Friday, 3 May 2013

Swishing for Gardeners and a Garlic Bath

A pillar of the community recently invited me to a swishing party. Not wishing to admit that I was ignorant to the ways of swishers, I mumbled something about diaries and hurried home for a restorative cup of tea and a spot of research. 


Phlox divaricata 'Clouds of Perfume' in the farmhouse garden* 
Although a swishing party sounds like a questionable form of entertainment for a pillar of the community, it is in fact a social event where guests swap clothes they no longer wear. Clearly this is an alien concept for someone who possesses two categories of clothes: Going Out and Gardening. In my wardrobe, all new clothes join the first category until I ruin them by accidentally wearing them to garden, after which they naturally transfer to the Gardening category, where they reside until they disintegrate completely. Everything gets worn (all at once if it's cold enough).

Gardeners have been swapping seeds, plants and produce for centuries, so we might argue that we already have our own form of swishing. Reusing and recycling are at the heart of much of what we do and waste products become valuable resources such as compost, well-rotted manure and leafmould. 

As a gardener who likes to uphold the traditions of reusing and recycling, I was delighted to stumble upon this marvellous vat of history lurking in our redundant piggeries.


If you think it looks like three-hundred-year-old dung porridge, you may be right, for this is daub; a delightful combination of whatever happened to be available at the time, like clay, straw, hair and dung. In our seventeenth-century barn, some daub was crumbling beyond repair, so it was soaked in water for a few days, then mixed to a paste with an oversized whisk, before being reapplied to the walls. The builder who stewed the daub assures me that he does the cooking at home. Looking at his brilliant handiwork, I think he should branch out into icing cakes. 


When we were clearing out the barn, we found an old tin bath and with it, the answer to a niggling problem. A combination of poor weather and heavy soil had been conspiring against my ability to grow garlic until the discovery of the bath. Feeling confident that we would be installing twenty-first-century plumbing in the barn, I pierced drainage holes in the bath and spring-planted a hardneck garlic called 'Edenrose'.  


So far, the garlic seems happy - or at least happier than it would have been in our cold, heavy soil. I just hope that I am not being over-optimistic about the plumbing, although if push comes to shove (and only once the garlic has been harvested), I can suspend the pierced bath from a beam and call it a shower. 


* Phlox divaricata 'Clouds of Perfume' has nothing to do with researching swishing, beyond the fact that I stopped to enjoy its scent en route to my laptop. It's a small Phlox - just 30cm high; pollinating insects love it; and it is flowering its socks off in the farmhouse garden at the moment.

59 comments:

  1. I love the bath. A great idea to plant garlic in it. Your post gave me an idea as I have a few galvanized containers that are not utilized. Thanks!

    As for swishing...first time I've heard of it. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky you having spare galvanised containers - you will be the envy of gardeners everywhere!

      Delete
    2. In the Maritimes you see galvie quite a bit at tag sales but most of ours came from an house we once bought. Still, your planter tub had me on the lookout and in late summer, found a big ole galvie animal watering station so was mighty pleased. We gardeners get excited about strange things heh! ;-)

      Delete
  2. I've never heard it called swishing before. I doubt I'd ever be invited to one of those parties, I tend to live in my jeans and have very few other clothes, certainly none anyone would want. The bath looks great planted up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jo - the garlic is really thriving now that we have had some sun and rain! One day, gardening jeans might be de rigeur and then you will be invited to every swishing party!

      Delete
  3. You have a 17th century barn! Wow! that's the fun of living in older countries like the UK. It's my dream to at least stay in some old ancient castle, farm-house,barn (more crumbling, old look it has better it is), and roam around it,day-dreaming and perhaps find some old relics. I love history.

    I was rolling in laughter about the shwish party, clothes, and the idea of turning the tub into shower :-). Hillarious :-).

    That blue phlox looks awesome. Are they that big as I always though pholox to be small.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need to visit our farm! We will be letting our sixteenth century farmhouse for holidays from this Christmas!

      The Phlox is a tiddler - about 30cm (12") - and the scent is AMAZING!

      Delete
    2. I will be definitely coming down there whenever I come to visit the UK. Will you be turning that into a hotel/motel/b&B? Uh! it will be fun to live there. Is it haunted :-)?

      Delete
    3. Do! We will be letting it out as soon as the barn is finished. I've never noticed any ghosts floating around! It's an extremely relaxing place - lots of oak beams and an inglenook fireplace.

      Delete
  4. Swishing? I'd have to go out to a thrift store to buy some decent-looking togs to exchange. I'd be too embarrassed to share my too-large collection of black pants, black T-shirts, black sweaters, black jackets, black jeans - you get the picture...I wear a lot of black for work.
    Lovely to see that you're following and I'll follow back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello - and welcome! I don't think you need to go to a thrift store - all this monochrome clothing makes you sound very chic!

      Delete
  5. I think I lost track of everything you said after 17th century barn..... well, maybe not completely, but my nose started twitching like a rabbit who just smelled fresh carrot!
    The fresh daub looks splendid ~ as do the phlox.... and I really like the idea for the shower.... Swishing though? I think they'd swish my unwanted clothes into a trash barrel.... *giggle*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the image of your nose twitching! The 17th century barn is a beautifully constructed building and it is a privilege to be able to restore and convert it so that it is good for a few years more.

      Hilarious - your comments have made me conjure up an image of an overly-judgemental fashion guru swishing clothes into the bin at these parties! A fun night out for all! Perhaps I won't go...

      Delete
  6. 17th Century barn...heaven!! Although I suspect the restoration work is not ;)
    Like most above, I've never heard of swishing and was pleased so see it wasn't too sinister (or exciting depending on what pleases). I have visions of the shower room and a suspended old tin bath. Designers would pay a fortune for that idea, I'm sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The listed barn is heaven and it is in remarkably good condition since no beams have been cut for machinery etc. It will, eventually, be our home. The restoration has been fine so far (15 months to date). We have excellent builders and there has been an immense amount of consideration, thought and care put into the work. I just hope we don't have to resort to the tin-bath-shower!

      Delete
  7. Lovely daubing! I had to giggle at your "two categories" clothing description, I am exactly the same, and frequently find myself turning "going out" into "gardening" at least until the next wash by impromptu gardening. Particularly seed sowing or potting on. I convince myself that since this isn't really a messy job I don't need to go and change, conveniently forgetting my propensity for getting compost everywhere until I notice the brown patches around my cuffs. Sometimes mid bread kneading. I miss the phlox divaricata I had at my previous garden, but I managed to kill it off and am not allowing myself to buy any for this garden in case I do the same, since it is supposed to be tough. It is a heavenly plant though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a tough plant, but it doesn't like the extremely windy conditions we have been experiencing lately as it dries out too quickly. I bet it gets quite windy where you live, do you think that's what killed it?

      The image of you kneading bread with composty cuffs is remarkably reassuring!

      Delete
  8. I've never heard of swishing, but I smiled and nodded in agreement as you explained about "the going out clothes and the gardening clothes". I've never heard of daub, either. So much to learn in this post! Love the bath of garlic! I'll be looking for one of those at my local flea market!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bath is still working - I can't recommend it highly enough!

      Delete
  9. I'm very envious of your bath... I had to laugh about the swishing - I'm exactly like you with my clothes; two categories only... If I'm working in the front garden I do make an effort to look in the mirror before I go out, for my neighbours' sakes! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hilarious! And so very thoughtful. I am sure your neighbours appreciate the effort you make!

      Delete
  10. I'd never heard of swishing but like you I wouldn't have anything to swish - must admit the mind boggled hoping that they didn't swish the clothes they turned up to the meeting in!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am all for garden swishing and regularly relieve people of old pots, slabs and sinks... new ones just don't do it for me! Not yet had a tin bath, so when you get tired of it...... swish it down in this direction!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I will ever grow tired of this little piece of our farm history, although there is no place in my heart for our kitchen sink, so you are very welcome to help yourself to it... it'll give us a great excuse not to wash up.

      Delete
  12. I think I have gardening and cleaning cloths at the moment, well that's what it feels like. I like the planting in the Barth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't suppose it's possible to wear gardening clothes to clean a house. I guess you would be dropping soil and leaves as quickly as you cleared them up, which is why I try to stay outdoors (that and the fact that I am totally useless at cleaning... although on reflection, this uselessness might stem from attempting to clean up wearing gardening clothes). It's a vicious circle.

      Delete
  13. Ha ha ha ! I am just the same about clothes and ruin them in just the same way. It often happens like this ... I am in my 'best' clothes aka Work clothes and I happen to go out into the garden as part of an inside job, like taking out the recycling. Whilst opening the bin I spot a weed which HAS to come out immediately before I forget, then I see a plant which Has to be staked immediately, and thus my Best clothes become my Gardening clothes. I have often had a little pang of panic, mid-garden, when I realise what I actually have on, and see that brambles have torn it !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes.... I have fond memories of earthing-up potatoes while wearing a tailored suit and my smartest shoes. To be honest, there should be a line of smart, but incredibly hard-wearing clothes for people who need to be tidy for work, but who pass plants requiring attention on their way to and from work. A special pocket in the jacket for secateurs would be a thoughtful addition.

      Delete
  14. That garden bath is a great idea! I've never heard of a swishing party. It sounded like something 'naughty' when I first read it...LOL...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does sound a little risqué, doesn't it? When the invitation was issued, it took an immense effort not to look too shocked!

      Delete
  15. What an enjoyable post! I have never heard of swishing, but I have heard of daub. I love your barn walls!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! The walls are lovely - I am so pleased that our builders took the time to reuse the daub as it makes such a difference.

      Delete
  16. Phlox divaritica is a fantastic spring flower. I've got quite a few in my shady areas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is - it has a pretty long flowering season and it enjoys a bit of shade. I wouldn't like to be without this Phlox.

      Delete
  17. Oh this has cheered me up! Sartorially speaking, we're cut from the same cloth; I feel distinctly ill at ease in frocks and dressing up clothes, weddings and "special events" throw me into a panic. Am now all a flutter as to what to wear to Chelsea, will probably try and disguise myself as a plant. Love the daub, looks wonderfully mucky!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you have been cheered up! I don't think it matters so much what you wear for Chelsea, so long as you accessorise with a fully-charged camera and a fully-charged glass of Pimms. Enjoy it!

      Delete
  18. I love that tub! I have been on the hunt for one and have yet to come up with one! Your garlic looks wonderful and happy in there! And as for your clothes...the same goes for me! I was actually wearing old green shorts and an old green shirt in the garden today! Someone could have just stuck me in the corner and called me a weed! Ha! Great post...gave me a good chuckle!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! The garlic is still looking incredibly happy - if this continues, I will never grow garlic in the ground again. I am sure you made a striking weed, although I sincerely hope that no one attempted to compost you and that you have avoided aphid infestations and slug bites.

      Delete
  19. Ahh... I discovered much from your post... swishing? Daubing? New words to me. I also discovered you have a delightful sense of humor. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Carolyn. I do hope you are trying your new words out all over the place. I love discovering new words - I have really enjoyed throwing the word "swishing" into conversations - even when it really wasn't necessary.

      Delete
  20. I've gone to one of those parties before but have never heard the term 'swishing'. At least I'll be up to date on my lingo if I ever get asked again. Though, much like you, my clothing seems to have devolved into work and garden. Hubby keeps reminding me not to wear office clothes when watering flowers - it always leads digging he says and then my fancy business attire will be ruined! (but at least I'll look smashing as I shovel manure..)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I now have a great image of you shovelling manure in a well-cut suit and a pair of Jimmy Choos! If they have heels, you could aerate the lawn on the way back to the house.

      Delete
  21. I'd never heard of swishing parties, and definitely never been invited to one... but that's probably because people have seen the way I dress! Great reuse of an old bath - hope you get a good harvest from your garlic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I hope the harvest is good - the plants certainly look better than I could have hoped for had they been planted in the soil.

      Delete
  22. I thought it was called shwapping. Love the tin bath filled with goodies - it is quite trendy now to sell old things for planting in isn't it - but they cost the earth - funny to think they were all thrown out years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right - some of these reclamation places charge a fortune for things people couldn't give away a few years ago. Ah yes... Shwopping is the M&S/Oxfam initiative and shwapping is when you take clothes to a free shop and exchange them there and swishing is the socialising opportunity version... there seems to be a lot of swishing, shwapping and shwopping going on at the moment!

      Delete
  23. Clearly a good week for recycling and gardening!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only every week was this successful!

      Delete
  24. My clothes go a similar way. They are good until I somehow stain them and then they become gardening clothes. And there is nothing better than whipping out a weed when you are in your best clothes about to go out. And of course I have worn out all my slippers because I just do this little bit of gardening!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah slippers! I tried to get over the slipper issue by buying two pairs of gardening clogs and arranging them by our two external doors. It didn't work... I still gardened in slippers. It seems that slippers are the adult version of white school socks on kids... the minute they wear white socks, they forget to wear shoes.

      Delete
  25. Swishing sounded very dodgy at first and when I reached the bit about guests swapping their clothes my hair was starting to stand on end!!! ;-)

    Love the old bath with the garlic. If you don't have to use it for a shower ;-) it would look lovely planted with spring bulbs.

    I don't think I've ever seen a blue Phlox, it's really pretty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bath would look lovely planted with spring bulbs. Do look out for the Phlox - it is small, but an absolute beauty. I hope your hair has calmed down!

      Delete
  26. I have never heard of swishing, and like you, I would have had to do some research in order to have known how to reply to the kind invitation. It sounds like a fun premise for a party, although I might feel odd about wearing my neighbour's/friend's clothes.
    I would like to grow my own garlic as well. So far, your container planting looks to be very successful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The garlic is doing very well indeed - I hope it continues to thrive. You're right about wearing your neighbour's clothes - I hadn't thought of that!

      Delete
  27. Very swish indeed, just like the recycled tin bath. I think it would be more fun for the observer if the swishers had to wear the clothes. ( i am not a voyeur)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Swishing? I've never heard of that before, either. Your barn is from the 17th century? That's amazing to me! My country wasn't a country in the 17th century. :o) LOVE your garlic in the tub.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is old, isn't it? Our farmhouse was built in the 16th century and there have been settlements here for a very long time - people with metal detectors regularly find Roman coins etc in the fields next to our house. It does make weeding the garden and digging over new areas quite slow, because I tend to look at everything in the soil!

      Delete