Budget gardening

Spring Fever

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

I love this quote. It makes me feel so joyful and makes me want to take time and observe even more of the beauty and innocence of this season. How lucky we are  here in the Highlands to be enjoying such an idyllic Spring.  Day after day of beautiful weather, fields green as green from the rains in September and gentle breezes softly drifting blossom through the streets.  Our little garden at The Potting Shed is bursting with colour and each day more loveliness emerges.  First the crocus and jonquils, then the tulips which this year have been glorious and now the delphiniums and foxgloves are putting on a spectacular show. We are pleased to be able to demonstrate that even in a concrete courtyard you can create a garden of variety and interest by using pots and barrels to give height and texture.  Here are some photos taken this week to share with you our passion for gardening and intense love of Spring.    Happy gardening!  M x

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I’ve got five dollars

ella-fitzgeraldOne of my favourite songs is Ella Fitzgerald’s “I’ve Got Five Dollars“, recorded the year I was born and just one of many wonderful songs from Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook. Every time I hear it, Ella’s chocolatey voice melting the crazy lyrics into such beautiful rhythm makes me feel good, so this little story appealed to me.  Some weeks ago at The Potting Shed  I apologised to a lady for giving a handful of five dollar notes as change … it was all I had in the till.  She said “no, that’s brilliant .. I love getting five dollar notes.  I collect them.”  Gathering her goods she continued “You’d be amazed how quickly they add up, then when I have a hundred of them I go and buy something special.”  What a great idea I said. And she assured me you don’t even miss the five dollar notes in your wallet, if you take them out and store them in a little box or container. Impressed by the simplicity of the idea,  I have started a collection myself, towards a trip to see the famous gardens at Prieuré d’Orsan.  Then just last week another customer came in and told me she would cut off her right arm if she could only have the spectacular Turkish water trough that had arrived the day before.  “No need”,  I laughed. “Just save up your five dollar notes and very soon you’ll be able to buy it … without losing a single arm!”  I told her about the other ladies advice and smiling she said it reminded her of her youth in London when everyone would put sixpences into Haigs Dimple Whisky bottles and once full it held exactly forty pounds.  A lot of money in those days we agreed.  “We could only spend the notes” she said, “because we saved the sixpences for the Haigs Dimple;  the pennies for the gas meter and the shillings for the train station.”  Off she went chuckling to her husband that she would soon have enough for the water feature .. and did he have any five dollar notes in his pocket!

IMG_9952Even if you have only one five dollar note … we have lots of lovely things you can buy with it at The Potting Shed.  Or if you want to save a stack of them, we have some more serious treasures to tempt you!

 

Mister Shylock was stingy

I was miserly too

I was more selfish

And crabby than a shellfish

Oh, dear, it’s queer

What love can do

I’d give all my possessions

For you

I’ve got five dollars

I’m in good condition

And I’ve got ambition

That belongs to you

Six shirts and collars

Debts beyond endurance

On my life insurance

That belongs to you

I’ve got a heart

That must be spurtin’

Just be certain

I’ll be true

Take my five dollars

Take my shirt and collars

Take my heart that hollers

Everything I’ve got belongs to you

I’ve got five dollars

Eighty-five relations

Two lace combinations

They belong to you

Two coats with collars

Ma and Grandma wore ’em

All the moths adore ’em

They belong to you

I’ve got two lips

That care for mating

There for waiting

Will not do

Take my five dollars

Take my coats and collars

Take my heart that hollers

Ev’rything I’ve got belongs to you

Songwriters

HART, LORENZ/RODGERS, RICHARD

Published by

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

 

Geese in my garden.

 

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Yesterday, our kitchen garden was invaded by a flock of white cockatoos.  This morning it was a gaggle of geese!  So we are at least sticking with a white theme. We have quite a lot of geese – Roman Tufteds and Pilgrims.  I’ve written about them before and about how lots of anything looks so much more exciting than one or two.  Except for diamonds.  Then one big rock is hard to beat! Anyway, our sheepdog Sam loves to herd the geese onto the pond each morning after they’re fed.   It’s his raison d’etre.  He is a working dog and he wakes me early each morning so I will let them out and he can get to work. He never hurts or bothers them, just moves them from place to place then lies for hours watching them.  They don’t even bother about him when they have goslings – confident he won’t hurt them. But somehow this morning they all got off course and ended up in amongst the rhubarb and silver beet.  Our garden is looking pretty dishevelled at the moment anyway, due to lack of time on my part, and so I’m not worried at all about a few geese trampling through.  What struck me most was the loveliness of their pure white feathers against the mist and as it cleared, against the green of the garden.  This combined with the silver birch trunks, the white railings of the house and the remaining iceberg roses made for a very beautiful picture. Further up the path from the vegetable garden is a 50 metre border that I planted years ago with white foxgloves.  Each year I leave the flowers to go to seed and strip them upwards scattering the seed wide and far.  The result is a dense border self seeded with foxgloves … all white.  And each year the patch gets bigger and better.  Imagine that in Spring.  With a dark green hedge behind and a few geese thrown into the picture.  Divine.  Look for loveliness wherever you go today.  M x x x

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Plant lots of strawberries!

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This will make my friend Guy laugh.  He once estimated that I would harvest 1 million strawberries per summer based on the number of plants I had throughout the garden.  Seven years ago when we started the garden from scratch, I was searching for a suitable plant to edge the many beds and borders I had created. Budget-wise it was a bit overwhelming. Then I had a bright idea.  I had purchased 6 strawberry plants from the local nursery almost the minute we moved in and that first autumn they sent out runners everywhere so I snipped them all off and replanted them along the edges. Soon the new plants sent out runners which were transplanted and so on, and  before I knew it there were (literally) thousands of strawberries woven through the garden.  Inexperienced then in the ‘really large garden’ metier, I soon discovered this pretty and productive edging wasn’t as co-operative as I had thought. The strawberries invaded everywhere and one really wet summer they took off … it was like The Day of the Triffids! They threaded themselves through the roses, into the shrubberies, all over the vegetable garden, spilled over banks and out onto pathways.  It was a disaster.  There was so much fruit the birds even stopped eating them!   So out they came.  Weekend after weekend I hauled plants out. But not before we’d enjoyed a series of summers of buckets and bowls of fresh, delicious fruit which was turned into jams and sauces … but mainly daiquiris!   The variety I had started with was an old favourite,  Red Gauntlet.  Not popular with commercial growers these days as they are prone to little bumps and imperfections, but to me they are still one of the most delicious.  I’ve tried over twelve other varieties and none are as hardy and fulsome in flavour, especially for jam.

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It’s really easy to increase your crop by pinning down the runners in the position you want them and a new plant quickly forms.  Strawberries are only really good for two years, so plant the runners in the alternate rows and let them grow up and remove the old row every second or third year.  They are hungry feeders so add a good organic fertiliser and mulch well, laying clean straw under the plants so the strawberries don’t get muddy and rot in the wet.

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We have some lovely pink flowering strawberries in stock at The Potting Shed (sorry, can’t remember the variety) and they are sending out runners all over the place, so for $4 you actually get about 6 or 8 plants! And the pink flowers are really lovely for a change.  We also have in stock really substantial plants of Alchemilla mollis which is now my main edging plant, thanks to advice from my friend and expert gardener, Wendy Butcher from the amazingly beautiful ‘Orchard Garden’ in Central Otago, New Zealand.  Who couldn’t believe I was using strawberries.  “Haven’t you heard of Lady’s Mantle?” she asked, in disbelief.  “It’s the perfect edging plant”

It is a beautiful plant and surprisingly hardy, even through this fierce summer she has held up wonderfully but definitely prefers a little bit of dappled shade.  Alchemilla mollis, Lady’s Mantle, is an herbaceous perennial plant native to southern Europe and grown throughout the world as an ornamental garden plant.  More on her another day.  IMG_9848 IMG_9849