Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pottering in the Potager

One of my favourite places to be is my potager. I love pottering around there all day long. Lately we've been having quite a few sunny days and I've made the most of them. In the Netherlands we almost never know what the weather will be like the next hour, let alone the next day. So when the sun is out, I'm out too.
Because of all that sunshine and temperatures around 20 C everything is growing like mad in the kitchen garden, not only the veggies, fruits and flowers but also the weeds. There is a lot to do in the potager in April. I've planted out leeks, onions and broccoli and have done a lot of weeding.
The lettuce I'd sown in a cold frame last February is ready to be picked. It's a pick and come again variety. I prefer those to lettuces that form heads.
I've been harvesting radishes for weeks now and today I harvested another bunch. They taste much better than shop bought ones, the latter have hardly any taste at all.
The potager is looking better day by day.
Last year I'd sown some forget-me-nots and this year they have come up all over my kitchen garden. It's such a lovely sight to see those gorgeous blue and pink flowers. BTW Barbara, I've found 1 white forget-me-not, so they have self seeded too, only 1 seedling, but hey, it's a start.
The primulas are flowering their little hearts out, bless,
and so is my pretty yellow Columbine. I'm going to save her seeds so I will have more plants next year for my yellow border to be.
The lovely sunny weather has it drawbacks too, the earth was so dry and we were scraping the barrel, the water barrel that is, as you can see here.
But last Sunday evening it started to rain, it rained some more yesterday and we had some showers today as well so the barrels are now nicely filled up again. I've been planting out so many seedlings in the potager and as they need a bit of pampering their first week or two out in the garden, I used quite a lot of rainwater to give them a good soak when they needed it.
My raspberry is growing very fast and is already forming buds. It won't be long now before it starts to flower. I planted it last year and had a very modest crop of raspberries then but the way things are looking now Pippa (my fruit loving Russian Blue cat)
Pretty Pippa foto Scheffer

and I will be enjoying lots of raspberries this year. Something we both look forward too.
There will also be white currants, pears, grapes and apples later this year. And we seem to be in berry heaven here at Bliss with all the gooseberries, strawberries, black berries, elder berries and blue berries that will be ready for picking in the not too distant future. Simply wonderful as I'm so keen on fruit, just like Pippa.
Before you start thinking that I have an humongous kitchen garden; I have not. Mine is about 90 square meters, is all! Then how do I manage to grow so many different kinds of fruits? It's really simple, most of my berries are grown on standards and take a good hard look at my giant apple tree here.
It's called a Ballerina tree; it's an apple tree with very short branches, and it grows only to 2.5 meters high. I have two of those and hope to train them into an arch once they are tall enough to graft them together. It's amazing the amount of apples you can get from such tiny trees like these. They don't take up much space; you can even grow them in a pot on a balcony. So even if you only have a very small space for gardening, that is no excuse for not having your own gardengrown apples. Go on, give it a try!
copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

What plant we in this apple-tree?
A world of blossoms for the bee,
Flowers for the sick girl's silent room,
For the glad infant sprigs of bloom,
We plant with the apple-tree.
William Cullen Bryant, 'The Planting of the Apple-Tree'

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Oops, They Did It Again!

It's that time of the year again, when birds are singing, bees are humming, butterflies are fluttering
and nasty people are stealing your content.

That's right folks, it's CTT (content theft time) once again! Yesterday I received an e-mail from my garden friend Frances of Faire Garden whose content had been stolen and published on a website. She asked me if I knew this website, I did not, but when I went over there I found her stolen content and, guess what? Oops, they did it again and they had stolen some of mine too. Wonderful. Not!

Of course I'm not going to provide a link to that site but if you want to know which one it is, send me an e-mail. You'll find my e-mail address on my profile.

If you want to know if you've been ripped off too, here's a link to a site where you can just type in your blog URL, do the clicky thing and find out if someone has been stealing your stuff. I did it yesterday and found out that someone else has been ripping me off as well. Oh joy! Not really! I've informed both of them that what they're doing is against the law (yes, amazing though it seems, well at least to some people, stealing is actually against the law) and that they should stop right away.

And you, gentle reader, if you are reading this on any site that's NOT a blog called Bliss, http://blissyo-elgarden.blogspot.com/ , you're reading stolen content.

Now where was I before we were interrupted by that not so funny CT newsflash? Oh yes, I was waxing lyrically about this wonderful time of the year with the bee buzzing, butterfly fluttering and bird singing thingy.
It's Spring, that magical time of the year that everybody enjoys. Birds are nesting, bees are pollinating and cats are having their own kind of Spring Fling. Love is in the air! And pretty soon all that loving will lead to this
or this
or this.
Oops, Macavity did it again. He's been fighting over the girls once again with this disastrous result. Macavity is a stray cat and an entire male. He is my rescue-kitty-in-progress. Male cats get into big fights at this time of year and get wounded too, sometimes very seriously. Macavity came to me last week dripping blood from a deep wound in his right front leg. He was feeling miserable and I am thankful that our relationship is such that he comes to me when he needs help.
It makes me sad to see him like this. How I wish that people were more responsible and have their cats neutered. That way we would not have all those unwanted cats and kittens and toms like Macavity would not get hurt.

He's on the mend now, after a week of eating hardly anything at all, he's eating again and comes to see me often. Yesterday and the day before, he spend hours in my company while I was pottering about in the garden. He was following me around, trying to get close to me. Hopefully it won't be long now before he is ready to be brought to the vet for neutering. He is still such a wary cat, very afraid of people and I don't want him to get totally stressed out when he gets neutered. So day by day I show him that there are nice people in this world too, who want to help him and make him happy. Mac is such a lovely and brave boy, he deserves the best!

And now for my third Oops. You know what they say about good things coming in threes and that probably goes for bad things too. But not here, this is Bliss remember? The place where nice things happen too. And something very nice has happened: my blog was nominated for Best International Garden Blog! Oops, you guys did it again! So it's not all woe here, but whoo hoo too. :-)

Our friend Colleen from In the Garden Online has been working hard once again to get the Mousies going. I take my hat off to her (well I would if I was wearing one) for all that hard work and the loads of time she has put in. Thanks very, very much Colleen.

It's voting time!

Nomination time is over and now it's time to vote. It's great to see so many lovely blogs and websites that have been nominated and I found it hard to cast my vote as so many of them deserve to win a Mousie.
If you haven't voted yet, please go here and cast your vote. You'll find a list of nominees, scroll down to Blogging Categories and click. Don't forget to click on the Podcast and Website Categories to cast your vote there too. If you feel inclined to vote for Bliss, well, the Bliss team and I certainly won't stop you. ;-)
Delia: what's up with this Mousie thing? People are weird! I prefer a real mouse or a play mouse stuffed with catnip any day of the week.
And for all the kind people who nominated Bliss either for Best International Garden Blog or any other category: a warm thank you and here's lovely bunch of spring flowers from my garden, just for you. It's nice to know that so many of you thought of me and really appreciate the things I try to show you with my blog. I love receiving compliments like that! So thank you all!

copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.
W.E. Johns

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box

Actually, I was more thinking of this box rather than a window box. :-)
My front garden is a formal one but plants are free to think or grow outside the box.
I like plants to be free, have a mind of their own, enjoy life and burst from the box beds like there was no tomorrow. Just let them flop all over the place and be happy.
I love to design formal gardens and then give the plants a free reign and do as they please, aiming for a kind of controlled chaos. The juxtaposition between strict lines and gay abandon is what it is all about for me!

Let the plants self seed and enjoy the surprises you encounter in your garden.
I like thinking outside the box. Here's a bunch of flowers that I picked from my garden earlier this week, but on closer inspection all is not what it seems to be.
Have you spotted it ? There's weeds in that cute little bouquet, shocking, isn't it? :-) For me there is no clear demarcation line between weeds and flowers, it's more a question of what I like or dislike.
I have flowers in my kitchen garden and herbs in my flower borders and why not? Just plant what you like, where ever you like.
I have weeds in the vase and daisies in my lawn. Just look at them, aren't they cheering up an otherwise dull field of green blades or what?

I'll leave you with another example of thinking outside the box:

Creamy soup of Wildflowers

Serves 4 persons

1 handful of dandelion buds
1 cup of primula flowers and a few leaves
1 cup of daisies
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion
1 cup of cream
125 gr of smoked bacon
1.5 liter water
celery salt
salt and white pepper

Remove the stems from the flowers, wash them and let them dry
Bring the water to the boil, add salt then the flowers, the potatoes and the onion. Keep a few flowers aside for decoration. Let it all boil gently for 25 minutes.
Stir in the celery salt and add pepper. Take it off the fire and add the cream. Cut the bacon in strips and fry in a bit of oil. Add the bacon to the soup.
Serve on hot soup plates and decorate with the rest of the flowers. It tastes great with some brown bread. Enjoy!

copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.
Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistance.
Hal Borland, Countryman: A Summary of Belief, 1965

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Heem Garden

Earlier this month I went with my friend Aimee to the heemtuin of Rucphen. Before we go any further let me explain what a heemtuin or garden is. A heemtuin is a garden where, mostly for educational purposes, indigenous flora is grown the way you would find it in a certain area in the wild. And of course where there is indigenous flora there's indigenous fauna to be found as well. I love wild flowers and so does my friend Aimee so this heem garden was right up our street.
In the first 2 pics you see something that is very Dutch; pollarded willow trees next to a stream. Any idea what those yellow flowers are? Here's a close up.
Wild daffodils with a few Fritillaria meleagris.
O, to be in the Netherlands in April

There was a whole field full of them; a glorious sight!
Fritillarias are one of my favourite spring flowers, the purple ones in particular. But there was more to see than just daffodils and fritillarias.
Gorgeous wild primroses ( Primula vulgaris), this is my favourite spring flower, and has been for a long time. I've sown some seeds in a pot earlier this year and am waiting with baited breath for them to come up. So far no luck.
Primula vulgaris and fritillarias
Another beautiful wild primrose is the cowslip or Primula veris. Here to be found in a field full of wild daffodils.
Here Primula veris is growing together with wood anemones and Lamium purpureum.
There were lots of lamiums in flower, whole clumps of them. Here you see the pink Lamium maculatum together with the purple Lamium purpureum, such a wonderful sight.
In the wild flower meadow Veronica filiformis ( slender speedwell) was found too, this is another of my favourite plants. I just love those sweet little blue flowers.
The heem garden of Rucphen is still a young garden but it is already very beautiful. In flower is the Amelanchier. The brownish shrubs you see are sweet gale (Myrica gale).
Underneath some trees and shrubs we found big clumps of wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa) and hidden in the meadow among other plants like geraniums we found this
Corydalis solida, this plant has such elegant flowers.
Walking around this heem garden you sometimes forget to look up as there is so much growing down at your feet. But fortunately we did look up from time to time and spotted this:
Hey stop that, no kissing the blogger!
Mistletoe growing in its natural habitat.
Alongside a babbling brook grew many Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris), such wonderful plants that grow
very well at the edge of a pond too.

I leave you with this pic of an old crumbling wall where wall snapdragons and sedums grow in the crevices.
Very pretty, don't you think?

Have a great weekend!

copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Gardening is about change. No two days in the garden are ever the same.
Ken Thompson, An Ear to the Ground, 2003