Showing posts from April, 2015

Leiden and gardening gloves

So how was Leiden?  Beautiful, a mini Amsterdam with canals and bridges and bikes. It is a university town with something of the same feel as Cambridge, but with canals! The place we stayed in was a real find, an apartment on the Nieuwe Rijn.  Ours was not the one pictured on this website but had two bedrooms, a fabulous bathroom and a small sitting area within the larger bedroom overlooking the canal.  Everything was spotless and comfortable, the bathroom was to die for and our host, Leon, made us wonderful breakfasts in the spacious kitchen overlooking a terrace.  Brilliantly situated, beautifully furnished and cared for and really nice people.  If you can get to Leiden I would really recommend it. We rented bikes from our hosts and, having not ridden a bike for about twenty five years, I tested the cliche that you never forget and found it to be true. The Keukenhof gardens were amazing,  not a garden in the ordinary sense of the word, although there we

Tulip fever

I am feeling excited, very excited.  I love tulips and have grown them in pots and in the ground here every year since we came over nine years ago.  On a cold grey February morning I was having a cup of tea with a friend and we got to talking about the bulb fields in the Netherlands and the gardens at Keukenhof .  My friend used to live in Leiden, right on the doorstep of all of this.  I confessed I had always wanted to go.  "Well we should, of course we should.  We should go this spring.  Let's look at flights.." and in half an hour we were booked with flights and accommodation.  Ian was happy to hold the fort here and with my dad.  For weeks it felt a bit pretend.  But it is here, now, today.  This afternoon we fly to Amsterdam. Will it really look like this? Or this? Or this? These images are all from  but I will come back with some of my own. This is exactly the sort of visiting I love.  My friend knows Leiden well and still has friends

Revamping the cutting garden

I have always wanted a cutting garden.  I love flowers in the house but when I had small gardens I could never bring myself to cut the things which were making an impact in the garden in order to bring them inside.  Here, with lots of room and a blank canvas, I decided to make a garden specifically for cutting.  It would be full of sweetpeas, cosmos, foliage plants and dahlias with daffodils and tulips in the spring. There were successes.  The dahlias were fabulous but only if I lifted them in the autumn and started them again in the greenhouse the following spring.  For the last two years I have tried to leave them in the ground but I am reluctantly concluding that on a high site in North Wales we do not have a long enough growing season for dahlias to get going without the boost they receive from being started off under glass.  Left in the ground they are only just beginning to flower strongly when they are cut down by the first frosts. Sweetpeas have always been a great su


The gorse is in flower, its warm cocunut sweet scent blows up from the valley as I walk down to the river. The wood anemones are opening everywhere under the still bare trees.  I love these. I love their delicacy, the way they shiver in the slightest breeze, the way they turn their open faces to the sun.  Soon the leaves will be on the trees and the track down to the river will become a cool green tunnel.  I know I will like that when it comes but just now the track is clean and clear, full of sunshine and with open views into the fields. My son and daughter in law's dog runs ahead but always pausing and checking where I am when the gap between us gets too wide. Down by the river in the damper ground the strappy leaves of the wild garlic are pushing up.  There are no flowers yet so the smell of garlic is only released when I crush the leaves between my fingers.  I must remember to come down again very soon and do some foraging. There are all sorts of things