23 May 2012

All that glisters is not gold

Lady's Mantle Alchemilla mollis
My garden is a treasure trove on an early May morning. A mist overnight, still humid morning air, the promise of warmth at last and the Lady's Mantle bejewelled (be-dewelled?): each gem a glistening droplet caught on a fine hair.

Lady's Mantle, Alchemilla mollis, can become a bit over-exuberant, seeding itself all over the place, but I wouldn't be without it, and on a morning when the leaves are like this, I forgive and forget its louche habits. Anyway, my garden is full of self-seeders and I love the serendipity of having them in there - Briza minor (a small annual grass that has seed heads that remind us of tiny Trilobites), Meconopsis cambrica (the Welsh poppy that my father gave me years ago, with a health warning that I'd curse him for it as it spreads so freely... I don't, it does, and still I love it: the egg-yolk yellow heads punctuating the garden, showing up in wholly unexpected places), Carex pendula, and oregano, which truly is a bit of a weed, but one that becomes its very own bee-loud glade in high summer.

Away from the garden, there was a lot of activity on the allotment over the last little while. We now have something in each of the four 'beds', though not all the seeds that I've sown are showing up yet; but with the cold weather we've had in May, who could be surprised? We've also added some netting as a fence of sorts for shelter from the wind, the beginnings of a compost heap, a tiny pond (a puddle really), and DM is still digging away, realising now the horrors of scutch grass and bindweed. The county council have also been busy, some of which busyness we could do without, to be honest - I won't get into it here. Anyway, many thanks for all the hard work to DM, BvG and SOT. So far, we've spuds, onions, broad beans, snow peas, peas, courgettes and lettuce holding their own. I took a chance and put in some corn too. The early potatoes got burnt by a late frost in mid-May (yes, you read that correctly, mid-May) but I think they'll recover. It's very clayey soil, I've never worked anything like it before; heavy clods when it's wet, hard as concrete when it's dry. It's stony too, in parts, and I begin to mutter quotes from Kavanagh under my breath ("stony grey soil...") when I'm grappling with it. We're going to need a lot of compost to set it right. Still, we've come a long way from the weedy plot we first tackled in March:

Remember this? A weedy plot in early Spring
DM did mighty work digging it over (March)
The meitheal put in the beds and here they are this week;
potatoes and onions coming up
As well as beds, every allotment needs chairs and a table
for the visitors: just about visible here (thanks SOT)
The puddle - we're hoping some frogs
will move it and feast on slugs
I'm enjoying it though: sometimes I'm up there on my own, sometimes with a meitheal of us, each doing something different. The physical work is different from the day-job, and the rhythms of weeding, digging, and hauling water feel good.

It wasn't all work this week: we also headed out to the Wicklow hills to stretch the eyes beyond suburban horizons that often feel too close; the gorse/furze was bright and letting loose its sweet coconut scent onto the air, the water in the cool places was clear, the ferns healthy, and in the remains of a cut forest, there was a reminder that life constantly regenerates. 

The yellow flare of furze
Water cools
Begin again
It's an early post this week as we're off to Prague for a few days. Looking forward to it...

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