Archive for February, 2012

Today started out with a nice, mild, sunny morning with barely a wind, but then this afternoon the wind picked up and it started to snow. *sigh*

-And then as I was leaving the office the snow turned to rain… *sigh*

But: My dahlia seed order arrived today! That makes up for the weather, at least in part. *YAY*

(I also received a text from my optician that my new prescription sunglasses are ready to be picked up, but given that the weather forecast hasn’t a sun in sight before possibly Saturday, I decided that it’s not urgent to pick those up.)

I may try to limit myself (only four different packets of dahlia seed, and each packet will be split evenly between my mother and me), but at heart I think I might be a seed hoarder; I feel like buying all the seeds I can get my hands on – flowers, vegetables, perennials, annuals – even though I know there’s no way I will have the time – or space – to prepare enough beds for them. So I’m trying to make a list of what I need, and I guess I only really NEED to buy beans, and maybe some peas in case the seed I collected last year isn’t viable.

Last year I had three kinds of beans – or rather, I had two and the slugs had the low yellow beans before they had even reached 5 inches – and this year I think I will restrain myself to two kinds. I need to have normal French climber beans, and then perhaps runner beans, broad beans or some other slightly more rustic bean type. (The slugs stayed away from the climbing beans last year, perhaps because I sowed a row of marigolds between the two rows of beans; I shall repeat that this year and hope that it was the scent of marigolds that kept the slugs away. I collected plenty of seeds last year, so there should be enough to sow a row in each of the vegetable patches.)

I’ve already bought brassica seeds (radishes, kohlrabi and kale), so basically that will be my vegetable garden this year. I will need to watch the slugs, though, which is very difficult when I can only get up to the garden every one or two weekends… Slug pellets WILL be used, though of the sort that is approved for organic farming and is supposed not to harm any other animals than gastropods. They contain only wheat flour and iron phosphate, and I hope they are as harmless as they claim to be – except of course for the slugs.

(One summer evening shortly after we bought the summer house I collected – and killed – 179 Iberian slugs, a highly invasive species of slugs that seem to have a much greater appetite for plants – and procreation – than our native slug species… They are now endemic throughout Denmark and like cool, damp areas like, say, our garden! Wikipedia says: “The main reason behind problematic invasions of gardens by the Spanish slug is that it has adapted to a dry climate, where most eggs will dry out before hatching. The slug lays hundreds of eggs so that at least some may hatch. In the less dry regions of Northern Europe and Britain, the constraints of drought do not limit reproduction to the same degree.”)

(God, I have a lot of parentheses in this post!)

Anyway… Where’s my spring? And my weekend so I can get up to the garden and ger cracking with all the stuff that needs doing, including digging out a new bed from the lawn, extending the Ambitious Border and getting the raised vegetable beds into some sort of shape before the growing season starts!

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So what is this project that involves a transparent plastic box, you ask?

Well, it’s the dahlia flower bed, of course! I needed to find a solution for sowing them in the windows in the apartment and then being able to transport the seedlings up to the summer house and the garden – by public transport!

Miniature green houses cost a bundle, and as often as not they seem slightly flimsy and not really up for being transported by metro, train and bus, but these plastic storage boxes are cheap and sturdy, and they’re small (30 * 40 * 12 cm) enough that I can stack them in one of the large IKEA bags and schlep them up to the garden once the seedlings need to go into the ground. (And hopefully they’re JUST high enough that I can put the lids on when I need to transport them, even if I might have to gently bend the little plants if they grow too well…)

But of course growing the seedlings will have to wait for a while, since I can’t realistically plant them out for another 2-2½ months, so I will sow in April and then plant them out when it seems the weather has warmed up enough for the little darlings.

-And before I can plant them out, I also need to execute the other leg of this project; creating the bed they will end up in! It’s currently just a stretch of lawn, and though I’ve already started skimming off the sod the ground is also heavily compacted clay soil and will need to be worked quite a bit to become as I would like it.

-Which is where my husband’s birthday present from his mother comes in… His wish-lists tend to be somewhat unorthodox, and this year she had originally thought she’d buy him a load of firewood for the summer house, but when she called me and asked what I thought we had just ordered a load ourselves, so she jumped to another item on the wish list; soil…

Now, it’s great that she spoke to me about this before ordering anything, because we obviously don’t need soil as such; we’ve got plenty of that, but the issue is that it’s too clay-rich and heavy, so we just need to amend it. So on her behalf I ordered a ton (literally; 1000kg!!!) of fully mature coarse compost… My hope is that this will help make the ground more free-draining and generally lighter to work with and easier for plants to grow in. (And there should be plenty for the new bed as well as some for the Ambitious Border and the raised vegetable beds.)

I look forward to getting on with this project, but of course we will see how the weather behaves.

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Because I took a day and a half off at the end of last week to visit my parents I had to do some (LOADS) work on Sunday, and I decided to just do it from home, rather than go into the office. And this is what my work space looked like; forsythia in bloom and dogwood just on the cusp of showing its leaves…

There is a bunch of forsythia and dogwood in each of the windows in the sitting and dining room, and though some fortsythia branches are blooming more than others (I really need to get those pruning secateurs out this year!) they make a wonderful display of spring. Even if the branches on the dining table might be slightly over-sized… It looks like I’ve stuck a small tree in the middle of the table!

My mother wants to buy my husband a rose for his birthday (and he knows this), and I’m considering L.D. Braithwaite. Does anybody have any experience with this Austin rose? It looks stunning, and it seems easy to take care of, but of course sellers might be deceptive…

Also, my Mum and I have hatched a plan to attempt growing dahlias from seed. I will order the seeds, split up the packages and send her half – along with copies of the seed packets – and then we shall see what happens. We both want bold, exuberant flowers for little money, so we will be ordering some seed mixes for large dahlias. I do realise this will mean I have to have a windowsill or two of compost in the apartment, but if that’s what it takes…

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Plans for Friday

Tomorrow I’m travelling across the country to Jutland after work to visit my parents and see how they’re getting on. My Dad’s doing worse these days, which is really no great surprise. It seems it can only go one way now, and that’s down-hill.

So on Friday my parents and I will be going to a church across the bay to see if we can find my Dad a good plot in their cemetery when the time comes. My mother has vetoed their local cemetery since it’s dull and drab and has no charm whatsoever, and she wants a pretty place to visit when my father dies.

South side

This is the church. It’s positively tiny, but rather pretty I find.

North side

And the view looks amazing, and it seems quite fitting that the cemetery should have a view of that same island with a medieval fortress ruin that my parents have a view of from their sitting room.


The interior looks rather cute, too; it’s not too big, so it’s a good scale for a small funeral. My Dad being – to the best of my knowledge – the only person in my family who is still a member of the Church of Denmark will have a traditional funeral ceremony, so it’s nice that it’s not some cavernous, vaulted church but this small intimate space instead. (According to Wikipedia it seats 82, which is more than plenty for our family and friends.


Some might find it slightly morbid that we’re making all these arrangements before he dies, but I quite like it. It won’t be a series of rushed decisions after he dies and a lot of stress and arrangements to cope with; just a plan that needs to be taken out of the drawer, dusted off and set in motion.

My mother and I will do the flowers for the coffin together, like we did when my mother’s father died. Seasonal flowers, of course, so that can’t be planned in advance, though I suspect we have both started thinking about what the various months will have to offer.

It’s all terribly undramatic, really. It’s a punch in the guts that you know is coming, so right now it’s all about being ready for it.

Fotos courtesy of Wikipedia.

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On this Valentine’s day I have received not as much as a dandelion from my husband! Then again, nor have I sent him anything, so I guess that makes it fair enough, especially since we really don’t give a d*** about this date. However, to all of you who do celebrate Valentine’s, please receive my best wishes for a lovely day with or without romance.

Anyway, as the title of this post indicates, purchases have been made! Seeds!!! Though only one of the packets was actually flower seeds (stocks); the rest were radishes, kohlrabi and kale, since I need some brassicas to fill the beds where I had beans and peas last year. And kale is pretty, isn’t it? Perhaps not as showy as flowers, but it has a lovely texture to its curled leaves.

(And since the slugs didn’t attack my radishes last year I’m hoping they’ll also leave the kohlrabi and kale alone, though this might be wishful thinking. I’d much rather have my kale eaten by butterfly larvae than by slugs!)

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Accepting Winter

All right. So my spring header was a tad premature… I’ve now replaced it with a suitably wintery image, which means I have a complete set of headers for the seasons:





Autumn and winter are views from the apartment, but then that’s quite fitting, considering that our garden is a summer garden. -And the winter picture was taken this morning, and the view really WAS that blue! It looked amazing, and I’m really annoyed that my phone couldn’t take a less grainy image of it. Still, there is charm in imperfection, as most gardeners have to claim, right?

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