SUMMER GARDEN ~ COMING INTO ITS OWN

The lavender is really at its best right now, after the bit of heat the last few days, and one solid day of refreshing rain last Sunday.

I love growing feverfew, it is not only a great herb, it also looks beautiful in the garden among the lavender and the marigolds.

And still the comfrey flowers, and it is visited constantly by the bumblebees. I noticed three different types of bumble bee today, this one a beauty, very light colouring, very fluffy, and large. As far as I know it is a carder bee, Bombus muscorum. The other two, a tiny type, and a regular one with two yellow bands, probably Bombus lucorum.

Among all the wild and garden flowers this summer I am still also growing some vegetables, and many herbs too of course. The large garlic was a succes this time, and the garden peas are doing real well.

This is the tall mullein plant of which I am growing a few this summer. The leaves are medicinal, but I have not used them so far.

This is just a little update at the end of this month of June, midsummer has just passed and I love the very early bright mornings, awaking at 4 o’clock very often while the first light appears in the Eastern sky, and the birds are singing, wonderful! And while the countries of continental Europe are scorching hot, we had a mellow feel to the day this afternoon with summer scents wafting up from the damp but warm earth, such a delight.

Henry James knew about these happy feelings when he said ““Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Are you enjoying a wonderful summer in nature?

MEADOWS FULL OF FLOWERS

A very peaceful afternoon, the sun blazing down and smiling over mother nature and humankind, the birds singing, but otherwise stillness over the land. This was my walk yesterday. I decided that I would go see the meadows that surround the town of Victoria and see close up what is growing and flowering there. The views that greeted me were glorious to say the least, the colours a balm to the eyes, and not alone the dark and different shades of the green grass, but the way this brought out the bright yellow of the various flowers. My eyes had a feast. The warmth of the sun relaxed me and brought more than one smile to my face, oh the good that this does to the mind and the body! A few lizards were of the same thought as they were basking on the warm stones, but scuttled away before I came close.  It was lovely to see bees buzzing around, and little snails out in full strength.  The sun had encouraged nature to become alive again!

The air was pure, even so close to a major town. I could get the scent of the greenery, with a subtle whiff of flower perfume carried on the light breeze. I stood and enjoyed this for a long time. Spring is always nice, and meadows have always been my favourite, I used to watch a painting while still at school, it were a few children playing in a meadow filled with flowers. It gives a certain feeling of total peace. That peace is still with me and is heightened when I find myself among wild flowers and meadows. Our mum used to take us to a meadow when we were very small, I remember it though was only a toddler, she would sit with us among the flowers and we were allowed to pick some. Glorious days of the past, but yet with us always, renewed in the present day every springtime again and again.
Nature has so much to gift us, feelings of bliss and renewed strength at the end of winter.
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A Maltese bee getting nectar from the Cape Sorrel.

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Some of the wild flowers found in the meadow and along the road side too.

Below are some of the wild herbs I found yesterday, there is the Goose grass which in Ireland grows plentiful and which I use in soups, there is the Fumitory which is supposed to be a ‘liver’ herb, the Fennel of which there grows a lot around here, Borage which can be used in all sorts of ways, and the Nettle which is a real health giving herb and I use a lot of it in soups etc.  It is nice to see all the wild herbs growing very healthy.

COLOURFUL PERIPHERY OF VICTORIA

A walk to the outskirts of this historical town treats me to wonderful views of the surrounding villages and countryside, places like Sannat, Xewkija and Xaghra can be seen easily, and in between the villages there is a wealth of greenery and meadows full of yellow flowers. It was a cold day, a slight breeze made me put on my hat, but for walking it was excellent weather. I had been to the library, where the librarians were freezing, obviously because their job demands deskwork, it is a fairly small library here but the librarians are very helpful and friendly. The book stock, although some of it is old enough, is very interesting to me for my chosen subject while we are here. So after that visit I decided to head off on the nearest street and see where it would bring me. Interestingly it turned out to be a different area from most of what I have seen of Victoria because up to now I have just hung out in the oldest part of town, here it is very residential. The whole town of Victoria is very residential, a pleasant town to live in I can say from experience, very friendly, always something happening and buzzing with people, yet quiet and peaceful, you feel safe here. It is historic, and beautiful in its limestone buildings.  Here a few photos of today’s walk.
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Looking towards Xewkija, I could easily have walked there if I wanted to, so close to here.

 

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SHADES OF AUTUMN

The colours of the autumn season, in all their different browns have all got beautiful and inspiring names I think, as inspiring as their shades  differ in hues and in the energy they emanate. I guess we associate browns very much with the mellow and misty autumn season, the shades of amber, ochre, sepia, chestnut, burnt sienna, russet, bronze, copper, and tawny to name only a few can usually be found in a variety of autumn leaves, a beautiful pallet.  Many painters have used browns to good advantage, among them Caravaggio of whom I recently admired two original works in the cathedral in Valetta. He very effectively used browns to create his wonderful shadows.  Anton Van Dyke used browns also, he used a brown called Cassel Earth, it was made up mainly of decayed vegetable matter. Iron oxide though is the most common ingredient in brown pigments, but also manganese oxide.

I read a fascinating book last year about colours, about the origins, their historical uses and much more. The book is called “Colours: Travels through the paintbox” and is written by Finli Viktoriya. It sure takes one travelling, and also back into history, a great read.
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DELICATE FLOWERS OF MALTA

Today I will just post some of the flowers that I have come across so far, and I’m in a village, I have not been out in the country yet, so I know there is much more to explore when it comes to Malta’s flora yet. I have taken these photo mainly while walking around the village, some in the wild, some in the front gardens of the people, all are equally beautiful and interesting. I hope you enjoy as much as I do.  Names I do not know but some of the flowers I recognise from India, Greece, or Mauritius.  Thanks to my friend, Mary, she identified the delicate blue flower as Plumbago – a native of South Africa.
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Sicilian Marigold – Calendula Sicula

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Blossom of the lemon tree
Blossom of the lemon tree

THE BEAUTY OF MALTA

Soaking up the sun while staying in this fishing village in the South of Malta. Lots to see and lots to write about, but all my energy has gone into actually enjoying things that come our way; so far it’s been on the sea, the warmth of the sun, the local people, the seafoods and the amazing, most beautiful limestone buildings. All I can share right now are photos. In a minute I am off to document a procession here at the local church, something truly local and belonging to the people of Malta, that I want to witness. But I will be back with more stuff.

And some more photos.

PART TWO OF A WINTER GARDEN IN CAMBRIDGESHIRE

So we had just walked through the arch and entered that part of the garden where nature does more or less its own thing, though on the right there is a productive kitchen garden, which put my own to shame when it comes to neatness. And on the left we walked across grass overshadowed by a variety of lovely trees, mostly native to the Uk, and some already fully in blossom.  This is the wilder part of the garden, it is a very important area, thinking of the many bees, bumblebees and other insects which are near extinction, or have decreased in number in recent years, it is good to have an area where they can be undisturbed and feed to their hearts delight. Here is more shadow because of the trees, it is also the quieter part of the garden, where one could sit and read, or just watch nature’s magic happen.

 

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Then in the yet another part of the garden a lot of clearing had been done just recently, overgrowth of roses from a neighboring garden had been removed. In a garden this size there is always some work to do, and this is reflected in the beauty and the variety of the plants.

Here the borders, even though it was so early in the year show a lot of different colors and textures, as reflected in my next collage.  A variety of different Hellebores is to be seen nearer the house.

 

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Ferns, and also Euphorbias make a lovely display.

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The colorful leaves of the Epimedium versicolor are a great ground cover.

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A succulent creeping among the black foliage, the black thin leaves conjure up images of being at the beach looking at some type of seaweed.

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I see boxes for a variety of birds which I am sure they are happy to use, and the white bell-like flowers add a lovely touch, all these early flowers are so important for insects, it is where they get the first nectar of the season which will help them recover after the lean winter months.  All of this has been thought of and planned for.

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 Winter scenting Sarcococca confusa sweet box

Sarcococca confusa or Sweet BoxThis is one more subject that I would like to highlight, it is called Sarcococca confusa or Sweet Box, its scent will delight anyone and perfume a whole area, and its black berries are very attractive too. I am glad that I got to learn about this plant, as one of my future plans is to bring more scent into my own garden.

I’ve really enjoyed my visit to this garden, there is more one could say about what grows there, I have not even touched on the herbs which grow close to the house. Of course as my visit was in winter, I am sure that there is a lot more to see in summer. I am already looking forward to my next visit. I get ideas from visiting other people’s gardens, some of which I will try and use in my own garden. I’m certainly very interested in creating colour for my garden in the winter, it would cheer us all up during those dull and misty days.

My thanks go to Ruth and Colin for their kind permission to use their garden in my blog writing.