Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2012


Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,

And over the mice in the barley sheaves;

Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,

And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.

 

The hour of the waning of love has beset us,

And weary and worn are our sad souls now;

Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,

With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.

(W.B. Yeats)

All right, so it’s not autumn yet. Not ’till tomorrow… But there are goodbyes to be said, and this poem popped into my head as a suitable set of words to describe my current mood.

I got laid off yesterday, and am now on what some companies refer to as “garden leave“. I’ve loved working in my old company, but I’ve also for quite some time been looking for a new job, so it’s a melancholy feeling, mixed with a sense of relief. It’s definitely not all bad, though of course it’s certainly not all good, either.

In short, it is what it is.

It was all very civilised, as these things should be, so I guess it qualifies for the term “amicable divorce”; I shall be missed and I shall miss my old colleagues, but such is life.

So next week I will be gardening! On garden leave. Maybe this means that this year I can actually get the garden ready for winter? -Something I failed miserably at last year, partly due to business and partly due to wet weather in the few weekends I made it up to the garden, and which had knock-on effects that lasted well into spring.

The lawn needs mowing, the annex (with the storage room, the workshop/shed and the spare bedroom) needs painting and of course a good weeding is never amiss, so I can definitely keep myself busy while I begin to work out what I want to do besides gardening.

Autumn is the time when you look back and see what worked and what didn’t work; which plants were stars and which were failures; what do you want more of, what do you want less of (SLUGS!); what should be played a bit different, tweaked a little, next year. And so I will begin looking at the garden and my CV with the same set of analysing eyes, seeing what I enjoyed and what I didn’t and then taking it from there. After all, in a garden there is always that much-vaunted term “Next Year”, and the same goes for work. There will be another chance at creating something that will be even better, even more satisfying, even more life-enhancing.

(I hope.)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


I’m a terrible flâneur, it seems. I let my husband fly to London for the weekend on an impulse, and I didn’t go with him. That’s just awful and unforgivable, I’m sure. On the day of reckoning, this is one of the (many?) things I shall have to answer for.

Instead I went up to the garden on Friday after work, but absolutely failed as a gardener by choosing to go back to town already on the Saturday afternoon, since I really just wanted to lie back on the sofa and watch some crappy TV and play some PlayStation. “PlayStation over perennials”, resounds the chorus from the internet, “BUT THAT’S APPALLING!”

I know. But… Yeah, I just wanted to lie back and do nothing at all, so there we go.

The only thing I got done on Saturday was this:

Before

There’s a somewhat nondescript shrub growing at the corner of the covered terrace, and it’s really getting too large. Sure, the bees love its flowers in spring and it produces pretty red berries in late summer, but it was just too big.

After

So chop-chop I went with the hedge clippers, and it’s now at the same level as the fence around the terrace. It has opened up the terrace to the garden, and the “stubbles” will soon be covered by the perennial sweet peas that grow rampant through it, so there’s no great loss, except that the terrace feels less enclosed which can be seen as a good or a bad thing. I’m not sure which side I’m on, but the deed has been done.

(And come autumn I’ll probably chop it even lower so there’s room for next year’s growth without it becoming too big again. It’s rather too vigorous a shrub for that position, really!)

Anyway, I went home on Saturday, and I rode my bike down to the station (20km) and had a really lovely time of it.

Multiple suns

It seems my iPhone doesn’t think it was sunny enough, so the camera decided to add some more suns to the image. Not sure if this is really a good thing, but it certainly looks rather curious! (I never had that problem with my old phone, even when shooting pics directly into the sun…)

It is harvest time, so at times clouds of dust would blow over the road from one of the combine harvesters working the fields of the Jægerspris Castle estate, and somehow that smell just brought me back to my childhood when my Dad would go help my paternal grandparents with the harvest, or when my brothers and I were holidaying alone with my maternal grandparents in the last week of the summer hols (every year we did this; it gave my parents a nice break from having three sons around the house all summer!). People who’ve never ridden on – or driven – a combine harvester or tractor during the harvest probably don’t realise just how much dust is produced, and it gets absolutely everywhere. And the smell is just, well… I love it, but others might hate it, especially if they have a tendency to be allergic to stuff.

Harvest

And for good measure I also visited a stone age tomb I passed on the way; the mound has been “re-vamped” in the 18th century in terraces and geometric tree planting, so it’s difficult to know how much of the tomb chamber is really original. One thing is for certain; they moved the entrance, since the Danish stone age burial chambers where always at a straight angle to the entrance corridor, and this one is in continuation of it.

Tomb

Still, it’s rather impressive to think that this structure was built 5000 years ago. We currently only have about 500 of these burial chambers left – in carious states of repair or decay – but archeologists estimate that there might have been up to 40,000 of them. Sadly many were in the way of farming, and many stones were recycled as building material, but the remaining monuments are somehow magical; a travel in time.

 

Oh, it’s a gardening blog? Sure. Have a rose!

L.D. Braithwaite

This is the latest bloom on The Flâneur Husband’s birthday roses from my parents, and though the picture doesn’t show it, the flower is actually redder and less “H0TT PINK!!!1!” than the previous blooms. I suspect the amount of rain and sunshine has made a difference, and I also suspect that in a less sunny part of the garden, this rose would bloom a truer red. Still, it’s gorgeous, and it’s staying where it is!

Read Full Post »


This weekend I spotted something in The Puddles… It seems we have at least one newt, though how it got there is unknown. It might have arrived as an egg with the aquatic plants, since The Puddles haven’t really been in place long enough for any breeding to take place this year.

It’s impossible to take a photo of him/her, though, as the wee newcomer keeps to the dark corners of it’s puddle, but I’m pretty sure it’s a Lissotriton vulgaris since that’s the most common type of newt in Denmark.

So one more success for The Puddles, eh? And who knows what else might be hiding in the murky depths (okay, they’re one foot deep)…
(Oh, and this morning I was woken up by the bed shaking. Quite confusing, but it turns out there was an earth quake in the Kattegat Sea between Denmark and Sweden at bit before 5am. Damage report: A candle in the sitting room fell out of its candle stick! Oh, the drama…)

Read Full Post »


We had our annual Summer Party in the garden yesterday. An al fresco lunch for as many friends as want to come, followed by an afternoon and evening of frolicking, croquet, kubb (an old Viking game that has become popular again as a garden game over the past 5-10 years after a thousand years of obscurity) and far too much alcohol.

It’s always lovely, but there IS a certain joy to saying goodbye to the last guests on Sunday around noon once the dishes have been done and the garden restored to some sort of normalcy (i.e. the bottles and cans have been picked up, the games have been packed away and the furniture is no longer clumped in the middle of the lawn around the fire pit.

Now it’s just me and the birds in the garden again; I even sent the Flâneur Husband back to the city to nurse his hangover with pizza, sofa and telly while I nurse mine with left-overs from yesterday and a few perennials that need planting and moving.

Tomorrow is the end of my summer holiday (one week in early July and then last week), and I think I need to see if I can take another week off some time in late August. The garden is mainly in decent shape, though some corners – like the vegetable garden – have been completely neglected all year. We haven’t even moved the lawn around the vegetable beds, which kind of shows how little that area has been used…

Anyway, who wants to read words, right? Everybody loves a photo, so:

Puddles in the rain

Yeah… It rained pretty heavily this afternoon. And those white streaks ARE ropes of rain… (And yes, this photo was taken almost blindly, since I had to cover my phone with the brim of my cap… focusing on a screen one inch from your eyes is just not feasible!)

Note how only one Puddle is actually visible this year… (The other two to the right of the stormy one are mainly hidden by the planting, however tumble-down the plants might be.) To the left of the “visible” left Puddle I have planted some iris germanica that I grew from seed two years ago and left in tiny pots for years; they should be happy enough here, and they should soon shield the last puddle from view. After all, The Puddles are only intended to be seen in glimpses, so that’s why I’ve surrounded them with fairly tall perennials with somewhat over-hanging habits – from right to left it’s iris siberica, hosta (unknovn variety from my childhood garden but with plain green foliage and mauve flowers), sedum (another unknown variety from my childhood garden) and finally the iris germanica.

To allow for glimpses of the water, though, I’ve planted low ground covers at the front; from right to left it’s alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), wild strawberries and some unknown groundcovering plant that I weeded from the Courtyard; it has pretty enough foliage and when established it will have yellow flowers throughout summer. To hold the – preliminary – corner of the area by The Puddles I’ve transplanted a white-flowering plant that grows like a weed here – though it’s certainly a garden plant of sorts.

-Okay, so that plant just went out during a break in my writing; instead this corner is now the site of the newly purchased day lily hemerocallis Frans Hals. It does mean I’ll have an awful lot of spiky leaves around The Puddles (three different types of iris AND the day lilies), but the rest of the planting should soften that impression, and either way day lilies will add some blooms at a season when the rest of the flowers are either budding (the sedums and asters) or spent (the irises, astrantia and lady’s mantle).

The Sunny Border - in the rain

I’ve also made a change to The Sunny Border since this photo was taken. The Japanese anemones seem to dislike the conditions here – though I’ve seen them do well in full sun in the gardens of the Royal Library in Copenhagen – so I moved some of them from the far end of this border to make room for some other newly purchased day lilies hemerocallis Double Firecracker.

The Flâneur Husband has complained about his birthday present, the three roses my parents gave him. I picked out the variety and ordered them, knowing he loves red roses, but the L.D.Braithwaite roses very quickly turns decidedly hot pink rather than red once they are blooming. I guess that’s what red roses do when they get full sun; my other red rose – torn from the ground with my bare hands as I rescued plants from the destruction – is turning that same colour even though it used to bloom truly dark red in its old location is half-shade.

Have I mentioned I love my garden?

Read Full Post »


The Flâneur Husband and I are spending our summer holiday in that most exotic of places, the garden. We took a week a few weeks back, and now we have another week off in the run-up to our annual summer party – this year we will be 16 people for lunch and frolicking in the garden.

Danish Summer

The weather last week was perfect summer weather – hot and sunny every single day – so it was great for our two mothers who arrived at the summer house on Wednesday. We, though, arrived Friday for the last sunny day, and since then it has been a very mixed sort of weather – blue skies alternating with dark clouds. A quintessentially Northern European summer, so much better than the summer so far!

My Mother-in-law left on Sunday, and my Mum left on Monday, so it’s not like we’re spending our entire holiday under adult supervision, but it was really nice to have them here – and they got loads done while they were here alone; they painted part of the fence around the courtyard and one of the facades, not to mention that my Mum weeded the Evening Border and most of The Ambitious Border. (The Sunny Border is still too new to need much weeding, whereas the other flowerbeds definitely benefited from it. I wouldn’t trust my Mother-in-law to know the difference between weeds and perennials, but my Mum knows, especially since we hardly have any perennials that she didn’t used to grow in my childhood garden.

Also, my Mum HATES slugs. I mean HATES! She’s the sort of person who brings a pair of scissors when she’s weeding, just in case she’ll unearth some slug burrowing in the flower bed – and then she’ll cut them in halves! On Friday evening I noticed that just 55 hours after my Mum arrived in the garden there were significantly fewer slugs than I’d normally see when I arrive for a weekend in the garden. And after a whole weekend with my Mum AND me in the garden, well… This morning I just killed 5 slugs, and not because I didn’t feel like killing more but because I didn’t SEE more. I’ll be lucky if I end up killing 20 slugs today, where I normally kill a hundred in a day.

The Long View

Anyway, I promised I’d stop just posting close-ups, so here’s a view of the side of the garden I’ve done the most to so far since we bought the summer house. To the right is The Sunny Border, which is at the same time a success and a failure this year – its first. It’s not as lush and full-bodied as I had planned/dreamt it, and I definitely don’t like how much bare soil is visible, but on the other hand… The dahlias have survived in spite of slugs – MANY slugs – and a severe flooding – it was under 4″ of water Friday before last, and that seems to have killed off a lot of growth and a couple of plants entirely – and the ones that flower are spectacular. Also, The iris germanica from my Mum’s old garden bloomed well in May/June, and the Austin roses L.D. Braithwaite that my parents gave The Flâneur Husband for his birthday are doing well. The Anemone hupehensis seem all but dead, though; I’ve seen them grow in full sun in other gardens, but clearly they don’t like it here in mine, so most of them have died. Never mind; I’ll relocate the remainder to a less sunny spot!

To the left in the photo above you can see The Ambitious Border. There are several issues with this border; for one it’s too narrow! It needs to be widened, and of course if you look at the picture you can see that it has a gap between the border at present and The Puddles further down along the same hedge. Eventually I want The Puddles to join up with The Ambitious Border, but this year I prioritised creating The Sunny Border. After all, the South-Western facing part in front of the house is probably one of the best planting areas in the garden!

Perry's Baby Red

The Puddles are doing well in their end of The Ambitious Border; the sedums I planted look somewhat tumble-down, but that’s to be expected since I moved them from a spot in tall grass and ferns to a spot where they have to hold themselves up. Likewise the slug damage to the hostas was to be expected, though it’s still appalling. And the Perry’s Baby Red water lily is getting ready to bloom, hopefully in time for the summer party!

Accidental shopping

Oh, and I didn’t mean to, but… Yeah, the internet is a dangerous place, full of temptations, so yesterday the mailman brought me a box full of these… Three double day lilies Firecracker, three day lilies Frans Hals, three hostas – one of each of Northern Exposure, Tardiana Halcyon and Regal Splendour – three alchemilla mollis/lady’s mantle, one astilbe Purple Rain, one purple astrantia major – Lars and one Echinacea Purpurea.

I’ve wanted some Lady’s mantle for a while since that’s a perennial my Mum used to grow in my childhood garden, and the hostas are just because hostas are lovely and the Evening Border needs filling-out. I’m finding it hard to argue for the astilbe and the echinacea, except that they are pretty flowers, and of course the day lilies are vital, considering that I’ve discovered that we have far too few perennials that bloom in July. (If you look carefully at the picture above you can see that one of the Frans Hals day lilies was even delivered with a flowering stem that survived the postage!) The purple astrantia is also a must-have, and since the Flâneur Husband likes our “normal” pinkish-white astrantias I’m sure he will LOVE the purple one.

White dahlia

The star of the garden right now has to be the white dahlias; for some reason they seem to do better than the darker ones, both in terms of slug resistance and flood survival. They are blooming in profusion and quite saving the Sunny Border from being a mediocre place, simply by virtue of the size of their flowers and the generally stunning appearance.

Finally I’ll give you another cloudscape; I do not garden in a vacuum, and the fjord is very much part of the identity of this garden – and part of what gives this neck of the woods our very special micro-climate. We might have had a rather too wet summer, but generally speaking this is one of the sunnies places in the country since clouds have to first pass the sea, then land, then sea again before they hit us, almost regardless of where they come from.

Fjord view

-And if you look closely you can even find a fragment of a rainbow in the picture above…

Read Full Post »