Category Archives: Herefordshire

Ewyas Harold Arts Fest 2017 @Temple Bar Inn

Once again I was kindly invited by Gill Jinman of the Temple Bar Inn, Ewyas Harold, to display some of my photos in  their cracking exhibition space which is also used for get togethers, wild parties and other stuff – the all purpose meeting place for the local community, in fact.

It was all over in a flash but while we were there it was great fun – setting up and taking down is all part of the exhibition merry go round and as much fun as the actual ‘show’.

       

        

       

Last time I was there it was a straightforward exhibition of ceramics, glassware, paintings and photos. This time the whole village was involved at 5 or so different venues dotted about the place and it became obvious that there is a lot of artistic talent in this neck of the woods !

Visitors were treated to a shuttle service provided by Dore Community Transport, whose drivers tirelessly ferried people from one end of the village to the other.

The local children were involved in a scarecrow building competition and on the ‘scariness’ scale they didn’t disappoint! I only captured a couple of them but here they are

The next two images show the beautiful facade of our venue –  the restored Temple Bar Inn, with a scarecrow on sentry duty (albeit sitting down on the job!) (in the right hand corner, in case you think that’s a local a bit the worse for wear!!).

This event took place over the 3 days of the Bank Holiday weekend, coinciding cannily with the Hay on Wye Literary Festival, which is a stone’s throw away. Graham Powell kicked off with the opening ceremony – one of his last duties as a local councillor,  and here ably assisted by Gill’s husband, Peter, chairman of the parish council.

During our exhibition, the theme of which was  ‘Inspired by Nature’, local water colour artist, Richard Bavin, unveiled a  four metre painting of Lea & Paget’s Wood, created with public participation during h.Art 2016.

Figuring out how to hang a painting this big, so that it draped well and looked resplendent, called on the ingenuity of those involved and Richard enlisted the help of Jill Barneby, printmaker and owner of the Print Shed in Madley where the painting took shape on the grass outside the workshop. Over a hundred volunteers (and one dog, apparently!) worked on it, each adding a little bit of magic, to create this stunning piece which Richard is hoping will raise lots of dosh for the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust – maybe by the time of writing this they will have achieved their aim – I hope so!!

See http://www.herefordshirewt.org/ for information.

So after the opening ceremony and the awarding of prizes to the scarecrow creators (everyone’s an artist in this village!!), proceedings being monitored by some local llamas whilst they chewed contentedly on some hay (there is a llama farm just up the road in Walterstone where if you feel so inclined you can load up your llama with packed lunch, waterproofs etc  and take a tour of this picturesque landscape)

http://www.oldkingstreetfarm.co.uk/llamatrekking.html

our visitors wandered this way and that to enjoy a fantastic display of arts and crafts, ranging from weaving to glass blowing to textiles to painting to furniture making.

The weather was mixed but that didn’t matter – there was good food on offer throughout the venues, live music at the Temple Bar Inn, story telling and lots of other activities going on. Below is a shot of  a talented duo called the Pyschedelic Hearts Club Band, who performed a mixture of Beatles’ covers and their own material – they were great! a real treat.

The Ewyas Harold Festival of Arts was very well attended, particularly on Bank Holiday Monday. It was made possible by a fantastic group of people who care deeply about their local village and community and were prepared to go the extra mile to make the event a success.

I am  delighted to have been invited to participate again and marvel at the spirit and energy of the locals – they must have two bowls of porridge for breakfast!!

Here is some of the work on display at this year’s event from these artists and makers: Julian Stanley (furniture maker), Sally Guest (oil painter), Jacky Edwards (glass ware), Jill Barneby (printmaker) Richard Bavin (water colourist) and Sue Fernández (photographer)

                     

     

Here’s to the next one!

Homage to the Dandelion

The grass and fields and hedgerows around where I live are awash with dandelions –

– they resist any attempt to eradicate them, keep the pesticide industry going almost single-handed and seem to mock us as they pop up on our manicured lawns, flaunting their bright yellow petals.

The name ‘dandelion’ comes from the French ‘dent de lion’ or ‘lion’s tooth’ , used to describe the marked indentations along the edges of the leaves and the ragged appearance of the tips of the petals.

But why do we so begrudge their presence?

Every part of this plant can be used:

the roots can be ground and roasted to make a caffeine free beverage, although more palatable to my mind are dandelion and burdock (or dandelion wine for an extra kick!)  made from the petals. The leaves can be blanched or sauteed in a similar way to spinach and added to salads and soups; the dandelion is also used in herbal medicine for liver infections or as a diuretic. It is even used as a dye, although the resultant slightly muddy brown colour (called ‘caramel’ by the more charitable) is disappointing, given the original glorious yellow of the petals.

Its colour alone would persuade me to rebrand it! It’s a flower! Let’s cherish it! We love the colour yellow! All the best things in life are yellow! Gold! Saffron! Buttercups! Butter! Egg yolks! Sunshine! Submarines!

Think how many songs have the colour yellow in their titles – you should be able to think of at least TEN. This is one of my favourites

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICkWjdQuK7Q

My dad was never a gardener. His idea of keeping the place tidy was to sally forth, scythe in hand, once the grass was knee high.  Dandelions thrived! And so did lots of other pretty things like these:

And so did dandelion clocks – the fascinating, spherical seed heads which appear after the flowers and use the wind (or excited little children ! – the hour is however many puffs it takes you to blow all the seeds off the ‘clock) to scatter those seeds to the four corners of the garden, producing masses more dandelions the next year! So Dad was nurturing a wild life garden long before our present  ‘crop’ (oh!dear!) of TV celebrity gardeners advocated them!

But the real reason they are there is for these little guys:

……….the army of pollinators, buzzing busily from bloom to bloom – they don’t care whether we think it’s a weed or a flower!

To Bee Or Not To Bee

I’m not a scientist or a botanist, or an ornithologist, come to that, but one thing is clear even to me, a casual, lay observer – there are far fewer birds and bees around – a walk around my garden or the fields and hedgerows near home tell me that.

Years ago I had a dilapidated old garage at the bottom of the garden with a sagging flat tarpaulin roof – not so good for the car, but it made an excellent bird bath and I could sit upstairs and watch the antics of all sorts of birds as they splashed around and preened to their hearts’ content.  Now the garage has a new roof,  but it still collects enough water to form a 5 star bird bath – only thing is ……. the bathers are always pigeons or magpies – either they’ve seen off everything else or there IS nothing else!

 

I don’t want to sound alarmist but I saw this post from Greenpeace on Facebook the other day and it really makes you think.

Changes in agriculture have meant that farmers now go in for larger fields and less variety of crops – we no longer see the beautiful patchwork quilt of small fields that typified the English countryside – it’s not economically viable, but tearing up the hedgerows and planting vast swathes of rape or wheat – or, as in this area, potatoes – has had a drastic effect on the little creatures whose habitat we’ve destroyed- dormice, voles, small birds. And it also turns out these changes are detrimental to the health of pollinators.

    

Of course, most decisions come down to money – it makes financial sense to work bigger fields which have been sprayed with pesticide and fertilizer to yield more per acre. We, the customers, should be happy because our food is more plentiful and costs less.

But most people have now realised that this is short sighted.  There is a hidden cost and it could prove very expensive in the long run and – worse still – irreversible. The wild animal population  dies out either through loss of habitat or toxins in pesticides. The bee population is no exception. There is also in the bee world a phenomenon called CCD – or Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder. This is when the worker bees decide to just take off and leave the hive, never to return. No one single thing has been blamed for this phenomenon. No one is sure why they leave the queen in the nest, with enough food and some nurse bees to look after the other immature bees. It could be one of a number of things, for example,  disease, loss of forage, or habitat, adverse weather and/or intensive apiculture.

So ……..  what to do ?  Well, it turns out there’s a lot we can do, as individuals or organisations.  We aren’t all suddenly going to become bee keepers, but we can all build little oases into our gardens to give pollinators somewhere to thrive – little bee ‘hotels’ in a pile of wood, more areas left to grow wild, grass cut longer so that we don’t disturb nests, more flowering plants. Of course, if you do want to keep bees, either commercially, or just as a hobby so that you can collect some of that delicious honey to spread on your toast or sell at the local farmers’ market, there’s lots of advice from professional bodies like the Bee Farmers’  Association or the British Bee Keepers’ Association.

A bee’s physical appearance is a godsend for campaign organisers –  children love the stripy yellow and black jersey they wear, so designing a  logo for a ‘Save the Bee’ campaign which will engage children is ….well ……. child’s play!

bee2

Lots of initiatives have been launched by any number of agencies – DEFRA, the National Trust, the Forestry Commission, the Soil Association, the RHS, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Wildlife Trust, even Waitrose,  have all succeeded in galvanizing volunteers, businesses and the public at large to join forces and save our bees before it’s too late. We humans always seem to leave it till the ‘impending disaster’ stage to actually do something – but do something we must!

I know one thing: If I was a bee I would be tempted by any of these hedgerow jewels:

     

      

Ah, here’s one!

bee

Another year, another River Carnival on the Wye.

The stretch of river that runs between Hereford Rowing Club and the Victoria Footbridge was once again the setting for the main attraction of the Hereford River Carnival –  the parade of a dozen or so colourful floats.  For reasons I am not privy to – but probably to do with access points along the bank – the floats first have to be towed upstream along the same stretch of river before they set off downstream again. There was nothing for it! The crews had to brave the water and it looked pretty cold!!  Then it was a case of just pulling against the current – and let’s face it – carnival floats aren’t usually built with good handling in mind! The more unwieldy the craft the more resistance it put up,  but the crews were having none of it! The river was not particularly high, but weather conditions weren’t ideal –  a wind had got up and rain clouds were gathering – again.

Amongst those organisations represented  were the Alzameimers Society (I’ve forgotten how to spell that) , Aspire, Harrison Clark Rickerbys, Hereford Food Bank, Hereford MIND, Newton Farm Community Association, the Sea Cadets, Strong Young Minds, Horizon Training, local health food shop, Fodders, Sheila’s Wheels,  and two local pubs, the Barrels (representing aforementioned Wye Valley Brewery) and the Vaga Tavern.

I positioned myself on the footbridge and watched as our water babies slogged slowly upstream to take their starting positions. It looked like hard work!

castle

The support dinghies and canoes were manned by members of CHAR (the River Wye Charity Raft Race organization) and local sea cadets  (always seems strange to me that a landlocked Midlands county, as far away from the sea as you can get in the UK, should have a unit of the sea cadets, but we do – I suppose water is water!) Anyway, they were out in force, expertly manoeuvering their kayaks and dinghies to escort, aid, and lend support and encouragement where needed.

rescue2

castle3

Ever get that sinking feeling?  A few sticky moments here for the castle.

The green and yellow craft below looked tiny in comparison with some, but maybe small is beautiful in these conditions.

fodder

She hugged the bank and made her way quietly up to the start.

Then came  ‘the Fried Egg   (I’m assuming this was Hereford Food Bank)

friedEgg3

All the crews did whatever it took – towing, pushing, pulling, wading through the water tmentalHealthogether.shirleysWheelsThe efforts of the Wye Valley Brewery crew were nothing short of heroic  – I have to say the design of their float didn’t exactly help – It looked heavy with 4 barrels on a square platform – it was always going to be a handful!  barrels8Eventually they towed it under the footbridge on the first part of its journey upstream – our hero had hold of the rope attached to the support boat and manfully hung on!

Only a mile to go!

barrels6

Eventually he could hold on no longer and decided to attach the rope under the raft. Success! And applause from the crowd above! Away they went. Further upstream another snag – the brolly started to catch the breeze so they jettisoned that and at last disappeared into the distance.

barrels5When the floats finally started to reappear on their way back, as I looked down the length of the river it struck me that they were bunched a bit like horses in a  race – some hugging the near bank,

parade

some the opposite bank

jam

and some coming straight down the middle.

parade2

Whether they were following instructions, or just being carried along by the current I don’t know. As they moved falteringly along, the escorts were still doing a grand job, weaving through the water, ever watchful, ever ready to move in , and giving much needed reassurance to our wobbly wayfarers.

rescue3

castle2

harrisonClark

queue

rescue

It was easy to see that coming downstream is a doddle compared to going up!

castle4 And relax!

cygnet2A cygnet in tow! Cute!

downstreamTime to tip our toes in!

downstream2 This is more like it!  Shame the sun’s not out! Could work on my tan!

swan I’m gonna get there first!

Now, you see that? It’s a stone pillar! Paddle round it! bridgeInSight Okay, boss!

intheWaterNot sure what’s happening here but I bet he’s glad of that wetsuit.

And – under we go……….

pillar

pillar2

All using the same technique – no collisions – and the end is in sight.

pillar3

pillar4

 

For the trip back downstream the ‘Fried Egg’ has acquired a sharply dressed captain!underBridge

This wasn’t a race, but I believe there was a prize for the best float. I don’t know who won.  You be the judge. Here’s a reminder of the gallant participants in the 2016 Hereford River Carnival Parade.bananaMan

barrels8

bridgeInSight

castle

cygnet2

harrisonClark

parade2

royalty

shirleysWheels

swan

I am a Tree Hugger – but if I could be a tree…….

It’s starting to feel like Spring and what better way to celebrate than getting out into the fresh air to hug some trees! Nature has a way of persuading us to leave the comfort of a warm sofa and brave the elements – the first sighting of Spring lambs, for example – aahhh!! ,

and the promise of some stunning country views and the trees – there they are again – they just seem to weather anything winter throws at them.

     onDiag

roots1  stream2

After Spring comes Summer, for some of us a chance to sit under a shady tree and do a spot of fishing,

   

     

while others prefer to  sit outside  and contemplate the trees in the far distance, or silhouetted against a glorious sunset.

 

 

 

 

treeline

Photography makes you more observant – it’s a fact! You start to see everything in a new light (no pun intended!) – new angles, interesting juxtapositions, the way shadows fall, including your own! and how colours  interact.   Old hands tell you to look carefully, but not just in front of you. No! Look up!  Look down!  Look around! And this is never more important than when you are photographing a tree. Some have exposed roots at your feet, then there’s the lacework of leaves swaying overhead. Some are laden with nuts and some have nests tucked away in the upper branches. I always feel I should be able to identify more trees. Can you identify a tree from its bark? or its shape in the distance?

   

Ah, but what if I were a tree? Autumn would be the season I would enjoy most. Bedecked in that stunning autumn foliage  – it must be like getting ready to go to the ball – and to choose from that palette of  bronzes, gingers, rusts, corals, ochres and russets. I don’t understand those evergreens – they just refuse to get dressed up !

  

leaves

Trees are there for us all – human or not – kids climb them, big cats use them as pantries, small cats stalk along their branches to hunt birds (as if!),  people sit under their shady branches,  lovers etch their initials in the bark, they provide us humans with food, timber to build a house, firewood to keep us warm – and for the animal kingdom it’s much the same – cover, habitat, stores to see them through hibernation.  Quite apart from all that, trees are beautiful to look at at:  whether it’s a solitary oak spreading its branches in the middle of a field or a whole forest, dense and mysterious and a bit scary. Dense forests have been the setting for fairy tales and stories with speaking trees, trees with magic powers, trees that walk and scare us to death! Very often you can look at part of a tree and see in it someone or something – and some are just so old and gnarled they seem to have their life story written into the bark for us to read.

What do you see here?

dragon

 

And so to Winter. Trees make an excellent subject to photograph in winter – the images you capture can be really atmospheric – bare branches, stark against the winter sky. Even a fallen tree has a beauty to it – the way it is slowly but inescapably being reclaimed by lichen, forest ferns and fungus and decomposing back into the soil that once nurtured it.

     P1100783

       

 

    

 

There is such a variety of trees.  Gardeners say there is a tree to suit any garden, whatever climate it is subject to and whatever size it is – so no excuse! we could all have one!

 

And if I were a tree?  Maybe an oak but I can’t really be a tree so I’ll do the next best thing and plant one.

A Walk with Mu’Doggy

Thick fog today – but I struck out with my camera anyway.

Despite the title, I have no dog – it’s more Me + Mud + Fog – you see, as I walked across the fields it was muddy and foggy – combine the two and you have ‘mudoggy’ (never mind! you had to be there!)

At least it was bright fog – the sun was a definite presence, despite not being able to break through the blanket of fog.I was making my way to Drover’s Wood, in Upper Breinton, a tiny wood established in 2001 by the Woodland Trust.

P1100801

 

 

 

 

 

Fog always makes the countryside seem more mysterious and intriguing. Take this orchard, for example

orchard

or this monster oak tree –

monster   monster2

– difficult to appreciate its size here, but  it towered above me like something out of a fairytale. At the beginning of my walk, trees loomed out of the fog one by one to mark the path

path

and along the hedgerow, brightening up the gloom were some ‘umble’ umbels

umbel4   umbel2

Inside Drovers Wood the well trodden path had turned into a quagmire

muddyPath     P1100807

P1100809

and I didn’t come across another living soul, even though the wood is popular with dog walkers (probably all tucked up at home with a mug of cocoa!)

If you follow the most direct route back to the main road you come across this wonderful weeping willow – in the summer it forms a giant green umbrella over the footpath. Today it looked just as magnificent – from one side the curtain of bare branches just brushing the ground, and from the other its silhouette against the winter sky with another tree just visible behind it – slightly eerie but still spectacular.

willow1 willow2

willow3

willowB&W

Once on the main road I was back to civilization – cars with their headlights on (don’t know if we are the only place blanketed in fog today -I think it’s fairly localized, but I’m sure there will be reports later of traffic accidents caused by the fog – usually are!

Ah, is that the bus I see in the distance?

bus

I wonder if he’ll let me on with these muddy boots?

boots

h.Art2015 – Review in Pictures

market       

A work of art in itself – the beautiful, half timbered Market House in Ledbury is a regular exhibition space for the Herefordshire Guild of Craftsmen.  Their pieces for h.Art Week 2015 included work in wood, felt, stained glass, leather, ceramics  as well as jewellery and paintings:

bags bowl1 bowl2  boxes   earrings EmmaBakerJones  glass2    JoMcCulloch2   mouse

tiger     wood

My own prints and cards were on display at Venue 86, Studiocrafts, run by Susan Melvin and Frances Beaver – a new venue for h.Art . At the entrance to our display we had a colouring in board which proved very popular!

colourIn1

The main inspiration behind my prints is the natural world and these are some of the images which  sold this year: strutyourstuff Tommy

LudlowFilter_A4

But of course there were almost 100 other venues this year and I was determined to see some of them for myself so at the first opportunity I hot-footed it down to Bankside Industrial Estate to see  a talented group of ceramicists: master potter Stuart Houghton – who kindly threw a pot just for me! – Stuart’s wife Wendy, who creates very delicate 3-D creations out of fine strips of porcelain paper clay, Fleen Doran, who produces wood-fired salt glazed pots , and Belatrova who make lamps, bird baths and pots in beautiful bold designs like this one – which I bought for my conservatory (bang goes my profit!!)

belatrovaPot1  

      cylKiln

         

   
Also on the same site is Sunny Todd, a screen printer, making jazzy, patterned cushions and fabrics for use in interior design.

  

A completely different but no less interesting  display of fabrics was to be found at the well known Weavers Gallery in Church Lane,  run by Jill Exell and Amanda Wright, two accomplished quilters  – well, an understatement if ever there was one! – the work is meticulous, imaginative, in short – impressive!

Being shown back at our own venue was the film made last year by Will Hopkins. If you participated in hArt in 2014 you will remember that Will took on the mammoth task of visiting all of the 100 and some odd hArt venues on his motorbike. His idea was to then produce a DVD to promote his own film making skills but also as a visual record of the event for all of us. We were treated to a viewing of the final 45 minute film as his partner, Angel, was exhibiting her photos with us and very enjoyable it is too. The DVD  is available through the h.Art Facebook Page.

I will leave you with some images of my best selling postcards and look forward to next year.

       

            

What a beautiful sunset!

On a recent trip to Ibiza with my son and his girlfriend we went to some caves in a cliff by the sea whose claim to fame is that from the terraces which they have created and turned into bars (obviously!) you can order your tipple of choice and sit and gaze out to sea  as the sun, by now a huge red ball,  slips out of sight behind the horizon. People go there in droves and actually applaud this natural phenomenon which, of course, happens every evening, everywhere in the world.  Naturally, you experience it differently according to your geographical position – think Norway ! think Africa ! But when you see people appreciate a sunrise or a sunset like this you can understand why so many cultures worshipped sun gods.

Details of the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli, deity of war, sun and human sacrifice,  are pretty gruesome. The story goes that, so as not to have any competition, he  had to murder his many brothers and his one sister (by ripping her heart out) and to survive he needed human blood,  those offered up for sacrifice being slaves and captives.

I prefer the Icarus myth myself!  I wasn’t very keen on history at school, but I did enjoy our lessons about Greek mythology – for example, the one about Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and perished.

I wasn’t very interested in science either  but I did like learning about the solar system – perhaps it was the 3D model we had at school that inspired me.

Scientific data about the Sun are mind- boggling and the time scale involved in the changes it has undergone are measured in billions of years – apparently, its diameter is 109 times that of the Earth, it will exit its main sequence in 5 billion years’ time and turn into a red giant;  before the sun’s energy exhausts itself it will intensify and the Earth will become hotter than Venus –  but as, like I say,  all this is 5 billion years hence most of us cannot relate to it or see its relevance to our own existence.

So I’ll concentrate on the pure visual delight a sunset  provides:

a great way to photograph a sunset is where you can see it reflected – in the car window or the roof(some great warping effects! I suppose it helps that my car is silver coloured) , or in water  – the sea, lakes or fjords  – or here in Herefordshire in the rivers – but having some trees in the image will provide interesting silhouettes,  and  clouds in another part of the sky absorb the pink glow of the sun and look like giant pieces of candy floss.

Of course, it’s frustrating to be bowling along a country lane, spy a great sunset across the horizon, look for somewhere to park, and eventually find a lay-by only to see that it’s surrounded by a  15 foot hedge! Sunsets are ephemeral things – one minute you see a spectacular, stretch of glowing sky – five minutes later that spectacular stretch of glowing sky has morphed into something else – sometimes better but often disappearing without trace!

Vocabulary of a sunset:  ‘reflected’ ‘ glowing’  ‘mackerel’  ‘misty’ ‘pastel’ ‘incandescent’ ‘silhouettes’  ‘streaks’ ‘stripes’ ‘fireball’ ‘watercolour wash’   – all descriptions that come to mind with the different sunsets I see – and they can be very different – depending on atmospheric conditions like gathering storm clouds etc.

Here are a few of the magical sunsets I’ve seen just travelling home

cardoor endofSt  glowbands

envelope

 

intense intense2         intense4

intense3

mackerel1 pastelClem        picturebuilding reflectedGlory rowtrees StWeomStorm3

StWeon1

StWeonStorm3

StWeonStorm

treeline2

 

Herefordshire Art Exhibition 2015 September 12 – 20

hArt-logo-300

I am Sue Fernández. My medium is digital photography. This year I am very pleased to be exhibiting some of my photographs at a new venue in Ledbury –  that  hub of creative endeavour and a long established  showcase for hArt-logo-SM which devotees  enjoy every September.

This will be my third hArt-logo-SM Exhibition, this time alongside nine other artists and makers, whose work includes lampshades, small scale sculptures, embroidery, lino cuts,  handmade books, paintings and photographs.

Susan Melvin and her business partner, Frances Beavis, will be providing the venue, a brand new space – completely refurbished and  ideal for exhibitions and workshops and just in time for hArt-logo-SMwhich is held every year in September – it’s just around the corner so pretty soon you’ll be seeing those  familiar pink hArt-logo-SMroad signs – they point you in the direction of the venues and will also have individual venue numbers on them.

You should already be able to pick up a printed guide for this event from many retail outlets, tourist  information points and libraries to help you plan your hArt-logo-SM adventure.

hArt-logo-SM is part of the ‘brightstripe’ organisation  so you can also visit their website and download an electronic copy of the guide  – just go to www.brightstripe.co.uk

Details of our exhibition in Ledbury are listed in the ‘Extra Exhibitions’ section of the hArt-logo-SMguide  – check our opening times there as they may be different from other venues

So to summarize:

  • hArt-logo-SMruns from Sep 12 to Sep 20, 2015
  • we are Venue 86
  • we are called hArt-logo-SMat Studiocrafts, Ledbury
  • we are open from 10 am to 5 pm daily (but CLOSED  Monday 14th Sep)

Come and have a look round – there will be some great work on display and you will be able to talk to the creators of that work.

Oh, and I nearly forgot!  There will be cake!!

March Sunshine – time to take stock of the garden

15 º !!  The late March sunshine has drawn me outside for a stroll round the garden. Things are coming to life – well, some of them are! My garden is small – just as well, as I think the novelty would soon wear off if I had acres to cope with. What I have in the front garden is a motley collection of shrubs  such as this mahonia – we’ve come to an uneasy truce – it has agreed not to get out of hand if I agree not to try and dig it up – whatever I do to it makes no difference, anyway – it is indestructible – I quite like it really – it provides some winter colour.

mahonia

and this plant – cant remember it’s name, but it’s supposed to smell of chocolate. It doesn’t, but it has nice yellow flowers so it can stay.

chocplant

Along the side which edges the public footpath I have a giant currant bush which deflects errant footballs , litter and the many dogs which come this way on their daily walks. And last autumn I put a few mixed daff bulbs in which have been flowering away for weeks now. daff

But it’s the back garden where I conduct my annual experiments – it’s a bit of a sun trap and secluded enough for me to sit out and read the newspaper or just  admire my horticultural handiwork in the summer. I don’t have much luck with the herbs I grow in pots as you can see :

mint   rosemary   sage

– especially rosemary, but this year it is thriving – look at this – it’s even flowering!

The chives are making a comeback and so is the fennel

fennel

chivesand I can rely on the permanent residents to provide interest whilst the newcomers get established.

To provide some seclusion and added height my son put a sturdy trellis up along one fence, but because the things I grow along it have to be in pots I’ve had varying degrees of success. I’ve tried clematis which I find quite a contrary species – since doing some research I have discovered the best ones to choose for exposed positions are the little bell shaped ones – I have one so I need more of the same.

The rather exquisite Princess Di clematis with waxy red flowers,  bought at a local garden show,  gave up almost straight away, then came back, then disappeared again (seemed as unpredictable as its namesake)  and then there’s the one with glorious white flowers like dinner plates – the plant re emerges every spring but only produces a couple of flowers now – perhaps I need to nurture it more!

I found a local clematis grower with hundreds of varieties like the evergreen winter- flowering armandii, I had great plans for it – was going to let it weave itself up through the plum tree, which it did to be fair, but I discovered it didn’t like exposed, windy conditions and it, too, eventually perished – a shame as it was very different from the rest! These pictures are from previous summers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   2012EvergreenInFlowerOct10

But back to March. What else is stirring?

It’s exciting walking round my little patch, spying something else just coming back to life – the climbing rose, rose72bought the year before last), the photinia , drastically pruned  last autumn a quarter of its original size, but flourishing,

photFlowers

the honeysuckle  – well, impossible to kill that off , patio pots of aubretia, and the ubiquitous nasturtium,

           aubretia      honeysuckle

 purpleClemTrellis      photinia

And then there’s the prospect of filling my little veg patch with carrots, onions, strawberries, tomatoes and peas.

At the very bottom of my plot there are two fruit trees – a plum and a pear – which always provide me with enough fruit to make jam and pickle for the following winter, but the patch of ground they inhabit is a forgotten bit of land and plants which don’t thrive in the main garden tend to get transplanted down there – and you know what? most of them start to flourish – out of defiance, I think!! such as this euphorbia, which got uprooted when a new fence was put in out the back. Now that’s the sort of plant I like!