather-bell
‘Tis better far, away;
I know how fast my tears would swell
To see it smile today;

And that wood flower that hides so shy
Beneath the mossy stone
Its balmy scent and dewy eye:
‘Tis not for them I moan.

It is the slight and stately stem,
The blossom’s silvery blue,
The buds hid like a sapphire gem
In sheaths of emerald hue.

‘Tis these that breathe upon my heart
A calm and softening spell
That if it makes the tear-drop start
Has power to soothe as well.

For these I weep, so long divided
Through winter’s dreary day,
In longing weep–but most when guided
On withered banks to stray.

If chilly then the light should fall
Adown the dreary sky
And gild the dank and darkened wall
With transient brilliancy,

How do I yearn, how do I pine
For the time of flowers to come,
And turn me from that fading shine
To mourn the fields of home –

~ Emily Bronte (1818-1848)

An English writer born in Yorkshire.

bluebells_29july13_04I found these in a supermarket of all places and were not expensive. I put them in a beautiful cut crystal vase, an antique – Victorian – that used to belong to my dear Granddad…who was a signwriter and illustrator by trade and a hobby honey-bee keeper and gardener. He sadly passed away too soon, in a freak accident when I was 13, oh how I miss him.

bluebells_29july13_05A bluebell or bellflower shows constancy and gratitude. In fact; it expresses a wish to say something special.
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Copyright SteffNouveau 2013

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More Gardening Bits # 2: From Patio To The Polytunnel GreenHouse

[Above photo: Geraniums with their distinctive pleasant smell, now available in different colours.  Hardy + prolific blooms.]

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An old blog post from 14th August 2011. I haven’t written any posts in a long time!

Today – Saturday 29th September 2012

The patio looks so much different now, and quite honestly, a mess. There’s only so much a person can do when they deal with chronic pain and mobility problems on a daily basis. However, growing things – whether it’s flowers or veg – still brings me a lot of pleasure. It was very disheartening after all the effort and expense to have lost my first polytunnel to the gale force winds about a year ago. There is now a new, more robust one in its place. 4 metres long instead of the 3.5, the extra 1/2 metre makes a lot of difference. But unlike last year I’ve had a lot of trouble with pests – lost fully grown lettuces to rampaging slugs, tomatoes slow to ripen, baby sunflowers destroyed by snails before they had a chance to grow, on the patio. Many people say it’s been a bad year for pests.

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These photos were taken 3 or 4 weeks ago, it takes me such a long take editing them in Photoshop, and then another couple of weeks until I finally upload them to this blog – but here they are!

And it’s now time I took newer ones, because things are looking really different again, hehe :p

Other than being a personal diary, I hope others find pleasure in my posts too 🙂

[Above photo: oooooooooo (the very pretty lilac / violet wild looking flowers with the yellow centres) smell like vanilla.  A very lovely flower.]

[Above photo: Sweet Peas yet to flower…today I spotted one flower!]

I obviously hadn’t completely removed all the old rhurbarb root………because the tub of sweet peas keeps sprouting the odd rhurbarb leaf!

[Above 2 x photos: dahlias red, yellow and 2-tone pink in this pot.  Dont’ forget to ‘dead-head’!]

[Above 2 x photos: the corner of the patio where I like to sit and drank tea or coffee.]

The sunflowers I seeded are now big, their golden faces leaning towards the sun, the California Poppies are now little plants with petals yet to unfold, the strawberries are producing the odd berry or two, and all the flowers have grown big and bushy.

[Above photo: The carrot patch.]

According to HOW TO GROW FOOD IN YOUR POLYTUNNEL by Mark Gatter + Andy McKee, I can be expecting ready-to-eat-carrots by October / November!  I sowed them a little late, the last week in July.  Hope there won’t be any snow (very unlikely in these parts).

Today, er, 3 weeks on from sowing, little carrot top leaves have sprung up.  I’ve never grown veg from seed before, it’s quite exciting.

[Above photo: baby lettuces in their grow-bags.  Far left are basil herbs.]

Growing your own fruit and veg is under-rated: I’ve eaten a lot of salads in my time – a good 10 years living on the continent, salads are very popular – but never tasted lettuce like mine.  Grown from seed in the polytunnel.  Juicy, light, never bitter – a real cullinary delight!

[Above photo: Very small lettuces at the front, 4 x new tomato plantlings at the back.]

After Mum and I tasted the first batch of cherry tomatoes we knew home-grown IS BEST! so I grew 6 x more tomatoes from seed.  I’ll be sowing more toms and lettuces next month to try and keep the cycle going; hoping they’ll be fine in the sanctuary of the polytunnel.

The afore mentioned polytunnel gardening book has some great advice – especially for novice gardeners like myself – such as plucking just a few outer leaves of each lettuce until you have enough for dinner.  By doing this you encourage new growth and always have a few leaves over!  The lettuces have quite a long life cycle this way.

[Above photo: Chester my Jack Russell sniffs the flowers…tiny Straw Flowers (grown from seed) in a recycled acrylic box; and to the right, I recently treated myself to a fully grown raspberry bush – which is now residing near the polytunnel in the garden.]

[Above photo: at the back of the polytunnel.  The 2 x tall tomato plants are now producing fruit, but there’s never enough tomatoes.  To the right, a bag of 2 x cucumber plants.  They have really tiny cucumbers already, so frustratingly slow to grow tho.  Left and right, shelves of seedlings and baby plants…sweet peppers, chilli peppers, Straw Flowers, Acquilegas, Violas, blackberrys (not the mobile phone!), basil and dill herbs, more lettuces on the bottom shelves.]

Another tip I learnt from a member, Elaine, in the UK Veg Gardeners group, is to stick broken off bits of the tomato plant in the compost to grow more plants.  This does work!…I accidentally snapped off a long arm from one of the tom plants a fortnight ago, and the little plant is doing well.

[Above photo: cucumber plant.]

[Above photo: 2 x sweet peppers and a tiny blackberry.]

[Above photo: Straw Flowers in a bucket.]

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Copyright SteffNouveau 2011

More Gardening Bits: The Polytunnel GreenHouse

This year my wonderful fiance bought us a polytunnel greenhouse, one of those modern greenhouses with a plastic covering instead of the standard glass windowed type.  Cheaper, quicker to erect and doesn’t let the green inhabitants boil to death.  However, you do need to add extra weights to hold down the cover which can – and did in my case! – blow off in high winds.

Ours is at the end of the garden…

Like to come inside?

Not too much going on as can be seen in this photo…but that was taken a month ago.  In my next post I’ll show you how much further everything has got on, I am quite happily surprised myself  🙂

In the above photo there’s one tomato plant (established); 2 sweet pepper seedlings (pink pots, grown from seed myself, from sweet peppers from the supermarket); 1 bucket of mixed herbs, from seed, basil and dill; 1 bucket of a garlic bulb (unfortunately, this never took and really stank so I threw it away); bottom shelf, long planter with 2 smallish tomato plants and 2 TINY cucumbers (the poor cucumbers were ravished – in the horrible sense! – by invading slugs; and, although they are still alive today, the one is still trying to get past the trauma of the whole incident 😦   ); 1 large seed tray of blackberry and strawflower seeds.

[Above photo: sweet peppers – sprinkled with blue slug pellets.  Sorry slugs.  It was either you or my green babies.]

At this point – 1 month on – I’m almost running out of space!  And to think at the beginning, the 3 m x 2 m polytunnel seemed rather large and empty 😮

I really like my gardening shelves.  I might get another pair so I make better use of the space.  These shelves are now filled completely.

I love spending time inside the polytunnel.  It’s so peaceful.  I sit on an old ‘kick-along’ stool and pot away.

[Above photo: yep, I’m growing those too – now.]

Foolishly I thought that the invading slugs and snails could NOT get into the polytunnel, but how wrong was I!  Overnight I lost 2 baby lettuces.  I said to Mum, “er you know that offer you made…to sprinkle everything with your slug pellets…?”

[Above 2 photos: tomatoes were first grown in the bathroom as the polytunnel hadn’t arrived by then.  Below photo: poor ravaged cucumbers!]

Each day there’s different visiting insects.  One morning I spotted about 20 ladybirds.  They’re more than welcome to stay 😉

More often than not I get other visitors…like my Jack Russell, Chester.  One time I was sitting there, quietly content potting on and a rocket shot into the polytunnel: Chester had arrived home from her walk with Mum, and had obviously spotted me, with her keen eyes, at the end of the garden.  Oh, did that startle me though, haha.

[Above photo: the front of the polytunnel, whilst inside.  I don’t bother opening both zips of the door as access is just as easy – and less fussy – with just the one.]

The frame of which the polytunnel ‘plastic’ covers, is sturdy enough with poles that easily slot in – or out – of each other.  So if you go wrong, you can easily undo it.  It is recommended to dismantle this polytunnel during snowfall.  We don’t get much of the white stuff in Norfolk though, so I’d think it can stay up throughout the seasons.

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Copyright SteffNouveau 2011

Gardening Bits

Fairy Flowers (acquilega) are my passion! It started with a ‘mixed’ plant [1st photo] and one of ‘Black Barlow'[2nd photo], I’ve now got different seeds on their way.

Dazzling dahlias…

Sunflowers…

Red Japanese Maple…

Lemon thyme…

Lilly (no blooms), …………. , …………. , and dahlias mixed together.  Names to be added…

Strawberries…

More photos to follow…..

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Copyright SteffNouveau 2011

The Garden in May

The herb garden - chives with pretty purple flowers

The herb garden - chives with pretty purple flowers

The herb garden - scraggly lemon thyme

The herb garden - scraggly lemon thyme

Wild English flower - Common dogwood

Wild English flower - Common dogwood

A bee settles on a dandelion

A bee settles on a dandelion

A pot of sunflower seedlings

A pot of sunflower seedlings

Strawberries

Strawberries

Tomatoes and cucumbers

Tomatoes and cucumbers

Tomatoes and cucumbers

Tomatoes and cucumbers

Patio flowers

Patio flowers

Patio flowers

Patio flowers

Patio flowers

Patio flowers

Sweetpeas

Sweetpeas

Mum

Mum

Bubble

Bubble

Chester

Chester

Sugar

Sugar

Daisy Elizabeth

Daisy Elizabeth

Daisy Elizabeth

Daisy Elizabeth

Tort House

Tort House

Tomato-red shoes

Tomato-red shoes

http://youtu.be/wl-RD3LvOKQ

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SteffNouveau
The SteffNouveau Blog