Sunday, 18 April 2010

On The Home Front.

We spent most of the weekend planning and doing stuff in our own garden at last. Although the garden centres are already stocking summer plants and bedding etc, it is still simply too early to get tempted. I have had enough of the way in which supermarkets, in their race not to be left behind by others, have for years been selling Easter eggs, Halloween stuff, and Christmas decorations earlier and earlier until everything simply merges now in the most inappropriate way. And so it is that garden centres appear to be going down the same route. Hydrangeas can be bought in full flower in January, summer bedding plants forced under glass are flowering and available to the unsuspecting public in February, and thanks to the plant disease breeders of the world, the Dutch, we have plants, bulbs and tubers on sale whenever!

I am sorry if I went off on a bit of a rant but I had to get that off my chest, a bit of Gestaldt therapy maybe? Going back to the garden, things are really starting to move at last now that the soil is warming up. We decided to take a few trips around the various local nurseries to see whats becoming available, to maybe buy a few things, and plan what to get when the time is more suitable. On our wish list for this summer is a Banana plant and a few Ricinus, which is an annual caster oil plant that grows very large and has blood red leaves and similar coloured pompom flowers. The latter have proved to be quite elusive over the years and so any help would be appreciated! Also, on walking around one of the nurseries, A came across this pack of slug pellets. In my post on the 2nd December 2009, I talked about my desire for pesticides to get back their killer instinct names, and boy does this one 'do it' for me!! SLUG DEATH XL........ it doesn't get clearer than that!

I like to think that I am quite broadminded when it comes to garden sculptures. Provided that they are in context with their surroundings I enjoy classical marble or bronze statuary, more modern abstract granite carvings, varnished tree trunks, and even stainless steel or glass creations. And so it was that whilst going around one of the garden centres that we came across this monstrosity. A bronze classical masterpiece it was not. A rusting steel effigy of the alien from Arnold Schwarzeneggars movie 'Predator' it was. Just as ones mind is brought to rest and peace amidst the delicate breeze swept rustlings of the bamboo......arrgghh!

Unlike the wholesale trade nurseries that I use through work, that are vast plant manufacturing machines, exposed to the elements and offer nothing else to the buyer than the occasional 'good morning' from the desolate lost souls that are the nursery workers, retail garden centres are the public face of nurseries. Although there are no where near as many plants to choose from, and prices are twice as much, the whole experience is far more civilised. Do I buy a cake, a book, an ornament, a barbeque, a cat scarer or pot pourri......or even a plant?

All these decisions to make and so we sat down for coffee whilst we mulled it cake though! There was a time when all that was available was tea, coffee and biscuits. Now one can sit down to any tea from around the world, herbal teas, lattes, macchiatos, americanos, smoothies and shakes. What biscuits would you like?...there are fifty to choose from. Or would you like to select one of the many gateaux, cakes or pastries? If one is a little hungrier maybe some hot food if one of the twenty or so salads are not desired? Which curry, roast dinner....or is it going to be lasagne or fish and chips......the list goes on!...........or maybe just a plant to take home?........Yeah!!

As I mentioned earlier, this garden centre trip was more of an investigation than a full blown purchasing trip at this stage and so we finally came away with young plants of aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes, peppers, various herbs, strawberries and couldn't resist it, a Fritillaria 'Crown Imperial' in full flower. The flower is very majestic, deep red/orange in colour, but the plant itself smells of cat wee! The scene below is of the roof of a church that is next to one of the garden centres and looked so lovely that I just had to take a picture. It reminded me of New Hampshire.

And so borders were fed, watered and hoed over to keep them neat and weed free. Parasol, table and chairs are set for the summer. The chalet is called 'The Shack', and is my office which is also kitted out with sofa bed, wardrobe and kitchen - for emergencies.....quite a shed!

The new arrivals in their little summer home

When we bought the house some years back, this strange arched hole was inside one of the walls and so I am in the process of fitting blue glass tiles, and much to my frustration as you can see by the messy grouting, clay tiles at the bottom! When finished it will house a hanging moroccan lamp, fern and antique bronze Phoenesian sailor. Arty eh?

To finish, I just love the simplicity in an individual Polyanthus.


  1. Dear Gary, I do so agree with you that all the significant events of the year become merged as seemingly everything is available year round and, even worse, 24hours a day. This I do not like about England and is so refreshingly different in Budapest where produce is still seasonal, Christmas and Easter are enjoyed at home with the family and the pace of life generally is less frantic.

    The images I see of your garden convince me that it must be in total readiness for the season ahead. A banana plant sounds most exotic!!

  2. Gary, 'Ricinus communis' (Castor Bean Plant) is no longer on the retail market here in the US because of its association with the biochemical reagent Ricin. That may be why you can't find it there in the UK. I too have been looking for Castor Bean, I would love to have a plant of it underplanted with elephant ears. My Greatgrand Mother use to have such an planting group in her garden and I don't she was a terrorist. - G

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed your initial rant! Couldn't agree more. I've been wandering the local nurseries during my lunch and it is taking all my powers not to buy something and let it sit in the car for hours until I get home. Patience is overrated.

  4. Dear Gary, A very quick postscript. Unfortunately, I am unable to comment or post for the next ten days or so. But, I shall return!