How can it possibly be May already? It seems like only yesterday that this year's long awaited Spring took its first hesitant steps back in March.
So far, the season has been one of extremes. We had a handful of days at the end of March which felt more like the height of Summer than early Spring. Then, as if at the click of the weather gods' fingers, Winter made a come-back with a string of days barely above freezing point and showers bearing flurries of snow, sleet and hail.
April truly lived up to her reputation for fickleness, alternating sunny days with cloudy ones and the temperature going up and down like a yo-yo. Overall, it was quite a bit colder than average, the media trumpeting that it was in fact the coldest month of April since 1986.
It's always a couple of degrees warmer in Dove Cottage's tiny walled garden, where the sun gets trapped, creating our very own micro-climate. Still, unlike last year, I was hardly in short sleeves at all, the first batch of Spring and Summer frocks in my wardrobe still waiting in vain for their first airing.
On Thursday the 22nd of April - as yes, my blog is still lagging behind - this is what I wore. Even with the temperature lingering in the low double figures, I'm still finding things to wear which hadn't yet seen the light of day. In fact, I seriously doubt that my vintage dress, with its muted brown and pink Millefleur print was worn at all since January 2019.
In order to curb its collar's floppiness, I secured it with a gold-tone and purple brooch, which I offered the company of one of my mini collection of Bambi brooches, picked up from a long-gone vintage shop.
The yellow, white and orange bubble gum balls necklace came from the same shop, while both the tan belt and orange shoes were charity shop finds.
We had an extensive gardening session that morning, planting out the majority of the perennials we'd brought back from the garden centre. In the freed up border next to the bench we added Paeonia 'Bowl of Beauty', Aconitum carmichaelii 'Cloudy', Phlox 'Sweet Summer Wine' and Trollius 'Orange Princess'.
In the small, slightly sloping border above the rock garden (top left) two more alpines were added, Stachys officinalis 'Ukkie' and Saxifraga 'Purpurteppich', with two Summer flowering cottage favourites, Geum chiloense 'Mrs. Bradshaw' and Scabiosa 'Barocca', behind them.
Three shade-loving plants, a foxglove, a toad lily and a purple flowering dead nettle, were planted elsewhere. Our final task was re-potting last year's butterfly lavender in a bid to revive it (bottom left). On the top right you can see some of the Lily-of-the-valley we inherited with the garden, which keep on popping up in the most unexpected of places.
Back in long sleeves again, with a pink flower and foliage patterned dress found in a vintage per kilo shop in Antwerp several years ago. I added a cream beaded necklace and a heavy silver-tone rimmed floral brooch which doubles as a pendant. The brooch is marked 'SARAH GB' which should be one of the marks used by Sarah Coventry. Founded in 1949 by Charles Stuart, Sarah Coventry's name was the combination of his granddaughter’s first name and the town of Coventry in England—where the Stuart family had emigrated from to the US. The jewellery was sold via house parties a la Tupperware and Avon.
Don't forget to mention me! Of course we won't, Bess, how could we!
She's currently on a voyage of discovery around the house and this morning she woke us up at an ungodly hour by chasing her tail across the bed!
Monday the 26th of April was another glorious Spring day echoing Sunday's temperature. Still quite chilly at 3°C in the early morning. I was wearing a scarf and beret but when I was waiting at the traffic lights near my office I was actually regretting not carrying a pair of gloves!
Office days usually do not get a mention here, but as it was a quiet one and the weather too good to stay indoors, I went for a walk during lunch break, making my way to Antwerp's Botanic Garden.
In spite of this little gem only being a couple of minutes' walk from Antwerp's main shopping street, it wasn't overly busy, with just a handful of people having lunch or sunbathing on its benches and diminutive main lawn. There was even an empty bench with a view to some yellow tulips.
I had a leisurely wander around admiring the Spring blooms, being particularly enamoured by the magnificent orange Fritillaria imperialis rising from a sea of acid yellow Euphorbia captured in the previous collage.
The garden holds a collection of 2000 plants, with a collection of cacti and other exotic plants in the conservatory, part of which is visible on the top left in the above collage.
Adjacent to the street, although well below street level, is a meandering woodland path lined by bluebells and dog tooth violets (Erythronium), where it's easy to forget this is actually smack dab in the middle of a busy metropolis.
Before leaving, I briefly walked into the courtyard beyond the garden. For two years in the early 1980s, I used to go to school in the white building which backs on to it, its classrooms offering a secret view of the garden. Heady times holding poignant memories.
I'll be back within in couple of days. In the meantime, as always, please do stay safe, sane and sensational!