Archive for the ‘courtyard’ Category


Spring finally arrived in Denmark last weekend, and today I arrived in the Flâneur Garden to have a lovely and relaxing weekend here that may or may not include hard physical labour. We shall see about that, all depending on whether the chain saw will work or not. (The chain saw is, by the way, not for the crocuses – or should that be ‘crocii’? – but for the piles of fir logs cluttering the lawn after the Flâneur Husband and one of his friends took down three trees before Easter.)


Oh, look, there’s another crocus! The top one was in The Evening Border on the North-West side of the covered terrace, but this one was growing under the hazel bushes. I have no idea how these bulbs came to either of these places, but I’m just glad to see some colour in the garden after all the snow and ice.

I also found a small host of pale mauve crocuses growing under the rather misplaced brambles by the entrance to the courtyard. They really ought to be moved this weekend while I still notice them so next year they can flower in a slightly more prominent position.


One flower that isn’t blooming yet but hopefully will is the tulip. Or rather, the tulips. I didn’t get the bulbs in the ground in the autumn as you’re supposed to, so they spent the winter on a garden chair on the covered terrace – ensuring they definitely got more frost than if they’d been 4″ in the ground – but apparently the bulbs I bought were not aware that they should have spent the winter underground, as they seem perfectly happy to grow after I finally got them into the lawn bed 4 weeks ago. I guess some times plants don’t realise – or care – that the gardener is a bit negligent or caught out by early winter.

Puddles in need of clean-up

Things are also growing in The Puddles. It’s amazing how much algae will appear with only a week of spring weather! The tiny solar-powered pumps that normally provide some modicum of movement in the water were taken out before the onslaught of winter, but it seems it’s time to put them back in as soon as I’ve pulled out all the brown leaves and algae – after all, leaf mulch is excellent for beds, borders and whatnot, but not so great for puddles.

Please note, though, that there is also something green growing between The Puddles! The sedum ‘herbstfreude’ are looking very promising, and I almost feel guilty already that I’ll probably be giving them the Chelsea chop in about a month and a half… (Last year the mature plants grew too tall and flopped over into the adjacent puddles, which is clearly not a great look, whereas the new cuttings grew to only half the height and stayed out of the waters.)

In that area – and anywhere else in the garden that I have them – the irises and day lilies are also looking very good. Oh, ye trusty oldy cottage garden perennials; you never let me down! And in The Ambitious Border there are tiny red peony shoots, and the roses of course seem to just YEARN for warmer temperatures so their budding leaves can unfold.

Speaking of roses… I had a small “accident” on my way from the city to the summer house today. I had some waiting time between arriving in the town of Frederikssund by train and leaving by bus, so I did some rather flâneur’ish shopping in a supermarket – a bottle of wine and a box of candles is surely all the sustenance one needs, right? – and then before I knew it I had added a few plants to the basket. One was a “Sutter’s Gold” rose, but there was also a red currant and 10 plugs each of blue lobelias and purple petunias. All are destined for the lawn bed, except for the petunias which will most likely go in pots in The Courtyard. The red currant will fit in nicely with the black currant and the gooseberry that’s already in one end of the bed, and the “Sutter’s Gold” rose will be a nice complimentary contrast to the “Blue Rhapsody” roses in the other end. And the lobelias will help cover some ground so it won’t be too weedy, at least I hope so.

So there. Things have finally thawed in this neck of the woods and spring has fully arrived. Who’d have thunk it just two weeks ago, eh?`

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Parsley, sage and brambles

There is a lovely weathered terracotta pot in the courtyard that is home to some parsley and sage, as well as whatever weeds have decided to set up camp there. This is all good. However, when the brambles or blackberries or whatever they are decide to mingle with the herbs I resolutely untangle them and pull them back up on the fence where they should be!

Except this time the bramble vine had not only entangled itself with the herbs; it had decided to root!

Bramble roots

Clearly this sort of unacceptable behaviour cannot be tolerated, so I swiftly yanked up the culprit and went to get my secateurs to put an end to this. I ended up with a rather nice cutting, and clearly anything that will root this easily is most likely a vigorous grower, so off it went to the hedgerow where it can tangle itself up with the barberries and honeysuckles to it’s heart’s content.

Bramble cutting

For the record, it does produce some rather tasty berries, so it’s violent disregard for what should grow where is overlooked for now. BUT DON’T DO IT AGAIN!!!

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A few weeks ago, as we were getting ready to leave the summer house and return to the City, I decided to cut some of the deep blue aquilegias that grow  between the paving stones in the courtyard. I know they’d bloom while I wasn’t there, so I figured the budding flowers would look nice in a vase in the apartment, and so they did.

The buds dutifully turned into flowers, and I was happy. It’s my favourite colour of aquilegia, but sadly we only have it in the courtyard where it is a weed, really, so I was so thrilled last week when I noticed seed heads starting to form; there must either have been some kind little fly that chose to pollinate these flowers, or else they were just shaken sufficiently when I have been airing out the apartment, because today they look like this:

The colour of the dried petals is a truer blue than the actual flower, which has a slightly purple tone

Of course there’s always a risk that the seeds won’t be true to type, but considering that I have no other colours of aquilegia in the apartment, I’m feeling confident that the seeds will produce the same lovely colour if I sow them out in the Ambitious Border.

So, this means that I have now used cut flowers and branches to propagate forsythia, dogwood and sedum so far, and with aquilegias in the making. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Free plants are the best!

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Some people claim that tulips are garish, vulgar flowers (I know; they are philistines the lot of them!), but that HAS to be out of ignorance. Not only are there lots of delicately shaped lily tulips, and of course the botanical tulips with their spear-like petals, but there are also tulips like this:

Potted tulips, with flâneur index finger for scale

I DARE anybody to call these tiny flowers garish or vulgar… They were in one of the pots in the courtyard when we bought this place, and since they would just disappear in the garden proper I’ve left them there, but I absolutely adore them.

Normally I’m a size-queen when it comes to flowers; the bigger the better! But sometimes a small, delicate flower just steals my heart like this tulip has done. I’ve seen snowdrops larger than this flower! (Heck, I’ve seen snowflakes larger than this flower!)

They’re right now in a pot with some strange, perennial weed-like plant (that has lovely yellow flowers in summer), so I’m considering moving the tulips to a pot of their own once the bloom is spent; they are so easily overlooked, yet I think they deserve special notice, both because they are pretty in themselves and because the prove just how different a tulip can be from a tulip, so to say.

You can get large, double, multi-coloured tulips if you want to, but if that’s not your style then don’t forget that tulips are so much more than that. If you look around, there’s bound to be a tulip you’ll love…

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The weather was lovely, I had spent most of the day relaxing and reading, and suddenly when I walked through the courtyard I suddenly noticed the blackberries had ripened and were ready to pick.


We don’t have a lot of blackberries, and our fruit bushes in general are terribly unkempt which clearly doesn’t improve the yield, but I got a nice little bowl of blackberries, just enough to warrant making jam!


A bowlful of blackberries, a couple of handfuls of preserving sugar and a tiny dash of water, boil it until it sets quickly when tested on a refrigerated plate and then pour into sterilised jars.


Hopla! Two jars of preserved summer and sunshine to be enjoyed on warm home-baked rolls this winter!

I also picked a few handful of green and purple French beans, blanched them and put them in the freezer, and I picked the dried pods off the peas and shelled them so I can try sowing them next year.

But summer shouldn’t just be about preserving; it should also be about enjoying transient beauty, right? Since I had to go back to town Sunday late morning for the leaving-do of a friend who is moving abroad, I figured I’d bring her a random bunch of whatever is flowering right now:


Crocosmia, goldenrod and gladiolus, with a random Mexican tiger flower from a pot in the courtyard. When I picked them I didn’t actually have any idea that I would end up with a colour scheme that looks intentional, perhaps even coordinated.

(All right, I also picked some sweet peas, but since their stems are so short they ended up as an additional posy.)

This is the sort of wild life I lead… Riveting, isn’t it?

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Garden and Gardener

First of all, help! Does anybody know what this perennial is? It comes from my mother’s garden where it never did anything spectacular, perhaps because it was standing in full shade, but with a bit of sun it has turned into something wonderful. It’s about half a meter in height and I love it to bits.

Then there’s the courtyard. It’s a mess, to be frank, with weeds in the pavement (more weeds than pavement, it seems) and pots that have been knocked over by the wind, but it is also lush and overgrown and in some casual way rather lovely. The glads are beginning to make a show of themselves, and you can also see the lavatera (‘Mont Blanc’) making an effort to show why it was a good thing that Alistair tempted me (unwittingly) into buying some seeds. Between them is the newly purchased clematis ‘Multi Blue’; another temptation that has proved worth while, even though I didn’t expect it to do much this first year.

The beans (purple and green) have given a moderate yield so far and look set to give more if only I would be here to pick them as and when they ripen, but sadly I probably won’t. The same goes for the cherry tomatoes. Sad, but I sort of knew that from the beginning. Perhaps next year I shall have more time to be here doing the growing season, since I won’t be busy decorating an apartment and so on?


And finally there is your’s truly in front of the type of flowers I really like: Flowers that are taller than myself! We do have a few different varieties of goldenrods, it seems, as they grow to different heights and have slightly different flowering habits, but they are all tall and showy and able to rise above however many weeds they grow between.

I will be here until tomorrow late morning, and then I won’t be back for another 3 weeks, so I will be doing a heavy cull of flowers before I leave to go to a friend’s leaving do (she’s moving to Stockholm/Sweden). Surely a bunch of home-grown flowers will be a suitable leaving present.

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