Archive for February, 2016


You know how you sometimes discover something in a corner of your garden?


Well, I discovered a rather tall mast the other day. I don’t know if it’s 30 or 50 feet high, nor do I know how on Earth I managed to overlook it for several months!

Okay, so I sort of do know… It’s by the East gable of the house where I don’t really go that often, and you can’t see it from the windows. Still, it’s A BLOODY TALL MAST! You would have thought I would have seen it.

The question now remains what to do with it. The best suggestion so far is to hoist the Jolly Roger at the top and create my own – very literal – pirate radio station where every other sentence is “Avast, me hearties”, “Hey-ho and a bottle of rum” or just plain “Arrrr”…

On a more realistic level I’ve been googling vigorous climbers… But what will grow tall enough? Hops normally only grow to 20 feet, and clematis montana to 30 feet. Both will probably leave me a bit short.

Pulling down the mast is just not within my capabilities, nor is getting somebody to do it within the budget, so I clearly have to keep it for now. The birch tree next to it should partly camouflage it, but it could be fun to make some sort of use of it. After all, how many gardens have a whopping tall mast in them? It HAS to be made into a feature, but it needs some sort of purpose.

(And it’s probably too weak to carry even a smallish windmill…)


A friend who grew up locally has told me that it was most likely used to mount a TV antenna to receive German terrestrial TV signals, which sounds likely. After all, I grew up in a country that had only one national TV station until 1988 so many people in the South and East of Denmark either watched German or Swedish television. Considering that I don’t own a telly set, though, this is not really useful for me.


It still astounds me that for over 2½ months I didn’t notice this. I mean, it’s taller than the HOUSE!

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Silly Sightseeing…

A house is not just a house; it’s embedded in the natural and cultural landscape that surrounds it. So I try to visit some of the local villages and towns and see what they have on offer, so to speak.

Today I went to Nysted, and when you visit the church of a small town on a Thursday, you’re VERY likely to be alone. And leaving me alone in a vaulted, late-Gothic church is just… Well, it leads to this:

There really isn’t much to see in the church apart from the baroque altarpiece and a few portraits and memorial tablets, but the sound was phenomenal. I know I muddled up the lyrics (it’s been 18 years since I was last in a church choir), but I just HAD to play with the sound of the space.

I always wear shoes with hard soles when I visit churches, simply because they make a sound that resonates under the vaults. And when I’m alone I may occasionally hum a few notes, just to hear them reflected from the vaults… But today I felt rather confident that nobody would stop by, so why not go all-in?

I spent just over half an hour in that church. Nothing much to see, but it was so much fun to play around with the acoustics! I need to sing more, because singing is fun – and I am badly out of practice as you can hear. My voice is decent enough, but it needs training to be good.

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That Elusive Dream…

You know how every gardener secretly dreams of having that dark, loamy soil that they talk about on gardening shows? Well, I have that. I am located in one of the most fertile parts of Denmark, farming-wise, and my soils shows why.

It’s black and rich and almost greasy to the touch.

When I cross the field (the farmer has told me I can do so, otherwise I’d never walk through a field of crops!) downhill towards the bog and the lake, the soil turns a lighter colour in the field, which is probably because it has been so intensely cultivated for centuries, but then when I get down towards the bog it becomes soggy and dark.

It really is amazing to have this sort of soil to work with. In the old garden I had perhaps 4 inches of decent top soil and then a thick layer of clay, but here the loamy soil just goes on and on as you dig. It retains moisture, but it doesn’t become waterlogged as the old garden tended to do, and I don’t think I could imagine better conditions for growing just about anything I would want.

Yesterday while walking around the garden with the dog I’ve borrowed for the weekend (the owners think I’m doing them a favour, but really it’s the other way around!), I realised my garden is virtually infested with shrews. There are small holes all over the lawn, in the beds and under the shrubs. It’s a protected species here in Denmark, so I’m quite pleased to see so many signs that they are happy in my garden. Sure, they might eat some roots of some of my projects, but I can live with that – after all, the shrews were here first!

The wildlife is really going to be an important part of my garden. Having the bog and lake nearby means I don’t really NEED to do much to create a local wildlife habitat, but obviously I want the wildlife to come to me… Of course I want the cute little birds, but I also want the bugs, the insects, the frogs and newts and yes, the shrews.

When I ordered my load of berry shrubs for my Eastern Hedge, I also ordered the materials needed to “build” a pond. A square liner for the pond itself, as well as a stretch of narrow liner to create a small stream through the garden. The stream needs to be carefully arranged, since it will be powered by a solar pump and won’t flow on cloudy days – so I need to somehow create levels of standing water if I don’t go for the “dry creek” look.

The pond itself will be around three-four metres across and just over a meter deep, while the stream will be around 20-25 metres long, meandering down through the garden and collecting rain water from the greenhouse and shed roofs. I’ve also ordered a roll of coconut matting that will line the stream so in time it will become a sort of muddy, natural surface, rather than a black liner…

The exact location of the pond, though, remains to be determined. There are no plans of the drainage system from the gutters and the septic tank, so I guess I just need to start digging and see what happens… Which pretty much sums up my gardening philosophy!

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The Berry Project

Last week there was an evening when I was kind of bored, sitting in my Copenhagen apartment and not really knowing what to do. But then, there’s always the internet, right?

By the end of the evening I had ordered the following:

  • A white currant
  • A red currant
  • A black currant
  • A red gooseberry
  • A yellow gooseberry
  • A red raspberry
  • A yellow raspberry
  • A blackberry
  • A boysenberry
  • A black-leaved elder (“black lace”)

There’s a decent hedge along the West edge of the garden, but the East side only has a wire fence. It’s not that I really need a hedge for privacy reasons, considering that the nearest neighbour is nearly half a mile away, but first of all the wire fence just isn’t all that attractive and second of all I rather like the idea of a garden as an enclosed space, especially since I am surrounded by open fields.


On my recent Tour de Denmark, visiting family and friends across the Great Belt on Funen and in Jutland, my mother offered me an additional berry shrub. I actually wanted jostaberries, but because they are still fairly rare the prices were just too high for what I wanted to pay – but my mother’s shrub had several branches that had arched down to the ground and rooted, so I came away with three cuttings with fully developed root systems.

They look a bit puny right now, but so did my mother’s when we planted it 2 years ago – and now hers is a full shrub 5ft high and 7ft wide, so I feel pretty certain that my three little twigs will be a good start to my hedge.

The jostaberry is not very well-known, perhaps because it only became commercially available in 1977. It’s a hybrid between a gooseberry and a black currant, so it gives very large berries that have a gooseberry flavour when not-quite-ripe and a black currant flavour when fully ripe. And it gives LOTS of berries… In many ways it’s surprising that it hasn’t become more mainstream, considering that it’s a thorn-less berry shrub that gives an ample harvest and can be cut back more or less as much as you want to.

It feels good to have made my first REAL stamp on the garden. The East edge is one of the long sides of the garden (around 230ft), so planting that up with berry shrubs will be a very visible alteration to the garden – but still in keeping with the original scheme, since the vegetable garden is also on that side.


In other news, snowdrops are popping out all over the place, even in the lawn. They are all over the garden; in the borders, under shrubs, in the lawn… There are also a few clumps of aconites, but the snowdrops are really a favourite of mine, so I am very pleased to see so many of them.

Another welcome resident of the garden is this:


I love day lilies, and this one is probably my favourite, considering the history of the garden. It’s very likely to be the common, orange day lily, since it has been a common feature of Danish country gardens for the best part of a century. That’s the one my grandmother has in her present garden – and had when they lived on the farm – and also the one my parents had in my childhood garden. There might be prettier varieties out there, but this is the one I love for sentimental reasons.

Tomorrow I might have a look around the garden to see if there’s an obvious spot to plant some of the day lilies; it looks like the clump could do with being divided, and anyway it’s sort of in a bad position, nestled beneath some fuchsia shrubs. Not only will the colours clash violently, but I also think the day lilies would like to live somewhere where there aren’t overhanging shrubs…

Tomorrow I’ll also have my first ever guest in the house. That’s a “little bit” daunting! I love this place so much, but I am realistic enough to acknowledge that it’s quite a mess at present. And yet I want guests to see what I see; potential! If I get the kitchen looking decent and provide a nice bedroom for my guest, perhaps the rest will seem like “potential”?

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