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Monday
Jul152013

Savouring summer.

 
Today it occured to me that it is mid July. How in the world can it be mid July already? Summer always seems to go by in the blink of an eye. I must remember to savour every remaining bit so that I can live on the goodness over winter: The smell of the pine woods on a hot day. The lunch breaks spent swimming in the lake. The fresh salad from the garden come dinnertime. 

It´s Ludwig´s first summer and I think he is thouroughly enjoying it. He is in the garden most of the day, chasing cats and birds and splashing through our little stream and running back and forth until he is completely exhausted. This month has seen a big change in personality... we suddenly have the sweetest, most well-behaved, cuddliest dog ever. Impressive. This can stay. 

 Talking about impressive, we drove through vast fields of sunflowers yesterday. Fields like this never fail to amaze me. Sunflowers are such a cliché, but there´s just something so happy about them. Also, summer pressed in a flower, right? 

Wednesday
Jul102013

Landscaping is hard work.

We have worked on a big project from early spring until recently which I haven´t much talked about since I think it´s a litte boring. However I came across a few old pictures the other day which made me rub my eyes in disbelief, so maybe it´s not that that boring after all? Well, here goes. Above is part of our "garden" around the time we bought the house two years ago. It´s the part that adjoins the walled garden and in the first year we briefly considered to locate the vegetable garden here. Like ever other piece of our land is was overgrown and neglected. So far, so romantic.

However if you take a closer look, you see piles of rubble, sand and other building material peeking out of the weeds. These are partly a legacy of the renovation work the previous owners did and partly the remains of another old barn that once stood here. In our first summer in the house, we did our best to clear the jungle a little bit but not much happened otherwise.

Last year things got interesting. There was progress in that there was a decent path to the house, but see those little mounds left and right? That´s not just weeds, these are heaps of rubble. It turned out that in every inch of that part of the garden, there was rubble and garbage under a thin layer of soil. Not a good foundation for a vegetable garden, so it went elsewhere.

This was the view from one of the windows upstairs. 

This is the view now. We rented a huge dumpster last year in autumn and started to collect all the rubble that was lying around. We then dug up pretty much the entire area and removed as much rubble and garbage as possible (let´s not get into details about the garbage - disgusting). In the process we unearthed interesting things such as parts of an old cast-iron fence and several ancient farming tools. We then added a new thick layer of unspoilt soil and sowed a new lawn. Finally we planted a hedgerow on the border to our neighbor and in front of that, there´s a bed where I dumped a million wildflower seeds (with questionable outcome) but where we will plant perennials eventually. In the corner to the right that you can´t really see there will be the chicken coop which is the next project. The fence is already up.

So much better, if not quite as romantic. 

But despair not, there are still a few romantic corners.

There´s still so much to do in this garden which can feel so overwhelming. This is why it is important to pause and look back at what we´ve achieved in the two years we´ve lived here, even if it´s a little boring... or not!

Monday
Jul082013

Fields of Gold.

Our village is surrounded by fields (and woods) where, in turn, corn, sunflowers and grain are cultivated. Judging from the pictures, you probably know what the choice was this year... although I am not entirely sure which kind of grain this is? Barley I think? Why do we not learn such things in school? Anyway it is so pretty. I love the texture, it looks so soft. I meant to take pictures for weeks and finally managed to do so last week. Just in time, because yesterday all of it was reaped.  

 

I like these pictures so much that I am thinking of blowing one (or several?) up real big and hang it (them?) somewhere in my house. Which one do you like best? I love the first and last. 

Wednesday
Jul032013

The vegetable garden in June.

 


So this post is basically a picture dump. I apologize in advance. BUT. I am so very proud of my vegetable garden! It is doing so well despite all the freaky weather we had in June (very wet, very cold, very hot, very wet again, very cold again... you get the idea).

Let´s start with the raised bed which is still the overachiever in this garden. It´s a little empty in here because spinach and radishes are gone (either in our bellies or in the compost pile - we had way to many radishes this year).

Sugar snaps! There can never be too many sugar snaps.

For some reason I had it in my mind that I needed to grow camomile this year to make tea. I don´t even like camomile tea? Well, well. It sure is pretty. In between are French beans.

Salad, dill, parsley, beets. All doing well. 

These are runner beans. I found a very old package (from our days in Vienna I think!) and thought I´d try my luck. And lucky I got, look what beauties they are! 

Chard! Doing very well. Need to try a multi colored version next year. The tiny things on the left are an experiment. Salsifies! My mother loves these and I kind of do, too. Around here, I never see them in the super market so obviously a case for this daring gardener. So far, so good.

Red and white cabbage. Doing well and looking pretty.

The tomatoes... well. After this bed got flooded it looked like most of them would die. To my utter delight not a single one has, but on the other hand things are progressing veeeery slowly here. Also, these wooden posts? We built a makeshift tomato house here which four days later the storm took away. Awesome. Also, marigold about to bloom. Also, red dog in full speed.

Kale. That´s all. 

Parsley root, parsnip. This bed is a nightmare to weed. You better perform, parsnip and parsley root!

Strawberries. I have given up weeding here. Also, so. many. strawberries. Send help. 

All my pumpkins drowned, so I sowed some more although it is technically too late. Luckily, they don´t seem to know that. Ludwig is a big admirer.

Zucchini. Let´s talk in a month when I never want to see one again. 

Potatoes. Not doing well. This is one of the beds that got flooded and potatoes don´t like wet feet. Nothing to do about it.

Congratulations if you made it that far! As a reward you get to see my beloved compost pile which I built with my very own hands. Yep I am proud. I added a colorful bunting for good measure. Oh joy.

Thursday
Jun272013

The walled garden in June.

While I was away, we had a severe thunderstorm in the village. According to the husband it was the worst he has ever experienced here - and that says a lot. It took part of a walnut tree on our lot and flooded our vegetable garden, again (what the what). The walled garden, however, is doing fine. It´s a miracle, but I´ll take it.

The delphiniums are in full bloom now and oh I love them so. 

A neighbor gifted us this little rose and it has multipled its size since last year. Well done, you pretty thing.

More delphinium... and that purple lythrum is another favorite of mine.

Here´s another variety in the background, and I currently have no idea what these white flowers are. Some kind of shadow plant I bought as a package. Anyway, they are so pretty!

Hollyhocks! About to bloom for the first time! The only problem is they´ve gotten so huge that you can barely see my wonderful rambler rose which is doing so well. It has tiny white blossoms which smell like heaven. 

The lupins are almost done by now (this is a picture from the beginning of June). They´ve delivered a good show this year.

This has got to be my favorite plant in the walled garden. That blue, I love it so much. I would love to plant more of these... need to look up which kind of delphinium this is.

Ah, poppies. One of the things that didn´t do anything last year and I kind of forgot they were there. Silly me, look at these beauties. 

This violet delphinium is huge and very impressive but it can´t stand even a drop of rain. No matter how much you support it, it will snap in two. Needless to say that this is one of the plants that didn´t take the storm well.

This is the door to the basement (which will soon be painted... a dark blue I think). I planted hydrangeas here which don´t get any sun but seem to do just fine (which yes, is one of the nice things about hydrangeas but I was still sceptical.)

White malva.. these have gotten totally out of control this year! 

Not a fan of astilbe in general, but it sure is pretty here. 

That´s all. Can´t wait to see what July brings.

PS: The walled garden in May.