29 February 2016

The last day of February.

Towards the end of last week we had a day with not too much rain,
 so we thought we'd make a start by visiting the garden centre.
We took advantage of the special offers on these bags of terreau.
Which we will need for the new flower beds.
However it's been far to wet to do any digging, 
so I've just been tidying up and snipping a bit here and there.
This blue glazed pot was used for an outside Christmas decoration.
I was ready to pull everything out but I hesitated 
as some of the pieces had started to root.
Don't know if it's due to the amount 
of rain and very little frost,
but I'll be leaving them
for awhile to see
what happens.
If they grow we could have some more Skimmia
like this, as this is the shrub I cut them from.

The Pieris is very early to flower this year'

this one is Forest Flame
I have three Pieris not sure which variety the others are.

The winter flowering Erica has grown very leggy,
It was fighting for the light, until I did some severe pruning.
When we came to live here a French lady who is now a friend
 gave me a few tiny rosettes of this plant.
She told me to tuck them into the cracks of a wall, and I would 
have the plant for life. Since then I have walls and pots full of them, 
and I'm always giving them away. I have since found out the name
which is Sempervivum and I've heard it called the Hen and chic plant.
It's reproducing rosettes all the time.

 I'd forgotten all about this plant Aucuba Japonica'Variegata'
It was hidden behind some Photinia, which have grown so big
this poor thing was being smothered, I'd rescued it last year,
 look at it now, the leaves all shiny and healthy, with lots of berries.
These miniature daffodils where planted in this part of the garden a few
 years ago and with a little tidying every now and then, it looks after itself. 
It joins the farmers field, so it's always full of wild flowers which I leave.
I also put some Buddleia cuttings a friend gave me and now they are massive 
If Buddleia is not pruned back each year, before you know it the shrub
 will become a tree. So the secateurs will be working hard 
this next week. Come rain or shine.
Can you see all the wild flowers already growing here?
they will fill in when the daffodils are past their best.
Looks like it's creeping buttercups shooting up there.
Further along the bank,wild violets are growing,
there were a lot more until the mouse popped out from this hole
I think he must have damaged the roots, with all the digging.

Each morning Mr France replenishes the bird table with a mixture of seeds
he then scatters some seed around this mouse hole. I've been trying my hardest
to catch him on camera, but he pops in and out so quickly.

Well after lots of patience I finally managed to get a few shots of him 

As you can see, not a lot of gardening has been done.
But I hope you liked following me around the garden
catching up on some progress I've been able to make.

Hopefully next time, weather permitting I should have lots to show you,

I have new roses to plant and one to move from last year.
which didn't like where it was. A new home needs to be found for it.

I see from some of the blogs I read some of you still have lots of snow.
What a strange winter this has been.
 I'm sure you are all looking forward to Spring.
I'll be back soon showing the progress in my garden.

à bientôt

Barbara Lilian

18 February 2016

Forced Forsythia

So much rain and now a covering of snow this morning. 
I needed some spring to lighten my heart.
  I'm so pleased that I had  brought some Forsythia into the house.
 A shrub had been damaged during the storm so I cut a few branches 
and put them in a vase near the window. With the warmth inside 
and the light it didn't take too long for the flowers to open.

Our weather forecast had shown, sun and a rise in temperature, however it 
didn't happen. It's been cold & we've had sleet falling on and off all day.
 This lovely bright spring yellow, has certainly cheered me up
 I've been browsing through my Edith Holden, Edwardian Lady books.
Nature notes 1905 and Country Diary 1906
She painted some lovely illustrations for both these books .
I've had them for a long time and only ever looked at the pictures.
Now I'm painting again they've  given me inspiration.
Reading the daily entries in the diary is so interesting, 
not unlike the way the weather has been so far this year.

If you like, nature, birds and wild flowers
these books are lovely to have.
I also picked a few catkins,
 when we were children we called them Lambs tails.

 On my last visit to Denmark I bought myself this slate tray. 
Just right to display a few bits & pieces.

I made this card,
 just For You.

Have you brought a little early Spring into your home yet.
Try something, especially if you have snow, it made me feel happy.

Until the next time.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

13 February 2016

Raindrops and Snowdrops

 snowdrops images free use

We've had so much rain, I've been in doors all week.
What do you do when your at home and it rains everyday?

It seems like most of you clean the house from top to bottom.
Have you met Daphne she decided to wash all her blue and white
crockery that she has on display. I didn't want to do things like that,
although she did make it sound a pleasure, pop over and take a look at her blog.
Every week she shares a tasty recipe, along with the music she listens to while
cooking/baking and she can make a visit to the dentist into an interesting story.

Those of you know me well,
know I'd rather be doing things in the garden, than dusting.
I'm always looking forward to Spring.

In between the few times it stopped raining, I had a quick wander around
the garden, and made a note of some of the things that I need to do
as soon as we get some dry days. Looking at the weather forecast
it won't be until the middle if next week.

I did another search to see if I could the find any snowdrops in bloom
 this is the variety I planted 2 years ago.

I still only managed to find one in flower, which had been
battered by the heavy rain, so I brought it indoors.

 Daphne spotted this lonely snowdrop amongst the
tete a tete daffodils in a photo I shared on my Facebook page.

I had hopes of the garden being full of white clusters of snowdrops.
Just like this.

 snowdrops images free use

There are so many different species. all so dainty.
Maybe I should have chosen a more hardy type similar to these.

 snowdrops images free use

I'll have to ask my friends if I can dig up some of theirs after they have
 finished flowering, to plant for next spring. Which is called planting
 'in the green' or wait till next Autumn and plant some more bulbs.

No gardening has been done, so I did the next best thing.
As I'd left my watercolour paints and journals handy
I had a great time sketching & painting Snowdrops.

This was painted in a Stillman & Birn Beta journal.
using Winsor & Newton pan paints.
I really like this paper it's thick so you can paint on both sides.

The next sketch was done in a  10 cm x 15 cm  sketch book made for me
by Valerie Gardener who has a lovely Sketching blog,
called Colours in the Briezh at the moment she is sharing sketches
 from her clothes  designed in the 60's.
She lives in northern France and travels a lot with her husband. She records
all their trips with sketches in situé. Her posts vary from time to time,
 I look forward to seeing her next posts as she is travelling again.

This sketch I did in the lovely handmade sketch book she sent to me.
All the pages are different types of paper.

 It's still raining,
and  while I've been doing these sketches, no dusting has been done.
Who cares, I'm back into watercolour painting,
and if we do have any unexpected visitors,
I'm sure they'll have come
 to see Mr France and I
'Not the dust'

All snowdrops images
are from snowdrops images free use

Have you got lots of snow drops in your garden ?
if so take some photos, I'd love to see them.

à bientôt

Barbara Lilian

08 February 2016

Time for a change.

It's nearly 4 years since I created my blog.
How I've grown since my first post. 
I don't mean physically but
 certainly in confidence.

You will often see me  write '' I'm not very technical ''
but with the help from friendly blogging friends, 
I've learnt so much about computers.
 Now I've advanced and also have an Ipad.

I haven't had it for very long, so I'm still wearing L plates .
 I haven't yet mastered how to transfer things to use on my blog yet.
  it's so much faster when searching Internet for information.
After I've found how to do things 
 I do need to write the instructions in my book.

otherwise, when I want to do it again, I've forgotten.

How do you like my new header ? 

I've been trying to do this for quite sometime
but never seemed to get it right.
Then I found this very informative blog 
'Blissfully Domestic' so pop over and take a look,
it gives easy to follow step by step instructions 
How to  make a  New Blog header using Picasa,
which I already use for effects on my photos,
so that was a bonus.

If your thinking of changing your blog header, have a go,
if I can do it, I'm sure you can.

I must admit, I've come a long way since my first post
which was in 2012 titled
 'Welcome to the 1st. page of my new blog'
and the header looked like this.

Which at that time I thought I was doing well, achieving a collage.
Now I'm feeling quite pleased with myself.
So I've given myself a big pat on the back
for achieving a more professional header.

I hope you like the changes I've made to the layout of my blog.

I'll be back soon.

à bientôt

Barbara Lilian

01 February 2016

Vegetable sketches.

Saturday morning after shopping, I was having my mid morning coffee,
and reading the blogs I follow.
 I saw that Ronelle from africantapestry
who writes and paints was
also having a mental block with her painting.
So I wasn't feeling so bad after reading that.
She describes this as losing her 'mojo'
Her post that day was vegetables.
ah - ha  I thought !

I'd just emptied the shopping bag,
full of colourful fruit & vegetables onto the kitchen worktop, 
and although I don't particularly like painting still life
the colours certainly looked tempting to paint. 
As I'd been lacking ideas to re-start watercolour sketch painting,
 and Ronelle who's style of painting I love
I thought this was an omen, I decided to get painting.

I'd recently been to a craft shop and bought a basic sketch pad, 
thinking this will get me started again.

Then when I feel I've really got my interest back,
I can go back to using my Moleskine journal again.

Paints and palette all ready.

A nice fresh bunch of Radish, almost like a posy of flowers
just waiting to be painted,
and delicious as well.

Painting palette, not touched for so long, all the blobs of paint dried up.
but amazingly just a few drops of water brought most of them back.

After a wobbly beginning, I used my Micron pens
and then mixed a few different shades of green.

 I roasted the Fennel with the potatoes, it was very tasty.

So thank you  Ronelle for the vegetable sketch you shared.
and my followers who have been encouraging me 
to do some painting. at least I've made a start.

When the weather improves 
I'll get out and try some scenic views and buildings for a change.
 I've joined an on-line painting course given by
who paints wonderful street sketches and snow scenes.
I'm hoping I'll learn something.
This is one of her paintings.

Winter snow scene by Shari Blaukopf

I'll be doing some (I mean a lot of ) practise lessons first,
before I show any of my efforts.

I'll say good bye
I hope you liked my sketches
and will come back again soon.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian