greentapestry : February 2021

Saturday 27 February 2021

Time To Say Goodbye

Well it was time to say goodbye to my allotment at the end of last year after much soul searching. It had got to the stage where fretting about it rather than enjoying it was. I had been debating the issue of whether to call it a day for some considerable time feeling that I've not been doing either the garden or the allotment justice. Then falling over in the autumn of 2019 resulted in two broken bones in my right hand. Originally I thought that I would catch up with any remaining autumn tidying and preparation come the spring and perhaps sow fewer crops last year. Although my hand has regained it's strength it is certainly not the same and does twinge and ache from time to time. 

Events in the outer world meant that I was very cautious last spring although it was legal to visit and tend the allotment which was deemed as exercise. Himself has always been excellent about taking me there and collecting me after an allotment session but my other mode of transport which was to get there and back by bus became a non starter. 

When I did get there it was a case of rushing to my plot and shutting myself in. This was not always as simple as it may sound. Walking up and down the main path there was a good chance of crossing paths with other plot holders some of whom had no concept of social distancing. I appreciate the fact that we were outside but I still found this disconcerting. As the year unfolded I visited the allotment less and less and it helped me reach the conclusion that perhaps I wouldn't miss it at all I didn't have a plot. I did feel tremendously guilty though that I wasn't utilising the plot to its full extent and that somebody else who was on a long waiting list could. That combined with the feeling that once this state of limbo is behind us I don't want to be committed to the same extent. There are places to go and gardens to visit whilst we are both still able. Having an allotment a big commitment which you can't afford to turn your back on for more than a couple of weeks. If you do you are asking for trouble. Himself is delighted with my decision.

As I said giving up the allotment had already been in the back of my mind for some time. With that in mind I grew a few annual and half hardy annuals in the garden last year and also French beans to see how they fared. My garden at home is much shadier than the allotment. The flowers including my favourite sweet peas did well on the whole but the French beans faltered. Possibly the fact that they were grown in front of a wall didn't help. We dismantled three of the relatively new raised beds that himself had installed and these have now been found homes in the garden and were filled with a vegetable friendly growing medium last week.

I'm now having fun deciding what I can fit into my reduced growing space. I plan to  grow cut flowers, herbs, strawberries, French beans, shallots, kale, beetroot, salady stuff and courgettes in the first instance. I hope to squeeze in a few of my favourite salad potatoes 'Charlotte' probably in containers and of course there will be tomatoes which I've always grown at home. I'm sure that one or two crops will squeeze their way in. 

What I will not miss? Well allotment life is not all a bed of roses or perhaps in this case I should say a bed of cabbages. Sadly over the years there have been upsetting incidences of vandalism and theft. I will not miss the fact that there inevitably seems to be some internal feuds going on and it is sad to say that in this day and age some women on the site felt that were bullied by a handful of men. I will not miss the lean over the fence and give you so called advice types who never once offered to lend a hand. I will not pine over the fact that to get to my plot for a good few months of the year involved slip-sliding through mud. This was a normal winter happening but the photo below was taken one July day in 2022.

What will I miss? I will miss my lovely apples trees which I have left for the next plot holder to enjoy. I did consider bringing my apple trees, well two of the three, back home. I apparently should have done some preparation work at least a year in advance beforehand if I had transplanted them so decided to let them be. A new tree for the garden is on its way - an eater called 'Sunset' which was my favourite of the three. I will miss the thicket of the delicious autumn fruiting raspberry' Polka', as well as the gooseberry and currant bushes. 

I will miss growing crops that like the sunshine such as sweetcorn. I will miss the visiting birds and bees which varied from those visiting the garden. I will miss the community fun days that the allotment association supported over the years. Hard work but most rewarding. 

I will miss my lovely well established stipa gigantea grass which lapped up the sun there. I will start again with one in the garden. Above all though I will miss the camaraderie of fellow plot holders, exchange of growing tips and the generous swapping and gifts of plants and crops. I do have invitations though to call in at any time and catch up on what is happening. No doubt I will report back here on the progress of my new home allotment over the next few months. Hopefully before long I will be tucking into a bowl full of some strawberries like these again.

In the meantime I wouldn't have missed the experience for anything and count myself privileged to have been an allotment plot holder.

Monday 22 February 2021

IAVOM - 'Here Comes The Sun'

The quickest of pick and plonks and photo too today for 'In A Vase On Monday'. I have had my eye on the main road today looking out for a bulk delivery of compost - still to arrive at the time of writing and a grocery delivery which looked as if it might sail past but eventually found us. The flowers and the vase are reflecting not only today's sunshine but also an optimism after receiving my first vaccine last week just less than a fortnight after himself. Now to wait until today's road map out of lockdown is revealed in detail.

The flowers are both iris reticulata - 'Eye Catcher' and 'Scent Sational' both of which are little beauties with their exquisite and detailed markings. Sadly they do not seem to do well for me for longer than one season either in pots or in the ground. Still worth a little splash in the autumn for the pleasure they provide. The latter makes a good companion for crocus siberei 'Firefly' so I discovered completely by accident.

With thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting this welcome platform for sharing our flowers and foliage on a Monday.

Monday 8 February 2021

IAVOM ~ Good Companions

Just a couple of flowers in today's 'In A Vase On Monday', quickly gathered on a most cold day when a bitter wind is plummeting the temperature in a downward spiral. It looks as if this cold spell is here for the week and I'm hoping that it might be the last really cold snap of winter. No doubt like most of you spring can't come soon enough for me this year. I much prefer to take all my vase photos out in the elements where not only the light levels are stronger but I'm also not bought to an abrupt full stop when I notice every single speck of dust. However it was much too nippy out there to take my time so I came inside to take my photo. The fairy lights on the mantlepiece remain all year for an instant touch of a button sparkle.

I'm sure you will all recognise the two occupants in the vase - snowdrops and hellebores - both stalwarts and comfortable companions. The varieties of both in this case are both unknown. The snowdrops live in a big container outside and have multiplied over the years. The marking on the petals vary.  I did consider snipping a witch hazel but perhaps my shrubs are still too small so I came down on the side of caution. On the subject of  companions for snowdrops Plant Heritage is running a Zoom lecture this coming Saturday. The event is open to non-members for the most reasonable price of £4.00. Details are here. I listened to another talk on snowdrops via Plant Heritage on Saturday night and was most taken with the speaker's idea of planting her snowdrops without labels in the lawn. Something I've never considered before now.

The vase is one of a set of four, a present from my sister. Each is a different colour. I don't think this one has made a public appearance before. The other three are in need of some intensive care - each having developed a misty bloom on the inside. Any tried and trusted cleaning tips would be more than welcome. 

Thanks as always to our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who came up with the idea of sharing vases each week to mark the start of a new week which makes Monday a special day in the diary.