Slow painting

Wednesday 24 June 2009


Posting here has been in inverse proportion to the amount of work going on. I imagine that's common to all garden bloggers at this time of year. Things are going pretty well. The plot is looking spick and span. Or, as the Chalet School gels would say, 'trim and trig'. Lots of work and the camera tends to get forgotten.

But here's my problem - I'm stuck for space. These are the new raspberry canes, the Canadian Tulameen. They're residing in a pot on the patio while I dither about where to put them. It's just as well that allotment sites are home to many an eccentric, because lately I've been pacing about the plot, stopping and pondering, walking along a bit, pondering again, trying to see where I can put these canes. The problem is that they will occupy a space for a good few years. I can't put them in empty ground where the broccoli was, just on the west side of the strawberries, because they'll shade the ripening berries for most of the afternoon. I can't put them near the blackcurrants because that's where I'm putting a block of broccoli for next year, with the first row of the earliest variety already in. Everywhere else is full.

So...I'm going to take a big chance, dig out soil from the virus-stricken row, put in fresh, and whack in the new canes.

Monday 15 June 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - red, white and blue

Or to start with my favourite in this patriotic sequence, the white of Mme Hardy, my Damask rose from David Austin. I absolutely love this rose. I love its scent, I love its profusion, I love the way it gleams in the late evening twilight. I also love its history - named after the wife of the gardener in charge of the Empress Josephine's rose garden, and a descendant of the roses brought back from Persia in the 13th century.

The blue is Geranium 'Bressinham Blue', now in full flower. On an evening of heavy cloud streaming in from the sea on a strong east wind, the bee was having to hang on each time it alighted.

Now to the red. This combination is not...pleasing to me. Red, white and blue together in this corner of the garden just don't work for me, and the culprit is the red poppy. It seemed like a good idea, but it got too big and too scruffy. It's over so soon, and in the tiny bit of border I have nothing to grow up beside it and hide it. And next door's cat likes to lie on it, which isn't the fault of the poppy, but it doesn't do it any favours.

It's a tough life in suburbia, but it will have to go. I'm thinking a bergamot, for the bees, and of a less vibrant hue. I'm also thinking plant support of a discreet type, to stop it encroaching on the lawn (oh so suburban!), but also to ward off neighbour's cat.

June blooms with perhaps a more secure future are at Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Friday 12 June 2009

Inching along

It's been a lot of work, but somehow it feels as if we're just inching along at the moment. Busy weekends are partly to blame, and the season has been cold. The shot above shows the state of play at the end of a rather dogged afternoon's work last Sunday. Between the posts and the Weed Heap the potatoes are coming along nicely. The net and post contraption is the site of the first lot of green peas - 'Ambassador'. In the foreground are the ten celeriac plants that I put in the week before, and some short rows of a random mixture: two rows of beetroot, one of 'Boltardy, the other of 'Barabietola di Chioggia'; a row of rainbow chard; a row of spinach; and a row of radishes. Here's the celeriac in more detail. I hope to convert my family to it: I was first seduced by celeriac at school lunches in France when I worked as an English language assistante, and have hankered after growing it ever since.

The peas have come along slowly, probably because they haven't been watered frequently since planting. In fact although it's been cold it's also been very dry - the grass hasn't really grown again since it was strimmed the previous week.

I'm taking no chances with the pigeons and the green peas, so have swathed the young plants in netting.

Salads are still just creeping towards maturity. Perhaps I sowed them too early, in April. The lamb's lettuce is at last showing, but the spinach at the top left of the 4 rows in the photo below is being very grudging.

Now my early season ordering has caught up with me. The first of the phased delivery of purple sprouting broccoli arrived this week from Delfland Organics, and had to be potted up temporarily. The replacement raspberry canes arrived too, and are also in temporary quarters. I remembered with some dismay that I also ordered alpine strawberries, and they too will pop up midweek sometime soon.

Meantime I'm flat out at work finishing up before I go on leave for a glorious 7 weeks. Just 2 weeks to go, but the cost of that pace is a distinct lack of energy in the evenings. Add to that the end of term shenanigans at school and spare time is hard to find. Tomorrow I plan to be out in the garden at 7.00 a.m. - weather permitting of course.