Spring continued to be a mixed affair as April seamlessly segued into May. The only thing of note about April's final day, which was a Friday and thus an office day, is that I was able to make a hairdresser's appointment for Wednesday the 5th of May. So glad they were allowed to re-open and that another #Coronahair situation could be averted!
On Saturday the 1st of May we were rudely awoken by Bess, who insisted on exploring the possibilities of our bedroom somewhere between 6 and 7 am. It was no use trying to go back to sleep so, still a bit bleary-eyed, we dragged ourselves out of bed, and sat ourselves down to our usual fruit and yoghurt breakfast, washed down with a cup of coffee (Jos) and a mug of ginger and lemon tea (me).
Sun and clouds alternated throughout the day, with a brief shower around midday. With the temperature hovering around12°C, however, it felt more like a March day than a May one, especially as it came accompanied by a blustery wind.
As we had Thursday's garden centre purchases waiting for us, and as yet no rain seemed to be on the horizon, we wasted no time in getting out into the garden and get going with our first task.
This consisted in making a stepping stone path bisecting our newly laid out border. This would give us access to the parking meter positioned on the low wall separating the border from the rock garden - in order to demonstrate its workings to any future visitors - as well as the plants at the back.
After scouring Dove Cottage's basement and shed in search of something suitable to use but drawing a blank, we'd come across these log effect wooden slabs in the garden centre which were just perfect for the job. The path in place, we then added two more perennials, Geranium phaeum and Aquilegia 'Biedermeier', the latter already bearing several flower buds.
Elsewhere, the Red Valerian, or Centranthus ruber to give it its proper name (top left), is preparing its comeback, and there are bluebells galore as well, multiplying year by year from the first handful of bulbs we planted eons ago. They were a gift from an elderly lady whose garden backed on to Jos's place of work.
In an effort to give the garden a run for its money, I wore a vintage handmade long-sleeved dress, its indigo background infused with green, palest yellow, pink and caramel flowers.
In spite of the dress's lining, it was too chilly to go it alone, so I added a slightly sparkly fuchsia cardigan with three-quarter length sleeves. Button-less, it closes with a single tie at the neck, although I wore it open all the time.
Note the purple plaid ankle wellies, one of my most useful charity shop finds ever and my footwear of choice for venturing into the garden.
My pink plastic butterfly brooch is contemporary, picked up in a quirky independent shop near my office in Antwerp. I have brooches from this range in various shapes and colours as, back in the days before Covid, I often went for a browse in this shop, although last time I was there I was saddened to see that they are no longer stocking them.
The chunky, multicoloured necklace was a charity shop find, while the stretchy belt with its hexagonal faux tortoiseshell buckle was a cheeky retail buy from only last week, stumbled upon during a rare lunch break outing.
The garden is slowly but surely bursting into a rainbow of colours and textures, cushioned by every available shade of green, There are the old favourites, like the woodruff (top right) and the ferns (bottom left), both of which can be quite a nuisance at times. Grape Hyacinths come in all colours as well, including pale blue and a mixture of yellow and purple. The latter is the unusual Muscari macrocarpum 'Golden Fragrance', which came in a pack of three, only one of which seems to have surfaced.
On the subject of Nasturtiums, and the regular ones I sowed back in April in particular, I am happy to report that by now over half of the seeds have germinated and that the seedlings will be ready to move to bigger premises shortly. I'm still covering the tray with its transparent lid overnight to keep them nice and cosy, securing it with a galvanized planter to stop it from being caught by the wind.
The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) seeds I sprinkled directly into the garden at the same time have become a sea of feathery seedlings and will need pricking out soon.
Aquilegias are firm favourites of mine, but although this year I planted several new varieties, our old pink petticoated ones ('Nora Barlow', bottom right) will always have a special place in my heart. They self-seed willy-nilly but I don't mind. Quite the opposite, it's always a pleasant surprise to see them rearing their pretty heads, wherever they choose to settle.
The top half of poor plaster Venus is feeling quite at home among the lush foliage of Geranium phaeum (top left), which is developing the first of its flower stems. Another self-seeder, it disappeared from its original spot many years ago, only to show up growing between the paving stones at the opposite side of the garden path last year.
Similar weather but minus the midday shower awaited us on Sunday, so out in the garden it was again, starting with some light pruning, weeding and deadheading.
Then I planted up the old metal colander we'd roped in for garden use last year with a mixture of Summer flowers, using lilac Brachycome, yellow and maroon Nemesia and cheerful Sanvitalia.
If I'm not mistaken, it has been quite some time since I last wore this midi length skirt patterned with blue and white flowers on a dove grey background. It was a charity shop find back in March 2019, picked up at one of their infamous retro events.
Scrutinizing the photos, I can safely say that the vast majority of Sunday's outfit was charity shopped at one time or another, the only exception being my ankle boots, tights and pale blue cat brooch.
The blouse with its funky print, as well as the black and blue beaded necklace, were both last year's finds, while the red cardigan and burgundy round-buckled belt have been gracing my wardrobe for many years.
The new border doesn't only provide horticultural pleasure, it is also our new favourite spot for outfit photos, especially on sunny days when it provides some dappled shade rather than the harsh and glaring sunlight in front of the potting shed.
Speaking of favourite spots, Bess is certainly discovering new ones every day on her explorations of Dove Cottage. The back of our front room's sofa offers a street view, which is fine as long as there are no passers-by on the pavement directly outside, which make her flee to safety. She has also taken to lying on top of our dining room table from where she can observe our comings and goings. Opening the door to the basement, which leads off from this room, is quite a hazard. She's always ready to go for a nosey, often returning with her head covered in dust and cobwebs.
On Tuesday the 4th of May, it looked like we’d landed back in Autumn as stormy weather was our lot for most of the day.
With the garden - or indeed any other outdoor activities - out of bounds, we thought we'd try our luck at the charity shops for the first time after our most recent lockdown was lifted.
Our first stop was at the charity shop in the nearby town of Morstel. Here, we had to make a U-turn twice before lockdown as there was a queue, so we were quite relieved that it didn't seem to be overly busy. In fact, I was able to browse the clothing aisles at ease, soon coming across a delightful navy fish-print cotton wrap skirt. I dressed up Angelica in it, combining it with a simple red and white striped top, although I'm thinking of wearing it with a lobster print one for its first proper outing!
Before returning home, we stopped at the charity shop in our village, where I was overjoyed to find this groovy handmade vintage dress with flouncy three-quarter sleeves.
I also stocked up on reading matter. Not that I was in any danger of running out, but I love having some choice. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher seems to be along the same vein as The Magnificent Spilsbury, which I read back in March. It is certainly part of the same series.
That just leaves Tuesday's outfit to show you! With the storm having somewhat quietened down by late afternoon, we made use of a dry moment to step outside.
Again, I'd picked a full-on flower print but, rather than a dress, it was a skirt suit I'd plucked from my wardrobe that morning.
Charity shopped back in 2015, on a day when I found not just one but two skirt suits, its dense floral print never ceases to delight me. As there's no label, I suspect that it was handmade, and its full lining swishes satisfactorily when prancing around.
Its sleeves has quite formidable cuffs which close with two buttons. Not wanting to hide these away, I added a vintage short-sleeved Dralon cardigan on top.
I accented my waist with a tan leather belt, and added a beaded necklace in the same shade. If you look closely, you might be able to spot the stag's head brooch hiding in the flowers on my collar.
According to my journal, we ended the day with a veritable deluge. I'm sure the garden was thankful for all that water. Now I don't know about you, but I could certainly do with some stable Spring weather. It's hard to believe that by this time last year, we'd already been able to have breakfast in the garden more than once!