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Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15a NIV)I would love to hear from you, if you don't have a blog you can still comment, join google it's free. I appreciate hearing from you.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Walled Gardens...........

The old time gardeners were a breed unto themselves, they knew science and climate control. Oh they may not have been "educated" as we think of it now, but they knew.....they knew their art learned and passed down. There were many very famous landscapers and gardeners through the years who could plant a garden and know what it would look like hundreds of years after their death and they planned for that. They knew where to plant the trees to the best advantage and knowing what they would be like when full grown, they knew they would never see the end results of their art.
One such oddity is the walled garden. The protective high brick walls create a sheltered micro-climate. In this environment they could grow things that would not normally grow in England.

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Some walls had small doors in them, or even fire places whereby the gardener could control the temperatures by using a stove inside the hollow wall and letting heat escape into the garden. Very ingenius and allowing peaches, nectarines and grapes to be grown as espaliers against south-facing walls.
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Espaliers were a way of coaxing a tree to grow against its own shape and nature. They trained it up against the wall very carefully and so when grown it would look like it was meant to be that way. The heat and sun could reach every aspect this way.
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Walls also kept out the animals. In a lot of the big estates that had these types of gardens, they used sheep or deer to keep the lawns immaculate. The walls kept them from eating the produce or trampling the flowers. Did you ever wonder how they kept the grass cut before the lawn mower? I am guessing here but seems logical to me. Back in the days when the great homes of England had a huge staff, the food was usually home grown. So a walled garden was for fruit and vegetables. Now they are mostly flower gardens, but some still grow their own food. We visited the gardens at Chartwell and there is a walled garden there. Winston Churchill was a hands on man when it came to his garden. Deer do not do the damage to lawns that a horse or cow would. Sheep have to be moved around because they crop close.

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My Dad taught me a lot about gardens, didn't really teach me but answered my questions. Although our humble council house had a big garden it was only enclosed by fences and hedges. He did try his hand at manipulating our apple tree though and it grew flat like an espalier would. The best apples ever. I don't think they ever got ripe. They were gone as soon as edible. He taught me about grafting and so many things I would never need to know. He enjoyed it. He did gardens for others who had the money to put into them and he took great pride in doing so. That was his weekend relaxation that earned him a little for his pint down at the pub of an evening.

Nowadays the walled gardens in many stately homes make wonderful flower gardens. We were at Hever last year and they make wonderful environments for growing Roses
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If I had the time and money I would love to make a hobby of visiting all the stately homes in England and the British Isles. Scotland has some lovely ancient walled gardens.There were many abbey's and monasteries that made use of the idea too, even small cottage gardens may have walls around. Even a hedge or fence can have its effect by keeping the wind at bay. It takes something a bit more substantial to take care of frost though. Anyway, to me this is a fascinating subject but I better stop before eyes begin to glaze

Thursday, June 20, 2013

To the beach..............

Today we made a late start by going over to see Nancy, but we did end up going to the beach. I called Laura because Nancy was having a garage sale. I went last night to pick up some things she set aside for me. I thought Laura might like to look around. I bought a few more things myself. I will have to do a post in My Pretty Things blog.
Well anyway, we decided to have lunch first then set off for Glen Haven. It was hot today, not much else we could do. The kids were primed that we were to do something fun. They just had to behave and eat their lunch. So off we went. Glen Haven is on the State Park system now. I prefered it when we could do as we pleased. Dogs didn't have to be on a leash and so on, not that it matters to us now. We no longer take our dogs out like that, but in days gone by previous poodle pals have enjoyed their freedom to roam. At least we don't have to pay yet and we know some secluded places when we want them. So many tourists now.
We parked further up the road instead of the parking lot. We wanted privacy.
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We told them we were just going to paddle and not to get soaking wet. Just stay on the edge. We were looking for rocks. Yeah....as if.......
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We reminded them again....stay on the edge, dont go in.
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They did for awhile. Reina tucked up her dress and they played at throwing rocks. Tristens favourite game. Then came the splash and Tristen fell in.

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Can you say drowned rat?

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So, he is wet, may as well carry on.

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Next he needed to go to the bathroom............agh!!! Lucky we were approaching the Light house so we popped in so he could go. He was so wet he couldn't pull his pants up so I put them in my bucket and off we went. He went home in his Angry Bird undies. We collected stones a bit longer. Here is Laura examining the stones under the water. No Petoskey stones today. Nice piece of beach glass though. Very rare today. We seldom find it now everyone uses plastic.
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Laura on her way back, we wanted to get out of the heat...........

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On the way back we stopped at the overlook and took these pictues looking out over Glen Lakes. This is a part of the "alligator" called because of its shape. Not so obvious from here but in other pictures. So This is Big Glen and looking out over the trees to lake Michigan and I believe one of the Manitou Islands
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Looking the other way over "The Narrows" the bridge between Big Glen and Little Glen Lakes. In the distance you may see a small tip of the Sand Dunes.
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One last thing........we saw deer tracks on the beach. Remember Lake Michigan is fresh water (Michigan Unsalted) and so the animals come to drink. It is so clear so aqua blue, so beautiful we don't need to go to the South Pacific to have that lovely beach and privacy.

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Conked out on the way home

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we went country roads on the way back and took our time. Saw this chap......so cute.
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It was not long and Reina was napping too. They stayed for supper and then they went home. Tristen is so tired but still fighting sleep. Tomorrow we will go garage saleing.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tristens first bike ride on the Tart trail.......

Grandpa Dan took Tristen for a bike ride. The Tart Trail is a bike,hike,ski trail that runs from Traverse City to Sutton's Bay and also goes in the other direction. It runs in part where once there were railway lines. They biked a mile there and a mile back. Not bad for a first attempt. After all he is only 3 1/2. Dan has been doing 30 to 40 miles some evenings. So..........here they go.
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They stopped for breaks, and he had to explore too..........
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He had a little time to check out the water and see what's happening in the creek.
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They went a bit further and then had another break. Love the old barn. He liked the pump for the water and had fun with that.
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Here he is the day before doing a trial run around the neighbourhood. Dan takes him. I don't ride a bike. I never had one as a kid so never really learned. I mean I can ride but only just. Certainly not well enough to supervise a tot.
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Here they come
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Wave to Nanny
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He wasn't done, he wanted to go round the block again.
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One of these days I will have to try again. Last time I tried to ride my bike I found it very hard going..........come to find out my tyre was flat. Ho hum.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

English Butterflies........

Going back to when I was a child, as I usually do........well that is when I lived in Paradise. Sigh!! When I didn't know how fortunate I was......
I have told you that my Dad loved his garden, as did I. He gave me a love of gardens, of wild things and of the English countryside. We went on many country walks together, sometimes Mum came too. I see it as an idyllic time, it probably wasn't but in my memory it is. He grew wonderful Peonies and I have never had any luck with them. I don't think my garden has enough sun. I find that when I buy plants I buy memories. I love Iris because they were in his garden. I love Pansies because he had pansies there and there they grew all year. He had lovely stock, wallflowers and his garden shed was covered in Japanese Quince. The side of the house was covered in Honeysuckle and the front with Forsythia. That was until the Sparrows nested under his bedroom window. Then he pulled it down so they could not do it again. The windows would be open in the summer and no screens there so the breeze would blow in and so would the noise of squabbling Sparrows.
It's butterflies I want to talk about though. Some beautiful ones can be seen in English (British) gardens. Here is a Peacock butterfly.
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I get the name of the Peacock mixed up with the Red Admiral even though they are not alike.
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I can not look at this beauty and not believe in God. It does not make sense to me that these things came about by chance. If they did, then why would the flowers have landing strips for bees? Why would they advertise the way in for all the honey makers and pollenators. That can not happen without some form of communication in the process of creation. I don't understand how anyone can believe that but they do, and to each their own. Me I thank God for the beauty around us.
This is a Cabbage White.
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I know when Dad had vegetables the caterpillars were everywhere and had a sickening smell.I hated them. The worse thing was a bug that preyed on them, they would lay their eggs inside the caterpillar and then they were eaten from inside out, made me so sick to think of it that I disliked the butterfly as well. I have recovered from that now.
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The next one is the Small Tortoise shell butterfly. A very common one in Dad's garden.
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Also the Painted Lady
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Here two Tortoise shell and a Red Admiral
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The Comma
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The Common Blue.........not so common and very beautiful.
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This one is a Small Copper
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The next one is a Moth, I always though it was beautiful. A Tiger Moth..........I think the ones I saw were not as red as this but its been a very long time.


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These are just a few of the common butterflies that you will see in any English garden with pretty flowers. God's flying flowers.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tristen gets a bike...........

Grandpa Dan decided the little whipersnapper needed a two wheel bike. He has one at his Auntie Laura's. He was quite happy with his 3 wheeler having only just got the hang of that, but never mind. He is now the proud owner of a two wheeler with training wheels.
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So we proudly set off up the sidewalk.........this trip is only just up the path a ways
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Out of the front garden and up the sidewalk to the road where we turn around. He did have a little trouble turning around.........
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It started to get tough going on the way back, he was struggling.......see the determination on that face though.
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.....so he stopped to take a look, check out his tool kit and see if something needed to be fixed.
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It sure did......notice the front tyre, it's a little bit flat. Never mind.......with a few shoves from me we made it back OK.
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So the bike was put up for Grandpa Dan to fix. He did........ and Tristen got to ride another day.
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Friday, June 7, 2013

D-Day.........the beginning of the end.

Many films have been made of the Normandy Invasion but nothing can compare to the horror of being there. A friend of mine was on that beach and was severely wounded. He has live a life of pain and suffering. Oh he doesn't talk about it to anyone but I know his story from his wife. He was injured and spent hours under a tank waiting for help. For many years after the war he was a paraplegic but eventually regained the use of his limbs. He almost didn't make it, it was pure luck that when he was recovered and thought dead, someone heard him grunt as they threw him on the pile of dead. I wont say he was lucky, but he lived and lived a good long life now in his 90s he is in a nursing home and still in pain. The price of our freedom.
My Uncle was killed at Dunkirk, on the beach there and is buried in France. Some day I hope to make the trip to see that cemetery.
My Grandmother had 10 children and only one died. She had 5 boys and four went away to war. They all came back. Two served in the desert war and my father Harry, who was being trained for desert war was sent off to Singapore when Japan entered the war. He was captured there and spent the rest of the war in a Japanese prison camp, it changed his life forever. His brother in law was also captured as was a nephew of his. They all made it home. The tales of horror never repeated unless in a round about way while telling someone else's story. Or as is the British way, seeing humour in odd places, telling some funny stories.
My Dad told me about being set to guard the dead. Apparently the Japanese would put a dead person in a wooden coffin and leave a couple of people to stand guard (I didnt get that part of the story) .....one night Dad was standing guard with a young Japanese soldier/person. Well when the body settles air can escape and the body stiffens. In the silence of the night noises came from inside the coffin as the person inside expelled air from his lungs and his fingers scratched the bottom of the coffin. The young Japanese man went "white as a sheet" and ran screaming from the room, leaving good old Harry in a state of mirth. Being expert himself he knew all was well and didn't enlighten the poor young man.
Charlie McDonald who lived next door was a paratrooper. He was dumped over France prior to the invasion. Charlie was a very small man with a big heart. The most unlikely of hero's. No one could envision him jumping from a plane, but jump he did and he came home to tell the tale. We only hear of what the Americans did but they were only a part of that day. Americans do not like the French, and I hear a lot of stories about how they "let" the Germans conquer them and "walk right in" .............that is not the case at all and anyone who reads their history will know that. If it were not for the French resistance the invasion would not have been possible, or at least would have been much more difficult. Sometimes its better to live to fight another day. Many French people who were not in the Resistance helped the British and Americans along the way, especially the people out in the French countryside, and many died because they helped. Unless you have been invaded, please do not rush to judgement. America didn't enter the war until the end and certainly didn't win it single handed as many seem to think. I deeply resent some of the attitudes I have come across since living here. "We saved your arses" is a common misconception. No, you did not. In fact if America had not been attacked we probably would have fought a lot longer but would not have been fighting the Japanese as well. Who knows............Whatever........my intent is not to speculate on that but to thank those men who did go to war and loose their youth and die on foreign soil. They were young men, very young men. They gave it all and defeated Hitler and those who came home were never the same. War is never good, but that one had to be fought there was no other choice. Today we go for all the wrong reasons but that is another story.


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Thank you