Mid May and Karel Čapek’s Gardener’s Prayer

We had the hottest and driest April on record this spring, and the first half of May was just as warm, producing only a few passing showers. This sort of weather is absolutely wonderful… unless you are a gardener! Still, the garden has soldiered on and produced glorious flowers once again. Here are the Moon Daisies in our meadow…

And a view from the top of the rockery shows how my Man of Many Talents has mowed even fewer of them away this spring 🙂

From the bottom of the rockery I can still look across the top of the giant Miscanthus and see the early deep reddish pink peony. Today the first white ones opened too. And the ferns in the foreground have taken off since we got more rain.

Recently my thoughts have often returned to this ‘prayer’ I found some years ago in ‘The Gardener’s Year’ by Karel Čapek. His wit is sometimes charming, but occasionally beyond me! However this prayer says it all perfectly, so I shall share!

“If it were of any use, every day the gardener would fall on his knees and pray somehow like this:

‘O Lord, grant that in some way it may rain every day, say from about midnight until three o’clock in the morning, but, you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in; grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthemum, lavender, and others which you in your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants – I will write their names on a bit of paper if you like – and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere (not, for instance, on spiraea, or on gentian, plaintain lily, and rhododendron), and not too much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant-lice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano may fall from heaven. Amen.’ ”

😀

In a Vase on Monday: What’s in a Name?

As Juliet so famously declared in Shakespeare’s well-known play:

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet…”

Yes, we all (well, most of us) call our Amaryllis by the wrong name. Strictly speaking the bulbs we in cooler climates grow indoors in winter are Hippeastrums; the South American lily. And not Amaryllis, which is the African belladonna lily.

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Hippeastrum hybrid “dunkelrot”

But I don’t think we should care too much about this error. As Celia Fisher writes in ‘The Golden Age of Flowers’,

‘When European hybrids were developed the original confusion about provenance intensified, while ordinary plant lovers blithely regard them all as amaryllis.’

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Monday 11am, -9°C

I consider myself an ‘ordinary plant lover’. How about you?

😉

Thank you to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this lovely meme. Why not visit her to see what others are finding for their Monday vases/flower arrangements this week.

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In a Vase on Monday: Sea Fever

A visit to the seaside last week was a real delight – here in Bavaria we are pretty much landlocked, so the smell of the sea air and the sight of such a huge sky, the glittering sea and the long horizon were quite magical. Memories of childhood holidays on the North Norfolk coast have been flooding back since, so now that I am back home I thought my Monday vase should adopt the seaside theme…

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“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky”

(from Sea Fever by John Masefield)

Vase5th2Cosmos Xanthos, Scabiosa ochroleuca, Succisella inflexa, Miscanthus, Tanacetum (Feverfew), and Ceratostigma (Leadwort).

Vase5th4Cosmos Purity, Caryopteris, Feverfew, white Lavender, and lilac Aster.

Vase5th7Zinnia, Tithonia and Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’

“I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied…”

from Sea Fever by John Masefield (Read the whole poem here)

The two little vases and the beach hut were found in a gift shop next to Blakeney Quay, and the windmills possibly came from the same shop many years earlier! The shells were collected on Norfolk beaches over the past years as well. 😀

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I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden once again for her Monday meme. Do visit her to see her rich choice of flowers this week, as well as all the other vases linked in from around the world!

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Have a good week!

A Very Short Day

To mark this short day I found a lovely, if somewhat sober sonnet by Edmond Holmes, from ‘The Triumph of Love’ collection, which I would like to share with you.

Like as the thrush in winter, when the skies
Are drear and dark, and all the woods are bare,
Sings undismayed, till from his melodies
Odours of Spring float the frozen air, –
So in my heart when sorrow’s icy breath
Is bleak and bitter and its frost is strong,
Leaps up, defiant of despair and death,
A sunlit fountain of triumphant song.
Sing on, sweet singer, till the violets come
And south winds blow; sing on, prophetic bird!
Oh if my lips, which are for ever dumb,
Could sing to men what my sad heart has heard,
Life’s darkest hour with songs of joy would ring;
Life’s blackest frost would blossom into Spring.

Moss

The winter solstice occurred here in Germany at 5.48am this morning. I was not up to experience the moment, although I doubt very much if anything would have marked the moment anyway. Since it is, quite simply, just a moment – albeit a moment many of us have been waiting for – and it is over in a tick and leaves that little itch of a thought behind… Yes, the days will not become noticeably longer for a couple of weeks yet, but they ARE getting longer. And do you sense that tinge of excitement at the thought of snowdrops, daffodils and tulips popping up in the garden to greet the spring?

We haven’t had winter yet though, so I mustn’t count my chickens…

I had in fact been looking forward to a snowy winter, but now I think I may be happier to forego snow and ice and skip straight ahead to the March winds and April showers! I have been reading how the winter appears to be just as mild in most of the US and UK too. And John at A Walk in the Garden in North Carolina has already spotted some daffodils in flower! Have you seen any daffodils yet?

Daffs

Whatever the weather, I wish you all a very happy and harmonious Christmas, full of all the things you wished for. And I look forward to seeing you in the New Year to share another year of my garden and kitchen with you and to be delighted by all your wonderful posts too.

Merry Christmas!

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In a Vase on Monday: The Past, the Present and the Future

‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!’

This was what Scrooge said, after the three spirits had visited him in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

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These three Hellebores (Christrose in German) demonstrate the three stages of life that the spirits made Scrooge visit on his eventful Christmas Eve… the Past, the Present and the Future.

Thanks go to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden once again for the opportunity to show some materials from my garden in a vase on Monday. And this week I have a new “vase” too!

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I found these three glass tubes mounted in a wooden block while hunting for Christmas gifts last week; exactly what I had been looking for, and so reasonably priced I decided to treat myself. 😀

The ivy and silver fir around the base are added for the seasonal touch.

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I like to look at some Dickens every Christmas. It became a habit while I was still teaching, since a production  of “A Christmas Carol” is shown  in English in our town theatre every year and I have often been with students. My own English teacher at school also managed to convince me of the positive side of Dickens, and I admire his ability to entertain with words/wordiness and social comment.

Another couple of Dickens quotes, appropriate for the season:

‘There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.’

and

‘Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days’.

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… and finally
‘Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.’

Have a wonderful week, stress-free with time for some fireside or candleside relaxation and contemplation!

🙂

What are “Stinzenpflanzen”?

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Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa)

Stinzenpflanzen one of those nice long German words – is a new word for me. I came across it in my gardening magazine this month and thought it worthy of a mention here. I have been unable to translate it, as it seems to be a local term only, but I’ll do my best to explain…

“Pflanzen” is German for plants. And in northern Germany and the Netherlands “Stinzen” is an old Frisian word for houses made of stone… from the 16th century on this meant grand houses, for the wealthy only – manors and castles, houses on large estates, monasteries or vicarages, etc. These houses frequently had gardens and parkland attached, and as a sign of wealth and standing the grounds were planted extravagantly with bulbs, tubers and plants grown from rhizomes which had been introduced from other more exotic parts of the world by the plant hunters of the age, or simply from different regions of Europe.

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Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum)

Typical for this particular style of planting was spring flowering plants that naturalize, so in some areas of northern Germany the stone houses – “Stinzen” – have long gone, but areas of “Stinzenpflanzen” remain to remind us of the past.

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Corydalis cava

The term Stinzenpflanzen includes flowers such as:

Snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Glory of the Snow…

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Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa)

… Spring and Summer Snowflakes, Scillas, Crocuses …

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Crocus tommasinianus

… Corydalis, Bluebells, Narcissi, the Snake’s Head Fritillary, Star-of-Bethlehem…

Star of Bethlehem

Star of Bethlehem (Gagea lutea)

… Lily of the Valley, Arum Lilies and Wood Anemones…

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Yellow Wood Anemone (Anemone ranunculoides)

Do you grow any Stinzenpflanzen?

😉

Tree Following: April 2015

This year I am joining Lucy at Loose and Leafy in following a tree, and I am posting monthly about my Field Maple (Acer campestre) which stands at the bottom of our garden.

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Look up, look up, at any tree!

There is so much for eyes to see:

Twigs, catkins, blossoms; and the blue

Of sky, most lovely, peeping through…

(from “Look Up!” by Cicely Mary Barker)

~~~

Despite some really warm days the leaf buds are only just showing signs of development. I can’t wait to see the leaves unfurl.

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The other members of the Acer family in my garden are just as far on or even a little further ahead; the Acer pseudoplatanus (Sycamore)…

Bergahorn

the Acer tataricum (Amur Maple)…

Feuerahorn

and the Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)…

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 Between the 7th and 14th of each month you can link in with your tree at Loose and Leafy. Dozens of people from all over are taking part, so why not join in!

Are you seeing any leaf growth yet?