Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Bright Winter Blessings


Today is the winter solstice. The sun is re-born and we can welcome it back to the northern hemisphere, where it has been greatly missed.

This time of year is not usually my favourite but for the first time in many years, I am welcoming the Yule tide festivities. It's all part of the cycle of the seasons and if you do not enjoy the commercialisation, then give that bit a miss. No more bah humbug from me!

The snow has bought chaos to the UK (although we do seem to thrive on something to moan about in this country) We simply cannot fight nature and the sooner we realise this and work with her instead of against, the easier life will become.

Our solstice celebrations had to be cancelled this year but no matter, we all did our own thing at home - gave thanks for the year that's been and wished for peace and harmony for the year to come.

I have been so busy out of the garden these past few weeks. My new blogsite for my children's photography has been launched www.louisejolleyphotography.com which is rather exciting. I absolutely love taking portraits, so it really is a joy to do.


In the garden, I have dug up the parsnips for Christmas dinner. They aren't very pretty but when removed from the frozen ground, they smelt so sweet, I cannot wait to eat them.

I leave you with a couple of photographs taken in the garden at the weekend and wish you happy gardening in 2011.

                                                              Viburnum tinged with ice

                                                         Hydrangea bract covered in ice

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The beauty of Stourhead Gardens and capturing the little ones

                                                                   Stourhead Gardens

I have been spending so much time at the computer, creating my new website, that I felt it was time to get some fresh air on my face and to enjoy the autumnal display, before it was over for another year.

Today we went to Stourhead Gardens in Wiltshire, like the rest of the southwest I think!
 It was rather busy but that didn't effect our enjoyment. Everyone had their cameras at the ready to capture the amazing views. The above photograph is very rare for me. I don't usually do landscapes, preferring the closer detail but I just had to capture this one.

Whilst everyone was photographing the magnificent trees, I spotted the most amazing lichen on a branch.

                                                                      Lichen on a branch

and whilst everyone was traipsing along the path, not really looking closely, I saw this heart shaped stump.



There is so much more to see when you look really closely.

Although I have photographed the humble hydrangea many times, I am always compelled to photograph their papery flowers. 

                                                                            Hydrangea

I have had an amazing time these past few weeks, photographing children for my new portrait business.

I have been thinking about doing this for the past 2 years and have finally found the courage to go ahead with my ideas.

I used to work with children many years ago and had an absolute ball, so tying that up with my photography is the perfect match.

My style of photography is contemporary. I have taken my lead from the American children's portrait scene which is much more relaxed and less posed than the British.

Whilst my website is under construction, I have a facebook page which I would love you to visit and 'Like' if you do, of course. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Poole-United-Kingdom/Louise-Jolley-Photography/113059648757957
Just a small sample of my images. There will be lots more on my website plus lots of information about the products I will be offering, how you can display them plus the current trends in wall decoration.

A busy, busy time but there is method in my madness.

Photographing plants and children, just makes my heart sing. After practising my craft for the past 15 years, or so, I finally feel in control. Well as in control as you can be when photographing little ones. You just have to go with the flow.

My love of photography started with the portraits taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson. I photographed my children when they were little and then turned to objects which didn't move, loving their predictability. I have now turned full circle and just love the unpredictability of photographing children. Photographing that moment, whilst they keep still for just a second or two, if I'm lucky and capturing their personality, in an image, which will last a lifetime.

                                                             Louise Jolley Photography

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Neglectful but not wasteful

My blog postings have been a little thin on the ground this summer. There is an explanation for this and that is I have been writing a gardening blog for my local newspapers website The Daily Echo.
http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/blogs/grow_your_own/

It is said that women are good at multi tasking but I think I was at the back of the queue when they were handing out that skill!

So although I have neglected this blog, I haven't been wasteful with my time.

I have been picking tomatoes, like they are going out of fashion. We have made oodles of tomato sauce for pasta, sun-dried (oven-dried really) tomatoes, to remind me of warm summer days in the winter and some scrumptious tomato soup, courtesy of a Sarah Ravens recipe.http://www.sarahraven.com/learn/this-month-in-kitchen/cleopatras-tomato-soup I have picked loads and given lots to my family and there are still plenty more for picking.

                                                     Tomatoes ripening on the greenhouse bench

The squashes are ripening and the raspberries are dripping from their stems; so its time for jam making.

My recipe of choice is Hugh's (Fearnley-Whittingstall) raspberry fridge jam, from Pam Corbin's river cottage book. It's so easy and what I love about it, is that it uses less sugar than regular jam so this means once opened you need to keep it in the fridge.

Today I have been cutting back the lavender, which is still smelling gorgeous. I felt all relaxed in the autumn sun, which still had warmth in it but not for long, with the passing of the autumnal equinox, darkness is on its way.

There are still plenty of flowers in the garden. The dahlias are still flowering their socks off and the sunflowers are hanging on in there. The bonus of planting them up late.


                                                                  Sunflower

Knautia
 macedonica

All my photography for the National  Garden Scheme, is done and dusted and I am hoping they will want to use them again, to help promote a very worthy cause. They have used one of my images to promote a Mary Berry cake recipe on their website, which made me very proud.
http://www.ngs.org.uk/news-features/features/classic-cakes.aspx

My garden photography is still my biggest passion but this summer I have rekindled my love of portraiture.


                                                                                        Engagement Photography


                                                                                    Wedding Photography (obviously!)

                                                                Children's photography courtesy of my gorgeous nephew Tono

Lots more about my new venture over the coming months but until then I shall be enjoying my garden and taking in every minute I can before it starts to fade before my eyes and the winter chill sets in.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Three Men Went To Mow: The Gibberd Garden

Mr Alexander-Sinclair and friends have been having fun and have filmed it for our enjoyment.

You can watch it here: Three Men Went To Mow Part 10: The Gibberd Garden


Sunday, 15 August 2010

My garden is so damn tasty!

On each trip to the bottom of my garden, I return laden with produce. The raspberry canes are starting to produce luscious red fruits, which I wash and then pop in the freezer until I have enough to make some jam.

My blueberries are an absolute success. They were only planted last year, so this is the first year I am picking them and they are so delicious, I am going to grow lots more next year.

The courgettes are still abundant and I am using them to make courgette fritters, which take minutes to make and are delicious with a chili dipping sauce.

I have just picked my first crop of green beans, some climbing up canes and others clambering up the sweetcorn. I think they are quite late this year, I'm sure I picked them earlier last year and the purple beans, which were planted the same time as the green variety are only just appearing out of the flowers.

Green Beans

As far as flavour is concerned, my greenhouse tomatoes are a triumph. I have never tasted tomatoes so sweet, and delicious from any supermarket.

Tomato Legend

My 3 sisters bed is coming along splendidly. Some of the leaves of the squashes have turned a little yellow. I think this is down to my sandy soil, which is just not holding onto nutrients. I think a little feed of Epsom salts should do the trick, to boost the magnesium levels. That said, I have some sweet squashes appearing, and as my family absolutely love butternut squash, I think they will be looking forward to eating them.


Young butternut squash
In the flower garden, the sunflowers are just starting to make an appearance. These were quite late going into the ground, so I am going to be enjoying them when most peoples have already gone over.

Sunflower bud
My recent birthday has been filled with the joys of gardening. We took a trip to RHS Wisley, which was absolutely gorgeous. I haven't been to Wisley for at least 10 years, so I really enjoyed revisiting the flagship garden of the RHS. The long borders with the Henry Moore sculpture at the top of the hill are amazing. The colours and textures of the plants are wonderful.


A piece of the long border at Wisley

Echinacea at Wisley
My other gardening birthday joys were three gardening books. The lovely Alys Fowlers' book from my sister in law and I went a bit mad for my favourite gardener Carol Klein with her book on propagation, from my sister and Carols book on growing fruit from me!

Is there anything more wonderful than gardening?
A feast for the eye and the tummy!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

An afternoon of cricket: River Cottage v Gardeners' World

I love the drive from my home in Poole, to Devon. Through the leafy countryside and chocolate box villages, like Winterbourne Abbas and Chidock and I still get excited when I see the sea sparkling all the way along the Jurassic coast around to Torquay, on a clear day, which thankfully Saturday was.

The trip was made all the more lovely, with the prospect of a cricket match to watch. Now, if I am honest, I don't really know much about the game or can say that I enjoy it. No, the reason I was looking forward to the match so much, was the prospect of seeing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Joe Swift, Toby Buckland and a cream tea.

I have met Hugh and Joe before and they are such lovely chaps, so I was hoping to meet Toby and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Joe Swift, Toby Buckland and me grinning like a crazy fool
The afternoons fun and games, was organised to raise money for Thrive http://www.thrive.org.uk/ A charity which helps people with disabilities, recovering from an illness or accident, to find practical ways to garden. Everyone who gardens knows how good it is for mind, body and soul.

We were treated to a glass of delicious elderflower sparkling wine and I'm glad it was so quaffable, as I won two bottles in the raffle.

Toby Buckland

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall


Joe Swift

The hospitality which River Cottage provides, is always lovely and this event was no exception, with high tea being served, finger sandwiches, delicious cake and scrumptious cream teas (you could help yourself to the most delicious jam I have ever tasted and clotted cream) it really was a spread fit for a king!

           Joe Swift, Mark Diacono and Toby Buckland enjoying a spot of tea
River Cottage won the match but no one was disappointed. We all had fun watching the match in the sunshine and eating our picnics and  I wouldn't be surprised if there was a return match next year. Maybe I should learn the rules in case this happens; on second thoughts I'll leave it to Andy to tell me what's going on, life's too short!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Rules are there to be broken but read the instructions

The old adage 'Rules are there to be broken' is quite true. Not that I am a rule breaker by nature. I might go a bit crazy sometimes and not follow the arrows in the multistory car park, if there is no one around, but no more rebellious than that.
However, I don't think the same can be said for instructions. Rules quite often are petty and meaningless but instructions on the other hand are written by someone who has put the very thing into practise, we are seeking advice on. So why oh why do I find it so hard to follow instructions? Why do I read them and then do my own thing!

Every year when I am planting out my vegetable seedlings, or planting seeds, I read the instructions telling me how far apart I need to plant them and then totally disregard the information, thinking that is far too much room to give them, only to find a few months later that my vegetables are living cheek by jowl in a most uncomfortable fashion.

The area I had given over to my outdoor tomatoes, should have been enough room to plant 4 plants, (according to the instructions on the packet) but I insisted that that was far too much room to give them and planted another two plants in the space and now the bushes are maturing nicely but packed in like sardines.

My three sisters bed is coming along nicely. (Sweetcorn, climbing beans and squash, sitting harmoniously together). The squashes are a bit thuggish but I'm sure when the sweetcorn has got a bit taller and is towering over the squashes, they will be glad that their feet are nice and cool underneath all that foliage.

3 Sisters Planting

I am harvesting my courgettes and they are delicious. I learnt the lesson from my purple sprouting broccoli and I am only growing two plants, which will produce enough courgettes for us. I found a lovely recipe for them here. http://landcrofthouse.blogspot.com/2007/03/courgettes-roasted-with-bacon.html do try it, it's yummy!

Talking of purple sprouting broccoli, I am growing some more for harvest next spring. I intend to plant just three plants this time, so I can keep on top of the harvest and limit the amount of space they take up.

I have been very busy with photography for the NGS. I visited a most wonderful garden, which will be opening up for the first time, later on in the summer. Fritham Lodge, in the beautiful New Forest, is a little oasis of formal planting, in the middle of the wilderness.. There is a long border chocked full of herbaceous perennials, and borders, edged with box, housing the cottage garden favourites, roses and foxgloves. A productive potager, again edged with box which makes for a very attractive vegetable plot. (Just a small sample of photos, more to come)

Fritham Lodge

I also paid a return visit to White Barn in Ringwood. When I was there photographing in May, the spring bulbs were in full bloom and I got a wonderful surprise when I visited last week, as the garden looked completely different with all the summer herbaceous flowers,at their best. The roses and clematis looked gorgeous.



This really is my most favourite time of the year and with all this lovely sunshine we are having, it is making the summer even more wonderful. Just hope I get time for a swim in the sea this summer and I will pay attention to the flags, for those are instructions I will follow, for a change!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Summer Solstice Celebrations

Today is always a bitter sweet day for me: the longest day.
I have celebrated the winter solstice for many years. It's a chance to give gratitude for the year that's been and to welcome the sun back to the northern hemisphere but this year my friend Lorraine, invited me to come and celebrate the summer solstice with her and some friends, in a tipi in the New Forest.






Tipi

The evening was clear and bright and it was so lovely driving through the New Forest, that I felt nice and relaxed by the time I arrived at the tipi.

I have never been in a tipi before and it's amazing how roomy it is on the inside.



Inside the tipi

My life is so incredibly busy, so it was wonderful just to step away from it for one evening and to focus and meditate on the things which really matter.



Where we built our Apacheta

After our meditation, we walked up to the hill to a beautiful beech tree, where we built an Apacheta, to connect with the standing stones, of which there are many around Dorset and Wiltshire. With each stone we placed, we offered our good intentions.




Apacheta

Maybe I shouldn't be sad at reaching the summer solstice because we start loosing the light but I should appreciate the light we have right now.

My garden is blooming at the moment and it's not the flowers which stay for months which I notice and appreciate but the ones that are fleeting like the peonies. They are over now but they'll be back next year and I have the dahlias to look forward to, although the cold winter has sadly halved my dahlia collection. I think replenish and dig up the tubers at the end of the season will be the way to go next time.
Peace and harmony.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Greenhouse happiness and a my new Toby Buckland Book

The greenhouse is looking like a proper greenhouse, with tomatoes in the growbags, two types of peppers and lots of chillies, which need potting on and a fresh sowing of purple sprouting broccoli. It feels quite lovely, standing in there with the light streaming down from all sides. In fact it has got a bit too hot but I don't like greenhouse shading, so I think I will fashion some sort of blind out of fleece.

My outdoor tomatoes have been planted out and I need to sow some more peas (my first sowings now have flowers!) carrots and parsnips. I learnt a very interesting fact from my new book by Toby Buckland called Practical Gardening Handbook and that is to pinch ouf the first fruit of the courgette, pepper and aubergine as they tend of be quite tough and seedy and doing this encourages more tender fruits.

I love Gardeners' World so much, it's my favourite programme and has been for many years but why oh why is it only 1/2 hour, I haven't even finished my glass of wine before it's over!

My gravel garden is looking quite pretty, with the Peony, my new Poppy and Iris in flower and my Crambe Cordifolia, smells like honey. Next year I am going to develop another part of the garden, to enable me to grow lots of lovely plants. I was eyeing it up last weekend. It's just a scruffy patch of grass at the moment, half in full sun and half shaded by the garage, so I will be able to grow a good range of plants. I think I'll start making a wish list now.

Crambe Cordifolia
Iris
Peony


Poppy












Wednesday, 2 June 2010

NGS Aviemore

When I contacted Sandy and Alex Robinson about visiting their garden to photograph, they asked me to come in the morning before the garden opened. This was the first time they had opened their garden for the NGS, so they had no idea, how many people would come, plus they said the garden was small and thought I might find it difficult to photograph with lots of people milling about.

A chair covered in lichen

The front garden has lots of interest with shrubs which are in flower at the moment, and packed with perennials like irises and alliums. There is a lawn and a gravel garden with a natural looking pond. I would be very pleased if this was my back garden, it was so beautifully planted.



A welcome seating area under the tree

When I entered the back garden, I noticed that it was anything but small. The garden has been designed, so that you can't see it all from one glance. The lawn was immaculate, helping to set off the plants and the trellis running almost the width of the garden entices you to see what is beyond. On the other side of the trellis was a beautiful and productive vegetable garden.


Vegetable Garden



Cloche

The vegetable garden was laid out with raised beds, which are not only practical but also look attractive. I was very envious when I spotted the compost heap. The contents black and crumbly, something which still alludes me.
At either end of the vegetable garden are ornate bridges, made by Alex, which cross a little stream running through the garden and on the other side of the stream, is a little path meandering through plants, which leads to a little garden room, also made by Alex.



Stream


Stream with garden room


Garden room

Sandy has designed this garden to perfection. It's very inspirational and has given me some ideas for my garden.
Aviemore is open again this weekend 6 June from 2 till 5, so if you are near the New Forest, then I can recommend a visit.
The details for this garden are on the NGS website http://www.ngs.org.uk/gardens/gardenfinder/garden.aspx?id=22289
A gorgeous garden to visit with lovely owners and scrumptious cakes - a perfect combination!

Monday, 24 May 2010

A Shiny New Greenhouse

The greenhouse is now complete! Andy is making some staging to run along the back of the greenhouse and then we are good to go.
I bought some handy plastic trays for the grow bags to sit in and some bottomless pots, so I can plant the tomatoes into those, onto the top of the grow bags, so the roots have a deeper longer run, resulting in healthier, stronger plants and of course I had to buy a book to advise me of the ins and outs of having a greenhouse. I turned to a series of books which used to be my bibles when first learning about gardening over 20 years ago. I call them the doctor books because they were written by Dr D G Hessayon. All the expert books follow the same layout and they are brilliant no nonsense books.


Shiny new greenhouse

I think in hindsight I have too many purple sprouting broccoli plants. We harvested a bundle, blanched and popped them in the freezer but no sooner as my back is turned, it's sprouting again. It's now flowering away looking so pretty but I need to get out there and cut some more for the freezer.


Purple Sprouting Broccoli In Bloom


I think I will have to dig up the plants before they have expired, which is a shame but I really don't have any room to spare.

My three sisters method is starting to take shape although not without hitches. Firstly the sweetcorn has been a disaster with only 3 seeds sprouting, so I had to buy some little plants from the garden centre. The garden centres are now selling plenty of vegetable seedlings, so if you don't have the room to sow or you are too late to start them from seed, the garden centre can come to the rescue. My second hitch, which was really a mistake on my part, is that instead of planting the climbing bean seed next to the sweetcorn, I started them in modules and they are now about 5 inches high and ready to start climbing and the sweetcorn is only tiny but on the bright side, my little squashes are looking lovely; every cloud.............

In the flower garden, I have spotted a dahlia poking through and my Allium Purple Sensation is looking, well sensational!



Allium Purple Sensation

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is on this week and I will be glued to my television watching and taking notes. (My favourite so far is Roger Platts M & G Garden) I haven't been for many years and although I love going to Chelsea where you can appreciate the scent of the flowers which you can't through the television set, you definitely see more on the box, unless of course your name is Alan Titchmarsh!
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