Springing Forward

 

 

As the Spring has come back (and I realise I’ve hardly posted on here this year), our garden has once more blossomed once more into a lush gorgeous Eden, which I’m determined to enjoy as much as possible.

 

At the same time, work is even more hectic than it used to be, we’re short-staffed and over-committed. It’s too easy to try and race to catch up with myself all the time and I find that my time in the garden is increasingly limited. It’s frustrating that although I love gardening and find it relaxing, I am actually sometimese too anxious about work to put the time in to get on with it and it starts to become a source of yet more stress.

I have therefore decided to set myself a new challenge – a vase of flowers for my office every week for a year, but only cut from our own garden. It’s a way to bring something of the peace and tranquility into what is often a hectic environment and to observe and think about the seasons.

You might have noticed that I have often posted pictures of vases of flowers and talk about what goes into them in this blog. I love having flowers around the house but I’m usually unwilling to buy them. Partly because of cost but mainly because of the staggering environmental and social cost of producing and transporting cut flowers, most of them from lands a very long way away.

See for example this excerpt:

Costofcutflowers
Excerpt from this report on cut flowers

Given our lovely garden it shouldn’t be necessary to buy them in anyway, though winter might prove more of a challenge.

At this time of year though, I’m basically spoilt for choice in terms of cutting flowers but hopefully the requirement to get out and look around at least once a week will both inspire me to see the garden with new eyes each week and to educate – especially as I start to work out what different shrubs and flowers actually are and which will keep as cut flowers and which will not and also of course how to mix and arrange different blooms. It will hopefully also force me to keep posting – somethign I often struggle to fit in, even thoguh I like the contemplation that writing forces me to do.

I will post the pictures here and on instagram for your delight and inspiration as a moment of joy.

Starting this week with an easy classic, Convallaria majalis, the lily of the valley. It’s actually a native species too, and in the same family as asparagus.

2017-05-22 10.38.06

I’ve always loved the scent, it’s amazing to me that such unobtrusive flowers can fill a room, or a whole house with such a beautiful perfume. They look delicate but are really as tough as old boots, spreading with some vigour in conditions (dry shade under trees) that other plants find tough to thrive in.

*A word of warning though, all parts of the plant are poisonous. The leaves do have some superficial resemblance to edible wild garlic (ransoms) though they are generally darker + tougher and don’t have the same pungent garlic smell when crushed.*

The small flowers are often difficult to see in the garden so I feel I get much more joy from cutting a few and holding them up close to look at them carefully, while admiring that glorious perfume.

This little vase is now on my desk at work and filling the office with a heavy and heavenly scent.

2017-05-22 10.37.54

Other bigger and more exuberant flowers, I’d rather keep in the garden to admire from afar. The little white bells contrast so beautifully with the large deep green leaves too and I find them surprisingly long lasting in a vase.

So, perfume, beauty and long-lasting flowers, more or less the ideal first entry for my cut flower challenge.

See you next week…

 

Advertisement

Sweet Harvest

The first harvest of our new Victoria plum tree is finally ready. 

And it is as good as I had hoped, a sweet, slightly tart and beautifully juicy plum. It’s impossible to buy flavour like this and as with Proust’s Madeleines, it is a flavour that takes me straight back to childhood. 

To be entirely honest, we almost forgot about them. The tree is slightly hidden behind a high group of sunflowers and is not yet tall enough to be easily seen. However, luckily, we go there just in time. 
It’s not a big harvest this year, and there is an argument you should not let a tree fruit at all in the first few years to build strength, but we could not resist. 

We also plucked our first runner beans this morning, and I forgot to take photos but we harvested and ate our rather meager (but delicious) new potato crop yesterday. The potatoes were rather neglected at a crucial time as they were in a pot and allowed to dry out while we were on holiday. However, the runner beans have done extremely well and we have a very good crop developing. They are so decorative too. We’ve put up a trellis and they are growing up into the neighboring hibiscus. I would almost grow them just for the beautiful scarlet flowers and heart-shaped foliage. 


 I planted both of these crops with our youngest child, who has really shown an interest and a feel for gardening. It is such a joy to spend time in the garden with her, passing on the knowledge, the skills and the enjoyment via all the senses that the garden provides.

This year for her, the big discovery has been the fresh fig. I adore these and my lovely husband gave me a mature specimen in a pot as a Mother’s Day gift this year. The first figs have now started ripening, and though requiring some encouragement to try one at first, they are now a firm favourite of our children. It is such a wonderful and very funny thing to watch them first rejecting and then realizing how tasty a new kind of fruit is.

This time of year, harvest-time, is when the joy of growing your own fruit and vegetables really comes in.

Anyway, a wonderful way to start a Monday morning.