Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Kitchen Garden of Boschhoeve/ Forest Farm

During my holiday last June I went to Wolfheeze in the province of Gelderland, the Netherlands, to visit the Boschhoeve = Forest Farm, a plant nursery that boasts several large show gardens plus an ornamental kitchen garden aka potager. As I have my own ornamental kitchen garden it's not surprising that I am always interested to see what other kitchen gardens, ornamental or not, look like. This one was very pleasing to the eye. Come with me and I'll show you what this potager looks like!
The gates are open, always a good sign! Nice touch those old bins used as plant containers, very much in keeping with the ornamental kitchen garden theme.
There, the first thing you see as you enter the kitchen garden. Now let's have a good look round.
The ornamental part of this potager is pretty obvious here, but what about the kitchen thingy?
Ah yes, pretty and edible, a winner in my book!
Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Lots of contraptions, aren't there? What are they all used for and how are they made? Let's have a closer look.
Well, they are certainly creative here with old branches they've cut of trees and shrubs. Who knew there were so many fun things you could do with just some old wood and a bit of string?
This is a closer look at that box shaped contraption. It seems that they are growing pumpkins in it or should that be on it? Perhaps both?
There's a lot of box around, isn't there? Cut in all kinds of shapes; so far I've seen squares, balls, baskets, pyramids, cylinders with balls on top, etc. The box will look good all year round, especially during winter time.
What's that on the right side? Let's have a closer look.
Click on the pic to see it even better. Those are red cabbages enclosed by cylinders of chicken wire, very nifty! That way the cabbages don't take up all that much space. Must try that next year in my potager too. The cylinders of chicken wire are also echoing the cylinders of box.
It is nice to be in here, isn't it? It really is a very pleasant kitchen garden, I could easily spend hours and hours in there. How about you?

The feminine gardener sees the garden as an extension of domesticity. Femininity tackles the skills of indoor homemaking and carries it outside too. There is a stronger level of maintaining domestic order - cleaning and tidying - not as an attempt to order the landscape at large but to keep on top of the household.
Monty Don, The Observer, 3 December 2000

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Grow Your Own Food

Every time I write about my potager I get a lot of comments on my blog. Growing your own veggies, herbs and fruit appeals to a lot of gardeners it seems, but many think that they don't have the space for it.

Quite a few fellow garden bloggers have asked how big my potager is, as I have a lot of produce from my kitchen garden. The answer is: not all that big actually. It's roughly 8 by 11 meters = 88 square meters, including my Victorian greenhouse.
The thing is, you don't need all that much space to grow your own food and you don't need a potager either. Many veggies, fruit and herbs can be grown in containers and even in borders. There is no law against growing food among your flowers, far from it!
Take a look at this part of my potager in Spring in the pic above. See the bed with the orange tulips? Take a good look at what's in the middle of that bed. No, it's not a rose standard, it is a gooseberry grafted on a standard. Wonderful isn't it? When you grow gooseberries that way, they don't take up all that much space and they are easy to pick too, no bending down at all. And you haven't heard the best bit yet, you can grow almost any kind of berry or currant that way. Thus leaving you with lots of space to grow lettuces, cabbages, herbs or what have you underneath.

And how about putting a few berries on standards in your border? Wouldn't they look great, adding structure and instant height to the border? Be a bit creative and think outside the potager err box. ;-)

You love fruit, but think you don't have enough space to grow your own? How's this for an idea? In my potager I have a few arches and I train raspberries, blackberries and tayberries up them. That way they don't take up all that much space and look good at the same time.
And of course, you can also grow veggies up arches such as peas, sugar snaps, climbing beans etc.

This is what I planted in early spring this year. Any idea what they are? They are apple trees, ballerina apple trees. A ballerina tree is a tree that has a trunk with many very short branches so it doesn't take up much space at all.
I've planted my 2 apple trees alongside one of the arches in my potager, because I want to train the apple trees in an arch shape. Ballerina's get to be 2.5 to 3 meters high. Of course you don't have to grow them in arches and you don't have to put them in the earth either. Growing them in big pots is fine, that way you can even grow your own apples on a balcony. Isn't that just wonderful?
Although I've planted both apple trees in Spring this year, both are bearing fruit already! And they are not the only ones, my new plum tree had lovely fruit too. I bought a fan shaped plum tree last autumn and, like the ballerina's, it doesn't take up much space either. You can put fan shaped trees up against a wall or fence or even turn them into a hedge on stilts if you use more than one tree.

Last April a close friend of mine gave me some purple potatoes. My potato bed for this year was already planted up, so I decided to put these potatoes in some big containers I had lying around.
As soon as they sprouted leaves, I topped the soil up thus making sure that the tatties were well covered with soil. If they're not covered completely the potatoes will turn green and poisonous.
The potato plants have finished flowering now, so it is almost time to harvest the tatties. I don't know if they will retain their purple colour after being boiled, so we'll have to wait and see about that.

Strawberries can be grown in pots too. You won't get a very big crop but it is worth your while to grow your own. Nothing tastes better than your own homegrown and sun kissed strawberries. In my strawberry pot I've also put a few other plants to add a bit of colour and interest.

You can grow a succession of crops on a very small bed. Here I've grown 2 kinds of lettuce and once they have been harvested, the courgette will take over. For fun I've sown some nasturtiums too. They add a bit of colour to my potager and the leaves and flowers will jazz up any kind of salad.

If you have a pergola, why not grow a grape up it, instead of roses and clematis? Just think of all the fun you will have harvesting and eating your own bunches of grapes in autumn. The leaves of the grape are pretty too, so it's visually pleasing as well.
So there you have it, you really don't need all that much space to grow a few veggies, herbs and fruit. Often a container or two will do the trick. Or just bung them in your border, train them up a wall, arch or pergola. The possibilities are almost endless. So what are you waiting for, get cracking!

My garden is the place to be
Peace to dream
Plant or read
Potter leisurely.
Glen Philips, My Garden

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wild Flower Meadows

I love wild flowers and none more so than the wild meadow flowers. Aren't they just the best? Take a good look at the pic above. Breathtakingly beautiful, isn't it? Here's a close up of another meadow, taken in early June.
Much more interesting and beautiful than an ordinary lawn trimmed and nuked within an inch of its life, don't you think?
Here, the same meadow in it's full glory. Any idea yet, where I took these pictures?
That's right, Great Dixter, the late, great Christopher Lloyd's garden. Two years ago I spent a glorious Sunday afternoon there, basking in all the delights that Great Dixter provided.

When I first saw those beautiful meadows in front of the house I wanted to do what Dolly is doing here;
dive in it, roll around in it, take a big bite out of it, in short enjoy it to my heart's delight. But then I thought: better not, I don't think Mr Lloyd will appreciate me rolling around in this gorgeous meadow that was so painstakingly made by his mum, about half a decade or more ago. So I didn't do the rolling thingy, but it wasn't easy!

When I got home from Great Dixter and other gardens I'd visited in Kent, England in 2005, I had my own flower meadow to enjoy. Don't you just love all those cute little daisies in the grass. Who would be without them?
I like these simple and modest little flowers so much that I've even named my Maine Coon cat Dolly Daisy after them. Daisies have so many happy childhood memories attached to them. Remember making daisy chains or picking little daisy posies for your mum or for miss, the school teacher? Or doing the s/he loves me -s/he loves me not thingy?

So I really do not and can not understand that some people prefer a lawn with only those boring green blades of grass without any daisies, clover or dandelions to relieve the utter snore fest that 'perfect' lawns are. There must be something seriously wrong with you if you don't like daisies. :-)
And you don't have to be human either to love daisies in your lawn; here's Sam (Russian Blue) and Vita (Maine Coon) frolicking amongst the daisies. Fortunately, at Bliss we can all roll on the grass to our heart's content as is clearly demonstrated here by Pippa, Sam's daughter. Is she having fun or what?
I have always loved the wild meadow flowers, even as a little girl. I remember taking spins with my dad on our bicycles in the countryside when I was about 6 or 7 years old. As soon as we saw a meadow with wild flowers my dad would let me run riot in it. I can still remember how happy I was, running through the high grasses and wild flowers that were about waist high then. And after all that running around I would lie flat on my back and look up at the blue sky with the white fluffy clouds, my vision framed by beautiful red poppies that were dancing in the breeze.
Those beautiful meadows full of wild flowers were everywhere in the countryside then and not a rare sight as they are today, unfortunately.
Before my dad and I would return home, I would pick the most humongous bunch of flowers and grasses my little arms could hold. And as soon as we got home, I would give the bouquet to my mum and she would put the flowers and grasses in the biggest vase she could find. They would only last for a day or two, but oh what a glorious sight for the eyes and soul!

When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
Cuckoo: O word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear.
William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost

Monday, July 23, 2007

And the Award Goes to ..........

well, a lot of people actually. I feel honoured to have been given this award by both Wildlife Gardener (Our Little Corner of Paradise) and Shirl from Shirl's Gardenwatch, both gardenbloggers from Scotland. And of course I'm happy to pass this award on to some of my fellow garden bloggers.

What's this Bloggers for Positive Global Change Award thingy all about?

The award is the brain child of Climate Of Our Future to commemorate blogger's efforts around the world to share their knowledge, thoughts and inspirations in making this a better, healthier, more sustainable world.

Meme Rules

It’s easy to participate in this meme. At minimum, you can proudly display the BPGC badge (it’s available in two varieties: Transparent GIF and JPEG with white background) on your blog and bask in the glow of our collective good will. If you are sharing the kudos, however, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging.

The participation rules are simple:

When you get tagged, write a post with links to up to 5 blogs that you think are trying to change the world in a positive way.
In your post, make sure you link back to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
Leave a comment or message for the bloggers you’re tagging, so they know they’re now part of the meme.
Optional : Proudly display the “Bloggers For Positive Global Change” award badge with a link to the post that you write up.

Let's get cracking:

1) Kylee, from Our Little Acre

2) Lady Luz, from Costa de la Luz

3) Silke und Wolfgang from Wildwuchs unter Aufsicht and Baeren im Garten

4) Jodi from the Bloomingwriter

5) Marleen from Huisje, Boompjes, Beestjes

As soon as you visit their wonderful blogs it will become crystal clear why each and every one of them deserve this special award. They all make this world a better place, for both people and kittycats (not forgetting the odd d*ggy or two)!

We Dutch always give flowers on special occasions and this certainly is special, so here you are my dears!

And if your blog didn't get an award today, cheer up because here's a lovely basket full of blissful comfort food especially for you.

Oh hang on, that's the wrong basket, it's this one of course. Enjoy!

Before I forget, stick around because more awards are going to be handed out on Bliss soon!

'New' is the most enticing adjective, the most likely to appeal to our baser yearnings. ' Old', I have pointed out, is likely to mean well-tested and a worthwhile survivor.
Christopher Lloyd