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Archive for September, 2010

>2010, eh? Be gone, please?


>I want spring. I want a new year.

Last night I had some bad news (family health), and it just made me feel that 2010 has been far too full of drama and excitement for my taste. I would like 2011 to be somewhat more, well, boring.

Anyway, when the present seems less that ideal, that’s surely a good time to forget all about it and start thinking about the future. I know one shouldn’t trust super market plants or bulbs, but today I was really just in the mood for some escapism and some dreams of the future, so I bought some fritilliria and alium bulbs on sale. I don’t know; somehow it just seems more tangible that there WILL be a future, there WILL be May and sunshine and warm days, and there will – hopefully – be pretty plants to celebrate it.

Also, I generally just love fritillaria, especially the sort that you see growing wild in meadows. Not the tall, emperial-looking plant, but the small, gently swaying plant with the oddly-patterned flowers. In Danish they are known as lapwing eggs due to their supposed resemblance to those.

The Alium, well… I don’t love them, but they have such a nice, unashamedly brash colour to them, and the way the flower spheres seem to soar on those tall stems is always a bit of a wonder to me.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=flanegarde-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0715314025&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrAnyway. Tomorrow I’ll be at work from 8-16, then travel to a far suburb to attend the first class of my 15-week coaching course where I’ll be from 17:30-20:45, and then I’ll be home around 21:30. Long day, but also busy, so the weekend is just around the corner. Friday afternoon I will be off to the summer house and the garden, carrying with me a bucket of perennials and a bag of a poor, bareroot rose draged from the ground at the wrong time of year. And 4 bags of bulbs…

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>Oh, the carnage…


>

This is what the garden behind our building looked like this afternoon when I got home from work. Gone is the mixed hedge with the brambles and raspberries, gone are the roses and peonies and autumn anemones, gone is the iris.

Well, of course not completely gone. This is exactly where I was out “poaching” last night, so I can now look at my loot without any feeling of guilt. Some of them might not survive my rather ad hoc storage, but some of them surely will, and those will get a new life in the country, far away from bulldozers and such.

Ah, and today I also noticed some colchicums that seemed to be begging to be rescued, so I will see if I can get those tonight before the bulldozers reach them tomorrow. I feel oddly shy about digging up plants and roots, so I will wait for the cover of darkness, even though it’s plain to see that otherwise they will be destroyed.

I feel a bit sad; the little garden at the end of the building was sort of growing wild but with traces of the old lady that used to live in one of the flats and who reportedly kept it in immaculate condition ’till she had to move to a retirement home at a ripe old age. I like taking some of that story with me to the garden at the summer house.

Hrm… I hope the new landscaping will turn out nice. The plans look good, but plans often do. At least we get rid of a lot of parking in the area between the buildings, so there will be more space for barbecues and sitting out on summer evenings. Here’s hoping for the best!

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>Back in Denmark


>When I got home from my conjugal visit to Aberdeen, a note had been posted in the stairwell, saying that anybody who were keeping anything in the building’s tiny garden or in the paved areas (bicycles, children’s toys etc.) should remove them ASAP, as the landscaping would – FINALLY! – begin Monday morning, i.e. tomorrow.

I have nothing outside, but… For a long time I’ve promised myself that once the landscaping work started I would try to poach/rescue some of the plants and bring them to the summer house garden. I had, however, thought I would get more than 12 hours notice.

Still, a man must do what a man must do. Out I went with the tiny trowel – all the digging equipment I had at hand – and a bucket. Turned out, though, that the trowel I normally use for house plants was NOT up for the job of digging up peonies and rose…

I did, however, manage quite a haul:

 In front of the bucket is a dark-red rose, and to the left is a pile of Siberian iris (I think; at least it’s a very large blue iris) . In the bucket you mainly see autumn anemones (Anemone hupehensis), but there is also a small cluster of columbines and at the bottom of the bucket a handful of peony roots with shoots.

As I hadn’t prepared for this, I had no idea what to do with everything, so I tried googling for help but realised I wouldn’t in any way be able to do this properly.

Instead I opted for instinct! I had half a bag of potting soil (for house plants), so I cut the tops of all the rhizomes (except the autumn anemones) and put them into the bucket with the potting soil, and the autumn anemones I cut back to the newest leaves and placed them on top of the rhizomes with a shallow layer of soil on top. This should prevent the rhizomes drying out for some days, though I really would like to get them in the ground as soon as possible.

The rose I cut back to 5″ above the roots, except for a tiny new shoot, and I’ve bagged it up with a small amount of soil and tightened the plastic bag around the stems to prevent it dying.

I’m fairly confident I did the best I could do with the means at hand, but we’ll see how much of my loot survives. The main issue will be how weird I will look, traveling with public transports for 1½ hours with a bucket of perennials and a rose in a plastic shopping bag…

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>A weekend in Aberdeen


>I’ve just spent a weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland, visiting my husband, and I thought I would share some details with you. No, it will not be sordid and it will DEFINITELY be safe for work!

My husband’s apartment in Aberdeen is rather swanky, at least by my standards, but especially the fact that he has a private balcony that seems more like a huge deck:

Yes, that’s a private balcony… Unfortunately it only has morning sun, but never the less. When he moved there the deck was a desert. An impressive desert, but still. The landlord, though, agreed to give my husband GBP 200 to buy some plants for the balcony, so we got a bit of this and a bit of that. 200 pounds won’t make a deck that size into a sprawling jungle, but still it could make quite a difference. And it did.

We decided the balcony was really TOO large to use, so most of the plants were put along the railing of the part that gets the most sun, and then some rhododendrons were placed across like a miniature hedge, marking the limit of the inhabited part of the balcony:

Apart from the rhododendrons we got digitalis (alba), honeysuckle and clematis, and though the digitalis were really the stars for a long time, the clematis has now taken over the show:

Slightly gaudy – as clematis often are – but also very lovely. And let’s face it; with such a decidedly modernist building it can be nice to have a plant that just goes “look at me! I’ve got pretty flowers!!!”…

It’s not a great example of container gardening, I know, and it was never going to be. It’s a company-rented apartment with a 2-year lease (since his expatriation ends – we hope – in 2012), so we weren’t going to spend too much money and energy on it. However, I do think it’s a great example of how a rather sterile-looking environment can be made more inviting by adding just a few plants. Neither of us have quit smoking – yet – so it’s a pleasure to be able to go and smoke in a nice place with plants and bumble bees and butterflies. It wouldn’t be a pleasure to stand outside in the Scottish climate on a balcony that looked about as cosy as an operating theatre!

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>I want to tell you a bit about the area where the summer house is situated.

It’s located in a summer house area at the Northern end of Hornsherred, a peninsula nestled between the Isefjord and Roskilde Fjord, an area where human settlement goes back thousands of years.

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=55.886095,11.931152&spn=0.385099,0.877533&t=h&z=10&output=embed

The forest near the summer house is littered with a few dozen tombs, dating from the late Stone Age and the Bronze Age, making them anywhere between 3000 and 6000 years old. The landscape is very fertile and gentle, and the fjords would have made transport easy in a time when travel across land was difficult and slow. The Fjord is sheltered with fairly shallow water, so it would also have been a great supply of food.

Thousands of years later the area just South of Roskilde Fjord became one of the most important in Denmark, with a royal residence at Lejre and later at Roskilde, where even today the monarchs are buried in the cathedral.

Around 1800, presumably after the British attack on Copenhagen (Damn that Wellington!), a small fortification was constructed at the North end of the Hornsherred peninsula to preven enemy ships entering Roskilde Fjord, and though the buildings and cannon have long since disappeared, the ramparts remain, as does the military presence in the area due to a large military range just South of the forest.

A bit further South on the peninsula – some 10-15 kilometers from the summer house – lies the palace of Jægerspris. Originally a castle from the 13th-14th century, the oldest remaining buildings now date from 1590, and except for the brief period 1673-1679, the palace has been the property of the royal family up to the end of the absolute monarchy in 1849 when it became state property.

In 1854, however, King Frederik VII bought the palace from the state and used it frequently with his second wife, the commoner who after her royal marriage became known as Countess Danner. Her background and the Copenhagen bourgeoisie’s reaction to their marriage was supposedly one of the reasons the couple spent so much time in this rural retreat, and this means that they are perhaps the historical persons most closely connected to the area. At the King’s death he left the palace to his wife, and she in her turn left the palace with all the estate to a foundation named after her late husband with the primary purpose of running the palace as an orphanage. To this day the palace is still an institution for children in difficult circumstances.

(As an aside: For a few decades the palace also contained an educational institution for educators and child-minders, which is where my mother took her education back in the 1970’s.)

Apart from “history”-history, there are also natural features, like the King’s Oak, possibly one of the oldest living plants in Northern Europe. 1200 years old? 1500 years old? 2000 years old? Nobody really knows… It’s dying now, though, and the two other of the “Three Oaks” have already died within the past 50 years. Still, beat-up and worn as it looks, it goes on living for now. There’s something utterly amazing about that sort of age in a tree, and it’s part of the reason why I love that we have an oak in the garden, even if our oak is only perhaps 50 years old.

The closed lane where the summer house is is actually a fairly new thing. Up to the late 1940’s the area was meadows and pasture lands for a local farm, but with the post-war growth in disposable income in the nation, the local farmer cashed in by dividing his land into plots for summer houses. Kuno, who has had a house up the road since 1958, has told me that when they bought their house there were no large trees between their house and the fjord, and now the area looks as if the plots are carved out between the tall trees.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=flanegarde-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0333659171&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrAnyway, this is just to give an impression of one of the reasons why I love the area.

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>Learning the lingo…


>For a while I’ve been wondering just exactly what all those North-American bloggers were talking about when they said their garden was in zone this-or-that. I mean, I realised it had to do with the climate, obviously, but I had no idea how warm or cold a zone 3 would be as opposed to a zone 8. Or even which was the colder of the two…

Now, though, I’ve discovered that my garden is in a zone 7, and this gives me at least a point of reference for understanding what sort of climate other bloggers are gardening in. Because yes, obviously it’s nice to know if you should copy an idea or just take a VERY loose inspiration.

On Friday I’ll be going over to visit my husband in Aberdeen, Scotland. Obviously I can’t wait to see him, but I’m also quite looking forward to telling him about my preliminary plans for the garden. He doesn’t know much about gardening, nor does he seem to care an awful lot about the details, but he does seem to appreciate that I make all these plans and projects so the garden will end up a haven for the two of us – and any friends we might invite. He wants this garden to be wonderful, just as I do, even if he doesn’t know how to take it there or really cares too much about the process.

He does, however, need to be informed and agree, because I don’t want to start something that he doesn’t like. -And let’s face it; what people like and don’t like in a garden is hard to tell in advance, so I need him to more or less sign off on my plans so we won’t suddenly end up in a situation where I’m doing something opposite to what he thought we had agreed.

In other words, I need a full-scale presentation, complete with a plan of the house and garden, suggestions for planting (with pictures) and whatever else I can find to get him to see exactly what I mean. I don’t care if he disagrees – plans can be changed – but I would mind terribly if we misunderstood each other.

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>And I forgot…


>On Friday Kyna posted an entry where she wrote this:

We planted it on our first wedding anniversary, so I have a very soft spot in my heart for this tree.

 Now, I’m a big softy, as is my husband, and as we got married just 15 days ago, this obviously started some thoughts in my head. First of all, should I get my husband something along these lines for our first anniversary? (Because you might as well plan ahead, right?) And second of all, my uncles and aunts wanted to send us a bouquet for our wedding, but my sensible mother decided – correctly – that the money would be better spent by depositing it in our dedicated honeymoon account. However, if they wanted to give us flowers, then perhaps we should indulge them. After all, the price of a bouquet will not get you far on a honeymoon, whereas it might get you a couple of nice roses or shrubs.

So I ask you, the few people who read this:

What should I get for the garden to commemorate our wedding?

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