The meteorological winter has begun and in the Netherlands, everyone is excited about Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, coming to town this weekend. He brings his gifts on the evening of December 5th, riding the roofs on a white horse, delivering presents by the chimney. The Dutch took this tradition to America and Sinterklaas evolved into Santa Claus. Gift-bringing at Christmas is gaining popularity each year, but Sinterklaas is still more popular. Because my husband’s family is German we both exchange gifts at Sinterklaas and on Christmas Eve. Our children must be the happiest kids in the world.
Het bergje: a small mountain in the Low Countries
I live in a country called ‘Nederland’, the Netherlands. In France, they call it ‘les Pays-Bas’, the Low Countries. And it’s true, the landscape is mostly low and flat, with large parts of the country (ca. 26%) actually below sea level. Knowing this, would you believe I live on a mountain? The area around my neighbourhood has been called a mountain for centuries though it is really only 44 metres above sea level. This means it probably only qualifies as no more than a hill.
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5 things I learned about garden photography
Last Saturday, I attended a garden photography workshop hosted by Modeste Herwig at the Botanical Gardens in Utrecht. The weather forecast for the weekend didn’t look very promising. Fortunately, it didn’t turn out as bad as predicted. So I spend most of my day outside, in a beautiful garden, doing what I love to do most: photographing flowers.
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Dahlia garden update: my favourite cut flower dahlias
Hello there, welcome back to my blog! After my long break, I am happy to take up blogging again and share my love of flowers with you. Today, I am taking you to my dahlia garden and I think it’s about time! We have been back from our summer holiday for two weeks now. Those weeks rushed by unpacking and doing the laundry. I have been trying to catch up in the garden and my boys have been getting ready for school.
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My top 3 flowering trees to enjoy spring blossom
Is it spring where you are? If so, does it feel like autumn where you are? We have had a cold week, with rain and winds, thunder, lightning and even some hail. It really has been an unusually cold May.
I went to the market this morning. The vendors were complaining and ordering soup from the lady with the coffee and soup cart. I bought peonies! If you’d like to see them, have a look at my Instagram account.
On such chilly, grey days, it feels like we have skipped summer altogether and it’s autumn all over again. To remind us that it is, indeed, spring, I thought it would share my top 3 spring blossom trees.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. It was 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, gardening wasn’t the first thing on my mind.Continue reading Sweet pea love