Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas time and trees to remember

It's Christmas again! Yoo-hoo! Let's run about in circles like happy puppies.
Yes, I like Christmas. I like the lights, so very much needed in this dark time of the year. I like the quietness of Christmas day (Christmas eve is the big day for celebration in Sweden you know) when all the huzzle and buzzle is over and you just enjoy being free from work. No one even start to ask 'What's for dinner' either. There are enough leftovers to last until Easter.

The Christmas tree this year is decorated from the waist and up. The youngest member of the family, Asta, 5 months old took immediate fancy to the glass balls. Like a basketball player she attacked the balls with the most efficient paw strike (she is a cat, perhaps I should have mentioned that). In three minutes flat she had broken three balls and we realized we had to take some action.

This year at least, we don't have to prepare tranquilizers to the guests to calm them down when they see the tree. Last year everyone laughed so hard they could hardly breathe when they saw it. Not only was it the tallest tree we could fit into the house. It was at least 4 m in diameter at base. To make things even worse the branches were not evenly distributed either. This of course had two effects: one - it looked funny, two - the tree fell down every time someone came close to it. The Christmas tree from the dark outlands tried to attack and kill every innocent person, dog or cat that came near it. In the end we leaned it against the wall and put a cupboard half way in front of it to prevent it from collecting any more victims.

Why we choose that particular tree out of all trees in our land? I have no idea. We have spent an entire year trying to figure that out. 'Acute loss of common sense' is the most likely explanation we have managed to come up with so far. It stroke fast, and both of us at the same time(!). So pressure this year wasn't so hard when it came to finding a Christmas tree. Or as my husband put it, 'We'll find a better looking tree this year than we did last year even if go out blindfolded.'

Have a marvellous Christmas, wherever you are!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Deep, dark secrets

Do you ever get the feeling that you are supposed to like something that you really don’t? When it comes to gardening I mean. No! You there... Stop that thought. Too much detail.

Now… Back on track… Do you ever, WHEN IT COMES TO GARDENING, get the feeling you are supposed to like something you really don’t?

Not surprisingly, since I asked the question, I do. My big hang up seems to be seeds. As an enthusiastic gardener one is supposed to sow ones own seeds, right? Open any gardening magazine, look at any gardening forum and you'll see what I mean. Seeds, seeds, seeds. They are everywhere. Sneaking in behind your collar. Into your bed, disturbing your dreams, destroying your nights sleep. Alright, I got kind of carried away there, but even so…

The seeds tend to dominate the non-gardening season for us living in harsher climates. If you take gardening at all serious you cheer the arrival of the seeds catalogues. You can’t wait to order and then you grow thriving plants which you proudly present for an amazed community of admiring neighbours. Right?
Want to know the dirty truth? What reality is like, in this little corner of the World? (Silly expression by the way. Aren’t we living on a globe?)

Reality is that I’ve given up. True! Honestly! Cross my heart! I have given up. The only things I sow are vegetables sown directly in the vegetable garden. The key is - no prickling. My pots, after prickling, are more “The Killing Fields” than “The Secret Garden”. No matter if I choose seeds said to be REALLY easy, a child can handle them... I am not a child. My seeds refuse to listen when I tell them they are easy and indestructible. Consequently, I have given up.

I prefer to buy my plants, trade with gardening friends and divide larger ones into smaller but many plants to spread all over the garden. It works for me. I’m happy this way, even if it means being in minority in the gardening forums during winter months. And hey, without the seedlings to worry about it really frees time to do what we gardeners do best… dream!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

It seemed like a good idea at the time or - Coffee anyone?

Ever felt like changing subject when someone asks you about why the garden path ends in the neighbour’s fence or why the only view is blocked by a huge tent – a temporary arrangement, now in its fourth year? Cheer up, you are not alone. Lack of planning or “it didn’t really turn out the way I had expected it” is the theme song of my gardening life. One only needs to know how to handle it.

Three years ago I ordered a truckload of compost to fill up some of the borders and the vegetable garden. The day for delivery came. A huge truck turned up on the driveway.
- Where do you want it?
Ha! I had planned ahead! Compost is heavy. The garden is large. Solution: put it in a spot easy to reach and relatively central.
- There, I answered and pointed out a nice, flat spot. One of the very few flat sports in the garden to be exact.
And I was right, compost is heavy. It is very heavy indeed. Three years later, I have pushed wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow to every corner of the garden. Three years later more than half of the heap of compost still remains in its central spot. The well chosen central spot mind you… in plain view of everyone who enters or leaves the garden.
It was good compost to. Full of nice cosy nutritions for every seed in the neighbourhood. Result: We no longer only have a heap of soil. We have a green hill of thriving weed. Nice and central (read: blocking the best view in the garden). Visitors are generally to well mannered to ask but they can’t avoid looking a bit puzzled. And if the do ask the only answer there is is: “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.

Another example of "seemed like a good idea at the time" is the vegetable garden and its permanent dweller. The vegetable garden was planned right after we had bought the house and I had a vision not to have only vegetables in it. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to combine vegetables with, say, roses? Thought and action being one, a rose was bought and planted in the middle of the vegetable garden. It adjusted well. It grew. It thrived. It more than thrived. It sent its stems this way and that way and some in more creative directions. It grew more than 3 m the first year. That is 6 m in diameter. Now it became increasingly difficult to see some of the more timid vegetables and it was no longer possible to reach the further end of the vegetable garden without walking around it. Next year the rose grew even more. Forget secateurs. This bush was pruned with saw and pruning tools for a medium sized tree. Cut down to the ground it returned, more vital than ever. All old stems removed, they only returned as the heads of a hydra. An attempt was made to lead the stems into a double rose arch for support. The rose arch fell down and never quite regained its self-confidence.

It's just as well to accept defeat. This is a battle I will never win. The rose happily dominates its spot and I am enlarging the vegetable garden in order to actually fit in some vegetables to.
The comment: “that is one serous vegetable garden, you must really be a keen grower and what is that huge thing in the middle?” I try to ignore. If you look the other way and change subject you don’t have to answer, do you? And of course there is always the last resort: “Coffee anyone?”

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'd like this month in another colour please...

Customer service, I want to make a complaint. This month you sent is simply not up to standard and I'd like to get a replacement please.

Where does one turn for such an issue? I really, really want to know. This can't simply go on any further and someone need to take action. Might as well be me.

What is wrong? Well, a week ago I would have told you: nothing. A temperature of 23 degrees Celsius. Flowering daffodils. Spring at it finest.

Then I went for a business trip to north of Sweden. The temperature sank dramatically. (Not my fault though - I hope. Or maybe it was? No, couldn't be, could it?) Anyway, we were talking of 5 degrees Celsius and chilly winds. And one day we even had snow(!). Well, I thought, at least it is not as cold at home. You have guessed it. Boy was I wrong! I arrived home late Thursday evening. Today the snow fell heavily. It was not invited. Not at all. It just threw itself upon us all on its own initiative.

The lilacs, which are blooming at the moment, look appalled at the very thought of this cold white thing upon them. And the asparagus, which I planted yesterday, demands an explanation, from me. I mean, what do one say to indignant asparagus plants?
- Sorry, I couldn't imagine it would snow?
They simply don't listen. Just stands there and glare at you. Asparagus are so quick to take offence. I hardly dare to go into the kitchen garden any more. So please, take this month back and give me another one. Alright?