It will be worked on in the studio to give a before and after. Easier to say this as No1 son has gone to see his grandparents for a few days, No2 is quietly teaching himself some computer code and someone else is cooking supper! Its turning out a better day than I thought.
I have harvested the pears from the early tree and have started to pick both the Katy apples and the Owen Thomas. There is a Worcesterish flavour apple at the community orchard ripe too.
Butterflies seem to be especially abundant this year and I have seen a Brimstone recently which is unusual, even rarer is the Fritillary has been flying strongly in the garden, we have dozens of Gatekeepers or are they Meadow browns? and a few Speckled Wood. A while back we were seeing Red Admirals and before that in June some tortoiseshells. Of course when I say abundant I do not mean in the sorts of numbers there were in London when I was a kid but relative to what I have seen here in Sussex in recent years. The most popular flower in the garden at the moment is the oregano which is covered in a busy haze of bees and bee imposters as well as the little brown and orange butterflies. An enormous Southern Hawker dragonfly was sitting on the spirea too one day.
The hot border was at an NGS garden called the Hundred House near Framfield in Sussex. I am currently planning a day trip to Great Dixter to keep DIY dad away from his multiple projects for a day. The garden here has had a big change imposed on it- the tatty summer house has been taken down and a new roof is to be made for it…..and a proper base. Anyone thinking of spending good money on a shed should pay attention here , the base is as important as the shed itself and needs to keep the shed itself up and out of the mud which will lead to rot as night follows day. Any earth which is nearby at a higher level will slump towards your shed, any tree which has leaves to drop nearby will pile its leaves on the damp earth and wick moisture up to the thin wooden walls. Animals will move in underneath if they can and make a den or nest, solitary bees will find crevices in the walls or doors to make nests. All this has to be considered when placing a shed. Then there is the maintenance…..the roof, it follows, must always keep out the rain. Our best shed/summer house is in amazing if not perfect condition …it appears in a photo of my former neighbours taken in about 1960. It must be made from red cedar as I do not believe any other wood could last so long.
I will say first that there is something very irritating about these …..too stiff or something, too scratchy?
Size 6″ x 6″ These have been admired so I have posted them for sale on Etsy my shop is Lemonaday of course.
The peppers came from a market in Shoreham, I bought them from the grower and they were the prettiest thing to be had. This picture (above) is quite recent the next one is a pen and ink with wash of some fresh chillies selected from the box, it actually should come shortly after a similar sort of sketch done last autumn (#211, October 2013).
6″ x 6″ approx
This one is recent; rambutans- I bought them on a whim because they looked so bonkers.They are the weirdest of weird tropical fruit as well as coming up on “Pointless” as quite a good answer. The only exotic fruit that beat them was akee which you pretty much have to be Caribbean to know. Akee also looks and tastes a little like scrambled egg when it is cooked which is why it is served with salt cod, not entirely fruity really.
For those as yet unhooked by Pointless, it is a BBC quiz where you have to try and get the answers that are least known in the general population. That’s why I love it when food and plants come up because I know those subjects. If, as is normal, there is a question on cricket, football or F1 I am stumped. I get a lot of pleasure from wondering who would be the ideal partner for this quiz, someone whose knowledge filled in the gaps in mine.
Going back to the rambutans they tasted a little like muscat grapes or a cross between that and lychee.
size 15cm x 30cm, 6″ x 12″ approx.
There was to be a mornings painting of fruit with lovely aunt but she, not being able to concentrate as well as before, ate the still life!!
size 12in x 6in, 30cm x 15cm approx. copyright alison warner
This is a stick of rhubarb, it looks a lot like a strange tree with a pink trunk.
It was delicious and pretty to eat, forcing seemed to bring out the redness. It is hard to classify rhubarb, it is treated as a fruit in the kitchen, but is a stem so it is really a vegetable; not only that, it is a vegetable with poisonous leaves which have to be removed before cooking. I wonder what would happen if you sliced it into thin pieces and stir fried it with other vegetables….in a savoury dish would it be tasty or inedible?
Hm ( I just googled for recipes) there are savoury recipes out there for rhubarb but mostly it looks like they are using it to replace orange or apple or plum as a combination to offset the fattiness of mackerell,duck or pork. Wikipedia also points out that it was not used as fruit until sugar became cheap enough to cook with on an everyday basis. In the middle ages it was exported along the silk road and very valuable as a medicine ( they must have set great store by its laxative properties apparently- it was more valuable than opium or cinnamon).
size 8in x 6in 20cm x 15cm
Wonders will never cease to flow across the barren landscape of my existence…lovely aunt has a good report from the doctor, DIY dad has done a tip run, the town councillors don’t like the sound of new neighbours monster house development, and the thin practice nurse’s dire predictions for me turn out to be unfounded as yet, in other words I am not particually unhealthy just rather tubby.
size 6″ x 6″ 15cm x 15cm approx
There, I finally did another painting, I started it yesterday evening and luckily got straight back onto it after breakfast this morning which would not usually be possible. The rest of the day has been swallowed up in other peoples trips and visits and unexpected double bookings. Then just as I was actually doing something useful getting stuck into a bramble root, the new neighbours walked through to the back of the house and stood there calling me over as though we actually knew each other. I say the new neighbours, they could be the developers who wish to double the next door house in size taking masses of our sunlight. There was rather a lot of emphasis on their neighbourly status which has made me wonder why they feel the need to stress it. They have not moved in and tell me they will not do so until after the summer……he presented a card and tells me he is a builder. As most of the builders I have met since we moved here have lied to me in an accomplished and persistant way I am feeling very nervous indeed.
Spots on a spherical object are a challenge. I feel they are too prominant in this picture but the idea was to get both the spots and the bloom, which dark plums so often have, on the page. Its a bit technicolour, I am having a really bad run of not liking my paintings. I did one in oils and, while I enjoyed the smell, I was outraged by the result- too horrific for the blog.
I do think this is a painting which is flattered by the scan and the screen. Honestly it is worse in real life.
The garden is on a roll, the Daphne bhuloa is nearly finished, the D. odora is opening, the small daffodils are all out and some big ones too. There are hyacinth, the honey smelling Osmanthus blooms , and even the first forget-me-not. The little camellia which I bought is still tiny but this year it is covered in blooms…single small white blooms with a whiff of pink. There are flower buds on a tree paeony which has never managed a flower yet, I can live in hope on some fronts. Dogstooth violet and foxtail lilies are poking through the ground so its possible they will reflower and flower respectively and establish themselves in the shady part of the garden.
The corner of the garden planted up two years ago( I think )is now a tangled mass of self sown Verbena bonariensis, Geum and bronze fennel; but look inbetween and underneath…. there are brambles germinating, twitch grass lacing and ivy creeping. There are also masses of Hypericum seedlings which I pull out on sight but am losing the battle with at the moment.
Talking of lacy effects I was passing a municipal bed on a slightly misty but bright day and there was a bed with wonderful spires of creamy lace erupting everywhere…winter ornamental cabbage going to seed – it looks fantastic.
This is a tiny picture the leaf is painted at about lifesize.
Summer holidays: life one long round of slogging round Sainsburys and prising children off their electronic boxes. There are nice flowers in the garden but for some reason I am painting the leaves that fall from the little pear tree.
Only two more episodes of the Hour left to run….I could cry. If Hector is to be believed then my dad must have been in MI6 as I swear his raincoat, or gaberdine as he might have called it, looked just like the one worn by the ill-fated Mr Kish. He always seem to wear it with a trilby which is still a good look in my book, but then he was always hopelessly out of date only giving up wearing trourers with turn-ups when Oxford bags came in in the seventies…ie when they revived a look he had finally had enough of it and submitted to modernity…well almost… he wasn’t going to update the shoes or vests you understand.
These are the best blueberries I have ever grown. The secret is to keep the perishing birds off without netting the birds and perishing them.
this painting can be bought from ( apologies for photo on ETSY page there is a glitch):
Beetroot in a bunch
22cm x 15cm, 9″ x 6″
There is very little time in the day when there are so many plants to water and crops to pick, I do not try and grow beetroot as I am the only person besides lovely aunt who really likes it, so these are bought and no less pretty for it.
The allotment has peas and beans in astonishing variety at the moment, diy dad has dug out his early carrots and the maincrop carrots are coming up. I have a forest of flat leaved parsley in the salad bed and the first tomatoes are ripening. The first autumn cyclamen is out as well….excuse me but the proms are only just begun, cyclamen???
Day One hundred and seventy two
Click here to bid size 8 in x 6 in, 20cm x 15cm
Written last night :
There’s nothing like being rung up and told that your child was due in school after a bleary breakfast when you dragged yourself out of bed only to be convinced half way through ( too late to enjoy going back to bed of course) that it was actually an inset day. We were sceptical and checked the school website…it was an inset day….I retrieved dinner money and set a revision paper….but the noble souls who teach my son were working through their inset day ( as well as doing the training presumably), in order to sort out the knotty bits that need to be fixed before the exams, they phoned to complain after the event. Damn, blast and double blast. All revision that occurs outside home and doesn’t involve major complaint sessions within earshot is worth real money in my book and today the money just rolled down the drain. I was humiliated and bound to apologise abjectly , as I lowered the receiver I turned to the snivelling brat responsible…….
Last night and the night before we had a barbeque…as it was glorious again today a hat-trick was suggested…it’s that dreaded call, ” I’m on the TRAIN and I think we should have a BARBEQUE!”. I’d run out of ideas and cholesterol capacity so got trout from the supermarket and put them in a fish gadget which holds them together. They looked very enticing with the skins scorched and curled, bread, lemons and salad were all that were needed. The day time temperature on a north facing wall has been up to and above twenty -three days running so it has been warm enough to sit out until dusk.
Last night I saw a pair of bats chasing each other, today I saw an orange tip butterfly the first in a few years. I am trying really hard to catch up on weeding and planting…I made some grim rotting corpse type discoveries in the shed, improper storage/extreme cold has cost me a very fine dahlia and some so so ones and a Colocasia .I will leave the final excavation until I am feeling braver.
There are quite a few losses in the garden from this time last year, the raspberry scented Salvia is all gone, the Dryas colony has died ( calls itself an alpine too), a pretty delicate Hebe is toast or rather kindling and a delicate south African Rhodoxis? has turned to dust ( I am almost sure). I’ve lost all the Siberian wallflowers including a good looking cutting. I also lost most of the seedling Hellebores from last year but that was drought last summer not the cold. More hedge is succumbing to the honey fungus and so are the potentillas…however they are producing insane numbers of seedlings. I can’t believe it when they were so hard to grow from seed originally.
Lovely aunt is enjoying the good weather and the barbeques at which she claims to be an almost complete novice…I can’t believe she has missed everyone of the barbies we have transported to my mothers house in the past and cooked for the extended family; she was always at weekend gatherings there until my cousins whisked her off in a hurry to the cleaner air in Hampshire. Her description of this to the G.P. had the G.P. ‘s eyes doing that “ you are kidding me “ thing at me. I ended up muttering “don’t go there” as it is all very distressing for her still. I can’t tell their side of the story as they refuse to discuss it.
I have tucked some sprigs of rosemary and Siberian Wallflower (taken from mothers magnificent plant…how come…oh never mind) into the cuttings pot to try and get some new plants. The seedlings of Tiarella which I put out in the shady area last year are looking fantastic, fresh green plants which are starting to merge into effective ground cover (effective free groundcover). The apples are starting to come into flower Owen Thomas two days ago and Katy today.
Onwards to the next barbeque day….
#172 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog