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.
This isn’t our garden. But it is a Christmas garden. K’s parents’ house, three years ago today, in deep snow.
Merry Christmas, and a happy garden Yuletide!
The frost has really started to come in in the past week. I’m learning which parts of the garden are hit by it the hardest: the sheltered area between shed and house stays frost-free the longest, and the other side of the shed, where the bee house is, also seems to stay fairly sheltered. The middle of the garden, and the prime planting area, get hit the hardest, although so far this winter the perennial plants seem to be largely bearing up. Fingers crossed.
After I planted the garlic, three weeks ago, there were a few small cloves left over from the bulb. Today, I planted those up in the containers that, this year, we grew carrots in. The carrots – more of that free BBC seed – did not really grow very well, possibly because the containers are a little small. We will see how the garlic does: we’re starting, in these containers, with the least-viable-looking cloves already, so there won’t really be any scientific conclusions we can draw from it.
The three-weeks-planted garlic hasn’t appeared above the surface yet. K says I’m being silly, looking regularly, because at this time of year it won’t break the surface for months. But, still, I keep looking to see if sprouts have appeared.
There haven’t, as you might have noticed, been that many posts on here in recent weeks. One reason for that, more than anything else, is the changing of the season and the changing of the timezone. When I get up in the morning, it’s dark. When I leave the house, it’s just about light – at the moment it will have been light for maybe 15 minutes, which of course will drop over the next 6 weeks. When I get home again, it’s dark, and it’s been solidly dark for well over an hour. Getting a job nearer home would help, but probably not very much, especially in the evenings.
However, there is one benefit to all this darkness. It means we can string solar-powered fairy lights all around the garden, and actually have darkness to see them in.
Despite the title of this post, they hardly let you garden in the dark. However, they do look good, when you look out of the kitchen windows, or stand in the middle of the garden late at night and whirl around looking at the lights and the stars.
Coincidentally, since I first drafted this entry – last week after we first put the lights up – I’ve read something else on night gardens: a post by Bristol-based gardening writer Lia Leendertz on the BBC gardening blog, about designing your garden to make it a pleasant place to spend a winter evening. Sadly we don’t have room for hedges or a fire pit, but I do like the idea of a telescope. Maybe I can make do with an SLR, my longest lens, and every teleconverter I can lay my hands on attached. Actually gardening at night will be a harder project to get going.