Archive for February, 2008

28
Feb
08

Where in the world is Giekau?

Well, Giekau is a tiny Village in Schleswig-Holstein, which is the most northern state of Germany. Being located at Lake Selent and close to the Baltic Sea (here’s an article from the Wall Street Journal featuring the region), the climate is rather mild (zone 8 is what I found somewhere, but I’m not too sure if these zones are all the same internationally). Winters usually don’t go below -20°C, summers are rarely hotter than 30°C.

…and what can you do there?

Gardening, of course. In our rich, heavy soil almost anything grows from apple trees to violets as long as it tolerates some frost. As summers tend to be a mixture of sun, wind, rain, warmth and cold some veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers are best grown in a greenhouse (which I don’t have) however, lots of other fruits and vegetables thrive under these conditions with very little help.

Also, the area is great for relaxing. The beaches nearby are not spectacular, but neither are they overcrowfeuersteindruse.jpgded. Some are ideal for collecting fossils or minerals (here a flintstone lined with crystal), as the whole of Schleswig-Holstein is basically the rubbish the glaciers left after the ice ages. Therefore you find rocks that have come all the way from Scandinavia littered on the beaches.
If you don’t like the sea, there are plenty of lakes around too. The landscape is marked by soft hills, making it ideal for easy hiking or cycling tours (if you don’t mind the wind).

And of course bird watchers will find this an interesting region. Right now thousands of wild geese are resting here on their way north. Behind our house herons are crowding up to feed on the little fish that are coming up the creek from the lake. Most spectacular are of course the White Tailed Eagles that breed around the lake and sometimes even have a look into our gardens whether the children have left the rabbits out ….

Those who like more action would have to go to the bigger cities, which are rare in Schleswig-Holstein. The capital, Kiel, is famous for Kiel Week, a great international sailing event. Lübeck with its historic town center is probably more widely known, not least for its marzipan. The next major city is Hamburg, which, of course, is not part of Schleswig-Holstein, but only a one and a half hour drive away from us.

(This is probably one of the last articles that will end up on Jodi’s list. Thanks for starting it, Jodi.)

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26
Feb
08

What Happened to the Crocuses?

That was my horrified thought when I had a look at those presented in my last post. Not one single blossom was to be seen anymore. Vanished. Completely. So much for never having enough crocuses in my garden …

zerstorter-krokus.jpgSuspecting them before but without proof, now I’m sure: it was the slugs. As a result of the mild winter, the garden is full of baby slugs that are having a good time on my crocuses, particularly the yellow ones for some reason. Usually I’m rather careful with predictions, but it seems quite likely that this won’t be the last time that I lament about my slug problem this year.

16
Feb
08

Garden Blogger’s Bloomday February

phalaenopsis.jpgIt’s been Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day again, and this time I would like to start with some indoor plants. First of all this phalaenopsis that we received from my grandma as a wedding present now almost sixteen years ago. My grandma having passed away a few years ago, this orchid still keeps thriving, and serves as a remembrance, flowering faithfully every year, even if it is rather pink. For some reason putting it into a room we rarely use and not fussing about with it, but only watering it every once in a while and giving it some (normal) fertilizer once a year has given it a boost: this year there are two stems with flowers.

 

 

 

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Another specialty I have to offer is this flowering avocado, which my son grew from a seed and which seems to thrive on little light, even less care and the smell of dirty socks that you find in the room of a fifteen-year-old. I’ve always thought, avocadoes don’t flower in captivity, however, it seems, you just have to provide for the right conditions. 😉 Also, if you see them in relation to the fruit, avocado blossoms are rather tiny.

As I’m not really good at growing plants indoors, these two count as our great successes. Most of my indoor plants — there are only a few left — have a really hard time in the winter, only recovering when I put them outside on the terrasse in spring. So let’s now have a look outside. The following fotos were taken about a week ago, when we had an unusually mild day. Since then it has cooled down, so that the flowers still look the same — only the bees have remained hidden because of the frost.

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First of all the crocusses, the first picture showing them about two weeks ago when they had just begun to show. It’s amazing what a little sun and some warmth can do in such a short time. As to crocusses, I alway find that I haven’t got enough. There’s nothing like a huge spread of crocusses opened widely in the bright sun ….

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The next picture shows one of my disappointments: snowdrops with snow heather. There was supposed to be a big bushel of snowdrops here to contrast the light pink of the heather. However, either our mole or my over-engaged weeding in the summer has scattered them about so that they look rather forlorn here. Also, the heather has not quite grown a I thought it would. It has suffered quite a bit from last year’s drought.

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helleborus-biene.jpgI’ve already shown some pictures of hellebores before, however, now they are at their best lighting up the dreary surroundings with their bright white. After blooming the petals of this one turn reddish so this plant is an eyecatcher for quite some time. The best of all, the flowers keep well in vases. Together with skimmia blossoms and some ivy leaves they make really elegant bouquets.

 

Finally, here’s a hardy rosemary with tiny blue blossoms. rosmarin.jpgEven if the winter has been unusually mild so far, it’s really amazing how this mediterranean plant manages to flower this early in the year. In fact it has been among the first to bloom. I used to keep my rosemaries potted and carried them indoors, but I have found that this is unnecessary, and even harms them. Planted outside in sheltered places in well-drained ground, they are fairly frost tolerant. In this mild winter I didn’t even need any frost protection (usually my Christmas tree ends up sheltering delicate plants against severe frosts).