Tuesday 29 April 2008

Narcissus Jenny

I have no desire to have a plant named after me as happens every year at Chelsea, but I was delighted to discover that one that shares my name flowers at my favourite time of year. Narcissus Jenny is small and delicate with creamy petals and long lemon trumpets that fade to white. We have so much in common, the catalogues list our mutual features - a perfect miniature, one of the loveliest cyclamineus hybrids, exquisite with milk white petals, really charming with smooth relaxed perianth and a nicely waisted cup, elegant, good in grass - I could go on.
I've bought quite a lot of these bulbs over the years, I have them planted in my borders and in pots around the house. I've also given packs of them to friends so that they can admire them in their own gardens and be reminded of our (my) many attributes.
I'm going off air now for a while, we fly to Italy later this week and the forecast is for heat and rain so Tuscany will be flourishing and I'm hoping we can get to the botanic gardens in Lucca as well as the yarn shops. A presto, as we say.

Sunday 27 April 2008

Saving fuel using energy

We've been a bit sanctimonious this weekend, haven't used the car since Thursday and walked down to the village to collect the papers Saturday and Sunday mornings. This fuel situation in Scotland serves as a good reminder of how we take the supply for granted and has made us think about how often we use the car unnecessarily.
So we've worked lots in the garden and whilst I was ready to have a rant about how late everything is this year, the daffs are barely out, this weekend has been glorious and we've made lots of progress. The tomatoes have been transferred into their organic growbags, the ones from the garden centre are showing their first flower truss if you look closely and those grown from seed bought in Italy aren't far behind. I disturbed our resident frog when I was moving things around in the greenhouse, he was living under one of the watering cans and hopped off to find another hiding place. I've nipped the tops out of the sweet peas to encourage them to bush and Mr FF has finished digging over the veg patch (he said I didn't make a proper job of the half I did) and planted the potatoes. We are growing Pink Fir Apple (main crop) and Charlotte (second early) with more of the latter to plant in a couple of weeks. The ground is surprisingly dry and weeding has been much easier than usual. I'm at that happy stage with the garden when I believe I am on top of things, this euphoria lasts for a while before I realise that everything is growing at a pace and getting away from me, by which time its summer and the weeds are hidden amongst the jumble of flowers, then I just sit back and enjoy.

Monday 21 April 2008

The verb to doris

I first heard the name doris used as a verb when I moved to Scotland 20 years ago. It was explained to me that often the lady who comes to clean is called Doris, she arrives, the house gets cleaned and so evolved the verb, for example 'this house needs to be dorissed', 'I must get on with the dorissing' or 'I'll quickly doris round'. I'm not sure how accurate this account is but the verb soon became part of our vocabulary. I've since heard it in a Yorkshire context, here the air hostesses on Yorkshire Airlines are referred to as Air Dorises (I do love this film).
The funniest dorissing experience I ever had was when my nieces were little and were staying with us during their summer holiday. We'd taken them up north for a few days and were staying in a self catering cottage attached to a large hotel where we were able to take meals. On the second morning Emma, the youngest, didn't want to go over to the main building for breakfast and asked if she could stay in the cottage. I was a bit reluctant to leave her but told her to stay inside and not open the door. Half way through breakfast we sent her elder sister to check that she was OK, but when Kerry went into the cottage she couldn't find Emma. She came to the restaurant to tell us and I went back over with her and when we called for Emma she emerged from the bedroom. She said that when she heard someone letting themselves into the cottage she thought they had come to do the dorissing and so had jumped in the wardrobe to hide.

Thursday 17 April 2008

Camera Shy

Not shy at all, apparently she was having a fit of the giggles. Phoebe I am told was so keen on the jumper she insisted on wearing it for nursery today. Her Dad says she is not to wear it for horses its far too good and must be kept for best. Her Mum says they are all fans of 'proper woollens' in their house. That's all excellent, I loved knitting the jumper, Phoebe loves wearing it and the last bit of good news is that she has a Granny Scotland who lives further over the border than me so she will come and meet me next time she is on her way up north. I can't wait and I wouldn't be surprised if half the girls from work aren't here for her arrival.

Tuesday 15 April 2008

For Phoebe

I knitted this for Phoebe from Louise Harding's Miss Bea's Rainy Day, a beautiful little book of Rowan children's patterns that makes most of my younger friends want to start a family straight away. I used Jaeger Matchmaker Twill DK pure wool in a lovely shade of bluey gray with flecks of red, orange, purple, turquoise and green. I initially thought the wool, which I was given a while ago, was a bit dull but seeing it in daylight the tweed effect makes it interesting and lively so I'm glad I didn't embark on a complicated pattern, there's just a bit of cable at the rib.
Phoebe is my virtual niece, the daughter of my youngest brother's ex wife, Heidi and her new partner. Fortunately for me Heidi has always kept in touch, remembered my birthday and included me in Phoebe's life. She is almost three now and because we have never met (I hope one day we will) knitting for Phoebe has been a stab in the dark, but accommodatingly she has fitted into everything I have sent and been excited about the parcels. The photograph I got back when she received her little Opal socks was a delight, no one could fake that enthusiasm. Phoebe is adorable, a proper little country girl growing up in Yorkshire with horses and dogs. I hope she enjoys wearing her sweater and its fine by me if she does so feeding, mucking out or whatever animal duties she joins in with, though I may surprise her next time with something pink and girly.

Thursday 10 April 2008

For my next trip

Hurray, now that my holiday deficit is just about cleared, Mr FF has booked flights from Edinburgh to Pisa on the new Ryanair service, so convenient, such good timings, splendid destination. We travel in 3 weeks time for a 7 day break and friends have kindly offered us the use of their house on the outskirts of a little town in Tuscany. I know the weather can be tricky there at any time of the year as the town nestles amongst the mountains but we shall be comfortable and well equipped. We once spent 14 days in Tuscany in July, it rained for the first 10 and I'd run out of books after about 7. I can remember driving down the motorway to Siena in the pouring rain, windscreen wipers thrashing away, the car all steamed up and the crazy Italian drivers either overtaking at 100 mph or sitting on our rear bumper flashing their lights for us to get a move on.
And amidst the excitement I have agreed to travel with hand luggage only, which means that the total I can take with me (apart from what I wear or cram into my pockets) is 10 kilos. Usually my toilet bag weighs about that, so I really am going to have to work on this. Coming back won't be a problem as I can leave things in the house for our friends but getting everything I need out there could be. Having said that I've already checked on the net where the nearest yarn shops are, Lucca and Pistoia both of which will merit a visit. Maybe just a few balls of interesting sock wool to bring back then.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Snowy Sunday

This was the garden scene this morning so no work outside today. The spring bulbs have taken a bashing, just as well I photographed them yesterday.

Saturday 5 April 2008


I love these erythronium dens-canis, the dog's tooth violet so called because their fleshy white corms are said to resemble a dog's tooth. The mottled foliage is interesting and the pink purple nodding flowers are delicate and delightful. I treated myself to five little corms when I was first establishing the garden and I remember thinking how expensive and indulgent they were at a time when I needed to buy so many plants. They have repaid me many times, increasing year by year to provide colonies all over the woodland part of the garden. In fact I've even been able to pass on plants, I swapped a pot of dens-canis for this yellow relative from the erythronium family, it too has established and increased well.
They all flourish happily under the trees and benefit from both the leaf litter in autumn and a top dressing of compost from the heap in early spring.I also have these, which again were a swap. I can't swear that they are from the same family though I believe they are. Not quite in flower yet but I couldn't resist snapping the emerging bud, it sums up this time of year, so much happening and so much to look forward to.
Mr FF has scarified the lawn getting rid of the moss and old grass, we both spent time working outside despite the snow and hail. Typical springtime weather though today's April showers have been a bit extreme.