Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Delightful Dahlias

One of the lovely things about being such an unknowledgeable, cash-strapped gardener is that trends for the most part pass me by.
I'm not saying that those who know more (that'll be everybody then) slavishly follow the fashion in gardens but someone must I guess otherwise there wouldn't be trends.
In my case, ignorance really is bliss. Thanks to my wonderful trip to Chelsea earlier this year I could probably name a couple of things/plants/colour schemes that are "in" but it's only because of Chelsea that I could.
I haven't bought any gardening magazines for ages - mostly because I've been concentrating on the interior and boy! there's a lot to concentrate on and partly because when I'm neglecting my gardening side (yes, it's happened before and no doubt it'll happen again) I feel so unbelievably guilty reading about all the jobs I should be doing and all the veg I should be picking. So I don't bother to read them. For a while.
But something must have seeped in (maybe via the tv and Gardener's World) because I have it lodged in my brain that dahlias were "out" but are now making a comeback. Who knew? Well, everybody obviously. But not me, clearly.
I love 'em. You just plonk them in the ground and before you know it the plants are growing really well and - wow! - you have flowers in your front garden, making it look like you're not a complete no-hoper on the gardening front after all. Phew! What's not to love? 
My dahlias were rescued, I vaugely recall, from another part of the garden, although I can't for the life of me remember where. Other parts of the garden that could be home to flowers are non-existent. Anyway, I planted them a year ago last Easter when it was hot and I decided I would tackle our two sorely neglected borders at the front. I say I but if I'm honest I think it was number one son who actually did the plantings. I was faffing with some stocks I think that never, ever reappeared after that first year. Are they meant to?  See, totally ignorant.
I'm not sure if you're supposed to pull up the dahlia bulbs in the winter and store them somewhere. I'm afraid to report that for me, lazy as well as ignorant and poor, this is a step too far. I haven't anywhere to store them anyway (seems I can add "shed deprived" to the ever growing list too). Still, they seem to have done okay this year as they did last summer. Next year, I shall be back lamenting, no doubt, their disappearance. So I'm enjoying them while I can.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Sunshine and Flowers

Well, the birthday didn't turn out too bad. I mean, I didn't get to sit on the swingseat with a Pimms but I did (briefly) sit on it because - ta! da! - IT DIDN'T RAIN!

No, Thursday August 14 was, for the most part, rain free. Which is, birthday or not, worth celebrating in its own right at the moment. I feel we haven't had a summer and now it feels like Autumn already. Just you wait and see, September will be glorious. Bound to be as the children will be back at school.

I got some wonderful presents, although no gardening stuff to show you, but a theme of flowers did seem to run through some of the goodies, so I thought I'd share those instead.

With some birthday money I did treat myself to a book (what else?) - Joy Larkcom's Creative Vegetable Gardening. So far I've only had chance to look at the wonderful pictures but hopefully it'll be one for the inevitable autumnal evenings that are heading our way. I'll post a review on it later.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Whaddya Think My Chances Are?

Way back, when it was properly summer, I was dragged from my favourite spot in the garden and from the Sunday papers and had to go out.

"When it's my birthday," I proclaimed with all the confidence of someone whose August birthday is always hot and sunny, "I shall spend the whole day on this swing seat, reading and sipping Pimms."

So, what do you think of the chances of that? Yeah, me too. Slim is too optimistic a word for it. How about absolutley no chance at all? Not unless the wind and the rain disappear and the weathermen stick lots of lovely suns on their map. Here's hoping....!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

In Praise of Other People's Gardens

I love others' gardens. I don't necessarily mean gardens of friends, which can be lovely, but can also be as small and boring as mine with stress-inducing elements like ponds or no fences.

No, the kind of gardens I'm talking about are the ones that are open to the public and therefore usually interesting and large, or at least a lot more interesting and large than mine. Like the secret garden in town or one up the road which is fortuitously maintained by others and not me, meaning I can really enjoy it.

This entails my children and me revelling in the stunning views, wide open spaces, immaculate lawns more or less whenever we like (as long as it coincides with opening hours Sunday to Thursday). And because we have membership it feels like we are doing something wholesome and good for free.

Heeding the weather forecasts, which were predicting rain for the rest of the week, and being in charge of a very energetic two-year-old who'd spent much of the day before strapped in various seats, we set off to "our" garden up the road.

Oh, it was blissful and I'm at a loss as to why we don't do it more often. There was even a place to buy coffee (bliss - coffee and a beautiful garden!). I think the children found it pretty blissful too; chocolate cake and apple juice, plenty of space for cartwheels and headstands, sheep to gaze at, hills to roll down plus various balls and bats to facilitate lots of games.

There was enough to please all of us from the two-year-old through to the 38-year-old which, in my experience, is pretty unusual and the hallmark, for me, of a great place.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Look! I CAN Grow Something!

These sweetpeas, hurridly shoved into the jam jar used for painting, were picked by Hubby yesterday from the allotment.

He was locked out of the house and thought he'd have a mooch up there to see, I think, how high the weeds now stood. He picked these. There's something so gratifying about sweetpeas. They demand so little but give such a lot.

Bit like the readers of this blog. I don't pretend I have legions or that this is any good but even a itty-bitty blog like this one can generate a feel-good factor, for me at least. I was feeling very down when I last posted and with me what you see is what you get unfortunately. I turned off the comments because I didn't want others to feel obliged to comment.

But then something unexpected happened. I had a few emails and they were all lovely and all shared something. A couple made me chuckle, some made me nod my head in agreement and one made me cry.

So I just wanted to post, not because I have any earth shattering gardening tips to impart (that is never going to happen) nor to show off my Long Border or something (ditto) but just to say thanks. That's it, a simple "thanks". Sometimes there is beauty in simplicity. Like in getting emails from people you don't know (strangers doesn't seem the right word). Or in a bunch of sweet peas in a jam jar.

Friday, 1 August 2008


I love Honesty. It reminds me of my grandparents' garden. Unfortunately none is growing in my garden, yet, because I accidentally left the packet of seeds I had especially bought out in the rain one day.

I also like, and appreciate, honesty. I mean, if I was being honest I'd write about how hard the summer holidays are. I mean, really hard. How the beach, the cinema and now, apparently, our favourite place to visit are now out for the foreseeable because it is just so hard, so stressful taking five children, two of whom are two and three and a mere, stupid, sixteen months apart.

And if I were being honest I would write how I am fed up, more than being very cheesed off, probably verging on depressed. How nothing, not this blog (which I normally love for the creativity it affords me), my container garden nor the allotment are even vaguely interesting to me.

But this is probably not the place for such honesty. Gardening is supposed to be soothing, not another chore. Still, feeling fed up with my ugly, messy garden didn't take away my enjoyment of the secret garden in town today. And that's where, walking around breathing in the scents, enjoying the greenery, I picked up some Honesty. Lovely honesty.