sábado, 16 de mayo de 2015

Bloom Day - May, 2015

On the 15th of each month, garden bloggers from around the world post photos of what's blooming in their gardens.  I'm a day late this month, but the garden is starting its explosion of roses.  Unfortunately, we've had 4 days of 95-100ºF temps.  The blooms are opening and falling fast, and I'm enjoying the first flush while it lasts (which won't be long).

The entry garden is abloom with roses, sage and thyme.
Parthenocissus tricuspidata covers the top of the wall. 

The Shepherdess and Salvia officinalis 

Abraham Darby and thyme

William Shakespeare, my favorite red (ish) rose

The side walkway looking towards the front garden
Clematis vitalba on the left, Lady Banks and Teasing Georgia on the right.

Another view of the front garden

Not everything is photo-worthy.  The front garden still has lots of holes to fill... for next fall.

I'm linking with Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

lunes, 11 de mayo de 2015

In a Vase on Monday - Versigny

It's been a while since I participated in Cathy's In a Vase on Monday meme.  My garden has just been too bare.  All of the plants in my garden are 3 years old or younger, and sometimes I just cannot bring myself to collect cuttings from my wee babes.

But, we had a dinner party for my eldest son's 15th (15!!) birthday this weekend, so I threw together a vase (well, actually, a water pitcher) with Versigny and Philadelphus.  Plunk-and-go is still my style of arranging, so please forgive me.

Look who else stopped by for the party!

Happy hunting, my little friend.
(Athene Noctua, "Little Owl")

jueves, 7 de mayo de 2015

Garden Gone Wild

Behind our property, there is conservation land with streams and a reservoir.  In fact, the back of our property is part of a protected "green" zone, so we are not allowed to build on it (which is fine with me).  Because of this, as you take a walk through our yard, the further you walk, the wilder the garden gets.  In fact, it is my intention to leave a buffer of native plants so that nothing blocks the view and the garden seems to flow into the countryside.  Well, that is the plan, anyway.

Another reason for a transitional area is, well, would you want to weed this?

It's a good thing that stipa is fashionable right now because I have plenty of it!

At the base of the stipa are these purple-blue flowers that no one seems to know the name of.

I do have some plantings along the side fences.  Right now, photinia is in bloom.  
(Yes, that is rebar construction mesh patching up a whole some robbers made 
a few years ago when the house was being built.)

Madame Alfred Carrière, also on the fence

Not exactly wild, but definitely a toughie
(Thanks to Chloris, who recommended Cayeaux irises to me.)

And I also have to sneak in a photo of Versigny, but you don't mind, right? 

What about your garden?  Has it got a wild side?

sábado, 2 de mayo de 2015

The first roses

Things are starting to happen in the garden this week.  We've have a fair amount of rain, and now lots of sun, so the logical end result is... roses!

Lady Banks, in her third year 

Madame Alfred Carrière

Abraham Darby, the first of my Austin roses to wake up

 And, of course, there's the sage.

No, let's not forget the sage.

Look!  My friend the running toad is back.

Are your roses waking up?

miércoles, 22 de abril de 2015

Little Lady, John Wayne and my anniversary

One year ago today, I damn near killed myself.

I have posted about breaking my back in a riding accident before, but my recovery has been long in the making.  I was in a corset for two months, could not dress myself, had to sleep sitting in a chair, and had to re-learn how to get on and off the commode.  But, by last October, I had fewer and fewer pain episodes, by November I could lift the laundry basket, and by December I started to do the grocery shopping by myself and pick up a shovel in the garden.  You do not realize how important these little things are in your life until you cannot do them any more.

Physically, pilates has done wonders to regain my flexibility and movement.  I am convinced that I did not have more extensive damage because my back was already strong from having done pilates previously.  This winter, using a shovel and hoe and pushing the wheelbarrow around in the garden have built up my strength once again.  This progress was very slow and calculated: "today, I will only lift one shovel-full of dirt; tomorrow, 3; the next day, 5."

However, with the return of my strength came a nagging urge to start riding again.  Even I was surprised, because I honestly thought that I was done with horses.  But, I found myself obsessing, and by New Year's Eve I had made the resolution to get back in the saddle, if only just once.

Little Lady, my psychologist

My trainer and I made a plan.  In January, I started brushing one of the lesson horses at the riding center, named "Little Lady".  She is a Spanish Purebred, and sort of a mix between mother hen, nosey Nelly, and stubborn old mule.  In February, I started riding Little Lady: at first only at a walk, then at a posting trot, and, when I was ready, at a canter.

Spring wildflowers, yum!

Sounds too good to be true, right?  Well, it was.  The initial adrenaline rush of just getting into the saddle was soon replaced with jitters, hyperventilation episodes and full-on panic attacks.  There were days when I couldn't even get my toe into the stirrup and had to walk away.  Out into the olive grove.  For miles.  But, for some inexplicable reason, I kept going back and would not let myself be beat.

"You again?"

Those who do not know what a struggle I have had tell me that I have nerves of steel.  Others say that  I am audacious or downright ballsy.  Others still simply question, "Oh, you're riding again?", and I know they feel I am foolhardy.  Maybe they are right.  Maybe I am.  Maybe it's crazy.  I often think so myself.

As you can imagine, there's no one jumping for joy at home, either.  So, my inspiration has had to come from elsewhere.  I heard a quote by a soldier on the radio: "Fear does not keep you alive; it keeps you from living."  Food for thought, ay?  Then there's the one from John Wayne: "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway."  Spot on.  Oh, and don't forget the clincher: "Never give up on something that you cannot go a day without thinking about."  Definitely me.

Simply put, I will not let fear rule my life.  And now, after riding for 7 weeks, the confidence is coming back and I have not had a panic attack for about 3 weeks.  I am making progress.  But, when and if I do feel the nerves coming on again, you'll find me out in the garden.  It's harder to let imaginary concerns cloud your head when you've got your hands in the dirt.

Having a toes up with Rosa Banksiae after a ride.
Surely Lady Banks rode horses, too.

My sincerest of thanks on this anniversary to my trainer, Little Lady, John Wayne and my husband for biting his tongue.

lunes, 6 de abril de 2015

Easter Sunday In LaMancha

When I was a girl growing up in New England, Easter Sunday was a big church day.  Easter bonnets and gloves were still worn, and I remember always having a new Easter dress to wear with a matching spring coat and shoes.  The church service was always longer than usual, but special treats served at coffee hour in the parish hall made it all worthwhile.

Here in Spain, Easter Sunday is preceeded by Holy Week events that begin on Palm Sunday.  There are processions through the streets, late-night masses and activities for the children.  By the time Easter Sunday rolls around, people seem overspent by the whole affair, and the festivities are much more relaxed.

In our town, after mass we all head down to the reservoir.  Friends get together in groups to have a picnic and spend the day enjoying nature.  Our group of friends traditionally prepare a paella for lunch, followed by a barbecue in the evening.  Children are not allowed near the reservoir but enjoy themselves immensely by playing in the streams that feed into the lake, catching small fish and pollywogs with their hands.  Extra pairs of pants, shoes and socks are a must!

Hard times call for drastic measures: instead of shellfish, this year's rice was chicken and veg.

Is your mouth watering, yet?

This Easter, we enjoyed perfect picnic weather: not windy at all, and not a cloud in the sky.  After recent rains and the sun we had last week, the fields were abloom with the tiniest of wildflowers.


The lavender is starting to bloom, often in the most impossible of places.

After lunch, it's time for a long walk around the lake.

 This little village is proud of its beautiful countryside.

Our house is down where the reservoir starts to narrow.

 So, if you stop by on Easter Sunday and we're not home, you can find us down by the reservoir in the shade of an old oak tree.  Bring your appetite!