Saturday, 22 November 2008

Planting trees in Morden Park

Spent a sunny couple of hours in a windchilled corner of Morden Park on Saturday helping to create a new woodland area.
Despite the bitter north east wind, Stephen and I cycled to meet Cheryl (my niece), and join lots of volunteers of all ages at the event, which was organised by Trees for Cities.
We were planting out mixed English woodland plants - oak, holly, yew, blackthorn, hawthorn and dogroses - and then piling a thick layer of woodchip as a mulch on top. Work was under way when we arrived and almost finished by the time we left at about 1.15. As well as the task in hand, there were face painting and other creative activities for young children and a band to entertain us. Stephen made a beautiful batbox from recycled wood, which brought back to install on the allotment.
Thank goodness some delicious hot soup and rolls were provided - very welcome, especially after a couple of short snow flurries - most unusual in November.
Our parting gift was an oak sapling to bring on at home and plant out in a year's time. All in all, a really lovely event to participate in and a happy memory to share!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Homeopathy for gardeners

I'm feeling very happy today - Surrey Organic Gardening Group has asked me to give a talk next Friday night on first aid homeopathy for gardeners. I find Gardening, organics and homeopathy go together very well for many people and I'm always glad to share experience and knowledge.

I had a great conversation last night with Mo, the Secretary of the group who is a huge enthusiast for homeopathy and we talked about the different remedies and topics I could cover within about 45 minutes. I've agreed to take some remedies with me for people to take home and try.

The talk will take place at 7.30 pm in Milton Hall, Carshalton and is open to gardeners who would like to attend.

Housework vs gardening - no contest

Spent a pleasant hour and a half sweeping up leaves in the back garden yesterday afternoon. I gathered together a big bag of mixed leaves and grass residue, as I used the scarifying rake ( the one with lots of thin metal tines) over the lawn. The end result was a pleasing combed over effect for the grass, which is much too long and unmowable due to the damp.

Why do you suppose I find the simple chores in the garden so much more enjoyable than those in the house? I can't imagine blogging about hoovering the stairs, for instance, or washing the kitchen floor - and don't even think about cleaning the bathroom. Yet they have the same elements of not thinking very much or allowing my thoughts to drift as I labour.

Admittedly, it was a beautiful autumn day, with reddish golden light falling across my west facing garden and gradually turning rosy as the sun went down. But I could have enjoyed that from the bathroom or back bedroom upstairs.

I suppose the air was crisp and cold, making a pleasing contrast with the hot cup of tea I sat and enjoyed half way through my task. And it helped to clear my head, which has been somewhat stuffed up with cold this week.

Maybe the difference is that indoors tasks have to be done week in week out merely for maintenance of reasonable living conditions. Or perhaps I just have to adopt a different philosophy towards housework, after all there is satisfaction in restoring order indoors as well.
But don't worry, I'm not about to start writing about the household stuff as well!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Firework cucumbers...

We found a couple of cucumbers last weekend when clearing the area around the piano* ready for fireworks! This was most unexpected, especially after the frosts and snow of the half term week; they were not protected by a greenhouse or any other cover except shrivelled up leaves.

They tasted great, though the smaller one was stunted and a little squishy at one end.

Things have slowed down on the gardening front this month - my homeopathic practice has been busy and I had three days away in Yorkshire with a friend, Liz, over half term. We travelled up early on Wednesday morning through snow around the M25 and Hertfordshire; so unusual to see it settled over trees still clothed in leaves. We wrapped up like polar bears in the car as the heater wasn't working!

We stayed at Liz's cousin's peaceful house in Baildon; it had a beautiful terraced garden with glorious beech hedges. We found wonderful autumn colours everywhere, including coppery bracken over much of Baildon and Ilkley Moors, and a welcoming log fire at the Cow & Calf Hotel at Ilkley, where friendly staff encouraged us to stay and relax for the afternoon following a delicious lunch.

We enjoyed the dramatic reds and oranges of Japanese maples, and more subdued browns pinks and dark reds of the beds at
Harlow Carr, the RHS garden just outside Harrogate, but were chilled to the bone by the bitter wind. We recommend the book section of their lovely shop; a cushioned, heated windowseat provided a splendid outlook over the garden, and warmed us up before our long cold drive home!
*area round piano - see photos in July postings. Alas, I haven't organised autumn plantings to dress it up this year...