Wednesday, 27 March 2013

It is still cold!

Sorry for being absent for such a long time, I haven’t written a new post since Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th March, and I haven’t visited any other blogs since then either. Between lots of hospital appointments and getting adaptations granted by my housing association  sorted on my house there really haven’t been many evenings where I felt like sitting down writing. And if I did, what should I write about? How nice my spring garden looks?? Ha! I can tell you straight away that my garden looks pretty much the same as last time you saw it, not much change in almost 2 weeks thanks to the incredibly cold weather we have had!

I have lost count how many times it has snowed this winter, which is quite a thing in itself, usually it snows once or perhaps twice in a winter in London, often not at all – this winter we must be well over 10. We haven’t had any major snowfall within London, not like other parts of the country where they now have piles of snow along the roads measuring up to a meter and even more. Here in London the snow has usually melted before next load so it never mounted to too much, but it has been cold, bitterly cold for months on end. Apart from a few very brief warm periods we have had cold weather since late November. We might as well have lived in Norway, where I am from! I heard on the news today that March 2013 is the coldest March since 1962, which apparently was a record braking cold year here in Britain. I can believe it, March has been mostly minus degrees at night and below 5 degrees Celsius at day. Brrrr! And according to long term predictions, April isn’t going to be particularly good either, the jet streams that gives us this cold weather are staying put and will give us colder than usual weather in April too. Apparently. Brrr!!

This is what snowfalls in my garden usually have mounted up to, a light drizzle everywhere. There is more stuff like this coming tomorrow, no let up yet!


Most of the flowers that are out so far can cope with the snow, those that can’t have wisely not started flowering yet...


…like my camellia, those 4 flowers that were almost open 2 weeks ago have opened - and have frost damage, but none of the other hundreds of buds has any sign of wanting to open. Smart flowers. It might be May before my camellia is in full flower this year!


The hyacinths have grown a bit the last 2 weeks, just a bit, but at this rate they are weeks away from flowering. They usually flower in late February!


My crocuses are keeping their flowers tightly shut, too cold and no sunshine. This is Crocus 'Prince Claus' finally making an appearance. I planted 50 of him, only 4 has come up so far, not sure where the rest is – is it too cold for the Prince?


My pretty ballerinas are continuing to grow, slowly, slowly, but there is no sign of them opening the flowers. I completely understand, it is just too cold!


Here are another group of flowers to come, once this bitterly cold weather has gone somewhere else. My tulips were in full flower on the 15th March last year, I have no idea when they will flower this year, but I think they just need some warm sunshine for a few days. So do I too, to be honest!


The anemones have just about started to flower, not many of them yet, and none of them are completely open yet but it is an encouraging sign.


Sadly, some of my plants has suffered from this exceptionally long drawn, cold weather. This Euphorbia amygdaloides purpurea is evergreen and looks rather in a sorry state, not sure how it will recover, unless I cut it down.


And look at this hellebore! Have you ever had frost damage on your hellebores? I have never had that before, when I first saw it I couldn’t believe it, I thought my hellebores had contracted some sort of disease, but I realised it was just the prolonged cold weather that did this.


I have already cut off these flowers, and some of the others look pretty bad too, I don’t think there’s much chance they are going to produce any seeds so not much point in keeping them. The look like cut flowers in a vase after going off! Never seen anything like it, and I have had hard frost in my garden many times before.


And this was the only helleborus niger flower I got this year, from 2 plants. One flower – which now is horizontal from frost damage to the stalk. The new leaves are barely visible at the stem, they don’t seem to want to come out yet.


So with all the cold weather for weeks on end, snow and bitterly cold winds, I haven’t done much gardening. To be honest, there hasn’t been much gardening to do except the occasional tidying up. Instead I have concentrated on this area of my garden, this is the part I normally don’t show – the part behind me when I take my overview photo of the garden. As you can see, half of the patio has been filled with pots of various seedlings and cuttings and lots and lots of dormant plants and bulbs waiting for some warmer weather. My green nursery shelf in the background is absolutely packed all year round with plants and I have for a long time wanted to get some more shelves in so I could grow some more seedlings and cuttings.

This passage along the fence is perfect for some more shelving so that’s what I have been doing these last two cold weeks, putting up shelves in my garden.


And here they are, in the bleak sunshine we had for a brief period today. The 4 shelves are 61cm wide each, a total of almost 2.5 m long and 1.3m tall, in solid plastic.


When a lot of this stuff is gone, planted out in the garden, I will use the top and second shelf to grow vegetables in window baskets. I have never grown any vegetables before, only strawberries and herbs, so this will be a new project for me. Just have to get the temperature up a bit so I can sow some seeds!


The next area to get my attention is the seating area. I have wondered for a long time what to do here, as the space is quite small. I moved things around today and got rid of the large table I have had here for the last 10 years, that helped a bit. Ideally I would like to have one of those outdoor sofas so I can have somewhere to lie down and also somewhere to sit like I do on my sofa indoors; across with my legs up. The problem with those outdoor sofas is that they are terribly low and therefore difficult for me to get up from, they take a lot of space and they are ideally supposed to be stored indoors during the winter. I am still wondering what to do here....I’ll let you know when I have decided :-)

Oh, by the way, did you notice this thing in the corner on the previous picture with the raincoat on?



I have finally got myself a chimenea! I haven’t been able to test it out yet, it has been so cold that the thought of sitting down, even with a fire hasn’t really been that tempting. I usually go out in the garden and do some work for an hour or so and then I go inside and warm up again under my electric throw. But I will test out this chimenea soon, it will need to be moved out to the middle of the garden though before being lit, if I lit it up here it would melt all the plastic tubing on the outside of my house – a not very decorative necessity on Victorian houses where indoor toilet was an unaffordable luxury.

The chimenea is made of cast iron and steel, and painted with heat resistant paint. It needs the raincoat to not rust too much in the British weather, but it will rust a bit anyway so a new coat of paint every now and then is apparently necessary. Time will tell, I think it is a lovely piece of sculpture and I hope I can free it from its raincoat as soon as possible, when we get a bit better weather, so the chimenea can be enjoyed properly as the big statement it is. In the mean time I am still pondering about what to do with this seating area. Still pondering...

Until next time – whilst waiting for some much needed sun and warm weather, I will try to visit some of the blogs I have not been able to visit the last 2 weeks. Stay warm, take care!

52 comments:

  1. Oh, but it looks so lovely with the bit of snow surrounding the blooms! Sounds like your temps are similar to ours now. I had heard that Europe was having some cold temperatures. And here in the northern U.S., spring is just starting to make its presence known--very late. I can't wait to see what plants are ready to poke through after the snow melts! I've never had frost damage on my Hellebores, but I never remove the leaf mulch until mid- to late March. We shall see--it has been a long winter!

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    1. Oh, yes it has been a very long winter, and unusually cold, we haven't got houses here in Britain for proper winter temperatures, my house has no insulation in the floors or walls, only in the loft - typical Victorian British house.

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  2. Sorry to hear you've not been well Helene. The good news here is that we are finally getting some melting of snow... unfortunately the more the snow recedes, the more rabbit damage I find. Hope your weather improves and do take care... Larry

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    1. Thanks Larry, I am reasonably OK, just a lot of hospital appointments – but the cold weather takes its toll on me, I need some warm weather and sunshine :-)
      I wish there was an easy solution for those pesky rabbits, but if there had been one you would probably have got rid of them already. I hope there won’t be too much damage and that the trees will recover.
      Take care, Helene.

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  3. Helene, wow, you have got Chimney or is a fireplace?! I'd love to have it in my garden too.
    I love your nursery shelves. Mine are similar, but smaller and I cover them with plastic when is cold and snow.
    Have a nice week!

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    1. Nadezda, my fireplace is called a Chimenea, it is a combined fireplace and BBQ and can take any kind of fuel including bio-fuel. I will write a separate post about it when I have used it to explain how it works, but basically it is made for people to be able to have a fireplace in small gardens, where an open fire would perhaps be forbidden and make too much smoke.

      Have a nice week you too!

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  4. I hope you are feeling better now. I have never seen frost damage on a hellebore. Didn't realize they would get it! I do love the chimenea. Sounds like it might come in handy this year! The flowers will all pop at once, once the weather begins to realize that it really is spring! We certainly can't go by the calendar this year, and the smart flowers know to stay warm and toasty in their beds until it's safe to wake up!

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    1. I hope we will get a Norwegian spring this year, where everything starts blooming in one crazy week where you can literarily see the flowers grow! We need it if we are ever to catch up here!

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  5. Helene I was really surprised to see so many pots with seedlings and so on. And then all those shelves full of plants. That is what real gardeners do, potting and repotting, but it is still so cold. At this moment there is some snow falling again, so I suppose we cannot sit outside for a while with Easter, even not with a throw or a fire.

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    1. It was snow here today too, just a light drizzle, but it tells you how cold it was – can’t wait to try my new chimenea!
      I have always been taking cuttings and divisions, and often given away plants when they are mature as I haven’t got room for all myself. Many of the plants are used as fillers when the bulbs and spring plants have died down to fill in the gaps.

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  6. How tidy is your garden Helene! It was nice to see part of your garden we don't usually see.
    Very nice chimenea - aside the practical uses they do make a nice statement. Your shelving looks really sturdy and will be very usefull to you in your first foray into veg growing. I wish you luck and a good harvest!
    I have pots dotted around everywhere - I should take a leaf out of your book and get organised!

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    1. Thanks Angie, I like a tidy garden :-)
      I got the shelves in B&Q, they were on offer for £14 each so not too bad. They are really sturdy and with no screws or metal parts nothing can rust outside. I am really happy with it!

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  7. Looks like you've got yourself a minature nursery with your wonderful collection of pots! I wish mine looked as organised :-) The early stage of your Crocus looks beautiful... will look forward to seeing this one out.. Have a lovely Easter - Miranda

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    1. Thanks, with such a small garden as mine, with everything on display and nowhere to hide mess it just have to be tidy :-)
      A lovely Easter to you too!

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  8. Very nice Primula and the crocus should be blooming very soon. I like the way you've designed your garden around the path ...

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    1. Thanks, I got rid of the last bit of lawn 18 months ago and made the path instead, best thing I have done for the garden - more space for even more plants. And in the summer it all closes in with lots of tall plants so you can't see where the path ends, the garden looks very different in the summer, you must come back and see it in July :-)

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  9. Hi Helene
    Sorry to hear about hospital appointments and housing association problems. Hope everything clears up soon.
    My heart broke seeing that poor frozen hellebore! I have just recently become aware of hellebores and now I just love them! What a shame to see such a beauty looking so sad… Hope you (and us!) get warm weather soon!!

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    1. Hi Astrid, it is the first time I have had a frost damaged hellebore too, I am watching the rest very closely, and the three new I have just received that are still in pots get special treatment, they are wrapped in bubble wrap! Hopefully they can go in the ground soon, I am just waiting for slightly warmer days so I can get some planting done, don’t want to plant new plants into soil that gets frozen solid every night!

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  10. When I see your garden photos, I am always surprised to see how many plants you get into a small space! I really like the chimenea.
    Have a blessed week-end!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. Hi Lea, I am surprise myself! I have been saying for years that my garden is full, and I still manage to find space for more. I have at least 50 more plants to go in this spring, and I am planning to sow poppies everywhere there is a tiny gap! Have a great week-end you too :-)

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  11. I hope you are feeling so much better now Helene. I think the cold does'nt do you any good. In my litte garden I neigther have space to place an outdoor sofa. Overhere the bulbfestival starts within 2 weeks. But when you see the bulbfeelds nearly 2 cm of green of the tulps are above the soil. We have to stay positive one day the cold will be gone (I hope).
    Have a wonderful Easter Helene

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    1. Thanks for your concern Marijke, the cold weather is not good for my arthritis and I can’t wait for some warmer weather and some sunshine! I have seen photos and film on TV from your bulb festivals, I can imagine there are many frustrated people this year expecting tulips in full bloom and feeling disappointed. Spring will come eventually, but when? In the mean time, have a great Easter!

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  12. Your chimenea Is gorgeous. It looks so much better with your garden than the Mexican looking version made out of clay. Have you considered growing a vine or espaliering a woody plant on your walls? I love seeing all your pots, so industrious.

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    1. Thanks Carolyn for your description of my new shelf, when I got all the pots in place it looked almost like I was going to run a small nursery!
      I am so happy with my new chimenea, I hope it lives up to expectations ones I start using it too. I did look at the Mexican clay type too, but as you say, the steel and cast iron suits the style of my garden much better – besides, the clay types can’t stay outdoors in the winter in our climate, they would crack due to frost and I don’t have a garage or shed so this type is best for that reason too.

      I have a plan for that ugly wall with all the pipes, I plan to run more tall fences all the way round, just need to get it done, lots of work, or alternatively paying someone to do it which will cost a lot of money. On the other wall, behind where the garden bench is now I am actually growing a climber, a clematis. I got it last December so it is only about 1m tall, but it is growing quickly. It is a Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom' and could cover that fence and wall in just a few years. Being an evergreen I think it will be great on that side once it gets a bit bigger.

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  13. WE were on holiday last week and it was bitterly cold but when on holiday you have to go out. We tried visiting Hidcote but they had close presumably due to weather and other gardens we visited has hardly anything flowering and still had tender plants clothed in fleece. I think some of the fleece covered plants may not have made it even with protection

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    1. I wonder how many of my plants that will have frost damage when this winter is over. Today I found that the big Garrya Elliptica 'James Roof ‘ that I have in a container next to my front door has frost damage too, half the plant looks dead! That plant has lived in that container for almost 10 years, never had any frost damage before, now half of it, the half facing outwards seems dead. The half facing towards my house seems to have got enough warmth from the wall to have survived, but if I cut off everything damaged it will look rather silly. Of all the plants I have, that one was the last I would have thought to buckle under the harsh temperatures.

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  14. What a beautiful garden you have. I would love to see it in spring and summer.
    Happy Easter

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    1. Thank you Riet, you are very welcome back once we finally get a proper spring :-)
      Happy Easter to you too!

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  15. Hi Helene
    I feel with you but let me assure you it looks the same here in Switzerland. Spring seems to be held indoor this year *LoL*. However sooner or later it will appear in our gardens... I hope sooner :o).
    Have a lovely Easter!
    Alex

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    1. Hi Alex, I have seen the news from around Europe, I know we are better off in London than many places, at least we don’t have tons of snow that needs melting before the flowers can arrive! I hope spring arrives for you soon, Happy Easter to you too!

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  16. Oh Helene, this must be the most frustrating kind of weather. You can see your garden set and ready to go, all that's missing are warmer temperatures. We are still covered with snow and can't see the ground so I haven't begun to feel impatient yet. I love your multi-purpose shelving, it sounds as if it is going to be useful all growing season :)

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    1. I think this has been the most frustrating spring I have had here in London, it feels like being back in Norway! But in Norway no one expect the snow and frost to be gone until after Easter so this would be normal, here in London this is certainly not normal, and all the more testing. If only those blasted jet streams could move just a little bit, that would make a huge difference to the climate in Northern Europe :-)

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  17. What a lovely garden you have. I know it is frustrating to have winter lingering into spring, but that will just make spring that much sweeter when it arrives!

    Take care and happy weekend.

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    1. Thanks Dorothy, I have been telling myself that for the last 4 weeks, seems I have to continue telling myself that for another good few weeks – no let up in sight! The next 14 day forecast show maximum temperatures in single figures still (Celsius) and still more night frost to come.
      Have a nice week-end you too!

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  18. Excellent use of zip ties to hold those shelves in place. What a smart solution. :o) We've had a cold spring, too. I love the chiminea! Fabulous design! If I had an outdoor sofa I don't think I'd ever come inside. :o)

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    1. Thanks Tammy, I can’t wait to try my chimenea, just need a bit warmer weather, a few degrees above zero would be nice. I doubt an outdoor sofa would have kept you outside in my garden today, it was snowing again!

      And as for the cable ties, yes they proved to be a very good solution, all four shelves are now linked together and also tied to the fence, if I hadn’t done that I am afraid the whole thing could have come tumbling down in the strong winds we have at times. It took 36 cable ties though, but they can stay on until next time the fence need painting so I’m happy with that.

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  19. Hi Helene, I am sorry you have been so busy with hospital appointments, I hope things have settled down for you a little now. Please don't lose heart with the weather - the other day I was speaking to someone who is related to one of those old country types who keeps weather records and they told me that they see this year as following a similar pattern to 1975, when apparently there was a late winter, then it became very suddenly warm. If he's right, we'll soon have forgotten the eternal winter and you will be enjoying your garden and the chiminea.

    I love your shelves!

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    1. I really, really hope you're right! I can't remember last time we had a good summer, but I think it was in 2005. That's a long time ago...

      Yes, my shelves proved to be a very useful, with room for almost all my pots and trays – glad I finally bought them, was quite a lot of money but worth it.

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  20. Helene-it has been a long winter and late spring but it makes those blooms even sweeter. I love your chimenea...you'll be using it in no time. The past few days have been better temperature wise so I hope it continues. Happy Spring anyway.

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    1. Thanks Lee, there is no let-up here yet, more snow today, although it was just a very light drizzle, but shows how cold it was. I potted on some hellebores and that was all I could manage, 45 minutes and then I had to go inside and get warm again!

      Happy spring - whenever it arrives!

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  21. I saw a blurb on the news the other night about record snowfalls in Ireland. I guess you're sharing the same weather system. We might see big snowfalls like that in mid-winter but for spring that was rather overwhelming. When spring finally does arrive I'll bet you will be more than ready for it.

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    1. I was ready 4 weeks ago :-)
      We have however not had the same amount of snow that Ireland and Wales have had, here in London it has been just a few cm every time it has snowed, and most has melted before next snowfall so no build-up of snow like the rest of the country. I suppose us here in the south east have had it easier than the rest of UK, but it has been very cold!

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  22. Despite of cold temperatures, a lot of plants seem to prepare producing flowers in your garden.
    I've never seen ballerinas, so please post its flowers when it blooms:-)

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    1. Yes, it's all on hold here, waiting for the spring we should have had, 6 weeks ago. The 'ballerinas' is my name for them, they are actually called Trillium cuneatum and should also flower as soon as we get a bit warmer weather. Come by on the 15th April, for the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, perhaps they are in flowers then - perhaps!

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  23. Wow,look forward to see the "ballerinas" in flowers on 15th! By the way, how do I join the Garden Blogger's Bloom Day? Sounds fun!

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    1. Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is a meme held by Carol at May Dreams Gardens, you can find it here, with some info about what to do: http://www.maydreamsgardens.com/2013/03/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-march-2013.html

      Basically, you just take photos of all the plants in your garden in flower on the 15th of every month, or maybe the day before if you want to post on the 15th, that’s what I usually do. It makes a great record to look back on for later, I have been doing it since January 2012 and can now compare what was flowering in my garden last year with this year. You can find all my GBBD posts on the left side of my blog, under the label Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

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  24. Helene, that Crocus 'Prince Claus' looks sensational. I cant think I have heard of any Crocus which isn't fully hardy, must check further before I splash out in Autumn. I also want one of those chimeneas, I am always wanting Helene, if its not this its that. very impressed with your tidy shelving.

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    1. Hi Alistair, not sure if Prince Claus is being coy or if I should blame the squirrels! I found 2 more today so out of 50 I have now 5 Prince Claus crocuses.
      I will write a post about the chimenea when I have used it a couple of times, it is too cold and windy for now.

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  25. Despite the cold temperatures, your garden is waking up for spring with such gorgeous color. That crocus and those ballerinas just leave me anticipating what is to come. We have had a cold winter and emergence into spring as well. Things are moving slowly, but I am hoping it will be around longer. Your chimenea is lovely. We finally bought a garden fire pit last year, and it is so nice to have on those chilly days. Happy spring!

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    1. Happy spring to you too....although here we still have winter, more winter than we had in January! And no let up for another 2 weeks or so. Can't believe it! I need a very good spring and summer to make up for this :-)

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  26. Your garden look so neat and clean and such decorative. You have created such a decorative place even with just black pots. Awesome. That chimera looks beautiful. I like them but can't have them because the house is made of wood, too much fire-risk. What about throwing some sofa-seats and decorative pillows on that outdoor sofa. Then, it will be as comfortable as any indoor sofa. It is also very cold here. Grrr...

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    1. Thanks, I like a tidy and neat garden!
      I do have cushions and pillows for my garden bench, but I don't drag them outside every time I go out, too much work - I only use them in the summer. But the bench is quite narrow, the seat is not deep enough to lie down on for a tall and large person like me so that's why I have been thinking about buying an outdoor sofa, much more comfy. Or, alternatively, a larger garden bench that I will fit in, horizontally :-)

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