The last inspiration post was a cemetery in distant Berlin. Today’s inspiration is also a cemetery, but one a bit closer to home. Arno’s Vale, in Totterdown, Bristol.
Arno’s Vale today is a beautiful wooded spot: but it was never intended to look quite like this. It was designed as a garden cemetery, a carefully-manicured hillside opened in 1839, the same year as Highgate Cemetery and a few years after the pioneering Kensal Green Cemetery. Like Kensal Green, it was run as a commercial business; and it was very successful for many years.
Unlike Kensal Green, Arno’s Vale started to run out of space in the 20th century; and as new burials fell, the viability of the cemetery as a business also started to fade. The cemetery management had to cut back on maintenance staff; and as they did so, trees and undergrowth started to take over. By the time the business finally went under, the cemetery was completely overgrown.
In more recent years the cemetery was saved from both too much decay, and the threat of redevelopment, by a group of campaigners. It now is owned by the city council, but managed and maintained by a charitable trust with the help of many volunteers.
As I mentioned our seed tin in passing the other day, I thought I might tell you a bit more about it. I asked for it on my Christmas list last year, and it comes from Ripe, a little independent homeware supplier that used to have a shop on Perry Road, but now operate from a mail-order address in Totterdown. It is, technically, a lunch tin, with cartoon hedgehogs on the side.
The Mother phoned up, after getting the list. “This tin. You do realise it’s a child’s lunch tin?” Well, yes. “You could use any old tin to keep seeds in!” I’m not sure she really understood that just having a tin wasn’t entirely the point.
Given the crisp winter weather yesterday, we went out for a walk: down to Spike Island, along the New Cut, then back round in a circle through the back streets of Southville. I noticed, all of the rosemary bushes in the front gardens of Southville are in flower at the moment. Even in January.
The rosemary bush in our garden on the other side of the city is not in flower. I say “bush”: possibly “sprig” is a slightly better word. There are signs, though, that it might be starting to bud, pale green growing tips at the base of each leaf. Something is developing, at least; I don’t know much about rosemary yet.
In other news, we’ve been trying to do a bit more planning on what to grow this year. We had a good harvest last year from the peas we planted, but before the season was over the plants were suffering rather badly from mildew, possibly because we planted slightly too many in each box – after all, when you only have so much space it is tempting.
I have no idea what pea variety we grew last year. Towards the end of the planting season, we popped down to the garden centre, bought whatever type of pea seedlings they had available, and that was that. “Pea” was all it said on the label. For this season, therefore, we have deliberately gone out and bought seed of a disease-resistant variety: P. sativum “Boogie”. Whether they are as tasty or fruitful as last year’s anonymous ones, we will have to wait and see, but the packet of seed peas is ready and waiting in the seed tin.
Not very much happened the first week in January. Too cold, too damp, still too dark in the morning and evening. But the garlic has kept on coming: now with shoots up everywhere, even the cloves planted three weeks after the others. This one was, when I took the photo on Sunday, one of the furthest on:
They remind me of Jason And The Argonauts: the spears of King Aeëtes’ army as his soldiers start to grow out of the earth.
The intention, over the long Yuletide break, was to finish off tidying up the garden, clean out those remaining pots which had last year’s perennials in, and get straight on with finishing the digging of the back bed. The reality, however, was that the sofa and fireside proved too attractive.
Despite that, I have started to use one of the garden-related presents I received. From K’s sister: a garden-themed notebook.
It came from Papermash, ultimately from a Korean stationery company, and inside is a normal ruled notebook; but I do love the watercolour cover. I’m going to use it as a garden diary notebook, so that I can write down what I’ve noticed when I notice it, and what I’ve done when I’ve done it, without having to come online and come here to make a note. So far it has but one entry, from last Wednesday, when I noticed the first garlic plant poking its shoot up above the surface of the soil. So far there is still only one shoot visible: I must have planted that clove rather shallower than the rest.