It’s always hard coming home after a lovely holiday. There is the thought of work, routine and things to be done, But as soon as the house appears and we enter the drive there is that feeling of homecoming and familiarity and then there is the excitement of seeing what has happened in the garden – always the first thing before unloading the car or checking the house.
When we got back today I was amazed at how things had grown in eight days. Yes the weeds have done well but so has the garden.
Roses, delphiniums, hollyhock,sweet peas on long stems and mesembryanthemum which bring back childhood memories of lying on my tummy watching the flowers open as the rays of the sun warmed them only to close again when a cloud passed by.
Next stop is to check the vegetable garden and greenhouse to see how things have fared. And as usual there are the successes this time- lettuce, radish, cucumbers, courgettes and potatoes. The french, broad and runner beans are looking hopeful but where are the parsnips? They are usually one of our best crops and as for the peas it will be a meagre crop.
But after unpacking there was a real sense of satisfaction and living the good life when we picked and harvested and then we sat in the evening sunshine and ate a completely home produced meal (well except for the mayonnaise). We enjoyed an egg salad with lettuce, radish, basil, rocket and potatoes. Finely chopped courgettes with a tiny red onion and slivers of freshly picked cucumber. Maybe coming home from holiday is not too bad!
Auntie Iris’ peony
There are certain plants in our garden which evoke memories of people of places and of points in life. What prompted this thought was the sight of ‘Auntie Iris’ peony’ which is laden with highly scented white blossoms at the minute. I have never been able to accurately name the plant but I have childhood memories of the peony in the wonderful formal garden Auntie Iris had on the shores of Strangford Lough near Killyleagh. When she moved from the garden she lifted the peony and I think it is at that point that my Dad had a cutting and I took a cutting from his plant for our first little garden in Nottingham.
Since then whenever I move I take part of my original peony and have grown Auntie Iris’ peony at over 600ft in Lancashire and now it is happily established in Shropshire. I like to think that people who now live in our previous houses are enjoying the fragrance and beauty of the flowers and perhaps wonder about the origins of the plant,
Having come over to County Down for a holiday with my family it is good to know that the flowers that we picked from Mum and Dad’s garden and are scenting our holiday house in Strangford are only about 8 miles ‘as the crow flies’ from their original home in Auntie Iris’ garden.
How many gardeners spend their time waging war on ‘pests’ ?- slugs, snails, birds, mice, squirrels, grazing children…
We have tried growing strawberries with little success for a number of years no matter what we do someone gets to the strawberries just as they ripen, We’ve tried nets to protect the fruit from birds and squirrels only to feed our numerous shrew and mouse population. We’ve tied them up to make it harder for the mice to climb up for a feast. Last year I tried hanging strawberry bags and got the watering wrong – failure.
This spring all the strawberry plants which had overwintered in a corner of the vegetable garden were dug up. about half were put in large black plastic pots in a lovely rich leaf mould compost. The other half were planted in the a new bed in the ‘big polytunnel’. Needless to say there is a bit of a his and hers competition in the strawberry department. His were looking very healthy in the polytunnel obviously growing in a large bed. but I persevered watering, feeding and generally loving ‘my’ strawberries in the glorious greenhouse.
Almost too good to eat!
So imagine my delight to be able to serve up ‘my’ mouse free ripe strawberries as part of his special birthday pudding this week. His strawberries are ripening and feeding the lovely little shrew that seems to have set up residence in the tunnel!
And the verdict – sweet, juicy and just delicious!