I remember stepping out briefly in December, just to see how it's all doing. As expected, bare branches, grey undertones and dormant bulbs. Winter isn't the most joyous time to don the gloves. I prefer to leave it for late Feb/March. I'd like to think the the worst of the cold has been and gone. Thus leaving time for straight-up blooming. Or so I'd like to believe. We all remember the 'Beast from the East' last March... brrr,
The difficulty in gardening remains in keeping the plants wholly intact. Slugs and snails who can't resist the delicious lure of foliage. I can't blame them - it's just that I would once love to pluck a juicy strawberry and not find a network of tunnels burrowed inside. A few summers ago, I tried a homemade rosemary oil and water concoction spray. I've read neem oil works a treat...maybe it'll do the trick? I'm trying to find a way to purely deter them, in an environment and bug-friendly way. Any gardening tips? Would be great to hear them.
I'm happy to trade in my paintbrush for a trowel when I can and replace paint with compost under the finger nails (although to be honest, I'd prefer to keep the fingernails clean). You have to get your hands dirty sometimes to get things done. It's all about embracing everything that comes with it -want beautiful blooms...be happy in the soil. Sometimes I like to combine the two, as I did on this day. It was a cool spring day and the canvas, paints and plants came out to play. The joy I find, is switching between it all.
Two summers ago, I taught fashion illustration at a summer school in Cheltenham. In my spare time, I had the chance to walk around and explore the city. I remember spotting a wall-
mounted face with blossoming crown (and slightly alarmed faux pigeon) to foliage pouring from pots. Gardening feats to be found everywhere. Textures and patterns were evident
in many a trail. These repetitive forms reminded me of the winning moment in 90's Microsoft Solitaire, with all the cards dance in-canon along the screen, Does it ring a bell?
How fragrant is sweet pea? I remember the first time I planted them and catching the scent in the air. Silk purse-like petals in shades ranging from white to maroon. The bright
orange/pink variety was a delight, where I think back to the one I had to celebrate my 27th birthday. It's a shame that they are annuals and the delicate trail only blooms for one year.
That said, if you collect the seeds in the pods and keep them, they're good to go for the following year. Colours of the crocosmia buds below look like little pearls of fire.
For as long as I can remember, the back of the garden has been lined with trees and spindly blackberry branches. I remember coming home to find the dense greenery being cleared. Technically, the green growth which draped over wasn't part of our property and the owner of the building behind had decided it was time to clear the area. The week which followed was like a scene from FernGully - roots hoisted out and sticky tar steamrolling over trunk stubs. The Evergreen - gone. Blackberry brambles, no more. For some time after, it looked bare when stepping out into the garden.
Peering over the wall a few weeks later, it was nice seeing nature reclaim what once was, with a thick blackberry stalk shooting through the edge of the tar. Life prevails.
We're considering a trellis along the back and growing rambling roses through it. That or multiple pots, filled with various flora. I love to find all types of nature residing in the
garden, from butterflies to beetles. I saw an angular beetle resting on the foxglove once; it's like a prehistoric bug from the past.
Using fresh coffee grounds on the earthis a measure I have heard of, which apparently keeps leaf-nibblers at bay. It has been used as a fertiliser, as it adds nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil. Costa Coffee have an excellent initiative called Grounds for Grounds, where they can prepare a bag of grounds for you to take home, to use on your flowerbeds. I tried this method for a while, where I did notice the berries and leaves were left, for the most part, complete. Not to mention - forget brewing coffee, you could wake up and smell the garden,
There's a definite happy moment, when you see what you've planted bear fruit. Fruits of your labour indeed. Yet, it doesn't feel laborious to me, even when I'm in spade wielding mode,digging away. When you lose track of time, you know you're onto a good thing, It's the kind of tired you'd welcome from spending the day doing what you love, Don't think I had bought my gardening clogs at this point, as who knows, they might have made an outing on this occasion. I'm heading back home for the Easter holiday...guess where I'll be.