Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Growing An Angel In Your Garden

Hello there!
Well we've reached the chilly bit of our winter now. You know, when there's frosts & snow (well a day of it) & all the leaves have finally fallen off the trees and even I wear a hat & a scarf & a jacket to garden. I think that the Chinese have a good point about keeping your "wind points" covered. Scarves are a very good idea to protect your neck from rogue winds.
But it's also the time when we all start to go on about how we can't wait for the spring bulbs..but hold on, half the bulbs are flowering very nicely already.
My friend Ruth grows wonderful narcissus...many of them of the jonquil variety. Here are just a few, in all their lovely glory.
I thought I must show you our snow (since it's quite an event), up on Te Mata Peak just last week.
Wind chill factor kicked in making the temperature -6 degrees C about this point; brother's know these things!
One recent morning I happened to be in the kitchen looking out the window when I heard a great commotion & immediately thought that Whistle had finally captured Elijah, our visiting racing pigeon friend. Here he is, just yesterday...
He's still wandering around the neighbourhood visiting where-ever he pleases. We often spot him meandering along the footpath. But, no it wasn't Elijah at all. It was a Kereru, a native wood pigeon. I shouted quietly for Rob to come quickly, as this wonderful bird had landed in our olive tree right outside the kitchen window. The Kereru then dropped down on to a buxus bush below & promptly squashed it!
We've never seen a one in town or in our garden in all the 26 years we've been here, until now.
A little nibble of an old wrinkled fig,
a quick drink from the bird bath. Lucky he didn't tip it right over!
And then a wee rest up in the frangipani tree before departing.
 I am so grateful that I live in a place where I can be a Garden Fairy the whole year through. I love sharing my plants & seeds & cuttings & sometimes a little knowledge with others through Trade Me. Sweet violets are one of the most sort after of my listings. I love the little stories & memories that people tell me about violets; usually from their childhood & their favourite aunty or grandmother. The fragrance evokes the memory of connection in a heartbeat.
I received an email enquiry form a customer (oooh, I have customers!) a while back asking me for a little assistance as she had searched the internet for tips on growing the seeds that she had bought from me, but hadn't been able to find a thing. She'd been searching for a plant called "An angel in the garden". So funny & utterly delightful! On my seed packets I write the name of the seed & then where it says origin I write "An angel in the garden".
It's quite amazing when you keep your eyes open, what you find in the garden that does actually flower through the winter.
We both love cyclamen.
Every week I bring home bunches of rainbow chard from Gay & Robert, the organic growers at the Farmers' Market.
It doesn't grow like this in the summer! Such stunning colours full of goodness.
Finding a good movie to watch is such a treat. We loved "What We Did On Our Holiday" so very much. "We're all ridiculous, really", says Billie Connelly, as the grandfather. I agree!

In late autumn I harvested ginkgo leaves just as they were turning to yellow. Only trouble was...I popped in to a funny little park down the road where I knew there was a good big tree & as I jumped up & pulled down a branch to gather the leaves there was a loud crack & a large branch broke right off & nearly conked me on the head. Oh dear, what to do. I couldn't very well just leave it there, so I grabbed it back to my car & stuffed it in the back seat & drove it home to deal with it there. It took me weeks to get rid of all the leaves that fell off in the process & dispersed all through my car. However..I now have an almost mature ginkgo tincture that I plan on taking to see if it might improve my menopausal brain function. Now wouldn't that be something to look forward to!
I friend posted this wonderful turmeric milk recipe on Facebook a day or two ago. It is so delicious & really nourishing & warming. I popped the recipe in the kitchen blog just here.
As an angel in the garden I have even taken up the role of cupid...what fun. I had a random enquiry for assistance from one romeo looking for purple peonies for his sweetheart. It turned out that I could help with purple flowers (as they had to be live) & manage a delivery too. All just down the road from one of my gardens. There were some theatrics & a little drama but all ended in pure delight. It's worth remembering that a gathering of live plants can be much more economical than a picked bouquet. This little lot only cost $20 all up. The hyacinth was just about to come out & had 8 beautiful stems/buds. Good old Rob spotted it at Bunnings when he went to buy building bits.
"So...let's make this garden this year more lovely than it's ever been." Yes please!
As to the experimental present free with every order. Perhaps it'll be a packet of An angel in the garden seeds? Wouldn't that be lovely!
I am so glad that you popped in for a visit. Thank you!! Wishing you all a week with happy bits of learning something's so much fun!
Much love Catherine x0x0x0x

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Gypsy Lunches & Teacup Angels

Golly, I've been gone for ages, I know!
I've not disappeared, truly.
It's so kind of you to visit me...
The past weeks have been rather a delightful & fruitful adventure here at an angel in the garden, but have also required copious cups of calming tea.
We have been so very busy with Sunshine Vintage, gathering, sorting, wrapping & posting & it's been such a joy. What lovely, lovely people there are out there in our little nation. As I list, describe & research the seeds & plants that I love to grow & would like to share with others, I have begun to see my garden & the landscape around me with fresh eyes. There are plants that I didn't even know had seeds, until now! 
It's the simple memories that remain with us through the years: the scent of violets from a beloved grandmother's garden, a mother's favourite flower, a father's collection of geraniums that we took no notice of at the time, but the memory remains attached. I find myself to be offering the plants of memory, the "Nanna plants" that line the garden paths of childhood & nostalgic memory; those that people cannot find them in the commercial places...they are only handed on through angel's in gardens & the such-like. 
 My mother kindly gave me a magazine for my birthday back in January & in it what did I find...
Tilda Teaspoon Ladies.
They can be found in the Tilda book Fairytale Wonderland.
Knowing that I simply would never get around to making them myself, I asked my dear & marvellously crafty friend Julie if she would make some teacup ladies for me.
 We managed an exchange of fabrics & teacups & hugs one day in Dannevirke back in January, when we were both traveling in different directions, one heading home from a wedding, the other a funeral, but passing each other by.
 Aren't they adorable!
And very fiddly to make.
You can read about the making of them here.
  I love them to bits! But of course they are in fact teacup angels!
 Nina likes them too.
I always know when she does...she stops quite, quite still & gazes silently, intently with a sparkle in her eyes; for a very long moment...before she speaks.

Along with the "girls" Julie sent this delightful dottie angel card.
 Which was a good reminder to check in & see how the dottie angel dress pattern was coming along.
And, what would you know....this week Tif announced that her pattern will be released by Simplicity in June. Hooray!
Rob had a little time off in early May. So much to do here in autumn, so we worked & we ate together & it was a good break from his nursing work.
I have been reading this book: The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's taken a while...which is a good thing. I have savoured it.
I rather like this review over at Shiny New Books.

One night, sitting up in bed reading together.
  I came across this sentence..."They ate hot buttered toast together every morning, gypsy lunches out in the fields & stayed up late in to the night together...."
And so we did...
In amongst all the goodness & the wonder, the grand friendship & the seed selling there was also sadness & struggle...the tears & the grief, & feelings of worthlessness & not being ever safe that belong to the past; the itchy skin & inflammation in my eyes & sinuses & the really, really fat days! Sometimes I despair that my healing/menopausal process is so slow to move along. But I am encouraged, just now, to note many small things that are transforming & re-shaping before my eyes. Rob has quite brightly stepped in to real ownership of his own nutrition & is taking great pleasure in preparing meals & helping put things together..with care & intelligence.  
Our Gypsy lunches are truly delicious.
And it's not all hot buttered toast.
One morning he decided to make a fruit salad.

With so much abundance in our little back garden fruit forest...
it was easy to gather all that we/he needed (with the exception of the bananas!)
Our little blue friends will have been keeping something naughty at bay.
I love how the persimmon leaves transmute in to gold along with the fruit.
One morning this week as I walked to the gate to serve a fruit customer I realised I had a little visitor on the front lawn.
And then he had a graze in the back garden.
He's been wandering along the guttering on The Pansy (the shed) looking for grubs & things.
I am a little worried about Charlie & Whistle though, our borrowed furry friends.
I phoned Mr Harrison (who knows pigeons) he says he's not from around these parts & he's a racer. He tells me he should fly off on his way soon.
But this afternoon..pop, there he was again, wandering all over.
Meantime the morning glory got a bit carried away so we twined it around the washing line.
I am watching carefully, daily, for the seed to set.
More Gypsy lunches!
And shared excess.
And other small visitors.
Slightly larger ones too!
The light is marvellous in autumn. It brings a touch of magic to the world.
Thank you ever so much for visiting me!!
Much love & blessings of abundance to you all, Catherine x0x0x

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