Sorry about the title of this entry. It will be explained…

So, I was sitting in my car on the motorway, doing 120 km/h and generally being a bit bored, when suddenly my car made a strange noise. Well, I say “noise”; it was more of a “meow”. Very confusing, but then the car meowed again. Now, I don’t know much about cars, but they’re surely not supposed to meow!

Suddenly a cat jumps up from behind the passenger seat, across me and decides to sit on the dashboard. In front of me. On the motorway. Not, as you can imagine, an ideal situation. Especially as I’m pretty sure I don’t own a cat – or at least I was. I tried shooing it away, but the result was that it chose to lie down – which meant I could look over it so that seemed a workable compromise.

It must have jumped in the car when I was taking a break at a motorway service station. But what do I do with it? As far as I can see it has no ear tattoo, so today I’ll have to find out how to get checked if it’s chipped; it’s clearly a domestic cat, because it won’t leave me alone for a second – hence the title of this entry that was finished off by a cat walking across my keyboard!

Actually it’s kind of adorable… Kind of too adorable, really, because its behaviour indicates that it’s been used to a lot of human contact before it ended up jumping in my car at a petrol station – so clearly there must be an owner somewhere missing the cat. Hopefully they can be reunited soon, because god help me… SO ADORABLE!

Anyway, there we are. Me and a strange cat that car-jacked me. Or did I inadvertently cat-nap it? Who knows. For now it’s sitting on my desk, purring away merrily, when not walking across my keyboard or, indeed, myself.

To Absent Hens…


So, that nesting pheasant I discovered in my rose border last weekend? Well, she must have been sitting there for quite some time, considering that it takes 23-25 days to hatch a pheasant egg – and she has now abandoned the nest with a 100% hatching rate!

She probably took her chicks down to the lake or somewhere, because she’s nowhere to be found in the garden. (Pheasant chicks are great runners from the get-go more or less, so they can easily follow their mother for quite a stretch.)

But… She made her nest in my garden! Awr… Isn’t that just wonderful? Also, those egg shells… I just love that olive-green shade of a pheasant egg.

I do hope this repeats next year!

Gardening Friends…

I’m still so very much in love with my garden… And others like it too! I have starlings with a small brood of starlets – or whatever one should call them – and in the evening there are a few bats circling the skies above my garden. And this afternoon I ran into this beauty:


This pheasant hen has decided to nest in the rose border and it really feels quite special to have a pheasant nesting in my garden; I found her as I was cutting aquilegias for a bunch of flowers to bring back to town, and at first I just noticed this slightly worried, cooing sound but thought little of it until there was suddenly an eye looking at me from between the foliage.

When I was a kid I once reared a brood of pheasants in my parents’ back garden. One of my hens was broody, so I bought 18 pheasant eggs and as a good girl she managed to get 17 to hatch. Later, once the chicks reached adolescence, they were released on my grandfather’s farm – and considering how bad a shot he was, if they only stayed on his lands they will have lived to a ripe old age… These eggs, though, will face a more perilous existence; there is a hunting shack behind my garden, and the guy who leases the hunt is a better shot than my grandfather.

Stay in my garden, chicklets! As much as I love a nice, roast pheasant – or pheasant au vin or confit of pheasant or pheasant rillettes – I promise not to harm you.

The eggs should hatch in a few weeks – as far as I remember, the hatching time for pheasant eggs is around 21 days – so the timing is good; the mother and her chicks should be out and about well before my garden is overrun by people for my summer party on June 25th.

I’ve put out a bowl of water for her – dehydration is common in nesting hens, so I’m guessing that might go for pheasants as well – and blocked the garden path past the rose border to remind myself to stay out of her way. She is very welcome here, and I intend to make her stay as pleasant as possible.

Too Posh?

I just commissioned an areal drawing of my house…


Okay, so what I did was to ask a friend to make a fantasy drawing based on this 1973 photo of my house. All I’ve asked is that he produces something that can hang next to this 16″ by 20″ photo, but there is no need for it to actually resemble the house. He’s allowed to imagine it any way he wants to – also the shed – and I’ll just have to wait and see when it comes to the result…

When I say “fantasy drawing” I actually mean it… he has free reigns to add towers, domes, whatever on his drawing.

My only limitation is that it needs to be large enough to hang next to the original photo, so it needs to be A3 at least.

(He’s very good both at sketching real environments – I have a framed drawing of his from Venice that I really like – and imaginary scenes. I want him to draw my house as it has never been and never will be, yet recognisable…)



Lots of Everything


Lots of geese… The wild geese are still hanging out in the fields around my garden in their hundreds. It is an impressive sight when they all take flight at the same time, though in this picture it’s just a small part of the flock. My guess is the entire flock is close to a thousand when they are all together, but really; counting that many birds is a) impossible and b) beyond my patience threshold. Suffice to say there are LOTS!


My garden has snowdrops by the thousands. This is just one of the patches where they’ve naturalised in the lawn, and on top of that there are more regular clumps of them in the beds and borders. When the flowers begin to go over – but before the leaves die down – I’ll be digging up a few of the clumps to divide, and replant some and pot others up for a few friends who would like some. They can get a few hundred each, I suppose, and nobody will be able to tell the difference next spring.

The dog is not mine; he’s just vacationing with me while his owners are getting some sun in Maspalomas. Tomorrow I have to return him – I think that’s probably the best way to ensure they let me borrow him again in the future… So far I’ve been dog-sitting him three times in 2016 already, so even though he’s a bit of a bratty, 2½ years old springer spaniel, he’s definitely growing on me. And I’d like to think he enjoys my company as well, not to mention vacationing in a garden with loads of wild geese to chase in the fields around!


“Lots” means something different when it comes to my hellebores; they aren’t present in their thousands or even hundreds, but there are 6 good, large plants throughout the garden and they’re all blooming now. I tried growing hellebores (helleborus niger) in the old garden, but they died each time I tried, perhaps because of the damp clay soil. Here, though, they seem to thrive – though of course this is a different variety and a completely different soil type.

I really feel blessed to have taken over a garden that offers up so much for me to enjoy so soon in the season; it is an easy garden to fall in love with, both in terms of what is inside my fence and what lies beyond. I can’t imagine ever tiring of the fact that I have a lake view when I stand in the shower in the morning… I mean, how many people have a shower with a view?

More Tea, Vicar?


The local vicar called me the other day and asked if she could stop by for a visit. I guess that’s a sign that her parish isn’t terribly large when she does something like that – and can keep track of when new people move to the parish.

She had an agenda, which was why she wanted to meet me… She had heard from the couple down the road that I had dinner with last week that I was a bit of a leftie, so she thought I might be interested in helping her with a collection that the Church of Denmark is making Sunday after next to help disadvantaged women in developing countries.

When she arrived, though, she was very apologetic – it seems the parish border is some 200 yards west of my house, so I’m not even in her parish, though my postcode is named for the village… I pointed out that technically I belong to the parish by my Copenhagen apartment anyway, and besides I doubted if women in Burkina Faso and elsewhere really cared much about Danish parish borders…

So 9 days from now I’ll spend a Sunday morning going door to door, collecting money to give women access to healthcare and education. Surely there are worse ways to spend a Sunday, right?

I love this aspect of country life; that you are assumed to be part of a community, even as a part-time resident. (And even if you happen to live 200 yards over the parish border…) I’ve never in my life tried having a vicar invite herself over, nor been directly asked to take part in this sort of thing – though I’ve previously volunteered to collect for the Red Cross and the Danish Refugee Council, so she couldn’t have found an easier person to talk into this.

It certainly didn’t do any harm that she’s a charming and interesting person; she was ordained in the late 1960’s, some 20 years after the first female priest was ordained in the Church of Denmark, so she’s a bit of an old, feminist hippie in some ways – as am I, only a bit younger… I could definitely imagine myself dropping in for coffee at the vicarage in the future, though sadly she’s retiring this summer when she turns 70 as per church policy.

Funnily, though, she will move from the vicarage to an apartment some 500 yards from my apartment in Copenhagen! I would say “it’s a small world”, but of course the truth is that Denmark is a small country… (I mean, my local electrician used to date the daughter of the man I bought the house from, so he came here frequently in the 60’s – though he never saw the upstairs bedrooms before I bought the house!)


You know how you sometimes discover something in a corner of your garden?


Well, I discovered a rather tall mast the other day. I don’t know if it’s 30 or 50 feet high, nor do I know how on Earth I managed to overlook it for several months!

Okay, so I sort of do know… It’s by the East gable of the house where I don’t really go that often, and you can’t see it from the windows. Still, it’s A BLOODY TALL MAST! You would have thought I would have seen it.

The question now remains what to do with it. The best suggestion so far is to hoist the Jolly Roger at the top and create my own – very literal – pirate radio station where every other sentence is “Avast, me hearties”, “Hey-ho and a bottle of rum” or just plain “Arrrr”…

On a more realistic level I’ve been googling vigorous climbers… But what will grow tall enough? Hops normally only grow to 20 feet, and clematis montana to 30 feet. Both will probably leave me a bit short.

Pulling down the mast is just not within my capabilities, nor is getting somebody to do it within the budget, so I clearly have to keep it for now. The birch tree next to it should partly camouflage it, but it could be fun to make some sort of use of it. After all, how many gardens have a whopping tall mast in them? It HAS to be made into a feature, but it needs some sort of purpose.

(And it’s probably too weak to carry even a smallish windmill…)


A friend who grew up locally has told me that it was most likely used to mount a TV antenna to receive German terrestrial TV signals, which sounds likely. After all, I grew up in a country that had only one national TV station until 1988 so many people in the South and East of Denmark either watched German or Swedish television. Considering that I don’t own a telly set, though, this is not really useful for me.


It still astounds me that for over 2½ months I didn’t notice this. I mean, it’s taller than the HOUSE!

Silly Sightseeing…

A house is not just a house; it’s embedded in the natural and cultural landscape that surrounds it. So I try to visit some of the local villages and towns and see what they have on offer, so to speak.

Today I went to Nysted, and when you visit the church of a small town on a Thursday, you’re VERY likely to be alone. And leaving me alone in a vaulted, late-Gothic church is just… Well, it leads to this:

There really isn’t much to see in the church apart from the baroque altarpiece and a few portraits and memorial tablets, but the sound was phenomenal. I know I muddled up the lyrics (it’s been 18 years since I was last in a church choir), but I just HAD to play with the sound of the space.

I always wear shoes with hard soles when I visit churches, simply because they make a sound that resonates under the vaults. And when I’m alone I may occasionally hum a few notes, just to hear them reflected from the vaults… But today I felt rather confident that nobody would stop by, so why not go all-in?

I spent just over half an hour in that church. Nothing much to see, but it was so much fun to play around with the acoustics! I need to sing more, because singing is fun – and I am badly out of practice as you can hear. My voice is decent enough, but it needs training to be good.

That Elusive Dream…

You know how every gardener secretly dreams of having that dark, loamy soil that they talk about on gardening shows? Well, I have that. I am located in one of the most fertile parts of Denmark, farming-wise, and my soils shows why.

It’s black and rich and almost greasy to the touch.

When I cross the field (the farmer has told me I can do so, otherwise I’d never walk through a field of crops!) downhill towards the bog and the lake, the soil turns a lighter colour in the field, which is probably because it has been so intensely cultivated for centuries, but then when I get down towards the bog it becomes soggy and dark.

It really is amazing to have this sort of soil to work with. In the old garden I had perhaps 4 inches of decent top soil and then a thick layer of clay, but here the loamy soil just goes on and on as you dig. It retains moisture, but it doesn’t become waterlogged as the old garden tended to do, and I don’t think I could imagine better conditions for growing just about anything I would want.

Yesterday while walking around the garden with the dog I’ve borrowed for the weekend (the owners think I’m doing them a favour, but really it’s the other way around!), I realised my garden is virtually infested with shrews. There are small holes all over the lawn, in the beds and under the shrubs. It’s a protected species here in Denmark, so I’m quite pleased to see so many signs that they are happy in my garden. Sure, they might eat some roots of some of my projects, but I can live with that – after all, the shrews were here first!

The wildlife is really going to be an important part of my garden. Having the bog and lake nearby means I don’t really NEED to do much to create a local wildlife habitat, but obviously I want the wildlife to come to me… Of course I want the cute little birds, but I also want the bugs, the insects, the frogs and newts and yes, the shrews.

When I ordered my load of berry shrubs for my Eastern Hedge, I also ordered the materials needed to “build” a pond. A square liner for the pond itself, as well as a stretch of narrow liner to create a small stream through the garden. The stream needs to be carefully arranged, since it will be powered by a solar pump and won’t flow on cloudy days – so I need to somehow create levels of standing water if I don’t go for the “dry creek” look.

The pond itself will be around three-four metres across and just over a meter deep, while the stream will be around 20-25 metres long, meandering down through the garden and collecting rain water from the greenhouse and shed roofs. I’ve also ordered a roll of coconut matting that will line the stream so in time it will become a sort of muddy, natural surface, rather than a black liner…

The exact location of the pond, though, remains to be determined. There are no plans of the drainage system from the gutters and the septic tank, so I guess I just need to start digging and see what happens… Which pretty much sums up my gardening philosophy!

The Berry Project

Last week there was an evening when I was kind of bored, sitting in my Copenhagen apartment and not really knowing what to do. But then, there’s always the internet, right?

By the end of the evening I had ordered the following:

  • A white currant
  • A red currant
  • A black currant
  • A red gooseberry
  • A yellow gooseberry
  • A red raspberry
  • A yellow raspberry
  • A blackberry
  • A boysenberry
  • A black-leaved elder (“black lace”)

There’s a decent hedge along the West edge of the garden, but the East side only has a wire fence. It’s not that I really need a hedge for privacy reasons, considering that the nearest neighbour is nearly half a mile away, but first of all the wire fence just isn’t all that attractive and second of all I rather like the idea of a garden as an enclosed space, especially since I am surrounded by open fields.


On my recent Tour de Denmark, visiting family and friends across the Great Belt on Funen and in Jutland, my mother offered me an additional berry shrub. I actually wanted jostaberries, but because they are still fairly rare the prices were just too high for what I wanted to pay – but my mother’s shrub had several branches that had arched down to the ground and rooted, so I came away with three cuttings with fully developed root systems.

They look a bit puny right now, but so did my mother’s when we planted it 2 years ago – and now hers is a full shrub 5ft high and 7ft wide, so I feel pretty certain that my three little twigs will be a good start to my hedge.

The jostaberry is not very well-known, perhaps because it only became commercially available in 1977. It’s a hybrid between a gooseberry and a black currant, so it gives very large berries that have a gooseberry flavour when not-quite-ripe and a black currant flavour when fully ripe. And it gives LOTS of berries… In many ways it’s surprising that it hasn’t become more mainstream, considering that it’s a thorn-less berry shrub that gives an ample harvest and can be cut back more or less as much as you want to.

It feels good to have made my first REAL stamp on the garden. The East edge is one of the long sides of the garden (around 230ft), so planting that up with berry shrubs will be a very visible alteration to the garden – but still in keeping with the original scheme, since the vegetable garden is also on that side.


In other news, snowdrops are popping out all over the place, even in the lawn. They are all over the garden; in the borders, under shrubs, in the lawn… There are also a few clumps of aconites, but the snowdrops are really a favourite of mine, so I am very pleased to see so many of them.

Another welcome resident of the garden is this:


I love day lilies, and this one is probably my favourite, considering the history of the garden. It’s very likely to be the common, orange day lily, since it has been a common feature of Danish country gardens for the best part of a century. That’s the one my grandmother has in her present garden – and had when they lived on the farm – and also the one my parents had in my childhood garden. There might be prettier varieties out there, but this is the one I love for sentimental reasons.

Tomorrow I might have a look around the garden to see if there’s an obvious spot to plant some of the day lilies; it looks like the clump could do with being divided, and anyway it’s sort of in a bad position, nestled beneath some fuchsia shrubs. Not only will the colours clash violently, but I also think the day lilies would like to live somewhere where there aren’t overhanging shrubs…

Tomorrow I’ll also have my first ever guest in the house. That’s a “little bit” daunting! I love this place so much, but I am realistic enough to acknowledge that it’s quite a mess at present. And yet I want guests to see what I see; potential! If I get the kitchen looking decent and provide a nice bedroom for my guest, perhaps the rest will seem like “potential”?