Sunday, 23 May 2010

Albert’s Spring Garden

What an amazing few weeks, though not without their worries. Let me expand.

So much is happening in the garden at the moment I can barely keep up. We have bluebells, whitebells, poppies, ferns, sunflowers, hosta, corncockles, hollyhocks, geraniums, forget me nots, daisies, lady’s mantle and roses. Some of course are still emerging, some are in full bloom.

My netted seed bed has worked a charm, but the slugs have succeeded where evil face – aka Tad Wilder’s much less charming feline cousin, has failed. They have been eating the sunflowers and some of the corncockles, and they’ve demolished two or three of the hollyhocks. This has lead me to the unfortunate (depending on how you see it) use of slug pellets. One day after putting them down I was astonished to see how many slugs had been emerging for their diurnal feast. It wasn’t pretty.

What is pretty is the salvaged hosta, which I planted last year under the elder tree. It died back very quickly after I’d bought it so I’d given it up for dead. However after some serious weeding I discovered it, a little slug eaten, but the broad dark green leaves were otherwise fine. It has been relocated along with the mystery fern just under the conifer. Safe as houses. For now.

The gernaniums, which suffered a trampling from Friendly Fred, the chocolate coloured Labrador, have bloomed. Last year the daisy had one flower. This year there

are over thirty!

In the seed bed, the sunflowers are growing steadily. Another mystery plant/weed which I mistakenly took for a sunflower, is growing slowly. I will post a picture soon and see if anyone knows what it is.

Poppies too are sprouting up in abundance, and the corncockles, which, idiot that I am, I planted in rows, are doing just fine.

The viburnum cutting is growing nicely, the wild strawberry plants have flowered (I hope we get some this year) and sycamore junior has emerged again. In short, this garden is amazing and it is progressing towards plenary awesomeness.


Hoochie Coochie Man / Reg / Project Solardome Part One Million

Sat here in this tropical heat, it is hard to imagine a better time to be writing my blog. Everything is properly coming into life, just to my right is a wonderfully hairy poppy, next to it a mysterious type of fern and a rediscovered hosta. More on this in a separate blog. What I want to tell you about, avid followers, is the curse of the hoochie coochie man.

I am of course talking about cooch grass. There is so much of the stuff it reminds me of the blackberry bushes from last year – the abundance, the unfettered abundance of the stuff is maddening. It’s hard work pulling it out too. Sir Cakealot and I were jousting the ground with forks for all we were worth, and then pulling it out in handfuls. Trouble is it kept snapping, which meant more hoochy coochy for the future. To that end the bagged stump chippings came into play. We poured out approximately half of the chippings over the forked and (partially) cleared areas. We then raked it in. Sir Cakealot went ballistic as the photo testifies! We then recovered the area with carpet, to leave for next year, where hopefully the cooch will all have broken down.

In the process I met a sweet old man called Reg. He was partially deaf so we were both talking very loudly. I loved the way he said ‘You’ve got to watch out for them weed seeeeeeeds,’ he grinned as he said it, flashing a majestic gold crown. ‘Do they call you Teddy?’ he asked me after I told him my name. No Reg, not enough people call me Teddy, Howard, yes, Oregano, yes, but not Teddy. Maybe that’s for my later years.

Weeds are running rife amidst the potatoes, the onions, basically all over. It will be the work of many patient years to fully regain control of the land. It always seems insurmountable. But we always overcome. G unit!

Also in the mix is Project Solardome, now in stage one million according to Parsley. Over four days her and a friend constructed the extremely intricate nexus of beams for the glass. It becomes ever clearer that our team is divided thus: Parsley is the mastermind, Cakealot is the nurturer and I’m the work mule.

The dome looks absolutely amazing, and it’s not even finished yet. I am so excited for the final result.

Sunshine. Suits me fine!

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Lucky Lackey

'Everything you ever do in your life involves bending. I just never noticed it before did you?' - Parsley

A classic statement from Parsley, who on account of her pregnancy, can't bend as much or lift heavy objects without getting jousted by an irate Sir Cakealot (the father). It has been a few days of heavy lifting and labour - hence the title of this particular blog entry. As Parsley and Cakealot had called me their lackey - I added the lucky part. Because, I do still feel really lucky to be doing this, and to be a part of shaping their amazing garden; to be a part of shaping the allotment and to visit eccentrically peopled gardening shows, amongst other things.

As Parsley's parents were preparing the foundation for the solar dome (see pics attached), it left me to move several bags of wood chippings - all that remained from the stump. There was somewhere in the region of fifteen / seventeen bags - most of them power load (heavy). I took them all over to the allotment in the course of two days and about five visits, one with Cakealot. The chippings will be used to suppress weed growth once we've removed the cooch grass or as much as possible.

We had covered most of the plot with carpet and plastic, with some areas fully treated with glyphosate - others not. The result was some areas of clear soil, others teeming with weeds. It's ongoing, and as Cakealot said from his throne in the garden yesterday - 'I can't relax there, there's still too much work to be done.' It's good agitation, if that makes sense, because it keeps you moving and tinkering. I never would've thought we would have got this far, this soon; it has undoubtedly come as a result of larger committed tasks / jobs that have taken all day - see the petrol strimmer entry, and smaller intimate fifteen minute excursions. Everything counts.

Oh and Cakealot and I have started to move a giant hump of soil from behind the solardome foundation!

To summarise it's been an exciting few days. Here's the highlights :

  1. Eric aka King Smethwick going ballistic with a roll of string, becoming entangled and doing two somersaults, then running next door.
  2. An unintentional matching outfit catastrophe with Cakealot and I - namely the classic white t shirt and blue jeans look. This lead to camp posing with forks and spades, sneering comments about us looking like BROS and many, many Diet Coke break moments.
  3. Me singing this, much to Parsley's irritation.
  4. Faux Michael Caine accent from yours truly - everything from picking up concrete chippings (Parsley has us doing the most ridiculous things), to PLOP BIRDS.
  5. Things blossoming, growing, becoming beautiful. Even the two heavily weakened apple trees in our garden have flowered well this year.
Back to it! There's still lllllloads to be done!