A little diversion (or two!)

I haven’t been avoiding the garden, and I haven’t given up on blogging. But over the past three weeks I have been totally diverted – by the arrival of two beautiful grandsons. This means the plants were told to manage for themselves for a while, and pruning the bountiful lemon tree was left to the tender mercy of the garden assistant while I flew off to London to meet the newest, and most delightful, members of the family.

As I have written before, I don’t think plants mind being left to their own devices. In fact, I may have heard a (discreet) sigh of relief when I told them I was going away. The number 1 gardener had cleared out a lot of the herbaceous border, cleaned up around the fruit trees and cut rather more than I intended off the younger lime tree. We had spread some compost – but not fertiliser as that isn’t done until this month, February.

I was also beginning to harvest a great mix of salad leaves, but perhaps this was a bit ahead of the game given the tenderness of the young plants. Meanwhile, the herbs needed a rest: winter is not their favourite time of year. Back in early January, the number one performers looked like the broad beans and when I came back at the end of the month they had lived up to their promise:

broad-beans-2-17

It has been a pleasure to get down to work and do some “tillering”, pinching out the growing points of the main stems to let the laterals flourish. And, following advice in one of our gardening books, I put the shoots to good use by lightly stir-frying them with shredded Swiss chard from raised bed 1 and a touch of garlic, sprinkling with salt and a twist of black pepper, and adding the mix to a piping hot mushroom risotto: a heavenly dish!

Despite the cold winter nights other plants have surged ahead, and they are now flowering exuberantly. Number one in this respect is a very early borage:

early-borage-2-17

This is a herb that has acclimatised very well to our garden in Egypt: Descended from plants grown from seed bought in the UK, it now self-seeds all over the place. I can’t say we use it very much, though the leaves can be added to salads, but it is a great favourite with the bees and is therefore of high value. The specimen above has grown so vigorously that it is right through the netting over the bed, so I have removed the net to give the plant her freedom.

rocket-2-17Also making a break for it is the rocket; both self-seeded among the veg and planted in rows in raised beds 1 and 4 last autumn, it is now zooming upwards and blooming.

The flowers may look rather nondescript, but they go on for ages and, again, the bees love them. At this time of year, plants that provide food for our bees are too precious to remove. Nearby, the watercress is taking over.

Finally, over in the herbaceous border a welcome surprise: I must have missed a stem of my favourite rose when cutting the bushes back last month. On my return, there was one solitary, sweetly perfumed flower – so beautiful!

winter-rose-2-17

 

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5 thoughts on “A little diversion (or two!)

  1. Your garden looks heavenly. We are very far away from Spring over here . So looking at your pictures fills my heart with JOY.
    And Congratulations for the new life in your family.
    Many Blessings and Much Love

  2. Thank you for your so kind words… there are parts of the garden that are full of flowers, and I’ve spotted the bees on them, especially the borage. Otherwise, there’s a somewhat wintery feeling here also and some of the veg are suffering, including the green beans (which I have tucked up underneath a cover to try and keep them cosy). I look forward very much to catching up with your garden when it re-awakens in the spring! With love to you and your lovely corner of the world.

  3. Thank you Christina for your kind wishes. Good luck with the broad beans. Charles Dowding suggests planting them in the autumn (he market gardens in Somerset, UK) and then, when the spring arrives, although they look a bit bedraggled they should have a head start over spring sowings. It may be best to cover them during the really cold weather – reading your blog I am astonished at how harsh the weather can be near Rome, but then, of course, it is also pretty tough in Egypt.

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