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:

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.

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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.

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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…




So, a new pond…

After a childhood spent staring in ditches at insects and fish my husband decided that he wants a new pond. I am happy to agree since it’s the single best thing you can do for wildlife in your garden. Having just bought a house with a decent-sized garden we have the space and after some discussion and web searching I came back from a work trip away to find a hole in the lawn…

Clearly the kids were pretty excited at the prospect too, so a further morning of work and we have a gaping hole, with multiple levels and a maximum depth of 75 cm (just deep enough for us to grow water lilies – my passion).

The turves removed from the lawn have all been stacked by the compost heaps, according to Bob Flowerdew, our guru of gardening, they make a fine potting compost when allowed to break down for 6 months or so. This is a step beyond my normal chuck it in and see what happens approach to composting, so let’s see if it works

Anyway, hole dug, it was time to add the liner. Possibly we’ll regret it later but being a bit lazy, and discovering our ground is mostly clay anyway apparently, we just put in a pvc liner with no sand or geotextile under it. It took a little bit of discussion and finessing but eventually we got it where we wanted.

And now for the water…

We are fortunate enough to have a rainwater reservoir installed, so all the rainfall from the roof was stored, perfect for our pond purposes as it should be clean but low in nutrients. On went the pump and a couple of hours later, there is our pond:
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At this point I feel I should admit that we have “introduced” some wildlife, two pond skaters and a few bits of duck weed were safely captured and carried home in a plastic jar to our pond from the nearby S√łndermarken park. We’ve also planted a few water lilies on the bottom.
Now, let’s see what else can come visiting….