28 March 2012
We take a walk up the country road that we live on to see what's bursting into life. There are nettles and there is galium (aka sticky weed, goose grass, cleaver). Nothing very exotic. But no, the galium is 'looking tasty' so we gather some, and the nettles in turn are 'feisty' which is how we like them. With their fresh green tips they do look more appealing than usual and we gather some with the aid of gloves, for a very quick dose of goodness as well as a taste test.
Julia often refers to herbs (you know what I mean) as a 'she' or a 'he'. It's a personal thing. 'Nettles are feisty grandmas who keep everyone in line.' They are also seen as a protective plant. Anything that crawls in there will be kept safe: very grandmotherly.
I need to be reminded of the finer point of nettles and of galium while the kettle is boiling.
'Nettle is anti-inflammatory and it's also a blood tonic: use it after long-term illness or blood loss.' Or drink nettle tea because you like it. Cooled tea can be poured on the hair to give it a pro-shine and anti-hairloss boost. Julia adds four nettle leaf tips to boiling water and we let it steep. There's something a bit tingly about the whole process and I can't help thinking abut the word 'nettle', a derivative of 'needle'. It smells like wee.
Julia is also known on twitter as Botanical Bird@juliathompson15
23 March 2012
The main reason I stake my pitch at Uppingham Market every Friday is that it's always fun, even in winter. I also feel that it's a wholesome, non-electronic way to do some marketing, in its truest sense.
So it's interesting to discover how far the good word has spread, and whether there is any point in being there at all (besides selling the odd high-quality item).
More intrigued passersby:
'I've never seen you before, are you new? (no).
'Your stall is kind of new-modern-old, that's how I'd describe it.'
'You and your ancient history stall,' (getting warmer).
My favourite quote was today, just before the perplexed Friends of the Earth people.
'Are you a charity?'
One Friday an older lady from the knitting community reported with some glee: 'They're all talking about how expensive your tea cosies are!'
'Well it's very nice to be the talk of the town,' I said, feeling a bit like Oscar Wilde.
22 March 2012
shed featured on March 10 this year has been pulled up off the ground and set a-right. It is nailed shut but looks blameless enough and there is talk of African marigolds for the planter. Its handsome bone structure has been restored with a bit of creosote and engine oil and it is hoped that it will leave the next council inspector in raptures. But in our muckraking capacity here at News from Nowhere we predict that the finicky finial has made it so banal that it will never be looked at again.
18 March 2012
When I took a tour around Highgrove a couple of years ago I was looking forward to seeing the vast swathes of tulips. They were gone, having sat too uncomfortably in their sustainable surroundings. The tulips were replaced with fritillaria, but the ground had been so well-prepared previously that the 'frits' failed. Too much drainage.
Nancy Lancaster planted some in a badly drained part of her garden when she lived in Northamptonshire in the 1920s and 'they eventually seeded themselves.' She didn't plant that many. So, take a handful of bulbs and give them perfect conditions, then try to forget about them. Each new chequerboard bloom will be a very pleasant surprise.
14 March 2012
12 March 2012
Conversions (ii)This brick building looks as though it was originally intended for animals, then converted for a person - with glass windows added - before being taken over by animals again.
10 March 2012
08 March 2012
Perlite = drainage aid. Mix half and half with potting compost.
Vermiculite = water absorber. Belongs on the surface, not in the midst. If sowing fine seed, add a solid layer of vermiculite over the mixed compost and sprinkle seed over it. The seed will fall down the cracks and germinate (if it feels like it). Sow bigger seed before adding a layer of vermiculite to the surface.
Seeds which will only germinate in the dark = don't worry about that.
Cold stratification = seed which needs a cold spell before germinating. Add seed to damp vermiculite and keep in a jar in the fridge for a few months. Just leaving it in its packet in the fridge = fail.
07 March 2012
At the weekend I did some emergency work on roses and I felt very proud and organised. Mentioning my good deeds to a couple of people later, they looked astonished and said in unison, 'I want to prune my roses but I thought it was too late! Are you sure it's okay?' I hadn't given this much thought but my roses were all over the place and causing health and safety concerns so I pruned them and - it's still winter. We went to see The Nutcracker on Sunday, if proof were needed.
David Austin's catalogue advises that for winter pruning, 'January and February is the best time.' Except in colder areas in which case: wait. Thankfully, this is not an RHS written exam so the answer to worried people is, 'Yes, it's okay.' And the head gardener at Brooke Hall hasn't done his yet.
05 March 2012
01 March 2012
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