Strawberry Social 2018
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Douglas Justice - Cherry Trees and Blooms
Wednesday March 4th, 2020 - 7.00 p.m.
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This has to be one of the times when it is especially nice to have a garden. We are all at home most of the time and really appreciate being outside and enjoying the beauty of spring. It seems to me that nearly everybody with whom I am in email correspondence is busy cleaning their homes – everything from washing behind the fridge to defrosting the freezer or turning out the drawers in the kitchen. I must confess to doing none of these things although they could all use attention. Any spare time is being spent in the garden as it is ‘that time of year’. Even if I am indoors, I might be planting up seed trays in the kitchen. There is so much to do especially if one grows vegetables as most of them have to be started every year.

Today it is sunny but there is a very cold wind and when I ventured outside to take some photographs for the article, I had a look at the broad beans and peas which both look as if they are doing quite well. At present both are covered in fleece. This is not because they are tender but to protect them from the mysterious wildlife that seems to feast on them when they are first in the ground. They are started in the cold frame and then planted out so at first they are not very firmly rooted. I suspect crows of doing the damage, but it is easy to blame them for everything! The fleece seems to do the job and on a day like this it does raise the temperature a little bit. The salad blend and spinach seeds have germinated and are also under fleece mainly to provide some warmth. Some of the fleece is years old and has some holes but it still seems to do the job. Not very elegant but it works.

Solutions like this always remind me of my father who was a great vegetable gardener and always used the bits and pieces that were around to do a job if he possibly could. He did grow flowers but never bedding plants unless they were easy from seed. He liked dahlias which are wonderful plants for those of a thrifty disposition as they multiply so well. He grew fabulous tomatoes but was lucky enough to have a conservatory on the side of the Edwardian house in which we lived. This sounds vey grand but in fact the house was freezing cold all winter, had a perfectly dreadful kitchen and actually went with his job. He liked ‘Early Girl’ and ‘Gardeners Delight’ tomatoes which are still available in the West Coast Seeds Catalogue. I don’t remember him ever having any vegetable failures but there had to have been some. He was lucky in that he gardened in an area of Devon, U.K. with wonderful red soil. As a child I was certainly sent out to do lots of weeding but never remember actually digging the ground with a spade. After Dad died and I went to see my mother and give her a hand in the garden and some digging was needed. The soil seemed incredibly heavy compared to ours in Vancouver. It is much more water retentive and also very rich especially in iron. There were lots of vegetables on the table every night at dinner winter and summer. I remember huge leeks and cabbages, but he never grew parsnips as my mother did not like them. We children used to quarrel over who got the smallest new potato as someone had declared it “lucky”. There was a bit of suspicion that the person carrying the dish to the table might have snuck it on the way!!! If we went to see any of our relatives my father always managed to have a good look around the garden so that he could “compare and contrast’ with his efforts. He did the same when he visited us, but I am sure he always felt well satisfied that his garden was superior especially the vegetables!

At difficult times like this one does think a little bit about family especially when they are far away or even if they live nearby and we cannot visit them. My sister is newly widowed and given the draconian situation in Britain is finding it lonely. There were three children in the family and two inherited the ‘gardening gene’. The two girls both love to garden but our younger brother who has unfortunately died liked his garden to look good but as he lived in Africa most of his life, he usually had someone else to do the hard work!

We do feel ourselves very lucky to have such spring beauty in the garden. Our daffodils have been exceptional this year and even ones that have not flowered in years look amazing. It has been cold too, and our’ February Gold ‘daffodils which should be finished are still looking good. Lots of tulips seem to have avoided being eaten by squirrels and they should be out soon. We are thankful for our present good health and all that surrounds us.

Lois Woolley