My Favourite Window

May 7, 2020

Stormy Light


Something to be getting on with... 




In these long easy days of Covid-19 solitude and isolation Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden is proving a true haven.


January 1, 2020

Are You Still Here?

I wrote the following as an exercise in January 2019, when I started on a new Computer Studies module...

I'm onto this I thought at the time. Well maybe I understand a bit more about computer 'stuff' but it's not helping me - nearly a year on - as I try to choose photos from my phone to use here. I still prefer to write blog posts on a Qwerty keyboard.

I opened my phone's gallery a couple of minutes ago to share a few pre-selected photos with myself and it emptied in front of my eyes. Okay. Choose a different path. Find my Google photos. There they are, but... they won't stop loading, scrolling, jiggling so that I can work with any one of them. Hey, I've only just seen that I can directly access my phone from here. That makes things easier.


I think I'm better off with nuts and bolts problems all the same. 


I've been planning this New Year post for a few days now. Since an Instagram friend commented that she had toyed with the idea of getting back to her blog lately I've remembered how Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden fed me so much in the years after my husband's death. The link with the wider world was escapism I'm sure, but it satisfied a need. It also helped me hone my writing. 



Escapism and writing! In 2018 escapism was Morocco  - a week in Essaouira with my friend Claire Steele, on one of her Magical Journeys writing retreats. Out of that came a short story, Live Music Tonight, which was published in 2019 in this volume of work from twelve Magical Journeys' writers. If you are interested in supporting this venture - Me even - the book is available from Amazon via the Mardibooks website.

One of the main reasons I eased up on blogging and Internet use in general, was to free up time to work on my land, develop the garden I'd always dreamed about, and maybe make some progress with the Skudder House. I was also feeling stymied by changes to blog rules which meant I could no longer comment and engage on favourite sites. Everything is solvable but I didn't feel that was the best use of my time and energy. 


What I didn't realise until last year was that I have almost certainly been suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It explains a lot. Probably from before Elwin died but heavily masked by bereavement and Earthquake PTSD it has meant I can't work full time. Remarkably, I can still work as a gardener but only if I break my day into roughly one hour and twenty minute slots with substantial rests or sleep in between. 


More than 3 1/2 hours and I risk crashing. A 'crash' can extend into the following day. Brain work - like writing this - is equally tiring. 
It is ironic that early on after Elwin's death I set things in place to allow for different income streams (I still sell vintage wares on Etsy) so that I could fit work on my property around those. 
This has proved useful but also time consuming and emotionally exhausting!


But Life isn't bad. In fact every single day I am grateful for so many joys, opportunities, people, and health improvements.



No promises then of more frequent blog posts but maybe, I'm prepared now to give blogging on my phone a go. 


J D Hobby 2020 Copyright

August 17, 2019

Anniversary Surprise!


It's been awhile since I posted - exactly a year in fact - and quite awhile since I set up Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden.

Nine years! I'm not sure if nine years really counts when I haven't blogged here reliably for such a long time.

Still, today is the anniversary of my first blog post and that post featured these daffodils. Judging by the buds they were about 7-10 days behind this stage on 17 August in 2010.

These daffs are quite a useful indication of some kind of progress in the garden. I did dig them up and they have increased in number. 

Should I keep going with this blog I sometimes ask myself as I post almost daily on Instagram @hobbyography. I'm surprised at how many people still mention Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden with interest and appreciation in face to face conversation. And I guess that's enough to keep me interested. Now all I need is more time to compose posts! 

Narcissus var. Daffodil

August 17, 2018

Now, Where Was I?

I can hardly claim to have been blogging for eight years when I haven't posted anything for ten months...


It's springtime again - though this year everyone is noticing how much earlier so many things are flowering. Eight years ago today I used a photo of these daffodils just pushing through the frosty earth. This year they were so far ahead that they opened their blooms on 12 August.

Back in 2010 when I first began blogging I had grand ideas about charting the restoration of the Skudder House and the making of a garden around it. What with one thing and another I haven't got very far with either of those projects, but I have recorded seasonal shift in a changing world.


October 27, 2017

Spring Into Summer



What a season of floral extravagance this spring has been. Everything that could bloom has - and to its peak. The mild wet winter meant many trees and shrubs blossomed around three weeks earlier than normal here in North Canterbury. 


The spiraea hedge at the Ashley Church had been trimmed late so there hasn't been a profusion of its snowy white flowers but this is an exception.


Where does Spring end and Summer begin? With the first roses maybe. This was the first 'Delicata' bloom encouraged by gentle warm days but unfurling into a rainy period.


And just this week this clematis opened its first flower. In typical secret garden fashion 'Niobe' is rambling through a patch of overgrown raspberry canes, its crinkled petals echoing the creased berry leaves.



I'm enjoying the double pink may trees which frame the view towards the river bank from my kitchen window. They've come into flower a little later than the white hedgerow species which, within itself, has staggered flowering on different trees. This is a floribunda year - gorgeous to look at and good for the soul. 

Wisteria 'Caroline'
Spiraea trilobata [uncertain]
Rosa rugosa 'Delicata'
Clematis 'Niobe'
Double pink may, Double pink hawthorn - Crataegus laevigata 'Rosea Flore Pleno'


All photos taken on my Samsung Galaxy 5

August 20, 2017

... Another Anniversary With A Seven In It


A parcel with my morning coffee?



Hand-made by Kitty: one of her speciality bracelets!


Brunch at Artisan - the long languid kind - with sister and daughter.


Preparing dinner: with more languishing - in front of the fire as the evening drew on...


And a birthday memento from our afternoon out:  What began as a driving lesson for Kitty turned into a prowl around 'Twine' and the other shops at Sandersons' Mill at Waikuku.



A quiet birthday this one, with nice connections with family and friends to brighten a cold grey day.


Camera used - Samsung Galaxy 5



August 17, 2017

Seven Years On



I imagined writing all sorts of interesting essays for this 7th anniversary post. But for the same reason that I don't post often that wasn't going to happen. I am posting almost daily on Instagram however. Surely I can do something similar for my blog?  All these photos taken on my phone have appeared @hobbyography over the past fortnight. The silver ball didn't quite float away this time though the water did come up around it. I like it being a dynamic part of the garden - floating, or blustering around in strong winds. 




This little patch of woodland garden, is where the ephemeral stream originally found its way down to the river (before human intervention channelled it into a different course), and when the water is very high, as it was in the previous photo, it still comes close to running through here. I get quite a thrill when I dig down and find river sand because the rise we live on is deep silty loess dropping down to the river flats. We literally live at the edge of the old river bank!



Using a phone camera makes it easy to photograph the down-turned flowers of winter hellebores. There are so many varieties bred now to show their centres but I like the mystique; the sense of beauty hidden from casual view of the old varieties. These and some deep burgundy-flowered plants are naturalising in this woodland patch, which was once my father's vegetable garden. I'm looking forward to extending their sweep down towards the stream bed - and closer to my house.



Between flood conditions I've managed - with help - to clear some space under the willow closest to the house. Its veil looked very beautiful but had completely overwhelmed our al fresco dining area. The longer the branches become the more likely they are to collapse as well: not a risk worth bearing where people spend time.  As well as providing firewood for next year, this pruning also opens up the area where I want to extend the hellebore planting. Progress in the garden!

Variegated Iris Iris 'Variegata'. Species uncertain
Primula sp
Winter Roses, winter hellebores Helleborus niger
Weeping willow Salix babylonica

Camera used - Samsung Galaxy 5