As I walk around garden, I think of great stuff to blog about. Then when I sit down to do a post, I forget them all! I really must get into the habit of carrying a notebook around in my pocket to jot down ideas. I can’t even blame my advancing years on these lapses of memory, since I’ve always had a brain like a sieve. It’s raining today, so I’ve settled myself to catch up. I blog really as a way of writing a diary of the garden progress, but it’s nice to know people may read and learn from my experiences and mistakes. I like to thing of you all gardening away on the other side of the virtual fence.
The other day my sister, a keen gardener, did one of those round robin Facebook challenges of posting something from the garden every day. She nominated me to take part, but I never got round to it although I did take some photos and thought about what I’d include each day. Instead of posting them day by day, I’ll do it here:
So a photo for every day of the week:
This is a Scilla Peruviana. To my shock and awe when I first came here, because I just couldn’t believe my eyes, it grows wild here under the carob trees! And long may it continue to attract the bees and insects, although many of the extraordinary habitats here are threatened by the cleaning of large areas of the serra/mata for carob or orange plantations. I have some growing in my garden, but only because a friend and neighbour found some bulbs uprooted by one of these diggers and rescued them for me.
Giant Globe artichokes
I have globe artichokes coming out of my ears. Or should that be earwigs coming out of my globe artichokes! The plants are gigantic and I grew them from seed. I need a ladder to pick the globes. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised really, because cardoons and large thistles grow very well hereabouts. The Portuguese use the flower petals of the cardoons as a sort of rennet to make the local sheep’s or goat’s cheese set. Unfortunately, although I love globe artichokes, they are full of earwigs, which I detest. The other day some friends arrived from the UK just as I was putting them in a pot to boil to make globe artichoke salad for lunch. Although I’d banged them out before bringing them in, there were still loads struggling very vehemently against a watery death and my guests were greeted to me hopping about the kitchen doing battle with the little varmints. Not a great advert for lunch!
A Dutch Iris
Irises grow very well in my sunny garden. I have planted many, in honour of a very dear friend, who loved them with a passion. Athough she has gone to the Great Garden in the Sky, I feel she walks about with me as I work in the garden. She was never shy of giving advice and I frequently feel I hear her telling me I need to be bolder with colour or more daring in my planting. I love the colour of this iris which is called “Tiger’s Eye” It has just the sort of exotic colours she liked and I’m sure she’d approve of it. I share it in her memory. I miss her in my world.
Some of my lettuces have been so beautiful this year I can hardly bear to eat them! Lettuces are a bit touch and go in hot climates, and frequently bolt. I bought these as plug plants in the local market, where you can get 15 plants for a euro, and planted them in a sunny spot a couple of months ago and they have done really well. The leaves have that slightly bitter taste you don’t get in the hydroponically grown offerings in the supermarket. And if you manage to grow them in between one rainfall in the winter and another before the snails and butterflies have woken up yet, you can get away with little damage, although I did cover these with horticultural fleece, which Ive since discovered disintegrates in hot sun.
Fasciating Aida! This is an Echium Candicans or The Pride of Madeira doing something weird called Fasciation. It should grow into a tall blue spire, but the cells get confused, something to do with slightly too rapid growth and this weird thickening and twisting happens to the flower. I find fasciation fascinating, but not everyone likes it to happen to their plants. It doesn’t happen every year and I watch it in amazement! Google it if you’d like to know more, I’m not too sure of the science of it. The flower should be like those in in this photo, spire like. A beautiful plant that grows like a weed in Madeira on the hills.
Large, Medium and Tiny eggs
These are three eggs laid by my chickens. The first ibelons to Lady Henrietta. She laid huge eggs. Unfortunately she’ll never lay an egg for me again as we had to kill her kindly this morning as she had been ill for a week and my nursing wasn’t making her any better. She went the way of all my hybrid hens, all dying of egg peritonitis in the end, caused by the fact that they are bred to be egg laying machines and it’s all too much for their bodies eventually. But she lived a good life; four years for a hybrid hen is a very long time and she went from being the bottom hen to Chief Chicken in that time. I stroked her head, shed a tear, looked her in the eye and thanked her for her life and eggs, as I always do when we have to cull a hen and with Senor Faztudo’s help we dispatched her quickly with the garden loppers. I hate it, but it has to be done as part of a responsible chicken keeper’s job. Unfortunatey I doubt someone will be able to afford me such kindness when it’s my turn to go (although I’d rather it wasn’t by garden loppers of course, could get a bit messy!)
On to happier subjects! The second egg is from my bantam hen, Miss Henny. Mrs Chicken , my rather unreliable broody, is sitting on nine of her eggs right now and if we don’t have any mishaps, we may have new life in the garden by next Wednesday. I do hope so. I am learning all the time and although I haven’t hatched a brood yet, I’m hoping this will be third time lucky.
The third egg is a witch’s egg! Or that’s what some people call them and superstitious people won’t have them in the house. It’s a teeny, tiny egg with no yolk. I’m fascinated by them, but glad they don’t lay them too often, usually in the Spring after a period of being off lay.
Finally here’s a photo from God’s Garden for Sunday. The wild orchids are all around us here and you can see from this shot how similar they are to bees. Bless them! I love the way they just pop up at you on a walk and surprise you. I hope I will always be surprised and delighted by them and never take them for granted. And that’s the end of the Gardening Weekly. I just remembered I was going to write about my latest passion, perennial vegetables. I’ll get on with that then…