Yesterday I noticed that one of my Calycanthus floridus is in flower. I have two, currently both in pots, and it’s rare for me to be able to find both of them at the same time. They are refugees from the old garden; they were too young to flower there. They were planted in my parents’ garden in Malvern for a year or so – whether they flowered there, I don’t know. I suspect not, as they were given a rather shady spot. After we moved here I reclaimed them and planted them back into pots. So they haven’t had the best start in life, and I’m happy to see that at least one of them seems to be thriving regardless.
The good news is that they will soon have a permanent home. They are destined to be part of the front garden, and yesterday morning I finished rough digging it over. Ryan will move in now, and give it a thorough tilling with the rotovator, and then I will be able to start planting it up.
As I said at the beginning of the month, I am thrilled to be a gardener again, and I’m loving watching my plants develop, and having pottering jobs to do in the garden. However, although the current media trend is to make out that gardening is ‘easy’ and gardens are rose-tinted places where nothing bad happens beyond torrential rain and the annual slug apocalypse, the truth is that not everything goes according to plan – and that’s normal.
I have been a bad Plant Mummy. The silvered leaves on my Tutti Frutti tomatoes mean that I didn’t devote enough time and attention to hardening them off. They have suffered from being thrust outside too soon in the weather. It could have been the Sun, the cold or the scorching winds – we’ve had enough of all three to do tender plants damage. There’s no cure in the sense that those damaged leaves can’t be repaired, but the tomatoes are now happier and are producing healthy new leaves. Since they’re also flowering I have started feeding them with my homemade comfrey fertilizer when I water them.
In Tendrils on Friday I mentioned that I’d come to the realization that we need more culinary mint in the garden. I actually have plenty of mints, but several varieties aren’t known for their edible qualities. I have a buddleja mint, for its wildlife-friendly flowers, and an Eau de Cologne mint that’s great for scenting bathwater. And I have a Pennyroyal, which – at best – should be consumed sparingly.
This year I have added two culinary mints, a new spearmint variety and a chocolate mint. They’re both doing fine, although they’re still small plants. They have only recently been repotted, and are too young to be divided, so I thought my plans for mint abundance would have to wait until next year. However, I discovered an old garden mint (spearmint) in a large pot. It was alive, but not very happy. Mint gets depressed in pots. When it has filled up the available root space, and realises its plans for world domination have been thwarted, it sulks. In large pots the middle section dies off, and you just get sparse shoots around the outside. My mint had given way to the point where it was sharing its pot with grass weeds and hairy bittercress.
The solution is simple – either give the mint a bigger pot to roam around in, or divide it into two or more smaller plants. Since I want more plants I went with the latter. My sad mint is now 5 mint plants in smaller pots, which can be potted on as and when they require it. It will be a few days before they’re back into active growth, but given the thuggish nature of mint we should be up to our ears in it soon enough 🙂
Dividing mint is quite a violent process, and in a moment of complete clumsiness whilst I was doing it I sent one of my Gropods flying. The pot tipped its contents all over the shed floor. As you can see, the Gropod was quite shocked about it. It was the tomato one, and the seeds have fallen out of the pod. I couldn’t see them in the mess on the floor, so I just swept it up and put the compost on one of the raised beds. No doubt they will now germinate there, but tomatoes are easy enough to weed out. The courgette gropod is still intact, so I can still see how they grow. There are no signs of germination there yet. We won’t miss the tomato plant, so it’s not a disaster.
The point is that things happen in a garden. It’s not something where you can plan with military precision and tolerate no deviations. There are too many variables, you have to learn to roll with the punches. But every time I go out in the garden now it surprises me with something new, whether it’s flowers on the Calycanthus or the frog that jumped out when Ryan was strimming some weeds. Our first frog 🙂 safely rescued and moved to a different shady area of the garden.
It’s not perfect. It’s not fashionable. But it’s mine.