Wednesday, 3 June 2015

It doesn't get old.

Having had the craziest week on the planet, (well it seemed like it) I've finally had a couple of hours in the garden this morning and I've more planned for later, thank goodness. I've had a cuppa, I've daundered about and I've just pottered about thinking about all the half finished jobs I have. Inbetween looking at crazy flowers, like this one. Its a Cineraria (Pericallis x hybrida 'Sennetti Deep Blue') at least that's what the label said, its loud, and purple and I love it. But, what a mouthful eh? Its all the things I don't do in a garden, its not edible, its tender, potentially annual and perhaps a one season shot. But, I wanted a quick purple fix for my new breakfast bench and I'm embracing change. Why not have a blast of colour, just because you can. And let me tell you, it also helped to make sure I didn't actually get started digging the veg beds, all good. I'll get there, one day. Its progress I tell myself, not perfection. I refuse to spend my time in the garden rushing around (finishing jobs which I've started) and stressing. This is a work in progress. Aren't the dandelions looking braw? The chickens love them. So I grow them with love for them, honest.
This week, not much progress due to crazy busy week, I only got a couple of fence panels started painted. But last week I got the raspberries in (my old favourite primo cane 'Autumn Bliss' which doesn't need staked and flowers on new growth), and had a moment of genius (I'm am quite modest after all). I decided that edging the beds with wood/stones/bricks was OK, I've got plenty of them. But as this part of the garden is quite skinny, why waste the space using non-growing edging? You see, GENIUS. So I managed to ferret about (again a proper gardening term) in the garden and found a decent amount of alpine strawberries to do the job of edging the rasps fro me. All of these have come from a friends garden originally so they do remind me of her, its great having plants from friends. The wee bamboo canes to the right there temporarily to protect the strawbs from being trampled by hounds. (sort of) A couple of window boxes planted with nice plants by my bench, with some things for instant colour like the Cinerara, and sweet peas to scramble up the shed under the bunting.  This area is glorious early morning, the sun shines and I sit in Raspberry/Strawberry Alley and look at the world, thinking about the day.

All makes for an enjoyable cup of morning tea. Today's great excitement was the sweetpeas finally taking a wee curl onto the first twine that is going to support them up the shed. Far right in the photo and squint properly to see it. Well done little sweet pea. As its been cold, don't judge the poor wee mites. It will grow tall and flower soon. It will I tell you. And it will cover the entire shed and smell beautiful or that's the plan at least.
I'm in my garden every single day, come rain, shine or hail (which really was last weeks weather!). I start and end the day, in the garden, generally in my pjs. I honestly don't know how I managed so long without one. Some people ask me, as I also garden for work, and come home utterly exhausted, why the first thing I do is have a walk around see what's going on and often stay out there for a few hours more.  Every single spare second if I'm home, I'm here.

For me, its simple. It just never gets old. There's always something to do, especially as I have 24 unfinished jobs on the go at once, that's OK, I'm learning that's how I role. 

At my formal gardening work, tasks have a pressured timescale. Its enjoyable, its interesting, its inspiring, but its work and hard work at that. Its perfection, its selling inspiration, showing off what plants can do, what works where. Its advising and its striving to give your best, I guess any job should feel like that. Its brilliant, I love it, but its really time pressured. I'm expensive, it should be time pressured. But, at home, in this garden, its enough to just potter about and just be. Progress, not perfection. Everyday as I get frustrated at progress or stressed thinking about the time I need to get it all done, I need to remind myself, this is a work in progress, it will never be perfect. And that's OK. Small jobs, big jobs, it just never gets old. I'm not perfect either, so we're a good match.

My family a long while since had become accustomed to my mud clattered state. My enthusiasm for flowers, and forms, and wild things and habitats. For stomps just to see Primula scotica, which I'll sadly miss this year. But, having been away to the Scottish verison of Chelsea this year, very good, you should go next year. I can tell you, walking around display gardens, pallet gardens, plant stalls, nursery stalls. It just never gets old.

We watched 'The theory of everything' last night. (And, let me tell you this was after dark so OK to take a break from gardening, even with floodlights for the garden......) And hearing that Stephen Hawking was still working in to his seventies, made me smile. Whilst I'm no physicist (and do check with TRG on this) I get that passion and drive to do the thing you love, every single day. And know when you're right or wrong. And, when to say if something works, or doesn't.  Of all things in life, surely having passion and indulging in it, never gets old.

A bit like my to do list. Which currently looks like this.

Paint fence. (sigh 15 done 9 to go, AND save up for a wall)
Put russian vine back on painted fence after you've put up climbing support wire.
Plant the 28 alliums ('Purple Sensation') you blew almost your entire budget on at Gardening Scotland.
Repot the last of the tomatoes.
Plant more Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' seeds and hope for a late summer flowering miracle.
Plant the plants sitting on the terrace (Cosmos, Clematis, Onions, Garlic, Petunias, Diasicas, Hostas, Grasses (unnamed, not interested very much.....ahem), Knautia, and various things I'm not confessing to. 
Pot up the summer pots by the seats.
DIG THE VEG PATCH (like really)
Finish the beds by the greenhouse.
Think about giant beds on the terrace and shudder at how much earth we'll need to fill them (ie what was I thinking)
Put up that tall garden gate you bought a year ago.

But, you see its OK to have a sort of a list which might never get done, as its progress, not perfection I'm after at home. And, whilst sometimes the idea of half done stuff just stops me blogging, maybe I should remind myself, I'm after progress and not perfection. This is not a show garden, its my life. And its OK to be messy and have 24 unfinished jobs on the go if that's what I like. Its about the journey right?
But for now, in our natty penguin pj's we'll sit and have a cuppa and enjoy the start of the day. We'll get dressed in a couple of hours, need to get a bit of pre-start-the-day gardening in first before we start on the rest of life later.

No I don't go to work in my pjs. Honest. Well maybe only once and it was cold and I had waterproofs on anyway so who cares, I was cosy?

In other news, my Clematis montana which has moved about 8 times in 15 years and did not like the Orkney climate, poor soul, is now putting on nice new growth and we have three lovely flowers. 

Lovely. Perfect. Progress.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

So I stood on a table and here I am

So for some reason my dearest went to America and I ended up digging up most of the garden as a 'surprise'. You know the kind, where you try and change everything and make it 'AMAZING' and a 'SURPRISE'. And, despite your best efforts they always come back quicker than you expect. You know 'mid-surprise'. Unfortunately my 'AMAZING SURPRISE' also involved 16 large wooden 'railway' sleepers, a considerable amount of turf and two dogs a tonne of bark and lots of trips to the recycling with many shrubs which were, in my professional opinion, 'in the way'. So, I was, for a while, last October, home alone with my new project. Mainly, to manage this 'project', I stood on a table a lot (in the garden) and told them all I had a 'vision'. (The dogs wanted to send me to specsavers......and get my eyes tested.)
They, understandably were not impressed. So they gnawed the table and made a lot of sawdust mess. But, I never came down. I had vision.
They, however continued to be very unimpressed as these non-gardening dogs tend to be.
And they, those chickens, weren't much kinder. Everyone, it seems is a critic these days. So I soldiered on, sometimes in the rain. Like a lone voice in the madness, saying it will be lovely, it will be lovely. I promise. And I started to cover the garden in black fabric unrolling it like a carpet for the new paths. They thought I'd gone mad. Black carpet in the garden. But it was nicer to walk on than wet grass.
Sometimes there was a lot of mud. And I lifted a lot of turf. Possibly ten tonnes. Fear not though, it took me ages cos I chopped it up into 'girl sized baby turfs'.  Easier to manage, see. And remember I am often prone to exaggeration, so there wasn't really ten tonnes. It just seemed like it on those short dark days.
And sometimes I also worked into the night. You know, because if a surprise is worth doing, its worth doing obsessively. Yes, I really did. And, somehow we got into November.
Eventually it started to come together. But not before a long lie down. And, after Xmas which somehow kind of arrived, full of cheer and friends.
And eventually, we all decided that maybe digging up all the garden at once, was perhaps not the best plan, but we'd done it now. Except we didn't really have a plan, or any plants. Mere details I told myself.  I was working to a vision, which by its very nature, was very fluid and dynamic. Which is what we say when the plan isn't really in our brains yet.
And the main outcome of this vision was that the lawn was toast. As many might remember, it use to fit the entire garden. like a carpet. But, really who needs a big green carpet in the entire garden? So we dug it all up. Or covered it in black matting we found in the shed. Another happy circumstance where we find the very stuff we need. As if by magic.
 Apart from a small part of it which we decided to keep under the apple tree. As Peedie said, it might come in useful one day. So best to keep 'some'. He's a canny Cairn Terrier after all. Very wise.
And, as we were keeping it, we gave it a nice edge. And some lavender which had been brutally ousted by that much loved pesky purple perennial wall flower thug,  Erysium Bowles Mauve (a story for another day, do remind me, real time thuggery in the garden {that was a 'th' by the way not a B}). 

And we moved what seemed to be a tonne of bark on to the paths. We chose bark, because the garden was full of it, so circumstances led me down that path, so to speak. I'm all for recycling, and sometimes using what you've got is better than wasting new stuff you might not like. 

Then we were bored of moving bark (frequently) we chopped back more shrubs. And found a wall and a very muddy edge to it. And a house behind all the undergrowth. Who knew that was there? Not I.
 And so we dug up the edges and gave it some bricks. To help the mower keep it tidy. We chose bricks, erm, because we already had them. A bit like the bark. I was a victim of circumstance, again.
By this point in the whole dig up the garden episode, lets just say, the person came back from America and decided it was time for me to get a job. 

You know, in a proper garden. 

Perhaps to save this one from my 'exciting' surprises when he was on his travels. Because sometimes he shares this garden too.  And, whilst it was a lovely surprise coming home to find a half finished garden and most of the lawn dug up, perhaps it was thought I had a bit too much time on my hands. Who can say.
So a snowdrop garden took me in. 

And they keep me busy three days a week. 

Mainly digging things up, like snowdrops which keeps me happy and January and February and lots of March just disappeared.  They don't seem to mind things like people digging plants up. Its a happy find. And whilst I don't know so much about snowdrops, I'm happy to learn. Which is good because they have over 300 different kinds. Yikes. And we both thought they were like Mr Ford, only came in white. Not so.
 And, as the snowdrops went to sleep in April, the woodland woke up. And the snowdrop garden decided to keep me too.

A happy time.  And suddenly its May.

But even with a second job, it didn't stop me digging things up at home. Although that's a story for another day.  For now lets leave it at that. You can see the vegetable garden is now happily settled in but still growing nothing more than dandelions and grass for now. Early days mind, you can't rush a 'surprise garden'.
And the muddy brick edges are now full of plants. A bit like an airport lounge, the plants are just there for a while, popped in, to find their proper homes eventually, as friends and family kindly donate them to us. They'll reach their final destination one day, they are a victim, like me, of circumstance. This is the only bed dug.  So they need to go in here for now. OK so the clashes will be spectacular, but I never claimed to have taste or a refined colour palette.. However, if this bed is delightful, lets just pretend to himself, and onlookers, that we planned it this way all along.
 Meanwhile, the plants slowly start to wake up. Like this little Abutilon x suntense 'Jermyns', its about time eh usually this flowers for my birthday but this year, late. Although its been cold.
So expect more soon, we've so much catching up to do! And unlike my good friend LinneW I don't have a time machine. Although May has got here, as she said, 'really fast'. Happy Gardening folks. A word of advice, digging up the lawn as a 'total surprise', perhaps not the best of ideas, but its turned out OK so far. They think so too.
Although they tell me, they prefer the beach. 
And, who can blame them. Less mud. (And, no surprise gardens.)

Saturday, 4 October 2014

How not to mow the grass

So I visited the 'old course' at St Andrews over the weekend with some golfing nuts I use to call friends. To be fair only one is a golfing nut. How on earth do I know a golfing nut, but he's aimaible enough and he cooks so I guess we'll pass that one by? Although golf?  My grannie always use to say that golf, is for people who like they're countryside ironed. Not cool in my book. Probably the most manicured and expensive grass on the planet and sadly right beside a cracking beach too, spoilt by a bit or grass ironing in my opinion. However, on Sundays, I learnt from said golfing lunatic, you get to stomp on it for free and walk your dogs, cats and any other animals you'd like. Although maybe not horses. So impressed were the hounds that they left a wee 'steamy' present each on the grass and watered it freely. I did chuckle a bit.  Not the kind of place I'd normally walk but it seemed like a big thing for him so I thought why not. [By the way, its very flat and the grass looks kinda not real its so short, just so you know]

But on the subject of lawn keeping, I can't say I'm quite as precise as the green keepers at the golf courses in St Andrews. You'll not find perfectly criss-crossed attention to detail on my lawns. If that's your thing then grand. But mainly I see lawn-mowing as an outdoor hoovering exercise. To be done in any manner that gets the job done. 

Some like to mow/hoover in straight lines
Some like to shuffle back and forward
As you please I'd say.
As long as the swaithe (the short bit left after the outdoor hoovering) is to your liking, do as you please.

I like mowing in swirls and swishes like an impressionist painting.

I do, it makes me chuckle.

Anyway that's how I attack the mowing, I get there in the end. Yup I tidy it up but the swirls and swishes sadly disappear after the first wee rain fall or dew. Shame really.

For the record, I like weeds in my lawn, pretty ones, they're good for the bees. And I like bare patches, I'm sure some wildlife enjoys a bit of bare earth in the green dessert of a lawn. And I definitely don't add any chemicals - honestly why apply stuff that kills the diversity and might make it grow faster. Have you ever heard of anyone applying 'carpet dust growing powder' to their carpets, to let them hoover them more often. No, I don't think so. And as for moss, OK so it might be a bit of a nuisance when its wet but its spongy and fun to spring along under and can host lots of wee bugs and stuff. Leave it alone, who ever heard of moss attacking you? Its hardly a harmful creature. Birds love it for their nests, so leave it be happy in your lawn. Why not. Spend your money on better things like sausages or Spandau Ballet records, what ever floats your boat, don't spend it on lawn chemicals I plead of you.

Mind you back to the old course in St Andrews. What I did find there was a golf ball growing habitat - all the balls nicely 'hatched' or grown like mushrooms all over a special enclosure. The golfing nut told me it was a driving range, but I say its where they grow golf balls and what does he know anyway. What did make me chuckle was the amount of wild flowers I encountered on the 'auld course' one of which included daisies, clover and (shock horror) ragwort. As shoddy as my green keeping skills are, I ain't go no ragwort in my lawn. Pop along on a Sunday and help them to spot their weeds, tell them how bonnie they are I'm sure they'd appreciate that very much. Just say I sent you. There's a billion green keepers I'm sure one of them might listen.

So chaps if you're gonna iron yer countryside chaps, at least do it properly.

Until next time, keep those green fingers active. Swirl those lawns whilst you're doing your 'outdoor hoovering', home call it mowing but lets face it its more like hoovering the garden. So stripes and blocks are SO last year, set yourself free when mowing, why not.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Dogs life....

Peedie catching some shade. Meanwhile, me and my trusty Orkney Creepie (stool) carry on painting the fence.....4 panels done, a billion to go.
House filled with visitors again, have a lovely weekend guys! Suns shining here hope it is with you too.