Friday, 21 September 2012

Dancing While The Weeds Take Over

Asking a gardener to convalesce is like putting a Border Collie on bed rest. Nothing can reduce the desire to be outside; not even a stack of thoughtfully selected books - for the gardener not the Border Collie, a breed famed for its intellect but not for devouring meaty novels, unless "the dog ate my homework" counts.


Of course, gardeners listen to the pleas of our loved ones to rest, we really do; it's just that the second their backs are turned, we break free from our garden beds in the shade and gently potter (or putter, depending on where we live). In my case, having spent some time in hospital, I was released into the wilds of our garden for a spot of outdoor convalescence and while gently potter-puttering, I quietly planted a hedgerow. My loved ones were shocked and concerned and who can blame them? Summer is hardly the hedge-planting season, but as I tried to explain as they frogmarched me back to the comfort of my garden bed, it was perfect planting weather and in any case, I had been nurturing these native plants in containers since the bare-root season and saving them for this precise moment (the completion of the rabbit fencing - not the enforced convalescence).


This fabulous Stipa gigantea really lifted my spirits in hospital. The gardens at the hospital are actually a landscaped car park - a practical and necessary part of hospital life, yet the most blissful place for staff, patients and visitors to enjoy. They underline the importance of beautiful, practical public spaces. The same can be said of our wonderful Olympic Park (below).


I loved the Olympic Park. My friends and I deemed it to be the happiest place on the planet. I wanted to spend as much time there as I could and I was thrilled to be involved in the Olympic Closing Ceremony. After months of rehearsals, my lovely new friends and I donned our yellow outfits and had the time of our lives dancing, or in my case, hoping that I was doing what everyone else was doing and preferably at the same time as them. Here are some of us shortly before the ceremony. Our ages range from teenage to 80 years old.  


All this excitement means that I have barely been home this summer and if I have been in Norfolk, I have spent too much time watching the swallows swoop across the sky above the piggeries and not enough time gardening. However, I did enjoy a bowl of strawberries within 60 days of planting them (as promised in the 20th June post) and I am absolutely converted to 'Darlisette' which has the most perfect level of sweetness I have ever tasted in a strawberry. You will note that I failed to get round to laying down a straw mulch, along with a million and one other jobs this summer. 


I feel guilt-ridden, but I will confess that despite all the rain and the misery of blight affecting so many, my first experience of growing tomatoes without a greenhouse has been surprisingly successful... 


.. and much as I don't like to boast, a summer of neglect has led to spectacular weeds in the flower borders.


 Aren't they beautiful?




* Please note that the photo of the yellow-clad people was not taken by me and belongs to a member of TP7. The first picture is proof (were in needed) that flowers in wildlife seed mixes attract wildlife.


46 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear you have been in hospital - I hope you are well on your way to recovery. What better way to convalesce than by pottering round in the garden - it just goes to show that nature does pretty well with a neglected garden. How fortunate you were to be involved in the Olympics - the park planting was inspirational. I know the gardener who came up with the scheme was worried how it would turn out - obviously, he needn't have been.

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    1. You're right - the gardener didn't need to worry at all, the planting in the park was fabulous. I am much better now, thank you, Elaine.

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  2. Your post made me smile because of the wonderful analogy of the collie dog. It's so true! I'm sorry to hear you've been in hospital - it takes time to convalesce (and hedge planting is not a usual method of recuperation ha ha ha)!! The call of the earth is just too strong :-)
    You're right, the weeds are beautiful!

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    1. Funnily enough, though, I have discovered today that the call of the earth gets weakened a little by heavy wind and rain. Suddenly, snuggling up with a good book is an extremely attractive prospect.

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  3. Your weeds are actually quite beautiful! There are times in our lives that the garden must be put on the back burner, and let the weeds take over. I hope you don't do too much, and heal quickly. Your tomatoes are beautiful, and I'm sure your strawberries were delicious. I loved hearing about the dancing. Dancing is such a fun activity - and it is wonderful that it can bring teenagers and 80 year olds together!

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    1. I learnt to love weeds long ago - I took the view that if I didn't, I might go quite mad trying to control them. Thank you for your kind words, I am pacing myself and getting stronger by the day.

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  4. Now you're just gloating about your ripe tomatoes without the aid of a greenhouse when my greenhouse ones are determinedly green. Well done on your success, they look delicious. Sorry to hear that you've been in hospital, I hope you're now well on the road to recovery. How wonderful to have been a part of the Olympic Closing Ceremony. It was only a couple of days ago that I was reading Jules' experience of the same thing:-
    http://suburbanvegplot.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. I might be gloating - I am also spending the better part of the day diverting my chickens from eating the toms!

      I'm going to Jules' blog for a read now!

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  5. I was wondering why you had been quiet in August... ;-) Hope you get well soon. I bet the bees and insects love those "wild flowers".

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    1. Thank you! The weeds are bee magnets!

      I plan on being much noisier now ;-)

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  6. Your last photo has weeds in it?? I thought it was just a fabulous planting! You definitely have better weeds than I do! I had knee surgery in Dec 2010 and told my dr that I had to have my surgery in my off-season, since I was an Extreme Gardener. I needed to be recovered by spring so I could putter in my garden. Despite having to take a chunk of time off work, I would have gone insane if I couldn't garden during the summer. I sympathize with your escapist tendencies and hope you heal soon. :o)

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    1. What a wise gardener you are! I love the idea of Extreme Gardeners!

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  7. Congrats on being part of the Olympics. Two of our friends were chosen to be in the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and they say they will never forget it.

    Oh, if those are weeds, I am no gardener....that's a lovely crop, much nicer then ours over here.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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    1. Thank you! I don't think any of us will ever forget the experience - everything about it, from the auditions to the actual ceremony was amazing fun. I feel very privileged to have been part of it.

      I do wonder if passers-by think we've designed the weed border to look like that!

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  8. I wish you a happy autumn in the garden. - http://mary-goingnative.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you Mary - and to you. I am just getting excited about autumn planting, so hopefully it will be a very happy autumn indeed!

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  9. Indeed, they are beautiful. When you are impressed with the weeds and know their names, they are no longer weeds, I think. I also grow tomatoes without greenhouse every year. They are so sun-kissed, and only one negative is birds’ eating when I wait for their full ripeness. Have happy and healthy days ahead.

    Yoko

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    1. Thank you, Yoko. I agree with you about the weeds. Viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare) is so beautiful and has been so popular with bees, I plan to keep growing it.

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  10. Sorry to hear you had to be frogmarched out of the garden. Planting a hedge, indeed. Couldn't you have just dead-headed a few flowers or something ?
    Anyway, hope you're feeling a little better now.
    Oh and those weeds? A weed is just a plant growing in the wrong place. They look okay to me. In fact, they look lovely.

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  11. Thank you, Crystal. You're right, I ought to have dead-headed a few flowers, but I am besotted with digging - especially if the digging involves planting something. I tried the no-dig method of growing veg once and it made me unhappy!

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  12. Hideous weather here today but reading your blog post has been so uplifting (though sorry you've been unwell,) and so, so familiar: I get told off for nicking off, preferring to putter rather than attack the boring jobs on the list that a creaky old house requires.

    Thanks for joining my site too!

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    1. I'm so glad it cheered you up, Lou. I hear the weather is terrible in the west. I hope your creaky old house is standing up to all these gales. When a storm hits our farmhouse, I remind myself that it has stood sturdily for over 400 years... but it doesn't stop me worrying!

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  13. Oh! Not good to be too ill to garden. But then again, that "weed" border seems to be doing just fine without you. Lovely. Feel well soon!

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  14. How exciting that you were able to participate in the Olympics' Closing Ceremony. I am sorry that you have been kept from the garden. Weeds don't waste any time moving in, do they? I hope you are feeling better soon and can enjoy a bit of fall gardening.

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    1. It was very exciting - I wish we could have an Olympics every year!

      I agree with your comments about weeds - they seem to arrive overnight and waste no time in extending their patch. It's a good job I'm feeling better, or else I might not be able to open the front door for thistles!

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  15. Some lovely photos there.

    Thanks for following my site!

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    1. Thanks Rob - looking forward to your next post.

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  16. The comment about the weeds reminds me how every spring I have high hopes for a beautiful, weed-free garden, then time (and heat) march on and the delusion vanishes. Oh well. Enjoyed your photos. Hope you're feeling great very soon!

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    1. Thank you. I know what you mean about high hopes - every year it's the same!

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  17. Welcome back! I am so sorry you had to spend time in the hospital and hope your health will continue to improve. Being out in the garden will surely help! I know how tough it is to sit while the weeds grow, though your last photo is beautiful and reminds me of my own wildflower garden. I am convinced our property would revert to wilderness, with few lingering signs of managed garden, within two years of neglect.

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    1. Thank you!

      I rather like wandering around neglected gardens. The combination of self-invited guests and wayward long-term inhabitants is really interesting and there is nearly always at least one surprise plant, thriving despite the neglect and chaos.

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  18. I too am sorry to hear of your hospital stay. Hope all is well. I was so surprised of your Olympic debut. What a great honor to participate in the closing ceremonies. I adore your 'weeds', just beautiful.

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  19. Hi gardening shoe, your weeds are wonderful, and so are those tomatoes and strawberries, i hope my little tomato and strawberry in pots will cast forth some fruit soon. You can't keep a good gardener down, and speaking of border collies mine is getting very impatient, so i will sign off now, thanks for visiting my blog.

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  20. Lucky you! I wish we had a Border Collie - our last one was a lovely old boy. Fingers crossed for your tomatoes and strawberries.

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  21. Oh my, that would be so hard to stay inactive for long periods of time! I hope you are feeling better! That's such a great opportunity to be part of the closing ceremonies! I was able to be part of the closing ceremonies of the Paralympics in Atlanta back when, and it was so much fun!

    That's great you got some fruit and veggies, even with neglect! And your weeds are very impressive :)

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    1. Inactivity is hard work indeed! I'm back on form now and happily trying to catch up with the gardening I wanted to do during the summer. Thankfully, our corner of the UK is enjoying a pretty good autumn.

      How great to be part of the Atlanta Paralympics Closing Ceremony!

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  22. So sorry to read you have been in hospital but very glad you are recovering, I hope you continue to go from strength to strength. You certainly have had an eventful Summer. Many congratulations on your involvement in the Olympics. Had it been the opening ceremony you could have appeared in your hospital bed....heavily disguised as a child of course ;-)

    Darlisette looks and sounds wonderful and the tomatoes did very well in this strange weather year we have had.

    I wish my garden weeds looked as pretty as yours! I was thinking that as you are so 'besotted with digging' you might like to come and play with all the dreaded Ground Elder which has invaded my borders while I turned my back for a moment...

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    1. I would love to dig out the ground elder - there are few things that would give me greater satisfaction than ridding every garden of ground elder!

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  23. You are so right...I must get outside and check on my garden. I do enjoy the rest in winter, but come spring I am ready to get out there and dig away.

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    1. You are very fortunate - I really hate the rest in winter and I get really frustrated waiting for spring to arrive!

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  24. So much going on and a spell in hospital which you could have done well without. Hope all is well now, Tomatoes outdoors, wont get that up here. Having a part in the Olympic closing ceremony, how fantastic is that.

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    1. As fantastic as it is possible to be, Alistair! To be honest, I didn't have high hopes for outdoor tomatoes as it can be very windy and cold at times here and the growing season is short, so I kept them in the house until quite late (which made me very unpopular, but not as unpopular as I was one January when I thought it would be interesting to try growing cucumbers in the kitchen and it was so successful that we couldn't see out of the window).

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