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July 18, 2012

A wet day here on Iona, though the weather still appears to be settled with the sunshine (hopefully) coming back tomorrow.

The vegetation on the croft is dense and lush this year, perhaps due to this particular mix of lots of sunshine yet with enough rain to keep everything happy. The machair and flower meadows are burgeoning and when the evening calm descends the air is heavy with the scent of wild flowers.

The house garden is just lovely, largely thanks to Petri who  weeded and cleared before the weeds overwhelmed the place. It is a pleasure to spend time there. Because I’m not a vegetable gardener (nor any kind of gardener in all honesty !) I’ve reduced the size of the veggy beds and planted them with fruit: strawbs, rasps, goosegogs and blackcurrants. (Yes, one day I will be Iona’s Jam King…) The rasps went in over the winter so I’ve encouraged the marigolds to fill the bed alongside them and blank out the weeds and give them a bit of shelter. And they bring out the Buddhist in me…

 

 

I’m gradually extending the marigolds to other spots but am being careful as they soon take over. The flower garden is a gem, but I’d like more colour and height in it (photo’s next time). I don’t have too much time, but I love being out there and making small changes. I never really was a gardener but have always enjoyed visiting gardens, preferably with a glass of cold white wine in my hand. Of the gardens I know, in England I would probably choose Charleston Manor (as of the Bloomsbury Group) in East Sussex. My favourite on Mull is the fabulous Lip na Cloiche (www.lipnacloiche.co.uk)  up near Ulva Ferry. Started on bare land about ten years or so ago by Lucy Mackenzie Panizzon, she has transformed abandoned and bracken choked hillside into something very special. I buy quite a number of plants from her on the sound principle that if they can grow there, they can grow at Lagandorain.

The hostel garden is likewise thriving and after ten years it finally feels established. My gorgeous poppies outside the front door put on their best show this year as we haven’t had the usual strong winds and rain that usually knock them flat just as they are about to flower. I think I’ll gather some of their seeds and try planting them up at the house garden.

 

 

The hostel has been busy. It’s been a happy and international time, with all sorts of interesting folk coming to stay. Sometimes a group, sometimes lots of individual travels, lots of children -or not. Just now we have Father Marty and St Joseph’s Episcopal Church group from  Florida who have been coming since 2003 (I think). They are an inspiration and feel like family -all the more so because in another life Marty must have been chef to a king. They arrive with their bodyweight in food and cooking utensils and cook up a storm for the week. Food is a great thing not just in itself but as a metaphor, and something very special always happens with this group over their stay. Enjoyment, shared effort, attention, thanks and that sense of ‘something else happening as you chop the vegetables’ all combine to make something pretty memorable. An impressive lot. Have a look at www.stjoesunplugged.org and www.stjoesweb.org.

Last week we were all totally charmed by Cara, Freya and Nora and their mum and dad, and below is a photo of the three fairies with Nathalie and Snuffy.

 

 

Petri has headed off in the meantime but I hope will be back later in the summer. Marc is back from his holidays even more relaxed and calm (if that is possible), Nathalie and Snuffy continue their love-in and we’ve been joined by the calm and courteous David from Germany, who helped here last year. (I’ve just been handed a plate of newly made apple pancake by him. How’s that !) The place is singing.

Brendan has been busy with the black boat over the last week and he has almost finished the replanking. He’s a talented guy and has made a lovely job of it. I’m really pleased. By the end of this week he will have finished and I should be getting on with the painting – so hopefully it’ll be in the water by early August.

 

 

So to bed, in the hope that tomorrow the sun will again be shining.

 

 

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