Archive for September, 2007


NIMG-Not in MY Garden

I came accross NIMG via bloomingwriter, who has put her own list up on her blog. So what things would I never have in my garden?

First: flowers in rows (not only tulips but also dahlias, gladiolas etc) are an absolute horror for me. I don’t even enjoy them in other people’s gardens. It’s the same with perfectly clean rectangular gardens that only consist of clear-cut lawn, a trimmed hedge and maybe the odd evergreen. (You might just as well replace the lawn with concrete painted green.) Oh, I forgot about the white-coated metal fence.

But second, what do I like but won’t ever have in my garden?

I enjoy geometrical (cottage) gardens where the flowerbeds are framed with small hedges. However, this would take too much planning and designing for me. Also, lots of accurate pruning is necessary to keep them up.
Then there are gardens where you find all sorts of design elements such as ancient-looking walls, spots to sit in, wells, statues etc. They are quite nice to look at, but don’t fit our way of life. We don’t like to bother with carrying chairs and tables all around the garden but keep them near the house. Otherwise the wind will blow them all over the place. Also, our lawn is for the children and the dog to play on. Extra seats would mean extra obstacles to trip over.

One thing that I envy in others is when the flower arrangements match in size and colour so that different impressions are created in different parts of the garden (for example a “blue” corner). I will never achieve that because I cannot get myself to pull out annuals that have seeded themselves and are thus wandering around the garden. So there will always be a bright orange calendula spoiling the pink and blue impression of roses, delphinum and bell flowers ….



Rose Impressions

Roses are special so I’m actually trying to remember their names. Some of them play a rather prominent role in my garden, others are hidden, only to be discovered by very interested visitors. In fact, like with most of my plants, they have a history. Either they are presents from well-loved friends or they were acquired by some unusual way or they have moved (or still move) around the garden until they have found their perfect spot.

Here are some late-summer rose impressions:

La Minuet with (bell flowers in the background): My father grew this one from a cutling, and he was surprised himself to find it so well grown and blooming as the mother plant in his garden has been severely troubled by sooty molds.

Westerland: A friend gave two of these rose bushes to me as they had become to big for her garden. Also, she didn’t like the way the blossoms turn from orange to pink as they get older. They are supposed to grow really big, spreading a fresh fruity scent all around them. However the deer, who believe my garden belongs to their territory, simply love them. So they hop over the fence at night for a quick dessert, which means that I have had to take measures to prevent these bushes from becoming bonsais.

Pink rose: Even though this is one of my favourites, I have never found out her name. Would anybody believe me when I say that I discovered this little treasure on a compost heap in the neighbourhood? Who would ever want to throw a flower as precious as this away? It took a few years, but it was worth the trouble, particularly as the flowers last long in vases and have a very delicate flowery scent.


Why Gardening?

“What a huge garden! So much work!” That is often the spontaneous reaction of people who see my garden for the first time. Actually with about 1000 square metres you cannot really call it huge, but by German standards it is where most plots don’t exceed 600 square metres. Still, I don’t associate gardening with work — for me it is leisure; and I often find myself justifying my desire to dig up the soil instead of doing boring paper work in my study.

Admittedly, I’ve got help — impersonated by my husband, sometimes by our son — who strangely enjoy those chores that I loathe, such as mowing the lawn, building fences etc. Since my son has taken to fishing, I don’t even have to ask him to dig over the odd flower bed, instead he asks me whether he is allowed to do so (to find bait worms). Isn’t it great when the kids grow up and start to have a more mature outlook on life? 😉
However, the rest of the garden is mine, and I have finally managed to keep my loved ones away from weeding as this had always turned out too dangerous for the plants.

So what is so fascinating about gardening that I sometimes stick my arms up to the elbows in dirt, get soaked in the rain because some replanting has to be finished just then, bend my back that it hurts for the next week? Of course it is the results, bathing in colours and scents, growing your own food (with mixed results), watching visiting birds and other animals. But that’s not the complete answer. For me working in the garden is like meditating. Plants have one advantage: they don’t talk back — they are simply there. Since I work as a teacher surrounded by noise and hectic in the morning, I enjoy the peace and calm in my garden in the afternoon before I go back to my desk in the evening. Thus digging up the soil, cutting hedges, planting and replanting help me to root myself, to take a step back from all the crazy demands, aggression, problems of pupils, parents and colleagues I’m confronted with in my profession.

Finally, gardening is not so much different from educating: you prepare the ground, you give nourishment, you try to keep away dangers and distractions, and then you let grow. So working with plants is quite complementary to working with children.


View from our back garden a few days ago with starlings reflecting in the setting sun.


Last Year’s Butterflies

This Year’s been sad in terms of butterflies. Spring was fine when they all appeared back from the winter, however, all summer it was too wet and cold, so now in mid-September when they should be hovering about the asters or grounded fruits in neighbouring gardens (my plum and apple trees still have to recover from last year’s deer attack), hardly any of these light-winged insects can be found. So I went through the photos my daughter made last year when we were walking through clouds of butterflies at this time of the year. Here’s a selection:


Admiral on autumn asters



Paint Lady on Buddleia




Starlings on a Bright September Evening



End of Summer Blues

Autumn is coming fast this year; the first leaves are turning showing bright reds or dull browns. The night are rather cool so that I have no hope left of getting any more tomatoes or paprika, which as usual grow on the south side of the house as I have no green house. Although this is the most protected place in the garden, it has been too cool and wet all summer, the plants being torn by sharp gales and pressed down by strong rains so that I could only get a few meagre fruits from them. The remaining green ones I will have to take into the house and hope that they will ripen there. At least they will look decorative on my window sill.

The fields behind the house have just been plowed leaving a wet, earthy scent in the air — our daughter even said it reminded her of winter! (I object to even thinking of that yet.)