Letting go of the challenges of parenting.

Being a parent can be hard. It’s exhausting, relentless and it can be, dare I say, boring. Although being a parent is wonderful most of the time, I think every parent at some time or another has wished for a sunny beach, peace, quiet and preferably a margarita in hand! But I’ll tell you a little secret that parents of little ones don’t know or even have time to think about….it does change and get easier; almost overnight and then you will miss those challenges with all your heart. The hurdles that we face as parents are only stages in our lives and we need to let them go to fully appreciate the parenting journey. Because of course, a journey always has its ups and downs.

I vividly remember my son going through ‘the yelling phase.’ Basically, he yelled in the night when he wanted something! It could be a drink, a biscuit,  a cuddle, a story, a banana (yes, really!) a new toy….just anything so that he could get our attention. The thing was totally irrelevant but because we had another child that we were frightened would wake up, we tended to go into his room as quickly as possible. This meant one of us was ‘on stand by’ throughout the night and we were exhausted. Of course, we could have left him to cry and yell but for an easier life and because we were not entirely sure he was awake half the time, we got up and went to him. He was only about 2 after all. This became part of my night time thing and I used to dread it. I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly be this tired and still function. It was awful. And then, one night, it stopped. He slept through without the yelling! Could we be this lucky and have a whole nights sleep? He never yelled out in the night again and this phase in our parenting journey was over, just like that.

When my daughter was about 6 she would not want to go to sleep. We tried the usual stories, milk, teeth, bed routine that had always worked. We tried extra cuddles, we tried rewarding her with a sticker chart and we tried telling her off. Nothing seemed to work. There would always be a reason for her coming down….’ur I can’t sleep….I need a drink….mummy can I just tell you something……ur can I have a grape?’ The ‘Can I have a grape?’ became a family joke but this stage went on for about a year. Yes, a whole year of her coming down in the late evening as she couldn’t get to sleep. Then one night,  it stopped. As quickly as it began, it was over.

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I think what I’m trying to say is that the challenges you are facing right now will soon be done. The ‘problem’ that exhausts you or makes you despair will one day be over. Whether it be a fussy toddler that makes you cry with frustration because they will only wear red or the child who lives off fresh air because they never seem to eat a meal. Whether it be the child who refuses to sleep in their own bed or the child that will not settle in the morning at school. These are all challenges at the time but one day, they will stop and life moves on. Children grow and change whilst us parents try to adapt to the changing direction that parenting takes us.

So when your son asks you not to get stressed when he accidently breaks the window of your Greenhouse by launching a hockey ball down the garden, pause, take a breath and smile. He doesn’t remember the 3 DS games, the new Hoover, the car radio or the countless TV remotes that he broke as a destructive toddler. Those were our challenges as parents so let them go and move on. One day, I shall remind him of the Greenhouse window and hope it will become a family story to remember and retell rather than a challenge to overcome.
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Old house garden round up: 6 on Saturday 21/10/17

It’s a quick round-up today of 6 things in my garden. Storm Brian is about to hit this afternoon but I took these this morning in the old house garden.

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I captured this lovely Red Admiral butterfly that seemed to follow me before settling on the wall.

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Tilly loves outside most of the time but likes to follow me when I’m in the garden as she likes a cuddle!

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The new rose garden is looking very Autumnal! I still love this new area though. My pumpkins are ready too.

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I moved this Hydrangea 3 weeks ago and was worried that it wasn’t happy but it seems to be fine now. Phew! I will trim it back in the Spring.

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The recent windy weather has blown the last of the Bramley apples off the tree!

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I took this last night as there was a beautiful sunset.

Well there we have it!

My 6 on Saturday.

This started over on the propagator’s blog

Happy Gardening! 🙂

#MyGloriousGardens: Stourhead in Autumn.

Stourhead is a National Trust property and garden that we have visited on numerous occasions. As National Trust members we thought we would visit in the Autumn as the trees are looking glorious at the moment. I love that with our family membership, we can explore an area for a day or for a quick dog walk.

 

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The view towards The Pantheon is like a work of art.

Stourhead is a national treasure with a famous garden. It has been described as a work of art and I can see why! Visiting in Autumn allows you to see the landscape with all it’s beautiful colours on display. We visited on a rainy day but it was still glorious!

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This is the Rock Arch which is fun to explore. It leads up to the Temple of Apollo. 

The Stourhead garden was made by a wealthy English banker, Henry Hoare II who owned the nearby house. The garden was made in the valley behind the house and you can see the influence of his trips to Italy within the garden. The Temple of Flora at Stourhead was made in 1745 and the grotto in 1748. The lake and the Pantheon were made in 1754. It is based on the Pantheon in Rome and the planned walk through the estate is based on the journey of Rome’s legendary founder, Aeneas. The five-arched bridge was made in 1762 and the Temple of Apollo in 1765. Various other features such as the gothic cottage and the Rhododendrons  were added later adding to the wonderful yet unique atmosphere that is Stourhead.

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The Pantheon

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Inside the Pantheon with it’s statues

 

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View from the Pantheon towards the lake.

In October there are various Autumn tours to take and warming refreshments offered in The Gothic Cottage. There are also trails for children to follow. The paths are well laid out and accessible for wheelchairs and buggies a like.

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The Gothic Cottage with it’s gorgeous Acers and Maple Trees outside. Inside you can buy warm refreshments.

The Grotto resembles a cave and was built as a summer retreat from the heat. We found this statue of a river God inside as well as a Nymph.

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River God statue inside the Grotto

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View from the Grotto of the Autumn colours.

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The Temple of Apollo in the distance.

We really enjoyed the few hours we spent here. We didn’t visit the house this time but we did grab some lunch in the main restaurant which was excellent. Nearest the gardens is the quaint little pub called ‘The Spread Eagle’ which provided food and picnics to take away. There are toilets, an ice-cream parlour, picnic tables and an Art gallery here too.

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The Spread Eagle pub

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Stourhead; a national treasure and a lovely walk!

We would recommend visiting Stourhead soon as the trees are looking splendid at the moment. It is a great day out for all the family. Dogs are only allowed after 4pm though.

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#MyGloriousGardens Westonbirt Arboretum in Autumn.

This weekend we decided to visit Westonbirt Arboretum as the weather was so good and it is the perfect time to go to see the Autumn colours. The Arboretum is 3 miles from the lovely town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire and has over 15,000 trees in it’s 17 miles of pathways through the woodlands. There are 2 main parts to the Arboretum; the old Arboretum which was planted in the 1850’s and Silk Wood which is a semi-natural woodland. Silk Wood welcomes dogs so we took Dottie with us. it costs £10 per adult and £4 for children which we thought was excellent as you could easily stay all day here. There are restaurants, cafes, a shop, toilets and picnic areas plus a playground for children.

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Dottie could be off the lead in Silk Wood

The trees were absolutely stunning and many were showing beautiful Autumn colours. It was busy with lots of visitors but we could still find places to walk alone. A map guides you through the best parts and the walks range from 40 minutes to over 3 hours depending on what you want to see.

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The treetop walkway allows you look across the tree tops.

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Crows nests allow for a better view!

The Treetop walk was great fun and allowed you to see across the Arboretum. There were different maps and trails for children including lift the flap type information along the walkway.

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Dogs are welcome in Silk Wood

Dogs are welcome in Silk Wood and there were lots! Dottie had a great time meeting all the different dogs. The paths are well signposted and easily accessible for people in wheelchairs and babies in buggies. There were even lots of children on scooters and bicycles which was lovely as it is quite flat.

I will leave you with lots of photographs but do visit if you get the chance as it is well worth it! They are also planning an Enchanted Christmas show there which is when the Winter woodlands are lit up in the evening and look amazing.

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The Autumn light was beautiful; just look at the shadows of the leaves on the tree here.

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I love the way the light filters through the needles.

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The light hitting the bark on this Maple is stunning.

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My favourite place was The Acer Glade with lots of mature specimens.

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Acer Palmatum.

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The ground looked like it was covered in jewels.

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I loved this combination of yellow and red.

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Some of the trees were quite mature.

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October is the perfect time to visit.

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It was a beautiful sunny day -perfect for taking photos!

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Views through the Acers.

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Autumn Light

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Lovely place to visit!

Visit soon as this Autumn display will soon be over.

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Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday is when you share six plants or things that are happening in your gardening and was started by The Propagator

I haven’t joined in before but after lots of bulb planting today, moving some perennials and sorting out the Greenhouse, I managed to take some good photographs that I am happy with.

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David Austin ‘The Generous Gardener’

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Nasturtiums

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Japanese Anemones

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Cyclamens under the old cherry tree

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Purple Asters

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Salvia Amistad

We enjoyed a cloudy yet mild day today in Wiltshire but there is a storm coming tonight so I’m not looking forward to that!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Creating a Rose Garden

I haven’t posted a roundup post for the old house garden for a while because we have been busy creating a rose garden in the middle section of the old house garden.

I have blogged about the middle section of the garden before here

When we moved into the old house, the garden had been badly neglected but we could see what an amazing place it could be. It was dark and gloomy and we have spent the past 18 months concentrating on the garden before we can tackle the house.

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The sad and gloomy greenhouse Feb 2016

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The same greenhouse looking happier in Sept 2017

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The dark and gloomy middle garden Feb 2016

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The new rose garden Sept 2017

Now I could write a post explaining about how we created this garden but I must admit I find those types of posts a little tedious so instead I am posting lots of photographs so you can see the different stages. Do feel free to ask any questions though.

We tried to recycle patio slabs we already had but we did need to buy red pavers, a patio circle, cement, gravel, stones, compost and plants. As we did it all for ourselves we think we have spent about £800. We also saved money by going to a Nursery plant fair at the end of their season which saved us money on the roses and lavender.

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The space in August

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We used spray paint to divide the space and began to dig out.

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This was tough work but it soon took shape. We borrowed a laser level at this stage to make sure we had our levels correct as the garden is on a slight slope.

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The soil was added to the woodland area so that we could reuse it later (in fact we decided we quite like this ‘hill’ in the woodland area so have kept it and I have planted snowdrops and bluebell bulbs here.)

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We added hard core to the areas and compacted it using a compactor. This was tough work as it all had to be brought in with wheel barrows. We then started on the retaining wall at the back.

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We made the path next using pavers. The key here is to make sure they are level from the beginning. We had to use more hardcore and cement as we went along as the area was sloping and we wanted the path to be level.

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We carried on laying the pavers working into the seating circle near the raised planters we had built in the Spring. Luckily our calculations were spot on!

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We laid out the patio circle to see exactly where it had to go. It was important to match the lines of the slabs with the lines in the pavers.

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We laid the patio circle in cement using a plumb line from the seating circle to make sure the centre of the circle was in the correct place. We then added brick pavers around the edge to link the two colours of stone.

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We used gravel around the seating circle to neaten the edges here. The colour of the gravel and new stones matches the stones used in the raised bed.

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We added a stone edge to keep the soil and gravel neatly in place.

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We finally took the turf off and added manure and peat free compost. The area was almost ready for planting! At this stage we downed tools and went to a plant fair to buy our roses.

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We wanted to incorporate an old bird bath that we found in the garden so decided to make it a focal point by raising it onto blocks. These were cemented in.

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The bird bath was rolled into place -it is REALLY heavy!

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I love the bird bath here and the birds are already using it!

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The other seating circle was finished last.

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Planting is always fun and I love the traditional look of roses and lavender together. All our visits to other gardens really helped us design this section of the garden.

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The finished Rose Garden.

The roses we bought are: David Austin Olivia Rose, Generous Gardener and Brother Cadfael. I love the fact that these roses have peony type blooms and are pale to mid pink with a lovely old English scent. We also planted lavender. We have room for more so I will look out for other roses in the Spring but would welcome suggestions.

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Oliva Rose

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Dottie loves it too!

Already, I love this area! We hope to buy a couple of benches for the seating circle so that we can sit and enjoy this area. We are not sure at this point whether to add a table and chair set to the patio circle or we did think a large urn on a plinth may look better. What do you think?

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OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

The Gardens of Alcázar of Seville: #MyGloriousGardens.

During a long weekend in Seville, we visited the Alcázar Palace on a gloriously hot day in August. Whilst the weather looks perfect in photographs, it was in fact 42 degrees centigrade and so our visit to the gardens was not as long as I would have liked as Siesta called! The good thing though about the boiling weather was that the palace was not crowded and we could amble around the gardens at our leisure.

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The Courtyard of the Maidens. The orange trees are a fairly recent restoration as a medieval sunken garden was discovered here. The orange blossom must smell wonderful in the Spring!

The extensive gardens have undergone many changes in the life of the palace which was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1987. The gardens extend over seven hectares and are surrounded by walls of varying age and colours. The different areas of the garden reflect the periods of time that have passed since this glorious place was built. Over hundreds of years, areas of the palace and gardens have been extended and changed giving the whole complex distinctly different areas. In the main, the gardens are formal gardens with water being a major part of the Moorish design in the form of rills and pools. The gardens would have been planted to provide food for the palace but also for pleasure.

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The many trees surrounded by formal hedging in the garden Garden of Vega Inclan.

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Entrance into the Garden of Vega Inclan and English Gardens

Moving away from the Palace lay The Garden of the Poets with pools and rills of water.  The planting is of palm, cypress, myrtle, mulberries, magnolia, orange and lemon trees.

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Rills of water are a major feature in this part of the garden known as The garden of the Poets.

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Beautiful formal fountains

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Mosaic tiled places to sit and admire the surroundings and rest in the heat.

The gardens of the Alcázar of Seville have undergone many changes. In the 16th century during the reign of Philip III the Italian designer Vermondo Resta introduced the Italian Mannerist style. He was responsible for changing an old wall into a viewing Loggia to enable visitors to admire parts of the gardens. This is a fabulous spot to take photographs of the garden as you get to look down and admire the views.

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View towards the palace from the Loggia. The small orange building plays music

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The Loggia was once an old wall.

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View towards the main garden with pools.

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A lovely and welcome shady spot!

Nearest the Palace buildings lies the Mercury Pond, named after the God, Mercury. This pool was made in 1586 and as it lies higher than other parts of the garden acting as a reservoir for many of the other water features nearby. This area of the garden is known as The Garden of the Reservoir.

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The Mercury Pool in the Garden of the Reservoir

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Lots of Koi Carp in the Mercury pond.

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This section is nearest the Palace and has wonderfully decorated tiles and fountains.

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The entrance to the old wine cellars were a cool place to sit.

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The old wine cellars were stunning inside.

The Gardens of Alcázar of Seville were amazing and I would love to go back in the Spring to see the orange blossom and to visit without battling such boiling temperatures. So many kings and queens have walked in these gardens and there is so much history that one afternoon is not enough.

My advice? Take your time and visit for a couple of days.

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The Old House garden round-up: Flopsy Flowers and caterpillars!

So far, August has been very wet and cold in Wiltshire. Today was the first day for a while that we could enjoy the garden as it was lovely and sunny. I decided to quickly take some photographs of the garden so that it looked gorgeous in the sun however this was what we have enjoyed since Saturday!

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Rain, rain and more rain!

Of Course, this really took it’s toll on the garden; especially the flowers. It also made everything grow like crazy!

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The tower of beans fell down in the wind but there is still lots of beans to harvest!

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The pumpkins are developing well.

My pumpkins, although developing large fruits, have also got mildew on their leaves and I’m worried that it will spread so I have removed the infected leaves and have my fingers crossed! It’s due to all the rain and humid conditions. The tomatoes, beetroot and peppers all seem to be happy as they are now producing fruits.

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Cabbage White caterpillars

Now vegetable lovers will shake their heads at me but I actually planted these cauliflowers hoping to attract butterflies! I’m not too keen on cauliflower but I do love butterflies so am pleased that the cabbage white has laid her eggs on them! There are also some on my nasturtiums too but they have self seeded from last year and again, I planted them for caterpillar food!

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Caterpillars on the nasturtiums

This seems to be a theme in the old house garden as we also have sawfly larvae on a small patch of roses….

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Sawfly larvae on my roses

Although incredibly annoying, sawfly larvae are great food for ladybirds and I have seen many ladybird larvae eating the sawfly larvae so they can stay. I garden organically so I could take these little pest off by hand but I’m hoping the damage will be limited by encouraging natural predators.

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The Rhubarb is now monstrous!

The rhubarb we planted last Spring is now enormous so we are hoping to harvest from it next year.

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The apple tree is groaning with apples this year.

Now for the rest of the garden…

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The meadow continues to be in full flower.

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Zinnia

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I love these Love-in-a-mist (Nigella) flowers. I found them as seed pods by the side of the road and planted them as seed straight into this area.

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Tiger enjoying the garden. The grass has grown really long in places and is full of tiny frogs!

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The cottage border is still in full bloom but the flowers are all flopsy from all the rain!

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The Japanese Anemone are coming into full bloom. I love these as they are so pretty!

I replanted this plant stand last week, adding Dahlia and Hydrangea. I think it looks stunning and I’m really pleased with it.

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My plant stand by the back door.

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Dahlias

Lastly, here is a photo of my dear little Dottie dog taken with my new camera. I’m really pleased with it. Happy August everyone……in the next round-up there will be some changes to the Old House Garden. x

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Dottie dog

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#My Glorious Gardens: Painswick Rococo Gardens.

For our Anniversary this year we decided to take a trip to The Painswick Rococo Gardens in Gloucestershire. When we were first married we lived near Painswick in a cute little cottage called Squirrel Cottage so have lovely memories of this area but have never been to the gardens.

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Our wedding anniversary visit….

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The Painswick Rococo Gardens

The Painswick Rococo Gardens are the only Rococo gardens left that are open to the public. Built in the 1740’s, they were created for the Hyett family to impress and entertain guests. Gardens at that time were in transition from the formal to the more frivolous with the idea that the garden was somewhere to enjoy and hold lavish garden parties. The garden has seen a significant restoration programme since the 1970’s based upon a painting of the original garden from 1748.

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One of the fanciful garden building called The Eagle House which had to be totally restored.

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One of the gorgeous gothic buildings to explore.

The gardens have a wonderful feeling of tranquility and are such a fabulous place to wander. There was a wedding taking place whilst we were there but it was not busy for a Saturday. It’s a garden to wander around or to take children to as they had a great trail looking for wildlife. There was a brilliant woodland walk and playground which younger children would love. Well behaved dogs are also welcome so next time Dottie is coming!

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Duck pond with cute little white ducks.

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The large duck pond was full of colourful dragon flies.

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Part of the woodland playground

The kitchen garden was amazing and we loved the espalier fruit trees.

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Views up towards the white gothic arch.

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Espalier fruit trees.

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Views across the kitchen garden

There was a delightful Plunge Pool where the water was crystal clear and looked so inviting! It was surrounded by shade loving plants such as large ferns and hostas.

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Reflections in the Plunge Pool

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The grotto in the shady garden

The large, white gothic arch is the star of the whole garden in my opinion; a photographers dream! It stands at the top of the hill looking down the valley over the garden. It’s certainly dramatic and I loved it!

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The gothic, white Arch.

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Hubbie looking out across the garden. I love the reflections in the pool.

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What a place to spend an anniversary!

 The anniversary maze -how apt!

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The Anniversary Maze

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The rain was coming!

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Painswick Rococo Gardens.

I would definitely go back here again as the heavens opened and our visit was cut short. It’s supposed to be beautiful when all the snowdrops are out In February so I would love to come back then.
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#My Glorious Gardens: The Monastery of Saint Gerasimos, Kefalonia.

 

During our stay in Kefalonia, we would often leave the teens to sleep and go out, just me and Hubbie. One morning, we woke up really early so we decided to take a drive into the hills around where were staying to see the vine yards and also The Monastery of Saint Gerasimos. To get there you must pass a garden with 40 wells!

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The church was rebuilt after the earthquake in 1953

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We went early on a Sunday so there were very few people there.

Saint Gerasimos lived in the 1500’s and is considered the patron saint of Kefalonia. Many believe that he will protect them from harm and cure their illnesses. Hence, there are many men named Gerasimos after him. The body of Saint Gerasimos is at the monastery. Kefalonians throughout the world still revere and pray to him. In 1953, immediately after a powerful earthquake on the island of Kefalonia destroyed 90% of the island, there were many claimed sightings of Saint Gerasimos throughout the island who is believed to have comforted and tended to the injured trapped inside homes and buildings.

It is a fascinating place and we were lucky to be able to go inside the small church that has been built over the cave where he set up the original monastery and where his relics are kept.

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Inside where the relics of Saint Gerasimos are kept. Notice the beautiful frescos on the walls.

There is a hole in the chapel floor to the cave where Gerasimos lived.

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Even though we were visiting early, there were still a few people there. Ladies have to cover their arms, legs and heads.

 

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The entrance to the Monastery complex was stunning.

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Beautiful Flowers.

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The entrance.

The gardens were beautiful and lovingly tended by the nuns.

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This tree was planted by Gerasimos himself in the 1520’s (you can just see the 40 wells in the distance)

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During his feast day on August 16th, his coffin is moved under this tree.

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The nuns keep lots of pots.

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The nuns were watering their gardens whilst we were there.

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Lovely gardens in the Monastery complex

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More terracotta pots.

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The view towards the various vineyards in the area.

 

I have no idea what species of bee or wasp this is but it was jet black! Kefalonia is known for its Thyme tasting Honey which is delicious. We saw some hives on our travels too…

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Hives in the distance in the mountains.

This is a Hummingbird Hawk Moth. We weren’t sure what it was at first! I admit I had to Google it!

It’s a beautiful and serene place to visit if you ever go to Kefalonia. We absolutely loved it.

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