Friday, January 26, 2018

these summer days

Mostly these days I'm in the garden. I'm hammering in stakes and tying up the straggly plants. I'm weeding out the fat hen, the milkweed, the dandelion and something else that looks like it could be potted up as a succulent. Sometimes I'm listening to podcasts but most often I'm just sitting with my thoughts, listening to the bees and the birds and trying not to get stung by the march flies. I'm marvelling at the fully blossoming flower heads, admiring the different shapes and colours, encouraging the opening buds and wondering at those yet to come out, what will they become?

I am in love.

Even when I discover thrip, or bird, or slug, or Japanese beetle damage. Even when I find my fingers stained with squished cabbage moth caterpillar insides. Even when I lose my third tray of planted straw flower seeds to something unknown and unwanted.

Over the blossoming weeks we've given bunches of blooms tied up with bailing twine to all those who've visited. The feeling of watching people's faces light up as they turn their handfuls around, admiring each flower, is indescribable. The precious gift is mine.

One day I got up early and picked a bucketful. When the girls woke up I told them to make posies in jars for their bedrooms. Their delight kept me smiling for the rest of the day.

One evening we stayed up very late to drink champagne and do our flower farming course homework and make a vision board. As I started pulling out all the magazines that we have it occurred to me that the last time I bought magazines was way back in 2011 and they were all filled with craft. As we started flipping through them it became obvious that as the years have passed, so have our interests and inspirations. I found a few pictures of earthy toned knitting, a couple of botanical paintings and then had to wait for the next chance to visit the op shop for some gardening mags. Thank you to the dear gardener who donated my pile. Although I initially resisted the vision board concept, I now find myself stopping in front of it often to admire the garden cut-outs, the beauty and the bounty.

One afternoon we went to a local botanical gardens to watch and listen to my sister Emily play. On the way out I stopped to look at the plant stall and my family laughed at my flowering plant addiction while encouraging me to buy more and more. Later on when I discovered the girls reading the labels and asking me about perennials and annuals and biannuals, I wondered if the love affair might be catchy.

One morning as we were sitting in the shade in the garden and farmer Bren was making a vegetable seed order on his phone, he turned to me and asked if we wanted some flowering sweet pea seeds. I love that he's on this flower farming adventure with me. That our mixed family farm just got a bit more diverse.

Another day as the skies rumbled and threatened a summer storm, we all got out into the garden together and picked big bunches for tables, desks, mantels and bedsides. They asked me how to cut them, they exclaimed at each new discovery, they watched their father show them how to arrange them, then they thanked us for growing them and I swelled with pride.

We've planted a range of flowering plants through out our garden but so far the zinnias are the most prolific. In one of the flower farming course videos we watched during the week she called them the beginner flower. They're simple to grow, their blooms are bright and cheery and the more you pick the more they grow. I keep thinking how grateful I am that we stumbled on the page with their picture in a seed catalogue last winter. It was luck and I feel lucky and I know that they'll always have a place in my garden each season.

In other news, the poppy seeds our dear friends Mika and Jobbo gave us early last year have finally popped in the middle of the kitchen garden. Unfortunately their flowering days are definitely shortened because they are overhead watered each morning with the rest of that garden. But still, I love them and they make me smile.

I also love taking photos in the house direction these days. How pretty the green house and the sun room look as a backdrop.

We picked our first apple for the season. A Jersey Mac still warm from the sun and a bit too sweet for my taste, but still, apple season has begun and I'm excited.

We're still waiting for the tomatoes to ripen. Each lunch time someone remarks on how much better their salad or sandwich would be with a tom. Come on babies!

We are picking cucumbers, plums, potatoes, leafy greens, spring onions, cabbages, lots of herbs, and the last of the broad beans.

I'm reading March, which one of you suggested to me when I read Little Women last year. I found this copy in an op shop the other day and bought it without even opening it up to look at what it was. Thank you if that was you.

I knitted farmer Bren a new beanie (in a heatwave). I needed something mindless to knit while I watched the flower farm course videos and this pattern was perfect.

Ravelry details here.

We started harvesting our onions.

I swatched and then cast on the sweater I'm going to knit with the yarn my family bought me for my birthday last year. That there is the rib that goes at the bottom of the front piece. The yarn is delicious and I'm so excited to knit this and watch it grow.

And we cleaned out the green house ready for the autumn and winter seed raising. It hurts me a bit to think about the cold weather eating and gardening, but I imagine this year's cold months will be different than those that came before because of the new greenhouse and sun room. Hopefully.

Which brings us to now. The last Friday blog post of these summer holidays. While I've been writing this we've discussed the end of Indi's book, we've dealt with a friendship issue, we've admired Jazzy's new hairdo and her diary, Bren's sent me countless texts from town about visual diaries, I had to stop altogether to snuggle an overheated Pepper (she's sitting on the arm of my chair reading as I type now), I've okayed the girls' social arrangements and Bren raised his eyebrows when I told him I'd barely written anything after he came in after leaving me alone.

It's impossible to get in the zone and write words I'm proud of with all of these interruptions. And yet next week I know without a doubt that I'll miss them. The house will be quiet and there'll be no one coming in to play me a quick song, or show me a photo or ask me what I think. Oh my girlies.

I hope you've had a lovely week.
Are you more of a sweet or sour apple lover?
What's your favourite flower?
Are you watching/reading/cooking/growing/knitting anything wonderful lately?

I must hurry up and finish this, Miss Pepper is desperately wanting to go and have a swim in the windmill dam.

Until next week!

Love, Kate x

ps. Thank you Bren for the pics of me! xx
pps. Surely it's good luck to find a double headed zinnia in your patch (first photo)?!


  1. Finding two of anything that is usually a singleton is definitely good luck! I think I'm catching your flower bug ;-) Looks like a glorious week well spent.

    I love tart apples. I didn't love March but I'm generally a fan of Geraldine Brooks.

    My girl has been back at school this week and, even with work and looking after elderly parents, I feel that I still have all the time in the world to miss her. We're not loving our school community at the moment. It's tough when there seems to be precious few other alternatives. Fingers crossed it comes right soon.

  2. Your flowers look amazing....what's the name of the online course you are doing....sounds really interesting.

  3. Le coloratissime e bellissime zinnie i miei fiori preferiti dell'estate....!!!

  4. Those zinnias are so gorgeous. And yes to the sweet peas, I do love the scent and the happy way they ramble and tangle together with little spots of bright colour.
    The return to school is always a big time of adjustment for everyone, all that routine and the time schedule that is set by an outsider.
    The greenhouse sunroom photo looks so lovely, I'm looking forward to seeing how you use the space in winter and if it helps with your winter blues.
    Cheers Kate

  5. Sweet peas are my favourite flower in the whole world. My grandparents grew long trellises of them when I was young and their delicate fragrance always takes me back to that time long ago. I grow Zinnias in the Summer time. I love the way their bright colours seem so bold in Summer's light. School started back here this week and I have missed the unhurried mornings and days that can just unfold on whims. Meg:)

  6. I've not yet in life been a successful flower grower, though I will continue to try. Your zinnias have, in the dead of our winter, re-inspired me. Yes, to flowering peas (always), and yes to interruptions despite dedicated, quiet, writing time. They grow so fast, there's truly nothing better <3 Hope you have a lovely weekend and week ahead!

  7. It's so lovely to see flowers blooming! Winter here in the southern US, but signs of spring to come, daffodils sprouting out of the soil already, which are my favorite. A lot of knitted socks this winter here. The brick floor looks beautiful! Have a great weekend!

  8. This post made me yearn for days in the future when I might have a proper garden. You captured that feeling of excitement and joy and a bursting new passion so well. It is amazing to me that this is your first season really growing flowers. Your blooms are beautiful and so inspiring! Enjoy!

  9. Oh Kate, your Zinnia's are simply gorgeous! xx


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