Monday, 11 January 2010

Garden Diary

January 1st 2010

A late start after the revelries of New Years Eve. However, through bleary eyes we realised it was a stunning crispy winters day – perfect for walking off the excesses….and taking stock. Frosty in the garden, so just stood and admired the effect of whitened cobwebs on the sedum heads and miscanthus. Backlit through frost they are stunning!

More mole activity in the lawn and along the borders with Barney and I taking two different approaches. His mind is on death, mine on the beautiful crumbly soil….

In receipt of two fabulous gardening/cookery books. Dan Pearson’s ‘Spirit’ and Nigel Slater’s ‘The Kitchen Diaries’. Both inspiring me in very different ways….Plus the Chiltern Seeds Veg Book and a new Knoll Gardens Grasses Catalogue. What quality reading, I feel I have all the bases covered now…

January 2nd

A strange observation…when will the little fruit flies die in the compost heap? Remnants are still there as I make my daily trip with all our recyclables…today the stiff evergreens from the Christmas table posy. The only holly with berries still on it, as the blackbirds have stripped both my holly trees.

A walk is planned through Ventnor Botanic Gardens to Steephill Cove and beyond to Ventnor beach. Everyone still on holiday making the most of this dry interlude after the endless wet of November.

January 3rd

In answer to my own question - three full nights of below zero temperatures have seen off the fruit flies in the compost bin. I must admit to being rather obsessed with my compost bin. I feed it like my life depends on a boiler to keep an engine going. It seems to be both a simplistic and symbolic an activity in these anxious times about our depleted resources on the planet. I am almost obsessive about bio-degradeable materials and will remonstrate with my sons, if an egg shell or teabag ends up in the wrong bin.

Stripping the Xmas Tree and making the annual trip to the recycling centre brings this matter into sharp relief. Apart from the shredded material being used as a mulch in Ventnor Botanic Gardens, the only innovative use I have recently seen is as a dune restorer in the North East. Too far for us, so for now I stick to the general recycling bin. I just love real Christmas trees, already have a dogwood, twinkley effect sculpture all year round in my sitting room and hold a snobby plants woman’s prejudice about potted conifers! Besides, I am trying to cut down the amount of plants in pots to save on my water bills too. If anyone has any further imaginative suggestions, please let me know.

What a joy Ventnor Botanic Gardens continues to be. Even on the coldest of days the Euryops were flowering their socks off on the South African terraces. Little rays of golden sunshine radiating out towards the blue winter skies. Further along, the tree ferns in the Antipodean dell were also looking lush and healthy, and served to remind us of our imminent trip to New Zealand. On our way back from the cove we came in via the New Zealand Garden and noticed the refreshed and new plantings there…

In the kitchen garden I made a further note about what was surviving the cold weather. Slim pickings really, and not enough for a meal, more of a garnish. Leeks, Rocket, Parsley, Cavalero Nero (very small) Marigold seedlings in abundance, Globe artichoke foliage looking ravishing and the remains of the Rainbow Chard, still bright in the stems but with sulking foliage. What a fantastic plant they are though in both the kitchen and ornamental garden. They really do offer something for every season.

I have some garlic still to plant and some very late bulbs, which I will now put in pots.

© Chris Barnes

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