Theodora* in Uppingham, with the above photo. Her neighbours were probably thinking: 'Thank goodness they've taken care of those dreadful dandelions and the grass can be restored to its usual quarter of an inch.'
Anyone who enjoyed watching Sarah Raven** doing battle with the residents of Creaton, Northamptonshire (a tough crowd) will appreciate that most people prefer neat and tidy above anything else. The look on their faces as she exhorted them to turn the village green into a wild flower meadow was... thought-provoking. And yet the minority of Guardian-reading yoghurt-eaters really like wild flowers and are wary of using the word 'weed'. Which is why I've written an informative and well-balanced piece on dandelions in the Guardian and Observer Organic Allotment Blog.
NB: Blowing the clocks, though tempting, is bad for both camps. Didn't you know you could be depriving a small bird of its lunch? (See comments in the Observer blog, below the ads).
*The calligrapher behind our bespoke copperplate lettering, see right
**Sarah Raven's Bees, Butterflies and Blooms on television a couple of months ago.
28 April 2012
25 April 2012
In the end the flower decorations in Ross and Stroud produced the same result: happiness.
18 April 2012
Perhaps my scientific friend Peter will explain why weeds, like some cats, have been programmed to irritate when really they should be thinking about ways to be loved. And also, wouldn't it be more sensible to keep out of the danger zone altogether?
First things first: plants do NOT think. 'Weeds put themselves under your plants because they were there first,' Peter informs me. 'Weed seeds can remain dormant for scores of years if not hundreds. You only need to think of the poppy fields at Flanders... You disturb the soil when you put a plant in, or when you sow or hoe, ' he continues in his theoretical way. 'The more disturbance, the more weeds.'
There is gardening by the book and gardening by the whatever-whim-takes-you but Peter's version is highly organised. 'Good gardeners hoe for the first and last fifteen minutes of every gardening session.' How sensible they are and I suppose they mulch beautifully? 'If you hoe regularly, when you can't see any weeds, this creates a mulch of the tilth of soil, and you can keep the first inch or so weed free.' All mulch of course works as a weed suppressant, as well as being an all round good egg, whether it is the chic wood bark variety or old grass. Now, I just need some ideas for a good cat suppressant.
|The fresh greens of ground elder insinuating themselves amongst ligularia.|
12 April 2012
09 April 2012
More related poppycock in Lady Muck's Diary, the Observer Organic Allotment Blog
08 April 2012
|Pheasant's eggs, typically laid on the ground.|
They share a dodo-ish lack of flying skills and both are good looking but pheasants are much more attractive to landowners than peacocks. Crucially the former bring in a good income from organised shoots: enough to justify the expense of a full-time gamekeeper (with cottage), a beater or two and the annual buying-in of chicks. Gardeners are frustrated by the whole vicious circle: the pheasants are maintained but the gardens of an estate are also expected to be maintained. During the long winters of avoiding death out in the open several times a week, pheasants take shelter in the highly polished areas and peck and dig and scratch, to the sound of distant gun fire. When the gardeners get really fed up they ask the gamekeeper to do something so he flushes out the pheasants and shoots them at close range, on the ground, wherever, with no sporting element at all. For the sake of the vicious circle, only the cocks are killed: the egg-layers are left alone. So, a lot of work goes into keeping things just as they are. The only war against pheasants is in the minds of gardeners.
My friend the exterminator, who is related to a retired head gamekeeper says: prevention is better than cure. Pheasants always go to the same places to feed so you won't get rid of them except, he says darkly, with 'a terminal lead injection'. Just country parlance for filling them with shot. However, if you want to go the 'cure' route, put nets over everything.
This post originally appeared in The Observer Organic Allotment Blog.
05 April 2012
Suddenly, they are ready to go. Having been watered for the first time in early March, they are now kept moist. Next they will be top dressed with John Innes, if any compost can be worked in amongst the knot of roots on the surface, and the foliar feeding will begin. Then they'll be wheeled and hoisted into prime positions, the plastic pots hidden in more magnificent containers. The last time I took any notice of them was in February, with snow outside. A few were blooming in the sub-zero temperatures, in rather wan fashion. There is no heating, but there is leaky glass, and that seems to be enough.
01 April 2012
I unearthed this one while fettling by an old stone wall in a quiet part of the garden. It posed very patiently for photos and still didn't move when I'd finished. As a species it is a complete enigma. 'Great crested' comes to mind, which this isn't, and 'Gussie Fink-Nottle', the fish-faced newt fancier. That is it.
Somebody please edify.