Our Garden, Part 7

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about the garden. It’s also been a long time since I’ve been in my garden. While Ros was kindly making dinner I went out to reacquaint myself. I am amazed at how things grew in the three weeks I’ve been away. I came back into the house with a marrow and four courgettes (a.k.a. zucchini), two of which Ros promptly added to our dinner.

One of the sunflowers has bloomed en masse: at least six heads, if not more. The other sunflowers are starting to bloom, too. The corn stalks are growing stoutly despite the Scottish climate, and the pumpkins are stretching out their long vines.The rhubarb has recovered from whatever it was suffering from last month and we now have a new supply of rhubarb. Most impressively, the courgettes have turned into a jungle.

Courgettes will now become a staple in our diet. Ros is dreaming of quiche and I’m thinking of zucchini bread. Yum. The blackcurrant bush is ripe and Ros harvested some to make crumble. Soon I will be making chutneys with our courgettes and blackcurrant jam.

Pomp & circumstance

This week has been graduations at my university. I ushered three of the eight ceremonies this week. Our university, being the oldest in Scotland, has a wonderful ceremony full of tradition. (Though I will admit, the quality of Latin spoken these days makes my medievalist heart cringe.) One of the honorary graduands at this year’s ceremonies was none other than Sir David Attenborough. I had the pleasure of attending his lecture on ‘Alfred Russel Wallace and the Birds of Paradise’ on Tuesday night and of attending the ceremony in which he was honoured.

In my last post I mentioned that it had been pouring rain. Well, it certainly was on Tuesday, the first day of graduations. At the end of each ceremony, the academic procession leaves the hall to go to Sallies Quad. A piper leads the way, followed by the university’s maces, each carried by its own bedellus. Behind them come the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor and the rest of the Senatus Academicus, the honorary graduates, and the new graduates. The procession always goes right past my office, so I stand out on the front stoop to watch them walk past, waving at any of the graduates I might know. Well, the very first day of processions still took place in the rain.

The rain also meant that I didn’t do any gardening this week, and the garden is already being taken over by weeds. I did a bit of weeding today, since it was sunny and mostly dry, but I only cleared the area around the sweet corn. Weeds in a garden of this size are going to be a constant battle.

I also had a moment of happy surprise this week. My walk to and from work takes me along and across the Kinnessburn, a smallish river. There are usually an abundance of ducks around the footbridge that crosses the burn. One particular duck is my favourite — she appeared last year and has the most extraordinary colouring, being cream and white instead of the usual brown and black. I had been worried that something had happened to her since I hadn’t seen her since before the mating season began, and though I hoped she just might be farther upstream, I hadn’t gone on a walk along the burn to be sure. All is well though, for she has come back! With babies! Eight of them, already looking adolescent-like and less baby-like. I saw her again today and am very pleased indeed.

See, isn’t she pretty?

WORD COUNT: 40,028

My own roses

Though a bit late this summer, everywhere I walk in town the roses are blooming. Whether they are climbing up garden walls or growing in bushes here and there, whenever I see them I smile. I used to hate roses — or rather, the idea of giving someone roses, because it was cliché and I didn’t really like the look of roses that came from a florist. Roses growing out, though, are a different thing entirely. The Red House in Oklahoma had a rose bush, and while caring for it for the year and a half I lived there I read Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley, and well, I fell in love with roses. Since then I have remembered that my MeeMee kept roses at her house in Charleston. I am glad to share this connection with her.

So when I was walking home from working at the Registry today, helping prepare for graduations this week, I was admiring other people’s roses and feeling sad that my own garden did not have any. It was a beautiful warm afternoon and I took a longer route home, even if I was very tired from a full weekend of work. My route happened to pass by the other little garden shop, which tends to have a greater variety of plants than the proper garden shop nearer my house. I paused to looked at the plants, not intending to buy any, as most plants are out of my budget right now. But then I saw a teeny rose peeking its head out from the shadows of a low shelf. I walked away with two, because together they were only £3, and I couldn’t decide which I wanted more. I came home, repotted them, and put them on the sitting room windowsill — the default home for plants until I decide where they need to go. I hope they stay there, because it also means I can look at them, and smile at my very own roses. I plan to keep them in pots as long as I can, so that they can move with me when I move house.

WORD COUNT: 32,335

Items of note

A few notable things as of today:

  1. Having finished Chapter Five and passed the 25k word count mark, I am now half way done with my JuNoWriMo novel;
  2. I have moved on to my second pair of gardening gloves, having thoroughly worn the first pair into shreds. Seriously;
  3. After going for six (6) months without buying a single book for myself, I bought two books today: Sabriel and Lirael by Garth Nix, because I wanted them, and because I felt that six months without buying a single book was quite enough.

WORD COUNT: 25,410

Our Garden, Part 6

An update on the Victory Garden. No pictures this time, because I wasn’t happy with any of them. Instead, you get an alphabetical list:

Acorn squash: Only one of the seeds I planted of these has sprouted. I’d like to plant some more but I’m afraid it’s getting a bit late. Also, I don’t know where I’d plant them outside yet. Should I nurture the one or should I plant a couple more?

Apples: All of the blossoms are gone, replaced now by little red and green buds. Lots and lots of them. I am so excited to be able to harvest an apple tree in autumn. Even better — I don’t have to do anything to take care of it.

Basil: These little guys don’t seem to be growing. I have them in the green house. Do they just take a really long time? Are they too warm? Too much/too little watering? The experiment continues.

Blackcurrants: Same as the apples. Lots of little green buds and I’m dreaming of blackcurrant jam.

Chives: The sole survivor of the herbs given to us by Faith and Isaac as a housewarming gift, these chives are the hardiest plant I’ve encountered. They survived the winter, they don’t need watering. Generally I forget about them until I want to season something with chives and, voilà, there they are.

Corn: I’ve planted out seven sweet corn mini-stalks and have about five more. I may have been a  little overzealous with my planting, but the first round of sweet corn didn’t grow at all so I wasn’t expecting a large yield from the second round. I was wrong. I might plant out only one more of the sweet corn, in which case, does anyone want any corn? I don’t want the poor little plants to go to waste.

Courgettes: Also known as zucchini, I’ve planted out four of these little guys. Three of them are doing well and one is a little behind, but I think he’ll catch up. I just have to remember to keep watering them!

Leeks: I haven’t gotten around to planting these yet. Again, I’m thinking it might be a bit too late this year, though I’m not sure because they are a winter harvesting fruit.

Mint: Same as the basil. I thought mint was supposed to grow wildly and invasively? Not mine.

Peas: I haven’t gotten to planting these, either…

Pumpkins: Three of these have been planted out. They’re doing alright but I think I should get some plant food for them. The one pumpkin I have in a big pot in the green house is doing loads better than the ones outside. Probably because it’s been only in the 10s C outside and it’s a lot warmer in the green house!

Rhubarb: The rhubarb are still growing, but are drowning in weeds. It’s the kind I would need to do a lot of digging for, so properly digging up around the rhubarb is on my to-do list for winter/early-spring. I’ve made more rhubarb jam and wondering what else I can make with rhubarb.

Strawberries: One of three strawberry plants that survived the winter is already forming fruit. It’s pretty cool to watch.

Sunflowers: I’ve planted out four more sunflowers to join the four existing ones. Two of the older sunflowers are big and flourishing, two are still a bit scrawny but I think they’re trying to grow, and then four baby ones. I have one more baby sunflower to plant out but it needs to grow a little bit more.

So, in short, the plants that I have planted are more or less growing away, and I need to decide whether to plant acorn squash, peas, and leeks before it gets way too late.

In other news, I used an electrical hedge trimmer for the first time today. Power tools are cool. I trimmed the hedge in the back garden but still need to do the front. Yesterday and today have been such lovely, warm days to work in the garden. We haven’t had days like this in a long while. Between the wind and the rain I haven’t done much gardening the past couple of weeks. There’s just something alive about working in the garden when it’s hot* and humid. Granted, my experience is greatly enhanced by the absence of fire ants, mosquitoes, and American wasps!

* ‘hot’ in this case being 24 C/75 F, but I’ve acclimated enough that that’s hot now! It felt like being outside in San Antonio on an August evening.

O furious wind

Wind is no stranger here where we are perched on the edge of the North Sea. But never have I seen the streets littered with tree branches. St Andy’s churchyard was so full of broken limbs that I couldn’t quite see the door to the church. As for myself, I’ve been described as a ‘slight’ person more than simply in jest, and today was certainly a day I could have used a pair of weighted shoes. If it weren’t for my computer bag and bag of books, I might have had a much more difficult time walking home. Though I’m sure the sea would have been a sight to see today, standing on the top of a cliff to see it wouldn’t have been the best idea!

When I came home I found that our garden was not spared from the fury of the wind. I lost the second largest of our sunflowers — it was snapped in half. I ran out at once and tied the remaining two sunflowers to poles for support. My poor sunflowers. If it isn’t slugs or soil, it’s wind.

Our Garden, Part 5

Green and growing things in our garden.
Apple blossoms:

Baby basil:

Sunflowers growing:

Sweet colourful surprises:


It’s been raining off an on the past several days: bright, warm sun suddenly shadowed by stormy greys, dark and cold, with big fat drops of rain, only to return just as suddenly, washed clear and clean. Spring is unpredictable in its moods. The other day, though annoyed that the clouds decided to open right over my washing that was almost dry, I was delighted to see a pure, perfect rainbow arcing across the sky.

A reminder of promises, of God’s faithfulness. The Lord keeps his promises, even when his people do not. Amen.