Monday, September 30, 2013

All sorts of stuff

Take a wee wander around my front garden.

I love daylight savings time. We just changed over so our evenings are lighter. I took these photos after I got home from the farm. This morning I went out to look for some seed trays and tomato plants and failed miserably. I should have gone down to Mitre 10 but I wasn't having fun shopping and wanted to check on Zanny, so I rushed off home (popping into Saddlery Barn for some first aid cream), had a sandwich and headed out to see my lovely lady.

Zanny was really pleased to have a thorough pampering. I checked on her rub marks from the sodding dressage girth yesterday and they were ok, and I applied some first aid cream to soothe her soft skin. I also gave Tara a hair removal rub down. She's shedding like mad too. Then Emily got me to try to groom the two foals. Fergie is huge now, and I swear her daddy must be a yeti. Big hairy clumps and dreadlocks were coming off her in vast clouds. Aria was easier and more co-operative, which was a surprise because she's usually the problem child. They both need lots more attention to their coats while they shed their fuzzy foaly winter coats because they have knots and wee dreadlocks hanging off their tummies. They are such busy girls and they nibble and mill around, torn between wanting a brush and being a wee bit scared of what might happen. I promised them I'll keep at it until we can see their beautiful summer coats.

I watched the new programme A Place to Call Home last night. It was really good, so I think I'll be watching that now that Call the Midwife is finished. River Cottage Australia is on then too, and I really love that, so I'll have to record it. I called my first vege patch at the old house River Cottage. The only river comes from the hose (or Mr Mouse doing his morning wee in the garden), but my vege patches would make Hugh proud. The animal situation is a little bleak. I won't be bringing in any pigs and cows, and have been banned from having chickens or a miniature pony (it would have to be tiny). Mr Mouse adds his own special touch peering decoratively out of the brassicas, and Miss Dog likes to keep my garden beds free of cat turds, a handy quality in a dog.

Tomorrow's activities depend on the weather. Rain = crafting. Fine = horses and gardening.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Back in the saddle again

Sorry about the bloggy break. The school holidays have started so I can focus on getting myself in order - healthy and all sorted out around here. It was only a nine week term, but because I was ill, a break is very welcome right now.

Yesterday we had my gorgeous cousin to visit after her morning at work. She brought me some surplus seeds from her King's Seeds order. I was very happy to give them a good home and got busy doing some sowing today. I sowed night scented stock, bright blue morning glory, painted lady runner beans, red cabbages, Florence fennel, Big Red tomatoes, crook necked summer squash and asparagus. Some, like the asparagus, are a bit of an experiment, and others are sure to succeed. I planted tiny amounts because it breaks my heart when I sow far to many and can't find homes for them. I'm afraid we are going to have rather a surplus of squashes and courgettes, but I find the whole growing business so exciting that it doesn't matter if some end up in the compost heap. Oh, I forgot that I also filled a polystyrene tray with mesclun mix and have high hopes for an exciting mixture of seedling sprouting shortly.

Tomorrow I have to sow some basil, radish, lettuce, onions, sunflowers, nasturtiums, peas, carrots, beetroot and pak choi and whatever else I can find in my seed box. I love pottering around in the vegetable patch, and I'm thrilled to have my greenhouse all organised and revamped. Mr Mouse did attempt to use a large seed tray as a toilet this morning, rudely disturbing some delphinium seeds, but that was the only blot on my gardening session.

Mrs Zanny and I had our first ride since she returned home to the farm. All of the jumping saddles were down in Waimati at a showjumping competition, so I had to use a dressage saddle, and unfortunately it didn't suit either of us. I felt like I was perched forward and couldn't relax in the saddle properly, and Zanny got a couple of rubs from the girth, even though I was super careful to remove loose hair and any mud on her. The girth had a sheepskin cover, but was quite wide and can't have been comfortable for her. In spite of that she was a very good girl. I was quite upset to see the wee rubs on her as I hope to ride again tomorrow. I need to get her her own girth. She is very prone to girth galls.

Check in tomorrow evening for another post. I love the holidays!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

More Spring Sunshine

Today we have photos thanks to Johnny and his fabulous camera. He cleaned the lens and spent some time snapping photos around the house and garden for fun. 

 I stayed in quarantine again today, which was a bit sad because I was longing to go horsing. Never mind. Zanny is officially my horse now, which is so exciting. Her career as a brood mare is over and she will be free to enjoy quiet rides in the country, and a little bit of dressage. She and I have agreed that we are both past participating in the risky world of jumping, so she will help me to develop my confidence and skills in other ways. Hopefully my violent cough will have quietened down by next weekend as I'm not sure she'd be too pleased to have me barking with my whole body jerking on her back.

I did some seed planting over the weekend. We now have squashes, butternut pumpkin, lemongrass, pansies, cabbages, broccoli, delphinium, clove pinks, mixed tomatoes, capsicums, apple cucumbers, long green cucumbers and watermelons hopefully germinating in the glasshouse in trays. Johnny got me two big bins with lids, one of which is filled with seed raising mix, and the other will have a general potting mix. It is fun to get sorted out in the vegetable garden. I now have 6 rectangular raised beds and two larger ones (odd shaped to fit the gap). I also have the garden borders for vegetables and an area under a wee maple tree where I'm going to let the pumpkins scramble around this year. Miss Dog often digs in that garden, so I hope she doesn't decide to play among my developing pumpkin vines. Hopefully their raspy leaves and stems will put her off. I've got a lot of flower garden areas too, plus a strip of garden with herbs. It is an unusual garden for an urban residence, particularly one so recently built.

And what has Mr Mouse been up to? Stalking his prey.
Molly, look out!!!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cat in the Cabbages

I'm in quarantine. The doctor thinks I've got whooping cough so I have to to stay out of action for five days while I take medication to kill the bugs. I am hopeful that the battle is being won because I have felt really ill for a while now, and today I felt brighter. I am allowed back to school next Monday, so have been enjoying time at home with my darling friends. I just wish the horses were here too. Mr Mouse loves the brassica patch because he can lurk among the umbrella-like leaves, peering out at the world going by.
I spotted the first broccoli head developing today. Mr Mouse had better make the most of his hiding place while it lasts.
The weather is supposed to be warm again tomorrow. We will enjoy it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


The light has been so pretty this weekend. 
 My flower borders are in full colour. The wind was blowing today, and with the flowers bobbing photography was very tricky.
 I added some herbs to my arsenal of germ killing tools today. I've been gargling with a concoction of crushed sage, rosemary and thyme steeped in boiling water. They are all herbs with antibacterial properties, and my cough has been less intense as the day has gone on today. A bit of garlic would have been good too, but I thought that would be very antisocial.
 As I said yesterday, I headed out to do a feed run for the horses today. I had to collect the big feed sacks, take them out to the farm, fill them with goodies, and return to deliver them to where Tara and Zanny are staying. The smell in the car was glorious because there was a new batch of baleage, which is a fermented grassy feed that reminds me of the aroma of warm fruit cake and summer. The horses go mad for it and it can be like "rocket fuel" so you don't want to give them too much!
 I've got some big clumps of wonderful blue grape hyacinths now. They are at their most beautiful at the moment. So are these pink primula. They are doing well along the shady border.
 The flowering currant is so old fashioned. I love the fragrance.
 Shame about this photo because it doesn't do justice to Mum's gorgeous double seedling. I love these so much. The colours of the flowers change from quite a rich, buttery yellow, to a more pinky, apricot shade.
 Look who is winning the rosebud race this year. This is Cornelia and her friend Cecile Brunner is also keen to be the first rose to bloom this year.
 The glasshouse is looking all neat and tidy, ready for planting.
 Mr Mouse has to check it all out. He is wondering why he can't pass all the way through and out the open back where the panel was missing. How inconvenient!
Take a look at that magnificent tail!!!!!

I'm off to bed now. Back to school tomorrow, and I hope I'll last the week. Next weekend Zanny and Tara are returning to the farm, all going well, on Saturday. There is a One Day Event next Sunday too, with five horses to look after. There's so much gardening to be done in the afternoons now that the days are getting longer. I need to get rid of this horrible germy illness. Grrrrr! I'll gargle almost anything to feel better- even crushed garlic.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thank goodness for warmer weather

I've been a sick chicken. My poor lungs have been deeply unimpressed by some invading bacteria, so I was banned from doing anything much at all by the doctor for three days during the week, and spent a quiet day pottering around cleaning tack and gardening gently in the sun today. I really wanted to see the horses, but am prone to unexpected, uncontrollable bouts of coughing, which do not fit with my philosophy of calm quiet around my girls. Anyway, I need to go on a feed run tomorrow, so I'll see them even if I'm still rattling and barking. 

I had lots of fun cleaning Mum's old saddle today, and it was a happy thing slurping up the leather oil with great enthusiasm. It does need some minor stitching and a bit of a check by someone who knows about these things to see if it will be safe under the strain of a girth. I worked on the stirrup leathers, which are very dry, and may not make the grade (I'm not giving up on them yet), and think the stirrups are super, even though they are a little tarnished. I gave Zanny's new bridle an oil too. A lovely thing to do in the warm sun out in the garden. 

I also did some weeding and cleared out the glasshouse, ready for seed planting. I got this fantastic commemorative Yates seed tin from Mum and Dad for my birthday, and am anticipating some planting very soon. Some of the seeds can be planted directly where they are to grow, and others will need cosseting in seed trays in the glasshouse. Johnny did some minor improvements to my plant support system and re-installed the end panel, which had fallen out and remained that way for ventilation in the warmer months. He also got me some compost soil builder for the two beds along the sides, and some more lime chip for the central walkway, just to make it look all pretty again. 
I am all excited about Claude Monet's divine garden at Giverny once again, as I love all of the glorious colours and lavish plantings. I'd like to make more of an effort to use it as inspiration for my own flower garden. I need some plump budded peony plants and lots of exquisite bearded iris. I have a few iris, but not many in blues and purples. Monet made wonderful use of blue, particularly in shaded areas of the garden. I haven't got a pond, but I do have some shady areas like he had in the water garden. He had beds of beautiful pelargoniums, which I love to grow in pots. The garden has highly labour intensive seasonal plantings, to keep everything looking beautiful for the masses of visitors.

I'm really keen to get all of my garden looking beautiful and interesting, and I think I'll take a lot more inspiration from Monet's garden. Visiting Monet's garden at Giverny is right at the top of my "Bucket List." I haven't really got room for a pond or an oriental inspired bridge, but I'm sure the flower borders  and plant combinations would look just as fabulous here as they do in France. Especially on a lovely sunny day like we had here today. Maybe I'll get into doing some painting again.

Ps. One of those amazing moments I have had in life has been to stand in front of an original Monet painting exactly where the artist himself would have stood or sat to work on his creation. Seeing some more original Monet paintings can go on my "Bucket List" too. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tough Week

I'd rather not repeat the last week. I've been sick, and we had lots of stressful things happening at school, so I'm pleased to move on. I'm still feeling pretty grotty, but managed to get out in the sunshine to visit my ladies today. They were a muddy pair when I arrived! Zanny is a lot bigger than Tara, as you can see, but Tara is a lot plumper. After a good mud and hair removal session they both had a shine beginning to appear on their coats. Tara gleams like gold in the sun. I think Zanny was pleased that I decided that it would be way too hard to force my wobbly legs to push me up into the saddle. She gobbled up her carrots gratefully and went back to grazing as I drove away. 
 Grape hyacinths, anemones, camellias, primulas and daffodils are the stars of the garden at the moment.
 There are anemones everywhere now. I love them with their velvety button centres.

 The daffodils are starting their glorious display.
 There is so much grass around these ones that I couldn't get rid of it with the daffodil stems and leaves tangled among it. The daffodils actually don't seem to mind at all.
 The blossoms are coming out. These peach blossoms on my tiny wee miniature tree are so pretty.
I just love getting out into the garden on a warm spring day. The soil is so full of possibilities. Well, weeds, mainly, but I can't help but make plans for new plants to put in and seeds to sow. I like to move things around, and wish for more sun next to the fences so that I can have more and more roses. I'm longing for plum and raspberry tones in the garden this year. Soft pinks and cornflower blues. Touches of lime. A lemon tree that actually grows and flourishes. Lavish clematis scrambling through the climbing roses. Extravagant bearded iris. Fragrant clumps of English lavender. How exciting!