Thursday, February 26, 2009


This post contains an update on Dutch Spring Fling.

We all of us are busy people with lots to do. I write to-do-lists to make things easier. On my most recent list :

- check if my white crayons have turned into a lovely bunch of snowdrops

- show on blog that Tara not only had chosen devil chicken, but angel chicken as well.

- do all the February seeding. Do not forget as next month's will be quite a mammoth task.

- write update on Dutch Spring Fling after the 25th of February
Although quite a few fellow garden bloggers wanted to come, we were unable to get the necessary 20 participants together (not everybody was able to come on the same days) so there will be no Dutch Spring Fling. At least not this year.


- because so many people ask if Tara is getting along with the Bliss team, show pic of Tara with Willow

- buy more flowering bulbs for the kitchen kitchen garden
These are Tete a Tete daffodils but one (on the far left) seems to suffer from delusions of grandeur as it's twice as tall as the rest.
copyright 2009: Y.E.W. Heuzen

Probably more pests can be controlled in an armchair in front of a February fire with a garden notebook and a seed catalogue than can ever be knocked out in hand-to-hand combat in the garden.
Nelly Turner, A Gardener's Notebook

Monday, February 23, 2009

Seed Sowing in 6 Easy Steps

Step 1: buy nifty mini greenhouse kit
Step 2: read detailed instructions
Step 3: pop soil in, press down and lightly moisten with lukewarm water
Step 4: sprinkle seeds on top. These are Petunia seeds so they don't need to be covered, yet.
Step 5: write label and stick it in, don't forget to write down the date
Step 6: pop the lid on and place somewhere warm to germinate (20 - 22 C)
I've put my mini greenhouse in the bathroom. Why? Guess why Delia and her son Merlin are snoozing on the bathroom floor. Underfloor heating, baby! You should know by now that cats always find the best and toastiest spots in the house.
That's one down (took all of 5 minutes) and 9 more to go. The mini greenhouses, complete with seeds and soil, cost me 85 euro cents a piece. Cheap as chips!

I think I have to lie down now, I'm exhausted.

Copyright 2009: Y.E.W. Heuzen

A garden was one of the few things in prison that one could control. To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and harvest it offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being custodian to this small patch of earth offered a small taste of freedom.
Nelson Mandela

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Seductive Bliss

To experience the full blast of seductive Bliss, please play the video. Trust me, I'm a designer!

Tempted right into the wide open arms of Spring is what's happening here. A few mild and sunny days and
so many things are coming up in the garden.
Even quite a few plants and bulbs are in flower, luring poor innocent you into thinking that Spring is already here.
Just look at those winter aconites who are not only flirting with Spring but displaying positively wanton behaviour. Really ladies this will not do! Please put those skirts down, we do not want to look at your unmentionables.
The snowdrops, on the other hand, are much more sedate and ladylike. How very prim and proper they look.
But that Witch Hazel! Bewitching doesn't begin to describe it and there's danger lurking here too. Those flowers are absolutely Medusa-y and you know what happened to her victims, so keep a safe distance from this one, you might be dicing with death.
And here's another victim ; Jeeves, flirting with danger on a hot tin roof. You're a braver man than I am Gunga Din! I may not be afraid of heights but depths get to me each and every time.
Another one displaying reckless behaviour with utterly gay abandon in the Bliss garden is the Budleia. Little does she know she's in for the chop next month. Well, a very, very severe haircut as three quarters will be chopped off.
It's not just outside that a whole lotta flirting and seducing is going on; in the conservatory things are getting frightfully hot and steamy. My poor Agapanthus has been wrongfully seduced into thinking that it's Summer. Apparently she has forgotten there is such a thing as Spring first, Summer later. Seduction does that to you.
And she is producing even more flowers, the poor deluded thing. But who can blame her? When the sun is out it's such an immense pleasure to be in the conservatory with a lovely and warm temperature of 20 C, feeling the sun caressing you with a zillion hot fingers. The sun's strokes (not to be confused with sunstroke) makes your whole body tingle all over, a very sensual experience.
Kadootje quite agrees. Thanks to the sensual overload she doesn't quite know which way is up and which way is down.
Dolly has also fallen into temptation, and is in the conservatory as well, basking in the sun with hedonistic abandon. It's a (cat) thing!
As if you haven't been tempted enough already (please (wo)manly restrain yourself, there's a good girl/boy), here's the ultimate mistress of seduction, one look into those tempting green eyes and you're a goner. Consider yourself warned! Step back and avert your blushing eyes now!
Too late!

Copyright 2009 Y.E.W. Heuzen

People from a planet without flowers (or cats) would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat.

BTW I added cats because for some unknown reason she forgot to put those in. Such a careless oversight.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pretty Pink Riding Hood

Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a garden fashionista, the prettiest creature that was ever seen. Many people were excessively fond of her and one of them had a pretty pink riding hood made for her. It suited her so well that everybody called her Pretty Pink Riding Hood.

PPRH was very fond of cats and gardening but one day she decided to get a puppy too as she thought that having a puppy around would be great fun. Poor deluded thing.

So PPRH got her little basket, put on her pretty pink riding hood, and happily skipping along, she went in search of a puppy. After searching high and low, walking through dark mysterious woods, climbing several Dutch mountains, (click vid to see what they look like as you have never ever seen mountains like that before and get a real taste of the Netherlands too. It doesn't get anymore Dutch than this.)

wading knee deep through ice cold streams until she finally found Ickle Puppy Tara.
So after much kissing, hugging and petting, PPRH put Ickle Puppy Tara in her basket and went home again, over the Dutch mountains and through the dark mysterious woods and ...., well, you know the drill. For a while they were very happy but Ickle Puppy Tara grew and grew and one day PPRH noticed something about Ickle Puppy Tara that she had never noticed before.

Oh Ickle Puppy Tara, what big feet you have!
All the better to run far, far away from you with.

Oh Ickle Puppy Tara what big ears you have!
All the better to ignore everything you say with.

Oh Ickle Puppy Tara, what big brown eyes you have!
All the better to delude you into thinking I'm a poor innocent widdle angel with.

Oh Ickle Puppy Tara, what a big nose you have!
All the better for sticking it into places where it doesn't belong with.

Oh Ickle Puppy Tara, what a big mouth you have!
All the better for biting you with!

Oh Ickle Puppy Tara, what big and sharp teeth you have!
All the better for eating you up with.

But before things could turn nasty, very nasty indeed, PPRH quickly whipped out something to distract Ickle Puppy Tara and asked, in a valiant attempt to prevent mega bloodshed, Ickle Puppy Tara, which one is it going to be?
Devil chicken or
Angel chicken?

Well, gentle reader, what do you think that Ickle Puppy Tara did then?

Which was it going to be?

The devil or the angel?

The angel or the devil?

Decisions, decisions!

What did Ickle Puppy Tara finally choose?

A) Devil chicken

B) Angel chicken

C) both

D) neither but opted to bite PPRH's hand instead?


What do you think happened in this modern fairytale?

Did it all end in tears, bloodshed and mayhem or was there a happy ending?

How well do you know Ickle Puppy Tara?

NB No harm came to any puppy in the making of this post although PPRH had to be rushed off to hospital for a tetanus shot and 17 stitches after she tried to take Devil chicken away from Ickle Puppy Tara.

copyright 2009; Y.E.W. Heuzen

ADDENDUM: judging by the first 3 comments people seem to take this post seriously. It's not, it's all in jest. I know, I know, I have a warped sense of humor that does need some getting used to. But this post is a fairytale with Tara cast as the Big Bad Wolf and yours truly as Little Red Riding Hood (even though when all is said and done it's probably the other way round). :-)

Tara is having obedience lessons right now, 2 more to go and we're done with this course then we'll move on to the next one. She is mostly a very sweet and gentle little puppy, but right now she is at that stage that most puppies go through, where they suddenly and completely have forgotten all the commands they knew very well up til then. Hence this post.

And no, Tara has not harmed me in anyway, she wouldn't know how.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dutch Spring Fling, Anyone?

As you probably know the US garden bloggers held their first Spring Fling last year in Austin, Texas. This year they are having another one in Chicago. But what are we having, the European garden bloggers? So far, nothing and that got me thinking, an activity I seldom indulge in as it gives me a splitting headache. ;-) However, I have come up with a cunning plan; why don't we have a Dutch Spring Fling this year in either late April/ early May?

We could visit gorgeous gardens like the world famous Keukenhof, where literally millions of bulbs are in flower every year.
Close by is the beautiful old town of Leyden with a great botanical garden, the Hortus Botanicus, stunningly beautiful old city centre,
we could do a tour of the Dutch hofjes ( old houses grouped around a central garden, very secluded from the outside world),

visit the market, perhaps even a museum? Just thinking out loud here.

And then we could also visit Palace Het Loo,
both the palace itself and its breathtakingly beautiful gardens, pop round for a visit at Piet Oudolfs private garden and nursery
and also go to one of the best museums in the world; the Kröller-Müller museum where they have a vast collection of sculptures in the garden and a world renowned collection of scrumptious paintings by Vincent van Gogh. The museum itself is situated in National Park De HogeVeluwe, a place of outstanding natural beauty. On a fine day we could even hop on a free white bike and explore the park that way.
I was thinking of a 4 day garden and culture tour of the Netherlands from Friday to Monday. I know of an organisation that would be willing to organize it all for us and at a reasonable price too. But for prices to be reasonable we have to have at least 20 participants. So now the 64,000 dollar question: who would like to come to a Dutch Spring Fling this year; to meet lots of fellow garden bloggers, visit great gardens, indulge in a bit of culture and have oodles of fun?

If you would like to come and join in the Dutch Spring Fling, let me know before the 25th of this month. You can contact me via e-mail. My e-mail address you can find in my profile (on the left). If there are enough people (at least 20) seriously interested, I'll get the ball rolling and will provide you with all relevant information asap.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Everything You Always Wanted to Know

about the Bliss team but were afraid to ask. ;-)

One thing that is often asked about the Bliss team is: How many cats are there? Rumour has it (thanks James) that there are 43,000 cats at Bliss. That figure is ever so slightly wide of the mark. There are merely 10 at Bliss, no more no less; 8 indoor kitties and 2 outdoor ones. Let me introduce you to them:
This is Vita, a female Maine Coon cat, blue tortie and white and I've named her after Vita Sackville-West, she of Sissinghurst fame. I think my Vita looks very much like her namesake as both are very good at looking down their aristocratic noses, or turning them up, just as the case may be. Vita is a very feminine cat, her nickname is Miss Lola With Her Boa, as she waves her plumy tail about in such an alluring way.
Vita is the gentlest of creatures and a super Mum. She did not only look after her own children exceptionally well but also after other kittens when they were in desperate need of a Mum. If you look carefully at the pic above you'll notice that behind her front legs there is a tiny Russian Blue kitten, Delia. Her brother Delius is somewhere in there too, probably underneath one or two of the Maine Coon kittens.
Vita loves the outdoors and is often found in the potager where the catnip grows. Vita has had 3 litters and from the first one I kept 1 kitten myself, little Dolly, because she was so very sweet and she still is.
Totally irresistible, wouldn't you say?

Dolly, or Camelot Dolly Daisy McMain (her official name) is a bit of a tomboy and loves climbing trees, pretending to be a squirrel, a very big squirrel.
She's certainly got the right tail for it.
Dolly is my little lamb, very sweet and innocent and a very happy-go-lucky kittycat. She is full of fun and has a great sense of humour.
The thing she loves most of all is being outside in the garden.
Next is:

Camelot's Purrfect Pippa Pendragon Samsdottir, aka Pippa or Pipje (= little Pip). She is one of the fourth generation of Russian Blues that I've bred. Her parents are Grand International Champion Camelot's Sam Bucus

and Grand International Champion Camelot's Purrfect Melody. Camelot is my cattery name. I have mentioned before that I'm an Arthurian buff on this blog, remember? But perhaps you were distracted by other things. ;-)

Little Pippa was a bit of a handful as a kitten (still is now that she's an adult) and she could walk properly when she was just 2 weeks old, which is very early. Most kittens manage to walk when they are 3 to 4 weeks old. Her claim to fame is that she managed to climb into the cat litter tray at 2 weeks of age and here's the proof.
Pippa (named after Pippa - Pests and Diseases - Greenwood) is a very pretty Russian Blue with striking green eyes. She was a cover girl for a cat magazine once.
The thing she enjoys most, after eating and sleeping,
Daddy Sam with daughter Pipje, both snoozing for a place in the Olympic team

is munching grass. When Pippa is in the garden she grazes like a professional goat.
Pippa had twins in 2000, but unfortunately she had to have a Cesarean. As Pipje is such a live wire the vet had trouble putting her under and had to give her a double dose of anesthetics. Not good, she was very ill for a whole week afterwards and couldn't look after her twins. Fortunately Vita had kittens at that time too and, although Vita's were almost 3 weeks old, Vita adopted the twins readily and looked after them very well. Such a relief!

One half of the twins, I named them Camelot's Tweedle Dee Delia and Tweedle Dum Delius, was my
little Delia who has stayed with me. And before you ask, I did not name her after Delia Smith, British TV cook, but after Cordelia Gray, a fictional character in a book (An Unsuitable Job For a Woman) by P.D. James. Here kitten Delia is in a tight embrace with her brother Delius.
They were inseparable and it was heart breaking when Delius had to leave to go to his forever home.
Delia is the Prima Ballerina of the Bliss team. She can easily land with 4 feet on a 44 euro cents stamp from a very great height, no problem. Because she was raised by Vita, Delia and Vita still have a mother-daughter relationship. Delia is very lithe and graceful, rather shy with strangers but very sweet and gentle with me and with her son Merlijntje.
I'm very glad I've kept Merlin (aka Camelot Merlinus Aurelius aka Merlijntje = little Merlin because he's such a big cat) as he and his Mum Delia are, just as Delia and Delius were once upon a time, inseparable.
Apart from being a Mummy's boy, Merlin is a typical male as is shown here, where he's hugging the remote. Men!
The love of his life is Dolly. He's besotted with her but she barely tolerates him. Before he is ungraciously allowed to lay down next to her, she always boxes his ears firmly. Poor Merlin.
Merlin's favourite sparring partner is Kadootje (small present) and even though she is half his size, she usually wins. Merlin is such a big softy.
Introducing you to the other half of the Bliss team will have to wait as this is already such a looooooong post. Hopefully you've enjoyed getting to know Vita, Dolly, Pippa, Delia and Merlijntje a bit better!

copyright 2009; Y.E.W. Heuzen

A home without a cat -- and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat -- may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title? Mark Twain