The joys and sorrows of gardening

Three weeks ago my friend Bex nominated me for a Liebster award. The Liebster award is all about discovering new blogs to follow, so I was very happy to pass it on to three newer bloggers whose blogs I love.

Purple aquilegia

As a flower lover and aspiring gardener, of course, I chose my nominees among like-minded flower enthusiasts.

One of the bloggers I would like you to discover is a fellow countrywoman, Marieke Nolsen. She is a florist and a gardener with a lush floral blog. She doesn’t have much time to write, but she shares lovely pictures of her garden flowers. I especially love the collages she creates, with pictures of yellow and white spring flowers, different kinds of small purple flowering plants, or a variety of purple pansies. She really has an eye for colour and a distinct style.

Wreath with blue and white pansies - Cloverhome.nl

Violas are her favourites. I told you in my market days March how people are anxious to get some colour in the garden, they can’t resist the happy faces of the pansies. This lady certainly didn’t hold back!

Marieke hosts floral workshops using seasonal flowers, preferably from the garden, creating natural floral arrangements. She also has a passion for gardening and gardens as she arranges flowers or vice versa. I would love to join one of her workshops one day, I definitely need to practise my flower arranging skills, but for now I had to settle for a visit to her garden.

An old farmhouse in white, yellow and dark timber

Marieke lives in an old farmhouse that used to be part of an estate, Den Treek. The estate consists of woodland and heather, it’s very popular at weekends. We like to take the kids there for a walk or even a picnic in summer.

A meadow with two horses
Cuckoo flowers, or pinksterbloemen, in the meadow behind the house

The garden surrounding Marieke’s house is divided into four ‘rooms’ each with a separate identity. The garden was designed to fit the characteristic farmhouse, the flowering plants carefully selected to match the colours of the house.

The farmhouse was built in 1887

The garden consists of several flower beds, full of perennials and shrubs. Because she loves to work with fresh-from-the-garden material these are mostly flowers and foliage for cutting, like crab apples and hydrangea.

Last autumn Marieke went to a visit a large flower bulb grower and exporter. The flower bulbs were reasonably priced, she just couldn’t resist them and bought 1500 bulbs! It took two days to plant all the bulbs in the garden beds.

Blue and white pansies on garden table - Cloverhome.nl

Several times a year the garden is open to visitors. Marieke, of course, was anxious to have the garden ready for spring. She was hoping for flowers beds overflowing with tulips and visitors enjoying the bounty of spring bulbs. But, of course, you can’t fight Mother Nature.

This spring has been unusually cold and dry. As a result, blooms were about a month late. Only a few of the 200 tulips or so that were planted in autumn started blooming. Did they suffer from the cold, or did the voles (woelmuis in Dutch) get to them? These are the sorrows of gardening.

Despite these sorrows, there was still plenty to enjoy. The tulips that were in bloom, were beautiful, with large flowers on sturdy stems.

Flower bed with tulips, Muscari, daffodils, aquilegia

The combination of daffodils, white Lunaria, Muscari and yellow aquilegia in the front garden perfectly matches the white and soft yellow of the house. The aquilegia was planted to fill the gaps of the missing tulips. In my garden, it doesn’t bloom just yet.

Pots with white pansies and daffodils

The pots filled with white pansies, narcissus (Thalia) and dark green, almost black, holly made a very pretty picture.

I hope you enjoyed this garden tour as much as I have. I can’t wait to visit it again in summer and see the hydrangea in bloom! I promise I will take you there again.

Today being the last day of April, I hope to see you again next week for Market days April.

Orange ice pops for King’s day

We have a king, a queen and three lovely princesses. The queen likes to dress her girls in matching outfits, just as my mother liked to do when me and my sisters were little. I can’t remember whether we loved it or hated it. I do know that as soon as my eldest sister got to choose her own clothes, she wouldn’t wear a dress anymore.

Ice pop mold oranges lime juicer squeezer

But enough about me and my childhood memories. It’s King’s day next week! King’s day is a national holiday when we celebrate our king’s birthday. It’s one of my favourite holidays because of the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The Netherlands is a small country and we celebrate this day in a typical Dutch manner. There are no military parades, but children decorate their bikes for a neighbourhood bike parade. There are festivals all over the country and flea markets in many streets. City centres will colour orange because our royal family is from the House of Orange.

Orange lime juicer squeezer

We will celebrate King’s day in our own neighbourhood. The neighbourhood committee (we are very well organised) is hosting a coffee. We will drink ‘oranjebitter’, a liqueur made from oranges, and toast to the king’s health. There is no dress code, but a touch of orange is appreciated.

With spring, the sun shining and a holiday coming up, I think there are enough reasons to make ice pops. To stay with the theme I’m making orange ice pops but I like to add a lime for extra fresh flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lime
  • 100 grams sugar

Saucepan orange lime peel

Start by washing the fruit. Next, cut the oranges and lime in half and squeeze out the juice.

Make sugar syrup by heating 200 ml of water and 100 grams of sugar in a stainless steel saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves.

Cut the fruit peel in pieces and add to the saucepan for extra flavour. Boil for a few minutes. Then remove the fruit peels from the pan.

Add the sugar syrup to the juice and let it cool in the fridge for a couple of hours. The colder before freezing, the better.

Filled ice pop mold

Stir again before pouring into the ice pop mold. Put in the freezer overnight.

Orange lime ice pops

Remove the mold from the freezer, run warm water over the mold for 10 seconds, pull the pops out, and enjoy.

What’s your favourite holiday, and does it include any orange clothing?

Orange lime ice pops

Growing hellebores

Are you a member of the hellebore appreciation society yet? I certainly am! They are a garden favourite because they’re one of the first flowers to bloom in spring. They brighten up the winter garden while we are all longing for some colour. They are expensive, but they give a great return on investment.

Continue reading Growing hellebores

What I love about blogging

The lovely Bex kindly nominated me for a Liebster Award. If you haven’t heard of it before, the Liebster Award is passed around the blogging community to new or smaller bloggers. It’s simply a way of getting to know each other a little better. Because I loved reading Bex’s post, I thought I’d take up the challenge.

Bex and I met through a wonderful online photography course by Emily Quinton we took together. We learned about composition, finding the light and all the technical stuff. We shared and commented on each other’s pictures and it was so much fun! I can highly recommend it to any flower lover who wants to take better pictures.

Continue reading What I love about blogging

DIY turquoise Easter eggs

Easter is just a week away so I decided it was time to dye some eggs. While the kids are busy with their egg holder and paint brush I am working on my own project: dyeing eggs in different shades of turquoise.

Haven’t dyed your Easter eggs yet and looking for an easy project? These pretty turquoise eggs make an easy and inexpensive Easter decoration. All you need are eggs, a simple Easter egg kit and some patience.

Continue reading DIY turquoise Easter eggs

At the cutting garden

I love flowers and have always enjoyed a bouquet of fresh flowers in the house. Flowers are relatively cheap in the Netherlands and even in winter, there is an abundant choice of flowers and colours. I usually buy my flowers at the market. I love going to the historic city centre each week to buy vegetables and bread.
There is so much to see and always something to taste at the market. I enjoy the lively atmosphere in the streets and squares on market days.

At the cutting garden: dahlias - Cloverhome.nl

Continue reading At the cutting garden

Market days February

We live in a small but lively old city close to Amsterdam. We have it all: the canals, the canal houses, the picturesque bridges, but on a much smaller scale. You can even take a cruise through the canals. This is not a commercial canal cruise like the ones in Amsterdam, the captain and guide are senior citizens volunteering. Continue reading Market days February

Dream garden

It is still winter but there are signs of spring everywhere.  The snowdrops are the first flowers to bloom in our garden. Two varieties of hellebores lighten up the back garden, they are so pretty. There are also some green hellebores in the front garden. They don’t get much sun so they probably won’t open for weeks.

Helleborus in the garden

Continue reading Dream garden

Sweet pea love

I love flowers but I never grew my own flowers. Having a small garden and four little boys who wanted to play in that garden definitely had something to do with it. But then we moved to a new house with trees in the garden for the boys to climb in, a dream come true.

The house used to belong to an old lady and the garden was rather neglected. With moving house for the second time in one year and still a lot of painting to do, you can imagine gardening wasn’t the first thing on my mind.

Starting sweet pea seeds the easy way. All you need are an empty cardboard egg carton, soil, seeds and a plastic bag. Put the egg carton on your windowsill.

Continue reading Sweet pea love