Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

I may have…

I may have ordered a few spring-flowering bulbs…

The present forecast makes it seem unlikely that we’ll see hard frost for the next month, so I should be able to get the bulbs in the ground in early December after I get the keys to the house and garden.

Oh, and when I say “a few” I obviously mean 798 bulbs.

(WHAT??? They were on sale!!!)

250 are tall dark-red tulips for the front garden. (Tulip Seadov)


Against the white walls and dark-red windows of the house I think they will look rather spectacular, both when viewed from the road and when viewed from the entrance to the house.

I also bought – perhaps against my better judgement – 250 bulbs of Tulip Turkestanica…

Tulipa turkestanica

Those I don’t know where to put, though, but I’m sure I’ll find some spot for them in the back garden. They’d disappear behind the low wall in the front garden, so nobody would enjoy them there!

So that’s 500 tulips. That’s got to be enough, right? Except…


My mother had ‘Queen of the night’ by one corner of the house I grew up in, and I can’t help loving that dark, rich colour in a tulip. Or, in fact, in any flower! I got 50 bulbs, just so I would have some to plant somewhere…


Okay, so I only got 8 of these bulbs, but I really love the look of this fritillaria persica adiyaman. They look like they will be spectacular, but like the ‘Queen of the Night’ tulips, these won’t go in the front garden; they are bought to be a bit special, so I need to find a special place for them where I can enjoy them the most.

These, though, will go in the front garden as they should bloom after the red tulips:


Alium Christophii – 40 of those – because the flowers are fireworks and can be dried and still be absolutely amazing. Since the inflorescence is around 6″ – 15cm – in diameter, even 40 of these should make quite a statement.

Oh, and there’s also something for the lawn.


Crocus Ruby giant tommasianus – 200 of them – will be planted in clusters in the lawn. I love the look of crocus brightening up a winter lawn, and while I shan’t plant a complete blanket I can at least have a few dots here and there. QUITE a few dots…

But that was all I bought! Honestly! (And yes, I did cut back again and again to get the number of bulbs this low.




Meanwhile, yesterday I visited my grandmother. Lovely woman, growing old and weary of life as an infirm, hence the need to visit her while she’s still there to be visited.

Her old garden at the farm was amazing, but now that my aunt and uncle live there with two full-time jobs AND a hobby farm, the garden gets less attention than it used to. And her new garden by her medium-sized one-floor house is still good, but perhaps less inspiring.

Still, it has its moments in term of the sheer multitude of plants that were put in that medium-sized garden when she and my grandfather moved there! Some have died away as the tending of the garden became more and more sporadic and eventually was left to some hired guy who does his best, but there are still so many basic plants I want to poach when I visit her the next time. That is, if there will ever be a next time. I love her, and for her sake I wish she could soon have a morning when she wouldn’t have to wake up to this world again.

Anyway! Her garden, due to its relatively low level of maintenance these days, has a lot of spreading ground-covers. Strawberries of various kinds in particular. Clearly I need to get my hands on some shoots of those! But she also has hellebores to spare, and violas and rudbeckias and roses.

But… What I meant to say was that I poached a few seeds yesterday… I took more than a handful of seeds from her bladdernut (Staphylea pinnata – European bladdernut):

Staphylea pinnata

-Only after doing that did I read that some sources recommend 180 days of warm stratification, followed by 90 days of cold stratification… THAT’S not happening!!! I’ll plunk the seeds in pots in the greenhouse of the new garden and then see what happens.

It’s a lovely shrub, though, so I’d rather like one of the seeds to grow, but otherwise I should be able to get cuttings or sucklings from my grandmother’s bladdernut.

Anyway, I guess this is all for now… 14 days from now I’ll have a house and a garden!!!


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Contemporary Traditional?

Today I busied myself with a few hours of door-to-door collection for refugee aid in Syria and South-Sudan, and once my “be a grown-up and care about other people” duties were dispatched I went home and started playing around with my favourite pastime: Sketching and re-sketching the floor plan of my future house and googling furniture that will go with it.

The problem is, I’ve always wanted something modern as a counterpoint to my inherited old stuff and the 1950’s teak furniture I’ve bought myself. And I find myself thinking about what I want the house to look like when I’m done, and what I really want in something cosy and homey and friendly. And I just don’t see the house lending itself to modernity unless I keep all my furniture in Copenhagen and only bring new furniture to the house.

So there goes all my aesthetic credentials! I’ve fallen in love with a new sofa that looks rather 1950’s Scandinavian – and would complement my 1950’s coffee table beautifully -and because the front room is so big I might even get a set of matching armchairs. Matching furniture… Really? When did I outgrow BoHo chic?

The part of the front room that is closest to the wood burner will be sofa, armchairs, coffee table. And then in the far end will be a “desk” – in this case a round mahogany table with curved legs from my great-grandparents’ house – and a throne-like armchair from around 1910, set against a backdrop of a wall covered in shelving for my books. (I really have no clue how many I own, but I suspect I’m closing in on 3,000.)

And then there’s the kitchen… When I realised what would happen to the front room, I figured I could make the kitchen into the contemporary aspect of the house. But… Then I realised that really, I want as few “kitchen units” as possible! I want the dining table in the kitchen to be part of the work space, proper farmhouse-style. A big, solid wooden table with sturdy legs… And that table will set the tone for everything else. As few built-in units as possible – fridge, sink, cooker – and then just regular furniture in solid, simple wood.

The dining table will be large. I have my eye on a 7′ by 3′ table that extends to 10′ long; big enough to provide a good workspace for anything I could imagine making in a kitchen – and to double as a works pace for crafts projects and triple as a setting for big dinners for friends and family.

Of course, “The Kitchen” doesn’t exist yet. A wall needs to come down to merge the present kitchen with the small sitting room, and that won’t happen until I have paid for the new roof and know my budget. But still… It won’t cost a lot to knock the two rooms together, just a lot of work.

(Everything will be a lot of work, it seems. And that’s without factoring in the garden.)

I see the house so clearly… As it is and as it will be. I can’t wait to get the keys in just over 3 weeks’ time.

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Predictable, really…

I just put in an on-line seed order for far more than I really meant to…

Only, I received a newsletter from a shop where all seeds are 25% off today and today only, so I went a bit bad. Peas, beans – and more beans and then some beans – brassicas, annuals, biennials and perennials…

Most are fairly happy-go-lucky seeds, though, that just needs to be thrown in the ground in spring and covered with a bit of soil. It’s really only the dahlias that will require a bit of propagation before I transplant them outside, but then the year I sowed them in the apartment and planted them out in the old Flâneur Garden they really made such an impact that I think it will be worth it.

I have, of course, not a clue where everything will go yet. I need to start planning that in spring. Though there IS a dedicated vegetable patch, so most of the vegetables will end up there, as well as some of the perennials that need to be grown on before they can really hold their own in low-maintenance flower beds.

I’ve also started harvesting from the garden in the courtyard of my present apartment building… Marigold seeds are currently drying in a bowl on my table, and I keep an eye on the nasturtium seeds to make sure I get them when they’re ripe. Oh, and there are some sedums that I should really take cuttings from before it’s too late… (Yes, my temporary apartment really does have a wonderful courtyard! It feels like a garden…)

It’s nice to think that even a temporary residence like this tiny apartment can yield a legacy that I will carry with me into my new garden.

Anyway, one month from today I’ll get the keys to the house – and free reign over the garden!

One month… That isn’t such a very long time, is it? (Yes, it absolutely is…)

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Do we have a vampire in the garden?

battle wounds

Nay, it is merely one of the roses – Rhapsody in Blue – that fiercely attacks anybody coming anywhere near it! Including – as you might have guessed – this innocent gardener who merely wanted to weed the flower bed where these roses are located. *sigh*

However, that same flower bed has other, more docile yet still tenacious, inhabitants:



When they first emerged, the tulips quickly looked destined to serve only as a snack for the deer – which was expected, really – but after the deer ate them all down to 4 inches they seem to have had their fill of tulips, as they have since left them alone.

This means that at least the majority of the 100 tulip bulbs I planted this spring have decided to flower. Yes, I did write “this spring“… I bought the bulbs in autumn, thinking I ought to have time enough to plant them, but then one thing led to another and before I knew it the frost arrived early and the ground became like concrete, so my poor tulip bulbs were left in their sack on the terrace, fully exposed to the freezing temperatures.

Well, it seems these tulips are fully hardy, because without counting I’d estimate a success rate of around 95%. It was a mixed bag with yellow, orange and red tulips – according to the website I bought them from – but so far it seems they’re just yellow and red, giving a rather stark contrast, rather than the more mellow colour scheme I had hoped for. Still, tulips are wonderful in all colours and all combinations, and perhaps the orange variety is just a bit slower than the yellow and red ones. Who knows, who cares. It’s pretty!


Speaking of pretty… The mirabelle plum tree is looking spectacular – as it does every spring. The picture doesn’t do it justice with its cloud of white flowers taking centre stage in the garden. The cherry plum next to it – and the cherry plum in the lawn – are both more modest in their pink bloom, though the one in the lawn would normally be a match for the white mirabelle blossoms except that we cut it back rather severely last year, so it only has a small number of new branches on which to sport flowers. Both bear fruits that are rather tasteless and dull, but they are pretty and hardy and I absolutely love them!


Now back to the lawn bed where I’ve also planted some red semi-double dianthus. I couldn’t quite get my camera to capture the dark, velvety crimson of the petals, but they are truly lovely. There’s no guarantee they will be able to survive a winter in our moist clay soil, but at least they will look pretty this year and might return next year. I think of them as an extravagance, really, having paid DKK 20 (roughly 2£ or 4$) for each little plant, but then I guess I AM a bit frugal and shouldn’t really knock myself about the head over spending 6£ on pretty flowers.

(Not, mind you, that I don’t spend money on flowers without feeling guilty, but normally they are either larger or cheaper than these dianthus. Like the ‘Peace’ rose I picked up for 6£ yesterday, along with 3 fuchsias at 1£ each. They too will go into the lawn bed…)

Thyme Citrus 'Aureus'

Last week I also picked up this little sweetheart; Thymus Citrus ‘Aureus’; a lemon-scented thyme with variegated leaves. So many times when you buy a pot of thyme it turns out to be dozens of tiny plants in a pot that needs to be separated and planted separately in order to stand a chance of survival, but this is actually just one plant that just happens to be very bushy and pretty. I’m afraid, though, that I shall wear it out, because I keep running my fingers through it to enjoy that lovely lemony scent.

nesting box

The last picture in this entry will have to be a plain old nesting box. It was here when we bought the house 3 years ago, and the starlings seem to like it, because again this year we have starlings nesting. It’s in the large birch trees down by the road, so it’s in full view from the sofa and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the starlings flutter to and from the nesting box with all sorts of nesting materials in their beaks. Now, though, there’s less activity as it seems the nest has been built, the eggs have been laid and we are now just waiting for the hatching…

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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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The weather forecast for the Flâneur Garden today reports intermittent gardening, mixed with longer spells of coffee breaks and some risk of digging.

(In other words, today’s weather is unreliable as you like, with on/off rain and consequently a rather uneven work effort in the garden.)

Mind you, in those brief intervals of dry weather I do seem to get something done. The lawn bed is being dug out, and it’s actually making a decent progress. Yesterday afternoon before I started digging I was playing around with a long extension cord to determine the contours of the bed, and that was clearly a mistake; I should have used a rope or the garden hose – or indeed anything that I could leave out overnight.

New bed

I took that shot yesterday afternoon, but by now the hole in the lawn is a lot larger. Unfortunately, since I had to take the extension cord in for the night, I now have no lines to follow, so there is a very real risk that I might end up with a somewhat wonky edge. -I can tidy that up later if it’s a problem, right?

There is a distinct lack of plants to fill this new bed, though. I do have a blackcurrant languishing behind the annex and a gooseberry merely surviving in a pot in the courtyard, so these can go in (since it will be a fairly sunny location when there are no clouds), and I still haven’t gotten around to planting the Rhapsody in Blue roses I bought in spring and heeled in in a pot in the courtyard, so they can go in as well. That’s already a solid backbone for the bed, I think.

Also, yesterday morning before heading up to the garden I went to the local supermarket to buy some essential gardening supplies – coffee and milk! – and came home with these two beauties:

Aster novi-belgii

They are hybrid asters of the Victoria series (though otherwise unnamed), and though they are only about a foot tall – and about the same in diameter – I suspect they can probably double that height next year if I don’t give them the nursery chop they’ve been given earlier in the season to make them into these compact pot-perfect plants.

These, together with the Rhapsody in Blue roses, will give the bed a purple tone throughout summer. I’m not sure why I end up with so much purple in my garden; it’s not like I’m really keen on purple as a colour, but somehow I have ended up with a lot of purples. From iris to sweet peas, from asters to hostas. Still, I don’t mind; I buy and sow the plants I love the most, and I can deal with the fact that this gives me more purple than I would perhaps have planned from the out-set.

I’m also propagating some sedums that can go in the lawn bed next year. I got a bouquet of flowers from work over a month ago, and it contained 5 stems of sedum Herbstfreude/Autumn Joy, 3 of which have rooted in the vase and are still standing in the apartment window. On top of that I have taken cuttings from the sedum in the garden to make even more new plants so there will be enough to make them look quite established even from next year. (I do like these plants… They are so lush and full-bodied, and utterly dependable and hardy!)

I will need some yellows, pinks and whites in this bed, of course, but that can be annuals in the first year. At least I can get it started with shrubs and perennials from the word “GO”, and that’s always a nice thing.

So there. A new bed in the making, even though The Ambitious Border is not finished yet. But…

What should I call it? Clearly “The Lawn Bed” is too boring a name for a flower bed… I had considered “The Marital Bed”, since it is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but only started on after The Flâneur Husband suggested it, but then what if things start dying in that bed? I clearly don’t want – even symbolically – to be known for my failure in the marital bed, so I need to think of another name. Suggestions are welcome…

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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?

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