World Bee Day, 2022

I just saw Eliza’s post about World Bee Day, so felt compelled to post something before this day goes by unnoticed. Like Eliza, I ask all gardeners please not to use chemicals to get rid of weeds or pests. There is almost always a kinder alternative that will not harm pollinators.

This is my Peony ‘Claire de lune’ which opened yesterday, with a bee in her ruffles. 😃

 

Fascination of Plants Day, 2022

Fascination of Plants Day is May 18th every year.

Steve, from ‘Portraits of Wildflowers‘, alerted me to this date the other day, which I must admit I had not heard of before. I don’t feel guilty about that though, as there is zero awareness of it in Germany. All the more reason for writing something to mark this day. 🌷

 

First, a definition:

The sixth international “Fascination of Plants Day” will be launched by plant scientists across the world under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO).

The goal of this activity is to get as many people as possible around the world fascinated by plants and enthused about the importance of plant science for agriculture and sustainable production of nutritious food, as well as for horticulture, forestry and the production of plant-based non-food products such as paper, timber, chemicals, energy and pharmaceuticals. The role of plants in environmental conservation is also a key message.

As a gardener and plant lover, I find plants fascinating full stop.

But as a vegan there is the additional interest because they form the basis of absolutely everything we eat. We substitute oat and soya drink for milk, coconut milk for cream, and use nut ‘milk’ for sauces. We eat products made with wheat, lupin, pea and soya protein. Amazing… meat alternatives made out of lupin protein… 😃

We consume leaves, fruits, roots and tubers, seeds, vegetable oils, pulses and grains.

Like many Germans, we heat with wood in the form of wooden pellets. We all wear clothes made of plant fibres.

And since becoming vegan I use far more herbs and spices for flavouring than before.

To put it in a nutshell, plants are our life, and not just for vegans!

But as I said, I am a plant lover at heart and the flowers that I grow fascinate me for so many reasons…

Their shapes..

Their resilience…

Hellebore on a frosty morning

A couple of hours later

The way they produce pollen and seed…

 

And their ingenious strategies for surviving…

For example, this year has been a mast year for spruce, which means they are producing more flowers/seed and hence pollen than usual, rather than putting their energy into new growth.

Spruce this spring

This is often considered to be a reaction to drought or disease; to reproduce as quickly as possible to preserve the species for the future. It does happen at irregular intervals regardless of climate or environmental conditions though.

Here a few fun facts I found while thinking about what to write for this post:

  • The average strawberry has 200 seeds. It’s the only fruit that bears its seeds on the outside.
  • Peanuts are not nuts! They are in fact legumes, related to beans and lentils.
  • It can take up to 50 years for an oak tree to produce its first acorn.
  • An estimated 100 billion bananas are consumed worldwide each year!

What fascinates you most of all about plants? And have you heard of this special day before? Maybe a botanical garden near you is marking this day in some way. Why not check and see. And if you know any unusual facts about plants, do share in the comments below! 😃

I will certainly be giving plants a bit more thought today while drinking my coffee, picking my radishes, or cooking some vegetable or other with herbs for dinner!

 

Have a great day and happy gardening!

22:22, 22/2/22

I just could not resist posting something at this time on this date, for posterity’s sake. 😉

A frozen hellebore bud…

It is still very windy here after all the storms that have gone over, but no damage done and milder days ahead. Hopefully that will mean more garden time and more blogging subject matter soon! 😃

Into the New Year

As I write it is still the last day of the year and we had some lovely warm sunshine today: 13°C!

So to ring out the old year here are a few pictures of my leisurely wander around the garden with Anouk this morning.

The blue sky and sunshine was a real treat…

This is the corner Anouk likes to inspect first every morning, as the hares come through the fence there…

Still a few rose hips left in the hedge…

And some morning mist across the meadow beyond our fence…

Anouk, checking for mice…

The buzzards often sit on the perches first thing to warm their wings in the sun… we put up several of these to encourage the birds of prey to help keep the mice population down.

The hellebores are in bud!

 

Can she smell Spring? (No, probably deer or hares!)

Wishing you all the very best for the new gardening year. Health, happiness and lots of flowers!

Happy New Year!

 

Happy Christmas!

Another old Christmas carol has been popping into my head the last few days  – ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen’ – with the line ‘comfort and joy’ seeming just perfect for the kind of Christmas I would like this year. A few days of cosiness, with good food, music, and some relaxation. So I wish you all the same: Comfort, joy, a happy and peaceful Christmastime and all good wishes for the New Year!

🎄🎄🎄

Winter Solstice in Bavaria, Krampus et al

About 250km to the south of us lie the Alps, already covered in a good thick layer of snow at this time of year. The mountains have always been fascinating to me, and seeing them awakens that same childish pleasure as when I catch the first glimpse of the sea on the way to the seaside.

Summer near Berchtesgaden

And the traditions find it fascinating too.

Before the age of digital photos I would occasionally drive there, either for some sightseeing of the beautiful lakes and mountain passes, or for a day of skiing.

Life in the villages and remote farms in mountainous regions used to be very hard in winter (and still can be), and many superstitions arose, particularly regarding this time of year. Some of these are rather sinister, with evil spirits and fearsome creatures playing a role. One of these is Krampus, often depicted as a hairy horned man-like figure, who frightened children into being well-behaved. This is one of the least frightening photos I could find. If you search ‘Krampus’ online you will see even scarier images!

Photo from National Geographic

Similarly, in Bavaria ‘Knecht Ruprecht’ was an evil man dressed completely in black, who supposedly ate naughty children. Here he is depicted as part animal, resembling the devil…

While, on December 6th, the good children receive gifts from Saint Nicholas (the original Santa!), naughty children were tortured; I remember a student of mine (an adult at the time) telling us how he was still filled with dread on December 6th when he recalled how he was collected by Krampus/ Knecht Ruprecht every year and put in a sack, convinced he was going to die!!

Another myth involves evil who people make a pact with the devil during these dark days and turn into weirwolves, threatening humans and animals alike. It was common to burn incense in the stables and barns over Christmas, to ban evil spirits. One of the superstitions I have heard is that the animals in the barns are suddenly able to speak, and foretell the future. Should, however, anybody hear them, he or she is destined to immediate death. (Not sure how that one can be explained!) Another story is that on New Year’s Eve the animals can air their complaints to the ‘house spirit’ about the farmer if they have been mistreated, and he will then be punished. (I like that one!)

All of these myths and many more have become tradition and are remembered, re-enacted or celebrated in December, mainly between Thomas Day (today, December 21st) and Epiphany (January 6th) – the so-called ‘Rauhnächte’ – varying greatly from region to region. The appropriate clothing, masks and paraphernalia are passed down through generations or carefully preserved by communities. I love the fact that so many truly ancient traditions are still alive here today, mostly with pagan origins, being then rearranged around Christian holidays and adapted or extended over the centuries. I am sure, though, that children nowadays are not tormented as much as my student was 50-odd years ago. 😉

And now some nicer images… of my garden on a frosty winter solstice day. 😃

(Click on any image to open a slideshow).

Wishing you a happy Solstice day.

❄️☀️❄️