A Golden September

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Desdemona

Some people adore the height of Summer in June and July when the garden is performing at its peak and it has to be said that it is glorious with the sumptuous excess of roses, delphiniums and phlox flowering in all of their glory but for me September can be even better.

Golden Septembers are not guaranteed

You don’t always get that golden Summer when it’s gloriously hot but when you do I think that it’s special.  What do I love so much about September? Well it is a time to be grateful for the gifts that natures bestows upon us.  It is a time of picking the last peaches and the first apples and pears, of harvesting the last of the summer crops from the vegetable garden, it is a time of plenty.  It’s also the time when the last few roses put on a dazzling display of beauty and I think that I enjoy them so much more because they stand out as beautiful highlights in the garden.

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Brother Cadfael

For me it is also the time to take a breath now that things have slowed down a little, I can step back from the manic duties of Summer and see how the garden has developed in those Summer months.

The big surprise of this Summer

The biggest surprise for me this Summer has been the roses, as many of you will know, we planted a new rose garden this year and it has done exceptionally well.  I have some varieties that have grown to a height of 6 feet or more, which really is incredible in their first year.  Olivia Rose Austin (1st picture above) is a perfect example, David Austin say that this rose generally grows to about 1.25 metres high and yet mine is standing at 6 feet tall, shows no signs of slowing down and is flowering for the 3rd time this year.  It has also been extremely healthy and has shown no signs of disease. he David Austin size guidelines are for the UK and in warmer climates they will grow taller and bigger.

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Olivia Rose Austin

Just look at this perfectly formed rose and also see how healthy the leaves are, it has not been sprayed at all.

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Harlow Carr

This rose, Harlow Carr, I planted in a group of 3, as recommended by David Austin, this is a rose that does so much better in the ground than in a pot, it creates a tall, bushy rose with lots of dainty pink roses that are highly perfumed.  In my opinion it would be a perfect variety for creating a scented rose hedge, I also like Rusosa “Wild Edric” for this purpose.

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Wollerton Old Hall

This is a climbing rose of great beauty, it is one the best scented climbing roses and repeat flowers all summer.

Living off the garden – is that not the dream?

 

At the moment we are able to get all that we need to eat from the garden.  It is so rewarding picking and eating fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden, I feel like we are living like kings!  The pears are absolutely fantastic, sweet and juicy, as are the peaches. We are still harvesting and eating fresh courgettes but we also have enough preserved in jars to last us the winter, along with peas, beans and herbs.  So I think that September is a time to be grateful, a time to be thankful that we live somewhere that we can grow fresh fruit and vegetables and grow beautiful flowers.  Is there a chance that we will end up taking it all for granted? Never.

When Winter comes

When Winter comes I promise not to moan about how cold it is or about how much snow there is, instead I will remember, as I open up a jar of some preserved goody, how wonderful the Summer was, how kind and how generous the garden and nature have been to us.  Does that alone not make this wonderful planet worth saving?

My next post will be showcasing the David Austin roses that will be available in March here at The Moosbach Garden.

We have a small selection of roses for sale at a reduced price (25 euros) a saving of 3,95 Euros.  They are all in flower and make an ideal gift for a friend (or yourself)!

Picking fresh fruit from your own garden makes all the hard work worth while

Today it’s fresh and juicy peaches and they will all be ripening in the next couple of weeks, we tried one yesterday and it was fantastic.

What’s ripening next?

Next will come the apples and then the pears. We will eat some of the apples fresh from the tree and the rest we turn into juice and most importantly cider!

You can’t beat a nice pear

Pears can take a while to ripen and you can tell when they are ready by pressing the skin near the stalk, if it is soft here then they are ripe.

New fruit varieties for small gardens

If you have a small garden space or even a sunny balcony don’t despair as there are lots of new dwarf varieties which you can grow.

I’d like to talk more about this topic but I have fresh peaches to eat.

Time for environmental revolution

It is snowing again at the Moosbach Garden, it feels like it has been snowing for months and I have to admit that I’m feeling a little bit like a caged animal. Bramble, my 4 legged confidant and helper is feeling likewise.  You might suspect from his name that Bramble is a labrador or sheepdog but he is in fact a black cat.  I recollect that he acquired the name because deep down my life partner wanted a dog.

Bramble definitely has ideas far above his station, he is the son of a farm cat but I think in a previous life he was a lady of leisure.  He has literally fallen on his feet and he’s going to milk the situation for all he can get.   He likes a delicate head massage and is especially fond of lying on his back under a warm lamp, so far he hasn’t demanded additional Spa treatments but it’s coming – trust me.

I’ve been reflecting on nature and the environment these last few days and it strikes me that the more I garden the more I think about the impact we have on the planet.  When I first came to live in Germany I was stunned by the large numbers of bees, bumble bees and butterflies that there were.  When I lived in the UK I was used to the fact that declining insect populations were inevitable but it’s not the case.  Many people think that the individual cannot play their part in turning the tide of declining populations but it’s simply untrue.

I do believe that governments have a part to play in eradicating the use of harmful chemicals and plastics but it is also true that individual action has an equally important role to play.  When I grew up  I was used to the fact that if you had unwanted weeds in your garden then you popped down to your local garden centre and purchased weed killer.  I think it has become a culturally acceptable way of dealing with a problem, regardless of the environmental impact, it’s advertised as an easy solution. We live in a world where we are presented with so-called easy solutions but not what the long-term consequences are. There are always consequences.

Here in Germany it is not part of the culture to use harmful chemicals and quick-fix solutions to eradicate weeds and bugs or not to recycle as much as possible.  Most drinks that you buy in bottles here come with a deposit and it is a normal, everyday occurrence to see people returning empty crates to supermarkets or beverage shops.

We all complain about it but it’s time to start doing something other than moan.  Get rid of all of your weed killers and start digging weeds out by hand, plant more companion plants that deter unwanted insects and bugs and stop using cheap plastic pots in the garden.  You can still use plastic pots if you want  but instead of buying those cheap, thin plastic pots that break after a year or less buy something of a better quality that lasts for years, this is both cheaper in the long-term and more environmentally friendly.  I was looking at buying seed trays the other day and was horrified at the array of cheap thin Plastic seeds trays that won’t last 5 minutes and will be relegated to landfill.  I remember as a child a relative who was a gardener for a big country house who grew all of the plants for the large garden from seed in robust seed trays, raked up the leaves in the autumn and made leaf mold compost.  So I say let’s stop doing what is easy and start doing what is right.  Look at what is environmentally sustainable and play your part in making that happen.

It is amazing how quickly the changes that you make take effect, given a chance nature and wildlife will recover.  Remember, when you create a garden you are creating a living ecosystem. The more plants that a garden has the more insects it has and the more birds it has.  It’s all about the food chain and I believe you can suffer a few plant casualties in order to restore natures balance.  Since we have been developing the Moosbach Garden a nature revolution has been taking place. Admittedly there were already a good number of bees, bumble bees and butterflies here but now there are more, there are more insects in the garden and therefore more birds and in greater diversity.  We also have more geckos, more frogs and more hedgehogs, more of everything. We have been here 4 years, that is such a short space of time but the change in a large one.  Species of wildlife that weren’t here when we moved in have come back.  Apart from the obvious feel good factor of knowing that you have helped restore the natural balance of things, you get blown away by how amazing  and how beautiful that insect is. What a privilege it is to encounter that dragonfly or marvel at the industrious droning of bees happily collecting nectar whilst pollinating flowers.  That is something we should protect for future generations, for ourselves, for the planet.

Here’s my list of things to do from now and forever:-
  1. Stop using any weed killers, pesticides or poisonous chemicals in your garden
  2. Investigate alternative methods like companion planting and weeding by hand
  3. Stop using cheap plastic pots and trays, either use terracotta pots or invest in more expensive, more robust, reusable trays and pots that will last for decades
  4. Recycle more garden waste, make your own compost, make leaf mold compost
  5. Collect the seeds from your own garden, store them and use the them following year, swap seeds with neighbours and other gardeners
  6. Grow some fruit and Vegetables using nothing but soil, natural fertilizers and home-made compost. There are very productive fruit tree varieties available now for small spaces as well as for larger gardens.  If you have space look at growing older varieties so that they are not lost forever.

There are many things that we can all do now, today, that have an immediate impact on our present and on our future.  As consumers we have the ultimate power to influence large corporations and government.  If we all went back to using a milkman who delivers milk in glass bottles and who collects the empties that are then reused, how long do you think it would be before the big supermarkets stopped stocking plastic bottles of milk?  For as long as we continue to buy produce contained in plastic they will keep producing it.  Next time you go shopping look at what you are buying.

Here’s my list of shopping do’s and don’ts :-
  1. Don’t buy anything in plastic that you could buy in glass or isn’t going to be recycled.
  2. Look at how much packaging there is on a product, what happens to that packaging after you’ve consumed what is in it, make an informed choice
  3. Buy produce that has been grown locally, reducing the environmental foot print, buy produce that’s in season locally and support local smaller producers
  4. Buy smaller quantities of food that you know you’ll use and that you won’t end up throwing away
  5. Take your own material bags for packing your shopping
  6. Cook more meals from raw ingredients, break the cycle of convenience food and live additive and preservative free, it doesn’t take as much time or effort as you think.

I think most of us agree that there is climate change and that something radicle needs to happen, it’s time to stop hoping that the governments of the world will make it happen.  Governments are influenced by large corporations and big business – it’s a fact. So be the change and be the change now.  We all need to take responsibility for ourselves, our choices and our wonderful planet.

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