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Archive for May, 2010

Iris –a painting a day

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment

 

http://www.etsy.com/shop/lemonaday.   size 4.5 in x 7.5 in 11cm x 18cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Well apart from the fact that my blog provider appears to have forgotten who I am… or a child has done something to the computer that means that I am not cookie friendly with the blog provider anymore it’s been a very mixed day with some good parts.

The shed is in the main intact and resurrected in a new position behind the garage. This is a good thing for the garden for the shed, being very cheap for the size, is not a thing of beauty. The only sheds that are things of beauty seem to be either very old and about to fall down, or very very expensive.

The forget-me-nots are all going over and need pulling I have started on this job and can see that once I have done the forget-me-nots I will be going back for the Geranium pyrenaicum which is getting too frequent in a number of beds. I tackle the forget-me-nots on a need to cull basis…the tattiest ones go first  and then I will clear a patch where something else needs planting, By the next day another lot will need taking out.

Alison

#64 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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One early peach – a painting a day

May 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Sold.   size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

This was another day of shed mania, the shed needed putting back up and because it was taken down in lumps rather than all its components it needed carrying across flower beds and under the apple tree in ungainly, liable to break, bits. It needed all four of us and not all of us enjoyed the experience so attentions wandered and bits started wobbling off in the wrong direction.

It has been so busy I did not even attempt a Sunday joint.

Anyway the painting is a very wet picture of one of the little peaches, by tomorrow they will all be gone, the smell is just too tempting. In fact its still wet and may well have altered as it dries by tomorrow!!I actually did two painting but the one of the chive flowers went pear shaped so here instead is a photo.

I went to the allotment briefly today and discovered that there was good news and bad news: the first strawberry had ripened but a slug had eaten right through it in the night. I really hate slugs with a slow evil abiding passion.

On the topic of slugs and snails, it was damp last night so they were out in force (crunch crunch), however on the allotment it was as though the rain had never been, the surface was dry and cracked. The rain gauge showed only 0.2 inches of rain, not enough to make the water butt overflow. I want more, a lot more

Alison

#63 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Three early peaches –a painting a day

May 29, 2010 Leave a comment

 

http://www.etsy.com/shop/lemonaday.   size 4.5 in x 7.5 in 11cm x 18cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

It has actually rained I forgot to check how much rain but it looked like a good bit over several hours. Dock seedlings now lift out of the wet soil with just a tug.

I was being a complete degenerate and was slumped over the kitchen table doing the Suduko before I had read the news…..then a tall Swede turned up on the doorstep with a large bamboo in a pot. He says it is very invasive but what it is is now unknown. We will put it behind the rhizome barrier and let it romp with the golden bamboo and the Geneva( unknown species) bamboo and the Clerodendron bungii which I bought from Fergus Garrett when he visited the Horticultural Society to give a talk about Great Dixter. It even stopped raining long enough to go round the garden with a cup of coffee with him. Lovely unexpected visit and present, husband was very keen to show off his rhizome barrier and associated bee colony.

Incidentally none of the bamboo seed bought from Germany germinated despite a heated propagator and plenty of humidity. This means that we will need to find some other things to fill the back of the rhizome barrier area. We do still have a voucher for Architectural Plants so perhaps a trip over there is the way to go. It’s one of my favourite nurseries as they grow the plants and know what will work…for instance when I asked for a Strawberry tree(Arbutus) they said” Where do you live?” When I told them they replied “It will die in your clay! Let’s find something that will survive.” We bought a large specimen of Osmanthus yunnanensis instead, which is making a neat lollypop shaped tree at the far end of the side garden. Eventually it will give a little evergreen screening from the houses on the main road. This tree was probably the single biggest investment in the garden apart from fences and hedges but it has a quiet classic charm all of its own and scented flowers in February. 

There are three little peaches in today’s painting, just a simple still life.

Alison

#62 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Rhododendron purple –a painting a day

May 28, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.etsy.com/shop/lemonaday.  size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

This is probably yet another self sown weed rhododendron plant, there seem to be quite a few which are rearing up into proper plants now the thick pall of Leylandii Cypress have been removed. Did I say we have removed about 60 of the suburbia eating monsters? It has taken four years but we have done it bit by bit and after seeing how high the pile of loped branches could go (fifteen foot by ten foot by seven foot high) we have tried to deal with each small group of trees fully before cutting down more. We have shredded and burnt almost everything. The wood makes adequate fuel if it is well dried. The mulch from the shredded pile mixed with the wood ash from the fire will help the flower beds. The change in terms of light levels and a sense of space and freedom has been incredible. It also seems incredible that that many extra trees were squeezed into the garden. They were planted so close that some were standing dead and could be pushed over by hand onto the neighbouring tree.

The thing about rhododendrons is, you either love them or you hate them. I was entranced by them as a child; they have such a definite bold presence. The colours are straight out of a paint box too; well you think they are until you try and paint them. I am not so fond of them now, but I prefer the slightly scrawny flowers of these purple ones to the blobby Barbie pink ones that were clearly prize purchases of the previous gardener here.

I deliberately painted this fast as I did not want to get bogged down with the spotty detail and the pretty stamens. It would need a carefully planned slow painting to get those right, they need to be kept in their place if they are to be shown exactly otherwise all you see is the detail-losing the overall shape and shading.

Of course some of the rhododendrons will have to go the same way as the Leylandii as they too can overpower a garden pretty fast.

There is other news; the robin learnt from his last mistake and built his new nest six feet off the ground in a conifer…but a young squirrel found it and sent all the songbirds into full alarm. The eggs had not even hatched this time, one day he will find the RSPB spec. bird box (robin design) and actually use it.

Alison

#61 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Rugosa rose, open for business –a painting a day

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.etsy.com/shop/lemonaday.   size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

My MP’s secretary e-mailed back wanting to know where I lived….will the Big Man be sending round the boys?

Perhaps she thought I was writing to the wrong MP, she can hope.

It occurred to me today in mid-rant that if our new ministers were in a new job (aka normal employment) they’d be on probation for the next six months and it would be a foolish employer who let them loose on Big Ideas which could go horribly wrong; horribly wrong Big Time. It’s not as if they were all headhunted for their specialist skills is it? So there’s no reason for them to get Big Headed and think they can run before they’ve learnt to toddle….there’s a theme here, I’m trying to remember what inspired it.

Thank goodness for that little bit of rain, it has meant that instead of watering I have moved a number of plants into their permanent position. I am doing this on the basis that the weather forecasters are right and we will get further rain on Saturday to keep them alive. In the shady area two of my Tiarella seedlings are in flower they are lime green not white but that’s fine. In one corner I found that the Epimedium had just sprung up from nowhere…I was sure I had lost it. I am now on the hunt for a golden hop to plant where the sun will shine through the leaves.

In the mean time we continue to consider the risks of ionising radiation on the Marshall Islands and the relative merits of sand and crushed coral when trying to persuade the disposed to move back to their radioactive tropical paradise …GCSE Science is so complicated.

I decided to have another crack at this opening rose its just possible to see the stamens in the centre, I love that ,it reminds one of the form of wild roses while being infinitely more luxurious.The variety is Roserie de l’Hay. I love all those rambler roses bred in the 1920’s they are often semi-double..e.g. Cornelia and Penelope. I am very fond too of Buff Beauty but I have not been able to buy or establish a really strong growing specimen. I tried in two gardens to make an apricot and lavender blue bed using this rose but only partially succeeded.

Alison

 #60 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Rugosa rose –a painting a day

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Sold   size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Yesterday I forgot to mention that I got really close to a strange fat dragonfly in the garden, I wanted to know what it was and discovered a really good dragonfly site which made it possible to work out that I had seen a Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) female the site is:

www.dragonflysoc.org.uk/index.html   they have a really easy way to report sightings, you can say whether you are sure about the ID or not.

Today I had a go with the electric strimmer and tidied up yet more edges and rough bits. Just cutting down rank weed growth doesn’t cure the problem but it does make it look a whole lot more doable and neater in the meantime.

I also wrote to my MP and asked him to find out why Michael Gove is in such a tearing hurry to get as many schools as possible to convert to academies by this autumn. Does he know how this will work? He’s had recent similar experience? If you rush things they do not work well …and when it’s my children’s education being dismantled I worry. If the schools rush to become acadamies then the local authority will lose funding and all the central shared services will be cut out or at least I imagine that will be the effect.

Things are moving on very fast, next doors peonies are out and mine have fat buds, the first large clematis has opened and the climbing roses although behind their normal slot are opening. The rose hedge has about thirty flowers fully opened out. They smell delicious. The other rose with a fabulous but different smell is Etoile d’Hollande which normally opens earlier in the month for my brothers birthday ( we used to call it his birthday rose when we were children) it has three flowers open and more to come.

Alison

#59 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Three spears of Asparagus -a painting a day

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment

    size 6 inx8in15 cmx23cm, watercolour on heavyweight rag paper

  The asparagus is doing rather better, a bit of watering helps and the general dryness hasn’t done much for the slug population.

 There are lovely rosy purple tones in the green asparagus and later on I may look at the purple which is very handsome too.I placed it on a muted green Wedgwood plate from the 1960′s which belonged to my Uncle Bob.

 Painting the stem it becomes a bit like a harlequins costume alternate triangles of green and purple striped with shadow.

 I also made a pretty salad using new potatoes, asparagus, chive flowers and egg, I used a dressing I make with goats yoghurt, French mustard ,olive oil and lemon juice. Here is a photo:

Today I discovered that the appointment which was made two weeks ago has been cancelled and the paperwork sent on to a different department,” with the porters”, it should get there by the close of business two days later. I know the appointment was sent to them on the internet so why can they not transfer it internally by computer? I also discovered that arrangements I made sure were put in place to help No.1 son get through his GCSE’s better were lost at the last stage. The exam organiser knew that what she had asked for had been organised but the person invigilating was not told. Systems engender despair when they work so badly.Yesterday was blogless but I did take some photo’s of the clematis Montana and the clematis Early Sensation:

  

Alison

#58 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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We eat a lot of Garlic – a painting a day

May 23, 2010 Leave a comment

SOLD.   size 4 in x 5in 10cm x 12.5cm 

There was no blog yesterday for which I apologise to the person who reads it every day. 

Yesterday, I made an afternoon meze which we ate with the neighbours in the garden. I really got into it and made two things that I had never done before. 

There were two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc which disappeared somewhere in the process. The weather was just perfect sauvignon blanc weather warm but still fresh and lime green. The lime green comes from the oak trees whose leaves are almost but not quite fully formed. 

I made a beetroot with garlic and olive oil dressing, a talatouri or tzattziki, clefthedes, halloumi griddled, a village salad, olives with coriander and kalamata olives. 

Celeriac and carrot with salt and lemon. Toasted pumpkin seeds that I have not made with unshelled seeds from a pumpkin before( they went off like popcorn),and something really different kolopitta the pumpkin pasties that I used to buy from the snack shop across the road from the office where I worked in Nicosia. 

For these you need a firm sweet and quite dry orange pumpkin or squash….in the Eastern Mediterranean they use a variety that looks like a giant extended butternut, it keeps all winter. 

The recipe is a fusion between what I remember and a book recipe which is for ridiculous quantities. 

Halve or quarter the recipe: 

1kg diced pumpkin flesh (dice about 1cm) 

1cup of Chilean flame raisins or something similar, you are looking for dark aromatic raisins as big as possible, lexia raisins would be too sweet.. 

4tablespoons coarse bulgur wheat 

3tablespoons sugar 

1teaspoon cinnamon 

1teaspoon dried mint 

1teaspoon dried oregano 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil. 

Prepare this mixture 24 hours in advance, mix and allow to stand covered. 

Make a shortcrust pastry or buy it ready made. 

The book recipe calls for a pastry made with 6cups of hard flour (i.e. bread flour), 6 tablespoons of corn oil, half a teaspoon of salt and one and a half cups of cold water. 

You then make Cornish pasty shapes with the mixture and the pastry and bake for 20-25 minutes in a hot oven. 

I was really pleased with the result but regret having made them too small I think they work better done Cornish pasty size as a substantial snack or vegetarian lunch, vegan even. 

The other whizz thing I cooked two nights back was a chicken risotto with some ham and celery but at the last minute I added a big handful of chive buds. They are great to harvest as I used my fingers as a comb and pulled them out of the clump that way….cooked they looked a bit like stewed tadpoles but had a wonderful delicate flavour, as no doubt would stewed tadpoles. 

Oh yes and huge celebration, I finally have an apricot Bearded Iris. More than five years ago I was invited by a guide to pick up the left over scraps of a national Iris collection that had to be rescued from the rampant rabbits in Withdean Park Brighton, I took away two carrier bags full and have been trying to coax them into life first in a garden that was too shady and now here in the heavy clay…its been uphill. 

Alison 

#57 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Black Coombe – a painting a day

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.etsy.com/shop/lemonaday.   size 7 inx4.5in17 cmx12cm, pen and watercolour 

And now for something completely different: this is a picture of Black Coombe in the Southern Lake district the bit the tourist board decided  to rechristen the Lake District Peninsulas. My sister lives in the area lucky thing and this is the view from Sandside which is one of the hamlets that form Kirkby in Furness. It’s a village on the Viking model apparently…hamlets separated by farmland in small fields.

I did this from an old sketch of mine, slightly bigger than a postcard. Black Coombe is not all that high Just under 2000 feet or 600m, but it stands or rather broods alone and can be seen from miles away. The furthest I have seen it from is the top of Blackpool Tower on a day when you could see the Isle of Man.

Just got called away and accused of hoarding illicit substances, he is tidying up in that, I will only do this once (per decade,) sort of way.

 “Whats this?”

“Its spadja”

 “Whats that?”,

”its a herb”,

 “Is it dope?”

 “No! Its spadja”,

 “Talk English”,

 “Its wild mountain sage for winter colds”

” Where did you get it ?”

 “On a mountain in Greece…or Turkey”

 “Shall I throw it away?”

 “NO”

“Well it looks like there’s acorns in there too”

“Just put it back in the cupboard could you?”

I think the acorns mean it came from Turkey, I don’t use it often but it is really good with honey for a bad cold, I just haven’t had many bad colds lately so the spadja is lasting a long time. Its name isn’t the proper Greek for it either it’s what they call it in the Cypriot dialect.

Alison

 #56 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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The first rose bud begins to open – a painting a day

May 20, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.etsy.com/shop/lemonaday.  size 6″x6″, 15cm x15cm, watercolour on heavyweight rag paper

There is something sweet and wild about this rose bud. It is as if it has unruly but beautiful hair. We bought these rosebushes very cheaply about two or three pounds each from a hedging supplier. Although they do not repeat flower in the late summer they are great value as you get thorns to repel school children who want to sit on the wall and smoke, you get scented flowers, rose hips in scarlet and a beautiful yellow autumn colour on the leaves.

I am very short of time again today.

 Alison

 #55 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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