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Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

We recently went to visit the Engineer’s godmother on her family farm. We had a lovely walk up to a little wood where there are beautiful bluebells growing wild. She tells me that there are two types of bluebell that grow in the UK – wild English bluebells that are protected and special and Spanish incomer bluebells that are driving the genuine article out. A bit like grey squirrels, I guess.

Since we have bluebells in our Vicarage garden I then wanted to work out which ones we have. Since not all are blue (we also have whitebells and lilacbells) I suspect they are the Spanish variety. What do you think?

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It’s our second spring in the Vicarage and this year I am planning vegetables. I’ve been inspired by Alys Fowler and her Edible Garden series on BBC2 (tho’ I’ve not watched as much of it as I’d like due to a lack of tv licence and running out of broadband download). I would like her hair, dresses and funny little dog. And garden, obviously.

Only a few plants were munched by the evil slugs...

So far I have planted masses of seeds in a plastic greenhouse (see pics) and fended off a some evil slugs who had a chomp when the first rain arrived after planting. I have ordered the Vicar about with a spade and he has kindly dug up small parts of a couple of our massive herbaceous borders so I have veggie space. He also planted out the sweet pea plants I succumbed to in the garden centre.

Normally he is the gardener and has managed a couple of allotments in our time in Vicar college and in curacy. Now he is generally too busy to do much gardening and has said that I have to be in charge. This is a new experience for me (in the garden, at least).

Since I’m so bad at housework, gardening has always seemed like an excessive luxury. Why tidy the garden when the house is such a mess? But I’m desperate for home-grown veggies so am attempting to do some growing this year. Hopefully with some help from my husband, who actually enjoys gardening when he’s out there. The kids love it as well, the Queen in particular. She’s in the school ‘EcoClub’ and spends almost every lunchtime gardening in the school’s new allotment.

Waiting in the ‘greenhouse’ for planting out I currently have the following:

  • Sweetcorn
  • Radishes
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Broad beans
  • Runner beans
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Courgettes
  • Sunflowers
  • Er…I think that’s it just now

Our main veggie space for this season - starting small

Planting out is this weekend’s project. And fighting the slugs. Three little ones climbed into the greenhouse just after planting and sampled a good few of my germinating plants. Evil blighters. We moved the greenhouse out of the long grass and surrounded it with ash from the fire, which seems to have kept them off so far. The advice for planting out is used coffee grounds to keep them off. So I’m tanking myself up on caffeine for Saturday…

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Whilst I was away on a fab conference last week, the weather went all spring-like. This is normally an indicator of sprouting snow drops and daffs, of nesting birds and budding trees. But here in the Vicarage, Spring is heralded by the chirupping of the front door bell. Especially on Saturdays.

When I answer the door, I am confronted by two, three or even four hopeful looking little faces:

Can we come and play?

And so I’m dusting off the garden rules (no one in the garden if they’ve not said ‘hello’ to me, only one bouncer on the trampoline at a time, your mum must know that you’re at the Vicarage etc) and counting heads and enjoying (usually) happy squealing. And that’s it for the next eight months or so, with brief intermissions for bad weather. Now, where are my gardening gloves?

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I’m not sure how many people is a crowd, but we did have 15 children in our garden on Saturday afternoon. A sunny day always draws the masses, but after the 20th (I am not exaggerating) ring on the doorbell, I did begin to get a little hysterical.

Thankfully, some of the kids were there with their mums, which meant I was able to sit outside and enjoy a coffee with them and not feel that I had sole supervision responsibility. The bigger kids who were after bike mending spanners did not gain garden admittance. But they rang at least four times.

The trampoline can get a little crowded

The trampoline can get a little crowded

We have the largest garden in the neighbourhood, a trampoline and a monkey swing and sociable kids, so it’s no surprise that they all want to come and play. Folk don’t arrange playdates or invite their children’s friends over for tea in the inner city – the kids seem to arrange the social diaries themselves. If I’m feeling up to it I’ll let most of them in, but I’m feeling a need to reapply my Vicarage and garden entry rules. Am I missing any?

  1. No entry without me seeing you come in.
  2. No entry if my kids are not in the mood.
  3. No entry if I haven’t met your mum/nan/carer (I didn’t apply this rigorously enough yesterday).
  4. You go home when I say.
  5. Shoes off indoors.
  6. Be kind to everyone.
  7. Speak in a way that pleases God.

We want to be hospitable to the local children – we have a hospitable God who invites us to eat at his table, and we want to reflect his character. It’s a challenge for me to be graciously inviting all the time though. And so on Sunday I lacked grace with a doorstep caller. I am praying that I will remember God’s welcome more and more so that I am able to share it in increasing measure.

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More blooms are appearing in the Vicarage Garden. Since this blog got tweeted yesterday, lots of new people have been visiting the Vicarage and I’m hoping that some of them are gardeners.

So, after success with the last identify-a-flower game, here are some more mysterious plants that I’d love to know the names of. Once they have a name I think they are less intimidating. Though I still only really get gardening when there are so many kids in the garden that I think there’ll be an accident unless I supervise.

Yesterday I failed to go out and my kids had a major blow out with each other cos the trampoline was full and the Queen wouldn’t let her brothers on. And there were only seven children in the garden – this is a low number for our garden. Ten is my must-supervise number.

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