This week at Lost in Translation Paula’s theme is ‘vernal’ and she is calling for our spring compositions. So here are a few scenes from my Wenlock garden. Things have been a bit slow this year because we’ve had no rain for weeks and weeks. But today we did – and the garden has come alive with aquilegias and alliums. And I had no time to take photographs because I had a hundred other things to do. Hey ho. So the photos here were mostly taken back in March/early April: ornamental cherry, crab apple, and damson – the flowers of fruit to come.
Here is a well worn path of my daily comings and going along the margins of Townsend Meadow. The visible sign: the trail of gardening not writing.
There’s an unofficial gap in the hedge beside the first ash tree, and that’s my way into the allotment. The farmer leaves a swath of uncultivated ground on two sides of the field to soak up rainstorm run-off before it hits the houses at the bottom of the hill. For a couple of years these abandoned areas were simply left to grow, hence the nose-high grasses still standing in winter. But last summer, just before the wheat harvest, the weedy wilderness was mowed. Now the only signs of my passing are muddy boot impressions among the fallen ash leaves – not quite so photogenic.
Black & White Sunday: SIGN Paula says to interpret this prompt any way we like.
This Sunday at Lost in Translation, Paula asks us to show her a black and white version of a colour original. This summer shot was taken from the back of our house looking towards Wenlock Edge as the sun was going down.
Just over the garden fence we have a strip of ground that grows itself each year – mostly self-seeded foxgloves, columbine, corn cockle, moon daisies and opium poppies along with some perennial lemon balm, spearmint and oregano. It’s a treat waiting to see what will happen there every summer. Just thinking of this brightens a rather gloomy January day here in Shropshire.
And now I can’t resist posting some more transformations in and around Much Wenlock. Clearly, some work better than others, but in any event, as Paula says, it helps one to see with fresh eyes:
Now is the time of year when gardeners head for their seed catalogues and start making plans for the growing season ahead. Seed potatoes must be ordered, and preparations made (i.e. brain put in gear so as not to miss appropriate time slots) for crops that must be sown early. It is also a good moment to review which of the last year’s crops grew best, and most importantly, which we most enjoyed eating.
Actually all the produce was delicious. We had loads of Early Onward peas, courgettes and salad greens. Beans thrived – French, borlotti, fava, runners, and Cherokee, as did the globe artichokes, raspberries and Swift sweet corn. In the polytunnel the Black Russian tomatoes, and yellow cherry variety were the most prolific. I also grew some very good pink onions in there, and thus saved them from alium beetle attack which did a lot of damage in the outdoor crop.
There’s still stuff to eat on the plot too – Brussels sprouts, Italian broccoli, Tuscan kale, parsnips, and early purple sprouting to come.
And now as I look at these photos, I sense the horticultural sap rising. Soon it will be time to go out and get growing – all over again. For the gardener’s work is never done. Yippeeeeee!
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
Thursday’s Special: 2016 Retrospective Please visit Paula for her own fine retrospective, and be inspired.
I dashed up to the allotment this afternoon while it was still fine. The weather forecast is promising us storms tomorrow so I thought I’d better get the Christmas parsnips dug up fast, and the Brussels sprouts and red cabbage gathered in. The ground was very water-logged and the plots looked dreary, and naturally there were no other mad gardeners around but me. But as the sun went down, just a fraction later after the shortest day, the light over the town was magical.
These photos were taken with lots of zoom, and in the next one the sky looks to be on fire.
All of which reminded me of an Albert Camus quote which I read on a writing blog earlier this week. It was so hope-inducing I thought I’d pass it on at the first opportunity. It’s especially apt for all you creative people out there, which would be every man Jack and Jill of you. More power to your making in 2017:
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
Only on December 11th did I cut down the last of these lovely shell-pink lilies. They have been putting on a good show since September, the flowers opening day after day, and new buds forming. This is pretty impressive for a plant that is native to southern Africa where its red version goes by the name of Crimson River Lily.
Schizostylis coccinea was its botanical name, but it has now been reclassified as Hesperantha coccinea. Go to this link if you want more information on how to grow it. I have found it a most obliging plant, requiring little attention, though I gather it likes to be moved around the garden every few years. It comes in a range of coral and pink shades, and makes very pleasing clumps that can be easily divided in spring.
Here’s how it will look next September. Doesn’t it make you smile?
Cee’s Flower of the Day Please visit Cee for more blooming marvels. Or go there to post a floral link to your own.
Crab apples as caught in yesterday’s afternoon sun. There’s a bit of story here too. This year the fruit on our Evereste crab apple tree is absolutely tiny, nothing like the giant size suggested by the photo. But this is good, because it makes us think that the tree has survived being moved back in the early summer. Hurrah! It has produced fruit, albeit apples of elfin proportions.
All through last winter we had ummed and ah-ed about doing something so rash and ruthless as digging up this lovely little tree. I had planted it not long after we moved to Much Wenlock ten years ago. It was the star of an ugly and awkwardly large, raised bed at the back of the house. (You’ve probably seen the crab apple/blossom photos in earlier posts).
In the end we decided to risk it. Graham pruned back much of the top growth, and then effectively dismantled the flower bed around the roots while I dug a big hole at the top of the garden. The transplanting all had to be done double-quick. Then we firmed it in, stamped on the soil to get rid of any air pockets, and gave it lots of water. The final proof of success will be next spring. Will it ever flower again? I think it will.
Talk about conflicting interests. When I’m at work on my allotment I continuously wage war on dandelions. They are shown no mercy, bar resorting to pesticides. And yes, I know they are very helpful plants – the roots plunging deep into the soil strata and releasing otherwise inaccessible nutrients into the topsoil.
On the other hand, on the way to the allotment, camera to hand, I have a lot of time for them. They are of course in the farmer’s field, and not on my plot, which helps to foster a little appreciation. I find their seed-head ‘clocks’ endlessly photogenic. Looked at closely, they have a mysterious and mesmerizing quality: the perfect design of their parachutes, each one programmed for relentlessly unavoidable procreation.
And so, even as I feel my spade-hand twitching towards a ruthless uprooting, I’m also thinking ‘live and let live’. There are other good reasons to love dandelions. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that these plants possess great therapeutic qualities. Herbalists have long used the roots for healing liver conditions, while the leaves and flowers act more on the kidneys (not for nothing is the dandelion’s country name piss-in-the-bed.) You can use the young leaves in salads, while the roasted roots make a passable coffee. Meanwhile, the dandelion in the photo is also auditioning for a special effects role in Star Trek.
With sack and rake
I harvest gold;
bird cherry, damson, lime;
cached to rot.
It’s a slow alchemy –
six seasons it takes me
to process gold to dirt,
giving me the earth.
copyright 2016 Tish Farrell
For more leaf magic visit Verena at Festival of Leaves
Up at the allotment the globe artichokes we did not eat earlier in the summer are flowering, and the Red-tailed Bumblebees think all their breakfasts have come at once. In fact they’re trying to scoff them all at once too. The flower, after all, is a VERY BIG thistle. This makes me wonder if the huge expanse of ultra-violet attractant doesn’t over-stimulate the foraging impulse, thus explaining the manic bee rootling that has them scrabbling, bottoms up, through the petal forest to reach the sweet stuff beneath.
Those with longer legs seem to cope best, but I’ve already had to rescue two. They seem to become mired in the petals. Either that or they’re simply spaced out on the sugar rush.