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Monday
Sep082014

Harvesting potatoes with Ludwig.

This weekend, it was time to dig up the first potatoes! Of course, good farm dog that he is, Ludwig helped. 

So many potaotes! (This is about one fifth of the entire crop). 

It´s a good thing we have Ludwig to do all the hard work. This dog, he is the best. He truly has brought so much joy into our lives. Have a happy week! 

PS: Exactly one year ago today I wrote a post about Ludwig´s heart condition and surgery. For those of you who wonder: He is doing fine. He is being examined regularly and the vet is always very happy with the results. Phew! 

Wednesday
Sep032014

The making of a garden. 

The walled garden is still looking good these days, which kind of amazes me. I think it´s all the pruning I did after the summer storms - everything has come back with renewed vigor! This space has been such a joy this year. It is truly my happy place. 

A few people have emailed me asking whether I had any recommendations when it comes to starting a new garden. I thought I´d share what I have to say here. I am by no means an expert but maybe it helps to know what I did. Now I guess a good thing to start with is the layout of your garden. I started planning the walled garden before we moved in, heck even before we closed on the house. I knew I wanted a rather formal layout but otherwise a wild, lush tangle of plants. Here´s the final sketch I came up with in spring 2012. 

This is a no brainer, but the most important factor for the well being of your plants is good soil. In our case, we knew without any fancy tests that it was lacking, which is why be brought in lots of good soil and compost for the beds. Also, before you start shopping for plants, you should have an idea how much sun your garden gets... and you should know that these things can change dramatically with the seasons. The walled garden is a really dark place in winter, so I thought I needed many shadow plants. Wrong. Come summer, this place is really sunny and warm. The bed you see above started out as a shadow bed except there is no shadow. It took me two years to figure out which plants could stay and which needed to be replaced. 

As for the plants, here´s a confession: I was so overwhelmed with the choices that I simply got a collection of perennials from here. Not very creative but I have no regrets. It was way cheaper than if I´d bought the plants seperately and it was a great starting point. I made many changes over the time - for example I completely banned everything red and orange - but many, many plants from the original package are still there and thriving. I think for beginners this is a great way to start a garden - you get a lot of plants for not much money and by working with this starter collection you get a sense of what you like and not like and then the real fun begins. Shopping for plants is addictive! By the way nowadays I buy most of my perennials from here. My roses are from here and here. And you should never understimate your local nursery where I usually just go and peruse the damaged goods section. A few weeks ago I bought 10 delphiniums for 1 Euro each. Not bad! 

So... what did I forget? Enjoy the process. A garden, much like a house, is never really finished. Because, where would be the fun in that? 

Sunday
Aug312014

Into the woods. 

Let´s make it a tradition to start with a picture of a pretty grown-in path, because, well, pretty. And yes, this is another one of these "we went on a walk and I took pictures" posts. You see, we are doing a leash training with Ludwig which means many walks as a family... thus the repetition. But lets face it, my blog is repetitive anyway. Case in point, I am working on another garden post - about how I planned and first planted the walled garden. Is there anything in particular you want to know? Just leave a comment. 

Anyway, the woods! I love them. The woods surrounding our village are all private land... many of our neighbors still own long acres of timberland. In fact the part you see in these pictures used to belong to our house but the previous owner sold it all. Sob. We dream of buying some of it back one day. 

It´s mushroom season. We came across three people today with large baskets full of the stuff. It´s funny how the locals don´t care about their fruit crop but go crazy for the mushrooms. I wish we weren´t so helpless at collecting mushrooms. We don´t know where to look and if we happen to come across a mushroom we have no clue whether it´s edible. For all I know, the one above is deadly, right? Don´t answer that.

This is the pond in the woods where I go swimming all the time. I am usually all alone because there are only two other people in the village who dare to do so. The majority thinks it´s scary. Wimps, all of them. 

The lake comes with a small cabin that dates from a time where this place was more popular with the locals. The cabin is maybe a little gross inside but very photogenic outside. 

In other news, it turns out that stinging nettles make quite a nice border. I won´t try that in my garden though. 

Also, the elderberries are ripe. I meant to make jam today but didn´t get around to do it. Let´s hope they aren´t done by next weekend. Happy (almost) September!

Sunday
Aug242014

In the house, in the garden. 

It definitely feels like autumn around here. We´ve been lighting a fire in the stove in the evenings again. As great as it is that the house keeps cool over the summer, it´s super chilly in here once the temperatures drop.

Marlene, our grumpy old cat lady, likes the warmth of the stove as well.

Still making passata!

Green tomatoes (hopefully) ripening on the windowsill. These are from the bushes affected by the blight which thankfully hasn´t spread to the other bushes so far. Phew.

I am putting one bed after the other to sleep in the vegetable garden. Bittersweet. Still left are heaps of cabbage, carrots, a little chard, potatoes and the remaining tomatoes.

The David Austen roses I planted along the chicken fence are in full bloom again. They are so pretty and smell heavenly. These are so expensive that I only let myself buy one per season, but little by little we´ll have a nice collection!

The walled garden is enjoying the cooler temperatures and frequent rain showers. And I enjoy gardening again now that the mosquitoes are mostly gone! Have a happy week.

Wednesday
Aug202014

Late summer.

The weather this past week has been pretty much perfection - at least in my book. I guess it´s coldish for August but as long as it´s sunny I´ll take it. I love the crisp air and the smells of late summer. We took a long walk last Sunday and I thought I´d share some pictures. 

I love this landscape so much. Also, the light was unreal. 

We went to Connemara in Western Ireland for a holiday when I was a kid and I remember that from our rented cottage, all we could see were green hills where sometimes a single white horse would appear. I thought that was like in a fairy tale. Twenty years later, same situation in Eastern Germany. Who would´ve thought. 

I have a deep love for wildflowers. Tansy is one of my favorites. I remember I picked it the day after we moved to the village. Everything was in deep chaos and it was so comforting to have something, anything pretty in the house. We moved on August 23, so it will be our three years anniversary on Saturday! 

Then we came across this guy. I now desperately want a freckled horse. The villagers have dubbed our house "Villa Kunterbunt" (the German name for Pippi Longstocking´s house) so it only is appropriate, yes? 

Ludwig was quite smitten as well. One day Ludwig, one day!