Frank Parker's author site

Home » Posts tagged 'Gardening'

Tag Archives: Gardening

Advertisements

The First Rose of . . . February!

My first summer in this garden I purchased and planted a dozen roses, some climbers against the fence and the rest bush roses which I planted in a bed at the front of the house. Most did very well. A couple died after the first 2 or 3 years.

This one was not doing well, seemed much smaller than the rest, so last summer I dug it up and placed it in a container next to the front door. It perked up and produced a couple of good flowers in late summer. Then in November I noticed another bud had formed. That bud has now begun to open, in the middle of February!

It’s a symbol of the earliness of the season. There are daffodils everywhere, some of mine began opening 4 weeks ago. Here are a few more pictures I took around the garden yesterday.

And one I took on January 6th.

Advertisements

For Goodness Sake Stop Digging! #WATWB

I grew up in an environment where it was taken for granted that you dug the garden every spring using a spade, then, a few days later, you would go over it again with a fork to remove the weeds. During that first digging you would create trenches into which you would pile organic matter. Living in a farming region there was always plenty of farmyard manure available for this purpose. The point being that the organic matter was buried, to be accessed by the roots of the plants you subsequently grew on the plot.

If there was an area on which nothing was grown during winter you might do that first dig in autumn, leaving the turned soil exposed to frost in order to help break it down. Because we had a heavy clay soil, all of this work was deemed essential. That remains the basic principle with which I still garden.

It turns out that my parents were wrong, and so am I. You don’t have to dig at all; instead you place your organic matter on the top of the soil and plant into it.

At 77 digging is noticeably hard work these days so I’m going to embrace change, leave my spade in the shed, and have a go at “no-dig” gardening. My parents would probably turn in their graves at the thought!

The same principle can be used to ensure a sustainable source of nourishing vegetables to replace the vast numbers that are imported over huge distances.

#WATWB cohosts for this month are: Inderpreet Uppal, Sylvia Stein, Shilpa Garg, Simon Falk, Damyanti Biswas

Do you have a story about people doing good in the world? Why not share it? Here’s what you should do:

1. Keep your post to Below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Paste in an excerpt and tell us why it touched you. The Link is important, because it actually makes us look through news to find the positive ones to post.

3. No story is too big or small, as long as it Goes Beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD badge or banner on your Post and your Sidebar.

5.Help us spread the word on social media.
Feel free to tweet, share using the #WATWB hashtag to help us trend!

Finally, click here to enter your link.

Growing Health and Well Being #WATWB

watwic-bright-tuqblkI first came across the Sydenham Garden through a feature on the BBC’s weekly gardening programme Gardener’s World. My link will take you to the page on their website that explains how they began. From there you can navigate to the rest of the site where you will see news of some of their achievements.

 

sow-grow

Whilst researching Sydenham Gardens I also came across another website that presents evidence about the efficacy of gardening as therapy, in the treatment of mental health and developing self esteem. Again, you can navigate from that page to see a huge range of information about the health and other benefits of sustainable farming and food production.

Your cohosts for this month are: Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Mary Giese and Roshan Radhakrishna.

Here is a reminder of the guidelines for #WATWB:

1. Keep your post to Below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Paste in an excerpt and tell us why it touched you. The Link is important, because it actually makes us look through news to find the positive ones to post.

3. No story is too big or small, as long as it Goes Beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD badge or banner on your Post and your Sidebar. Some of you have already done so, this is just a gentle reminder for the others.

5. Help us spread the word on social media. Feel free to tweet, share using the #WATWB hashtag to help us trend!

6. Click here to add your link.

Gardens and Gardening: #atozchallenge

Throughout World War II gardening was a patriotic duty for UK citizens. Before the war the country had relied heavily on imported food. Now ships bringing essential supplies ran the gauntlet of German U-boats patrolling the principle routes. They did so in convoys, accompanied by British and, later, American war ships. Every patch of land capable of growing a food crop was cultivated. City parks and once ornamental gardens were turned into vegetable plots. Scrub land on hillsides was grubbed up and turned into farm land.

Encouraged by such slogans as ‘Dig for Victory’, ordinary folk grew as much of their own produce as possible. For my mother, a city girl stranded in the countryside, this brought a new interest. She cultivated the garden alongside our stone cottage, growing a range of vegetables. This continued in the years following the war and, as I grew old enough to wield spade, fork, hoe and rake, I joined in.

When we moved to the former Manse (which we renamed ‘Homelea’) our gardening activities continued. Mum’s new partner, Harry, was a keen gardener too. In addition to our own garden he maintained a garden belonging to an elderly lady. He was paid for this with a share of the crops produced. With ample supplies of vegetables, there was room for flowers too. The front garden of Homelea was steep and narrow but the borders were filled with rose bushes and an assortment of perennial flowering plants.

The first garden that I was able to call my own was at the modern terraced house we purchased from Hereford City Council in 1965. I grew vegetables the first two years. A toddler needs space in which to play, however, and the garden was small so I stopped growing vegetables and laid turf. The 1970s and ’80s were decades during which I had little time or inclination to devote to gardening. My mother, however, continued with her love of gardening and gardens. Even in her 80s, residing in a sheltered apartment block, she kept a collection of plants in containers outside her window.

Kitchen garden

In 1991 my wife and I purchased a new semi-detached house in a village in East Yorkshire and here I renewed my interest in gardening, attempting to follow Geoff Hamilton‘s theories, creating a traditional kitchen garden.

Unlike a work of fiction, a garden is never finished. The active gardener is constantly developing and reshaping his creation, all the time seeking to work with soil and climate to perfect a living work of art. In 2006 I passed on my East Yorkshire garden to the custody of another gardener and began creating the first of two Irish gardens. The first was much too small to satisfy my appetite for growing things. I am now into the fifth spring in my second Irish garden which is slowly developing into the kind of small piece of heaven I imagine a garden ought to be.

Use the comments below to tell me about your own gardening exploits.

20160407_17033120160407_17034720160407_17050020160407_17021420160407_170410 (2)

A Gardener who Writes?

What do writers do when they are not writing? In my case it is mostly gardening. In fact, if you were to add up the hours I spend on each activity, gardening would probably win out. Which invites the question: am I a writer who gardens or a gardener who writes?

Since the spring of 2010 I have spent around four hours a week tending the garden of a local cancer support centre. In April 2011 we moved into a bungalow in a retirement village. At the time the majority of the homes in the development were incomplete as was the infrastructure. And that is the way it remained until a few months ago. We chose this particular unit in the ‘village’ because it has a larger garden than any of the others.

That first summer of 2011 was spent creating the first draft of the garden design, since when routine maintenance has been accompanied by frequent editing. Over the past few weeks I have spent a lot of time on various activities in the garden and very little time writing.

Editing continues

A major ‘edit’ in the spring of 2014 concerned the boundaries. The fences provided by the developer proved inadequate to resist the high winds that seem to be a feature of the site. We are, after all, not far from a pass through the neighbouring hills called “Windy Gap”. After the gales of January and February 2014 had blown down several sections of the fence more than once, I decided to invest in a solid wall.

20151001_092250[1]This not only provides a solid barrier, but offers a more secure support for climbing plants. There was one problem, however. When I installed a small aluminium framed greenhouse in the autumn of 2011, I positioned it close to the fence. So close that constructing a wall on that part of the boundary was impossible. A project I had lined up for this autumn, between harvesting tomatoes and bringing in tender plants for protection, was to relocate the greenhouse so as to enable the completion of the wall.

That part of the boundary separates our property from the car park of a nursing home that is part of the retirement village development. Earlier this year the proprietor of the nursing home purchased all of the unfinished homes in the village and has begun work on preparing them for occupation and completing the infrastructure. A few weeks ago the construction foreman knocked on our door to inform me that the car park boundary is to be a wall for its full length; did I mind? Of course not! It saves me the expense of having the wall completed myself. It was, however, necessary to bring forward the greenhouse relocation project, a task that has occupied me for the past three weeks.

Tomato and Apple Chutney

As for the tomatoes, those that were already ripe were made into a delicious chutney, with apples from our own tree, onions and Indian spices. Some of the remainder are slowly ripening despite having had the greenhouse removed from around them, thanks to the unexpectedly warm and sunny weather of the past fortnight.

Most will not now fully ripen. My plan is to use them as the base for a green curry sauce. Oh yes, that’s something else I enjoy doing when I am not writing – cooking. But that’s another story!