Sunday, 27 February 2011

Is Spring nearly Sprung?

So the last couple of weeks have been so busy that feet have barely been on the floor. The most exciting thing for The Physic Garden was that the greenhouse that Kristi's lovely Bruce bought for their garden is up,glassed and full of plants and seedlings, which will hopefully soon be poking their little heads through at us. The Pelargoniums are in there too and hopefully soon we will be taking cuttings of them ready for summer sale. They are such lovely plants with amazing scent which we love as they really scent the room they are in.We have plants with scents ranging from clean,crisp citrus to spicy, deep and sensual and with small,delicate leaves to big,furry ones, so there really is something for everyone and thy exclude the need for chemical room scents!
On a totally different note I would like to advise everyone to read Lia Leendertz Midnight Ramblings blog this week-its a concise and to the point comment on the state of the Middle East today and our dependancy on their oil. Its an important comment for everyone but is really critical to anyone interested in gardens and plants.
Our reliance on oil doesn't begin and end with transport or food production. Horticulture can be as oil dependant as either of these things. Pots are manufactured with oil, as are chemical fertilizers and plants are transported all over the world. Plants bought in Holland, Italy or elsewhere in Europe, have often been grown much further afield, using massive quantities of chemical fertilizer, fungicides and insecticides, many Of which we no longer use here due to fear for human health. But this cannot go on for ever and it is great to see that some independant nurseries are now trying to stock plants sourced and grown in the UK.
An important point to remember is that it took the earth 200million years to create its finite quantity of oil and it is estimated that it will take us 200 years to use it up. A scary reality.
On a less sober note, surely Spring is nearly here! I am desperate to get down onto the allotment and get some stuff in to the soil. As it is every time we set off to spend time there it starts to rain or we get there and its so sodden it takes all my time just to keep on two feet. In fact Kristi and I were there a week or so ago and I had such a spectacular fall that I kin of wish we had put a video of it on UTube!! So next weekend my aim is to sow parsnips, shallot sets, early carrots, Brusssel Sprouts and some lettuce to start us off for the season. Oh, and I need to do some work in the garden too but yet again its raining. I can feel a panic rising, but let's try to keep it in perspective!!
I also have joined the Blotanical site this week so would like to say Hi to anyone who has found me on that...I hope you enjoy!!!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Snowdrops at The Chelsea Physic Garden and an engagement too!!

So this week has been just a little stressful! Firstly I have more seedlings around the house than anyone would think possible and its taking me about an hour a day to keep them all well and watered, on top of a full days work, looking after family and home and keeping the secret of the year from Kristi!
So the secret. About 3 weeks ago her boyfriend, Bruce. contacted me asking me to book her Monday 14th off as he was going to take her on a long weekend city break to Brussels and propose. Oh and could I find out her ring size!!So by the end of last week I was bursting to tell her and she knew something was going on and so kept probing-I am very impressed that the cat stayed in the bag. Anyway, I can announce that all has gone well and they will return on Monday betrothed!!!!!!
So yesterday, whilst on tenterhooks about the outcome, although I was quite sure it would be positive, I took myself off to The Chelsea Physic Garden to see the snowdrops and winter gardens. It always feels magical to go through the gate in the wall and find such a beautiful, well kept garden in the middle of Chelsea and yesterday was extra special as the sun came out as I arrived and all the colours of the winter flowers shone. Although the snowdrops were stunning my absolute favourite was the winter aconites in the woodland area next to the monocot beds, each of which looked like a little orb of sunlight. It was also lovely to see the beautiful trees in their naked state as they are such amazing shapes and even with no leaf offer a wonderful structure to the garden. It was a lovely afternoon and a place I would heartily recommend to anyone.
This week I have been reading Deni Moores' Herbal, a fantastic dictionary type book about herbs and their uses, medicinal, culinary, cultural etc and their places in history. It's a great read for anyone interested in herbs and I am sure is going to influence our range at The Physic Garden.
So with that in mind today I have pottd on I know not how many Salvias and sown Nicandra, teasels,more chillies more Salvia(this time transylvatica) as well as some Coleus which I like as summer bedding. And have cleaned out and sorted my greenhouse and done some work in the garden.
And next week-well hopefully we will fill Kristi's new greenhouse with plants and seedlings so we can sow more next weekend!! Busy,busy,busy.....

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The influence of a certain Mr Lloyd

There appears to be a lot of writing about Great Dixter and Christopher Lloyds' influence on the gardens of today going on at the moment and its hardly surprising! The Garden Museum had an excellent exhibition about him and his life last year alongside Dixteresque planting in their borders, which I was lucky enough to help plant with their intern ,Matt Collins, last summer. There have been several books released about the man and his life recently and no one has readily stepped into his influential shoes. So just for a moment I would like to add my own reminiscence.

Eight years ago I lost my Mum, who up until then had been my gardening guru as she could, annoyingly, grow anything, anywhere. In the months after she died I felt the need to visit certain places and gardens that I knew she had loved and been influenced by, and needless to say, Great Dixter was one of those places. So there I was, on a very quiet, grey and cloudy Wednesday afternoon, feeling very bad and sitting on a seat in Dixters garden in a morbid world of my own. Someone sat down next to me, said "Good afternoon" and enquired as to why the sad face, and before I knew it I had poured out the lot...and it was a lot, before I looked up to see Christopher Lloyd sitting next to me, listening intently. I apologised profusely for my rambling and he asked if visiting had made anything any better. My reply was not really but that the garden was stunning and that in time I thought it would. We spoke about mothers for a while and he made his excuses and ambled away, dachaunds following after saying how important it was to follow true loves and influences in life.

I now realise it was at that point that I decided to leave my reasonably successful career in catering and find my way in horticulture so I guess you could say that The Physic Garden, in my mind, is an amalgam of mine and Mums' love of plants and gardens, mixed with Kristi's enthusiasm and a kick up the backside into action by the great Christo himself.

So, how can it fail....its just not an option!! Today we have sown more chillies, potted on Salvia patens and next weekend there will be Phlomis, Chinese Lanterns and more Chillies to pot on and the propagator to fill with more seeds. Its all starting to happen and is so exciting I can hardly even explain.

So, whatever other folks thoughts on Christopher Lloyd, I can only thank hi for pulling me out of grief and making me use it as a starting point to a better and more fulfilled life. Now all I need to do is try to work out how nothing ever died in Mum's garden.....maybe it just didn't dare!!