An abundance of roses

I’m a relatively new convert to roses, since our cycle trip to the Loire in fact. Before that I’d never really seen their appeal, or rather smelt their appeal. But on that holiday the scent got under my nose, and I started to get it. I don’t have the greatest sense of smell, which I always say to MOH is to his advantage, but even since I’ve learn the roses scent (that sounds better than smell), it’s one that’s stayed with me and I can sniff it out. Not quite a thousand paces, but it’s definitely identifiable, even in a tent full of flowers.

That tent was the Grand Pavilion at the Chelsea Flower Show. But just look at the roses, and how inviting does that bench look?

Roses and a bench to enjoy them from

There were roses everywhere, including these arches.

rose arches at RHS Chelsea in 2018.jpg

And roses clambering over and through ‘abandoned’ stone walls. We know it’s in a tent (or pavilion) but how effective is this, and wouldn’t it be great to incorporate some old architecture like this into our own gardens, just to fill it up with roses?

Roses climbing through stone features in the grand pavilion

If you weren’t convinced before, then this surely has to help?

roses and ruins couldn't look any prettier

Once again nature demonstrates that not everything has to be colour coordinated, with the various shades of roses looking great together. I think sometimes we get a bit too caught up on having everything matching, or matchy-matchy as I often call it.

Pink roses of all colours
Su Pollard whose personality shone through

It was at this stand that I bumped into Su Pollard, who was all too happy to post for a photo as you can see. She was lovely, completely zany, and full of life. I think that comes through in the photo too! And also a fan of roses it seems, not sure I’d wear them in my hair, but her bag now that’s a different matter…

My garden in May

Looking back at the photos of my garden in May it’s clear that as well as the rain, the flowers started to come and in plenty of colours too. I popped out into the garden yesterday evening, during a short break in the rain and was struck by the light and how it bounced off the leaves as they glistened, and the first of these photos do that too.


It’s odd though to see the weigela flowering at the same time as the camellia. But with the latter being extremely late this year, and not really making too much of a go of it, this year we had pinks on opposite sides of the garden at the same time.

a camelia finally

At the back of the garden the Lords and Ladies next to the small Christmas tree (which you can just about see in the background) have really taken hold. The leaves are huge, and this one made me do a double take. I’m sure I’m not the only one that sees a pair of ears and a long face?

Lords and ladies, but bunny shaped

There were some fine days this month too, and in the border by the patio this delicate white bulb appeared. I’m not sure exactly what it is, if it’s something I’ve planted, or something that’s arrived of its own accord. It seems to be the only one of its kind, so who knows, it’s pretty though.

Pretty white flowers but no idea what they are.jpg

This year I’ve had quite some success with the alliums. Still not quite as many as I’d like, but the most I’ve had.  And considering I’ve not planted any new bulbs, or done anything to them, I’m calling this a win.  Every year I say I’ll have more alliums, and one year I’ll get around to planting some to increase my chances of success.

alliums shining through

The rest of the patio bed, and the fences and above those too have been covered with flowers from the Chilean potato plant. They’re pretty flowers, but once the plant takes hold, it’s prolific and needs a good trim to keep it under control.

flowers from the chilean potato plant

As I checked behind the gabion basket planters - which are a great place to stow pots over winter to protect them from frost - I spotted a geranium which had over-wintered there, and already in flower. I’m sure it’s much paler in colour than it was last year, but unusually for me, I’m quite taken with the pastel version.

a pale geranium

There is a bit of a theme with the pastels though, these daisies were planted as plug plants a year or so ago in the sleeper bed, and finally they’re doing what I want them to do: providing ground cover, tumbling down the sleepers and looking pretty.  A job well done, now all I need to do is stop MOH removing them as “weeds”…

daisies in the flowerbed

Under the lilac we’ve another addition that is not of our doing, some buttercups. They’re pretty, but I’m sure they won’t be staying long term.


And already there are plenty of cherries on the tree.  I think the year’s I don’t hold out much hope for actually eating any of them, or beating the pigeons to them, I’m always surprised.  We were away last week and had the weather been good, and continued the same then it’s likely that they’d all, or mostly, be gone by the time we got back.  But the good news is, they’re still there so the race is on to see who gets to them first, or if this year we’ll share fairly - but more on that next month!

the start of our cherries

In the middle of the garden in recent years we’ve discovered, or rather uncovered, a pyracantha.  They are the prickliest of plants, and their pretty delicate flowers defy the viciousness beneath.  As we’ve cut more of the plants around it back, and given it some space, it’s thrived, and this year there’s been boughs of jewelled branches which have been easily to spot from the house.

miniature flowers on the pyracantha

It’s got to the point though that this too needs a trim, as does the large - and growing back at a rate of knots - euonymus.  Both are plants that will fill our compost bins quite quickly, and if we’re not careful the pyracantha will leave its mark, if not its thorns, in our gardening gloves and skin.  Cutting them back, is definitely on the list of jobs for June, along with many more - hopefully the rain will stop again so we can start to bring this part of our garden back under control.

I’ll share how we get on next month, and I’ll let you know how we fared with the cherries too!


Reflecting on my week #87

There’s nothing quite like a good holiday is there? The past ten days or so, I’ve been gallivanting around Lisbon and the Setúbal Peninsula, which you might have seen from my social channels. At its hottest Lisbon was 36 degrees, which is hot and I wasn’t looked forward to walking in those sorts of temperatures.  Luckily though we didn’t have to as as we moved out of the city centre the temperatures dropped by easily ten degrees. Sadly arriving back in London it seems they’ve dropped a further ten degrees but let’s hope that’s just a blip, and now that I’m back in the country the weather will start behaving.

So with a week full of new experiences, places and many photos I thought I’d take a slightly different approach to this post this week. I’m sharing a photo from each day, ahead of something fuller about this trip and will share some narrative about it too.

First up is this cistus, and many like it and it’s pink flowered version too. Along our walks, and on this day it was around the Cabo de Espichel, we saw many of these plants but few in flower. They also have a distinctive scent, often used in perfume, but it was in the Alentejo region that we first encountered these plants in full bloom along the coastline, and since then they’ve been a favourite.



They’re drought-loving plants, and have adapted for the warmer climate - the leaves are thinner and more waxy than the same plants in the UK, and I think their scent is stronger too.  Either way they were a welcome addition to our walk, which also saw a goat herd walk by us and much closer than I expected.

In our third stop of the holiday (second of the walking element) our room was much more traditional and included these traditional Portuguese rugs. They were beautiful, but in a tiled floor a little problematic unless secured by furniture like this one.  



This picture is of the gardens at José Maria Fonseca winery in Azeitao where we opted for a tour and a tasting. The winery is one of Portugal’s oldest, and one of two in the relatively small town. We’d hoped to take a tour at Bacalhôa too, but the timings didn’t work out. We did get to wander around their gardens too though, and they were quite different to this. 



Friends saw us spend most of the day walking to the place we would have dinner. The eleven or so miles included a brief stop for lunch and about 4km of an overgrown path, which at times made you feel like you were losing the battle against and at others like David Attenborough. It was all worth it though, as this was our view for dinner, and yes, there was a taxi home that night!



The next day saw us move hotels again, walking through meadows and numerous Sesimbra windmills like this, and actually in all manner of states of repair, or disrepair. I lost count how many we passed, eight maybe nine, or more. I’m sure I’ll be able to work out how many from the photos, though on our walk the following day we spotted some more, so that may well confuse things. These though were along a ridge and were visible from our base at the Pousada.  



I thought the shape of the windmills were familiar, they were similar to the one in Odeceixe, which I shared a while back, and had since forgoall about until these jogged my memory.

The walk on Sunday was circular rather than ‘moving on‘ and while there was only a 380m descent and ascent in the whole 12.7km walk, they came right at the start and right on top of each other too. In reality I’m less signed up for the circular walks, don’t get me wrong they’re usually good, but for me they don’t have real purpose, unlike the ‘move on’ days when you’re walkito the next hotel. So when there’s down and a very steep up, I was all for jacking it in except for the fact that I’d already done the down, so whatever happened I’d need to go up again. I was close to saying that line amount a smart ass, you know the one I mean. 

But anyway, we did the walk and when it moderated itself it improved. We knew there wouldn’t be any bar or cafe stops along the way on this one so our plan was to eat on the way back, grab a bottle of wine and some snacks and have another hotel room picnic. I mean, we like food, but we find hotel stays are often dominated by food and quite often at times when we’re not hungry.  



We did manage to put the plan in action, but the slight spanner in the works was the cork breaking in the bottle of wine for that evening. With only a Swiss Army Knife corkscrew (which by definition are smaller than a usual household corkscrew) and with much perseverance MOH eventually broke in, but not without a red wine blow back which saw us wiping down splatters in the bathroom and rinsing out his (thankfully pale pink) linen shirt. 

The wine - from Quinta de Piloto - was pretty good, we’d stopped off during the walk and bought it direct for just €9, so it was worth the effort. Actually throughout this trip we’ve drunk some decent Portuguese wines, so I’d definitely recommend trying some. 

We landed at City airport yesterday evening in the chilly wet weather, with perhaps not the best footwear, but travelling home from holidays isn’t about being sensible all of the time is it?  



It’s back to work today though, and back to normal with perhaps a hint of holiday resolve and good intentions thrown in, and of course many, many photos to sort through and edit from our adventures. There’s definitely plenty to share, and even a loo or two for the Loo Series too.