Archive for April, 2011


  • Create at least part of the Ambitious Border and plant out plants, seedlings and bulbs. 
  • Position raised beds for vegetable garden, fill with soil/compost and sow peas and radishes.
  • Remove all pots from the Courtyard and one by one move them back in when they’ve been planted/sown.
  • Enjoy the garden!
  • Go back to Copenhagen for the handover of the keys to the new apartment… 

 This was the view from the new apartment when we stopped by during Easter to check up on what we will need to do when we start redecorating, so as you can see we won’t be starved for green views when we move in.

It’s in a central part of Copenhagen, but overlooking one of the largest cemeteries in the city, so our neighbours across the road will include people like Niels Bohr and Hans Christian Andersen. And the apartment itself is beautiful; three rooms en suite – sitting room, dining room and library – with the view above and double doors between each room, and then bedroom, bathroom and kitchen towards the back. It needs a lot of love and attention, but then it will surely reward us with a beautiful home.

I can’t wait to be in the garden, and I can’t wait to be in our new apartment. Life is good!

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    >On Monday evening I went up to the garden again to enjoy the last evening of the Easter break. The “normal” mirabelle started blooming on Friday, and the purple mirabelles seem to be a bit behind, but now they’re beginning their show:

    The flowers on the purple mirabelles are less profuse than on the normal mirabelle, but I quite like that. These pink blossoms dotted throughout the branches are quite delicate and charming, whereas that shade of pink might look a touch, well, like Barbie’s Dream Tree if the tree was entirely covered in flowers…

    White flowers en masse, though, is always a touch more subtle to look at, and the normal mirabelle is now at full bloom, attracting hoards of bumble bees, honey bees and other insects, so there is a constant – and LOUD – humming when you stand under the tree.

    I was especially thrilled to see so many bumble bees; we often see them one by one, but seeing literally dozens of them, hovering around the flowers on the tree, was incredible! Getting a shot of even one of them, though, was rather difficult due to the delay on my phone’s camera and their constant movement. Still, considering that all pictures on this blog are taken with a phone, I think I’m managing to get some decent shots every now and then, even if the bumble bees defeated my camera.

    Last night I spent doing laundry in my flat and – more interestingly – making plans for the weekend. The drainage work should be completed by then, so first of all I need to set up the raised beds for the vegetable garden and quickly get some peas in the ground. Then comes the daunting task of getting the Ambitious Border started… I’m a little bit scared, but I need to finalise at least a rough sketch of the planting for the border so I won’t have to make everything up as I go along. (Especially since some of the flowers are still just seeds in packets or trays, and I need to make sure they will be allotted space to be features in their own right once they get going.)

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    >Our Garden Gnome

    >From Monday to Wednesday this week we’ve had our very own garden gnome. Short, a touch on the “rotund” side, shape-wise and not prone to excessive talking.

    But he was efficient! Work started on our drainage project (finally!) this week, and it’s now just over half-done, with the rest set to be completed within the coming week.

    The shot above shows why we need to help nature lead water away from our garden; at the bottom of this 16-inch trench you can see the gray clay that lies under the top soil of our garden, and this is what makes it impossible for large quantities of rain to seep into the ground and what gave us the flooded lawn last summer and autumn.

    Even after a series of dry and sunny days, the water seeps readily into the trench, so even with the drain in place there’s no way we will ever have a very dry garden, but we can eliminate the flooding and generally make the garden a safer place for plants.

    We will have two main pipes running through the garden either side of the house, both originating in the same well at the lowest part of the garden and ending in a pumping well at the back of the annex where surplus water can be pumped out into the little stream during excessive periods of rain. Also, the downspouts from the house and the annex will be connected to the drain, ensuring that we bring the water away from the house.

    I can’t wait to have it completely done, since only then will I be able to start planting the Ambitious Border down one side of the garden. I’ve been hoarding plants for this border since autumn and have started several annuals from seed to be planted out once the earth works are done and there’s no risk of a digger dumping a pile of soil on top of the plants or running over them.

    April? Definitely not the cruelest month in my book…

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    >The weekend before Easter I finally got my act together and got started on my long-planned turf wall that will form the back of the raised hedgerow towards the road.

    Cutting turf

    I started out by cutting the outline of the strips with the spade and then undercutting them by sliding the spade under each strip about two inches down, and the turf behaved exactly as I had hoped for; the grass roots had a dense fibrous texture that held the strips nicely together even when handled in a rather rough manner.

    Carting turf

    I started out by cutting a barrow-full of strips and then carting them down to the hedgerow, but after a while I realised it was probably as quick to just carry each strip down there and putting it in place at once, so that was a pretty good work-out, considering that each strip probably weighed in at around 30-40 pounds.

    Stacking turf

    Building the retaining wall was easy, considering that I come from the country that invented the Lego bricks… Sure, my little wall wasn’t perfectly level or straight, but it was fairly sturdy, especially once i had staked it with bamboo for every foot or so and added some horizontal lengths of bamboo canes between the top layers to keep it from being too wobbly in the middle of the straight sections.

    The result

    The wall came up to about 16 inches, and then I started pouring in soil and stuck in “weeds” from around the garden. Poplar shoots from the lawn, forsythia off-shoots and whatever else I had at hand. I felt rather accomplished (and aching) once it began taking shape, though the photo above only shows the half-finished result.

    I went up to the garden with my husband and my mother-in-law for the beginning of the Easter days, so on Maundy Thursday my husband and I created one more section of raised hedgerow to the right of this picture, meaning we have now made a good attempt at creating a living replacement for the missing sections of fence. Also, we poured on more soil in front of the raised bed I’d made and planted his birthday presents (two viburnums and a white lilac), so the entire hedgerow is now 5 meters by 1.5 meter.

    This sort of planting is where our heavy clay soil really comes into its own; first of all it is formidably heavy to move about, and secondly it holds moisture very well, so even after 5 days of sunny weather with temperatures up to 20C / 70F the soil was still moist just under the surface. This means that even without watering, these plants should have a pretty good chance of being happy here.

    It does, though, seem a bit like we’ve created our own little version of the Dannevirke… This earthen rampart will, surely, keep the German emperor from invading our little plot of land, should he ever wish to.

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    >For one night only!

    >My husband was in Denmark last weekend and we decided to spend the weekend in Copenhagen, enjoying a spring Saturday with a long stroll, lunch on a pavement restaurant and then a few too many beers at our regular place. Wonderful way to spend a sunny day and definitely a great time with my husband.

    However… The weather forecast for Monday evening was still glorious before the weather would turn the night to today, Tuesday, so after work yesterday I got on a metro, changed to a train, changed to a bus and then strolled peacefully through the forest, picking a small bouquet of forest anemones on my way.

    Yes, I admit it. I went a little overboard with the bucolic idyll, but the sun was shining, birds were chirping and I just couldn’t imagine hurrying under those circumstances.

    Eventually I did arrive at the summer house, though, and it was stunning in the evening light:

    And then there was the courtyard…

    Now, obviously some of the pots contain plants and seedlings for the garden, but I like the overall impression of the slightly chaotic array of pots and plants; I think this is what both the husband and I want for the courtyard, only even more so. Keep the doors free and place a small table in the middle with two chairs for romantic breakfasts and lunches, but otherwise clutter the place up with pots of all shapes and sizes containing flowers and plants of all shapes and sizes and colours.

    I also have two large pots in my flat at present, waiting to be taken up there when we rent a car for Easter, because they’re rather heavy even with my stubbornness.

    As for pots that are NOT rather large… Here is one of the small pots with sempervivum that I planted just over a week ago. It’s a very small, shallow granite planter (perhaps 8″ external diameter) but it suits the houseleeks so well and looks very cute.

    Anyway, stuff is sprouting! I can’t remember which seeds I stuck in this pot (ARGH! Am terrible gardener who keeps a notebook of what is sown, but not where or in which pot…), but at least they’re doing their stuff. Also, there are two more pots with little seedlings poking up, so YAY for seeds doing their thing even if the gardener isn’t keeping a very good record of what he does.

    The alium bulbs are doing fine as well:

    And there are the peony tubers:

    I bought tubers for a red and a white peony (Karl Rosenfield and Shirley Temple), and one of them – in the picture – is doing very well, whereas the other seems a bit shy/dead. Also, in the garden I have three tubers of a purple peony that I rescued from the revamping of the area around my flat, and though they’re a bit behind the one in the pot they seem to be perky enough and ready to get going once it warms up a bit more.

    The purple peony tubers are hiding to the right in this picture, but you can clearly see that the large blue iris rescued from the same place is doing well, as is the iris from my mother’s garden. And the asters are beginning to show, though they’re still more or less covered by the foliage of the aconites that came along as stow-aways when the asters were dug up and moved to our garden.

    The picture above is my temporary nursery; the former site of a sand box that was the only lot of bare soil in the garden when we took it over. Eventually I guess this plot will be turned into lawn, but just to the right of it will be the Ambitious Border, so the plants will all find new homes there within this year.

    The forsythia is just about to bloom, though I hope the gray weather forecast for the rest of this week will mean it holds off ’till Easter so my husband can enjoy the explosion of yellow.

     And speaking of yellow…

    The miniature daffodils – tête à tête – are on their last legs, and generally I find them a touch too twee for my liking, but still… The colour is great so while I won’t get any more of these I definitely appreciate that they came with the garden and I won’t be digging them up, especially since they’re in the Woodland Patch where little else happens now that the snowdrops and aconites have spent their bloom and the muscaris have yet to appear on the scene…

    I didn’t do a lot up there last night. I enjoyed myself, took stock and soaked a few pots that had been left under the eaves of the house and then placed them in the middle of the courtyard so they would get some rain today.

    I also brought up some more plants, of course; a pot of saxifraga, a pot of sedum ‘coral carpet’ and a pink rhododendron that will start it’s life in a pot in the courtyard but hopefully eventually make it out into the garden in a few years, possibly as a small centrepiece between the two large purple rhododendrons.

    Anyway, the main point of going up there last night was to enjoy the weather and SPRING! And I did… I had a couple of hours of sunshine up there, and once the sun set I moved inside, lit a fire and reclined in a comfy chair with a good novel. (Okay, a thoroughly mediocre but very entertaining novel…) I went to bed fairly early, and then this morning I got up at 4:30 AM to have coffee and catch a bus, train and metro back to town, and all the way into work I had this serene feeling of being completely relaxed and de-stressed. It really was a great way to spend a Monday evening.

    Only non-relaxing thing about this morning was the walk from the summer house to the bus stop. It was only just beginning to brighten a little, so you could see the white sheen of the birch trunks and the silhouettes of trees against the black-blue sky, but very little else. Well, I had a close encounter with nature, one might say… I walked along the road when suddenly I heard a noise and something dark bumped into me at some speed. It’s not the first time I’ve spooked and been spooked by a deer, but I do wonder how many others have been half knocked over by deer twice within 6 months. The deer must have been nibbling at the hedge at one side of the road, heard me and decided that the wisest route of escape was across the road and into the forest, which caused the collision with yours truly.

    Seriously… I enjoy nature as much as anybody, but please could nature stop running into me!

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