Saturday, 25 August 2007

Everything in the Garden

Metaphorically ~ Everything in the Garden is not yet lovely; but I am optimistic. The Local Government Ombudsman's Investigator has written that he has received "initial comments" from Dorset County Council social services and will keep me informed. Well, I am quite happy to let it ride for the time being. It is good not to have to do anything just now, about social services' delays to disabled facilities and adaptations. I haven't fallen recently, just a few minor stumbles, its warm indoors and out, so pain and stiffness is slightly less. I have not had to engage in written correspondence with anyone official for a few weeks, so I am content. I am calm, relaxed even, which is a pleasurable place to be.

Literally, now everything in the garden is lovely and it is warm and sunny, 25 degrees C and clear blue skies. The leaves pictured above were picked in the grounds of Kingston Lacy last week, and not photographed but the live leaves arranged and placed on the scanner and sent straight to my laptop. Literally life size on your screen. I don't yet have a digital camera, so this is my current favourite option.

I have been reading Medieval Gardens by Anne Jennings*; lots of pictures from medieval illustrations, and quotations. Bartholomew de Granville wrote in the 13th century:
For trees move not wilfully from place to place as beasts do;
neither change appetite and liking, nor feel sorrow ...

He was describing the difference between plants and animals ! The view below of Kingston Lacy house is very familiar and I have done many pencil sketches of the magnificent cedar with the white circular seat around its base and the house in the background (the tricky architectural detail variously hidden by branches). Last week it looked different - had it moved ? The tree with the seat around was different. Took me a while to realise; they had moved the white circular seat to be around another tree close by, so the original cedar must be getting wider as well as taller.

Kingston Lacy, Dorset - National Trust

I know how it feels (width not height). Its summer - I eat lots of fruit and healthy raw vegetable salads, but sitting outside in the shade with a pot of Early Grey, has to be accompanied by cake ! I am good: clotted cream on my scones only once this summer.

My garden is very green and lush, as it has been raining since May and only stopped last week. Paul who cuts my grass (and who is a straw bale building consultant) struggled to make it wheelchair friendly last week, but it looks more chopped than mown. No matter. Usually at this time towards the end of summer it is sparse and more brown than green; but together with the cut hay meadow beyond, is unseasonally but pleasurably green. Hugh of Fouilloy (c 1132-1152) wrote:
The green turf which is in the middle of the material cloister refreshes encloistered eyes and their (the monks) desire to study returns.
It is truly the nature of the colour green that it nourishes the eye and preserves the vision.

Paul, who has been keeping my garden under some control for almost fifteen years, is a very interesting man, and often has fascinating nuggets to share. This week he reported seeing two ravens on his land , which is on the slope of one of the great Dorset hills, and commented that a few years ago a raven was captured from that hill and taken to the Tower of London. There to have its wings clipped (as all the Tower ravens have) so that it might extend the breeding stock of Tower ravens. Imagine how the raven must have felt - one minute minding its own business, sailing along in the thermals admiring its birds-eye view of the Dorset landscape, then netted; wings clipped, incarcerated in the Tower for no good reason (such as treason or other fellony) and expected to perform.

This wet summer is not kind to those who rely on the the seasons to perform in the expected way. Paul's plan to import mature olive trees in response to recent hotter dryer summers, has not got off the ground this year. Maybe next year. We all hope. A friend, who is almost self sufficient in vegetables, has lost her crop of Pink Fir Apple potatoes to blight, even though she grows them in raised beds and many others have reported their problems with courgettes and tomatoes. My Bump's Plum trees are laden though and the blackberries in the overgrown bit of my garden look promising, but others' runner beans are either heavy cropping or slow to get going and flower due to the cold and wet. I am glad that this year I did not sow and have planted (by Paul) my usual row of runner beans - I would not have been able to get the wheelchair onto the soggy garden to tie in the young growths. I decided in March not to sow runner beans this year (which is the only vegetable growing I can manage these days) as I truly thought that, after five year's delay, surely this spring building work would begin for adaptations. In April it became obvious that the delays were continuing, hence my request to the LGO to investigate Dorset County Council' social services department delays.

All Enjoyers of gardens in soggy England hope that autumn is postponed by a late summer of gentle September days. But already there is a change; this morning I was awake unusually early, and at a 6.30 am a thick white mist, lit from above by the already risen sun, shrouded the garden beyond a few metres. As the sun burnt it off, the first of the autumn coloured dry leaves fell from the twin trunked ash tree just the other side of my garden boundary, a tree that appears on Ordnance Survey maps from over a hundred years ago.

It is too soon yet to be thinking of autumn. I am just beginning to enjoy the summer.

(* Medieval Gardens - Anne Jennings - Published by English Heritage ISBN 1-80574-903-5)

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Blogger Ol Nobby said...

Thank You for a most enhoyable informative piece

Regards Pete

Sunday, 26 August 2007 at 08:05:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

My pleasure, thank you.

Sunday, 26 August 2007 at 09:52:00 BST  
Blogger andrea said...

Sally, you may also enjoy, "The Feminine Monarchie" by Charles Butler, a beekeeping text written in the 1600's.

Your weather woes, with the excesses of heat, drought and heavy rains sound very much like our every-year conditions. We specialise in "Extreme Gardening" with temperatures from -25°C in the winter to 40°C in the summer, heavy winds, hailstorms, and seasonal downpours and droughts.

I wonder if there wouldn't be a way for me to come teach my gardening classes over there? Topics like Xeriscaping (selecting cultivars and species of flowers that are heat & drought tolerant), and more accessible means of veg & herb growing are my daily stock in trade under my horticulturalist hat!

(I hate word verification; it's hard to read and type)

Sunday, 26 August 2007 at 17:08:00 BST  
Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

I do like that comment about the tree - maybe it does have many appetites? I have never tried to find out.

Clotted Cream - I do miss this from my trips down to cornwall - athough I know it is basically suicide by heart attack delight - I can't resist.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007 at 19:36:00 BST  
Blogger cusp said...

I've been reading a lot about medieval gardens and flowers too.

Started when I was doing a painting inpired by medieval gardens and stories. There's a great book with beautiful photographs : Medieval flowers
by Miranda Innes Pub.: Kyle Cathie, 1997.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007 at 13:27:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Thanks Andrea, Elizabeth and Cusp.
I will respond properly in a day or so - currently I am totally wiped out from stuff including doing my Bump's DLA review form with her, - this is how we earn our 'living'.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007 at 13:32:00 BST  
Blogger misscripchick said...

hmm my summers consist of sweating to death and staying inside. maybe i should try sitting in the shade with cake?

i see you blogged against ableism! i hope you will consider joining our campaign against pity and the telethon this weekend at :)

Wednesday, 29 August 2007 at 20:52:00 BST  
Blogger seahorse said...

What a lovely post. And I think your use of the scanner is inspired. Carry on scanning! It may be too soon, yes, but I have to say all those autumn leaves will look beautiful.
And you've just solved the mystery of the non-flowering sweet peas in my garden. Of course it's been too cold and wet! Oh, what an inexperienced gardener am I.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007 at 22:27:00 BST  
Blogger Lily said...

I can't work out who's teaching whom the hokey-cokey in your picture of the beefeater and the raven. The answer could inform the whole nature/nurture debate!

Friday, 31 August 2007 at 17:47:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Where have I been since last Wednesday !!!!???

Andrea - I found the book The Feminine Monarchie on - 'only' £60 - and that's a modern reprint. So if you have an original it could pay for a relocation over here !
Looking at the chapter headings it sounds fascinating. May try and persuade the county library to buy a copy.

As to teaching your classes over here - when the rain stops ! We have had a truly dull grey cold summer, the temperature hovering around 19 degrees C - when I need 24 degrees before I consider it summer. If you are considering finding outlets for your skills and experience here, then start at the website of Kew Gardens (I had it a minute ago, try googling it) and the Royal Horticultural Society. Also there are a number of agricultural colleges, which although aimed at ... agriculture ! ... also sometimes teach garden design and habitat management.

Re Word Verification - on my version of blogger, there is a wheelchair symbol next to the WV - which I understand gives other options for verification - was introduced around the time of the Goldfish's 2006 BADD. We thought it coincidental !

Monday, 3 September 2007 at 19:04:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Hi Elizabeth - if you are travelling from British Columbia to Cornwall, Dorset is relatively close - so if there is anext time, we could share the clotted cream and halve the calories !

Thanks Cusp for another book recommendation ... always appreciated.

Welcome new visitor Miss Crip Chick - no blog page for me to visit, but good luck with your activism.

Seahorse - there have been many many tales of woe from various gardeners, but those I have heard from long time experts, are the most cheering to veg gardening newbies (newbees ?!)

Monday, 3 September 2007 at 19:10:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Lily - I was so so chuffed to find such a relevant picture showing a raven performing to a beefeater's command - but then no one remarked on it so I thought I was the only one to see it ... you put your left leg in, your left leg out, in out in out shake it all about. (that for visitors who are not familiar with the hokey cokey). Cheers !

Monday, 3 September 2007 at 19:13:00 BST  

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