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Archive for April, 2012


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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In a corner of the sitting room in the apartment we have an old (1890’s?) pedestal that comes from my great-great-great aunt or some obscure family connection like that. I grew up with it in my childhood home, and when my parents – rightfully – decided that it really wasn’t all that pretty and needed to go, I insisted on bringing it into my room. I’ve now had it for some 25 years, and it has always looked more or less out-of-place in any home I’ve had, but I love it all the same.

However, it has now found it’s perfect match, and that’s what this is all about: a cissus that the Flâneur Husband inherited after the death of his much-loved grandmother some years back.

It softens the rather formal pedestal and the pedestal gives the cissus a great platform for spilling over the edges of the pot and really make a statement against the white walls of our home.

A couple of weeks back I gave it a rather rough treatment, cutting back any dead leaves and stems and generally leaving it looking a bit bedraggled, so I re-potted it – it also used to be in a far too small white pot, so I moved it to a larger black pot that seems to disappear between the foliage as a natural extension of the pedestal – and it has really taken off.

You can see in the picture above that it has even discovered that it’s actually a climbing plant, though it has nothing to climb except itself. I’m still not sure whether to give it some sort of support or whether to just let it do its thing as best it can.

As bad luck – and clumsy scissor skills – would have it, my pruning included me cutting off one perfectly healthy twig of the plant, so I figured it would be worth seeing if I could get it to root in a vase, and hallelujah!

There are now two small white roots, so I will leave it in the vase for a bit longer to grow more roots before potting it up. Voilá, a new plant for free!

Also, the internet tells me that these plants have a limited life span, so I guess this accidental cutting is a blessing, as it will continue my husband’s inheritance and the memory of his grandmother once the original plant starts giving up.

(The internet also tells me that to take cuttings from this plant you need to make a clean cut below a leaf node, dip it in rooting hormone and pot it up directly. RUBBISH! Why would anybody want to do so much faffing about when you can just make a random cut, stick it in water and watch it grow?)

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Within the European Union (EU) there are no border checks for plants and plant products travelling between member states and, it is possible, to import and export plants freely with very few exceptions.

Having thus proven the legality of my actions, should anybody wish to question it, here is the luggage that I checked in when returning from visiting the Flâneur Husband in Aberdeen over Easter, a 4′ by 2′ sportsbag:

Of course, the bag held very little in terms of “normal” luggage.

On top you see one rhododendron, and in the black bin liner underneath are another two. Yup, I brought three 3-foot rhododendrons from Scotland to Denmark…

My husband really likes these plants that he had in pots on his large deck by his Aberdeen apartment, so since he’s moving back to Denmark – and the garden and, of course, myself – on June 1st he wanted to bring these plants back with him, and I had the pleasure of schlepping them first via plane to Copenhagen and then by bus, metro, train and bus up to the garden by the summer house. (I make it sound worse than it is, of course. It’s a trolley bag, so essentially I just rolled it around a bit.)

I got back from Scotland on the evening of Easter Sunday and went up to the garden on the morning of Easter Monday, but because it basically rained the whole day yesterday it seemed foolhardy to attempt to prepare proper planting holes for them and plant them, so instead I heeled them in in one of the raised vegetable beds where they await the weekend. There will be more pictures ones they are installed in their permanent location.

The rhododendrons won’t be the only planting project of the coming weekend, though; the Flâneur Husband’s birthday present from my parents (ordered by me online) finally arrived today. Three L.D. Brathwaite bare-root roses, and I’m pleased to say they look like prime quality. Well-developed roots, lots of tiny shoots and generally a healthy-looking group of plants. The postal service managed to send them but not deliver them – and fail to notify me that they were held at the local post office for a week before being returned to the sender – but then the nursery packed up three fresh roses and sent those to me instead, so in spite of the delay I really don’t think I could have had a better service from that nursery.

www.rosenposten.dk

Yeah, I wanted to give them a mention, just because they’ve been so helpful and seem to have delivered great quality. I know most of you won’t be ordering from a Danish nursery, but still. They deserve a positive mentioning! (And if you ever find yourself in Denmark and need to order a rose online, you now know where to go.)

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Castle Fraser

Snapshot from another castle outing…

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Scottish Spring


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Just a snapshot from my not-so-sunny Easter holiday in Aberdeen.

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