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My cousin Anne lives in southeastern England with her family,  not far from my uncle, aunt, and other cousins. We decided to start an online correspondence to check in with each other about gardening but it has evolved into more...I'm hoping she will send me some of her favorite recipes, occasional photos of what's happening in her community garden and news from her part of the world...

December 24, 2010 
Hi Nina,
Sorry for the delayed reply to your last email. I was feeling so organised with presents bought and wrapped, cards sent and Christmas menus sorted with food lists ready and then not sure what happened but I have been so busy. Every year I think I am going to keep it simple that it is all madness for one day but I never achieve this elusive sort after simplicity!!! Amelia came home on the 16th ahead of another huge dump of snow. On Saturday we had 12" fall in under 4 hours. I think that is what has thrown me out as the roads have been terrible and we have had to cancel plans, even getting out of our village has been a challenge. We met Lucy and her boyfriend in Cambridge on Sunday and they came back with us. Lucy is now home until 3rd Jan and Paul went to his parents on Wednesday. How is your weather? Will you have a white Christmas?
Now its Christmas Eve and I am feeling quite relaxed and festive! Whatever we don't have we will do without, its going to be a white Christmas and we have blue sky and the sun is shining.....perfect! This afternoon we will go for a long walk, our village is surrounded by fields so plenty of lovely walks. Later on we are going to drinks with friends and then at midnight we walk down to the village church for carols and a service. It's just the four of us tomorrow and 13 on Boxing Day. Mum and Dad are going over to Michael and his family for Christmas day and then they will all come over to us which will be lovely.
Mum has not been feeling so good with a sore throat/cold and her arthritis has been bad so dad came over for lunch on his own yesterday. It was lovely to see him but sadly I think he found the drive on his own too much. Its about an hour each way and they normally  drive one way each, so I don't think he will attempt it on his own again. I am not sure how long it will be before I go over to pick them up and bring them back to stay but for now they are obviously very keen to hang onto their independence. I asked dad about Nana's accordian. He said she had two 'concertina's' but he was then trying to remember what happened to them. I have a very clear memory of her playing to me as a child. It's lovely hearing news and memories from your mother as it starts me remembering very happy times with Nana and Grandad. Dad also asked about some photos your father took of planes over Germany?
Where do you spend Christmas and is your mother with you? Whatever you are doing I hope you have a lovely time and please give my love to your mother and lots of love to you and Ron. I have really enjoyed our emails to each other and am so happy we are in good contact again.... as you say the wonders of technology! I am also aware I have still not sent a website update and I did promise photos from Alexanders birthday party but did not get round to taking any. I will get snapping over Christmas!!!


December 2 
Hi Nina,
I still have to reply to your lovely last newsy email but have just got in from work. We have had just enough snow to look beautiful but driving around is fine. You are right its a little bit of Christmas! I was supposed to go to mum and dad on Tuesday but could not as they have had loads and have terrible road conditions. I believe they had another foot over night last night am just about to ring them. We are all supposed to be at Michael's on Sunday for Alexander's birthday so fingers crossed it will be clearer by then.
Will email after the weekend and update you with all their news. May even take a photo to send you!
Love Anne

December 1

Hi, Anne.  Just a follow up note to say that I saw a news report about the snow in England--incredible!  How is it where you're at?  The report said it was bad for trains in the southeast. This reminds me of last year!  Hope you're enjoying that winter wonderland--it's a little bit of Christmas early!

Hi Nina,
A little more cousins telepathy as I have been thinking about you a lot over the last few days! Feeling very guilty for leaving it so long to either update your website news or generally say hi.
Great excitement here with news of a royal wedding. Although there are many already complaining about the cost of the wedding in times of recession which I think is short sighted as it generates so much income and positive publicity around the globe. Our day to day news reporting is all doom and gloom so wonderful to have a happy story for a change! Like you I am shocked to think it was 30 years ago when Charles and Diana married....where did that go??!!
Yes we did celebrate Thanksgiving when we were in the States and actually we are celebrating it this year too (although on Sunday 28th). We have some friends who lived in the states for many years and this year they have decided to do Thanksgiving. We have often spoken about it but never actually organised it! Should be fun, I hope you enjoy yours too.  Mum and Dad are keeping well. They pick up Michaels boys and give them there supper, take them to their after school activities one day a week and I think they are having them for a sleepover tonight! Give my love to your mother and have a very Happy Thanksgiving. If I sign off now you have a chance of a card before Christmas!!!
Love Anne
Sept. 2010--things got away from us this summer between our gardens, family and's the latest:

Hi Nina,

Likewise you have been on my mind and the day I received your email I had actually intended to sit down and write, cousin telepathy! All is well here. We had a fabulous time in Spain. We were up in the mountains in a delightful historical town with many beautiful vistas. Wonderful weather, good food, lazy days by the pool and the thing I really love to do is reading. We visited nearby towns, explored some caves and had a couple of days by the coast. So a fabulous time and very special to spend the time with both girls. Sadly now it seems a dim and distant memory! Back to work and routine.

Up until the beginning of this month the weather has was hot and dry. But August has been wet and grey. No hummingbirds here but we do have mosquitoes not sure I like the sound of the West Nile variety. It used to be a problem in Connecticut. Mum and Dad are well.  I hope you enjoy having your mum this weekend.  Send her my love and I hope the garden party and visits go well.

I will send you some website news next week. I will also see if I can find an article written in the Essex Chronicle about the oldest juggler in Essex...DAD!!!


Until then...

Love Anne 
May 9, 2010
Hi Nina, 
Well despite high winds, rain and chilly temperatures we have spent the best part of today at the allotment. I am feeling quite disheartened the weeds and thistles are abundant! I don't want to use chemicals to get rid of them so we continue to dig. I am so tempted to lay black plastic over half of the allotment for this year and then do the same on the other half next year. Have you ever used black plastic as a form of weed control? Any other suggestions gratefully accepted! We also have a problem with rabbits so furiously netting everything. On the positive side we now have zucchini, broccoli, peas, runner beans, onions, potatoes and as I think I have already mentioned rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries in.  I am spending tomorrow in our garden at home and hope to plant tomatoes, lettuce and some herbs. Also need to cut the lawn and do some serious weeding! The blossoms are beautiful, lilacs are out and its all looking very promising. At least at home there are no rabbits or thistles! Will take some more photos for next time. Let me know what stage you are at with your planting. Talk soon Anne" 
01 Apr 2010
Manchester was fun thank you although grey, cold and damp! Lovely to see Amelia. Well we have another cold snap. Snow in the north of the country, just cold, high wind and rain for us. Our daffodils are finally in full bloom looking gorgeous. We have a lot planted along the road so pretty when driving around. My garden has suddenly come to life. The forsythia is out, tulips have made an appearance although obviously not in bloom yet, hellebores in full bloom and lots of buds on shrubs and trees.The seeds I planted three weeks ago and beginning to show although are in competition with the weeds and weeds are winning! We have prepared our seed trays for the greenhouse and tomorrow I am going to plant up squash, zucchini, beetroot, beans, peas, broccoli, peppers and carrots. Jon finished digging the beds on the allotment and I have prepared the pathways putting down woodchips to try and keep the weeds down. Now the beds are ready we can plant our potatoes and onion sets. Are you home for Easter? Will you see your mother? Please give her my love. Have a lovely Easter weekend. Love, Anne
16 Mar 2010
"Hi, Anne. Great seeing your photos. Gardeners here are always bemoaning that we don't have the great English climate and the range of tender perennials that you can grow there, but it's obvious that right now you're having weather just like us in the Midwest! Our daffodil leaves are up about 5 inches but no blooms yet. Doing a little garden clean up although everything is a soggy mess with the snow melt and then rain. Daylight savings time began this past weekend so it's light past dinner time.  Or is that "supper time" in England? I've forgotten! Greg and I are trying to talk mum into planting lettuce in her window boxes."  Love, Nina

15 Mar 2010

"Hi Nina. We had our first really mild day today--makes digging much easier! We have now prepared two beds and today I planted up onions, spring onions and leeks.


The photos attached show Jon digging (I get to take the photos!) and the prepared beds.

Hopefully I will send the same photos in a couple of months with the beds springing to life. Anne3.jpgThere is also a photo of the community allotments. We have not met many people yet as the weather has been so poor but we did get to talk to a guy who has had his allotment for a couple of years and he said it is great fun with a tremendous community spirit. Our daffodils are usually over by now but this year we are about where you are with a promise of things to come. Looking forward to exchanging recipes too! 
Anne1.jpgHave a good week. Talk soon."  Anne

 7 Mar 2010 "I loved reading your website. You clearly have Grandad's green fingered genes! He would have been so proud of you and so interested in your work and garden. I have many fond memories of working in his greenhouse with him and playing in his garden, it was beautiful, always full of wonderful scents.We have had a fabulous weekend with clear blue skies and although still chilly it felt so good to be out in the fresh air and sun. I did lots of cutting back and after winter tidying and will take some photos to send along with all the others I keep promising! Today Jon and I went over to the allotment and marked out the beds. We managed to dig one out but at least we have made a start. I wish you were nearer I could really use some design and planting ideas for a couple of my beds that have been quite disappointing over the past couple of years!”  Love, Anne 


Observe. Reflect. Bloom! 
(c) Nina A. Koziol