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Archive for the ‘window gardening’ Category


I like going on hiking holidays, ascending the odd fell and enjoying the challenge of scrambling up crags and hillsides to finally be rewarded by the view from the peak. Sadly, the Flâneur Husband doesn’t really share this slightly masochistic fetish, so it’s a good thing that I can now enjoy all the thrills of a scrambling hill-climb in the privacy of our own kitchen when I want to make my morning coffee:

Kitchen demolition

Getting to the kitchen sink this morning was quite a climb – and perhaps not very dignified to look at, had any spectators been around – and I sort of wish I could have had my coffee FIRST  and THEN climbed Mount Debris!

Indeed, we are spending the Easter week tearing out the old kitchen – though we won’t be installing a new one just yet. We have to re-plaster walls and ceiling and then change the floor boards before we can install a new kitchen, so it’s quite a project and we will get through it by the tested approach of “step by step” (“Ooh, baby”, as New Kids On The Block would have added when I was a pre-teen). The Flâneur Husband has this weird notion that the two success criteria are:

A: We get a new kitchen
B: We have fun doing it

Whereas I am much more realistic in my approach and define my criteria of success as:

A: We get a new kitchen
B: Neither of us files for a divorce

(This sort of DIY job is always going to put a strain on a relationship in my opinion, even more so than, say, going to a family reunion or a trip to IKEA.)

Anyway, I’m sure you will all be glad to know that I made it safely to the sink and back (and got only one rusty nail up my foot while climbing the daunting Mount Debris) and am now reclining in the safety and comfort of the sofa!

So, not much gardening in this blog entry – but then there’s still snow on the ground and nothing to do in the garden anyway. However, the solitary cobea scandens seedling that I posted previously has now been joined by one other seedling – and a third seems to be craning its neck in preparation for emergence, so that will have to do for “spring” right now.

On Saturday, though, I’m heading up to the garden anyway to spend some time chopping up the trees that the Flâneur Husband and his friend took down last weekend. I haven’t been up there since the first weekend in March, so it’s about time I went and gave the weather a good talking-to and told it to spring-up and be done with snow and freezing temperatures day and night!

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I woke up this morning to this view:

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Snow falling heavily outside, covering the cemetery in a blanket of soft, white flakes. Very pretty, but hardly spring – will you agree?

However:

Outside it might be snowing
But inside I hope it’s growing!

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I’ve sown a batch of cobea scandens / Cup and Saucer flowers that The Flâneur Husband gave me – along with other seed packets – as a “congratulations on your first day at work” bouquet. All right, so the convention is that when you buy your partner flowers you generally don’t ask them to grow them themselves, but… Will you agree that four packets of seeds is the perfect flower present for a gardener? Especially seeds that should be sown 4-6 weeks before the last frost…

It means we have a little piece of spring – with promise of summer – in our window in the apartment, and I really look forward to seeing something emerge from the soil!

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A few weeks ago, as we were getting ready to leave the summer house and return to the City, I decided to cut some of the deep blue aquilegias that grow  between the paving stones in the courtyard. I know they’d bloom while I wasn’t there, so I figured the budding flowers would look nice in a vase in the apartment, and so they did.

The buds dutifully turned into flowers, and I was happy. It’s my favourite colour of aquilegia, but sadly we only have it in the courtyard where it is a weed, really, so I was so thrilled last week when I noticed seed heads starting to form; there must either have been some kind little fly that chose to pollinate these flowers, or else they were just shaken sufficiently when I have been airing out the apartment, because today they look like this:

The colour of the dried petals is a truer blue than the actual flower, which has a slightly purple tone

Of course there’s always a risk that the seeds won’t be true to type, but considering that I have no other colours of aquilegia in the apartment, I’m feeling confident that the seeds will produce the same lovely colour if I sow them out in the Ambitious Border.

So, this means that I have now used cut flowers and branches to propagate forsythia, dogwood and sedum so far, and with aquilegias in the making. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Free plants are the best!

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Yesterday after work I went home and started packing up for a weekend in the garden, and here’s mu luggage, photographed after 1 bus and 2 train rides (with the final bus ride to go):

  • 1 fuchsia – purchased in pot
  • 5  dahlias grown from tubers
  • 24 dahlias grown from seed
  • 2 dahlias grown from cuttings
  • 7 tomatoes grown from seed
  • 25 sweet peas grown from seed
  • 2 lavenders – purchased in pots
  • 20 or so gladiolus corms
  • 2 dahlia tubers

-So you know; just your average luggage when going on public transport!

Good thing nobody stared at me during the journey. No sirree, nobody at all… Except, of course, everybody who saw me logging around more plants than you find on your average well-planted balcony!

Today I’m planting out the dahlias in the Sunny Border; the forecast is for fairly mild nights during the next week, so I hope they will survive the change…  The Sunny Border will have no shortage of plants, that much is sure, especially if I sow a second batch so I have some spares to fill in any gaps. (Gardeners are like the royals; we should always have “an heir and a spare”, just in case… What with weather and wildlife doing as they please, we might as well be prepared!)

The fuchsia will go in a pot in the courtyard. I have no idea if it will be hardy enough for the Danish winters, so I might have to bring it inside when the frost begins, and that’s just simpler with a pot. (Plus the courtyard definitely needs some colour, and fuchsia is good at that.)

I’ve got doubts about the tomatoes; last year I grew them in a self-watering Styrofoam box, and that was actually my intention again this year, but I’m beginning to wonder whether to just plunk them in pots in the courtyard instead, or even in one of the vegetable beds (though I probably won’t do that, as space is limited there). We’ll see what happens!

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In a corner of the sitting room in the apartment we have an old (1890′s?) pedestal that comes from my great-great-great aunt or some obscure family connection like that. I grew up with it in my childhood home, and when my parents – rightfully – decided that it really wasn’t all that pretty and needed to go, I insisted on bringing it into my room. I’ve now had it for some 25 years, and it has always looked more or less out-of-place in any home I’ve had, but I love it all the same.

However, it has now found it’s perfect match, and that’s what this is all about: a cissus that the Flâneur Husband inherited after the death of his much-loved grandmother some years back.

It softens the rather formal pedestal and the pedestal gives the cissus a great platform for spilling over the edges of the pot and really make a statement against the white walls of our home.

A couple of weeks back I gave it a rather rough treatment, cutting back any dead leaves and stems and generally leaving it looking a bit bedraggled, so I re-potted it – it also used to be in a far too small white pot, so I moved it to a larger black pot that seems to disappear between the foliage as a natural extension of the pedestal – and it has really taken off.

You can see in the picture above that it has even discovered that it’s actually a climbing plant, though it has nothing to climb except itself. I’m still not sure whether to give it some sort of support or whether to just let it do its thing as best it can.

As bad luck – and clumsy scissor skills – would have it, my pruning included me cutting off one perfectly healthy twig of the plant, so I figured it would be worth seeing if I could get it to root in a vase, and hallelujah!

There are now two small white roots, so I will leave it in the vase for a bit longer to grow more roots before potting it up. Voilá, a new plant for free!

Also, the internet tells me that these plants have a limited life span, so I guess this accidental cutting is a blessing, as it will continue my husband’s inheritance and the memory of his grandmother once the original plant starts giving up.

(The internet also tells me that to take cuttings from this plant you need to make a clean cut below a leaf node, dip it in rooting hormone and pot it up directly. RUBBISH! Why would anybody want to do so much faffing about when you can just make a random cut, stick it in water and watch it grow?)

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No, this is not going to be another post about what it looks like when I work from home, surrounded by vases of blooming forsythias or whatever. This is about REAL work, the kind that will produce visible, tangible results in the garden.

There is a large table in the bathroom that would probably be ideal for changing nappies if you had a baby, but since we don’t I have put it to other use:

I use it as a work surface for sowing seeds and potting up cuttings, and then the results are transferred to the windows around the apartment, especially the bedroom window since this is the window that gets the most sun (from dawn to around 1pm). The sitting room windows get slightly less sun, so I use those mainly for cuttings and for growing on tubers and roots.

This is what I currently have growing in the apartment (with a few omissions because there were pots I forgot I had tucked away):

As you can see I’m cheating by starting off the dahlia tubers in the apartment. This is because the slugs love them, and I figure a larger plant will be more able to survive a slug attack than a completely new shoot. There are also dahlia seedlings, pots with dahlia seed that has yet to make an appearance and – because the tubers grow so happily – a small pot with three dahlia cuttings that so far look like they will survive.

There are also two pots with tomato seeds and of course a tray of sweet peas. (And a box of DEGT seed – Don’t Even Go There – i.e. Zantedeschi Aethiopica with a germination period up to 3 months…)

And in the back of the dining table you can see a vase of dogwood branches that have rooted in the water. The variegated foliage is still pretty and adds a touch of spring to the apartment, but more importantly the roots are well-developed and eventually I will cut the branches back to only a couple of leaves and then plant them out in the hedgerow. I’m sure they will be happy there, and with dogwood there’s never even question about whether it will survive.

I do wish I could go out into the garden every afternoon after work, but since that’s not an option I do enjoy being able to get things going in the apartment, even though it will be a nightmare to transport everything up to the garden by bus and metro and train and bus…

(Oh, and tomorrow I’m flying over to the Flâneur Husband in Aberdeen and will be returning on Sunday with a suitcase full of three small rhododendrons that I will then plant in the garden on Monday… It seems silly in a way to move plants that far, but on the other hand they’ve brought him so much joy during his expatriation that I think it’s perfectly sensible to bring them to Denmark so he can continue to enjoy them.)

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I’m packing to go up to the summerhouse and the garden for the weekend straight from work today, and I think this might be one of the more challenging aspects of growing seedlings in an apartment and then bringing them to the garden by public transport; I have a big sports bag that is now stuffed with seed trays and I desperately hope they will survive the journey intact…

Also, what to do when I get to work? Do I unpack my seed trays and place them in sunny windows around the office to the bemusement of my co-workers, or do I leave them in the bag and feel guilty for keeping them from sunshine for an entire day?
I do think it would be easier if the garden was just outside the sitting room windows, but a remote garden is better than no garden!

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-Or something like that…

The lupin seedlings have now started breaking through the soil, and obviously I’m terribly excited about this!

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-Apart from anything, this means that when my husband comes to Denmark on Sunday there will be an obvious defence for why there are trays of compost in the windows in the dining room: “But LOOK! There are things GROWING!”

I do, though, have one problem. I THINK these seeds are Lupinus mutabilis, an annual scented lupin, but then they might be mixed in with perennial lupins, since I did a rather poor job at labelling my seed envelopes. Must do better this year!

But of course I love all lupins so it doesn’t matter too much; it just makes it slightly more tricky to plan where these should be planted. (Will they be there just for one year or will they be perennial? Will they be white/pale blue or will they be dark purple?)

You may notice that this picture doesn’t show one of those plastic boxes I bough for seed-sowing because miniature greenhouses were so expensive… Well, it turned out that my local supermarket suddenly decided to have small 18-unit “miniature greenhouses” for DKK 30 a piece (just around 5 USD), so I purchased two of those and will do a comparison to see what works the best. The quality is decidedly so-so, but it might be good enough to last a few years and the size means that I should be able to transport them up to the garden without problems.

IEK!!! This is exciting!!! Can I please skip work and just stay at home and watch my seedlings? (Okay, I can’t. I get it. I’ll hit the shower and get going, then.)

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