Monday, 14 April 2014

an outdoor life … why do we garden?..

“The earth is our origin and destination.  The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart.  The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows.  When we emerge from our offices, rooms and houses, we enter our natural element.  We are children of the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home.”  John O’Donohue

At this time of year I take every opportunity I can to spend time out of doors – so gardening, as a pastime, is ideal for me.  But, if I am honest, for six months of the year, when the weather is good, although a lot of gardening activity goes on – I do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time lounging about – drinking home-made cordials and tea, and sitting in the shade reading (my fair skin doesn’t take too kindly to an excess of sun).

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Because, let’s face it – gardening itself is hardly restful – it seems innate in us, as we wander around that we always find something that needs doing – the odd weed to be pulled, a plant to be staked, a pot that needs watering -  you know how it is.  But  to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours is just as rewarding.

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On Friday the weather was just how I like it – warm and bright, and not too hot to be uncomfortable – I sat with a cup of tea and my book (not very well-written, full of cliches, yet with an engaging plot), but kept putting it down, more interested in what was going on around me.  Surrounded by blossom and birdsong I watched a blackbird to-ing and fro-ing with a beak full of worms to feed its young; a humming bird hawk moth hovering over the forget-me-nots dipping its long proboscis into the centre of the tiny flowers; a peacock butterfly looking for nectar – to me, these things are all part and parcel of the outdoor life and being a gardener.

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A garden gratifies all the senses – to touch the silken petals of a rose, to smell the different fragrances of flowers as you pass by, the sight of the jewel patchwork of the flower borders,  the sound of the wind rustling through the trees and the song of the creatures of the air, are all good reasons for why we garden.

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There are those who denounce us:-

“Horticulture is just a pointless way of passing time until you die”  Jeremy Clarkson

“There is more to growing old than just being interested in geraniums” Mary Beard

But, we also have our champions:-

“The garden is a joy for all ages to engage in, and isn’t limited to putting in geraniums, sitting back in a deck chair, and waiting lazily for it to grow”.  Alan Titchmarsh

My garden is a respite, a solace – a place to breathe.

This extract from The Rules of Life by Richard Templar says it all ~

Leave a little space for yourself each day:

So what are you going to do with that time?  Answer:  absolutely nothing.  And I do mean nothing.  This isn’t time for lying in the bath, sitting on the loo, meditating, reading the newspapers, or sleeping.  This is a little space for you, a breather, a time to sit still and do absolutely nothing.  Just breathe. I find ten minutes sitting in the garden just breathing is a fantastic boost a couple of times a day.  I sit there, thinking nothing, not doing, not worrying, just being, while I appreciate the pleasure of being alive.  Keep it simple.  Keep it bare.  Keep it pure.

‘Til next time – have a good week and happy gardening.

 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

just a thought …

 

This blogging lark is a funny old thing isn’t it.  I read all sorts of blogs, not just those about gardening, but often it isn’t the subject that draws me to blogs, but the way the blog is written.  I often post comments on my favourite blogs and most people who love gardening, the countryside,  which is mainly what my blog is about, or maybe feel a connection with me,  return and comment on my posts – but a few don’t – ever, and sometimes it bugs me - but I still keep leaving comments on theirs, because I enjoy them.  I was pondering about this and wondered why.

honesty

Over the weekend I came across a blog where all the commenters were having a lively discussion – being rude to one another – having a laugh at each others’ expense and then someone said “well it’s better than looking at bloody daffodils”, and then it struck me – that not everyone is interested in gardening – and I sort of felt a little stupid that I was hoping for comments from these people who just weren’t interested in what I have to say.  I guess I would blog anyway regardless of people leaving comments or not – but it does make blogging feel more worthwhile when there is two-way communication.

muscari - grape hyacinth

But then I thought, well, I am not necessarily interested in their chosen genre so why do  I enjoy some of these blogs when I know nothing about the subject?  After a lot of thought the reason I came up with is that it is the person behind the blog that I like and the style that they write in, regardless of what they write about.

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So I conclude that you  just have to carry on blogging about what interests you in your own style regardless of how others write, or what they write about - and hope that someone, somewhere enjoys reading it enough to leave a comment, and not get into a ‘stew’ when they don’t. If I tried to change my style of blogging, and what I blog about, it would seem false to me, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to keep it up, although I do wish sometimes that I could be funnier and more witty – but hey ho – what you see is what you get!

erysimum - winter orchid

As I said at the beginning – blogging is a funny old thing – and it is wise to remember, I tell myself -  that you can’t please everyone – so you might as well just please yourself.

bergenia - pink dragonfly

(For those of you who are interested in gardening – the above pictures show just a few of the plants that are flowering in my garden at the moment).

I would be interested to know if this has happened to you and what your views are.

‘Til next time have a great weekend, and remember:-

“You can be the ripest juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

a woman of the soil … it’s veggie growing time …

salad leaves

I haven’t just been concentrating on the flower garden in the last few weeks – oh no – I have been planning and scheming and sowing and planting the edible garden too.  At the moment there is just a lot of bare earth with only a few of last years’ crops left – but when they have been cleared I have all manner of things growing in the greenhouse ready to put in their place.

romano cauliflower seedlings

Polyculture is the name of the game – mixing everything up, growing different plants together with a few beneficial flowers into the mix – and bingo you have something that is beautiful as well as edible.

leek seedlings

When room can’t be found I bring containers into play – anything will do, the more decorative the better, and when one crop is finished the soil is refreshed and in goes something else – the garden becomes like a running buffet – always something to pick and nibble.

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What can be better than wandering round popping pea pods and eating the peas raw, or a warm tomato fresh from the vine, savouring strawberries that actually taste like strawberries – these are the simple delights of growing your own.

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I have already sown one bed with parsnips, carrots, chard and spinach and  the radish and salad leaves are coming through.

broccoli raab seedlilngs

French beans and sugar snap peas have been sown in troughs and you can see below the peas are already starting to climb

sugar snap container peas

It is a busy time of year in the garden for flower and veg gardening – but think of the rewards later on – oh yes – bring it on!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

an april posy … ode to spring …

It is a delight to walk around the garden, there are so many different flowers that catch my eye.  What shall I pick for my April posy – wallflower, primrose, muscari, forget-me-not, yellow rattle, bachelors buttons, hyacinth – each one is saying pick me, pick me – so I shall using my favourite forget-me-not china cream jug which is fitting for the season.

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Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"...
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

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“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

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“It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
Mark Twain

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“I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.”
Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

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“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.” ― John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga

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“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?” ― Neltje Blanchan

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“A Robin said: The Spring will never come,
And I shall never care to build again.
A Rosebush said: These frosts are wearisome,
My sap will never stir for sun or rain.
The half Moon said: These nights are fogged and slow,
I neither care to wax nor care to wane.
The Ocean said: I thirst from long ago,
Because earth's rivers cannot fill the main. —
When Springtime came, red Robin built a nest,
And trilled a lover's song in sheer delight.
Grey hoarfrost vanished, and the Rose with might
Clothed her in leaves and buds of crimson core.
The dim Moon brightened. Ocean sunned his crest,
Dimpled his blue, yet thirsted evermore.”
Christina Rossetti

You may have gathered that – spring is my favourite season

‘Til next time – have a good week – and remember to

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

a less than perfect gardener …

What makes a good gardener?  I am a gardener, at least I like to think so -  anyone who sticks anything in the ground is a gardener in my book – but am I a good gardener?

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Does having qualifications make you a good gardener – I hope not, I don’t have any – it is probably necessary if you want to be a professional – but for a domestic garden, no I wouldn’t think so.

Does knowing all the Latin names of plants help to make you a good gardener – I hope not – at one time I probably did know them – but now my memory is not what it was – most days I can’t even remember the common names.

Oh dear – this isn’t going well.

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Okay – what about determination and perseverance – you know the saying “if at first you don’t succeed” etc. but maybe knowing when to say “enough is enough” is almost as important – to keep buying the same plant over and over because you like it, but it doesn’t like you and it keeps dying (Hebes spring to mind) – is maybe not the sign of a good gardener just a persistent/determined one.

Creativity, ingenuity and plant knowledge are needed for garden design and putting a good mix of plants together, but is that what makes a good gardener?  I mostly garden by instinct – you can’t learn everything just from books or internet websites – you have to rely on common sense – you have to love growing things be it flowers, fruit or vegetables – a scientific, by the rules gardener, doesn’t always get the best results – in my view you have to garden with your heart and your head.

Even good gardeners have failures – let’s face it, in the natural world, everything is out to get you – the weather, pests and diseases – so a good gardener has to have a sense of humour above all and keep on trying regardless.

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So, after all this, do I think I am a good gardener?  No – but I am a keen enthusiast who enjoys seeing things grow;  the flower garden full of beauty inviting wild life in, and the veg garden full of  delicious things for me and not the slugs  to eat,  all put together in my own inimitable fashion – a less than perfect gardener who, mostly, loves every minute of it.

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All the above pictures were taken last year.

Do you have any thoughts as to what makes a good gardener?

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