Welcome one and all to the dubious titled Lady Garden. Let your green fingers take a wander through our overgrown bushes to enjoy the fruitful delights that are found within. Perhaps we shall just leave you with that thought and introduce you to our talented Percy Thrower of the day Miss Emma David …
Hello, readers, and welcome to my Lady Garden guest – spot. Not that it’s spotty, you understand. In fact, I suppose I should start by confessing that I actually don’t really have a Lady Garden at all! Now, I can hear what you’re thinking, and I wish you wouldn’t: I’m not saying I’m, you know, all like Barbie downstairs – I have a child, after all, and she came from the usual place, not from collecting tokens on Mattel boxes. No, what I mean, but am struggling to convey, is that I live in a flat, with my hubby and daughter, and we have no green outside space. Nonetheless, the window ledges, work surfaces, and courtyard (*ahem*: ‘car park!’) edges are completely full of growing things. And by design, too, not just a surfeit of mould and weeds…
Growing stuff has become a bit of a joyful obsession, to be honest. Nothing beats the downright primeval magic of planting a sterile-looking seed, nurturing it, serenading it, and finally seeing green shoots appear. To begin with, most new shoots look the same, but with time they take on their own characteristic shapes and personalities, and the fun really begins.
Currently we have thyme, basil, rocket, parsley and cress; our baby trees include apple (from Pink Lady pips – again, emphatically NOT a euphemism!), Paulownia, larch, fir, and even Flame Trees (from seeds inadvertently brought back from honeymoon in Antigua, concealed inside a painted souvenir shaker thingy); plus we have avocado seeds balanced on cocktail sticks over glasses of water, like toddlers suspended over potties, (only one has a very long root, which would be highly inappropriate on a child), friendly pepper plants and weapons-grade chilli seedlings, a mango treelet, and of course, again this year, the beloved tomatoes.
We had so much fun with the tomatoes last year. Not sure why I chose to grow them initially, apart from the fact I found an old expired packet of seeds, and thought, “What the heck!” Fortunately, their ickily squishy drippy goopy innards are way less repulsive when you’ve grown them yourself. Plus we stocked up on slow roasted garlicky tomatoes and pasta sauce in kilner jars to see us through the winter, and even made yummy chutney with the last tiny green toms before hacking the vines down as the cold weather loomed. (I say yummy – actually it could be a biohazard: we’ve yet to try it, but it hasn’t eaten through the glass yet, so I’m taking that as a positive sign…)
The late arrival of Spring this year left us with a problem. The tomatoes should have been transferred to their outdoor troughs a month ago, but hail, gales and frost are no friendlier to tender young plants than to person-flesh, so we held fire, as they grew ever lankier through jostling for light on the lounge windowsill.
At last yesterday we were able to plant them out. Friends and folks wanted some, so there followed a kind of mini Sophie’s Choice dilemma: which green babes should go, and could we trust their new foster-carers without a rigorous vetting process and contracts signed in blood? I contented myself with lengthy verbal instructions, repeated ad nauseum, and liberally scattered with handwringing and stern glances. I could see how glad they were to leave… eager to get their plant-gifts settled in, no doubt…
And here are our remaining buddies after their first Big Night Out. Marvel at their funky hand wrought bamboo climby cage contraption thingummies (yes, of course that’s the correct technical term!! Don’t question me.) They are held together first with gaffer tape, then by the Famous Five method: with lashings and lashings. Of green twine though, not ginger beer. The latter just isn’t sticky enough. Honest.
And now we can water them and watch them grow. Plus there’s sill room now for a trough of salady stuff. And probably enough space for one more trough outside, without endangering the postman too much on his way to our door. I’m thinking maybe of carrots. Plus, the Grand Planting Out means that summer has finally arrived, whether it likes it – and shows it –or not. And we can look forward to more harvesting, and delectable home-made produce. Glancing through these lovely pictures, [and reading my poem below,] I’m sure you’ll feel compelled to emulate. ..
Ode to my Tomatoes
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
In summer’s heat you painted salad days
With sweet red splodges.
Hubby doesn’t know
You found your way into his curries! So…
We’ve all enjoyed you. From your dodgy start
(A kiddies’kit, years old, pot bust apart)
You grew spectacularly, always thriving,
And showed the joy of growing things to Ivy.
You’ve grown so strong and well, made tonnes of fruit,
And not just any – the BEST toms to boot…
And so it is with sadness, with my scissors,
I’ve cut back ruthlessly the yellow withers.
The rest will follow. Sauces, chutneys planned.
In summer you were sun warmed and breeze fanned;
You would not like the gales, hard rain, or snow.
Kisses and thank you. As the seasons flow,
It’s nothing personal. Just your time to go…
The Lady Garden was bought to you by the slightly soiled Emma David, a freelance writer who resides in the fictional country of Guensey, in the Channel no 5 Isla St Clair (from the Generation Game).