Saturday, 6 June 2009

garden update

As reported, we're off to Surrey for the weekend, but by the magic of pre-scheduling, I bring you a brief update of the garden for those who have been asking.

It's slightly shaming how long it has taken me to accomplish so little. C'est la vie. Luckily I'm not easily embarrassed. The fact is, I don't have bags of free time and I with my back being quite a bit on the tricky side, I can only do so much digging at once. The soil here is pure clay and is as heavy and impacted as concrete; in fact, we're less than 5 miles from China clay pits that have been mined for hundreds of years and once belonged to Wedgewood.

That explains why the clay in my garden is strong enough to withstand a pickaxe. It would be outstanding on a potter's wheel, I'm sure. In my spade, however, it's a very different story. And you have to feel sorry for the plants that try to stick their roots down into it. Over the 5 or so years we have lived in this house I must have planted more than 200 bulbs - daffodils, lilies, assorted other things. To date I have about 6 daffodils that come up each year.

So, before I could plant anything, I had to dig in loads of grit and compost to try and make it a better habitat for plants. All through the winter, this border was a pond. The water just didn't drain. It would have made an excellent teacup.

So, section by section I dug in a bunch of stuff in an effort to improve the drainage. And as I prepared each section, I planted it up with a combination of plants I rescued from my garden before the builders moved in that over-wintered in pots, plants kindly donated by Jay's mum, and new things I bought especially. I'm a fern fan and keep picking them up when I see a nice one. Has there been a plan to my planting? Of course not. I've just been pretty much sticking stuff in and see what happens.

You may remember, this is how it looked over the winter.

This much took me about a week of dedicated morning & evening work:

A little more:

A couple of months on, it's been doing some growing.

I haven't quite finished that stretch yet, but I'm very impressed that for the first year ever I've managed to rear all my baby fuchsias into proper grown-up flowering plants. I just need to get them into the ground now.

And, as you can see, the other side of the patio still looks like this. So, there is still plenty to keep me occupied.

But I do have a question. Why is it that my carefully chosen selection of clematis, all different types and colours (according to the pictures on their labels) all turned out to be pink?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

bath (the dog show, that is)

Every year I say I won't enter the Bath Champ show because the weather is invariably disgusting; cold, windy and unbelievably wet & muddy. This year, however, I had to go because several of my puppies would be there, including Kaija making her debut. And, wow, were we blessed with the weather! It was sunny & blazing hot. We started out set up outside in the shade of the benching tent, but soon had to move in so that the Lappies wouldn't all melt away.

Keskiyo's lovely sister Curly (Elbereth Suvi at Cochochr) got her first Best of Breed. I'm sure it won't be her last, though, as she's a beautiful Lapphund. Taika was 3rd and Keksi 5th in the large Postgrad Bitch class. Tarkka racked up another Best Puppy in Breed and went on to represent the Lappies in the Puppy Group once again. And Kaija got best puppy bitch and has qualified for Crufts.

It was so much fun showing her, even though she was a teeny bit embarrassing, refusing to show the judge her teeth. Oops. That's always the toughest part for the pups, I think. Jane and Joe have gone off resolved to practice some more. Who knows? Once of these days perhaps Joe will have the nerve to take her in himself. Well, perhaps when she's a bit more used to the whole thing, anyway.

Here they all are in a rare still moment. Unfortunately, Daniel had to leave immediately after coming out of the ring so Keksi is missing from the group. Again, I don't have permission from any of these people to post their photo, so let me know if you object & I'll edit it straightaway.

L-R: Paula & Inko, Jay & Maija, Jo & Tarkka, Isabelle & Taika, Emily next to Kaija with Joe (Apologies for chopping your head off, Joe!)

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

visit to wigan

No matter my good intentions, and no matter how much dog-related stuff I have going on, apparently 5 posts a month is my limit, since that's what I've managed for the last 5 months. Unless there are puppies in the house, of course, then there's urgent daily news which simply cannot wait.

We're off to Southern Counties show this weekend which is always fun as we have a Finnish judge and a Rare Breeds class, to boot. It usually draws a large entry and I get to see people I only see once or twice a year. This time Jay & I are trying to get a couple of extra days away at the same time to stay with Jay's parents and meet up with a puppy person or 2. We are so very grateful to Jay's parents for always welcoming us with sincerity and good grace, 4 dogs and all. And, in fact, I'm pretty sure we've turned up with 5 dogs before too.

But in the meantime, there is much to catch up on.

On the drive down from Scotland, I stopped by for a quick visit with Sandra and Jaska. I was so excited to see him as it was my first glimpse since he was a tiny puppy. As always, it was difficult to get a photo in all the excitement.

Showing off, perched on the arm of the sofa, leaning on his arm in the manner of his funny mum. He bears quite a resemblance to both Neka and his sister Maija, I think.

Begging for treats with his big sister Kia (right). Kia and Jaska's sire Keskiyo are practically brother and sister: Their sire is Lecibsin Hapmi, and Keskiyo's dam (Elbereth Toive) is litter sister to Kia's dam, Elbereth Enkeli. So it's no wonder the two of them have such similar markings.

Finally, here is a very handsome and smiley Jaska sitting in their palatial outdoor pen. I'm so impressed with that pen and would secretly quite like to have one. Now, where would I put it, I wonder? Do you suppose I actually need a front drive? A garage? I'm sure I could find space somewhere.