Saturday, 25 February 2012

Foxgloves (25 FEB 2012)

After I published my last post, I noticed in the "You might also like" section that I had written another entitled "Crocus" almost a year to the day before. It also pictured the first yellow crocus of the season, probably from the same bulb. It made me think about how I'd passed the time since the first crocus flower died and while the bulb stored up energy to prepare for its second. If only I had been as productive.

I had so many plans :

To spend a little time in the garden every day so I don't miss anything ...

Time is short

To plant a tree for future generations to enjoy ...

Old Father Time

To plant more bulbs than last year ...

Time out                                                             Time heals

... and to create a habitat for foxgloves. As they are biennials, requiring overwintering to prompt them to flower, the foxgloves took much longer to bloom than the other flowers but they were worth the wait. Here are some memories from last year ...

Time will tell                                                     Time is precious


Time flies                                                              Time wont wait


A major obstacle hindering my plans for the garden is that most of it is paved. I've tried growing in pots, but it's not my preferred option as they need careful watering and protection from animals. Moreover, plants seem to grow much better in the garden soil.

Time for Change ?

So I was wondering what to do with my suspended foxgloves whose development I had arrested since last year, searching around for a patch of soil which didn't have something potentially growing under it, when I came across some paving which had lifted near the woodland. It was an omen of sorts, as I had toyed with the idea of extending the woodland into the patio. 

   Time stands still                                                  Time lapse

I've suffered from analysis paralysis all my life. Even as a child I remember weighing up the odds while my playmates just jumped right in; as an adult, people refer to me politely as a late-starter. In this case, my practical persona estimates that it costs thousands of pounds to commission a patio to be relaid. My dutiful persona nags that the unknown gardener must have had a good reason for laying it in the first place and I owe him some respect, while my creative persona announces that it's time to move on and make this garden the best it can be while I'm still fit and healthy. To appease all three of myselves, I compromised and removed just 16 paving stones around the edge of the woodland. This was arduous work as the hardcore beneath contained more slabs of material which were not aligned so I had to chisel them at intervals along the new paving edge till they cracked.

Time for a Cuppa

I relished finally being able to pull out the elusive dandelions and anemones. The roots of the latter penetrated through and under the hardcore. Mixing the sandy remains of the hardcore with spent compost seemed to produce soil with a suitable texture.

Time's Up

On the left are foxglove seedlings that I sowed last year and transplanted into a nursery.
On the right is a new patch of soil containing more seedlings sowed at the same time but overwintered in the seedtray till today, so that they mature and flower later than the ones on the left, hopefully.

Just a Matter of Time
Today I'm joining Donna's meme Word4Wednesday : TIME

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for

Friday, 17 February 2012

Crocus (17 FEB 2012)

When I was five years old, I was given the opportunity of my first acting role, the colour Orange in the school musical Joseph's Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat. My mother bought a large remnant of saffron-coloured curtain material and stitched a portion of it into a tunic using her sewing machine. I don't remember much of the performance itself, or exactly how the other pupils and I assembled to represent the coat of many colours; I do recall being scolded by the teacher though, for pulling faces at my brother in the audience. In my defence, no-one had explained the concept of not being one's self whilst on stage. I was given one more chance to play the stranger who gave directions to the three wise men, since then my theatrical achievements have been accomplished back-stage.

I still have a large square of that curtain remnant folded up in a cupboard. It's function has changed from magic carpet to picnic blanket to hold-all to dust-cloth; one of very few possessions that has accompanied me through the journey of my life. When I see that dust-cloth or just the colour of it, I'm taken back to a time when I was joyously enthusiastic, before I understood what being politically-correct meant, when I wasn't ashamed to skip down the street wearing nothing but my saffron-coloured tunic.

Saffron is the colour of relief as I finally press my Blogger Publish Post button, the colour of the robes of a peaceful Buddhist monk and it speckles my favourite rice dishes. The spice made from dried crocus stigmas has a concentrated, dark red colour. To unleash its vibrant yellowy-orange pigment, saffron strands can be soaked in warm water or milk. This liquid, poured into the rice pot as a natural food-colouring agent, turns a mundane staple into a sunshine-yellow celebration. Only a few strands are required as it's bitter and expensive.

Crocuses in a pot last spring

150 crocus flowers are required to produce 1g of dried saffron strands. I'm not sure if it was this statistic or the crocuses bordering the local park that gave me the idea of planting these bulbs in my lawn last winter. I planted sparingly for this initial attempt, it took less than an hour to dig out some divots from the lawn and pop the bulbs in. A major advantage that I didn't recognise at the time is that grass hides the bulbs from predators. Hopefully, they'll naturalise and propogate themselves into drifts in the years to come.

Crocuses in the lawn last spring

This year didn't start so well. A fox or cat found the one pot that I left uncovered ...

Crocus bulbs dug up by a fox or cat this winter

One bulb flowered in the lawn, but it was soon hidden by a thick layer of snow, as reported last week. I didn't fancy its chances of surviving as usually the slightest frost can wilt crocuses and turn them limp & soggy.

However, last Saturday the snow started to melt, revealing that the crocus had been perfectly preserved, and there were more signs of crocus leaves poking out all around.  The fantasy of a magic carpet lives on ...
crocus in the lawn on Saturday
... and on Monday

Interesting information about saffron :

My favourite rice dish made with saffron :

Please consider Stacy's invitation in : Thirteen or fewer ways of looking at a Crocus

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for

Friday, 10 February 2012

Thanks (10 FEB 2012)

As you might have gathered, there's not much happening in my garden at the moment. It all looked so promising on New Year's day with the bulbs forcing up their leaves prematurely, but then icy temperatures set in and most of the plants were put on hold.
hellebores battling on - two weeks ago

I resorted to blogging about tufts of grass and dirty birdbaths, too afraid that if I took a break I would lose momentum and then stop, never to return again (that's what happened to my parkruns).

On Saturday afternoon, I wandered around the garden taking photos of the plants but they were not worthy of a post, so I thought this would be a short thank-you note ...

Last week I was presented with the Versatile Blogger award by Donna and Holley. I would like to say thank-you by linking their names directly to my favourite posts by them. Both these ladies are prolific writers & gardeners, or is it gardeners & writers? - I can't tell which is their first love. Whenever I type "Essence" or "Abundance", their posts always pop up in my mind, almost as if they have copyrighted these words - you'll see what I mean. Posts which affect me in this way score 5 hearts (top rating in Blotanical) and I don't give 5 hearts away easily.

Then on Saturday evening a few hours after taking the photos, it started to snow gently but persistently so that on Sunday morning the blanket of snow was several inches deep, more like a duvet protecting the plants. The weather forecasters had been predicting that it would snow for a few days, but extreme weather conditions (it doesn't snow here every year) always seem to catch us by surprise in the UK. I realised that I had captured the plants while some were preparing for what was to come, others didn't seem to care and a few were oblivious.
hellebores on Saturday                                            ....  and Sunday

Some garden bloggers deliver consistently for years, others lose their way or stop altogether with more important things to do during the several hours a week it takes to maintain a blog, but their 5-heart-posts remain in our memories regardless. A time when they were on top of their game, when the response from the blogging community added an extra dimension.

camellia on Saturday                                            ....  and Sunday

I'm bending the rules of the Versatile Blogger award slightly. (You didn't really want to know 7 things about me did you ?)  Instead of passing on awards to other bloggers, I've set up a quiz with some more examples of 5-heart-posts in alphabetical order. I didn't have the forethought to bookmark them systematically through the past year, so I sat here and did a brain-dump into Google of what I could remember and found all the posts I was thinking of.
I guarantee that if you click on any of these, you wont be disappointed ...

This gardener lets his wife choose the plants sometimes :  post #1

Who would have thought that Luton could be so exotic ?   :  post #2

The secret life of snowdrops :  post #3

"Blue and Green are never seen". They complement each other here though  :  post #4 

winter jasmine on Saturday                                            ....  and Sunday

Who wouldn't like to have daisies in their lawn ? :  post #5

Fancy eyeing up a world heritage site ? :  post #6

How could there possibly be a connection between politics and plants ? : post #7

What would Van Gogh have done with a microwave oven ? :  post #8

How to protect your plants for winter (at least until its pruning time) :  post #9

dwarf quince on Saturday                                            ....  and Sunday

A big thought cloud in a small garden :  post #10

A braver gardener than I :  post #11

A patient study of garden history :  post #12

Eloquent advice on family planning :  post #13

daffodils on Saturday                                            ....  and Sunday

We reap what we sow, and this blogger sows a lot : post #14

Watch out for pollinators getting up to mischief : post #15

Is it possible to learn from other gardeners' mistakes ?  post #16

Even Parisians hide gnomes in their back gardens :   post #17

crocus in the lawn on Saturday                                           ....  and Sunday

PS. If you were wondering what to blog about next week too ...
Check out Stacy's (unofficial) meme : 13 or fewer ways of looking at a Crocus

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Birdbath (04 FEB 2012)

All surfaces give back light to varying degrees; generally reflections are diffuse, just allowing us to see the objects themselves. In special cases, some incident light rays bounce off at an equal and opposite angle from whence they came, forming an additional specular or mirrored reflection in the observor's eye.

The only potential mirror in my garden is the pool of water in the inherited birdbath. Iced-over recently and scummy mostly, it's hardly a looking-glass. As the birdbath is broken, I'm able to lift off the basin and occasionally swill the contents into the nearest flower-bed, hoping that some fresh rain-water will soon replenish my tiny oasis-cum-oracle. Sediment starts to build up again a few days later, with an identical composition seemingly as before, the remains of avian ablutions (a.k.a. pigeon poo), I presume.

As this scene was less than inspirational I sought enlightenment elsewhere ...

“Reflection is the business of man; a sense of his state is his first duty: but who remembereth himself in joy? Is it not in mercy then that sorrow is allotted unto us?”

A number of web-sites give credit to Shakespeare for these words though they don't reference a source play or sonnet. I spent a while searching unsuccessfully for literature study aids to help me translate, convinced that my first impression couldn't possibly be correct : man doesn't remember himself in joy?

Reflection in the human psyche is not as questioning and soul-searching as introspection. It's simply when something that's happened before returns to one's mind. Scientists have proven that man is not alone in learning from the past, as some animals demonstrate cognitive behaviour too. (Who knows if they go as far as asking introspective "why?"s and "why me?"s.)

In short, I don't agree with the quotation. I do believe that the way we perceive what happens  in our lives bounces off and creates an image of who we are. In general, the reflection is diffuse and just helps others form an opinion of us; in special cases it's focussed, motivating others to learn from our mistakes or successes. The key word is perceive.

Some may see a dirty, old birdbath ... 

                                                                                                                  ... I see a reflection of the heavens.

Creativity is when our reflections are focussed and slightly offset from the norm. Repeated reflections and offsets, as in the blogosphere, have the potential to turn order into chaos or chaos into order, if you believe in chaos theory. It could be possible that the interaction of our gardening blogs could somehow eventually affect the way mankind treats our planet. Hopefully, it's for the best ...

(Chaos theory suggests that order can be found in chaos, equally chaos can be found in order, and there is hardly a difference between the two. Any phenomenon can be defined by non-linear equations ranging from the weather to creativity. You might expect the answers to be the same if you input the same numbers twice but this isn't the case; even using a computer, slight rounding-errors might yield unexpected results, the difference between order & chaos. It's the same theory that suggests a butterfly fluttering its wings in Hong Kong can affect (or effect) the weather in New York. More examples are given in the book the Turbulent Mirror.)

Please find other posts about REFLECTION at Donna's meme Word4Wednesday :

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for
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