EUREKA MOMENT IN THE MEADOW

For the last three years I have been attempting to cultivate a difficult corner in our ‘meadow’.  It is a very uncultivated  area of grassland, apart from mowing, which is a slalom that hubs undertakes, not me. I cannot handle the petrol mower. He’s glad of it I believe, as it’s a task that is uniquely his own. I don’t mind at all!

Why is grass-cutting a slalom? About the time of year when you have to decide to do a cut, our wild orchids burst forth and flower. They are prettily  multiplying. Last year we discovered amongst the ‘crop’ of Orchids one that was a bit different. To my surprise, research threw up that it is known as the Common Spotted Orchid.  The spots are on the leaves. These Orchids are becoming hard to find.  Anyway, hubs carefully mows around all of the Orchids. How he manages to control that heavy bit of machinery to such a fine art, I do not know.  It’s paying off though, as this year I saw that we had increased our Common Spotted Orchids by 100%: we now have two!  One is at the front of the house and the other one is near the whirly washing line at the back of the house.

Common spotted Orchid-a rarity

The difficult corner is a nice sunny corner where I have seen plants thriving then suddenly horribly wilt and die.  Hubs was creating a bund there between us, the chain link fence and our neighbouring farm. When the sheep are milling around behind the fence, there is likely to be all sorts of temporary run off courtesy of them. In addition, to keeping unwanted nettles and other grassy weeds under control there is the occasional farm spraying just in that location, usually broadened out by the prevailing winds.  My Lamium and other hardy plants couldn’t cope with it. Yesterday, with some difficulty, I pulled out the Lamium. Talk about networks of roots.  They would have been ideal to hold the soil in position, if the circumstances had been right.  Meantime, I put on my thinking cap. Question; what grows easily and well forward of that corner? Looking around me I had a eureka moment. Of course, grass grows no problem.  So, I have planted a small cluster of evergreen ornamental grasses and for good measure, I have put a fascinating evergreen Curry Plant in the mix.

This was the only plant that thrived in ‘the corner’ patch last year. It came from a seed dropped courtesy of birds I suppose.  At its peak, supported by a pair of my tights, which were tied to the fence,  it stood at approximately  5ft.7″ high. We let it seed, sadly, there is no sign of it this year.

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Things Competed And Pushed Them Out

It was redesigned two years ago, and easier to tend.  A satisfying host of blooms  appeared on perky and bushy perennials during July through till October, weather permitting. It was not a perfect arrangement of nature’s beauty, but then, what is?  I saw where a bit of tweaking would work, but, left well alone, so the redesigned floral corner had a chance to settle.

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Crocosamia-left sight of Whitebeam trunk

You plant Lupins to see them do you not.  The first year I had a wonderful array of them in every conceivable colour. I was proud of the the Lupins because I had planted the seed pods  filched, [harvested] from a relative. Truth be told, other bushy things competed with them and pushed the Lupins out of the way.

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Picture is pre- new design

I was hoping this year to see the original UK bluebells bulbs planted last autumn.  It is very unlikely now. I wonder if my adorable Gentian Violet and my Primroses will revive. The only plants unaffected, I think and I hope, will be my brightly coloured Oriental Lilies.  I have drooled over their vivid  loveliness in full bloom and basked in compliments of people who stopped to admire them. (This one is a dead ringer for one of mine!)

macro shot of red and yellow flower

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In the recent storms, a White-Beam tree keeled over,and as it heaved over,  its trunk and branches thumped everything in its path; the roots made a great job of lifting everything in their wake. ( In the pictures you can get a  peep of the lower tree trunk).  Yes, the storms were fierce, so fierce that local people could not remember anything quite like it in their collective living memories.

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW….

Allotments: they do seem to take a variation of shapes and sizes and growing practices, according, it seems, to the managing ethos of any particular place. The one common theme is that they exist for the soil to be worked and to produce. They offer a community gardening experience and a common social interest amongst the people who make the allotments thrive. With flat dwelling providing limited opportunity for gardening creativity, allotments gardening can provide an alternative.

The many ‘urban gardens’ pictured, in central Vienna, Austria, run quite some distance. They are set back from a main road.

The pictures show only half their length.  The fencing is made from responsibly sourced wood, (I always wonder what that means)  from state forests. The urban gardeners were taking their responsibility seriously and were investing a great deal of thought, time and money into their allotted plots. The ethos here was evidently, grow-your-own food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of sight there is a major park and within it, in a more unkempt spot, was a different kind of garden with allotted spaces grown with flowers and looking like cottage gardens. Moving on, an opening in a high hedge presented you with a wide rectangular space surrounded by trees.  Around the edges were generously wide and deep boxes filled with soil, essentially raised gardening beds.  Each of these boxes were ‘rented’ to people with a specific interest; many were experimenting, they were interested in the process rather than harvesting the finished product. This, I was told, was this urban garden group ethos.

MISSION-ROOM 41

The deep coloured greenery swelled out and spilled over the top of the plastic carrier bag, which had been handed to me. Hidden beneath the massive aromatic foliage were more interesting items. There were three Pak Choi and one splendid white Mooli.   It was lunchtime when I made my visit to the care home, carrying this abundantly overflowing bag.  In my spare hand I held a pack of raspberries, a treat.  I got curious looks from the care staff and some polite smiles.   I was on a visiting mission. I knocked on the door of room 41.

© Elegant Veg

She immediately wanted to know what I was carrying. I got her to feel through the foliage and the thin stalks. Still not sure, I encouraged her to nibble at a little of a leaf. Yes, it tasted of something but what?  She sniffed the green bunch and stroked the stalks.  Realisation; her mother used to grow this and use it in soups, make soup with it and put it with meat and gravy.  She couldn’t remember how long ago, but it made for a good flavour.   Did the Mooli have a sharp and hot radish flavour, she wanted to know and could it be boiled or steamed.  What about the other one, the Pak Choi?  She was thinking and asking questions while I gave my ideas for preparing the two vegetables.

© Our Yellow Beetroot.  Pak Choi it is not.

We shared savoury and sweet  recipe ideas  for the best part of an hour, and the time passed pleasantly and quickly. The raspberries, which all got eaten, evoked thoughts of home made cakes; puddings; jam; outings with an enamel bucket used for collecting and cooking the raspberries, in times long past.

On my way out, staff asked me about the greenery I was carrying.  One, a Bulgarian lady did not know Pak Choi, but bemoaned the fate of her garden back home without her.  A local carer had no idea about any of it.  A Chinese carer squealed with delight when she saw the Mooli and was thrilled to hear we called the other little vegetable (the Pak Choi) the same name she knew it by.

 

INVITING OURSELVES OUT

From inside the outside looked bright, cheery and tempting.  So, we, that’s hubs and me, invited ourselves out for a coffee this afternoon.  There was a noticeable icy breeze, truly icy. It wasn’t too bad once we’d got used to the feel of it. I was glad of the thick jeans I was wearing, (these days, jeans seem to be made with much thinner denim cloth).  Together with my hip length padded jacket and a big scarf wrapped round my collar it all worked a treat. Hubs was well wrapped up too.

Crossing a bridge, I saw a tight ‘ruck’ of Snowdrops, the first I had seen this year. They bank onto a river.  In another week or so, the whole bank should be carpeted with them.

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We arrived at our destination and found our favourite seating area was free and only one person, the manageress,  was at a table. It was an oasis of calm.  A lot of people favour the same seating area, and  it can be teeming with bodies from whom emanates a very high volume cacophony of sound.  A group of teachers is one of the noisiest.  Next are parents who allow their little offspring with their metal toys -small cars  mostly-to bang them on  the glass table tops. The kids love it. This is an efficient way to clear the nook of other customers!

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On the way home  we wandered up to a farm and bought some fresh eggs, chatted to the shepherdess, who also runs the egg enterprise and does lots of other things in the modern diversified life of farming.  p1010089

A plop of icy sleet startled me, followed by a few more plops.  Then I noticed an unexpected clump of bright yellow in the shelter of closely planted leafless bushes.  Crocuses were about to bloom.  Is spring around the corner?

HOW DOES THE GARDEN GROW…NOT WITH SILVER BELLS OR COCKLESHELLS.

It’s been a mixed week.  Flora and fauna have figured large.

As you will know from my last post, I was presented with a really bonny bouquet.

Literally, I have watched the garden plants  increase in size and strength within a few hours. One moment  they look immature and when I returned some hours later, well…..I rubbed my eyes, even I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  When the weather gets warmer,  the plants obviously quickly rise to the occasion.  What were just leafy Calendulas, now have budding flowers at last

The wild Orchids in our garden are very pretty. They increase in number every year. Hubby does a slalom around all of  them with the lawnmower. Once they have finished flowering, he’ll mow the grass with carefree abandon again.

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The Spiraea I successfully rooted also shot up a few centimetres and became quite bushy with tiny leaves.  I was intending to nurture it for another year, but it seemed a shame to restrict it in a pot.  So, it was planted, a fledgling bush amongst thrusting grass.  This is from where it originated.

The parent Spiraea bush

The parent Spiraea bush

It’s a pity one of the young  Weigelas, which was bursting with flowers, was accidentally caught by a strimmer, (not by me). Most of the flowers on the bush dropped off, the rest have since followed suit.  The broken branch, which I attempted to save, is not at all happy.  I’ll leave it in a pot a little longer to see if it might perk up.

Japanese Honeysuckle has delightful gentle mid- green leaves with cream lace veins .  After twenty-nine healthy years mine suffered an attack of what looked like mildew. It is no more.

A few snips with the ‘clippers’ and the flowerless stalks of the Primula Candelabra  have  been removed. They have not failed to put on ever-increasing candelabra displays.   I have a new kid on the block, new last year.  It was quite timid then, with just two flower heads. These Primulas are really cute and it has thrown up  five floral heads, so far, this year. You can just make out the head of the the fifth one, it makes its contrasting skirted frilly rim as the pointed hat develops.

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You can see the vigorous Allium here just beginning to open their yellow flower buds.  Just behind them is a plant that appears to be a thistle.  I can vouch for the fact it is not a weed, I did plant it in 2015.  It’s not like any of the leathery prickly thistles, those leaves though they look spikey, are very soft .  It has yet to present its first flower.  An ornamental thistle style flower should appear in due course.  They are often found in floral displays.  When it is safe to, when I am not likely to tread on anything flowery, or, knock any plant heads off, I will have to check the name of it.  (Hopefully, the label will still be readable).

Summer gales nearly always arrive when  my Peony bush comes into bloom and  they quickly batter the blooms out of existence. There has been quite a strong wind building up today.  This season’s first blooms are really lovely, so I took a few pictures to record them.  There are others on the bush, in slightly varying shades of pink, similarly gorgeous.

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Finally, here is ‘the spotty flappy leafy thing’ mentioned a couple of posts back. It is commonly known as a pineapple plant; its official name is Eucomis and is a native to South Africa. I don’t know which particular Eucomis I have, there are a number of them.  For you buffs out there,  it is of the Asparagaceae genus. The ‘fruiting’ centre, (if that’s what it is) looks very interesting. There’s a second little Eucomis peeking out from behind the larger plant.

Eucomis

Eucomis

 

COMMUNING WITH MIDGES AND ‘THE SPOTTY FLAPPY LEAFY THING’.

Talking about the garden again…my brain is connecting into peaceful communing with buttercups, daisies and wild orchids. It helps to cope with the chaotic and volatile political diatribes, the tribal nature of so-called debate, and the murder of Jo Cox M.P.

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The plants received a generous dollop of water when I got the hose out last night. If I had waited a few more hours Mother Nature would have provided and copiously too.  So, everything is now well-watered.  All that back-breaking weeding I got stuck into has got a sabotaging helping hand and the weeds, no doubt, will thrust up through the soil again.

I swear the Scottish midge has got larger. They are not usually interested in me. I pride myself on usually being bite free.  Instead of seeing a mass of tiny dust-sized dots flitting about, I saw masses of individual wing-flapping insects. This lot liked me and I was eaten off piste two evening in a row. The back of my neck, my ears and my forehead were smitten with minute burning bites. Yeuch!  I itch as am reminded  of it.  I find I am scratching my face again.

I am really pleased to see that a bright yellow lily I planted last year has grown again, so, I bought another Lily to join it. It has  tight deceptively reddish coloured buds. They might turn out to be orange!   And …..the large flappy spotty leafy thing I bought at an Open Garden last year has reappeared. Yay!  Those spots are on the underside of the leaf that  takes shape. They eventually show as opaque markings on the upper side of it.

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In fact, the plant might be giving me a double act. Since I took this photo a few days ago, a second stem has pushed through the surface. I hope the pot will be big enough. Don’t be fooled by the white I.D. stick. What was written on it in indelible ink has completed faded out.  This folks, is why it is ‘a flappy spotty leafy thing‘ till I can put a name to it.

GARDENING. OVER-ENTHUSIASTIC PLANTS

It’s been a busy two days in the garden taking advantage of the warmer temperatures and the dry sunny weather.

I rescued, (I hope) some of my plants from other over-enthusiastic plants encroaching on their space and depriving them of vital light.  I chopped back the Lovage for the second time this year.  I have decided it has got to go. What’s left of the Lovage is behind the  white planter. My flat leaf parsley should be a bit happier now and also the Aubretias.

You can’t see them, the Fennel is in the way,  but there are Violas, which were tied up with weeds. I moved  all but two of the self-seeded Calendulas (edible Marigolds) to another patch with their pals.

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It’s surprising what happily grows under the delicate fern leaves of the Bronze Fennel. It is not full height yet. It’s a bit warmer now, so, it will put on a spurt.

 

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Calendulas are quite  hardy and they don’t seem to be fussy about what kind of ground they grow in. These have some re-sited Violas among them. I do throw a bit of compost in this direction every now and then. I’m not sure if the replanted fancy rocket behind the planter will settle.  The petunias in the pot  were planted yesterday.

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Allium are growing vigorously this year and have quite a few buds. There’s a couple of bunches by the Primula Candelabra, (the tall creamy flowering plants).  The Alliums are quite aggressive and have been pushing up and around the settled  Primulas.  Sadly, a  low lying double-flowered Primula was well and truly killed off by their growing antics. You can see what is left of one newly re-planted small Primula with a Viola for company, which did keep going, though it was obviously  struggling.  I pulled up some Alliums to give space and light back to the other plants.

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A few of the miscreant Alliums have been plonked into this bund that hubby has developed. Their root network will be ideal for it assuming they take root. Even so, I reckon there will have to be regular culls.  Bluebell type flowers, (below) which are currently flowering would add to the root strength, they seem to behave in a similar way.

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I was a bit nervous of clearing out the weeds between the Euphorbia and the Lupins, I wore heavy duty gloves for this job. If any Euphorbia sap gets onto your skin, the skin will become light sensitive and can blister. This is one plant from which you don’t want to accidentally break anything.  It’s not ideal to have a top which keeps parting from your trousers, however well you think you’ve tucked everything in!

Those are Busy Lizzie’s peeking out from the amphora.

Gardening is never done; there’s still more to do. A bit of grass clearing should do the trick here.  There are some other Weigelas that would appreciate a similar manicure.

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One for emptying. I’ve not had much success in this planter. I’ll have to think about how to use it.

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SPEAKING OF PLANTS…

We’ve had frosts, sleet, and snow, which did not settle.  Daily temperatures are still in single figures, at night it feels the numbers are very low.  Though it is very light till late, it feels cold enough to draw the curtains to insulate us from the chill outside.

I checked my five ‘baby’  Weigela bushes, which I planted last year. Their leaves vary in colour, two are light and dark variegated greens.  I also planted two dark purple leaved varieties. The plants burst into life and sprouted leaves during the short-lived. false spring we had early April.  Since the temperatures dropped, four of the Weigela’s furled up their leaves and appeared to be trying to protectively wrap them round their main branches.  Like the Euphorbia,  they were looking quite sorry for themselves.  The light green variegated leaf Weigela, which I thought may be a tender offspring, seems to have survived the cold snap quite well.  You never can tell, can you.

On a recent visit to Edinburgh’s lovely Botanical Gardens, I took a guided walk to learn something about plants and the garden’s  highlights. It turned out to be a group of one plus the guide, a retired botanist; lucky me! Amongst other things, I was introduced to three plants I have. My Begenia is not yet flowering, theirs is.  I planted it where the Livingstone daises are  by the tree trunk. This picture is pre-Begenia. There was a great big green leathery elephant ear leaf, (my description, it’s real name I cannot recall) which I hope will reappear. It is in the blue pot  in the picture.

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And last, a bronze Fennel; I was told it was an aggressive growing plant. I’ve had mine two years, it grew upwards to about 4.5ft last year and was  spectacular to look at.  I can think of other plants- like the one behind it – I wish I had never planted, however, my bronze fennel is not one of them. It is staying.  A local visiting cat nuzzles up to it, I do believe the cat likes the aroma: why not, I do!

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PLANTING UP POTS

Yay! We’ve had our first two half days of real warm summery weather. Yesterday the temperatures rose from about lunchtime. I beetled off to a garden centre to find some interesting outdoor plant pots.  Two that took my fancy were really meant for hanging on a wall.  I had other plans.  One pot was quite like a Roman amphora.

Amphora Plant pot

The pots were planted up and left to adjust to their new surroundings overnight. These plants looked quite settled and hopefully, are raring to grow.

This morning I was busy and  also for a large part of this afternoon.  By mid afternoon clouds obscured summer skies, but, it remained warm. It was however, very, very windy.  It’s sods law isn’t it. The neighbour’s sheep were sheared today, when the shearers had finished the temperature dropped. Then it rained!

This one appears to lean forward, which, perhaps is what it might do if it were attached to a wall. I nipped out to snap pictures quickly in a bit of a rain lull. The raindrops show up well  🙂

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Westerly winds are really blowing the ‘Million Bells’ plant to one side. I am hoping it will take firm root, spread and trail over the sides of the pot, if the weather gives it half a chance.  Should the winds persist, I might have to think about moving the plant pot to a more protected spot.  At present the pot is quite high up and resting against a wall.