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.

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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.

CARROTS

We’ve got a gift hubby said. We don ‘t get post on a Sunday nor any other kind of package or parcel deliveries.  They arrive only on weekdays.

So I said………Ooh, have we, where is it?

It’s in the garden, said hubby.

Where, I asked?

By the fence, look……

Right enough, almost camouflaged with all the greenery, was a small bunch of carrots, freshly picked by the farmer, our neighbour.  She has a good throwing technique, over a 6 feet chain link fence where the carrots, untied, made a soft landing and all together.

 

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JUST THINK – IT COULD HAVE BEEN WETTER

I thought about photographing the burnt black and torn leaves of my nasturtium plants, the bowed bunches of chives and my urn-shaped strawberry pot, being used for a bit of floral colour rather than soft fruit. What is extruding from the urn looks pretty sorry for itself.

Then I changed my mind about creating pictorial evidence of the havoc wreaked on my plants, because of the storms and the torrents of rain that ripped through this area last weekend. Instead, I started to tidy up my salad and herb patch as best I could in between more showers of rain.

Meantime, on the washing line, where washing swayed in the wind this afternoon while the weather looked deceptively promising, the towels got damp and the bedding ended up as wet as it was when originally pegged out to dry. It could have been worse, the washing could have been wetter.

(A wash – not today’s – drying in the wind one day).

Rotary Line + laundry

THE FEEDING POST

The wee garden birds and the not so wee ones, have not been visiting my garden bird feeders in any number and I have been puzzling about this. Could it be, I wondered, the change of feed. The local shops were out of packets of seed as so many people were putting out food. So, in the depths of the Arctic blast we had, I went to a local farm shop and bought about 20 kilos of their ordinary bird seed mix. Could the seed really have been totally different…surely, bird seed is what it is. The peanut house, which holds a kilo of nuts was not going down very fast either. I had not changed my nut supplier.

Perhaps the birds were well supplied with the thoughtfulness of all the other people feeding them and they did not need my offerings. I continued to wait and watch. The other morning, I believe I was presented with the true and not so palatable answer. As I gazed through the window a sparrow hawk flew close by; close enough for me to see a small bird being carried in its claws.

BIRDS -WHAT THEY GET UP TO.

On this grotty first day of BST (Summer, my foot. It’s just a ruse to disrupt our sleep), I got to thinking about our wildlife, which I do vaguely think about daily, since they are all around anyway.

Yesterday, I watched crows demolish my firm attachment of fat balls to the feeder stand. I managed to recover one net hook, and today attached a new net, with a fat ball in it, to the fence. The fat balls don’t seem so prone to demolition in that position. The seed feeder does sway in the wind, encouraging small and medium sized birds to sit on the grass expectantly waiting for their manna to drop from heaven. They then ferociously peck away at grass level. The crows, clever observers that they are, move onto the feeder stand and with their beaks, bodies and sometimes their heads, help the seed holder to sway a bit more. That way there is plenty for all the feathered creatures that are gathered.

The peanut holder is heavy; the apex roof on it is supposed to keep the nuts drier than they might otherwise be if totally exposed. This treat is not without little morsels and residue. A bit of shaking, if there’s no real wind, adds to the feed haul already on the grass.

Today, I saw a greenfinch:

P1020413 Greenfinch

The picture was taken some distance away and inside the house, to avoid disturbing the visitor

Shortly after, this rather podgy and well coloured bird appeared. It looks like the common garden Sparrow that is supposed to be in decline.

P1020419 Sparrow 2

THE OLD NEW BOOT.

Oh dear; not only have the new outdoor table and chairs in the garden caused some additional confusion, especially when the sun shade is in position, though not necessarily open, the new, old-looking boot, has added to the confusion.

When dementia sets in it is nigh impossible to explain anything new and unusual. There is a nice garden view out of the window. The bird table given as a present, soon after the patient took up residence, is situated dead centre so that the feeding antics of all sorts of birds can be enjoyed. But this outdoor table and chairs have changed the accepted and familiar view.

You can explain till the cows come home that the boot is a pottery flower container with flowers in it, and it is okay to be sitting out in all weathers, decorating the table. You still hear “Oh dear, someone has left a boot out and it’s raining”.

SENSORY DELIGHTS

The deep coloured greenery swelled out and spilled over the top of the plastic carrier bag in which I had been given it.  Hidden beneath the massive aromatic foliage were more interesting items.   There were three pak choi and one mooli.   I walked into the residential home at lunch time with the bag plus a pack of raspberries I stopped to buy on the way and I got some curious looks from the staff.

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 type of celery and use it in soups, make soup with it and put it in meat and gravy. She couldn’t remember how long ago, but it made for a good flavour.  She was thinking while I gave my ideas for preparing the pak choi and the mooli. Did it have a sharp and hot radish flavour, she wanted to know and could it be boiled or steamed.

The raspberries, which all got eaten, evoked thoughts of puddings, jam and an enamel bucket used for collecting and cooking them in, in times long past.

On my way out, staff asked me about the greenery.  One, a Bulgarian, did not know pak choi, but bemoaned the fate of her garden back home without her.  A local lady had no idea about any of the vegetables, but was fascinated.  A Chinese carer squealed with delight when she saw the mooli and was thrilled to hear we called the the little vegetable and the pack choi the same names she knew them by.

FLIGHT OF FANCY FOR 40 MINUTES

This afternoon I snoozed outside in the garden for forty minutes, on an unused sun lounger I had forgotten we owned. That shows how long it is since anything like a decadent lounge around in the garden had taken place. I played with the up and down mechanism operated via the arm rests; it was interesting and literally showed me how far down I could go and also how far upright I could sit.

I woke up with a chill in the air, clouds above, no sun and goosebumps on my arms. I went indoors to retrieve a long- sleeved cardigan to wrap round my short-sleeved top.

I sat again, al fresco, and read on the now upright lounging seat for all of a precious ten minutes, then my pages were splashed with large rain drops. :-/ I immediately shut my book and I rushed to take my almost dry washing off the clothes line. The sun lounger was folded away, to be hidden for another undisclosed period of time.

Undisclosed time? It cannot be anything else, as it is still very wet outside tonight and there’s no knowing when we might have the odd warm patch that I can take advantage of to lounge about outside, that’s if I remember I have a lounger on which to lounge about.

I’ll go back to my book which, at the point I was reading, was all about a fisherman cooling himself off in the inviting waters of the Mediterranean sea. Fantasy land for me.