The Big Dig

BigDigLogo_largeJust a quick post to encourage people to volunteer to give up a bit of time on Saturday to get down and digging at their local ‘Big Dig’ event.

Saturday March 16th is Big Dig day when over 200 urban community gardens will be holding events to encourage more people to get involved. The aim of the day is to ‘involve local people, in creating vibrant community food gardens, which can reduce anti-social behaviour, provide fresh, healthy food and put pride into communities.’ What’s not to love about that?

I’ll be at the Northfield Eco Centre’s community garden – come and join us!

To find out where your nearest event is check out the Big Dig website www.bigdig.org.uk

 

Happy Mothers Day

photo-1“Loving humans is a job

like any other

only

more

bumps

on the way

to work

which is full on

all the time”

Alice Walker from ‘Hard Times Require Furious Dancing’

I wouldn’t have missed a second of it.

Thank you boys for all the laughter, tears and the sneezed on pain au chocolat. Thank you also to the man human – who makes the journey worth every bump along the way.

 

International Womens Day

photo (8)Every year I mean to gather together all of the fabulous and inspirational women in my life to celebrate International Women’s Day. To recognise and cherish our achievements, something few of us take the time to do for ourselves. What in fact happens is that the day arrives and I think ‘oh yeah, another year gone by without me actually doing that’. Life rather gets in the way of life sometimes.

So – here is my tribute to some of the women who inspire my passion for all things horticultural.

First on the list of course has to be Gertrude Jekyll. As a non-gardener I admired the Jekyll borders at Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens and her ideas remain an important, almost instinctive, influence. Catherine Horwood, author of the excellent ‘Gardening Women’, describes her as gardening royalty “the Queen Victoria of Horticulture”. Quite rightly so; she not only designed borders which inspire horticulturists today but shared her passion for beautiful design and ‘flow’ through embroidery, illustration and writing.

Second on my list is Jekyll inspired Beth Chatto. Probably best known for her classic book ‘The Dry Garden’, in which she writes about the trials, tribulations and successes of making a garden on sand and gravel soil in East Anglia. It is her book ‘The Damp Garden’ that I have instantly turned to for advice about my plans to create a Bog Garden border. She says that she has learnt that ‘one lifetime is not nearly enough to learn about plants’. I am grateful that she is generous enough to share the wealth of knowledge she already has – and vow to visit her gardens to wow at her creativity and tenacious enthusiasm.

Alys Fowler, a household name to those who read her Guardian columns. I couldn’t write a list of inspirational women gardeners without including some local talent. I am currently reading her book the Thrifty Gardener – and the tin can container in the photo demonstrates that she is already proving to be a muse when it comes to creating beautiful gardens on a shoe-string – and being kinder to the environment in the process.

Next is someone who one wouldn’t necessarily think of as a gardener, but words can germinate within our souls and provide inspiration as much as the gardens we create. Alice Walker is one of my earliest heroines. Her essay ‘In Search of Our Mothers Gardens’ Alice explores the hardships black women have endured and how women like her mother did not allow oppression to stifle their creative spirits: “In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own”.

These are the women I would share an International Women’s Day celebration feast with. What laughter, joy, passion and purpose they would bring. As it is I will finish my list with the two small people who I make my gardens for, who make me see the joy in small things and without knowing it see me through life’s challenges. My sons. Being their mother has given me sleepless nights, shouty mornings and more love and happiness than I could have imagined. I started taking an interest in gardening to create a space where they could play and be in the great outdoors…. I grew a garden for my children and in so doing I found my own.

Soup, sun and solace

photo (7)As I write this there is little sun to be found as the rain pours and the skies are grey again but there is solace to be found in having a morning to bake, write and plan.

I managed a few garden tasks this week – pruning the Cornus and attending to the front garden. It only has a small border and sometimes gets neglected but a new spring resolution is to treat this as border to attract wildlife as well. (I find March a much better month for making changes in life, with a feeling of hope in the air maybe there’s a better chance change will stick).

I’ve also resolved to try to cut my garden centre habit and make much better use of re-cycling materials for container gardening, growing flowers from seed – I may even arrange a Spring Plant Swap at my children’s school (I’ve only just thought of that – amazing what ideas pop into your head when you give yourself some head space).

The most exciting news is that I may be getting involved in a local community garden project. More of this next week hopefully – anyway it’s very cool and has given me a spring in my step despite the clouds (no gardener can begrudge a bit of rain, it’s the deluges that we don’t like).

Finally – the photo. Yes there was sun. I’m glad I took photographic evidence of a short pause for breath. After all – sitting back to enjoy the garden is solace indeed.

Marching On

welliesAt last March is here – and with it the occasional ray of sunshine. I’d almost forgotten what it looked like.

Here are some of the things that are on my to do list this month:

Sow seeds                              

Pepper (Sweet) Patio Red, Lettuce (Red Salad Bowl, Mixed, Little Gem), Rocket, Spinach Lazio, American Land Cress, Coriander Cilantro. I’m also going to sow some flower seeds – so far only Cosmos (Gazebo Mix) but there will be more.

Pruning

Cutting back the Cornus (dogwood).

Lawn Maintenance

I’m sure this will become a topic in itself. For now the drainage desperately needs improving and seeds sown.

Perennials

Lift, divide – and share!

Vegetables

Sow red onion sets and early potatoes. Both will be container grown.

Now that the growing season is upon us its time to get back into the routine of those regular tasks that it’s essential to keep on top of. I’ve started weeding – although to be honest the most pernicious invader of the borders is the lawn. In fact in general I suspect the lawn is going to be a regular, and frustrating, feature this season. Don’t get me wrong I’m not interested in a well manicured lawn with stripes. I just wish it knew its place.

Slugs – the expensive bain of an organic gardeners life. Last season I lost countless hostas to the slug army. I tried to lure them with their very own slug pub crawl, crushed egg shells around the base of new plants, taught the boys to put salt on them (although that did feel a bit mean – the boys of course thought it was ‘wicked’). I’ve invested in reams of copper tape which I’m going to put around the pots tomorrow – and I’m hoping the birds that have started to feed near that border (robins, thrushes and blackbirds) will take as much delight in slugs as they do the worms.

Last – but not absolutely not least….I’m going to enjoy. The evenings are getter lighter, the sun may show its face more often and the bulbs will start to bloom. I plan at least some mornings sitting at the patio table, with a latte – reading, dreaming and scheming.

These boots go Marching on….

What a beautiful day..

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An expectedly lovely spring day has lifted my spirits enormously..

Coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in 6 years  in the the conservatory was a splendid start – and the first time it has been used for entertaining since I up-cycled it from junk room to a space of peace and tranquility.  It’s also a lovely place to see all of the garden from – this is possibly both a blessing and a curse. I can see the  fruits of my labours but also the list of ‘I must do..Is that working there…Etc’. Anyway – I concluded that that the Rhododendron looks sad and needs moving to a happy place – and that I couldn’t spend the afternoon chained to the laptop as planned – that could wait until it went dark.

So I spent a couple of hours weeding and mulching the bees and butterfly border – accompanied by two friendly robins hoping I’d dig up a few worms. Very pleasant company they made too. Amy 10 years ago would never have imagined how much joy the first weeding and mulching session of spring would bring her. Weeds more or less  banished (well for now) is so gratifying- even more so when you come across perennials planted last year that have made it through Slugfest and the winter frosts. The primroses are looking lovely (even the ones that were battered by a football at the weekend seem to have survived the onslaught) and some early bulbs have started to flower, with the green shoots promising more to come.

What a beautiful day…

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