Sunday 10 April 2011

Go on have a clear out....

Since letting go of my old Nursery to concentrate on garden design I have had to really wrestle with my propagation compulsions.  But a recent water bill plus a bout of random and regular trips away has made care and watering of plants in pots a real issue - despite my many water butts and irrigation system.

So finally the clear out moment came prompted by our Gardening Girls meeting (To blog or not.) Not quite a displacement activity for God knows there is more than enough else to do at this time of the year, more of an act of desperation - to find a way to the potting box! But now I have a real incentive.......

One of the Gardening Girls, Paula on the left, has a new garden!  A complete blank canvas and she needs plants - lots!  As Paula was the 'Propagation Queen' at the Nursery it seemed only fitting that she should be the recipient of this clear out as she probably had her mitts on most of these plants at some stage in their life.  I swear to God that she only had to gaze at a packet of seeds for them to germinate in-situ! Remembering her blowing 'Golden Virginia' roll-up smoke over some restio seeds from Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens makes me laugh still!

The sorting process became cathartic.  Not only was I having a clean sweep, getting to grips with my 'life laundry' - whatever that means - I was also reminiscing about the various stages in my plant growing life.  In just the same way that old photos trigger memories, I found that certain plants did exactly the same.

Restio tetraphyllus - the south african trip with the GGs.  Wildflower plugs left over from a wonderful pond planting for a client - note to self don't give up on your wildlife pond dream! Carex ' Yellow Tails' with a number RS. Don't forget to call in and visit Ray Brown  from Plant World seeds on next trip to West country.  I need to give him feed back about his Sakhalin Island seeds plus catch up on our mutual friend in Morocco.  I didn't even know where Sakhalin island was until I met Ray  - do you? 

And on and on. Ventnor Botanic Garden seed grown exotics - sparing a thought for that special place and it's looming change of order.  Many grasses - oh how we loved our grasses!  And oh so many hardy geraniums! One of the forlorn specimens had Geranium sylvaticum 'Beth Chatto' just about legible written on the faded label. That was worth a whole hours worth of musing...

But then, enough - time to get this mixed bag of goodies into the car and out of my life, clearing the horizon ....

Finally safely delivered into the loving hands of Paula, who does that happy clappy thing with her hands like Pingu when pleased.  I'm not sure who is happier?

So despite the season's demands I can recommend it - go on have a clear out!

Sunday 3 April 2011

Mum's the word

Saturday's Guardian ran a timely feature 'All about my mother' by Dominic Murphy where he talks to three high-profile gardeners and their mums about what they've learned from each other.  And what they've rejected....(2nd April,2011)
 This of course got me thinking about my Mum and her Mum ( my Grandmother Ivy) whilst I prepared the Mothering Sunday lunch.  Walking out into the garden to pick a small posie of primroses and grape hyacinths to put in a pretty little Lalique vase on the dinner table I contemplated the fact that by these very actions I may even have become my mother...
Then out again to pick the first of the mint  to garnish the potatoes and find some greens from the veg patch. Just these simple acts are learned from her.  It has become a pattern, a learned behaviour to interact in this way with my garden and I acquired it, my mother's side.

Seasonal flowers in vases around the house, fresh veg from the garden, walks in the countryside peering over hedges at neighbour's plots was just the beginning really. Learning the names of wild flowers and pouring over the  'flower fairie' stories where each delectable fairy resembled its flowering namesake!

Later came trips to Ventnor Botanic Garden.  First lessons in propagation there in how to keep a nicked cutting fresh in some damp tissue and a plastic bag for the duration of a bus ride home.  Lemons grown from pips, sweet smelling lily of the valley in wild drifts around the conservatory, gaudy begonias in hanging baskets and a gardening friend call 'Miss Webb' who wore a long brown overall like Ronnie Barker in 'Open all Hours' who looked like a man and who actually earned a living as a jobbing gardener. These were all part of a childhood spent around my gardening mother and grandmother.

But my absolute favourite memory was the making of miniature gardens on a tray using a handbag mirror as the pond and other bits of plant material to create magical garden scenes.  My Gran had some tiny chinese porcelain figures, treasures from her past which she generously let me use in my garden once.  So my favourite creation became an oriental scene with bridge, pagoda and even a tiny fisherman with a dangling fish on a rod!

Little wonder then that I have been literally hooked on all things gardening since and why I would like to dedicate this blog to all gardening mothers and grandmothers everywhere. Thank you!

Friday 1 April 2011

To Blog or Not?

Met up with 'The Gardening Girls'* for a pub supper last night.  Amongst our various affectionate catch-ups - holidays taken, deaths in the garden, deaths out of the garden etc., we somehow got on to the subject of Blogging and then inevitably,Facebook.

So there we were, united in our love of all things gardening, but clearly divided in our feelings for 'internet' related matters.  So our conversation ranged, back and forth with all the pros and cons resulting in an exchange of friendship on facebook for four of us, with the hard-core 'two' remaining resolutely sans friends,  facebook or otherwise.

My feeble attempts to explain my recent baptism into blogging were met with a range of responses: incredulous, concerned,interested, admiring, speechless, worried etc.,  I may have persuaded one of the hard-core disbelievers that her considerable photographic skills could find an outlet via this medium but will probably have to work on that. I sensed a softening when I described 'Wordless Wednesday' to her.....

After a pretty full-on week have just sat down to check some of my favourite blogs and notice that there is a considerable slacking off of literary content at the moment with certain exceptions.   Harriet in Bere Island - do you ever sleep?  Diane from 'Elephant's Eye' I know you are in the southern hemisphere and have sun but......

This absence of new material could in fact bear out what my critical gardening friends suspect, that only the sad and lonely have time for such matters!  Personally I suspect that like me, they are rushed off their feet in a frenzy of spring activity making the sensible decision now the clocks have 'sprung forward' to avail themselves of more time in the garden. They can't all be preparing for Gardening Shows, famous or otherwise can they?

Views please?  That is, if you have time or inclination......

* A group of keen women gardeners, volunteers at my first garden and Apple Day Festivals whose friendship was cemented during a truly surprising gardening tour of South Africa.