The Ice Saints, May 2020

Modern art, you may ask?

No, it’s a young Gingko tree, given to us by friends when we moved here, and wrapped up in garden fleece!

In Germany the final frosts of the year according to ancient folk sayings are mid-May, on the four Saintβ€˜s Days from 12th to 15th May. And until today they are surprisingly accurate. Last night the 11th-12th was Saint Pankratius and we had a couple of degrees of frost. Tonight is Saint Servatius and temperatures could drop below zero again… a nightmare for gardeners who have been tempted by an exceedingly mild and warm April and early May to plant up pots of Pelargoniums and vegetables and sow annuals…

The Cold Frame

Thank goodness for garden fleece and various bits of packing materials saved for wrapping up sensitive plants. And for our trolley, which came in handy for gathering up these pots to put under cover for the night.

The zucchini and butternut are in pots this year as the ongoing drought deterred us from starting a vegetable bed again this spring. Maybe next year… In the meantime, it means wrapping up pots overnight. These looked a bit peaky this morning when I took the photo, but by the afternoon they had perked up, albeit with some slight leaf damage despite the fleece wrapping.

With our greenhouse plans also postponed for at least another year, I invested in this mini patio greenhouse. It has been worthwhile, with room for twelve trays. And with a bit of garden fleece it stays above freezing overnight. It was delivered in a trillion pieces though, so don’t ask how long it took me to put it together! 😫

At the beginning of our lockdown in mid-March I panicked a bit and worried I would not get any tomato plants, as even if our garden centres ever opened again there would be a rush for them. So I ordered a mix of tomato seeds from a Russian lady not far from us who has a private nursery and usually sells young plants in spring. They are all old varieties brought over from Russia by her parents, and so are not EU certified (so I canβ€˜t eat them… πŸ€ͺπŸ€£πŸ˜‰) and ALL of them germinated! So I now have 28 healthy young plants and cannot give them away as I canβ€˜t visit anyone! I think I will be spending all summer watering…

Tomatoes, Tithonia, Sunflowers, salad leaves and a couple of leftover zucchini plants

Some dahlia tubers freshly planted in pots were brought indoors, as were my Lemon Verbena plants. I have been coddling these darlings, bringing them indoors every night.

I love lemon verbena tea and dry the leaves so I can enjoy it all year round. Last year my plants did not thrive and I had to ration my remaining tea. I hope this year I can refill my stock. πŸ˜€

The last of our Ice Saints is the dreaded ‘kalte Sophie’, cold Saint Sophia on the 15th, and it looks like that might be our last frosty night…. I do hope so as the wrapping up and unwrapping is getting a bit ridiculous!

How do you cope with late frosts? Is there a specific date for the last ones where you live?

πŸŒ·β„οΈπŸŒ·

All Good Wishes for a Very Happy 2020!

‘Hope’ is my word for 2020.

As we enter another new year, another decade, I look forward to seeing our trees grow, the garden flourish and our surrounding countryside recover from two severe drought years.

There IS always hope.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year, and may your gardens provide you with much pleasure and joy in the year 2020!

In a Vase on Monday: Midsummer

This Monday is Midsummer’s Day, St John’s Day or in Germany ‘Johannistag’, still celebrated in smaller communities with bonfires or beacons and perhaps a party too.

I am celebrating it with flowers – in a vase of course, as it is Monday! And on Mondays gardeners from far and wide join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to put materials plucked from their gardens or foraged locally into a vase to share. πŸ™‚

Our meadow and the perimeters of the garden are full of summer flowers and they seemed so appropriate for Midsummer’s Day.

I’m not sure I can put a name to them all, but will try! There are still lots of the large Moon Daisies (Ox-Eye Daisies), but the other daisy-type white flowers are two different types of Chamomile and Fleabane. The clustered white flowers are Achillea…

… but sometimes the midsummer magic turns the Achillea pink… πŸ˜‰

The purply pink flower is Centaurea (Knapweed) and the yellow flower next to it in the next photo is Bird’s-foot Trefoil…

Naturally a midsummer vase needs St. John’s Wort (Hypericum), which never fails to flower just in time for this date…

This tall flower bud hasn’t opened yet, but I think it is Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace)…

A few snippets of perhaps not so useless information : according to tradition here, rhubarb and asparagus should not be picked after midsummer’s day. It is also traditionally the date when the mowing of meadows began, although often it is two or three weeks earlier these days. And also the date when I shall start watching out for glow worms. πŸ™‚ (P.S. This evening we did indeed see the first ones on the edge of the garden near the woods. Midsummer magic. πŸ™‚ )

I found a lovely Beth Chatto quote on the NGS website recently, which I find true on face value but today in particular on another level as well…

‘Grow contented plants and you will find peace among them.’

Worthy of thought.

Have a wonderful week, and if the heatwave in western Europe is headed your way too, stay cool! 😎