Sunday, 28 April 2013

P****less (28 APR 2013)

Two weeks ago I thought I had found the perfect theme for my Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post until I discovered that the word that I was thinking of was trademarked. Then I was driving to work last week when my engine started hiccuping while traffic whizzed past at 70 mph. To cut a long story short, after paying £235 and then even more for an overdue major service, my almost unsaleable car is now in working order and I have a greater appreciation of the things in life which cost nothing or at least not much compared to spark plug & ignition coil replacements and new tyres & tracking.

When I first started gardening, I wasn’t sure if the plants I bought would survive. I didn’t have much money to spare anyway because I was re-decorating my house. Then I discovered the sick plant shelf at my local diy store. For just a few pence it’s possible to buy plants that will come back year after year, it doesn’t take long to learn how to spot the signs of potential.

One of my recent purchases was a tiny anemone blanda bought for 10p. I know it’s going to be OK as it’s survived a few frosty nights already.
Price : 10p

There are failures too, but I'll brush over those. Let’s just say that you need to learn from mistakes in order to succeed and a lesson learnt by experience is worth a whole lot more than listening to advice even if you do have to put up with someone saying I told you so.

not totally worthless ... lessons-learnt

Hyacinth & crocus bulbs with little shoots poking out are considered out-of-date by the stores and prices are slashed, but to me it's a guarantee that there are plants inside just bursting to get out.

A sunny Sunday with nothing to do except gardening – p****less

This little and large combo in a pot were absolutely free. A sucker from my cherry blossom tree  flowering before its parent and my favourite weed lamium at its base.

Violets and forget-me-nots put on an impromptu supporting act until the iris and peonies bloom.

The first daisy of the year is always so precious but I was hoping that this pale lilac violet was a rare specimen - after checking on the internet apparently not.

Five minutes of thinking that I had found a rare violet – p****less!
I fall in love with a different variety of primrose every year. My favourite at the moment is primrose "sweetheart". I bought a tray of 12 spent plants for 50p, expecting that they would be good for next spring, but they miraculously reawakened within a week. I like watching them turn from lemon cheesecake to apricot fool to mango mousse ...

... to strawberry sorbet. Did you guess I'm on a diet ? - they almost satisfy my taste buds.

I'm warming up to daffodils with each year that passes. This year I planted the cutest tiny ones which I'm hoping to show you in the next post. In the meantime my inherited daffodils continue to pop up ... and then fall over.

Daffodils planted by someone else - p****less !

Friday, 5 April 2013

Tree-Following (05 APR 2013)

It all started when Lucy at Loose&Leafy asked if I would be following a tree this year. I replied that I had no plans to but later it seemed a shame considering …

People who live abroad may not be aware that Greater London is one of the greenest cities in the world in terms of green space, which is estimated to cover at least 40% of its area, even before including lawns and approximately 2.5 million trees in back-gardens. Unfortunately, there is an increasing trend for Londoners to replace greenery with sheds and decking.

There’s no chance of that happening in my garden. I have at least five potted trees-in-waiting, but to date there is only one inherited cherry blossom tree planted in earth.

last weekend

I was thinking the other day that the main element of my “woodland” is fundamentally wrong. I googled images of “cherry blossom tree in woodland” and found that even though they are mentioned, the images don’t look too convincing (there was even one of my garden on the first page of the results!).
Just a half-hour ride on public transport separates my home from a forest which covers 6000 acres. I visited a mud-pool there during a biology field trip decades ago but never returned under my own steam. The problem is that I wouldn’t dare to venture into a forest by myself or even with a friend. (In case you're wondering ... the difference between forest and woodland is : the former is where trees form a dense canopy while the latter allows sunlight through the trees enabling other plants to grow in-between.)
However, the appearance of cherry blossom buds this spring motivated me to stretch my comfort zone and attempt to go on an expedition to find related species in their natural habitat. I searched on-line and found that there are regular organised walks, including a “brisk 10 mile walk across field and forest” organised by the Ramblers Association (which sounded rather contradictory!).
If you happen to fall asleep while travelling eastbound on the red Central Underground Line, you’ll probably end up at Epping station, which is also the name of "The People's Forest" nominated by Queen Victoria in 1882.
But first we had to walk along public footpaths which pass through private farmland. Despite the cold weather, the paths were muddy and it wasn’t long before my boots were squelching, my inexperience highlighted by my muckier clothes. I was so busy chatting, slipping and sliding, that I almost forgot my mission.
The route traced a section of the Essex way which is a footpath spanning 82 miles across the county, reassuringly punctuated by signposts and stiles.

Finally we got to the trees! – not a cherry blossom in sight.

In a particular patch, the tree trunks were abnormally stunted, potential candidates worth following through the year, if only to find out their identity.
Ivy is a native of the UK, the juvenile variety is commonly found in our gardens so I was surprised that the forest wasn't smothered by it. There were some trees in the hedgerows hosting the climber, including one sporting the bushy adult form with black berries.
I also found some invasives. The pampas grass looked rather odd growing out of the hedgerow while the rhododendrons in the woodland had hogged all the space under the trees, choking out the other understory plants.

I wasn't expecting to see so many damaged trees ...
.... or trees doing weird stuff in the woods.

At the end of the day I was exhausted and exhilarated. I went in search of a tree to follow and found so much more along the way, including a lovely bunch of people in my neighbourhood.

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