In these challenging times getting out into the garden or even growing a few herbs on a windowsill can be very rewarding. The perfume from an old fashioned rose, buds forming on a bush you pruned for the first time and were terrified you might have killed, tomatoes grown from a packet of seeds, the birds singing, a frog croaking, the church bills telling us it is midday.
Right now everything is a mess, we are living in a very stressful world but every seed we sow and every plant we grow is a positive step.
I have a bit of a thing for my garden and being outside, but I’ve made a few discoveries since the lockdown began. Obviously life before was much easier. In April we would head to our local garden centre which would be overflowing with young vegetables plants and we’d buy. A tray of tomatoes, a dozen mixed lettuce, herbs, cucumbers, the list goes on. But this year, all that stopped. The plant shops closed. Just before lockdown I grabbed a few packets of seeds from our farm store, Millie, our daughter in the Channel Islands mailed me a few more. Our miniature greenhouse was assembled with a neighbour’s windows he had lying around. And then I started growing. And it’s given me an incredible feeling of satisfaction.
I have watched the tiny tomato seeds I placed on a tray high up in the kitchen for warmth sprout. They then hung on a rack Roddy made for me at the kitchen window. When the greenhouse came into being they were transferred out there. Then came the cucumber seeds, the parsley, aubergines, lettuce and courgettes.
Rather than buying compost, I’ve made up a huge barrel from a mixture of garden soil courtesy of our very active moles and leaf mould with the addition of plenty of old well rotted chicken poop!
Things have been repotted into pots I have saved every time I have bought a plant over the years. Others have been transplanted to the vegetable garden after a week of hardening off because it’s getting pretty crowded in here. Protection goes to the youngest, the bigger plants have had to toughen up and move outdoors! The shelves are sagging, but they were made from what we had available, and it’s all temporary.
Once all of this is over, a greenhouse is at the very top of my wishlist. We will source some old glass panes secondhand, we’ll make a plan and Roddy says he’ll start building. Because I do know that growing from seed has now become something of a passion for me.
I cannot deny we are very lucky we have a large garden and plenty of green space and the weather has been fantastic. Mother Nature has certainly been helping us get through these times. I find it hard to be indoors when the outside is constantly beckoning me. Five minutes opening up the greenhouse and checking the temperature will lead to a wander down the terrace, then one distraction will lead to another, which in turn will lead to a much bigger job and before I know it the indoor work has been shelved once more.
Today it is raining, a good thing for I am forced to sit at the computer, maybe I’ll even tackle some housework and put away the laundry piles that make it upstairs but not quite as far as anyone’s closet! It’s crazy we have more time to spare and yet we are busier than ever. The ‘to do’ just keeps growing, things are constantly getting ticked off but then more are added and so it spreads to another page!
Despite the rain Roddy is outside, he’s dressed up in his fishing waders and pressure washing the terrace.
I’m warm and dry, so I’ll share with you a few corners of the garden, snapped yesterday when it was incredibly hot. I hope it will get your week off to a good start.
Our largest area of plain lawn has been turned into a makeshift grass tennis court, complete with a low slung barrier net to try and catch a few balls!
This year we have left several areas uncut.
We both feel a definite pull towards leaving things as natural as possible, even more so than usual. Subconsciously I am sure it has something to do with everything going on around us but I’d like to know if anyone else is feeling this way?
Every spring one by one our hens go broody and every year we select one girl to sit on a clutch of eggs. This year it’s Persephone’s turn, she was hatched here in this same ‘broody’ coop a couple of years ago, so she’s totally home-grown so to speak. They’re due to hatch at the end of this week.
The iris are amazing
and the pond life is thriving, forcing us to stop and stare, to linger just a few moments longer.
There are spaces which are calming, reminding us to slow down.
And then there’s the vegetable garden!
The melon bed tucked under the wall has finally been completed. We’ve moved over three tonne of stone. We’ve heaved and lifted, we’ve all got the scrapes and bruises and broken nails to show for it, but it’s been great fun. Then we barrowed forty or fifty loads of earth (soil which had been piled high when we dug the duck pond last year) and compost from the chicken garden. Yesterday we planted the melon seeds so let’s just hope they like it here!
Nearer to the house is the shade garden leading to the summer kitchen/potting shed where a climbing rose I planted last year has trebled in size.
Everywhere there are distractions; a geranium I planted when we first moved here in an old cast iron tub I found discarded in the barn.
The delicate pink petals of the horse chestnut look as if someone has showered the lawn with confetti.
And the Campanula which thrives growing out of nooks and crannies in the walls. They seem to have no soil nor water and yet they cling on, multiplying every year, flowering in abundance. Perhaps these alone are a sure sign of hope because I think despite of everything we still have a lot to celebrate.