Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Paeonies (22 MAY 2013)

In the garden of my childhood, the compost pile between the neighbours' fence and the garden shed was a definite no-go area. At the time, I wasn’t convinced that there was goodness in the slimy, wormy mess of crushed egg shells, spent tea leaves and rotten vegetable peelings. I can’t remember when it stopped serving that function, maybe ten years ago. Today it’s a wilderness growing on what I suspect is highly fertile soil, needing constant maintenance, which is not a problem as hacking clearings through vegetation is one of my favourite jobs.

ex-compost heap in my mother's garden
My mother didn’t show much interest in this spot as it couldn’t be seen from the windows and it’s quite shady, enclosed on three sides, under cover of the branches of the neighbouring tree – I just did as I was told.  I usually cut away as much as I can, rake away as much as I can, then don’t bother to dig, because digging isn’t fun and the weeds return in a few days anyway.
A couple of weeks ago, I was raking away, thinking for the hundredth time that there must be better ways to use this piece of land, when through the prongs I saw some familiar leaves, surely it couldn’t be ….  I felt like a truffle-hunter who had sniffed treasure.
They looked like peony leaves but the nearest peony was at least 3 metres away and was already quite progressed with leaves and buds.
soft balls of confection
Could it be an off-shoot from a long-distance root ? … or even more exciting - a seedling with a variation of flower from its parent ?
I dug up the plant as carefully as I could, it seemed like the root was never-ending, but I managed to extract it intact. For a second, I thought about taking it for my own garden as the two paeony shoots my mum presented me with last year died before they flowered, but it didn’t feel like the right thing to do so I planted it in an empty space in her right border.
I returned to rake over the soil that had been excavated and found a section of broken root sticking out of the soil, the length of my middle finger …  could that bit be for me ?
I stored it in some moist compost (which might not have been such a good idea as since then I read that paeonies can’t stand water-logged conditions), planting it in the dry bed of my own garden a week later.
truffles can sometimes be found growing under pine trees.
I was trying to get to sleep that night, when it occurred to me that the paeony might have been better off left where it chose to make itself at home, after all my success rate at replanting paeonies is zero so far. However, paeonies need full sun for at least a few hours a day, don’t they?   Then it dawned on me … I really hope my mum didn’t plant it there.

This blogger has a lovely selection of paeonies and explains the difference between herbaceous, intersectional and tree paeonies :
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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Pareto Principle (15 MAY 2013)

There is nothing special about the numbers 80 or 20, mathematically. However, empirically is has been noted time and time again that approximately 80% of the effects are due to 20% of the causes. This principle was named after an Italian economist named Pareto, who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population, it has since been applied in fields as diverse as retail, IT, occupational health and safety, health care, agriculture and criminology.

I use it myself when investigating the root causes of failures, but it was brought closer to home when I was advised to apply the 80-20 rule when organising my schedule. It made me realise that I spent a significant quota of the working day doing jobs for other people rather than concentrating on the main objective. After this enlightenment, I wondered if the slow progress of turning my garden into paradise might also be due to a similar lack of focus.
It’s true that I do spend a lot of time trying to coax little plants that are half dead to stay alive rather than planning on a larger scale. This trough of violas was labelled as a failure in a previous post, being pooped on by a cat didn’t help (... 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals). In early May I noticed that a tiny bud was poking out of the only surviving plant. Then one of its companions, an excess plant pressed in amongst the primulas, also started to flower with the deepest purple petals. I regrouped the viola together and they’ve been thriving despite being battered by harsh winds this week.
Paradise must definitely include deep purple ...
This is how my garden looked au naturel on one of the sunnier days in May.
Many a gardener would grimace at this sight, but it makes my heart sing.
… and bright yellow too.

According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of products in retail generate 80% of the profits. There’s a two week period when my cherry tree is chock-full of pink blossom and my paving choked with dandelions, obvious contenders for the top 20%, but how does one measure profits in a garden ? 

This is my garden posing for a photo.

80% of sales are made by 20% of sales staff. When bosses recognise this they can put in place measures to determine who should be promoted or retrained.

Should bluebells get the sack ? ...

... or maybe pieris just because it’s so unpopular.

80% of computer errors are caused by 20% of bugs.
The wallflowers have been flowering since winter. They are in full glory now, just as long as you look at them from the right angle.   

Most of the errors in this garden are caused by planting in the wrong place.

I currently have two sets of bleeding hearts. One I planted myself.

 The other planted by the previous gardener. A paradise garden would need several more.

Do the colours need to match in paradise ?

These photos were taken in my garden during May.
Visit Carol’s blog to see what’s happening in gardens around the world on the 15th of every month :
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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Forgetmenots (07 MAY 2013)

This post was supposed to be about daffodils, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow ...

It all started when I was planting a lacecap hydrangea cutting.
It was pruned from the mother plant during winter 2010, produced  tiny flowers in summer 2011, nothing in 2012, and here it is today looking quite grown-up.
My mum was suffering from acute kidney failure when the cutting was taken. I suppose that was when I started grieving about the whole situation, as expected it didn't flower last year. People said that the pain would go away in time. They were right, except when I felt it subsiding guilt set in instead. I finally decided to plant it in dappled shade where it wouldn't need watering, where I could still look and remember when I passed by.
However, my garden was trying to tell me something, the dry bed where hardly anything grows and cracks in the paving saved for the dandelions ...

... and my mother's garden too. I don't remember there being a river of blue before, perhaps she pulled them out as weeds, or maybe the rainy spring season provided the optimum conditions for them to burst the banks of the flower beds.

Myosotis are named after their furry leaves, like mouse ears, rather than their little blue petals which symbolise true love in the language of flowers.
German legend tells the story of how God forgot to name them till they called out to him.

She used to talk about planting a vegetable patch at the back of her garden. It was one of the jobs on the list that I never got round to. I sowed some seeds which I found stored in a big envelope, many were unlabelled, some have germinated already - just wish I'd done it a year ago when she asked me to. Tiny canaliculatus and double-headed white daffodils are in flower now, planted near the fence at one edge in December, to get started; a weed protection mat still covers the major portion of the plot.
The apple tree stump at the other edge, another family member which was broken and lost, reminded me to water the three precious apple treelets in my own garden born from its seeds.

This isn’t meant to be a sad post. I'm just trying to say that gardening has a whole new meaning now.
I'm beginning to wonder if it was the reason why I started in the first place.

Forgetmenots may be the name given to little blue flowers, but they're not the only ones with a special message for me.
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