22 Jan 2012

Pin-spiration and planning

Okay, officially slap my wrist.  Three weeks without posting? Very remiss of me.  So... what have I been up to, apart from looking out at the skies and seeing beautiful sunrises?

Pink skies at dawn
* Looking east at 7.30 a.m. - spectacular sunrise *
Actually, not a lot on the physical gardening front. Apart from removing a good peppering of calling cards from local felines. (I take issue with cats pooping in my raised beds ... sorry, cat lovers out there but, seriously, it IS disgusting.) Okay, so I need to net off all my beds to prevent this type of nuisance but then the beds become less accessible. It's a lose/lose situation for me.

Frosted calendula

Calendula is still flowering, so - snip, snip with my fabulous Felcos - a bit of deadheading is prolonging that. Cowslips and herbs seem to have survived last weekend's frost. Winter veg seems dormant for now, unsurprisingly, as the weather has been on the chilly side of late.  And I've dug up and moved a cherry tree.  I'm using the term 'I' very loosely here; my neighbour Frank dug, I directed. Community gardening at it's best.

Otherwise time has been spent trying to plan what to grow in the garden this year; taking the time to reflect on the ups and downs of last year, leafing through seed catalogues, being inspired by new plants, listing what's left over in the seed box. It can all get a bit much ...  but then there's Pinterest.  Pinterest isn't new to me, I've had boards on this site since its infancy after one of my favourite internet illustrators flagged it up on her blog. It's a lot of fun and absolutely distracting, somewhere to keep track of inspirational internet finds - and the perfect place to keep a visual record of the seeds that have caught my fancy (with links back to where I found those seeds).

* Just a small part of my Pinterest seed board *
Other methods I've tried include pieces of paper, small notebooks, copious post-it notes, collage pages and even paper clips.  Just to digress for a moment: am I alone in getting overwhelmed by choice at this time of year?  I read of gardeners knowing just what they want and getting the order in; my imagination, on the other hand, leaps from small veg patch to Versailles potager in one bound. Then I have to scale it all back down again.

The actual veg patch (formerly a small area set aside in the 1940s for tenants' children to garden) now sits in a sea of paving slabs with the occasional visual relief of a rectangle of grass or two at the edges.  The west side is bounded by raised brick beds built against a high brick wall which is where we've planted fruit trees (and perennial cauliflowers). One of these borders is still overgrown with honeysuckle, ivy, dogwood and other shrubs; it needs to be cleared and replanted, all in good time.  My problem is my imagination and those paving slabs. I badly want to dig them up; picture the growing space that would open up. Seriously, I'm a bit obsessed about it all: I wake up thinking about how the garden would look if I could turn at least half of it (the half I garden in) into a kitchen garden, a place for people to come and sit or potter round, as I do. Just this morning I saw a photo online of the refurbished kitchen garden in Waterlow Park, a nearby public space in Highgate.



* Waterlow Park kitchen garden/allotments. © Waterlow Park *
Pictures like this make me sigh with envy. Soil tests indicated very high levels of toxins in the soil, so raised beds were built and filled with fresh compost which are leased, like allotments, to local groups and schools - there's even a wildflower border to encourage bio-diversity.

* Waterlow Park wildflower border. © Waterlow Park *
 (The photos are not mine. I've borrowed from their website; next weekend I'm going to see for myself.)

I noticed recently that in the 'gardens' of another of my landlords estates, the tenants had started to remove some of the paving, presumably to create a growing area. That project looked like it had been abandoned but it does give me hope that precedent has been set and I might be able to create something really beautiful here in York Rise.  In the meantime, I feel a great responsibility to the people who've lived here and overlooked the gardens for many years. If I was unable, for whatever reason, to carry on, it would all have to be left in a manageable state.  I guess that means I have to resist the temptation to dig up the paving stones and move the grass...  or will I?

23 comments:

  1. I dipped my toe into PINTEREST too recently... If you like you could Pin my blog, or follow me! There's a button at the top of my sidebar now.

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    1. Ah, you're tempting me Mark! I'll definitely have a look at your Pinterest boards soon - and you've reminded me that I need to get a Pinterest button on my page.

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  2. Yup...I'm a dedicated pinner as well :) I'll have a look for you and here are my boards.

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    1. Tanya I have a feeling that I already follow your boards on Pinterest! (and your Facebook page). I have to ration my time on Pinterest, otherwise I find it much too distracting!

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    2. It can be very distracting, but if you use it well you can drive a lot of extra traffic to your blog. This is the main reason I'm on ;)

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  3. PINTEREST...another distraction on my horizon. I thought the photographs were of another part of your communal garden that I hadn't noticed before.I can see why you're inspired...

    I would dig up the slabs (or get obliging Frank to do it). We are all only custodians of the garden for the time we are here, then it's on to someone else to carry on. You know you want to....

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    1. Hahaha - a woman after my own heart! Yes, I think slowly slowly the paving slabs will disappear. I like to think that others will become interested, the more I do. Btw, how I wish the photos were of the gardens here in York Rise!

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  4. Love those Waterlow gardens - but I can understand your concern about putting even more under cultivation - say you moved - would there be anyone else as keen as you to keep it going - would it just all end up an overgrown mess. Things to ponder over. As to Pinterest - I have had to cut back on my time on there, it was beginning to take over, but it is definitely a great way to store information you might need to refer to at a later date. Nice to have you back by the way.

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    1. Elaine, you've got right to the heart of the matter - I fear the gardens might become overgrown. It's the reason that our designated allotments (small plots at the rear of the flats) have been grassed over for private gardens: not enough interest from gardeners. It's all got a bit topsy turvy!
      Pinterest is very alluring so I tend to not go there for days, then something will catch my eye; I also like to see the boards of pinners who've repinned one of mine - and off we go again!

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  5. What a wonderful sunrise, there's been lots of gorgeous pink skies just lately. I've managed to avoid Pinterest so far, everyone keeps saying how addictive it is and I really don't need anything else to take up any more of my time, I've got enough to do as it is. It's a shame about the paving when you're so keen on gardening and eager to grow more things. Some extra space would be ideal.

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    1. Jo, it was a real treat to see a beautiful sky like that at this time of year - I usually only get that depth of colour in a summer sunset. The paving slabs look very neat and tidy, as long as you don't mind acres of grey concrete! I'm reading a good article on perennial flowers so perhaps, with careful planning, something could be changed.

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  6. Hi Caro, am going to have to go off and check out pinterest, though I fear it could eat up lots and lots of time... I do know exactly what you mean about those catalogues and the flights of fancy that they unleash, it always takes me ages to find my way back to something close to reality. I admire you for thinking about what would happen if you were unable to carry on with the upkeep of the new areas if you took those paving stones, though I must admit that I would really want to do it anyway, and reason that I could always cover them in annuals... Oh, and I love the idea of being able to lease a raised bed, what a great way to get kids involved etc.

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    1. Hi Janet, I don't want to tempt you too much but there's lots of garden inspiration to be found on Pinterest - leading to more flights of fancy I fear! I am very torn by knowing what could be achieved in the gardens here and balancing that against the opinions of the nay-sayers. It's all very frustrating! I may start with one paving slab at a time and see if anyone notices .... I'm going to check out the kitchen garden in Waterlow Park next weekend - I love the way they're running it and one of the beds is, in fact, leased out to a local primary school which is good news.

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  7. i love the flower bed..... sweet mixture of colours.

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    1. Summer wildflowers are such a gorgeous mix aren't they? Really pretty and so loved by bees and other insects. An all round winner!

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  8. A lovely post and pictures. As you know I'm a 'pinner' and find it all rather interesting. I especially like the way you're using it for keeping a record of vegetables you fancy. Flighty xx

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    1. Thank you Flighty! and yes, I've noticed one or two pins from you being a follower! The funny thing is that as I pinned pictures of the seeds I fancied, my pins were being repinned almost instantly which I found extraordinary. My email inbox was groaning under the weight of incoming mail alerts! Regardless, it seems a good way to keep a visual record of garden fancies!

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  9. I have the same cat problem with my raised beds Caro. Any that have been sowed/planted get a covering of chicken wire, and those that are temporarily empty get a good sprinkling of hardcore homemade chilli powder... Kitties do not seem to like scotch bonnets!
    I'm resisting even looking at Pinterest - now that I've got horticultural revision to do (2 exams in Feb) I really need as few distractions as possible!

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    1. Oh, good tip! I didn't know that about chilli powder. I used to have chicken wire but most of it got stolen in 2010 which is why I used cheap netting last summer. I'm interested to know which horticultural exams you're taking as I'm keen on studying the subject myself. Would be an interesting post to read! (And yes, good idea to keep away from Pinterest for now ... )

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  10. Good to see you come out of hibernation Caro. Oh now I do like the sound of community gardening :) Pinterest sounds like it could become a serious addiction which I must explore at some point. You are certainly not alone in feeling overwhelmed by making those choices about what and where to grow. I am still very much at the mulling it over stage. Hope you enjoy your visit to Waterlow Park.

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    1. Thanks Anna - the challenge is now on to keep the momentum going. Many people have said that they should check out Pinterest - would it be very naughty, I wonder, to put a link in my sidebar to tempt people? I've just been adding my dream flower garden to a new board on Pinterest, it certainly looks very pretty! I'm hoping the weather will be dry for my park visit!

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  11. Oh don't talk to me about cats. My newly tidied up borders have just become cat litter trays. I can't even walk on the borders now because it is everywhere. I need to spend a morning cleaning it up. There were 6 sandwich bags full this time last year. Sorry I know that is so gross but it is good to vent my annoyance. Anyway enough of that, I, too feel overwhelmed, especially when I was looking through my Sarah Raven catalogue. I think I might have bought too many. I'm just wondering how I can grow them all without a greenhouse. Those photos of Waterlow Park are beautiful.

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  12. Welly, I sympathise entirely! The worst is when you think you've picked it all up but can still smell it when digging. It gets worse: a gardening friend actually saw a tenant here exercising her cat by placing it among the veg in my raised borders - when challenged the woman was apparently mystified as to why it should be a problem to let her pet rub up against the FOOD WE EAT! - whilst sizing up the space as a potential cat toilet. Okay, I'd better get off my soap box. We've made our point!! Good to have your support on this issue! Now, what to do with all those seeds ... wish I had a greenhouse!

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Comments on my posts are much appreciated and help to build an online community of blog friends. Everyone is welcome! I love to discover new blogs so please leave a comment to introduce yourself.
Caro x

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