Friday, February 29, 2008

We Are Here

On the 7th of February Jodi from Bloomingwriter challenged us garden bloggers to write a post (or two) about where in the gardening world you are. Well, that question is very easy to answer so here goes:
The Netherlands can be found in Europe, in between the cream coloured Germany and the yellow coloured Great Britain on this map. The Netherlands is that small beige coloured blob. I'd better show you a bigger pic of my country as it is a bit hard to find, one blink and you missed it. ;-)
Here we are, that's much better. The Bliss garden is situated in Dinteloord, a small over 400 years old village, half an hours' drive from Rotterdam in the southward direction. It's not on this map as it is so small; less than 5000 inhabitants, which makes for a very peaceful village life in the Dutch countryside.


Jodi also asked us to write about something that really tells us where you are in the world. What's really special about your community.

But do I really have too, because I'm thinking you all know far more of the Dutch and the Netherlands than you realise. Because, let's face it,
you've probably drunk it,

and tasted it,
and wore it,
and used it. And if you're a gardener, chances are that you are now
drooling over it.

Through blogging I have discovered that quite a few of you have visited the Netherlands and even if you have never been here, there's a big chance that you've seen my country anyway. How? Well my dear, unless you've spend your entire life in a deep dark hole in the ground you have seen at least one or two of these paintings, depicting my country in such a great way. In a nutshell ; the Netherlands is a mixture of sky, water and land.

Paintings by Jacob and Soloman Ruisdael and Aelbert Cuyp, Dutch Master Painters.

Because of those vast skies, light plays also a very important part as is demonstrated by this painter here.
Rembrandt van Rijn, self portrait
some of his paintings

Nowadays the work of the old Dutch Masters is still very much alive and an inspiration to other artists. They recently made a movie about this painting by Frans Hals, Girl with the Pearl Earring.

We have more famous painters of course and although he's not an old Dutch Master Painter, he is considered by quite a few to be a genius. Here's Vincent (yes, van Gogh) take on the Dutch bulb fields.
And two of his views on pollarded willow trees near the water's edge, something which in my view is quintessentially Dutch.

Even more so than this.
Jan van Kessel
And that's saying something as we've been making cheese since prehistoric times and exporting it since the Middle Ages.

A look at Vincent's sky.
The American singer/songwriter Don Mclean was inspired to write a song about Vincent van Gogh ....... starry, starry night ..... (Vincent by Don Mclean)

I leave you with some gorgeous Dutch eye candy from long ago. Enjoy and have a great weekend!
Jan van Huysum
Rachel Ruysch
Vincent van Gogh

copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Working In the Potager

As it was such a lovely day last Monday I decided to work in the potager. There was a lot to do. For the next day they predicted rain (90 % chance) so I got my big bag of organic fertilizer out and started spreading the joy around. I use dried cow dung pellets and they are a slow release fertilizer that I use for everything; my veggies, my roses, the borders and hedges, all do wonderfully well with a helping of dried organic cow dung.
The rain tomorrow will make sure that the fertilizer sinks into the soil.

We had frost lately so I couldn't do the outdoor sowing I normally do around the 15th of February. But last Monday was nice and sunny so I got cracking with my outdoor sowing. The 2 beds I had prepared earlier in January when the weather was so very mild so there was hardly any weed showing in the beds. I just had to rake the soil over a bit and that was pretty much that.
In the first bed I've sown broad beans as they are one of my favourite vegs and they are so easy to grow.
Here's the bed all done and now all we have to do is wait for the beans to push their first leaves through the soil. In case you're wondering why the bamboo canes are there; it's a cunning plan of mine to keep the neighbourhood cats from digging in my freshly sown beds. Not one member of the Bliss team shows any of this appalling behaviour, so it is very annoying that other people's cats are behaving in that way in my garden.
But enough of that, lets look at the second bed. Here I've sown capuchiners/sugar peas, a very old Dutch pea. It's been in cultivation in the Netherlands since 1536 and is also known as the Holland Pea. I love to eat them fresh instead of dried but unfortunately you can almost never buy them fresh (it's either dried or canned) so I grow my own. I think the pods are very pretty with their lovely purple colour and the flowers are lovely like those of the lathyrus/sweet pea.
Speaking of sweet peas, I had sown a bunch in January and it was time to put them into the Victorian greenhouse but first, off with their heads.
There! Now where there was just one shoot, two can form, giving me double the amount of flowers in a few months time.
After I had pinched the tops out I put the sweet peas in the greenhouse where they can grow merrily on until it is time to put them outside in the garden. Although my greenhouse is unheated, temperatures can rise quite high, even in February. Here you can see (excuse the spider poo) that it's already over 37 C / 98.6 F, not bad for a winter's day. Note to self: clean the thermometer next time you are in the greenhouse!
I also did some harvesting in my potager;
the last of my red cabbages and also some ruccola/rocket salad. There is still some winter purslane and Swiss Chard ready to be harvested and the radishes and lettuces that I'd sown last month are merrily growing away in the cold frames. It is possible to harvest something from the potager during every month of the year. Of course there will be less to harvest during the winter and early spring months than during the summer and autumn months, but still, every little bit that's homegrown counts as it is twice as tasty as the shop bought stuff.
After all that hard work it was time for a cuppa and a cuddle. Surprise is always in for a cuddle, she is such a fun cat to have around. After I'd finished my cuppa tea and the cuddling session with Surprise I decided to do the Tour. When I do the Tour I walk around my garden, starting at point A and finishing with point Z, while looking at every little thing on the way. I don't rush around, running towards something new that is evidently in flower. No, I just walk around very calmly from A to Z and look at literally everything, and that blooming thing hollering its head off in the distance will just have to wait, while I make sure that I haven't missed the tiniest new development somewhere else in my garden. It's surprising what turns up when you look at your garden in this way.
Like this tiny Crocus that worked its way through the gravel. Must dig it out and put it somewhere more Crocus friendly.
And here, Mr Frog, already out and about!
Isn't it nice to see that the dafs are almost there? I would never have seen that if I had been running towards all those look-at-me's like these
and these
and this one
or those
or this.
And I was not alone doing the Tour on Monday, here's Dolly Daisy admiring the spring flowers in the garden.
I'm happy to see that my garden has bounced back from that visit from the Ice Queen and is doing fine. It's only the Bergenia that has a bit of damage and its flowers look very sorry for themselves. I'm slowly recovering too, spending a day in my garden in lovely, sunny weather is the best medicine the doctor could possibly order!

copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Whoever makes a garden
Has never worked alone;
The rain has always found it,
The sun has always known;
The wind has blown across it
And helped to scatter seeds;
Whoever makes a garden
Has all the help s/he needs.
Douglas Malloch, Who Makes a Garden