Archive for April, 2012

This morning I saw one of these in the wood pile on the covered terrace:

Picture from Wikimedia Commons

Isn’t it cute?

I was a bit nervous about it being a house mouse, because that’s not really what you want in your garden – or house! – but extensive comparisons of online pictures reveals it to be a bank vole, which is much less worrying.

Sure, they might go for bulbs and so on, but you can’t eliminate nature so you might as well enjoy it, and either way this is a protected species in Denmark, so we just have to accept that from time to time we might loose a tulip bulb or two.

(It does mean, though, that we really need to go around the house and ensure the foundation’s ventilation holes are covered with small grills, so they stay in the garden rather than under the house. They might not be interested in coming inside the house, but we obviously don’t want them under the house, either.)

This little fellow brings us up to three protected species of small mammals in our garden – that I’m aware of – with the shrew and the bats, and there’s something oddly pleasant about this. I’m glad to share the garden with most animals (except slugs), but I’m thrilled when I spot a protected species that seems to find that our garden is a good place to live. It must mean I’m doing something right, even though (or exactly because?) the compost pile needs tidying-up and the lawn needs mowing…

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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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  • Pack up loads of plants from the windows of the apartment and bring them up to the garden.
  • Dig a hole for that poor blackcurrant that has been lingering on top of the ground – yet surviving – for nearly a year now…
  • Mow the lawn/jungle if and when the weather is suitably dry.
  • Plant up pots in the courtyard.
  • Weed the Ambitious Border and the Evening Border.
  • Sow the vegetable garden.
  • Build ad hoc cloches for the tomatoes and dahlias.
  • Divide and plant the hostas from my mother’s garden that have overwintered in a pot in the courtyard.
  • Wash all the bedlinen to get that musty winter smell out of them.
  • Take at least one outing on the fjord in my kayak.

It’s a tall order, but if I get just half of it (okay, two thirds!) done I’ll be happy enough.

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Inflatable Canoe

Just moments ago my husband ordered this contraption to be delivered in the store near the summer house and garden. Sure, it’s rather ugly, probably won’t be the fastest craft on the fjord and definitely won’t be as graceful when cleaving the waves as the kayak he bought me for a wedding present.

But… It’s a two-seater, so it means we can go on outings on the fjord together, and that does sound very romantic. After all, we didn’t just buy the summer house for the garden, but also for the surroundings – fjords, forests, meadows…

(Above you see the kayak I got as a wedding present from him; a pure-breed racing kayak, designe to cut through the waves, rather than bounce merrily on top of them.)

Rikke Darling: Follow the Scent of Roses

Yesterday he also bought the above painting for our apartment where we have a huge white wall, just begging for a large painting or similar. I love the paleness of the background combined with the popping colours of the flowers and the very loose “choreography” of the different elements.

Yup, my Flâneur Husband knows how to make me happy!

(Another thing that makes me happy is that I’ve taken Friday off work so I can have a three-day weekend in the garden… Who knows; maybe I’ll get the lawn mowed this weekend?)

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Last night I got back after four days in Paris with the Flâneur Husband, so here’s an image dump with a little text:

Yes, I figured I’d start with the most garden-related pictures from our visit to Jardin Des Plantes, the botanical gardens where I used to go a lot when I lived in Paris ages and ages ago. It was actually the Flâneur Husband who suggested we could go see a garden, and this was definitely my first idea. And I’d never been into the greenhouses, so it was great to see them from the inside.

And of course we also saw lots and lots of the city in general, strolling around from one pavement café to the next – and enjoying that the weather, although changing, was mainly clement and only once gave us a real drenching. Most of the pictures I took on my solitary morning walks, since I wake up rather early and had a couple of hours to myself each morning before the husband awoke.

View from Pont Neuf towards Pont des Arts

Notre Dame de Paris

It means that some of the pictures were taken in a rather murky morning half-light, but it also means there were very few people around.

Place des Vosges

Tree decked out with books on Carrefour de l’Odéon – opposite Café Les Èditeurs


I do love going back to Paris; it really is an amazingly beautiful city, and one that I think I will always to some extent think of as “Home”, since it was the place I moved to when I had finished high school and moved out of my parents’ house.

Place de la Bastille

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It’s Flâneur Time!

G. Caillebotte - Un balcon (1880)

Gustave Caillebotte
Un balcon (1880)

Right, so I’m off to the airport any minute now for a 4-day weekend with the Flâneur Husband.

Lots of good food, strolls around the city and general enjoyment of Life. I can’t wait!

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Well, that was annoying…

Please look at this picture:


An orderly, raised bed of rhododendrons in the middle-ground and behind it – let’s be honest – a bit of a mess with a disorderly compost heap with far too many branches to ever decompose properly, a few bits of derelict fencing and generally an eye sore.

And the worst part? This picture was taken from our neighbour’s garden, and the mess in the background is ours! Damn those pesky neighbours that decide to turn THEIR messy corner into something orderly, effectively forcing us to move “sort out messy corner” up on the list of priorities…

Of course “sort out messy corner” does not mean that we will get rid of our compost heap, but it would be nice to get it a bit more organised so it doesn’t look like such a mess and also so it becomes more effective. The current heap is basically what we got with the house when we bought it two years ago, so there will be some lovely composted material at the bottom of it, but intermingled with branches, weeds and so on, effectively making it useless for the time being.

(We have an old water butt that I’ve been using for composting for the past year and a half, so we do have a functioning composting system as well, but still…)

And the piles of branches? Well, for hedgehogs, toads and loads of other wild animals, piles of branches is a great habitat, so we need to keep that, but on a smaller scale and in a more orderly fashion so it also becomes easier to use this as a source of kindling for the wood burner.

The old fencing will have to go, though; there’s no justification for this, just like there is no justification for the stacks of concrete paving stones that are at the back of the compost heap.

Anyway, our neighbours are lovely and don’t seem to mind our mess, but of course WE mind it, and this orderly rhododendron bed just on the other side of the line between our gardens just means that we have to get this fixed for our own sake. (And a bit for the neighbours’ sake as well.)

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Sunday morning there was a pheasant cock crowing his rather unpleasant cry from the forest nearby, and later in the morning he passed by our garden on the road.

I couldn’t get a decent shot of him, so the above is the best I could do; he was strutting his stuff on the lawn across the road, crowing happily to mark that this is – apparently – his territory.

There was also a visiting starling, inspecting one of the nesting boxes. I do hope he/she found it to their liking so we can have little starling babies (starlets?) this summer.

Of course there was also the regular crew of sparrows, blackbirds, wagtails, robins and the odd sets of swans and geese overhead, as well as the first butterfly (small white) and I even heard a bumble bee, though he was hiding in the bushes so I couldn’t see him. Oh, and a squirrel stopped by the fir tree by and treated the hedgerow as some sort of playground, much adding to my morning entertainment.

Spiders, woodlice and other small critters are also abundant in the garden these days, and it looks like we have a new shrew living in the raised hedgerow; there is certainly a tunnel that looks like it could be the right size for such a small animal.

I have not seen any of the invasive Spanish slugs yet, but that’s only a matter of time, I fear. The small native grey slugs have already emerged, so I have no doubt that the large brown buggers will soon follow. We might have a new resident shrew, but I’d also like to attract a hedgehog and perhaps a toad since there will probably be slugs enough for all of them to eat their fill.

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Yesterday I showed you my bag. Well, here’s what the contents look like unwrapped on the lawn:

The top three are the L.D Braithwaites from the nursery near my parents, and the two bunches below are New Dawn and Rhapsody in Blue from a more mainstream garden centre.

Now, the cheap roses DO look healthy and I’m sure they will be fine, but in the picture above you can see quite clearly on the right bunch that the roots have been cut, whereas the more expensive nursery roses have smaller roots, but they have not been cut.

Today I managed to plant the New Dawns and the L.D. Braithwaites. The New Dawns were a right pain to plant, since they will be growing up trees and obviosuly had to be planted at the foot of these two trees. Now, first of all I had to remove more of the lawn – which seems a recurring theme in my gardening career – and then I had to dig planting holes between the tangled roots of the trees… It was not simple!

For the L.D. Braithwaites the process was simpler, but perhaps no less arduous; they were destined for the Sunny Border, where I’d already stripped off the lawn, but clearly since these were expensive plants they deserved special attention, so I dug a 1½ft deep triangular hole, almost a square meter in area. Essentially this means I dug out the best part of a ton of dense soil and pure clay…

I then mixed the top soil with four barrows of compost, positioned the roses and finally filled the hole. My back was aching, my hands were chafed andI generally felt worn-out, but at least I had the lush, exuberant view of a rose patch to enjoy:

Oh, right; I have a couple of twigs sticking out of the bare soil… But there is promise in these little twigs, and I trust them to make my effort worth-while. Or at least not entirely in vain…

(Also, please note what an un-butch photographer I am… The shadow in the lower right-hand corner is of course me, my phone and a rather daintily curved pinky finger. But it’s dark outside now, so I can’t re-take the shot, and I definitely can’t be bothered to save this post and then publish it tomorrow when I have a non-pinky shot.)

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Right, so last time I went up to the garden my luggage contained three rhododendrons… This time the luggage was lighter, but the number of plants greater!

In case you can’t see it – which is understandable – this is a bag full of roses. Three red L.D. Braithwaite that will go in the Sunny Border, 5 New Dawn that will be planted 2 by each of the trees that carry the hammock in summer and one to be planted wherever I might think of it.

And to top it off there are also 5 Rhapsody in Blue, just because I like the outlandish blueish-purple hue of these roses.

So 13 roses to be planted, and only the site for the L.D. Braithwaites is prepared. That should keep me busy this Saturday and Sunday, I reckon!

Of course the New Dawn roses will be planted in the lawn, so I will do yet more cutting away turf at the foot of the trees that will act as trellises for them. I suspect this is a bit of a suicide mission, but never mind. Less grass, more flowers!

The Rhapsody in Blue is the joker in this game; I have no idea where to put them, but I guess I could stick them in the Ambitious Border in the area where I sowed annuals last year. Anyway, I’ll work that out once the Braithwaites and New Dawns are in the ground.

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