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Archive for the ‘spring’ Category


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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On Sunday April 28th at 8 o’clock in the evening I got the lawn (okay, most of it) mowed, so I did manage to get it done within April!

Now, I agree that it does look a bit tidier now than with the 10″ grass jungle, but it also looks so much less interesting, because all the small flowers that had come out all over the lawn have now been cut down.

Here are a few examples:

I also suspect that the mowed lawn will be much less interesting to the wood pigeons and the pheasant and all the other birds that have taken to strutting their stuff on the lawn while foraging, not to mention the smaller animals like insects and the like.

*sigh*

A lawn is a desert painted green, but there’s no helping it; it must be mown, though I probably will never get around to doing it on a fortnightly basis. Still, little by little I’m carving out sections of lawn and turning them into flower beds that will allow for more diversity both of plant and animal life. And I promise: I will NEVER weed the lawn!  Just look at the above beauties; I can’t imagine why some people are less than thrilled to have such flowers growing in-between the grass!

 

(I only got around to mowing perhaps half of the lawn; the area in front of the covered terrace and the area from the drive to the front door. The rest will be done the coming weekend when I have a three-day weekend up in the summer house with my mother-in-law in tow. I actually look forward to having some company up there that isn’t classified as “wildlife”. Also, when my mother-in-law gets bored, she starts cleaning or cooking… Either is welcome!)

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Yesterday after work I went home and started packing up for a weekend in the garden, and here’s mu luggage, photographed after 1 bus and 2 train rides (with the final bus ride to go):

  • 1 fuchsia – purchased in pot
  • 5  dahlias grown from tubers
  • 24 dahlias grown from seed
  • 2 dahlias grown from cuttings
  • 7 tomatoes grown from seed
  • 25 sweet peas grown from seed
  • 2 lavenders – purchased in pots
  • 20 or so gladiolus corms
  • 2 dahlia tubers

-So you know; just your average luggage when going on public transport!

Good thing nobody stared at me during the journey. No sirree, nobody at all… Except, of course, everybody who saw me logging around more plants than you find on your average well-planted balcony!

Today I’m planting out the dahlias in the Sunny Border; the forecast is for fairly mild nights during the next week, so I hope they will survive the change…  The Sunny Border will have no shortage of plants, that much is sure, especially if I sow a second batch so I have some spares to fill in any gaps. (Gardeners are like the royals; we should always have “an heir and a spare”, just in case… What with weather and wildlife doing as they please, we might as well be prepared!)

The fuchsia will go in a pot in the courtyard. I have no idea if it will be hardy enough for the Danish winters, so I might have to bring it inside when the frost begins, and that’s just simpler with a pot. (Plus the courtyard definitely needs some colour, and fuchsia is good at that.)

I’ve got doubts about the tomatoes; last year I grew them in a self-watering Styrofoam box, and that was actually my intention again this year, but I’m beginning to wonder whether to just plunk them in pots in the courtyard instead, or even in one of the vegetable beds (though I probably won’t do that, as space is limited there). We’ll see what happens!

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Sunday morning there was a pheasant cock crowing his rather unpleasant cry from the forest nearby, and later in the morning he passed by our garden on the road.

I couldn’t get a decent shot of him, so the above is the best I could do; he was strutting his stuff on the lawn across the road, crowing happily to mark that this is – apparently – his territory.

There was also a visiting starling, inspecting one of the nesting boxes. I do hope he/she found it to their liking so we can have little starling babies (starlets?) this summer.

Of course there was also the regular crew of sparrows, blackbirds, wagtails, robins and the odd sets of swans and geese overhead, as well as the first butterfly (small white) and I even heard a bumble bee, though he was hiding in the bushes so I couldn’t see him. Oh, and a squirrel stopped by the fir tree by and treated the hedgerow as some sort of playground, much adding to my morning entertainment.

Spiders, woodlice and other small critters are also abundant in the garden these days, and it looks like we have a new shrew living in the raised hedgerow; there is certainly a tunnel that looks like it could be the right size for such a small animal.

I have not seen any of the invasive Spanish slugs yet, but that’s only a matter of time, I fear. The small native grey slugs have already emerged, so I have no doubt that the large brown buggers will soon follow. We might have a new resident shrew, but I’d also like to attract a hedgehog and perhaps a toad since there will probably be slugs enough for all of them to eat their fill.

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Yesterday I showed you my bag. Well, here’s what the contents look like unwrapped on the lawn:

The top three are the L.D Braithwaites from the nursery near my parents, and the two bunches below are New Dawn and Rhapsody in Blue from a more mainstream garden centre.

Now, the cheap roses DO look healthy and I’m sure they will be fine, but in the picture above you can see quite clearly on the right bunch that the roots have been cut, whereas the more expensive nursery roses have smaller roots, but they have not been cut.

Today I managed to plant the New Dawns and the L.D. Braithwaites. The New Dawns were a right pain to plant, since they will be growing up trees and obviosuly had to be planted at the foot of these two trees. Now, first of all I had to remove more of the lawn – which seems a recurring theme in my gardening career – and then I had to dig planting holes between the tangled roots of the trees… It was not simple!

For the L.D. Braithwaites the process was simpler, but perhaps no less arduous; they were destined for the Sunny Border, where I’d already stripped off the lawn, but clearly since these were expensive plants they deserved special attention, so I dug a 1½ft deep triangular hole, almost a square meter in area. Essentially this means I dug out the best part of a ton of dense soil and pure clay…

I then mixed the top soil with four barrows of compost, positioned the roses and finally filled the hole. My back was aching, my hands were chafed andI generally felt worn-out, but at least I had the lush, exuberant view of a rose patch to enjoy:

Oh, right; I have a couple of twigs sticking out of the bare soil… But there is promise in these little twigs, and I trust them to make my effort worth-while. Or at least not entirely in vain…

(Also, please note what an un-butch photographer I am… The shadow in the lower right-hand corner is of course me, my phone and a rather daintily curved pinky finger. But it’s dark outside now, so I can’t re-take the shot, and I definitely can’t be bothered to save this post and then publish it tomorrow when I have a non-pinky shot.)

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Right, so last time I went up to the garden my luggage contained three rhododendrons… This time the luggage was lighter, but the number of plants greater!

In case you can’t see it – which is understandable – this is a bag full of roses. Three red L.D. Braithwaite that will go in the Sunny Border, 5 New Dawn that will be planted 2 by each of the trees that carry the hammock in summer and one to be planted wherever I might think of it.

And to top it off there are also 5 Rhapsody in Blue, just because I like the outlandish blueish-purple hue of these roses.

So 13 roses to be planted, and only the site for the L.D. Braithwaites is prepared. That should keep me busy this Saturday and Sunday, I reckon!

Of course the New Dawn roses will be planted in the lawn, so I will do yet more cutting away turf at the foot of the trees that will act as trellises for them. I suspect this is a bit of a suicide mission, but never mind. Less grass, more flowers!

The Rhapsody in Blue is the joker in this game; I have no idea where to put them, but I guess I could stick them in the Ambitious Border in the area where I sowed annuals last year. Anyway, I’ll work that out once the Braithwaites and New Dawns are in the ground.

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No, this is not going to be another post about what it looks like when I work from home, surrounded by vases of blooming forsythias or whatever. This is about REAL work, the kind that will produce visible, tangible results in the garden.

There is a large table in the bathroom that would probably be ideal for changing nappies if you had a baby, but since we don’t I have put it to other use:

I use it as a work surface for sowing seeds and potting up cuttings, and then the results are transferred to the windows around the apartment, especially the bedroom window since this is the window that gets the most sun (from dawn to around 1pm). The sitting room windows get slightly less sun, so I use those mainly for cuttings and for growing on tubers and roots.

This is what I currently have growing in the apartment (with a few omissions because there were pots I forgot I had tucked away):

As you can see I’m cheating by starting off the dahlia tubers in the apartment. This is because the slugs love them, and I figure a larger plant will be more able to survive a slug attack than a completely new shoot. There are also dahlia seedlings, pots with dahlia seed that has yet to make an appearance and – because the tubers grow so happily – a small pot with three dahlia cuttings that so far look like they will survive.

There are also two pots with tomato seeds and of course a tray of sweet peas. (And a box of DEGT seed – Don’t Even Go There – i.e. Zantedeschi Aethiopica with a germination period up to 3 months…)

And in the back of the dining table you can see a vase of dogwood branches that have rooted in the water. The variegated foliage is still pretty and adds a touch of spring to the apartment, but more importantly the roots are well-developed and eventually I will cut the branches back to only a couple of leaves and then plant them out in the hedgerow. I’m sure they will be happy there, and with dogwood there’s never even question about whether it will survive.

I do wish I could go out into the garden every afternoon after work, but since that’s not an option I do enjoy being able to get things going in the apartment, even though it will be a nightmare to transport everything up to the garden by bus and metro and train and bus…

(Oh, and tomorrow I’m flying over to the Flâneur Husband in Aberdeen and will be returning on Sunday with a suitcase full of three small rhododendrons that I will then plant in the garden on Monday… It seems silly in a way to move plants that far, but on the other hand they’ve brought him so much joy during his expatriation that I think it’s perfectly sensible to bring them to Denmark so he can continue to enjoy them.)

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