Thursday, 27 April 2017


Good Morning to you,

My goodness, we have been so busy working in the garden this week.

.... and we have had all kinds of weather thrown at us.  I think it would be fair to say, we've experienced all 4 seasons in just one day.

Sunday was a glorious day and when I spoke to Phyllis, on the phone, and told her I was wearing my summer clothes, she laughed and said she did not believe me. To be honest, I could hardly believe it myself. 

You might find it a little odd that Phyllis would laugh just because we were enjoying a sunny day, but there is a reason for this. 

Each Sunday, when I ring Phyllis, she will ask me what the weather is like here in Newcastle.  She knows, before I tell her, because she always checks the weather forecast the night before.... and trust me, it is always much colder here, than in the south of England. So Sunday was certainly not a normal day, because we had warmer weather than the south, which is why Phyllis thought I was pulling her leg.

.... and the reason she always asks about the weather is, she loves to tease George about the difference in the weather. She knows when she says its warm in the south, George will complain about how cold it is, up here in the north.  It's a little game they play. Then George will ask her to send some of the warmer weather up to us, to which she replies, no because he would not send water southwards.

I think I need to explain that last sentence.

A few years ago, because there had not been enough rainfall during the Autumn and Winter, the south of England endured quite a severe hose pipe ban. Somewhere or other, Phyllis had heard that plans were being made to transport water from the north of England to the south (I don't know if this was true). Anyway, she mentioned this to George and he teased her saying that the south had all the warmer weather and we had to endure the rain, so we were keeping our water and not sharing it with the south. To which Phyllis replied 'Well that isn't very charitable' and George answered 'Well you didn't send me any sunshine when I asked for it'. These conversations are very lighthearted .... Phyllis just loves to tease George and as you can tell it is reciprocal, because George teases Phyllis as well and do you know something, this has been on-going throughout our 46 years of marriage. As I said, this is all lighthearted, and they never tire of teasing each other.

.... but on this occasion, George did have the last laugh, because it was warmer here in Newcastle.  I feel sure he will constantly remind Phyllis of this one and only day when the north was warmer than the south.... the teasing on both sides will continue.

So after Sunday's conversation with Phyllis about the beautiful weather, Tuesday turned out to be a shocker of a day as the weather changed, the sun was still shining, but Arctic winds blew from the north and oh my word it was cold.  
We decided not to let a little thing like the cold wind obstruct us from working in the garden. I still had a few more plants which I wanted to divide, so we organised all our gardening equipment. We were ready to start work, when out of the blue, hail stones tumbled from the sky, and oh my, did they bounce off the ground. So we had to run indoors.... yes we left the tools in the garden, not good gardening practice I know, but we needed shelter.  We waited 10 minutes before the hail stones eased up, then back into the garden we went.  

I dug up and started dividing a large fern, which had outgrown the area where it had originally been planted. Have you ever tried to divide a large fern, my word it's hard going.  I had to ask for George's help, as I couldn't divide the fern myself.  I couldn't even push the fork halfway through the clump. We were making headway, we were half way through dividing the fern, when the rain arrived.  Just little droplets at first, but the kind of rain which we call 'wet rain'.  I know that sounds silly, as all rain is wet, but you know the fine rain, which you think you can stay out in longer than you actually can, but which soaks you, before you know it.  Well that happened to us. So back into the house we went for another half an hour.  We were not giving up, although this time we took all our tools back into the garage.... and we waited.

The rain passed and out came the sunshine.  The wind was still cold but the sun was beautiful.  So the gardening clogs were put back on our feet and armed with our tools, out into the garden we went once again.  We were not going to let a little thing like hail, wind and rain stop us.   We were making great headway. The fern had been divided into 4 plants and bedded into their new shady area.  They were watered in and seemed happy enough.

I then dug up some Hostas which again had outgrown their space and just when I started to divide them.... the snow arrived.  Yes snow at the end of April. By this time, I have to say, my nose was bright red because I was so cold. We could see from the sky, that the snow was going to be passing quite soon. So once again, we left our tools and went back into the house.... and I have to say, I was so grateful for the warmth.

By this time, you would have thought, we would have given up.... but no, we were on a mission, we wanted to finish our tasks. We waited, still clothed in our gardening clothes, but this time I made a cup of tea and we warmed ourselves up, before going back into the garden. 

We did complete all our tasks and thankfully, we were able to do this without anymore rain, hailstones or snow.  The ferns were divided and replanted, 6 Hostas were given new homes, Astilbe, which grows so well in my garden was divided and I have spare plants which I am going to share with my friends.... and although it wasn't the right time, I divided my white Dicentra (Bleeding Heart) because it had become a little overcrowded with the Alchemilla Mollis growing beneath it.

When we finally went indoors, we were so cold, our noses were red, our hands were cold, but we both felt a great sense of achievement. 

I checked the plants this morning and everything has settled in well, not one plant has wilted, which I am grateful for.  Even the Bleeding Heart has settled in well. So all in all a good days work.

So what am I doing today.

Well although my garden is coming along nicely, there is nothing to show you, as yet,

but earlier today when  George returned home from his daily swim, he surprised me with a lovely bunch of roses.... my favourite flower and my favourite colours.

So I thought I would share with you a couple of arrangements.  This is my favourite, because I love using rose bowls. This one was gifted to me by Sadie, my mother in law for one of my birthdays.  She knew I loved rose bowls and surprised me with this one.

but first,

this is how the bunch arrived, complete with  long stems. Sometimes I do nothing but trim the lower leaves from the base of the stem and pop them into a tall vase or container as I have done here. It is very informal, but lovely.

Whilst other times,

I prefer this smaller arrangement.  I love Gypsophilia with roses, there is something quite light and airy about this little plant.  Each year I plan to plant some in my garden, to use for indoor arrangements, but as yet, I  seem to have let this idea slip by.

Other times,

I will divide the roses into small rose bowls. This rose bowl was a gift from Phyllis.  She had been out and about in Southsea when she came across this little rose bowl and knew that I would love it.

The little bell, has a whole other story behind it, which I will tell you another time, otherwise you will be here forever.

.... but the one thing I always do,

when I receive a bunch of roses is, I immerse them in water straight away.  Then when I am ready to create my display, I choose a clean vase and half fill it with water. I then add liquid plant food to the water and swirl it around the vase. I decide on the length of the stem I want and I cut the stem at a 45 degree angle.  I then boil a kettle of water, pour 1 inch of hot water into an old cup, which I keep for this purpose , and immerse the bottom of the stem into the cup of water.  I count to 5 and remove the stem. I then place it in the vase or rose bowl, whichever I am using at the time.  

This may sound an odd thing to do, but many years ago, I attended a flower arranging course, and the instructor said, the reason a lot of roses droop when placed into a vase is because of air bubbles trapped inside the stems.  By immersing the stems into hot water this helps prevent air bubbles.... and do you know it works.  In all the years I have been flower arranging I have never had a droopy rose. 

Just in case you are wondering why the rose stem is cut at a 45 degree angle, it is to allow the stem to take in water more proficiently. If the rose stem was cut horizontally, the stem would sit in the base of the vase and this might prevent the rose from taking in water and again the rose would not  fully open. 

.... and as roses are my favourite flower, whether indoors or out in the garden, it would be a shame to loose the flower too soon.

Give this a go and tell me if it works for you. Or maybe you have hints and tips of your own that you would like to share. I would love to know.

Oh before I go, I just had a thought.  If you do not have a rose bowl, I have a little trick, which again I was taught years ago, which will help.... but not today, as I really must leave you and allow you to get on with your day. I promise I will show you next week.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

As Always,

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Dear Friends,

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Best wishes to you.


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