Tag Archives: gardening

Potager, Leftovers, Castle. In That Order

10 Apr

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Hot hot hot today! It was too good to stay indoors and we’re lucky to have an enclosed garden so I spent most of the day working on it. It’s the silver lining in the lockdown, having time to do stuff like this. The garden was really scruffy and overgrown after the very wet and mild winter. We’ve got a mixture of fruit, vegetables and decorative plants so I suppose that technically it’s a potager. My Japanese acer is just coming into leaf and the colour is fabulous.

pizza

I had some leftovers in the fridge, a bit of pastry from when I made quiche the other day, some laverbread and a scrap of bacon, so I put them together to make a Welsh pizza, topped with Tintern cheese and a few tomato slices. Into the oven, Gas mark 5 for 30 minutes and it was delicious. Leftover meals are great. I never waste food.

 

castle

And we went to the allotment quite late to do some watering. We have a permit from our local authority to go there as long as we practice strict social distancing. It’s easy enough as the site is so large. As we left, the lights by the castle came on, it was lovely. We’re so lucky to live here.

 

 

Clean Green Space

4 Apr

allotment 1a

We’ve just had our letter from the local council giving us permission to go to our allotment during the lockdown. We’re so lucky. We’ve had the plot about 12 years and it’s not been easy – a very heavy clay soil, surrounded by woodland. A few times we’ve considered giving up but I’m so glad we stuck with it because now it’s a godsend. We were there for nearly 3 hours today, getting exercise, fresh air, sunshine and growing food. It’s just below Oystermouth Castle and you can see the castle behind the trees in the first picture.

allotment 2

Because we’re overshadowed with woodland at either end, it’s hard to grow crops in those areas so I’ve created a small woodland garden between the shed and Compost Corner. The hellebores and primroses are in full bloom but the little daffodils are dying back. The wild garlic is about to flower and the arums are flourishing. The apple and plum trees are just budding.

allotment 3

This is the view that greets us. There’s a wooden shed hiding behind the greenhouse. There’s loads of wildlife here too. The birdsong was beautiful today and we’re visitied by foxes, squirrels and badgers, who are very fond of sweetcorn. We’re so lucky to have this space at the moment. I really feel for people who live in the larger congested cities with no access to clean green space.

 

Survival Kicking In

27 Mar

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I seem to have gone into some weird default setting, a deep seated survival instinct. I’ve been wondering why I’m finding it so hard to do any art at the moment – surely the greatest crisis within living memory would kickstart some creative ideas? But no. Instead I’m digging my allotment, planting seeds, picking crops, cooking, preserving, using up leftovers, recycling, storing.

Art is a higher function. Food is a basic need. Something deep seated has been triggered and the energy I would normally be putting into my studio is now going into my kitchen and allotment. Today I bottled some rhubarb and made rhubarb cordial. We’ve got a glut of rhubarb this year. Normally I’d be making crumble and upside down cake with it but Husb has decided to give up sweet things for a while because he thinks he’s putting on weight and I can’t take cakes around to friends and relatives because we’re on lockdown. There’s loads more in the ground ….. tomorrow I’m going to make rhubarb gin.

Growing and Baking

26 Mar

amelanchier

Husb and I are taking advantage of the enforced national lockdown to spend time on our allotment – it’s one of the few places that has been sanctioned. It’s great, we can drive there and avoid people and it’s so huge that it’s easy to remain isolated. We’re practicing the enhanced hygeine and getting so much work done, getting crops ready for the coming months.

The allotment is on an old site at the top of a hill behind a Norman castle, with woodland bordering the site along two sides so it’s a bit dark at the top and bottom ends, but it’s worth it because the place is so idyllic.

We have some crops ready to pick – rhubarb and wild garlic, Ramsons, that’s self seeded onto the plot from the woods. Sorrel is nearly ready too. I’ve been digging over some of the beds and preparing for beans and leeks while Husb has been doing maintenance to the shed and raised beds – and clearing out a rat infestation in the shed!

scones

We were home by lunchtime and I carried on with some work from our home office while Husb made cheese scones. They’re lovely.

Plants from the top: Amelanchier lamarckii, or snowy mespilus; a Mirabelle plum in the foreground of the photo of the allotment; rhubarb; loganberry flowers just budding; plum in full flower.

 

Rhubarb And Beansprouts

24 Mar

Today started weirdly. I’ve been pretty gung-ho about the coronavirus so far but when I got up this morning (I didn’t want to get up) I stayed in my pyjamas for ages and comfort ate from a huge bag of salt and vinegar crisps. But then I pulled myself out of it and got stuck into sorting out the garden – it needed a good clear up after the winter. I picked a tidy crop of rhubarb as well – haven’t decided what to do with it yet – crumble, chutney, bottled and gin are the options.

rhubarb

I also started off some beansprouts. I had a box in the pantry that I’d forgotten about. They’re a quick crop, 3 – 5 days and there should be a decent amount and they’re really nutritious. I’m still finding it hard to get motivated to make art, but there’s plenty to do in the house and garden which seems more appropriate for the times really.

 

The Same Thing Every Year!

15 Apr

herstory

It’s the same every year on our allotment (community garden). Husb and I resolve to do the correct thing and work on it for an hour, then two, then three and so on, building up the muscles that have atrophied over the deluge that passes for the British winter. Unfortunately, the deluge keeps on happening in this little corner of Wales and so whenever there’s a rare glimmer of sunshine, we rush down to the allotment and work for as long and as hard as we can to keep on top of the couch grass and weeds that thrive in our temperate wet climate. Yesterday was one of those days. We went down in the morning to do a “couple of hours” but ended up working through nearly seven hours of hard labour. It felt great at the time but today….!!!! I’d be on my knees if I could bend down, which I can’t.

Welfare poster

This afternoon was the launch of a group exhibition that I have some work in, at The Welfare in Ystradgynlais. Here I am with “Herstory”, the collaborative piece I did for International Women’s Day with graffiti artist Unity. I think I’m making a good job of disguising the fact that every muscle in my body (so it seems) has seized up! Oh, and it poured with rain. Again.

Daily Habit

14 Jun

Cafe 360

I’m falling back into good habits. For years I’ve been doing a drawing every day, even if it’s just a sketch that takes a minute or two. I think it’s like a singer running through her scales each day, good practice. But lately, I’ve fallen out of the habit and although I’ve been doing a lot of drawing, they’ve tended to be more complete drawings, often doing several at a time and I’ve neglected the quick little daily practice sketch. So a few days ago I dug out my tiny flowered sketchbook and I’ve been randomly sketching wherever I’ve been. These two women were scribbled at a party celebrating the wedding of two old friends, who were tying the knot after 25 years together. Marvellous. 😀

That’s sage and golden marjoram behind the sketchbook, I photographed it in my herb pot in the garden.

Rhubarb At The Castle

8 May
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Rhubarb in pen and graphite

Too warm for me today, temperature around 21 Celsius, so Husb and I didn’t get down to the allotment until about 4pm, when it was staring to cool off a bit and I could do a load of digging without flaking out. Our allotment is on a site sandwiched between two woodland glades and right behind the 12th century Oystermouth Castle in Mumbles. It’s an idyllic setting but the soil is poor, a heavy clay and very hard to cultivate. But it’s good exercise and we generally harvest a good crop of fruits. Most veg need a lighter soil so we’ve built some raised beds and we’ve had moderate success with leeks, chard, rocket, potatoes, runner beans and broad beans. I’m trying out some beetroot and peas this year. Brassicas are a non-starter; as well as the poor soil, everything eats them.

oystermouth castle

Oystermouth Castle at twilight

 

If you would like to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

Allotment Break

4 Oct

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I spent almost all of September at The Bagpuss Window, a semi-derelict shop that became a spontaneous artspace for a few weeks before demolition. Ironically, after our awful summer of torrential rain, September was glorious and I was stuck indoors for most of it. I took the keys back to the owners last Thursday and spent the next 3 days taking an allotment break. It’s been neglected and needs a lot of maintenance as well as catching up with some Autumn sowing. It’s been lovely to be in the fresh air and gentle late sunshine, digging for hours. I love digging, I could do it all day. I planted some Meteor peas today and a late sowing of kale yesterday. I shovelled some manure onto a bed to lie fallow for a month or so, ready for a November sowing of Aquadulce broad beans.

Rain is forecast for the next couple of days so I can stay in and take stock of everything that happened at The Bagpuss Window. I took loads of photos and did a lot of filming so I need to start collating all the images and then decide what I’m going to do with them. So much happened and it would be a shame not to document and publish it. Here’s a detail of the large wall drawing I did. Most of it was spontaneous and done under the influence of gong music. More of that to come…..

Bruises, Plums And A Nude

31 Aug

Pat portrait

Today there was sunshine! After a month of monsoon we had a dry day so Husb and I tackled our back garden, which had grown into a lush jungle after all the torrential rain throughout August (apparently the wettest August since records began). It’s become so overgrown that we spotted a huge rat hiding in it a couple of days ago. We did about 6 hours and my Felco secateurs were so over-used that I now have a bruised and painful right hand. That’ll teach me. An artist without a usable hand is pretty useless! I’ll rub some Arnica cream in before bed.

Went to visit Mam-in-Law later and she’d foraged about 3 pounds of plums so I’ve got a pot of plum chutney simmering on the stove. Husb had to help me cut up the fruit because my hand is so sore. I used a recipe from Mam-in-Law’s old cookery book that was published over 60 years ago. I adapted it to modern tastes; garlic wasn’t common back then and I used fresh instead of ground ginger and wine vinegar instead of malt. I’ll be putting it into jars about 11pm, but it’s worth the effort. There’s nothing quite like cheese on toast with home-made chutney.

This is another of my older drawings, done about 8 years ago (doesn’t time fly?) when I was experimenting with watercolour and drawing pens. I like the way my brain just turned everything so psychedelic. It wasn’t planned. Maybe I should be worried…… 🙂

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