Sunday, February 26, 2017

Silver Linings and Frenemies

Sometimes things which appear disastrous turn out to have hidden rewards, and those we take to be our friends are actually not so benevolent; this has been my recent experience at least. 

The fire which almost destroyed Shoestring Cottage seemed to be a bad setback, and a large part of the garden was destroyed, but now that there is more light being let in after destruction of most of the cherry tree, things which never would have grown there are thriving.  To begin with I plonked in a lot of colourful and bulky annuals, and how well they have rewarded my faith in them!  

The cleomes, those odd looking, old fashioned spidery flowered plants, have romped away and they are in such pretty purple, pink and white shades that they have added a whole new range of colours to the garden.  (So much for that long ago concocted plan of having a white garden but the more colour the better at present.)  The other annuals which have risen to the challenge are the mallows, also in pinks and with the odd white one thrown in for good measure.

The canna lilies took the fire as an encouragement to prosper and show off all their wild colours, so there is a rather odd contrast between the oranges, reds and yellows of these subtropicals and the pinks, purples and whites of the newcomers, and though it’s not a colour combination anybody would have planned out for the garden, at least it has stopped the weeds from taking over while the earth was bare.  

The bees and butterflies are having a field day and everybody is happy.

I can’t remember planting this moon flower but I have tried them before with not much success, and this time seem to have hit the jackpot, no doubt because of more warmth and light with the boughs of the old cherry tree being removed.  Or maybe this is one I planted before the fire, which has recovered despite its singeing.  

Because I lavished the scorched earth with compost and coffee grounds (my cure for whatever ails the garden), a few unexpected things have popped up, such as this tomato seedling which I have left alone and am surprised to see has survived and now has a little crop of fruit, even though it might be a bit late in the season. 

On the down side though my former friends in the garden, the thrush family, upon whom I lavished so much affection, have rewarded me by raising a clutch of motley and speckled young who are intent upon shredding the coconut fibre liners in all my hanging baskets and whom I also suspect of being the culprits in wrenching all my lavender seedlings out of the earth.  I find it hard to smile upon them in their new incarnation and these frenemies also seem to have stopped eating the snails.  I am wondering if they have turned their attention to my grape vine, which has its first ever crop of fruit, but I could be unjustly blaming the thrushes here, it might be the entire group of avian frenemies, starlings, sparrows, thrushes and mynah birds who are feasting on the grapes as soon as they ripen.

Another wonderful Art Deco Weekend has passed and as per usual it seemed to be the best ever.  The weather for once did not smile on us and we had a weekend with rain and not much sun, but it was fine on the first evening when we went for a walk and saw a beautiful sunset, and also when the Gatsby Picnic was on.  Because it wasn’t as hot as it usually is, we were able to wear our furs comfortably and the balls, dances and dinners were all wonderful.  We met some new friends who come from Australia and have their very own deco names just for when they are attending, and we thought that was a splendid idea, so now just have to settle on our own names for future years.  On the way to Napier Lord and Lady Raglan were very patient as we scoured every op shop along the way, and then of course when we revisited on the way back to pick up things we had been uncertain about at the first visit.  My best buy wasn’t from an op shop, I found it in the antiques and collectibles fair, and I think it will be a standby for winter deco and future years.  To be honest the gauntlet gloves are so much on the snug side that I may have to carry them about with me rather than wear them, but they will look most stylish all the same.  And the handbag has the most clever clasp which is two acorns pressing together. 

Also I picked up two wonderful works of art to add to the walls at Shoestring Cottage. (I hesitated to tell Mr Shoestring that there are 19 of them on the walls of one room alone now, as he struggled to reach high enough to add the latest additions.) 

They march all the way up the wall and there isn’t much space left, so I have begun to try to give some away to obliging family members, with some success.  That’s only the less colourful ones you understand, not my personal favourites which are full of unlikely depictions of the natural world with emerald green grass, azure skies and sparkling sapphire waters.  One of the new additions had a bridge (I didn’t think of this to begin with, but it fits in with the bridges theme of one grouping), and who would have thought in the beginning that there would be so many of them?  These two paintings were actually a bargain because Mr Shoestring charmed the op shop lady into giving him a discount, almost two for the price of one!

Now that art deco weekend is over for the year we have turned our attention to more fun things to cheer ourselves up until winter deco, and have hit upon the idea of A Day At The Races party.  The local racing club will be the venue and we are going to take an old fashioned boot picnic with tasty dishes  such as asparagus rolls, bacon and egg pie and maybe lamingtons as well.  Ladies to wear their prettiest “frocks” and hats, gentlemen their country squire jackets.  Plaid blankets to sit on, wicker baskets to hold our picnics, and a mixture of pretty china to serve the dainties.  Therefore this plate was a must.

Luckily we can hire a gazebo in case of inclement weather and some bunting will be a nice addition.  The personalised invitations have been sent out, so let planning commence.  When I saw Mrs Peaceable and tried to bully her into making her delicious bacon and egg pie, of which Mr Shoestring is inordinately fond, she seemed to take it in good spirits so I have high hopes for a delicious repast.  Maybe sangria or pretty fruity punch.  Mr Shoestring is already on the lookout for a shooting stick to sit on, but I had to forbid Mr Peaceable from wearing jeans.  Standards must be maintained, after all! Happy days, happy days!