The changes in the garden this week have been gentle and gradual, but changes there have been.
For starters, there’s a nice big hole in the middle of the bed where the garlic once was. We harvested the lot last week and it’s sitting in a box in the kitchen. I haven’t exactly grown the European garlic mountain, despite planting a couple of packets of cloves, at least in part if not in whole because I neglected it in the winter and the bed got rather overrun with grass and weeds and I think the burgeoning garlic got a bit smothered. What garlic we have is small and rather dainty but it tastes delicious and I’ve discovered that it’s so much easier to peel it when it’s new and fresh rather than having to pick individual flakes of skin off each one.
The onions as per everyone’s advice (for which, thank you) we have left in situ and we’ll pull them up as and when we need them unless they start to look unhappy or the leaves go completely brown. And at the front of the bed, strawberry patch A has a few last surprises for anyone that wants to do a little furreting under the leaves.
Meanwhile in the other bed, patch B is growing some lovely big fat berries, helped no doubt by several days of drizzle in the last week. I can’t remember the varieties we planted originally, but in terms of crop you can really tell the difference between the sort sold to hobby gardeners and the ones designed to supply a pick your own farm. When these turn red it will definitely be more than one each for pudding.
The chard and the sweetcorn keep on growing and we’ve picked a couple of good handfuls of chard for supper; I added it to a pizza instead of spinach, and Pip and I thought it was delicious. Further up the bed we have flowers on one of the courgettes but not quite on the other and the pumpkin seems to be surviving, although two leaves have sort of shrivelled up and wilted, which hopefully isn’t fatal. I think a bird may have ‘fertilised’ them and they didn’t like it.
The growth spurts this week have come from the runner beans, who having completed their warm up are now sprinting laps of the top of the netting. I think they climbed out overnight when I wasn’t looking. The big job for this week is to raise the netting and set them up something more appropriate to climb all over. I’ve got a plan, I just need to pop down to Homebase and get all the bits and bobs.
And last but not least, we have our tomato plant, valiantly thriving on the patio, despite the presence of three small children, balls, scooters, dyeing adventures and the rest of it. We’re still at the little yellow flower stage but I’m hoping for some fruit too. It’s set me wondering just how many tomato plants people grow in a smallholding if they want to be veggie self sufficient. I could plant my whole veg space with tomato plants and I doubt that would get us through the year.
This week honourable mention must also go to the flower garden which is in full riot. We have honeysuckle pouring over two fences, deep purple buddleia attracting all the butterflies, the dahlia from last week has produced two more blooms, and the roses are pink and perfect. The sunflowers that the girls planted with my aunt have not only survived but seriously thrived. I’m 6’0″ and they come up to my shoulders, and they’ve been inspiring the cosmos in front which reaches my waist.
But my absolute favourite (though don’t tell any other the other flowers) is my hydrangea. I love hydrangeas for themselves but also because they remind me of Devon. Where I come from, the gardens are full of huge hydrangea bushes, taller than me and covered in enormous flowers, pink, purple and most of all blue. That bit of south Devon has the perfect soil not only for hydrangeas, but also to persuade them to be a beautiful deep blue. It’s one of the colours of summer in my mind, along with blue skies and the light of the sun rippling across a turquoise sea. I planted hydrangeas here one of the first summers we lived here, but they’ve always been a lovely rosy pink until now.
I have a blue hydrangea. Right next to my spot at our patio table. Perfect. Although I have no idea why, or how to repeat it.