Today I ate an asian pear, a first for me. A hand reached up into the boughs of the small tree I was standing next to and picked one of these golden fruit for me to try. We were a long way from the orient, standing in the Permaculture Garden at Tapeley Park near Bideford, a cornucopia of edible delights. As I bit into its flesh I was confident that no toxic chemicals had been used to protect it from pest or disease or to boost its yield and yet it was healthy and bountiful; I knew also that it has been tended with loving hands. Known also as the Nashi pear, my lovely guide, the encyclopedic Perma Queen, told me that in Japan they wrap these fruit individually and give them as treasured gifts. Crisp and delicious it tasted good. What I mean is that if Goodness had a taste this is what it would be like.
Periodically an ominous looking chap in a CSI white boilersuit and poison filled knapsack wanders the streets in his fight against vegetation. This bold and beautiful antirrhinum stands defiant, in prime attack zone. I hope he will be merciful and give it a stay of execution. Perhaps I should cover it with a glass dome like the rose in the The Little Prince, or leave a note pleading its case. This little snapdragon should be a lesson to us all. It shows that plants want to grow inspite and despite of the intervention of man. A seed, one of perhaps thousands, landed in a miniscule amount of dust or leaf litter. It then did what it was programmed to do, germinate and grow, flower and set seed and start the process all over again. I am going to get nothing done as I lay in wait for the exterminator, catapult in hand.
Love them or hate them, you cannot deny that they are a force to be reckoned with. They are often referred to as geraniums but the true name for these summer shiners is pelargonium. Traditionally used in this country as a summer bedding plant, and much beloved of municipal displays, they are often thrown on the compost heap at the end of the season. In fact they are tender perennials, with most of the species originating from southern Africa. Who knows what this winter will bring? Another mild one and they may survive outside to grace our borders for another season, a harsh one and they will turn to mush. If you have the space you can pot them up and bring them inside for winter hibernation. Keep them frost free and dry and when it begins to warm up next year give them a good feed and drink and they will spring back into action (food and drink has a similar effect on me!). Personally I am in the “love them” gang, especially the ivy leaved trailing varieties, vibrant zonals and understated species. All you “hate thems” don’t what you’re missing, come on join us on the Pele Side!
So early in my new blogs existence I am using someone else’s photo. Taken last week in Brittany by my very talented brother (one of them) he has very generously donated (it was free wasn’t it?) this magical picture for your delectation. Escholtzia and cornflowers, linum, field poppies and achillea adorn this lush carpet. Undoubtedly crickets were chirruping, butterflies flitting and hoverflies, well hovering. Does a more perfect meadowscape exist? Mind you from the angle of the picture I would imagine a mysterious man sized crop circle has appeared in this field!
As I was hot footing it down the high street this morning our Hawaiian-shirted butcher, cleaver in hand, gestured to me. My initial reaction was to keep my head down (preferably to retain its relationship with my shoulders) and shift gear to hyper-drive until I noticed he was smiling, beckoning me over and into his emporium of home made sausages, homity pie and Cornish Yarg. Mr T is a relatively new convert to the ways of the soil and has embraced this religion with zealot-like enthusiasm; in the last year he has re-landscaped his garden, grows vegetables, flowers, herbs, the whole kerbang, many from seed. Ignoring potential pork purchasers (ha!) he shouted “wait there” and ducked into the back room. He emerged proudly with two pots one of which contained a Cape Gooseberry Physalis peruviana, the other the Chinese Lantern Physalis alkekengii. An unexpected and welcome gift.
This happy event was my inspiration to put finger tip to keyboard and begin my new blog. There are gardening folk around every corner, some of them might not even consider themselves as such, but anyone who grows and tends, from the smallest yoghurt pot to the largest estate, indoors or out, has a story to tell. And I do love a good story.