This is the place where I’m spending most of my time at the moment- my cut flower and vegetable patch. There’s a never-ending list of tasks; tying in, propping up plants, weeding and harvesting. I’m not complaining. Mentally it’s a ‘covid-free’ zone. As soon as I step into this place, my thoughts are solely on gardening. The covid problem, and all the questions in my head, quickly melt away. It’s become an essential sanctuary. A breathing space. Literally.
The orchard and view though to the veg patch in February. Sometimes I look at these photos from just a few months ago, and want to turn back the clock, go back to a time when life was less complicated, when we could go out without face coverings and hand gel. When the words social distancing, isolation, PPE didn’t exist. However, it’s not in our power to go back, only forward. And I’m finding comfort in the ever-changing pace of the veg plot. Tiny seedlings are now towering flowers. Dahlias are five foot tall. Bean shoots are spiralling anti-clockwise along rustic hazel poles and soon there will be a harvest to fill the freezer. For the past 30 years I’ve stood on this vegetable plot, and dug the soil, planted the seeds, hoed the ground and harvested the crops. Everything in the outside world is unfamiliar, but here on the veg plot, plants are performing just as they always have. Nature is carrying on regardless. Humans are changing a lifetime of habits. No hugging, no hand shakes, keeping a distance. The house and garden, usually so full of laughter, is quiet. And yet, there’s plenty of butterflies, bees, grass snakes, hedgehogs, owl chicks, swallows- all thriving in the peace and solitude.
And I’m picking plums. As I always have. A bumper harvest this year. The variety is Victoria. Sweet-tasting and prolific. I’ve made jam and I’m sharing it with friends in the village. One good thing to come out of covid, we are all sharing what we have, spare plants, surplus food, knowledge, hints and tips. We share bread, cakes, face masks, fabric for making scrubs. There’s a strong feeling of caring, and helping one another get through this time.
Here’s my plum and almond jam. Delicious in jam tarts, cakes and simply with bread and butter. In winter, I line up jam jars along the kitchen window. It’s like looking through stained glass. Very cheerful on a cold, dark day.
I’m picking flowers. Dahlia David Howard is doing well. Photos taken at dusk seem to glow. Beautiful bright orange flowers set against dark foliage. Flowers last nearly 10 days in a vase. I cut stems early in the day and immediately drop them into a bucket of cold water. Perfect for cheering up the kitchen table.
And another favourite, semi-cactus Dahlia Nuit d’Ete. I love the dark red centre and the curled and twisted petals. These are on my bedside table, combined with sweet peas. It’s wonderful to wake up to the scent of summer flowers, windows flung wide open and the hum of bumble bees under the eaves.
Looking out from the garden, I can see crops ripening in the back fields. Soon there will be the sound of harvesting. Another sign the season is moving on.
What’s looking good in your garden this weekend? Have you found solace in gardening during these difficult times? Thank you for reading and leaving your comments. It’s nice to know I’m not talking to myself on here.
Links: My plum jam recipe is here : https://bramblegarden.com/2017/08/22/peaches-and-plums-crumble-and-jam/
Dahlias : https://www.gee-tee.co.uk/bulbs/dahlias
Plum trees: https://www.chrisbowers.co.uk/
Recipes and ideas on what to do with the harvest : https://bramblegarden.com/2018/12/04/book-prize-draw-winner-the-creative-kitchen/
Making flower posies, courses and flowers: Georgie Newbery : https://bramblegarden.com/2020/07/01/online-hand-tie-posy-course-with-georgie-newbery/
Six (or more) on Saturday: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2020/08/01/six-on-saturday-01-08-2020/