28 April 2009

Romantic Permaculture and our Spring gardens

Califonian poppiesI've been talking a lot recently with my gardener friends about what's growing. Everyone's excited now that the earth is warming up and things are coming back to life and it's time for sowing and repotting and preparing the garden for the best growing season ever.

I'm a bit embarrassed sometimes because I want to share my joy at what's growing here and although the fruit trees and bushes and the self seeded Parsley and Coriander, the rhubarb and Artichokes and the seedlings are doing well, it's the flowering plants that give me the most pleasure.

There's no rule that says a self-sufficient gardener shouldn't have pretty flowers, wonderful shrubs or glorious climbers, so I'd like to celebrate not only the start of the growing season for the vegetable plot but also for the return of Spring and Summer colour, perfume and beauty in the garden.

As you know if you read this blog regularly, I'm basically a very practical person. As soon as I decide I want to live somewhere, I plan the house, the vegetable garden and the housing for the animals. In permaculture terms I'm ZONING, that is during the design process I'm thinking of walking and carrying things to and from different areas of activity. Things that need to be done regularly like opening the chickens, feeding the pigs and goats and making sure everyone has fresh water need to be near the house to make life easier.

Once that's done though, there's time to be more creative, more exuberant and I like to bring the garden together with little walkways full of shrubs, climbers and flowers and on our daily rounds of caring for the veg plot and the animals, we have the chance to walk through a paradise.

I love growing climbers which can be seen from inside the house and examined closer up as we walk on the terrace. This beautiful Chilean Potato Vine is flowering already and it's fast-growing branches mean that we'll have shade on the terrace this summer.

I've taken about thirty CUTTINGS from this plant and used it to hide the water butts and cover screens and fences in different parts of the garden. The cuttings take easily in water and if you'd like to see how fast it grows then click on THIS link for photos or this one for a SLIDESHOW.

I've never been a Rose person. I always thought that they were sickly inbred creatures who needed a lot of attention but few years ago I started a love affair with a Rose.


Lady banks RoseI wanted a fast growing shrub to cover the BANK AT THE BACK of the cellar to keep it cooler in the summer. Our gardener friend Andrew suggested the Lady Banks Rose. I had a look at the qualities of this plant - almost evergreen, thorn-less, fast growing, low maintenance and decided to plant one. It has far exceeded my expectations for the job in hand as well as being one of the joys of the Spring garden.

I've taken loads of cuttings from an old cherished Wisteria cutting I brought from the UK and now there are five substantial plants which are in flower at the moment.

We're lucky to have a lot of wood which we use all the time to make pergolas, sheds, screens and before a shed or pergola is up, I've already started getting excited about what I'm going to plant round it.

I make gardens because having beautiful things around to look at and watch changing, to smell and to enjoy - are more important than we think.

Smallholding means that our lives revolve around our land and animals. There are very few opportunities to go out and enjoy new fashions, surprises, culture and beauty, so everything we need to nourish not only our bodies, but also our senses, has to be on site.

All the "gardens" we've made here have been from scratch. Many of them, especially at the new house are still very much work in progress. I like the challenge of gardening on a very low budget and I enjoy taking the time to find interesting bits and pieces - some of them become treasures and some are sentimental. Almost all of them have a history or an association with a person or a place.

We've 100 acres of land, with valleys and woods and water, so there's lots of scope for wild areas and experiments with big projects. Huge plants and invasive species can be accommodated with ease and used in settings where they can enjoy freedom to grow to maturity and provide food, shelter and shade for wildlife.

Nature has taken over in some of our gardens because there's just not enough hours in the day to strim and trim. I used to worry, but now I just look and see what's happened since the last time I visited.

Magical surroundings can be created with seeds and cuttings and the odd delightful purchase of new plants and I can honestly say that I've never regretted planting something beautiful.

7 comments:

jaz said...

the more i see your place the more in awe i am of it. it is truly gorgeous! i too let areas of my gardens go wild. i created a forest in the city. i bought houses and demolished them and excavated the grounds. i brought in tons and tons of boulders and hundreds of trees. i planted every square inch of 2 acres. the first year or two it was manageable. then nature took over! so i decided that since i wanted a forest i would let it become a forest. i tend to certain areas and just sit back and watch what nature does with the rest. i even embrace some of the pretty flowering weeds. i have only been posting my original garden but will be posting pics of the forest soon. joyce

Angie Moore said...

Your gardening is a constant inspiration to me. I share your love of the springtime, but do admit to preferring the blossoms on fruit and veg that will feed us later on. That, of course, includes the wild fruit and nuts (damsons, elder, chestnuts, walnuts) not forgetting nettles and cow parsley for the wild life.

detroit dog said...

This is just a beautiful post, Irene.

jaz said...

hi again irene....i have been trying to figure out how to organize my seed packs. i have tried boxes and jars and i am still not happy. how do you organize yours? joyce

Stuart and Gabrielle said...

What a lovely post. It rang bells with me as we have sorted out all the practical things and have lovely fences, a great potatger and polytunnel and happy animals and chooks and now it's me who must create an intriguing and inspiring garden to link it all up. We haven't nearly as much land, just three acres around the house and a woodland down the road but I am still a bit daunted. I shall keep reading for inspiration!
PS How did your loofahs work out. Mine never really matures so i am trying again this year.
Best wishes
Gabrielle

MrsL said...

Nice post. I didn;t realise you had such an acreage - lots of room to play, with room to leave alone too! Great pictures as usual, thanks.

MrsL

xx

laura said...

You've inspired me to make our garden more beautiful. I have a pretty harsh attitude to plants that have not edible or usfull value but I can see how much more enjoyable working or looking at the garden would be taking your approach. I've got the space so I'll try adding some beauty this year.
Thanks for the inspiration you garden is wonderful.

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