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Archive for the ‘spring’ Category


I like going on hiking holidays, ascending the odd fell and enjoying the challenge of scrambling up crags and hillsides to finally be rewarded by the view from the peak. Sadly, the Flâneur Husband doesn’t really share this slightly masochistic fetish, so it’s a good thing that I can now enjoy all the thrills of a scrambling hill-climb in the privacy of our own kitchen when I want to make my morning coffee:

Kitchen demolition

Getting to the kitchen sink this morning was quite a climb – and perhaps not very dignified to look at, had any spectators been around – and I sort of wish I could have had my coffee FIRST  and THEN climbed Mount Debris!

Indeed, we are spending the Easter week tearing out the old kitchen – though we won’t be installing a new one just yet. We have to re-plaster walls and ceiling and then change the floor boards before we can install a new kitchen, so it’s quite a project and we will get through it by the tested approach of “step by step” (“Ooh, baby”, as New Kids On The Block would have added when I was a pre-teen). The Flâneur Husband has this weird notion that the two success criteria are:

A: We get a new kitchen
B: We have fun doing it

Whereas I am much more realistic in my approach and define my criteria of success as:

A: We get a new kitchen
B: Neither of us files for a divorce

(This sort of DIY job is always going to put a strain on a relationship in my opinion, even more so than, say, going to a family reunion or a trip to IKEA.)

Anyway, I’m sure you will all be glad to know that I made it safely to the sink and back (and got only one rusty nail up my foot while climbing the daunting Mount Debris) and am now reclining in the safety and comfort of the sofa!

So, not much gardening in this blog entry – but then there’s still snow on the ground and nothing to do in the garden anyway. However, the solitary cobea scandens seedling that I posted previously has now been joined by one other seedling – and a third seems to be craning its neck in preparation for emergence, so that will have to do for “spring” right now.

On Saturday, though, I’m heading up to the garden anyway to spend some time chopping up the trees that the Flâneur Husband and his friend took down last weekend. I haven’t been up there since the first weekend in March, so it’s about time I went and gave the weather a good talking-to and told it to spring-up and be done with snow and freezing temperatures day and night!

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I have a plan for the garden. Honestly, I do! However, at present it exists only inside my head, and the last plan of the garden I drew up was the first summer we had the garden and the holiday home, so it’s rather outdated now:

Drawing up plans

The Ambitious Border now reaches almost down to The Ugly Fence – with the inclusion of The Puddles – and the rose patch was discarded and instead there are now roses a bit here and there in the garden. The Temporary Nursery was a holding pen where plants could live until I got the borders ready for them, so that has now reverted to lawn, and the rectangular flower bed on the South-West side of the covered terrace has turned out to be the semi-circular Sunny Border.

And of course there’s the last addition, the Lawn Bed, which is filling up quickly with roses, soft fruit bushes and a spot reserved for perennials as and when I acquire them. I don’t know which, but I’m sure any perennial will be prettier than a stretch of lawn. (And okay, MAYBE I’ve already hoarded some cheap perennials as roots, so they will go in the ground when spring arrives and should in time be able to fill out the blank space.)

Add to this the beds and borders that do not yet exist – except in my head – and the garden is pretty much under control. The Lawn Bed, for instance, is only half of a grander scheme to create a line of flowers between the hedge/shrubbery and the lawn proper – but with a narrow-ish grass path behind it to increase the feeling of depth and provide easy access to the back of the beds. There will also be a narrow grass path between the lawn bed that I dug out last autumn and the second lawn bed that will be a visual extension of the first and might end up merging with The Woodland Patch.

This weekend I’ve let the Flâneur Husband go up to the garden without me – but with a couple of his friends – and they seem to be having fun with card games, red wine and a chain saw…

Flâneur Friend in a tree

Flâneur Friend in a tree

We have a row of pine trees towards one neighbour and from our side they look rather dull – and from the neighbour’s side they look downright ugly while also blocking their afternoon and evening sun… So down they will go, and fortunately the neighbour has some lovely mature trees that will be our new view, so we too will get something prettier to look at. Win-win, I think, especially since cutting down those pines will give more light to the hedge (a pink spirea of sorts interspersed with cherry plums and hawthorn) so it might grow a bit taller.

I’m not entirely sure how many trees they have cut down yesterday. It might be one or two. Either way, it’s a start! And it will open up an area of the garden that we never use, so perhaps a new plan should be made for that area. There is already a pear tree and an apple tree a few meters from the hedge towards that neighbour, so I might add the plum tree my Mum will be bringing over later this spring. (She bought it for her own garden but then decided she wanted another variety so I’m getting an 8ft tree for free!) It’s beginning to sound a bit like an orchard, isn’t it, so maybe that’s what it will be. I’ve always loved fruit trees for their mix of the ornamental and the tasty, so more of them, please!

So plans and hopes and dreams. What a gardener does while the snow is still on the ground, right? It seems like I’ll have another couple of weeks to plan and dream, sadly, and while I don’t want to moan about the weather I do wish it would turn more spring-like soon so I can get cracking with the planting and weeding and everything else that needs doing.

 

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I woke up this morning to this view:

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Snow falling heavily outside, covering the cemetery in a blanket of soft, white flakes. Very pretty, but hardly spring – will you agree?

However:

Outside it might be snowing
But inside I hope it’s growing!

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I’ve sown a batch of cobea scandens / Cup and Saucer flowers that The Flâneur Husband gave me – along with other seed packets – as a “congratulations on your first day at work” bouquet. All right, so the convention is that when you buy your partner flowers you generally don’t ask them to grow them themselves, but… Will you agree that four packets of seeds is the perfect flower present for a gardener? Especially seeds that should be sown 4-6 weeks before the last frost…

It means we have a little piece of spring – with promise of summer – in our window in the apartment, and I really look forward to seeing something emerge from the soil!

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Six months ago I posted this entry, as I was made redundant from my old company. Well, it’s been a long half year, and I’ve spent a lot of time going up to the Summer House and spending time looking out at a snowy garden doing bugger-all except trawling the internet for jobs and sending off application after application.

Snowdrops

However, yesterday I went for an interview and they called me in the afternoon to ask when I can start, so on Monday at 9AM I will start my new job! It’s perhaps not very sexy being an accounts receivable clerk in a public educational institution, but it’s the kind of job I am good at and can enjoy. (I enjoy things I’m good at, and nobody beats me when it comes to a nice spread sheet…)

Aconites

It means, of course, that there will be less time to spend in the garden this spring than feared. (Because let’s face it, unemployment sucks, even if it’s good for the garden!) This, however, is just something to manage somehow. After all, the garden has always been intended as a weekend / holiday garden, so it must be able to look good – or at least decent – with only a couple of days’ attention every month. Even in spring.

Seedlings etc. will have to be grown in the apartment anyway, so the garden will not be completely neglected. And even though the Flâneur Husband pretended to be annoyed that there were seed trays in every window in the apartment last spring, he secretly admitted to me that he quite liked seeing the little plants grow – especially since they’d be adorning the garden in the summer. And when I get my dahlia tubers back from their winter holiday Chez Mum – it sounds so much ritzier than “in my Mum’s shed – I might also start them off in pots in the apartment so they can get a good start before I expose them to the slugs.

So even though it’s one day early I’ve changed the header from the winter image to the spring image, and I thought I’d end this entry with the un-cropped version.

Spring beauty

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So I spent the weekend digging – again… Seems like it’s becoming one of my regular activities in the garden, carving away at the lawn inch by inch to make room for more plants.

This weekend I was hoping to complete The Puddles – the new name for the miniature pond – and surroundings, but a sore back and too much sun – I got slightly red on Friday, so on Saturday and Sunday I tried to stay out of the sun as much as possible, digging in short intervals with long breaks in the shade, and of course covered in SPF 30.

Anyway, I didn’t finish it this weekend, but I did manage to clear a 3 x 4 meter stretch of lawn and dig out most of the puddle holes. It will just be a couple of 90-litre plastic tubs, so not the biggest holes in the world, but with heavy soil on top and pure clay further down it’s plenty big for one person to dig on his own and maintain momentum. I’ve sited them at the end of the Ambitious Border (or what will BE the end of it; right now there’s still a stretch of grass between the part that’s been completed and planted and the site of The Puddles, but over the summer it will be joined together, I promise.) so they will be visible from the covered terrace and from the hammock.

So I could show you pictures of bare soil with holes in it, but instead I thought I’d show you what I’ll stick around The Puddles:

Astrantia major

There’s an white astrantia major from the Flâneur Husband’s grandparents’ allotment sitting in the lawn in front of the large rhododendrons, and you sort of have to know it’s an inherited and treasured plant in order to notice it at all, so it will be relocated to the pond area to become more prominent. It’s one of those perennials that will stand up for almost anything, so apart from the nostalgic origins of the plant it’s also a favourite because it is so low-maintenance.

Hosta

And of course it doesn’t get much more low-maintenance than hostas. These are from my mother’s garden and have overwintered in a bucket in the courtyard (now that’s hardy!). This clump will be divided into three or four smaller sections so they can cover a larger area, and of course they’ll spread out and just do their thing. I think the lushness of the hosta leaves will fit in nicely with a spot of water, and they will also provide a nice cover for small wildlife – hopefully not just slugs!

Asters

The site of the sand box that was removed from the garden when we bought it has functioned as a “holding pen” ever since, and I must say it’s rather over-crowded – and also somewhat unmotivated, sitting in the middle of the lawn and looking a bit out-of place. It holds a clump of very pretty purple asters from my mother’s garden that can go at the back of the Puddles up against the hedge to the neighbour.

Iris

The “holding pen” also contains two types of iris. A large purple bearded iris (or rather lots of separate rhizomes) that was salvaged from the re-vamping of the area around my old block of apartments, and some slightly smaller iris that I haven’t seen in bloom yet as they were transplanted from the Flâneur Husband’s grandparents’ allotment last summer.

I also have some tiny iris sibirica that I have grown from seeds in small pots, and they really need to move out into the garden and get some more space very soon, having lived in 4″ pots since they were sown last spring.

I’ll dot the irises around The Puddles in clusters, and I think it’s possibly a safe bet to say that iris and water will look great together.

Unknown lawn weed

This is a plant that grows in a very clearly defined area of the lawn, leading me to suspect it might be the remnants of a flower bed that had been left to become infested with grass over many years. (Like so many other beds in the garden.) I love the foliage – which grows 1½ foot high – and later in summer it will have umbels of small white flowers up to 2-3 foot high.

Obviously I won’t mow the area where these are clustered, but I’ve also lifted some and stored in a bucket in the courtyard to be planted around The Puddles; I have no idea what this plant is, but it’s hardy and pretty, and that warrants a space in my garden any day!

Perennial Sweet Pea

The picture above are the perennial sweet peas at the back of The Sunny Border, but we also have them growing in various places at the edges of the lawn, so I will move at least one plant to the back of The Puddles. Just in front of the hedge is a small beech tree that is bare up to the top of the hedge (but has healthy foliage above that, perhaps because it gets more sun up there), and it will provide a good enough natural climbing post for the sweet peas to add some height and flowers to the area.

 

So there… I think I will be able to fill out the area nicely from the beginning, and if I do end up with a blank spot or two I have several other contenders that can be brought in, though I think the above is really about as many different types of plants as I need to make the area diverse and interesting, but not messy and confused-looking.

I’m going up to the garden again next weekend for a quick visit (before travelling on to Jutland to visit my parents) and I hope that will allow me to get The Puddles in place, and maybe at least some of the planting.

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Yesterday I started on the weeding of the Ambitious Border… Oh dear; more like “the area where perennials grow in the lawn”, actually, but at least I have now cleared a section of it – and managed not to damage the plants in the process!

I only did about a third of it, though, because  a) it’s backbreaking work and b) I’m up here with my mother-in-law this weekend, and it seems unsociable to have one’s head in a flower bed while having company, doesn’t it?

Mind you; I’ll do another section today, and then perhaps the final furlong on Sunday, so when the Flâneur Husband comes up here next weekend it might actually be possible to see what’s lawn and what’s flower bed!

The peonies, bleeding hearts, astilbes and a single hosta have been liberated so far, and next up are the day lilies and goldenrods. There should be an acanthus in there somewhere, but I can’t spot it at the moment, and I’m sure my mother also planted some globe thistles when my parents visited last spring… We’ll see if I find them in the mess!

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I went up to the garden after work yesterday, simply because the weather was so spectacular (and sadly looks set to grow colder, greyer and wetter over the weekend).

Anyway, the forget-me-nots are now in full bloom and an absolute delight where they’ve been allowed to spread because I’m not mowing the lawn as close to the “woodland” area towards the road as the previous owners did. They happily compete with the grass in this rather shady area, and they turn a dull, useless area into something very pretty:

-Right next to them is a bit of omphalodes verna, which in Danish is called kærminde; “treasured memory”. Now, not only are the names quite similar in many ways, but the flowers are also very similar, so they create a little blue corner.

The past weekend I planted 30 dahlias in the Sunny Border, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s too small, but maybe it’s just because I need to get cracking with the Ambitious Border right opposite it so the Sunny Border won’t be the sole focus.

Also, I need to visualise what it will look like when all the dahlias are 1 meter tall, the Chinese anemones begin to send their delicate flowers hovering over the coarse(-ish) foliage, the outlandish shapes of the blue iris flowers exploding over the grass-like spikes , and of course the red L.D. Braithwaite roses that my parents bought the Flâneur Husband for his birthday. We’re some time away from this scenario, but these are all plants I know, so I know what each will end up looking like, and together they will be spectacular.

-And of course the bed is backed by perennial sweet peas, honeysuckle and a purple clematis surrounded by blueish-purple geraniums at it’s feet.

Come summer, this will be stunning, for sure.

Another stunner – albeit more in personality than in looks – is this little guy:

It’s the starling who has taken a shine to one of our nesting boxes. Now, of course I love any bird that will nest in our garden, but I also love how this little guy goes about finding a mate. When you see ducks mating, more often that not it seems more like a rape than the basis of a family, but this little guy spends most of his time in the tree where the nesting box is located, flapping his wings, pushing out his chest and calling out to the entire neighbourhood “Here I am, where are you? I have a good home for us and our offspring!”

And then the sun began setting, I went to bed and this morning I left very early to get to work on time, but it was definitely worth it!

Mind you, Copenhagen is not a bad place on a sunny spring evening:

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