Melanie’s May Monthly News

Welcome to Melanie’s May Monthly News which will mostly comprise of the completion of our front garden renovations…at last! The photo below, even though a fairly old photo, shows the old stone wall well. It was once a lime washed white wall, beautifully tidy and neat. We know this as we have seen old black and white photos of how it looked in the 1950’s. The wall was possibly built in the early to mid 1800’s and it’s pretty amazing to have survived this long. It had started to bow out a bit so we knew we had to do something.

Melanie’s May Monthly News

Starting Work!

The work started below as you can see. Our builder raked out all of the joints and then started to knock in the bowed areas and rebuild and strengthen any area that looked as though it would fail. We had to take some of the earth out of the centre of the wall to be able to add a layer of concrete, to allow the water the run down the wall and into a pipe and out the end. This then will stop any future bowing of the stones at the front. My job was to remove the soil from the centre with my trusty wheelbarrow, it wasn’t easy work I can assure you!!

Melanie’s May Monthly News - The wall!

The wall was coming together a bit more in the photo below. The concrete had gone in, the wall was being built back up and the stones in the wall secured. Still a long way to go!

The wall in progress

But then as if by magic….the photo below shows the wall pretty much complete. It took a long time… and a LOT of work between the builder and myself. The builder lime pointed and cleaned it so that we could see the old lime wash.

Melanie’s May Monthly News the wall finished

The next task was to remove all of the plants from the bed in front as it is constant work to weed and keep tidy. We want an easy to maintain garden as we have a lot to do around the back of the cottage as it is. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many nice days here in Wales. It was again a lot of work to remove the top layer of soil and plants but I finally did it, just in time before the slate arrived to lay on top….

the garden being done

Nicholas having a well earned cuppa. You can see the roll next to Nicholas, we laid ground weed protector under the slate to stop any weeds coming through.

Melanie’s May Monthly News Nicholas in the garden

Melanie’s May Monthly News – Garden Complete

Finally here is a photo of it complete. The part I love is dressing it with plants and pots. We didn’t want to overcrowd the area and it will all naturalise in time. I found some amazing pots in one of our garden centres nearby which had a very old cottage feel with natural colours. I bought 6 pots of all different shapes and sizes in similar colours to give a rustic feel to the area. We found a beautiful blue square pot for the top by the road, an oblong pot for the middle and a smaller green pot for the end, colours matched amazingly. The round pots on the slate are perfect for bedding plants and a hint of colour in the summer. I’m hoping to have something slightly different in them each year.

The front garden complete

I planted the middle pot on the wall, with a pink hardy geranium along with some petunias in lime and white.

Melanie’s May Monthly News - petunias

The pot by the house on the wall is planted with an evergreen called Gaultheria ‘Wisley Pearl’. I wanted something on the wall that would keep its leaves all year around to add some bulk and colour in the mid winter. It shows white flowers this time of year and then dark red berries later on in the season which should look nice against the white of the cottage and wall.

 Gaultheria 'Wisley Pearl'

The top blue pot houses a Deutzia ‘Mont Rose’ which is a deciduous plant but very hardy and flowers this time of year and should grow to then drape over the edges of the pot with its white flowers and leaves.

Deutzia 'Mont Rose'

A close up of the wall and round pot with a blue hardy geranium behind.

blue hardy geranium and petunias

The largest of the round pots which houses a Hosta very kindly given to me by a lady in our village. I have added a few bedding plants in there too for a splash of colour.

Beautiful pot with Hosta and Petunias

Melanie’s May Monthly News – New Front Door

The curved shape to the end of the wall looks really soft and lovely now. The colour of the stones and old lime wash is so natural.

Melanie’s May Monthly News - Our Cottage with new front door

Eagle eyes among our readers may notice from the photo above that we have had a new front door fitted. We ordered it in December and it was ready a few weeks ago. It’s much more airtight than the old one and so pretty too. The colour works well with the new pots, its a much nicer fit, lighter in tone than the wood door we had previously. The hallway is a lot warmer too! So far I have painted the front of the cottage… still have yet to do the side and back!

Melanie’s May Monthly News

Other side of the Front Garden

The other side of the garden had a bit of a tidy. I had to take up all of the old gravel and put up on the drive to fit new gravel in. Also I painted the ironwork and planted a whole row of hardy geraniums on the wall itself. I have chosen a variety of colours so I am hoping when they grow it will be a splash of colour through the summer. Hardy geraniums are such a good plant for a cottage, they come back year after year and need little tending. Only when they start to die back, a quick clip and away they go again. If they all flower I’ll take more photos and post here next month.

Front garden

I added some bedding plants into the slate troughs and they are doing ok. You cant really go wrong with them, as long as they get some water they should last and flower all summer long. I am hoping for a good show when they get a bit more mature.

begin plants in puts

…..and the Night Sky Petunias are soo pretty!

Night sky petunias
purple night sky petunias

Melanie’s May Monthly News – The Kerbs!

The kerbs were done by our builder and his helper. I helped with the cement making on the back of the tractor, you can see them pouring it below. Again another hard day of work but very rewarding.

Melanie’s May Monthly News - The Kerbs!

We now have a proper place to park our car, neatly up on the kerbs and stone, hiding all the uneven old slabs below. It has been a job we have been wanting to do for many years however we have had too many other renovation projects with the cottage to concentrate on major outside work. It all panned out this year as our neighbour wanted to do theirs too, so we went in together.

The Kerbs completed

Melanie’s May Monthly News – Day out with Friends!

We were so pleased to be able to meet up with our fiends who we hadn’t seen since before the latest lockdown. It was lovely to go out for lunch at the Golden Lion Newport Pembs and they have beautiful covered outdoor seating now with patio heaters. We then went for a lovely walk up in the Pembrokeshire hills. We took a selfie as you can see below, Lily had her paw on Chris’s shoulder and so we were all laughing as well as smiling at the camera.

Melanie’s May Monthly News - Day out with Friends!

The sky and views are beautiful up there.

Its fairly high up and you can see the coastline, however in the other direction you can see a long way inland too.

Lily had a lovely time, as did we all. Something that we should all do a lot more now we are allowed out….!

Lily on her day out!

Melanie’s May Monthly News – Lexi in Oils

The portrait of Lexi was a lovely painting that Nicholas has recently completed. It is also framed using our Langham frame, a popular one this month! The portrait was originally painted without Lexi’s collar at our clients request, however when Sue and Sean saw the final photos, they felt something was missing – they asked for the collar to be added in and it made all the difference, it was their Lexi again. They were delighted! We are always happy to work with client until their portraits are 100% correct and they are happy. Read Seans email below when they saw the final photos and another below the photo when they received the painting of Lexi…

Hi Melanie,
I want to thank both you and Nicholas for working so closely with us, especially at the end.  I was obviously wrong about the collar.  Both sue and I looked at the latest picture and broke out into tears.  The collar definitely belongs.  It made the picture and brought our Lexi back, at least for one more moment.
Again, Thank you.  She looks right.
Sean

Melanie’s May Monthly News - Lexi in Oils

Hi Melanie and Nicholas.
Just a quick note to let you know Lexi came home to us today.  She is BEAUTIFUL.  So lifelike.  And you were right.  The photo of her portrait does not do justice. There were a lot of tears shed tonight.   But good tears.  We will send some photos in the next few days, but I wanted to let you know that our baby girl, Lexi, has come home to us.
Than you, from both sue and I.
Sean

Dog portrait in oils - Lexi in Oils

Melanie’s May Monthly News – Boots in Oils

The portrait of Boots was commissioned as a 16 x 12 oil painting for a client in the USA. The portrait is framed using our Langham Gold Frame with engraved plaque to match. Our client Susan was thrilled and she emailed the following…

He looks great. Thanks so much! I love the frame, too!
Susan

Melanie’s May Monthly News - Boots in oils
cat portrait in oils

Well thats all for this month, we hope that you have enjoyed viewing our blog and reading about what we have been getting up to. If you would like us to paint or draw your pet, you are more than welcome to email or message us at any time! If you missed last months blog post, take a look at my Melanie’s April Monthly News…

Why not sign up to our Monthly newsletter accessible at the bottom of our website which comes out on the 1st of each month. Catch up on news from our Art Studio! Please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel too, follow our Instagram @petportraitartists and Facebook @petportraitartists . You are more than welcome to comment below too, we love hearing from our readers!

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