Slow painting

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Tulip time

My flower discovery this year has been frilly tulips. I love the crisp, crinkled edges to the petals. Definitely a bigger order going in for these in the summer - the only problem will be to find space. I have a long term plan for increasing the amount of flowers at the allotment, although overall the terms of the lease from the city council state that the majority of the plot has to be cultivated for food production.

The other discovery has been the rich, glowing colours of Abu Hassan:

Sunday, 26 April 2009


The word that gladdens the Scottish heart. Although I dislike the Starbuckification of every street corner in Edinburgh, I'm not above taking one of their free bags of used coffee grounds when one of my children (usually my daughter) drags me in for a hot chocolate milano for her and a chai latte for me (tho yesterday I cracked and had a hot chocolate).

Result: gloriously coffee-scented compost bin.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The hole in the weed pile

Over the winter this hole has appeared in our weed pile. This photo doesn't really show the scale of it, but it's probably fox sized. The weed pile is the major blot on our plot. Inherited from the previous owners, it's something that we keep meaning to get rid of, but it's not that easy. We could burn the top, uncomposted layer, but we're a 'no burn' plot because at home we're annoyed by smoke from a nearby allotment site and we know all too well the nuisance it causes. The composted layers are full of pernicious weeds which would just come to life again if spread on the soil. So we're in negotiation with the Council about its removal. Beside the weed pile are sheets of corrugated iron which we also inherited, and which also need to be moved. In the long term we plan to relocate our existing compost bins there and to reclaim some earth for growing.

But for the moment we have this:

Taken back in January, this shot doesn't do justice to the full horrible-ness of this area. But back to the hole in the pile. We feel rather stuck now - something has obviously made a comfy lair, so what do we do? My idea is to wait until the weather gets warmer and then start to shift the pile once and for all. Any other thoughts?

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day April

Today I've bypassed the showy tulips that are out in my garden just now, as well as the Magnolia stellata, the narcissi, the Pulmonaria, the Saxifrage, the Brunnera macrophylla. Closest to my heart just now are these frothy blooms of Tiarella 'Iron Maiden'. Planted two years ago, it slowly declined through the first season, and by the autumn I'd given it up for dead. It didn't come through at all the following summer, but I had a hunch that something might still happen. No special care has been lavished on it, but voila - thanks to my usual regime of treat 'em tough, benign neglect, it has burst forth this spring and is creating a lovely Victorian vignette against the backdrop of ivy on the shady patio. (The shady patio which is in dire need of having a winter's worth of algae scrubbed off it. I knew this of course before I saw this photo, but it really brings it home to me!)

Other April blooms are bursing forth at Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


It's wonderful what can happen when you're not looking. After another busy-busy two weeks, during which we've been away for Easter, the garlic has not only sprouted but is well up, and the shallots are beginning to pull away.

I had a hard-working session at the plot on Tuesday, my last day of holiday before the office swallowed me again. My order of onions, 'New Fen Globe' arrived just before we went away on holiday, and were overdue for planting out. The lovely thing about planting onions, and shallots and garlic too, is just being able to push them into the soil. Easy! So I popped in four rows of onions, quick as you like.

Although the weather has taken a milder turn (tho not today), the plot wasn't covered in a fine green fuzz of weeds as I'd expected. Instead of weed-busting I was able to sow some salads: corn salad 'Vit', lettuce 'Romana Bionda Degli Ortolani' (that rather rolls off the tongue in an impressive Italian way), lettuce 'Quattro Stagioni', and spinach 'Hector'. I love corn salad (or lamb's lettuce, or mache), but I find it very challenging to grow. It rarely germinates well, so this year I'm sowing earlier in case our fierce Scottish summers (!) are to blame.

The purple sprouting broccoli is having a last, pigeon-free flourish:

The blackcurrant bushes are in flower:

And I even managed to turn some compost. This one of those shots where you realise afterwards just how...weird this photo-blogging lark is, when you eagerly snap the contents of your compost bin. But it IS interesting! Look - here are the remains of the beautiful Mother's Day flowers I received, along with wee matchstick things which my son contributed from his mega bedroom tidying operation brought about by having new carpet laid. The sticks are from one of those kits which are meant to be good presents for 10 year old boys - 'Build the Taj Mahal from matchsticks - hours of fun!' Eight years later the Taj Mahal is still unbuilt, but the wee sticks will do just fine as woody content for the compost bin.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Fairy picnic

The allotment fairies have been picnicking inside this living willow bower. They must have left in a hurry, because one of them has left their little pink gardening gloves behind.

I'm wondering - if I provide a dainty tea set and fairy cakes, will the allotment fairies visit my plot and work some magic?

I did get a shot of the bower, but no time to post it just now - will come back and edit. Off now for another day of harp things, and my head is feeling better - thank you for the good wishes.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Wish list - water butt

The standpipes at our site still haven't been turned on yet - or at least they hadn't last weekend. With shallots to water in during a dry spell that was a problem. Luckily a neighbour who has his plot behind ours came to our rescue, and invited us to use water from his rain butt - featured above in all its unshowy, practical glory. It seems like tempting fate after last summer's deluge to say that this is top of my wish list, but I think we have to get moving on this soon.

Today was to have been my one chance this week to get along to the plot for a digging and hoeing session. I'm on taxi and harp-carrying duty for my daughter, who is taking part in the Edinburgh International Harp Festival. However, yesterday I hit my head, hard, on a table while helping my daughter to pack her harp, and I spent much of the afternoon in Accident and Emergency. I missed the concert by the Brandywine Harp Orchestra from Delaware, USA. A&E was populated by spring Sunday walking wounded. Many footballing and gardening injuries. I don't know if I was the only person there wounded by a table. And today I'm meant to be resting, which I must admit I'm finding it hard to do with a dry, calm spring day calling outside.