Saturday, 27 May 2017

Come Into The Garden...

This is the rather forbidding entrance to my garden. There is barbed wire on the fence. The gate is almost always locked. Few people see what's behind it. But you can come in.

     My orchard, in its pots. There's a plum tree, a purple filbert, a Kentish cob and a Bardsey apple. Crammed among them are potatoes (Pentland javelins) growing in old compost bags, lettuce and rocket, onions and carrots and strawberries. And herbs: rosemary, mint, dill, sage, chives.
     The pond is just out of sight, behind the trees.

      The view from just outside my kitchen door, over the pond, which you can't see because so much has grown up around it. The wrens love to skulk in the undergrowth and then bullet out when you're not expecting them.
      My cherry tree (in a large pot) is just out of shot to the right. Also out of shot, to the left, are a blackberry and a tayberry, in pots. And a fennel. And two small bay trees.
      Below is our 'wild-flower meadow.' It's behind the 'orchard. Beside it, in the black tub, we're growing peas. Out of shot, behind the peas, there are tomatoes in grow-bags.
     We hope all the wild-flowers come out and feast the bees.

       This fella below may be my favourite in the garden at the moment.

     The big green fella, I mean. It's a teasel. You don't get much idea of scale but it's not far short of six-foot. It spent all last year as a little rosette, hugging the ground, but this year it's going for it.
     It's a bit bizarre. Its leaves, as they hug the thick central stem, form little green basins that have filled with rain-water.

     Follow that leaf in the foreground back... See the water shining in the basin? Look a little higher and you can see the round, leafy basin above, cupped around the next outgrowth of leaves.
     Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin's son, suggested that the plant was at least partly carnivorous, trapping insects in these pools and absorbing them. This hasn't been proved, but in 2011 an experiment was done where insects were added to the in-built pools of some lucky teasle plants but not to others, and their growth measured. Those that were fed insects didn't show any increased growth - but they did produce more 30% more seeds than the unfed ones.
     Carnivorous or not, it has teeth. Look at the spikes on that stem. On the underside of the leaves too.

      Try to brush one of these big leaves aside and you get a nasty jab.

The water in the leafy basins is supposed to good for the complexion but I don't fancy smearing my face with insect-soup.

And finally....



Saturday, 29 April 2017

Raring for a Grow-Bag

A violet, self-seeded at the pond's edge. And, below, a snakeshead.

I watched the little wren peck its way across the pavement in front of my kitchen door, then vanish into the thickets of grass around the pond. A moment later, it flew out, trailing a long wisp of dried grass behind it.

Twice I've seen the female blackbird with a beak so stuffed with grass that she seemed to have one of the more flamboyant RAF moustaches. Nesting is definately happening not too far away.

Below, Marmalade and alchemy - the heucharia called 'marmalade' and alchemillia mollis.

I have another heucharia called 'Ginger Ale.' I used to have one called 'Creme Caramel' which I loved but a bad winter killed it.

The fruit trees are all doing well. The crab-apple is weighed down with pink and white buds. At the moment it is wrapped up in fleece to protect them from the sudden cold snap. When the wind blows (which is does quite a bit, up here on the Rowley Hills) the tree mows and gibbers at the top of the garden like a Victorian ghost.

The cherry and the Bardesy apple also have flowers or buds and are also wrapped up. The plum and the two hazels have so far produced nothing but leaves but they seem cheerful.

My windowsill is filled with tomato seedlings. When I look at them I can't help feeling that they are excitedly raring to get outside into a grow-bag. They seem to be waving frondy little leaves in the air.

In the cold greenhouse I have a tray of sunflower seedlings which I hope will grow to ten feet tall. They have big, thick, rounded leaves - right bruisers compared to the tomatoes. I shall plant some in my front garden, to astonish and intimidate the passers-by.

My romanescues are coming through and I'm thinking of planting at least one of them in my front garden too, just for the way they look. I think they're like something from another planet - when, of course, they are just part of the ordinary amazingness of this one.

Fractal romanescue - Jon Sullivan - Wikipedia