Archive for September, 2011

Apples and Pears

-Or rather, a distinct absence thereof. Our little apple tree that gave some 30 apples last year have not produced a single one this year, possibly due to some late spring frost that killed off the blossoms. The pear tree, on the other hand, gave no fruit last year but produced 5 pears this year, only one of which got to stick around on the tree long enough to ripen – and then it fell to the ground and was inedible when got up to the garden last weekend.

You win some, you loose some, right? So here are the wins:

The French beans are beautiful, both the classic green ones and the purple ones. The yellow French beans never really got started, since the plants where eaten as soon as they emerged from the ground, and for some reason the other beans fared better, perhaps because of the marigolds that I sowed between the green and purple beans? I cannot know, of course, but I will definitely sow marigolds between my beans next year as well, just in case this was the determining factor.

The cherry tomatoes also did well, though I had to pick them all this weekend as there is little point in letting the green ones ripen, only to leave them to drop to the ground before the next time I have time to get up to the garden. I’ve eaten some of the red cherry tomatoes and preserved the rest by scolding them and putting them in a jar of oil with a touch of salt. And I love the fragrance of green tomatoes, so I’ve brought them back to Copenhagen and might try pickling them somehow. Maybe whole in a sweet vanilla-infused vinegar like my mother used to do? Or maybe as a jam of sorts.

The yellow mirabelle prunes are generally dull-tasting, but the ripe ones seemed to have already fallen to the ground (making for a few drunken bees and wasps on the lawn) with only sour, unripe fruit left on the tree, so I tried making a jelly of it. It turned out nice and clear and with just the right consistency, but the taste was just not very interesting – though bitter! – so I scrapped it and made a mental note to just consider this fruit ornamental in coming years.

I also got some weeding done, though mainly “large” weeding. There is a large perennial that is very invasive and self-seeds all over the place, so I’ve been ripping that out everywhere I could find it, throwing the plants in the compost and the roots in the trash. And another potentially invasive weed, the Himalayan Balsam, got the opposite treatment, with me trying to gather seeds from it so I can sow them in the spring; it grows to 2 meters and has very pretty flowers that supposedly attracts bees and butterflies, so I’m willing to overlook the fact that it will spread wherever it wants. (Also, it’s FUN to gather balsam seeds, since the seed pods “explode” when touched, sending the seeds flying all over the place so you really need to be careful if you want them to end up in your seed collection, rather than everywhere on the ground.)

The rudbeckias are blooming now, but I forgot to take a picture. Many of the rudbeckias that I brought from my mother’s garden last autumn died over the cold winter, but enough have survived and have established themselves that I think I can make an acceptable block of them in one of the borders.

In shopping news my spring bulbs have arrived! 250 mixed tulips and 500 mixed crocus… Now I just need to store them in a cool, dark place until I go up to the garden the next time, which will be in a few weeks.

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So cute…


I know they eat our hazel nuts – all of them; there’s not a single nut left on the tree – but I still love these cute rodents!

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Two nights ago:

These are views from the windows of our new apartment. Can you even imagine the sheer pleasure of sitting in the middle of the city and enjoying sunsets like this? A dark mass of trees in the cemetery across the street, and hardly a building to be seen.

Oh, and this is the sort of pattern projected unto our walls by the setting sun:

So why do I share this on a garden blog? Well, there is a view of trees, which will be my fig leaf… But also, our garden is by our holiday home, so I don’t get to spend as much time enjoying it as I might like, and as a consequence it is important that I can enjoy beauty and nature in the apartment as well. I dare say I can!

(I can even see some blooming pink cone flowers on a grave between the trees, but they are too far away to get a good shot of.)

Meanwhile, tomorrow after work I shall be heading up to the garden. The forecast is mediocre, but who cares. I need to get up there.

(And yes, this means I won’t be attending that garden blogger meet-up on Saturday. I have to be back in Copenhagen Sunday morning, so there just won’t be time if I want to see the garden in September for the first time since late July.)

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It looks like my parents might have bought a new house.

For a long time they’ve been looking for a new house; somewhere newer, with fewer maintenance needs than the house they bought when my mother was pregnant with me. And the garden I grew up in.

Their old house is a 1940’s house with a large garden – twice the size of the new garden and sloping, whereas the new garden is flat; a piece of virgin land.

I love the fact that they’re leaving the old house while they still have the chance to make a new home for themselves in a place that is much more suited for their retirement. Less work, more time to just enjoy their home. And while the old garden is lovely and their neighbourhood is full of mature trees and lush gardens, their new home will have a stunning view over the Århus Bay and the ruins of the island fortress of Kalø Castle. (And it’s fairly close to my younger brother, his wife and their two kids, which is also a reason they chose to move so far outside town.)

And… I love the fact that they haven’t found some dull, down-scaled version of their present home, but something so very different and modern. I mean, just look at it; it’s unashamedly different and radical and special. And it’s a standard house. This house has been designed by one of the better architectural studios in the country (not perhaps the best; it’s not BIG, Schmidt Hammer and Lassen or Henning Larsen), 3xNielsen. It is a piece of architecture in its own right, but these houses are designed to be built on any plot of land and they have been, from one end of the country to the other. And they still manage to stand out, somehow.

I have no idea how my childhood home is going to be translated to fit into this sort of open floor plan, but I’m excited to see it. (And no, the walls aren’t sloping as the picture makes them seem; it is the cut of the window that gives them the crooked angles. And that’s my dad in the picture, looking somewhat out of place in the post-modern surroundings, but I am sure once the space is furnished with their things it will be softened and comfortable-looking.)

It will be exciting to see how they choose to do their garden. I can’t imagine that there won’t be a vegetable patch for my dad’s potatoes and my mother’s marigolds, and there are bound to be a few perennials and flowering shrubs as well. I can imagine the rooms, but not the garden. Still, I remember when both my sets of grandparents moved from their farms into small one-story houses; those houses retained exactly the qualities of the much larger homes my grandparents had in their farm houses, so I expect that my parents can transform this modern, sterile building into something warm and welcoming. Just like their present home.

So I guess my childhood home will remain, albeit in a different location.

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There is one Danish gardening TV show that is in a league of its own. Over the past 17 years, every summer Søren Ryge (pictured below) has broadcast 30 minutes of live gardening TV every week through the gardening season.

Søren Ryge

Live gardening TV. A gardener who strolls around his garden for half an hour, stopping here and there to dig up a perennial, pull up a weed or show the progress of the seeds he sowed last month, all with a camera and a microphone in train (and a set of VERY long wires to relay the signal to the OB van outside the garden).

Søren Ryges køkkenhave

This is just his vegetable garden, so you can imagine that there’s something to see throughout the gardening season. There are also large herbaceous borders, a small orchard, some chickens and whatever else one could possibly hope for in a garden.

The pace is slow; it’s just this man walking around his garden in whatever weather that evening happens to bring, talking and demonstrating as he goes along. It’s “comfort TV”; pleasant and relaxing to watch, but also with such a subtlety to it; his passion for his garden is what carries the show, but he doesn’t express it in elaborate words or gestures. It’s just obvious that he loves his garden and wants to share it with the rest of Denmark.

His garden isn’t perfect; it is far too large to be immaculate, and there is bindweed here and nettles there and everything looks like a well-kept but normal garden. (Just on a large scale…)

I love this TV show. I’ve seen many garden shows on TV, but none with such a down-to-earth format as this, and that is perhaps what makes it so compelling – and what makes it able to continue for the 17th year running. It’s beside and beyond fashions and fads that dominate so many other gardening shows, and perhaps that makes it a more realistic gardening show. After all, we don’t all change our perennials from year to year because they’ve become “so last year”, right?

And of course this TV show is in Danish, so why do I tell you about this? Perhaps because he’s the sort of gardener I would like to be. He seems to really enjoy his plot of land, and he tries to create something beautiful while accepting that there will always be flaws and that you probably won’t get things right the first time around. But that doesn’t matter; there will always be another year where you might get it a bit more right.

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One Year Ago…

Today is my first wedding anniversary, so I thought I’d just share a quick photo from our wedding Day:

Because when you think about it, this is one of the reasons I love having a garden: To be able to create a space for us that is beautiful, private and relaxing. I’m trying to create a set piece for lazy days in the sun, snow ball fights in the winter, evenings of too much red wine and so on and so forth; those moments of being away from the city and just relaxing together.

(And – perhaps equally important for a semi-hermit like myself – when my husband moves back to Denmark in 9 months’ time I guess it won’t hurt that I have the summer house and the garden to retreat to whenever I just need a day on my own.)

Anyway, I’m trying to stay clear of “mushy” here, but I’m really pleased to be married to a great guy and I can’t wait for him to move home again.

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