Ten Good Things in 2020

In a few hours this dreadful year will be over. And yet, despite all the worry and stress there were some good things too. The garden flourished, the weather was fabulous, and several projects took place. So before I attempt to be positive about 2021 I have decided to look back at the positive in 2020 and have chosen ten things that were good… Here they are, in no particular order.

1. This mini greenhouse.

It was a devil to put together! But I persevered and my Man of Many Talents helped me out when more than two hands were needed! And it was worth it too. I kept seedlings in it all spring, and then basil and salad during the summer with the doors and lid wide open. The seed trays fit into the frame, or perspex shelves can be inserted.

2. The tomato and zucchini harvest.

Overwhelming but wonderful! I still have some tomato sauce and soup in the freezer. πŸ˜‰ I also still have about half a dozen butternut squash….

 

3.

…and some frozen pesto made with fresh homegrown basil. πŸ˜ƒ I must remember to continually sow basil again next year, and would like to point out that vegan pesto freezes really well, much better than the version with parmesan in it. πŸ˜ƒ

4. The Geraniums. (Well, actually they are Pelargoniums, but you know what I mean).

Colour in the yard all summer. πŸ˜ƒβ˜€οΈπŸ’•

5. The tractor.

Within days of getting the tractor in the spring we wondered how we ever managed without! Tilling two new flower beds, mowing, moving heavy pots, repairing the gravel lane, moving logs etc…

6. The new beds.

The Oval Bed was my big spring lockdown project, and watching it grow from this…

to this…

was sheer joy. πŸ˜ƒ

The Moon Bed has yet to be completed, with some wood chippings to be added as mulch in early spring. I will introduce it properly then. πŸ˜‰

7. The Hares and Gina

I posted some photos of our hares, and they stuck around all year. I even saw some prints in the snow the other day. Our dear little dog, Gina, didn’t see too well and was deaf in her last months, but when it was too hot for a walk in the summer we would spend the evenings going around the perimeters of the garden and she would pick up a scent. Only problem was, what to do if the hare just sat there in front of her?

8. The apple and pear harvest

We hadn’t expected so much, as our trees are still young. The last of the apples were processed into compote just before Christmas.

9. The Housemartins

There were 13 nests on the house and garage which meant that it was never quiet around here. I love the noise they make when flying, but also the chattering they do when in their nests in the evenings.

10. The Lemon Verbena

 

I think this was my most successful year yet. I had four plants in pots in the warmest part of the patio but in the semi shade of the tomatoes. I have harvested enough to last me until next spring. πŸ˜ƒ

 

I hope you can also think of some pleasures and joys your gardens have brought you over the past twelve months. If you could pick just one thing, what would it be?

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

⭐️πŸ₯‚⭐️

In a Vase on Monday: Shooting Star

Joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme is so much fun. πŸ˜ƒ

A strong ice cold north-easterly wind over the past few days has provided material too, with several Narcissi being bent flat and the hellebores looking decidedly fed up with the constant battering!

First I cut some of my Hellebore ericsmithii ‘Shooting Star’. I decided it looked best alone in my mini vase bought in Norfolk a few years ago. πŸ™‚ I love the way Shooting Star changes from pale creamy white/yellow to pale pink.

The background plant is my dear Maidenhead fern, which has forgiven me twice in the last year or so for not watering it and has bounced back each time!

Then I used the second matching vase for the other oddments rescued, including the battered Narcissi. I will make a mental note not to plant any more tall ones on windy corners. πŸ˜‰

Since moving out further into the countryside away from street lights and motorways we have been able to see more stars than ever on clear nights, and more shooting stars in the past two years than in my entire life up to then! My first memory of a shooting star was in Blakeney, Norfolk, where my vases come from. I was only about 8 years old and I spied the star through a pebbled stone archway looking out to sea. Magical!

So, not only do I have some pretty flowers to look at, but pleasant thoughts to go with them. I do hope you are all able to have some pleasant thoughts today despite these difficult times.

Keep smiling and take care.

xx

Mid May and Karel Čapek’s Gardener’s Prayer

We had the hottest and driest April on record this spring, and the first half of May was just as warm, producing only a few passing showers. This sort of weather is absolutely wonderful… unless you are a gardener! Still, the garden has soldiered on and produced glorious flowers once again. Here are the Moon Daisies in our meadow…

And a view from the top of the rockery shows how my Man of Many Talents has mowed even fewer of them away this spring πŸ™‚

From the bottom of the rockery I can still look across the top of the giant Miscanthus and see the early deep reddish pink peony. Today the first white ones opened too. And the ferns in the foreground have taken off since we got more rain.

Recently my thoughts have often returned to this ‘prayer’ I found some years ago in ‘The Gardener’s Year’ by Karel Čapek. His wit is sometimes charming, but occasionally beyond me! However this prayer says it all perfectly, so I shall share!

“If it were of any use, every day the gardener would fall on his knees and pray somehow like this:

‘O Lord, grant that in some way it may rain every day, say from about midnight until three o’clock in the morning, but, you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in; grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthemum, lavender, and others which you in your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants – I will write their names on a bit of paper if you like – and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere (not, for instance, on spiraea, or on gentian, plaintain lily, and rhododendron), and not too much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant-lice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano may fall from heaven. Amen.’ ”

πŸ˜€

My Heart’s Delight

I planted a few tulips in pots last autumn, and the first ones to open were Tulipa kaufmanniana ‘Heart’s Delight’.

 

I have grown these for several years now, and find they don’t last many years in the ground, producing just leaves. So I decided to try containers for a change. They stood outside all winter, close to the wall on the north side of the house, and were basically ignored until I noticed them showing shoots!

I watered them sparingly and moved them into a sunny position. They started flowering Β about a week earlier than those in the ground.

They have dark green stripy leaves, which add to their attraction both before and after flowering. Sadly I have more leaves than flowers these days – this picture below of the spring corner was taken several years ago.

The Spring Corner (under the Yew tree)

At first the flowers are mostly white, with an egg-yolk centre, but gradually they turn pinker and pinker – a kind of sunset orangey-pink. In the picture above you can see them at both stages. Delightful, don’t you think?

With Corydalis ‘Beth Evans’

The name of this pretty little tulip reminded me of a wonderful song you may have heard of. And not only beacause of the title but also the singer! The English title is ‘You are my Heart’s Delight‘, Β but the original was German – ‘Dein ist mein ganzes Herz’. It is an aria taken from a Franz Lehar operetta and Jonas Kaufmann Β sang it at the Last Night of the Proms in the Albert Hall in London a few years ago. I have been smitten with it ever since! Here is a German version with Placido Domingo…

Or if you prefer to hear it in English here is Richard Tauber singing it; he was the man who made it internationally famous after its success in Austria and Germany. The lyrics are lovely in both languages!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JtgmKpcgQ30

 

Have you ever grown this pretty flower, or maybe a similar early tulip?