Memories of a Summer Garden
It's winter now, here in the South of Wales, UK. All the leaves have fallen, the long grass is heavy, cold and wet and the hedgerows look jagged under a grey sky. The sun is low.
The flower beds are empty, just clods of earth supporting a few hardy weeds.
Spinach, chard and leeks are still making a stand in the vegetable beds, but the colors of the garden have now faded.
Rats and foxes are taking greater interest in the non-compostable food waste bin near the house while red kites circle nearer than usual.
The season of plenty has passed.
At these times it's great to look back at what the garden produced over the course of the summer, before the sun crept closer to the horizon. Looking back at the flowers, trees, shrubs and vegetables, it's hard to believe that the season has changed so much, that everything is so gloomy now.
But it's the same every year and every year is a surprise. The sun's return is always an amazing thing. But before that happens again, it's fun to reminisce.
Here are a few random memories of our summer garden from some photos I managed to dig out, worms and all.
This black bird singing will really set the tone of this hub. Keep on singing in the background, Mr Blackbird! :-)
Lettuces straight out of the garden are one of my favorite. Nothing beats the crunch or the taste. As a bonus, it's 100% pesticide free. So there's no need to obsessively wash, as traces of soil on the leaves contain goodness that supermarket salads have all but lost.
Courgette, Lettuce, Raspberries
The courgette are interesting to watch grow, as they slowly increase in bulk. It's always amazing to me, how courgette, marrows and pumpkins can become so huge. Where does all the stuff come from? :-))
Nothing evokes summer better than foxgloves (definitely not to eat, as they are poisonous!).
Towering high into the air, we lift our faces to the sky just to look at them and soak in the sun's rays. This is a fairy tale flower, if ever there was one. It grows freely along the lane and in our garden, the purple bell shaped flowers filled with intricate patterns. It's just beautiful, really.
Nasturtium - beautiful and good to eat
I really enjoy gathering the summer harvest from the garden, and that can even include these beautiful flowers.
The nasturtium leaves have a peppery taste to them and go well on a salad - and the flowers too, make a beautiful yet edible adornment (but it can feel somewhat sacrilegious eating such pretty flowers!)
Red Admirals feasting off plums
The Red Admirals come out in droves at the bottom of the garden under the shade of the trees, at the end of summer. They're particularly interested in the plum trees, and spend a considerable amount of time on the ground, feasting off the fallen fruit.
They rest in the sun, soaking up the light into their delicate wings and spring up suddenly, following a rhyme and reason which is a mystery to us.
Their abrupt flight takes them dancing across the garden as they rejoin their friends on the ground, before heading off into the sun's light again.
A leek gone to seed
It's always fun letting a leek go to seed, as nature intended. Those large flower balls are very attractive if somewhat unusual. It's so easy to forget that leeks too have a life-cycle. Usually, we're more interested in chopping them up and throwing them into a pan, rather than admiring the flowers!
Green fly on the broadbeans
Everything has its place in nature, even a broadbean-decimating green fly colony! They seem to appear as if by magic when the beans are starting to take shape at the base of the flowers. Then it's the time to nip out the top of the plant where they tend to gather, and spray the whole lot with diluted washing up liquid.
These small creatures are beautiful in their own way, but I do wish they would leave this crop alone!
Apples and plums
This beautiful harvest seems far away now.
It seems unlikely that plums and apples will ever come back. As ever, as soon as we pass the 21st of December days will begin to lengthen, and at some point trust in the bounteousness of nature will return. For now, it seems unlikely though.
The yellow cherry plums in the photo came from some trees down the lane that bore fruit for the first time in 20 years!
I'm always in awe at the intelligence behind nature. We stomp around, roar about in our cars, live squashed up in our cities, oblivious to the intelligence in nature.
The primroses spring up all over the lawn, in groups or sometimes alone. They're probably one of my favorite. They seem hardy to weather change and continue into summer. Again, I'm in awe as to what's going on here.
They seem like a community right at my feet.
I love lavender. Just brushing past it, that wonderful scent floats into the air. It evokes that summer feeling of drowsy warmth. This particular plant is quite old and leggy, despite being cut back every year just above the new growth.
The bees and insect swarm across the lavender plants. There have been much less bees this year, unfortunately. And the bees that have been around, looked dopey. Please read my hub on this topic, and the use of insecticides which is killing off the bee population.
Humans need bees to live. No bees, no crops, no humans... it's as simple as that.
Some peas from the pea plant above
Growing peas turned out to be a lot more interesting that I expected.
The pea plants have these long tacky tendrils that attach themselves to anything, and wind around. I had to make a frame with some cord so that the plants could grow up easily. It's fascinating to watch the way the tendrils reach out for purchase, rather like runner beans do. There's intelligence there at work, right beneath our noses, but which we don't even understand.
The pea pods can be left to grow, to get a nice crop of beans, or they can be picked early, to get sugar snaps. Sugar snaps can either be cooked, or put in a salad, if they're small and tender enough.
Either way, growing peas was a complete winner.
What is this flower?
I honestly don't know what this small plant is called. It's about knee height and produces these beautiful delicate pink flowers that don't last long. If anyone knows, please tell me!
It's good to remember the sun as it was at the height of summer when insects buzzed in the long drawn out dusks, and blackbirds sang near the dimming green of the freshly cut grass.
There's something eternal about her song, and the way she sings way into the evening.
High above, I can hear a sky lark trilling, but I can't see where it is.
There are so many more plants I could write about. I could write ten hubs on this subject!
Outside, drizzle and wind are rattling against the window. Isn't it amazing, that in the middle of winter lie the seeds of summer...
18th December, wind and drizzle
© 2013 Charles