Will Skakespeare penned these words long ago but during this lockdown they have proved very up to date. I found myself crowded out of my online supermarket shopping facility. Everyone else piled in and there were no slots left for me. I don’t drive and my husband is in the very vulnerable category so had to look for alternatives. My cupbord was well stocked with most dry goods but fresh green produce was as probem as even the companies delivering veg boxes were inundated.
So, what to do? My solution was to order a raised bed kit and vegetable seeds which were also in short supply. When the seeds came I started them on the window sill and waited for the bed and compost to arrive.
This post is a diary of my gardening adventure.
Eventually my raised bed and compost arrived, and it was filled lettuce plants kindly donated by a neighbour.
As the weather warmed I planted out the things on my window sill which were in danger of taking over the kitchen. I also used up every large pot I had.
The rocket and rainbow swiss chard in the old fish box began to grow and the bed started to look quite green. I invested in a netted cover for the bed to keep off of our resident wood pigeons with the added benefit that it also kept the local cats off what would be a desirable poo patch.
The bed was so successful in providing us with salad greens and as it seemed lockdown was going to be a long job I ordered two more raised beds.
So now there were three and to even things up I ordered a fourth to make a nice potager as well as planting a small purple artichoke in a pot against the wall and moving my bay tree into the centre of the beds.
I could go on but I don’t want to bore you further. I am very pleased but have to report that the weather is foul now with several days of wind but the greens seem to be surviving.This little escapde has provived us with fresh greens, peas, beans and some squash. I look forward to the autumn and winter greens I am planning to plant.
Well hello 2020, so far Australia seems to be on fire, south Africa in the grip of drought and famine, Jakarta is flooded, Harry and Megan have resigned and we are told by those who are really paying attention (unfortunately not the ones who should be) that we have ten years to get our act together or we are doomed to fry drown or starve before the end of the century if not before.
In the light of all that I thought I would share some of the good things that have happened for me last year starting with my lovely Garden.
This painting in oils which is 70×70 cm on box canvas started as a wild sketch but as I worked on it in my studio I was afraid of losing the wildness. I find most paintings end up as a compromise between what one sets out to do and what one is able to do. I’m sure I could go on working on it but feel to do so would end up with what I call knitting where all freedom has been lost, not that I have anything against kitting, just not in a painting. No doubt I will see things that need tweaking as it hangs around my studio though.
Today I returned to this painting started plein aire in my garden about a week ago. Went at it with paint sticks in the first session but used a more careful approach this time. I didn’t want to lose the freedom though so tried to to keep it loose whilst giving some structure to the plants.. I worked all day until the wet paint prevented my from continuing. I used alkyd oil paints which dry overnight so it should be ready to work on again tomorrow.
My garden is a peaceful therapeutic haven where I can sit with a coffee early in the morning to watch the bees wake up and get ready for another day. I miss it in the winter but try to go out as long as I can until its too cold to sit out. Through the dull months the memory those bright buzzing mornings carries me through the times when my studio is really too cold to think of heating economically without destroying the planet.
Having decided the moment was passed for a painting in acrylic I started over a year ago I primed over it reducing it to pristine whiteness. I carried it out into the garden along with easel and oil paint sticks and let myself loose on it covering the whole canvas in one session. I really enjoyed the freedom of working direct onto the canvas with the sticks and thinner. Just what I needed to kick start my flagging creativity. I will have to wait until its dry now before I can finish it off.
Last year I got this garden up and running after having front relandscaped to improve drainage. This year its taken off and I’m enjoying sitting outside in the morning with a cup of coffee. Its delightful to see folks enjoying it too as they pass by, worth all the hard work.
I know some people think I’m mad planting one of these architectural thistles but I do love them. It looks great against the wall of the house and yes I also know I will be in for a hacking time down the line but for now its lovely and the bees are flocking to it.
Gosh, I last posted here is May. Apart from art trail 2018 has seen the creation of a new bigger garden in front of our house. Someone asked me why at our age we are making the garden bigger. The first practical reason is drainage, as there was far too much hard landscaping and concrete for a narrow road with hardly any drains. The second is simply, I like gardens, but after digging the exposed patch over several times taking out at least half a ton of rocks and concrete that the digger missed, then doing it all over again to incorporate 7 bags of compost I was beginning to ask myself the same question,
The easiest way from there would have been to lay a lawn which would give the drainage but I wanted a colourful patch buzzing with butterflies and bees so as well as the plants I had taken out last year I sent for more with the bee friendly label.
I ordered some in the depths of winter when the first spring catalogues came out and when the tiny things arrived I was assured they didn’t need pampering and could remain outside even in snowy weather. Humph! ‘The Beast from the East’ had other ideas so against advice, I brought the poor things into our cool utility area.
We visited a garden centre in February for quite another reason but I couldn’t resist having a quick look at the plants outside. If you have never visited a garden centre in the depths of winter let me tell you its like a cross between the Marie Celeste and a pub with no beer. There was nobody there but the two of us wandering round an arctic waste with a few heavily discounted plants dotted here and there. In a recent gardening program someone said he was a great fan of the “Half price half dead” way of buying plants. He would have approved of the four specimens I brought home, to be fair they were dormant. I put them outside too but took pity on them when the bad weather came, the result was an obstacle course to get to the washing machine but then who needs to wash in winter?
Against the odds all the plants have survived even after being planted out the day before ‘The Beast’ came back for a second rampage.
It has not been the best year for establishing a new garden with severe frost and snow, then a cold wet spring followed by a Bank Holiday cloud burst which tested the new drainage system to the limit with several inches of water flowing onto the garden from the road and overflowing gutters, and finally a two month drought and heatwave but I LOVE it,
The new buzzing garden has given both of us enormous pleasure and we often have breakfast and lunch out there with the bees. I like to think our neighbours love it too and judging by the passers by stopping to admire and compliment I think they do.