Showing posts with label Lovely things. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lovely things. Show all posts

5 Nov 2012

Lovely is as lovely does.

This is what the postman brought me at lunchtime today:

From Sophie

Sophie - she of the prize winning pumpkin - chose to share her Fortnum's hamper of sweets amongst family.  She has 6 cousins and a sister so sharing her success would have made a sizeable dent in the chocolate booty but she also included me. Having an elder sibling has meant learning to share and little Sophie seems to have taken that on board in spades.  How refreshing in this day and age of over-indulged, instantly gratified children.

I love my family all the way to moon and back... and not just for chocolate (obviously).

9 May 2010

Vintage seeds…

I have to confess to having been on a bit of a 'go-slow' in the Veg Patch this last week. The weather has not been so conducive to being outside (chill winds, drizzle and cold evenings) and this, combined with a painful shoulder (caused by 3 ribs out of alignment and bad posture at the computer, according to my osteopath friend), has led to me getting a bit behind. The next stage involves lugging bags of compost over to fill another raised bed and digging a trench in heavy soil before planting out my peas. This because, according to a little book I own, peas do extremely well if planted into a trench lined with rabbit/guinea pig straw and their droppings.  (What have I got to lose?)

However, it's not all gloom - in the days before it rained, I spotted a tiny package which had been left among the empty flowerpots.  Tucked into a biscuit wrapper from 2004 (love the repurposing!), over a dozen packets of (vintage) flower seeds.

I had to smile when I saw what it was as I'd been reading several blog accounts of seed packets being left unopened and unsowed beyond the sell-by date.  It would appear that the anonymous donor of my seeds had an unproductive year in 1984, although there is also a packet of Suttons Calendula from 1973 and Cornflowers from 1979!

The  Suttons and Fothergill's packets are no different to the ones found in garden centres today, although I suspect the wording may have changed - here it's delightfully old-fashioned: "This accommodating plant will flourish in the poorest soils, but does appreciate a sunny spot" is the charming advice for Calendula.

I have Nasturtium and Candytuft from Hurst Garden Pride ('A Riot of Bloom at Little Cost'), a firm which established in Essex in 1894 but had disappeared by 1999.  They held the royal warrant as seedsmen to H.M. the Queen and donations from seed sales went to The London Children's Flower Society.  

For pure nostalgia, though,  how about the Cottage Garden mix above and Night-Scented Stock, below, from Cuthbert?  The drawings evoke the kind of seed marketing used from 1930s until replaced by photos in the swinging sixties. (These days, though, as Carly Simon would sing: "Coming around again…")  Cuthbert have this to say of the seeds below: 'No garden is complete without a patch of Night Scented Stock.  It is a universal favourite.' Slightly bossy, but how to resist?

Cuthbert is another company now sadly lost to the nation after 200 years of trading.  James Cuthbert walked (as legend would have it) from Scotland to London in 1797, seeking his fortune and settling in Southgate - then just a village outside London, now the site of Southgate tube station.  If the logo seems familiar, it's because Cuthbert seeds were sold exclusively on the high-street through branches of Woolworths since 1937, back then costing tuppence a packet.  I like to think that some of the original York Rise gardeners might have used this brand - in fact, it's highly likely as there used to be a Woollies nearby in Kentish Town.  (Now, as with so many shops, a supermarket.)

So, the question remains - will the seeds still germinate after 35 years?  Heartened by news of a 2,000 year old palm tree seed germinating in Israel, I'm prepared to give it a go!

1 May 2010

The Secret Garden…

The word 'estate' (when used for city communities) has such hostile connotations these days that I hesitate to use it when describing where I live. I thought to redress the balance by showing you a little corner of the 'estate' at York Rise:

Opening the little iron gate and squeezing through an arch of leaves, you'll discover an enclosed garden, one of several for the tenants to enjoy.  It's what I see beneath my balcony windows.  Hidden on three sides: from the driveway by three London Plane trees thickly covered with ivy, from the paths by high hedges and lush planting, this is a tranquil space enjoyed by nesting blue tits and robins who make their presence known by singing throughout the day.  My friend and neighbour, Leigh, has ensured that this remains a lovely place to sit - if we're lucky, the sun streams in during the morning and, again, in the evening as it sets.

(Friendly Robin, looking for a meal as the compost is turned.)

23 Apr 2010

Companion(able) planting…

As a family, we're having a week of gardening: horticultural heaven for me (being outdoors in the Veg Patch), horticultural hell for my son who is doing pre-GCSE work experience with the Gardening Guru. There was a suggestion that he'd go to the Ecology Centre (at a nature reserve in Islington) and I fondly imagined that he'd learn about bio-diversity, planting schemes, local wildlife, sustainability and environmental engineering.  They even have a wind turbine there!  and an education centre!  Sounds great, huh?  The truth is somewhat different…  he's been digging holes and potting on plants in a public park for five days now.  For free.  In the heat.  Breathing the traffic fumes of the Holloway Road. He tells me he's never doing gardening ever again.  Which is a shame because it was the one thing that we did together, quite companionably.  (Seeing as I don't 'do' Xbox or football.)

My week, on the other hand, has been delightful.  Out in the sunshine, digging out ivy roots, preparing raised beds for planting, organising my seeds and what should go where, painting plant markers and sitting outdoors to eat my lunch. (Oh, and being passed bars of chocolate by the very lovely Myra to keep me going! Myra and her husband Fred overlook the Veg Patch from their balcony and have lived here in York Rise for many decades.)

And the cherry on the top of my Cupcake of Life? Rather excitingly, I've been sent three lovely gardening books to review by Green Books, a publishing company in Devon, more of which later.

19 Nov 2009

Looking around …

Recently I've been giving some thought to how helpful it would be to have a little Bay tree in our (next year's, expanded) herb patch and then I heard that there already was one growing in the York Rise gardens. (What bliss!) This is one of the greatest joys of the gardens here - the legacy of 70 years of tenant gardeners pottering around, popping plants in here and there as the fancy took them, so you never know what you might come across these days when you really look around.

So, when Tuesday dawned crisp, bright and sunny (albeit very blustery - tralala, as if I'd care!), this was my chance for a spot of looking around.  I'd actually gone out to make a start on clearing the ivy from the area we want to plant our fruit trees in, and there were plenty of surprises to be found along that route as well. I had such a lovely day, I thought I'd share.  (It's not all about growing veg, y'know!)

Walking towards the Veg Patch, autumn leaves growing across the door of the old Gardeners' Shed catch my eye …

Venturing into the front gardens, I discover the not-so-little Bay tree …

Nearby, a very useful Rosemary bush (Have you tried Potato and Rosemary Pizza?)

And this rose - tipping slightly into decay, but so so beautiful …

Back to the Task of the Day and before I start clearing I find a Strange Creature (who will become the Guardian of the Veg Patch) …

Some letter tiles from a child's game, discarded (with the hope of never being found again?) but revealed when colder months steal the vegetation away - and rearranged with the message for my day …

And, finally, a start was made on clearing the Ivy.  Three bags later and I realise I have a long, long way to go …

Until next time, my friends, enjoy the fruits of your labours!

11 Nov 2009

Yesterday was a very good day …

It's a strange old thing, this blogging lark, isn't it?  One minute I'm feeling that there's nothing to tell, then suddenly I find there's almost too much to fit into one post.  So here are three lovely things that happened yesterday:

1.  I (think I might just have) saved a bumblebee.  As I left home,  I noticed a large, very still, bumble bee on an expanse of cold concrete path outside the door.  It's not often you get to see one of these beauties close up and, as I bent down for a closer look, one of it's legs stretched. So, not dead but probably too tired and cold to move to safety.  Having recently been prompted to read up about bee hotels, I scooped it up (on my shopping list as it was probably not too tired to sting me!) and took it to some sheltered ground level Knotweed stems, where it perked up a bit, and I left some freshly picked flowers within easy reach so it could get to the nectar.  (That may have been calling to my inner Girl Guide a bit, but it satisfied my need to nurture.)  Any hoo, the bee was not to be seen when I returned, so I like to think it made it to underground Bee Safety.

2.  Passing through a local Garden Centre (oh, alright then… Homebase), among all the almost empty gardening shelves was a box containing winter hardy Onion Sets…  (slaps forehead) a veg which I'd completely forgotten about!  (And they're a staple of my shopping list.)   One purchase later, I consider this a very serendipitous encounter indeed.

3.  Returning home to post my October photo collage, I notice a comment from a lovely fellow gardener, Jo at The Good Life, who has nominated my little bloggy-woggy for an award.  Gosh.  I'm totally awed and honoured.  So, thank you - and yes, I'm very, very pleased to accept.  (It may take me a while to pass the award on, in the time honoured tradition, as I first have to check out my fellow nominees, but I'll do my best.)

So, now that I have proof that people out there are reading my scribblings,  to celebrate, I think it's time for a piece of this…

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