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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It seems to have been such a strange summer. Somehow without all the usual summer activities there seems to have been no focus. All the days seem very much the same. A long weekend in August without fireworks, no Bard on the Beach or Theatre under the Stars – it is all very odd. The season has been a little unusual as well as we have had to wait so long for warm weather to arrive. The growth in the garden has been absolutely amazing and all the perennials seem to have reached a record height. The weeds in the vegetable garden are thriving as well. Like any year some things have really benefited from the wet weather and some look a little sad. The grass is still reasonably green and the beans are producing with enthusiasm but my pots with semi-tropicals are looking very sad.

Yesterday I managed to get an hour or two in the garden with no other responsibilities as my husband Peter was out. He is very frail these days and needs a lot of help. It was a good chance to get down to some dead heading and general clean up. The trouble with gardens is that one can’t “have it all”. I thought about that as I finished clearing up the last of the delphinium flowers. They do leave a bit of a gap at this time of year but one has to decide whether or not the wonderful blooms in June make all that worthwhile. On balance I think they do especially as we have lots of space. The gaps are really not very noticeable with all the other growth. Gardens like Sissinghurst get around this by having many small gardens within the main garden some of which look good at any one time but not all of them at once. Buchart always looks wonderful but they do it by having mostly annuals. I had no time to dig up the Dahlias as I was having hip surgery and was generally quite pleased with the colour distribution last year. Interestingly things seemed to have changed in that the white pompom variety has started to take over so that there will have to be changes at the end of the season.

The vegetables have been very productive and one of the big successes has been Bcoccolini. It is a natural hybrid between broccoli and gai lan and proved to be incredibly prolific and delicious. I got the seeds from West Coast seeds and found it a very good addition to the garden. The plants have now gone to seed and will come out next week. The Tayberries did very well and luckily my son-in-law was staying here and he did a great job with the picking. They are a raspberry /blackberry cross and seem to need a bit less sun than raspberries. They taste more like raspberries than blackberries. I got mine from Vesey’s catalogue and have not seen them for sale locally. They were hybridized in 1979 by someone living near the River Tay in Scotland. The winter squash have masses of leaves and flowers but I am not anticipating a huge harvest mostly because the season has been so late. There are lots of zucchinis for Peter and me especially because the daughter who has been staying does not like them – a bit inconvenient, actually!!! Now I am making some of them into soup which is always good to have in the freezer. The tomatoes are just starting to ripen and are most welcome. I am a bit annoyed as I grew dozens and sold them for garden club funds but when I looked at those left for us all the ‘Gardener’s Delight” had gone. Let’s hope they are doing well for the purchasers and the varieties left will not disappoint!

In spite of Covid we have had some family times with lots of social distancing. My little great granddaughter who turns 4 today is very interested in plants and loves to learn their names. Her Mother and Nana use their cell phones to help identification using ‘Leaf Snap’ which is a free App as long as one is prepared to put up with the advertisements. She is at the stage of germinating beans in a jar and planting easy seeds like Radishes but of course we hope that she will turn into a long term plant lover .When I was a bit older than her my sister and I both got our own gardens but as they were under a huge Maple tree they never came to much. I don’t remember us getting a lot of help with seeds etc but we must have done. My sister was supposed to come out from England this year but Covid put an end to this plan.

Let’s hope we can soon get back to some sort of interaction over gardens but in the mean time I just give thanks for having a wonderful outdoor space in which to feel safe.

Lois Woolley