Zen And The Art Of Planting

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Recently I upgraded my pond.

I had some leftover plants and stones, so decided to make a small rockery with them.

This is my story.

I spent ages choosing a location, a border stone, and a shape. In the end I decided to put it in the front garden so there could be plants where there were only chippings before, and people could see it as they walked past. The decorative black stones are used for paths around here, and are lovely when cleaned up. These had been in a pile under a bush in my garden, so I scrubbed them with water and they came up like new. I wanted the rockery to extend from the planter, which is actually an old sandstone chimney pot, one of a few in the garden.

I hate it when plastic is put below the ground, to slowly decay, turning the natural into artificial. In another house I discovered sheets of it under the soil, and you can never get it all back out again. I cut away this rubber underlay after removing all the top chippings. This can restore the connection between plants and earth.

People lay this crap under the ground to stop plants from growing. Humans have deforested most of the UK (possibly up to 70% forest once: now about 13% and dropping, for various reasons). Our culture needs to do everything to encourage plant growth, not halt it, and that goes down to the smallest scale. Every garden paved over for a driveway, every meadow lost to housing estates, every wetland that has a motorway or airport churn it up, it's all part of the same problem.

Cutting away the last bits.

I decided to create an entrance area too.

I added soil from when I'd enlarged the pond, plus some compost (and a bit of sand went on top).

These were sandstone cores I'd found. I scrubbed them, dug holes, compacted the soil around them, then relaid some red chippings.

Time to start washing pebbles to lay on top of the rockery.

I arranged some large white rocks, then placed the small plants. Note the buff over my mouth - I get hayfever, but wearing that means I can go cycling or be in the garden playing my guitar even on fairly high pollen-count days.

The final touch was using an old piece of sandstone as the top of the stone gate. That's the official entrance for hedgehogs, toads, and fairies.

The rectangle of light is a reflection from a window.



A close-up of the entrance. Does it count as a folly?



I can see the rockery from my office window. One of the plants already has more flowers on, and they have started to spread out. I look forward to seeing their progress over the years as I write more books. Thanks for reading!

Where next? You might want to follow me and my work, or even buy my books. Many thanks!
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Chasing Solace - The Paperback

The Chasing Solace e-book has been around for a while. But there was no paperback.

I'd already received some book post today - another author sent me their latest title because they thought I'd like it (the excellent-looking Conundrum puzzle book by science writer Brian Clegg).

Then ... an even larger parcel arrived. I half-expected it to be a chocolate order I'd forgotten about. I like chocolate and I won't apologise for that love.

I fetched Mr Stabby, and we opened it.

Yay! This is often an author's favourite type of parcel. (Yes, even more than chocolate or whisky). Authors normally share videos of the happy openings but I am old-skool and low-tech so the best I can do is photos. I thought I'd share my happiness, since I am normally seen as rather grumpy. :-)

Siblings!

Title pages!

Once again, the book chapters are a countdown - but Chasing Solace has a lot more chapters! It's a bigger book and a bigger story. "Deeper and wider" is how I think of it.

Order your copy via the links here.

Where next? You might want to follow me and my work, or even buy my books. Many thanks!
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My Pond

The original pond. I didn't even realise there was a lion's head hidden by ivy.

I'm not a DIY person. I consider the "D" to stand for "Do It Under Duress". I do love wildlife and nature, though.

My house came with an ornamental pond, but it had no plants, no way out for any animals that fell in, and was just a layer of leaf sludge and stagnant water in an old liner. I got a quote to replace the liner and make a few changes, but the quote made my eyes water, so I thought "I can do it myself, surely?"

Thus began a week of pain and regret.

I had emptied the old pond, taken up the old stones, and placed a new liner over the old. Then I just stood in some water and wanted to weep when I realised how much more work there was to do. Oh, you can see the newly-revealed lion's head. I didn't know if the plumbing still worked at that point.

I started to relay the stones. Error #1: not recording the original order and arrangement of the stones. Error #2: I couldn't work out how to get them all to lie flat, and didn't have enough mortar, so kept having to stop and cycle to DIY shops.

Temporarily giving up in a grump. It would have been easier with two people.

Dolly did the taste test.

Mostly finished. Lots of tidying up to do.

I bought a dwarf lily, which had four pads - it now has twelve, with another two coming up! Note the new "climbing out area" in the bottom right.

Electricians put in a safe outside electrical box, and I attached a pump to the old hose - behold, water came from the lion once again! It lives!

Working on a small rockery at the edge of the pond.

While I was at it, I laid two decorative paving stones (one has a hedgehog on, one a rabbit) to give easier access to the plug sockets.

The day I finished - and added some more pond plants.

A more recent photo.

I think it's a big improvement. If a hedgehog fell in, it would have an easier way out. Frogs or newts have a transitional area with ground cover. The lovely fountain is so relaxing when you are in the garden, and adds oxygen to the water. The lily is thriving, along with the iris and brass button plants. I included some floating foliage (which currently sprouts white flowers), and the other day I added blue-coloured water forget-me-nots. I have to scoop out some green algae and remove excess leaves from the surface of the pond (there are a lot of overhanging plants nearby!) but it's actually a fun process, and I get to examine the micro-fauna, which grows by the day.

First there were mosquito larvae, followed by rat-tailed maggots (hoverfly larvae). A couple of weeks later I began to spot cyclops in the water, and two days ago daphnia appeared. I have no idea how they get to a pond, but they did, and some are 2mm across. Wasps regularly land by the edge for a drink of water. And then I found my first water snail in the shallow area, exploring the warm stones and eating algae. I was really excited when it turned up out of nowhere, because I'd hoped to see them! Now that the micro-fauna is getting established, and there's more shade from plants, the pond should soon be a good environment for frogs or newts if they can find their way to it. Then it will be hard to drag me away from staring into those living green depths.

If I started again I'd do a few things differently, especially in terms of the surrounding paving, which leaves a lot to be desired (they are not suitable for walking on). Pond version 2 would probably be even better. But I'm pleased that it is all coming to life again, and provides an oasis of calm and life that makes me truly happy.

Where next? You might want to follow me and my work, or even buy my books. Many thanks!
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My Books Venture Out Into The World


I love it when people share photos of my books out in the world, especially if it is tied to a message or personal observation or hint of how the book is affecting them.

Yesterday I saw the image above, combined with the following message:

jmlconcertphotography
Really excited to hear that the sequel to "Lost Solace" by @authorkdrinkwater, "Chasing Solace", will be in print soon! Both books have gorgeous covers and I can't wait to have the sequel next to the first in the series. For those that don't know me beyond being an avid photographer, I'm also an avid reader and I really recommend this series! Strong female protagonists are incredibly awesome!
#lostsolace #chasingsolace #karldrinkwater #author #books #scifibooks #scifi #horrorbooks #horror #eldritch #space #feminism #badasswomen
In a private message I was told that it is a real g-suit in the photo! Sharing that with me made my day.

To say thanks to just a few of the people who have shared photos of my books out in the wild, here is a selection. Thank you, one and all!












Where next? You might want to follow me and my work, or even buy my books. Many thanks!
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The Innocent Can Be Intimidating


Something creepy happened to me recently.

I saw this when I was walking down one of the country roads nearby (Tom Train Lane).

I approached.

As I got nearer, I realised it was balloons, bobbing despite the lack of breeze.

 
There was no-one around. I immediately thought of Stephen King's IT, a book I've read many times.

Call me a coward, but I didn't scramble through the barrens to investigate.

 
Where next? You might want to follow me and my work, or even buy my books. Many thanks!
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