25 Jul 2015
This time last week I was sitting at my computer in a right old blue funk. Thankfully, since then, my week has got a lot better - apart from one tiny blip of the caterpillar kind.
So why the frustration? My local borough has an annual gardening competition. After much pondering and loathing of form filling, I decided to enter with about 8 hours to go before the deadline. The prize (should I be so lucky) is garden centre vouchers and I'd like more fruit trees. I like to do things thoughtfully so this online process (answers and photos) took a chunk out of my day. And then at 7.14 pm (deadline midnight) and just before I'd pressed SUBMIT, the form closed down taking my application with it! Too tired to start again that night, I gave a big sigh and started over on the Saturday morning. Just in case.
Following that dismal Friday night, Saturday was a fresh slate. My son was working at a festival over the weekend with late shifts; in his absence, I was able to eat delicious vegetarian meals (he's a carnivore) and just relax in the evenings. Normally there's a steady stream of his friends coming and going. While it's always lovely to see them, bobbing up and down answering the doorbell is not conducive to calm.
On Monday, I spoke to the organisers of the gardening competition and was told that my entry/ies would be accepted. (The first one survived the shut down with a bit of searching.) Apparently I wasn't the only one gnashing my teeth on Friday evening. Some discussion ensued as to which category my entry should go in - environmental, individual or community - and whether each collage of photos, above, counted as one of my three images or was, in fact, bucking the system. The latter, I think. Still, no points for not trying.
Serendipity continued to flow on Tuesday when an elegant and totally fabulous bouquet arrived. This was my prize as a runner up in a Pinterest competition to win tickets to RHS Hyde Hall flower show. At times like that, I'm pleased to not be first. Anticipating something from Interflora, I toyed with the idea of sending the bouquet elsewhere. (I don't like the idea of hothouse flowers imported from another continent.) So glad I didn't - this package was a visual treat from the moment it arrived. A slim elegant box opened to reveal carefully picked and packed roses, lisianthus (new to me), eucalyptus and limonium with a card giving tips on arranging and care of the flowers. + a relevant quote hidden under the flowers. Gorgeous.
Wednesday was City Farm day. I'd taken a couple of small children to see the brand new piglets; they (the pigs, not the children) were huddled together asleep in a far dark corner so we were thwarted. Instead, we were invited into a new visitor pen to stroke and feed some goats which was much more interactive and fun with both children coming away glowing from the experience.
Thursday. Aaah, lovely Thursday. I was up early to go to the passport office on my son's behalf (he's away at yet another festival). On the return journey the train could take me no further than Camden Town. Walking the rest of the way, I discovered the Oxfam bookshop in lower Kentish Town. I can't resist a bargain and the first thing I saw was a Carol Klein veg book for £2 which I'd been about to order on Amazon. How lucky was that! I picked up several other books but had to limit myself to five, bearing in mind the walk ahead of me. (Even that was a stretch!)
And the day got better: in the afternoon, as I set about starting to prune the plum trees, I made an amazing discovery. High up in the centre of the tree, I have a plum. Yes, just the one, a big fat beast of a fruit. I searched the trees for any more but no. Just one. Still, it would be churlish to chop the tree down now, wouldn't it?
The rest of the day was spent weeding, deadheading, planting … and picking off about 30 caterpillars from my brassicas. Rather obviously, these were Large Cabbage Whites and Small Cabbage Whites. No, I didn't net - a lesson learned too late. They also like nasturtiums so had landed in the perfect spot. Although the damage looks dreadful, I think the plant should be okay, especially if I keep an eye out from now on! (Four more had appeared by Friday morning.)
And so to Friday. With the promised heavy rain in my thoughts, I started in the garden very early and managed three hours of planting, picking and tidying before the rains started properly. The water butts are all but empty so I absolutely relished the continuous steady downpour of water, soaking into the ground. That should keep the plants happy for a while. I believe we're in for another dose on Sunday which to my mind will be excellent.
+ to bring the week full circle, I was contacted late afternoon on Friday by the organisers of the aforementioned gardening competition with the news that my garden has been shortlisted! I'll be receiving a judging visit next Friday which is a bit scary - although lovely Chris Collins, the ex-Blue Peter gardener, will be with the Mayor and other judges. I think I'll still be nervous though.