Saturday, May 25, 2019

Garden in May

Expecting great things from my passion flower vine this year. Grown from a seed in Norcia, and one of the few things we managed to rescue in the last escape, it took a while to get going again.

We've had a very strange spring. Dry, cold and incredibly windy in February, that dried out all the soil, then the howling wind continued all through March while the weather became like June. Then the temps dropped in April and we got the rain we were supposed to have in Feb and March. Through April and May it's been raining pretty steadily, interspersed with a few warm days. The result is that not a great deal of the work I'd planned ended up being possible to do.

But the poppies seem to love it. And in fact, everything is looking amazing. This was actually over a week ago, and it's even more lush now, with absolute masses of poppies, and the calendula growing enormous.

Last year I saw that we had very little elder in the area, almost none compared to the small forests of elder we had in Norcia. But then I found out that you can make a fine Robinia flower liqueur that is almost as nice as elder liqueur. So here it is. You just pick a big basket full of the flower heads, strip off the florets and put them in the jar (no washing!) with a layer of sugar over each layer of florets. It "cooks down" in a few hours so they're all in the same jar now. After two or three days, pour in 1.5 L of vodka, seal the lid and let it steep for four months.

I managed to catch the Robinia at its peak. Cascades of flowers and the scent on the air, blowing in through the bedroom window every morning, rain or shine.

Silene vulgaris, "Bladder campion" is one of my favourite wildflowers and I'm so glad it has decided to take up residence on the terrace. The mass of green in the back is the morning glories that are just poised to start leaping up for the sun.

Still having a frustrating time with the nasturtiums. Normally as easy to grow as beans, the ones I've had just refuse to sprout. Even after a good long soak only a few have come up. They flower well, though, so I think I'll get a few more packets and see if it was just getting a bad batch.

How to propagate basil. You know those basil plants you get in the supermarket? You can make them turn into dozens of plants.

Choose the biggest ones with the longest stems, and cut them so there's plenty of stem, stick them in a glass of water and wait. Toss the ones that don't produce roots and then plant them out when they get to about this stage.

Heavy on the strawbs this year.

You can also do basil from seed, of course, but it takes a very long time. I soaked these basil seeds and a great many more sprouted than did last year when I just sowed them straight into a pot on the terrace. To the right are beetroot seedlings, starting late, I hope the coolish weather lasts long enough.

First year's seed experiments still going strong.

Basil, cosmos, hollyhocks and my two beleaguered wisteria - first the snails ate them, then the cutfly ravaged their new leaves, then Pippin decided the seed tray they were in would make a good litter box. Not sure they'll make it. (Cats!)

In the big pots are a combination of self-seeded dill and in the middle, little clusters of sweet peas that are only now really getting going after our weird, cold spring.

At some point I'm going to have to break down and at least buy one of those portable mini-greenhouse things, the kind that's basically just a shelf on wheels with a clear plastic cover. Part of the battle has been the danger of late frost all through April, and the forever-to-be-cursed snails. I have no idea how they get up onto the terrace, but I've been having a snail-pogrom every week. I've had to resort to taking all the seed pots indoors every night, and putting them all back out every morning. A bit tedious.

Today's desk flowers: calendula and love-in-a-mist (Nigella sativa) with a little sprig of thyme.

Been a busy few weeks. Much to write about, but must concentrate on some writing-for-pay... back later.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reading this and looking at the pretty pictures, while listening to chant, is balm for my soul. Thanks.

Louise L