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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category


Nine dahlias dancing

Eight slugs a-slugging

Seven swans a-swimming

Six deer a-laying

Five GO-OLD rings

Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

Dahlias

The dahlia bed really is one of the stars of the garden, especially in late summer and throughout the autumn until the very first frost. It’s a completely random mix, and there’s nothing very stylish or organised about it. Yet, the flowers are so lovely, from the singles through the semi-double hybrids through to the full-blown cactii.

White dahlia

The white dahlias stole the show this year; they came through, even though I had grown them from seed. They put on a firework from early July through October until the first frost killed them off.

Dead dahlias

Still, once they died off I could dig up some wonderful tubers to safe for next year. (And since we don’t have a frost-free shed to keep them in they’ve been sent on a winter holiday at my Mum’s and she’s taking good care of them. She’s already re-packed them once because they were getting damp, and I think she deserves credit for this.) Of course I might just buy some more dahlia seeds this spring so we can have even more of these wonderfully diverse flowers next year. They come in so many shapes, so many colours, and I love them all!

Cactus Dahlia

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Eight slugs a-slugging

Seven swans a-swimming

Six deer a-laying

Five GO-OLD rings

Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

Yes, the slugs… Obviously we have no slugs in the garden during winter – or at least that’s what it looks like. 2-4″ below the surface they are just waiting for warmer weather to emerge, for the eggs to hatch and for my poor plants to be attacked. And “Eight Slugs A-Slugging” is a gross underestimate!!! My record remains 179 slugs killed within one hour in the first year we had the garden…

Some gastropods are better than the slugs, though, and I’ve tried getting some of those into the garden. The Roman snail will eat some plants and shoots, but they prefer dead or decaying plants – and more importantly they like feeding on the eggs and younglings of other gastropods…

Also, I find them attractive in their own right with their large brown and grey shells… And I will tolerate if they eat some of my plants as long as they eat a few slug eggs as well!

 Mind you, more than anything else I have to count on myself to kill slugs. Since I released the Roman snails in the garden I’ve stopped using slug pellets, but instead I use my trusty slug spear. I suspect it was originally designed as a hoe to be used between paving stones, but when you keep the edge sharpened it’s the perfect tool for killing slugs. Less fussy that collecting them and killing them with boiling water, and definitely a quick and humane way to kill them off. After all, even slugs deserve a quick death, right? (Well, slugs more than anything deserve a quick death!!! ALL OF THEM!!!)

And as the picture shows, early mornings when you are still in your bathrobe is probably the best time of day to kill slugs. They like it while there is still some humidity in the air but it’s not cold… (All right, so perhaps it would be a good idea to put on some trousers, because straddling The Puddles in a bathrobe is not really very dignified and the neighbours might see more than they really need to of the gardener…)

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Seven swans a-swimming

Six deer a-laying

Five GO-OLD rings

Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

Swans on the fjord

All right, so I’m falling behind on the Twelve Days of Christmas, but I’ll catch up…

There are more – significantly more – than seven swans in the picture above. Roskilde Fjord with its shallow waters seems very popular with swans in late autumn / early winter; it seems like a gathering place for their migration South for the winter. Some swans do spend the winter in Denmark, whereas others fly South.

In “The Ugly Duckling” Hans Christian Andersen lets the swans fly South for the winter, though of course the Ugly Duckling in the fairy tale is left behind.

They were dazzling white, with long graceful necks. They were swans. They uttered a very strange cry as they unfurled their magnificent wings to fly from this cold land, away to warmer countries and to open waters. (…) It was not that he envied them, for how could he ever dare dream of wanting their marvellous beauty for himself? He would have been grateful if only the ducks would have tolerated him-the poor ugly creature.

Well, I know my other references to Hans Christian Andersen – our most famous Danish writer – have been to the darker, more depressing stories he wrote, but at least as far as The Ugly Duckling goes he’s actually showing an optimist streak:

He felt so very happy, but he wasn’t at all proud, for a good heart never grows proud. He thought about how he had been persecuted and scorned, and now he heard them all call him the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. The lilacs dipped their clusters into the stream before him, and the sun shone so warm and so heartening. He rustled his feathers and held his slender neck high, as he cried out with full heart: “I never dreamed there could be so much happiness, when I was the ugly duckling.”

You never know who you can be – or who you are going to be – and I guess this does for gardens as well. I think my lesson from this has to be that I need to open myself up to things that aren’t necessarily what I think of as “my thing”. I’ve already started – by accident – with the new bed in the lawn. I intended it to be a perennial bed, but then the only plants I had to put in it were roses and some soft-fruit bushes, so it is turning out to be more of a low shrubbery with some perennials dotted in-between. And a vacuum at the front where I will have to grow something from seed. Annuals, or maybe pretty vegetables.

It will be lovely, though absolutely not in the way I imagined when I started digging up the lawn for the bed. After all, as long as I grow something it will be lovely. I’ve got the seeds, I’ve got the bulbs; I just need to make something, any thing, happen and then I will be a success. And I do that every year, so I guess I am already a success. In other words, I rustle my feathers, hold my slender neck high and cry out with a full heart: “I am a gardener!”

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Six deer a-laying

Five GO-OLD rings

Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

deer droppings

Well, I just posted about deer droppings recently, so I won’t write any more about that shit.

Of course, with a slight alteration it could have been “Six deer a-lying”, in which case I could have chosen a picture of the markings in the snow where the deer have spent the night and melted away the snow:

Deer Beds

I do love the deer, even though I’ve never exactly seen 6 in the garden at the same time. Three has been the most I’ve seen, and that tallies nicely with their sleeping spots. They’re such graceful animals, and I don’t mind loosing a rose bud or two to them every now and then. If only they’d stop walking through the peonies…

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Five GO-OLD rings

Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

>Tools in our garden

Let’s face it; this is the line we all love to belch out, right?

And yes, of course it’s only one ring; I think it would look ridiculous with five wedding rings, really – or at best it would imply some sort of illegal polygamy practice.

It’s a simple band of white gold with the Flâneur Husband’s actual name engraved on the inside along with our wedding date – September 4th 2010 – and I only take it off when painting. Sometimes it gets a bit muddy, but hey; that washes off easily and for the dirtiest jobs I tend to wear gloves anyway.

(When we originally had the engraving done, the jeweller had mixed up the names so my name was in my ring and the Flâneur Husband’s was in his ring; I guess they aren’t used to same-sex wedding rings in that shop… However, they fixed it very quickly, so there was no harm done.)

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Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

Robin / Erithacus rubecula

The tits have been great entertainment this winter so far, but I have to admit I have grown most fond of the solitary robin. It stops by several times a day, and it doesn’t seem to like the hanging balls so I make sure to leave one feed ball lying on the ground for him to peck at.

He’s so, well, rotund and cute, and he has a very different personality from the playful and somewhat silly tits; he hops around on the floor of the terrace and doesn’t seem to mind too much if I move around just on the other side of the windows – whereas the tits all fly away when I get up to fetch another cup of coffee…

 

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Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

Confit of duck

Well, technically speaking I guess he didn’t. I’ve been the one to take a new shine to confit of duck this autumn, and I’ve made quite a few more than three legs, I’ll admit. But it is such a delicious dish; the duck boiled in fat until it is so tender that the meat literally falls apart when you stick your fork into it, and then roasted to a golden crispiness before serving. Classic French food in the best sense!

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