Plans and Dreams
December 29, 2012
Christmas festivities are over; the New Year approaches – almost a time in limbo, but perfect for making plans, allowing oneself to dream. I write so often about planning that you might consider it is a fetish of mine; but over the years I have come to realise that it is crucial to good gardening practice, and that any plot – large or small, rural or urban, – is not created overnight. And after a year of terrible weather and lack of attention to our own outdoor space through travelling abroad and subsequently illness, I know that nothing goes as expected and contingency plans are essential.
Return to the wilderness!
July 1, 2012
After three weeks away working on the continent, I could not really believe the transformation that had taken place in the garden. Not so much weeds, but the sheer entanglement of growth. Some areas have become an impenetrable thicket; in others crops have failed miserably. If it were not for my passion for old roses and their splash of purples and mauves (at their best at the end of June and the beginning of July), one could say that our whole acre was over-green – but so many shades of green that had I the time, I would be rushing to capture it in paint. Out with the camera instead.
June 16, 2012
The long light evenings of Summer always seem to me to be a good time to catch up on reading. What better opportunity is there when gardening tasks are done than to sit down with a good and informative book? Time to discover more, new techniques perhaps, for with gardening there is always something new to learn. So here is a gardening book update – not new (for I always have a pile of books on my desk waiting to be included) but each of the three titles is worthy of re-visiting if you already have it on your shelf. Links are provided for you to purchase online at reduced prices.
‘No Nettles Required’ by plant ecologist and university lecturer, Ken Thompson, is sub-titled ‘the truth about wildlife gardening’. It’s highly informative and written as a series of very readable chatty essays – and just the right size to slip into a pocket if you are headed for the beach or other holiday venue and wish you were still at home in your garden! KT quite rightly states that “encouraging wildlife is entirely compatible with ordinary gardening, costs next to nothing and is entirely effortless. Don’t leave home without it. Published in 2007 by Transworld Publishers, buy it here.
‘Making the most of your Glorious Glut’ is more recent, but one that has been awaiting a suitable slot – and of course Summer is the perfect time for “cooking, storing, freezing, drying and preserving your garden produce”. On far too many occasions we just do not know what to do with all we grow. Indeed, it was a gift of a bag of runner beans that inspired the author, Jackie Sherman, to write this book. There are dozens of tasty meals – warm salads seem perfect for the wet June days we are experiencing as I write. Variations on a theme and unusual recipes will prevent your partner and offspring from commenting “not again!” JS covers storage methods, preserves, dried fruit and beg, sauces and spreads, drinks, and, on the recipe front, starters and salads, side dishes, main meals, desserts, bread and cakes. She also offers tips on actually reducing gluts and planning what you sow and grow according to harvesting times. Published in 2011 by Green Books, buy it here.
‘The Herb Garden’ is one of those books that you never tire of re-reading, if you are passionate about herbs. I was reminded that I had at least two copies sitting on my bookshelf when the author, Sarah Garland (whom I had never met) unexpectedly turned up at the end of our drive to buy eggs and started asking about keeping chickens! We got talking about gardens, as one does when gardeners get together; and the fact we were both authors emerged as we chatted. Looking at SG’s book again, I realised why I so love it, for it is a complete (and scholarly) illustrated guide to growing scented, culinary and medicinal herbs in beautiful garden settings. The history of herb gardens is included plus plans for creating a number of topic-related herb plots with instructions for constructing different features. Cultivation is attended to as well, plus a catalogue of over 250 herbal plants; and an excellent index. Published by Frances Lincoln in 1984 (hardback) and 2003 (paperback), it is sadly no longer in print but second-hand copies are readily available online.
End of month miscellany
January 29, 2012
With the mild weather we’ve had this January, I should have been out in the garden, titivating the potager and beginning yet another reclamation project of areas that escaped me last year. But circumstances have made this impossible, though I do enjoy our outdoor space every day when letting out, feeding and shutting in the hens. Crocuses and snowdrops already in flower, hellebores of various types with lime-green or deep purple buds ready to open, and the modest shrubby winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) releasing its delicious scent whenever I walk into the sheltered patch where it is growing.