One of the factors of climate change is ever increasing Summer temperatures. I’ve noticed here in The Moosbach Garden that everything just stops growing when the temperature is above 35 Celcius. We can have an extended period here in June, July and August when it can reach up to 45 Celcius. Now it has to be acknowledged that high temperatures do not affect all plants equally and that is something that we will need to factor into our garden planning.
Research and experimentation will lead to innovation or changing of plant choices
For gardeners this is really something to be worrying about. If we are to maintain our current planting schemes then we need to think about how we keep our plants hydrated, how we reduce water evaporation and the cost of doing so. With ever increasing world temparatures and human populations water is going to become a prime commodity. The food industry will have to assess how it is going to produce enough food for growing populations with increasing temperatures and decreasing availability of water. The United Kingdom post Brexit will also have to think about supplying home grown food to its population. I think that the 1980’s under Margaret Thatcher were disasterous for British Farming and the Manufacturing Industry and the United Kingdom became a supplier of mostly service industries. All of this will have to change, currently over 60% of food consumed in the United Kingdom comes from abroad, primarily Europe.
So it is clear that not only the United Kingdom but all Countries will need to start growing enough food to feed their own populations and locally, climate change will necessitate this and it’s a good thing. What food is grown will need to be researched and I guess that diets will have to change as increasing temperatures dictate what farmers can reliably grow, year in, year out. There are certainly challenging times ahead of us.
Horticultural innovation may find sollutions to these worrying issues, let’s remember that the Human race has adapted and evolved. The speed of change since the 1950’s has been incredible but so has it’s impact on the planet. Will the future resemble our science fiction films, will we create domed environments with controlled temperatures optimal for growing food or will we revert back to a more balanced, planet friendly model? Your guess is as good as mine.
So now that I’ve cheered you all up I am going to sign off and go and talk to the chickens who don’t worry about such things.
As I sit in my garden office, which looks out over the top garden, I stare out of the window at the heavy rain pouring down from the heavens above and I feel an impending sense of ending, of closure.
I can understand why some people suffer from depression during the long Winter months when there is less light and importantly less sunlight but life like any great story must have sunlight and shadow. In the garden, as in life, there must be moments of joyous elation and moments of sadness and they need their opposites so that we can appreciate them for what they are. For what are the garden triumphs without the untold failures?
Winter in the Moosbach Garden
Winter can be a long affair here in The Moosbach Garden, we often plunge to -18 degrees Celcius and we can get snow for up to 4 months. I always remind myself that everything has its season, it’s time. Seeds can be like the heart after the ending of a relationship, they need that period of cold to prepare themselve for the springing of new love or the springtime to grow into something beautiful. We shouldn’t be too sad, it’s a natural process.
Winter has it’s advantages for us gardeners. we can catch up on the piles of gardening books that we bought in the Summer and takle those major landscaping jobs that are impossible to do when the garden is in full growth. For me, most importantly, it’s a time to breath, to look out over the garden and the forest beyond, to try and resolve where my place is in this wonderous world. I’m still pondering on that one to be honest, maybe my place is to be a perpetual wonderer.
Autumn is transitional
For me, Autumn is always bitter-sweet. On the one hand it marks the end of warm days working in the garden, of butterflies and bees, an end to curious passers-by staring through the garden gate to admire the summer flowers and the end of all but the hardiest of rose blooms but on the other hand it allows for reflection, both peronally and horticulturally. It’s been a glorious Summer here with just the right amounts of sunshine and rain, it’s not too many years that we can say that. The garden has been a riot of colourful flowers for months but now these things are being replaced by the glorious display of Autumn colour in the garden. I have a feeling when the leaves have all turned to red and gold and the rain washes down from above that it’s like doing the dishes after an amazingly decendent dinner party where everything was just perfect but the party is over. It is but a fleeting moment and in a few weeks when all the leaves have fallen we can see the garden for what it truly is, the bare bones like the skeleton of a dearly missed friend. The wonderous difference being that this friend is only sleeping. My advice is enjoy the moment, relish in the wonder of nature and mother earth, allow yourself to breath and let the pains of life leave you like frosted breath. Treat yourself to a garden pause before the work of putting the garden to bed. Feed your soul.
Now is a good time for reviewing the garden and foreward planning to help mother earth
Autumn is the perfect time for moving plants around in the garden, including dividing some perennials like phlox but I also like to use the time to think about what changes I can make next year to reduce my carbon footprint, to help nature and pollinating insects.
You can’t escape from hearing about climate change, it’s constantly on the news but I wonder how many people watch it and take no action to help. Here in the Moosbach Garden we are constantly updating our methods to be more nature and environment friendly, we still commit sins but we are working on doing better.
We grow 60% of our fruit and vegetables here and preserve what we can for the winter months, no road or air miles has got to be a good start to reducing our carbon footprint right? We are growing more from seeds and cuttings and using less poor quality, short lifespan plastics. I’d like to say that we were plastic free but we decided to use existing robust plastic which will not end up in landfill in a few months. Becoming environment friendly is a process like therapy and takes time but the first step is acknowledging that we have a problem.
We are sowing a wild flower meadow for next year and more trees and flowers for pollinators, as well as making our own plant fertiliser from Comfrey. Again, no chemicals, no plastics, no road miles. If you are interested in making your own organic plant feeds there are many articles and videos online. Nettle tea and comfrey tea are both excellent fertilisers.
Please join us in our committement to only buying locally sourced foods, in season and with no packaging, together we can make a difference and help our local communities and the planet at the same time.
We are all capable of change, my sister even baked a cake this week, she has a kitchen because it came with the house. Cake looked pretty amazing too.
Right, I’m off to feed the chickens and collect eggs. I wish you all much hapiness.
August is that time of year when the garden is looking a little unruly after the wonderful display it put on in June and July but you will be surprised by how much tidier it will look after what is effectively a short, back and sides.
All plants, shrubs and trees respond well to a good pruning, it stimulates fresh and vigorous new growth. However, you shouldn’t just prune everything in the garden willy nilly. Perennial plants are fairly easy, as are roses but flowering shrubs are a little more tricky as are the one time flowering older varieties of rose. Here is my quick guide on late Summer pruning.
Modern varieties of roses (those that repeat flower) can be pruned at any time of year, although the main pruning should occur early in the year when the first buds appear. I water my roses continuously when they are in active growth (April-October) and I find that this results in vigorous growth and more flowers, so the occasional haircut keeps things in order. This Summer there has been a decent amount of rainfall so you might find that by August you have a few stems that are a bit leggy and it really is a good idea to reduce these down the the height of the other stems. It maintains a good shape and will promote flowers uniformly on the plant rather than just on the longer stems. Always prune to just above a leaf joint as this is where the growth node is for the next flower. Keep the cut tight to the leaf joint, cutting higher results in die-back which will turn brown and be dead wood which can allow fungal infections to develop. This method I generally use with Bush roses but you can also use the same technique with climbing roses but don’t reduce the stems by much are long arching stems is what we are going for. With climbing roses I usually only cut stems back by 1 or 2 leaf joints. With Ramblers just cut off an inch or two below the finished flower heads. If you are unsure you can send me a photo of the rose and I will give you my opinion.
I tend to just keep on top of dead-heading perennials unless they are really scruffy and the thing with perennials is that they all need pruning differently to promote late-Summer flowering. Here are just a few to give you an idea, others you can look up on the Internet or you can ask me directly.
Phlox – simply cut just below the spent flowerhead and this will promote new flower development. Do not cut them down to the base, that’s a Spring job.
Delphiniums – Cut then off at ground level and new, albeit smaller flower spikes will develop.
Lupins – after seed pods have started to develop cut back to a leaf joint below the seed pods and a new flower should develop from here.
The pruning of flowering shrubs all depends upon whether they flower on new wood or wood from the previous year. Forsythia is a prime example, it flowers on the previous years growth, if you must cut it then only prune a 3rd of stems otherwise you will have no flowers next spring. In reality, the ideal time to prune forsythia is just after it has flowered, allowing time for new flower bearing growth to occur. Lavender should be cut back hard at this time of year to prevent it becoming woody, I use a special lavender pruning tool but you can also use a pair of secateurs, prune to just above the start of the green shoots,this will encourage bushy growth and an abundance of flowers next year. My best advice on flowering shrubs is to treat each type as unique and to check in gardening books or online first.
Pruning now will tidyup the garden and promote more flowers, thereby extending interest in the garden well into Autumn. Now is also a good time to label plants that need moving in the autumn, I use blank white plant labels, the type that fixes around the stems which I write on with a permanent marker pen.
And now a few words from the wise, generally the women in my family…..(and my thoughts)
If the house is untidy just put away 30 things, by the time you are finished you will be amazed how much better it looks and it doesn’t take that long. Personally I think this is a trick to make me do housework.
The garden will look 100% better if you cut the grass, in my opinion Mothers are wiley creatures and will try anything to encourage sons to do work.
It will only take 5 minuites, pfah I say after 2 hours.
Let’s clean out that cupboard together, this in my opinion means I work and you supervise, note to self, never trust sisters.
Happy Gardening and I would loveto see pictures of your gardens
It has to be said that on the whole gardening for a living is a pretty laid-back existence especially when you compare it to the stress of the corporate world but it does have its moments. Last year in the Black Forest was very hot and dry and these were the perfect conditions for a certain type of beatle that make their home under to bark of trees. The result of this infestation is death for the tree and all around us in the forest we have heard the sound of busy forest workers removing the affected trees, removal of the trees reduces the spread of the beatle. This was quite a blow for the forest as we had already lost a good number of trees early in the year. The snowfall this year was not as excessive as in some years but it was very heavy and wet. Yes I know that snow is made from water before anybody advises me of the fact but wet snow is much heavier than dry snow and this resulted in many trees breaking in half. We also have an infection of Asian Box Tree caterpillars in our box hedging. All of this might make any lesser gardener hang up their gardening gloves and call it a day but we gardeners are made of tough stuff and are not so easily deterred. It just makes us work harder so that we can overcome these minor setbacks. That’s life!
The Latest News from The Moosbach Garden
Well, it has to be said that there is quite a lot going on at the moment some are good and some are not so good but it’s all about balance, right?
So the goose has been sitting on her clutch of 10 eggs for 5 weeks but nothing has hatched, so something has probably gone wrong or the eggs were not fertile but I’ve decided to let her come to that conclusion herself and in her own good time.
Bramble, our resident cat has been very busy controlling the mouse population and has graciously allowed us to carry on living here.
The sheep, who are an English breed called Shropshire, are growing nicely and doing a good job grazing our fields.
The older chickens are not laying very much but I don’t have the heart to kill them so they continue to live in The Moosbach Garden retirement home for chickens, the young chickens that we bred this year are due to start laying by the end of this month and will start to earn their keep.
The exciting news is that we have a new addition to The Moosbach Garden family, a gorgeous Border Collie puppy called Luna. She is only 8 weeks old and has only been here for 24 hours but has already succeeded in turning our world upside down.
We are proud to announce that The Moosbach Garden will now be open to the Public on Wednesday afternoons from 12:00-18:00 and on the first Sunday of every month (April-October). Visitors can view the garden, enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake and buy top quality plants from The Moosbach Garden. On the 25th August we have an open day and you can pre-book our famous English Afternoon Tea, numbers are limited so we would recommend booking early. To book your place please visit our website by clicking here. Please note that you must pre-book for this event.
We can still be found at the Oberkirch outdoor market every Wednesday from 08:00-12:00 next to the coffee stand, please come and say “Hello” if you are in the area, we love meeting new people. As always, gardening questions are welcome, just don’t ask me about Brexit or Football!
The first flush of roses are mainly over now and they should be producing buds for their second flowering and the perennial plants that came after them may be past their best but there are many jobs that you can do now to tidy up the garden and extend the flowering season. You can do all of these now unless you intend to collect the seeds for growing next year.
Repeat flowering roses should have their spent blooms cut back to just above the next leaf joint, this is where the new growth and next flowers come from, we do this weekly so that all of the energy goes into producing new flowers and not rose hips. It is also a good time to add a little rose feed so that the next flowers are as beautiful as the first. For roses that only flower once we recommend not removing the spent flowers and allowing the roses to produce beautiful hips which will look stunning when frosted in the Winter and provide food for birds. Now is also a good time to tie-in climbing roses whilst the stems are still pliable, please note never tie in the last 6 inches of the stems as this will inhibit growth. Also check standard roses, removing any shoots coming out below the graft and any from under the ground as these are from the root stock and will take all of the energy which you want to go to the grafted rose at the top.
Phlox is a stunning plant but as the flower heads fade they can look a little scruffy. However, you can get them to flower again by cutting off the spent flower heads just below the flowers but above the next flower buds. Be careful though as the new buds are quite close to the spent flower heads.
These majestic plants can produce a second set of flowers in late Summer if you cut the stems down to the ground and give them a good feed. They should flower in late August to September although the flowers will not be as tall as the first blooms.
Lupins have mainly finished flowering now but if you cut off the spend flowers at the next leaf joint this will promote new flower buds to develop.
Wysteria will benefit from pruning back to 7 leaf joints from last years growth, this will be hard wood and this years will be green and supple.
Deadheading all perennials that have finished flowering will promote new growth and some flowers, all of which will extend your flowering season. Provide supports for any drooping plants. We also recommend walking around your garden and taking some photographs and cast a critical eye over all your planting areas and make notes of plants that need moving or dividing in the Winter if they have outgrown their spot. A good exercise is to take photographs of your garden throughout the year so that you can see where you can improve interest all year round, they are great to look at in the depths of Winter when you can’t get outside. A garden should always be a work in progress and evolve over many years. Don’t forget to take time to sit and enjoy your beautiful garden that you and nature have created together.
The environment and climate change are on most peoples minds these days and rightly so as we seem to be hastening towards the destruction of the planet and ourselves along with it. With changing weather patterns comes ever increasing temperatures and concerns about water. For me, the answer has to come in a localised and environmentally friendly form. Quick fixes should become a thing of the past and must be replaced by sustainable solutions. I’m afraid I have become a little like a reformed smoker and am annoyingly self-righteous about all things environment (I’m very sorry).
The biggest problems that we face in The Moosbach Garden are keeping the plants from drying out and keeping on top of the weeds. We have always been reluctant to mulch the garden over fears of the soil becoming too acidic for many of the plants but then we saw a video on YouTube that got us thinking. Last year we were watering the garden every other day for 6 hours solid and although the garden was coming along nicely we felt it could be doing so much better.
The video in question was rather long at 3 hours but it inspired us to trial the approach in The Moosbach Garden. The video was by a man who had purchased a ranch near Boston in the USA. The ground was mostly rock and not much was growing, so he covered the whole property in bark mulch. He now has a ranch that produces a plethora of different produce and is growing it all together regardless of the stated soil requiremments.
Watering plants that are in soil Vs Watering plants that have a topdressing of mulch
Firstly, you need to weed the area that you are going to apply the mulch to. Mulch will suppress newly germinated weeds but established ones with extensive root systems will need to be removed by hand. The mulch needs to be of a sufficient depth to effectively suppress the weeds by excluding light and to minimize water loss by evaporation, we apply 4-6 inches. Applying the mulch too sparingly is a false economy as it will quickly become part of the soil and the weeds will return quickly. We have installed a drip watering system and this slowly moistens the soil and we find that this is more effective than watering with a hose where the majority of the water runs off. You can even water at night using a timer, allowing you the time for more important things, like drinking wine.
Due to the size of the garden we have areas that have been mulched and other areas where there is just soil. We were expecting it to take some time before we started seeing results but within a week we have much healthier plants with substantial new growth in the areas that have been mulched. This has affirmed our belief that water was the biggest issue for us here. We have Magnolia trees that have grown up to half a meter in a month and the roses have also responded very well. We have to admit to being a little cautious when it came to the roses but there have been no detrimental effects whatsoever. You will still get some weeds coming through but this tends to be at a mangable level.
Sourcing Bark Mulch
Depending upon the size of your garden you can either buy your Bark Mulch from your local garden centre or you can source a company that produces the Bark Mulch rather than just re-selling it. We buy ours from a company that processes wood for heating and we find that to be much more cost effective. Bark Mulch also comes in different grades so it is worth shopping around. Once you start using Bark Mulch you will be surprised at how much you get through and how little comes in a bag. Our preference would be loose.
How Often To Apply Mulch
The Bark Mulch will slowly be incorporated into the soil, thereby improving the composition of your soil. We would recommend applying Bark Mulch once a year to your garden either in Spring or in Autumn, our preference is in Spring but either is acceptable. Applying the Mulch in Spring really sets you up for the Summer ahead and another added bonus is that slugs and snails do not like Bark Mulch and this is so much more environmentally friendly than using chemical controls.
We have our own water supply here at The Moosbach Garden but if you pay for your water and have a meter then applying a mulch and installing a drip feed water system will save you money and result in a more beautiful garden.
Bark Mulch is also great for newly planted areas as it reduces the risk of roots drying out and reduces competition from weeds.
Our Top Tip
If you have lots of potted plants you can top dress them with mulch and this will help retain water and reduce the risk of plants wilting in extremely hot weather.
There seems to be so many myths surrounding the successful growing of stunningly beautiful roses but it really is very easy. In this article I will share with you my secrets of how to create a beautiful new rose garden in 2 years that will rival any rose garden in the world and will allow you to create beautiful bouquets and arrangements of florist quality.
So where to start?
Firstly, you need to understand that roses are a widely diverse group of plants and you must first decide what look and feel that you are going for. We shall start with basics, so that we are all on the same page. Roses come in many different forms but the basic ones to consider are:
Floribunda (ground cover) roses. Lots of clusters of small rose blooms ideal for covering ground.
Tea roses. Fairly short but showy roses ideal for parks and formal gardens but not particularly fragrant. Repeat flowering.
Bush Roses. Vary in height from 1-2 metres. very beautiful and can be very fragrant. Many are repeat flowering.
Climbing roses. Can grow up to 5 metres depending upon the variety and can be both beautiful and wonderfully scented. Many are repeat flowering.
Rambling roses. Can grow as much as 11 metres high, generally have clusters of small flowers, normally only flower once and have a wonderful scent and good rose hips.
Now before I get shot down in flames, there are many old roses worth considering and if you have the space then I would advocate taking a look at these but for many people where the size of their garden is limited a repeat flowering rose is what you want to go for. If you follow my advice, a rose is an investment that will reward you for decades to come. Bearing this in mind, it is worth choosing the right roses and putting in the effort in the first year to get them off to a flying start. The late David Austin created a group of roses that he entitled “English Roses” and these combine the fragrance of the old musk and damask roses with the beauty of the newer Tea roses.
Choosing the right roses for you
It is always best to do your research, quality roses aren’t cheap but baring in mind that they will last decades I think that it is worthwhile. There are many websites that you can look at and what you really need to see are pictures of mature roses in planting schemes. A photograph of an individual rose is very helpful in showing you the beauty of that particular rose but unless you have a very good eye or are an experienced garden designer it helps to see planting combinations that you can copy or adapt for your own garden. My advice would be to visit established rose gardens , in the UK there is David Austin Roses, Peter Beales Roses or many of the National Trust Gardens. If you are in Europe there are many regional rose gardens or you could visit the wonderful Moosbach Garden in Germany. At this point I would like to make this offer, if you want free garden advice drop me an email and I will do my best to answer your question.
So you’ve made your choices but where do you buy your roses from and when do you plant them?
I would always recommend buying your roses from an established and experienced rose specialist rather than from ebay, amazon or a garden centre that doesn’t specialise in roses. Obviously, the Moosbach Garden has a fantastic range of roses available! You have 2 choices when buying roses and these are bare root or potted roses. Bare root roses are normally only available between November and March, when the plants are dormant and potted roses are available all year round. Potted roses give you the chance to see how healthy the plant is and this is my preferred option.
If you order bare root roses they will arrive in a bag hopefully with the roots still moist, you must soak them in a bucket of water for up to 2 days but not longer before you plant them in the garden or into a pot. Roses don’t like their roots drying out but they also don’t like sitting in water for too long.
Potted roses normally arrive in full leaf and if you are lucky with flower buds, this only applies in the summer as plants will be dormant in the winter. When your potted rose arrives give it a good soak in a bucket of water for at least an hour and then water daily in spring and summer. If there will be a delay of days or weeks between your potted rose arriving and you planting it, then water it daily or weekly depending upon the weather. If you are unsure test the weight of the pot or press a finger into the soil to a depth of about an inch, if the pot feels light or if your finger comes out dry then you need to water it. Remember what we are aiming for is a happy rose that is not water stressed. I water all of our potted roses by filling it with water up to the pot brim and once this has subsided doing the same again.
Planting time is very stressful for many people but it doesn’t have to be. What we re aiming for is to give the rose the best possible start in life, resulting in a quicker established rose. The main things to consider are:
The type of rose.
All roses need to be planted with the scion (grafting point) facing you and below the soil by about an inch. If the soil is heavy dig a hole twice the size of the pot to make it easier for the rose to get its roots established in the ground. Add some good compost or well-rotted manure into the bottom of the planting hole and Sprinkle mycorrhizal Fungi over the root ball and into the planting hole, this friendly fungi attaches itself to the roots of the rose and feeds it with water and nutrients helping the rose to become established quickly, this is available from our Shop. If you are planting near a house or a wall, resist the temptation to plant it right next to the wall where the soil will always be dry and unwelcoming to your rose. Plant the rose further away from any walls out of the roof shadow where no rain reaches. Back-fill the rose with soil, firm the soil in with the heel of your foot and water in well as this ensures that the roots are in good contact with the soil.
Watering in the first year – VERY IMPORTANT
I alluded to myths concerning roses at the start of this article, here it comes! Many people think that you shouldn’t water roses too much, well this simply isn’t true. I think people say this because people are worried about fungal diseases like black spot, rust and powdery mildew. I will grant you that roses should be watered from below and you should avoid getting the leaves wet but what do you think happens when it rains? If you think about what happened when you turned your rose out of it’s pot, you got a rectangular or round mass within which the roots were contained. Until the rose has established itself in the ground and the roots have extended into the surrounding soil you are affectively watering a potted rose. So, my advice is plenty of regular watering for the first year. So we have covered planting, we’ve added well-rotted manure and mycorrhizal Fungi, we’re on top of watering, the only thing that we haven’t covered is feeding your rose and helping it to stay healthy. I would also recommend mulching your roses to minimise water evaporation. We use Bark Mulch and it is very effective and has no detrimental affects.
Feeding your rose and keeping it disease free
Not all rose feeds are the same, I use and trust the specially formulated rose feed from David Austin, available from our shop. I subscribe to the David Austin feeding recommendation, which is as follows:
Feed each rose about a handful of rose feed per rose when the first leaves appear.
Do not feed again until the first set of flowers have finished and then give a second handful of feed to each rose, this ensures that the second set of flowers are as beautiful as the first. Repeat this but do not fertilise in the autumn as this encourages new growth which will be damaged by the first frosts.
Now, the thorny issue of controlling diseases. The new English Roses are more resistant to diseases but I find that the only sure way to keep your roses healthy is to spray them when the first leaves appear and then every 3 weeks throughout the summer. There are many brands of rose care products and I cannot recommend any as I have not conducted a comparison but I use the products from Bayer. If you only have a few roses then you might want to buy a premixed spray bottle but if you have a larger number then I would suggest buying a concentrate that you mix with water. Always thoroughly wash all spray bottle before use to avoid contamination. When it comes to aphids I use a spray bottle filled with water and the tiniest amount of washing up liquid and this seems to do the trick, you can buy chemical products but washing up liquid is much cheaper and just as effective.
So if you follow these steps your roses will be happy and healthy and put on a good show of flowers. In my experience it is from the second year that you really get a fantastic display.
Pruning the different types of roses
I will cover the pruning of roses in another article which will also include a step by step guide to planting roses.
I am amazed by the array of wonderful plants at our disposal for creating our living masterpieces
I finally have a garden big enough to indulge whatever gardening whim blows my way and I really do appreciate how lucky I am. Many gardeners have a limited space and whilst we all love looking at gardening programs, magazines, visiting wonderful gardens and garden centres many people have to think about where they can find the space to put this new ‘must-have’ plant. I have a friend here in Germany who has a wonderful garden but of a limited size, when she discovers something she likes she just buys it and either digs up some more lawn to accommodate it or removes some other plant specimen. Some people might think that she is a bit crazy but it is her garden, her creation and the relationship that they share is unique, personal and nurturing.
Gardening is a life lesson for the impatient
I’ve met a few very succesful people who have very impressive corporate careers and then decide to take up gardening. Sometimes it is a painful experience both for them and for me. For those people who have had ‘minions’ and expect immediate results in gardening like they have in their corporate lives it can be a reality that is hard to accept.
Gardens take time, there are always unexpected twists and turns and let’s face it sometimes nature can be unyielding, a little like my good self! I often try to explain to people that gardening is a process, albeit an evolving one and that the process is just as important as the end result.
I simply cannot move house again
I’m in my 50’s now and I’ve spent the last 5 years developing the Moosbach Garden and it feels like I’ve only just started. Any logical person would sell the house and buy another with a good-sized garden that is flat but let’s face it I was probably at the back of the queue when they were handing out logic. The Moosbach Garden is steep, there are very few even remotely flat spaces, the winter is long, cold and there is usually lots of snow. However, what is life without a few challenges? I have worked many hours in my garden, I have planted uncountable numbers of plants and trees, this is a marriage that I simply cannot walk away from. The thought of digging up thousands of euro’s worth of plants is not one I ever want to seriously contemplate. My sister, who has lots of common sense (she got my share) tells me that I will never recoup the value of the plants when we move but I can’t think in those terms. Every year those plants repay me for my financial investment by soothing my soul, bringing me untold amounts of happiness and providing a paradise both for me and wildlife, I reckon that is priceless.
I’m not a mover and shaker
I was never especially academic, I did OK but never excelled at anything, I had no idea of what career to follow and consequently was never going to set the world ablaze. I have no children and am a little bit eccentric. What I can do is garden, I have been gardening for over 35 years but didn’t realise at an early age that I should make it my career. Yes, you got it, I’m a slow learner! I have decided that I will be quite happy if during my time on this planet I can create a garden that is beautiful, that will endure and that people might visit it long after I have hung up my gardening gloves. It is a tall order as there are so many beautiful gardens in the world and maybe I’m deluding myself but it’s my delusion so don’t deprive me of it.
It’s great when things start coming together
When we moved here there wasn’t much of a garden at all and it has taken 5 years of hard graft, many gardening projects and lots of experimentation to get the soil and plant choices right. The top garden is really starting to have the feel of what I wanted to create, the plants have found their feet and have lots of healthy top growth that is proportionate to the garden space. We are just adding a pergola for the Paul’s Himalayan Musk and a row of poles and wires to support the climbing roses and then structurally we are finished. The rest of the work in the top garden isn’t really work at all, weeding, dead-heading and pruning are the fun bits. I have a love of English flowers and as well as roses we have peonies, delphiniums and phlox. Peonies appear to be my latest garden obsession, we have a mixture of herbaceous, tree and Itoh peonies. The first tree peony that I planted here is now 1.5 metres tall and is covered with flower buds and buds of a size that I have not seen before. I’m told that the flowers can be as big as a dinner plate once the plant is mature enough and happy. so fingers crossed.
We are striving towards a BIO garden
We love nature and the planet and we want to do everything that we can to encourage biodiversity, so no weed killers, no slug pellets, no quick fixes. We have a nature pond and a resident population of frogs, we have small lizards and we want to encourage hedge hogs. We have left piles of branches to provide overwintering habitats for hedge hogs and insects, what we are going for is a sustainable eco system. I am not a gardener without misdemeanors, I have used far too many slug pellets in previous years and have also used weed killers. However, this is not something that I am prepared to do anymore, I’m learning to work with nature rather than against it. This year my other big goal is improving the soil composition to help retain water and this is so important with global warming. I’m trying out bark mulch this year to see if it makes a difference. In theory it helps reduce water evaporation, improves soil competition and allows mycorrhizal fungi to establish and this should lead to healthier plants.
Are you getting it yet?
So the title of this piece is “Why I wouldn’t swap my garden for anything” and I’m hoping that I have convinced some of you that a garden is a symbiotic relationship worth investing in, that it’s not just your garden that grows but yourself as well. So you can keep your big cities, you can keep fortune and fame, I don’t need them. What I do need is to be in a relationship that is honest, that has its ups and downs but where the needs of both parties are met and gardening fulfills these needs. Don’t misinterpret me, I’m very happily married but I’m in 2 relationships, 1 with my husband and 1 with my garden, may they both be long and fruitful. I partied endlessly in my youth but now that I’m in my 50’s I’d much rather be working in my own garden or walking around a National Trust garden than at a music festival. Let my soundtrack now be the buzzing of bees, the trill of birdsong, the cockerel crowing from the orchard or a hen announcing proudly that she has just laid an egg. Realising that not all rewards can be measured in financial terms, that the phrase ” return on investment” can be measured not only in an increase the value of your home but on how it’s improved your life-balance, your levels of happiness and helped nature and the planet. I’ going to sign off now as my husband has just finished baking a rhubarb cake from freshly harvested rhubarb from the vegetable garden and I think it would be rude to not try a piece! I wish your all happy gardening, peace and joy.
Cabbage Tree Creek is a tiny place on the Prince’s highway between Bemm River and the town of Orbost. When you drive along the Prince’s Highway you could blink and miss Cabbage Tree Creek as there aren’t any houses directly visible from the highway. At first sight it seems unlikely that a cafe would exist in this seemingly deserted place, but it does and it provides the heart of the local community and a welcome stopping point for those travelling along the Prince’s Highway.
I had heard of it after speaking with my aunt who like many Cabbage Tree Creek residents seems to have part-time residency in the cafe. Having visited the Bushware Cafe I can understand why it is so popular with the locals and travellers alike. There is always a warm welcome from the owners, Pete, Jo and Milo the cat (he’s really in charge). The atmosphere is really fantastic and the food isn’t bad either! In actuality, the food is really great, the coffee superb and the conversation will usually make you smile.
You know the old adage, go where the locals go, well they do and frequently. This is really whatever you want it to be. For the traveller who needs a quick bite to eat on the road they have plenty to offer and for those wanting a longer break from travelling there is a good and varied menu, all cooked to order. There is a nice garden and a terrace to sit on in the summer and a gorgeous bijou lounge with sumptuous couches for the winter or for whenever takes your fancy.
Pete and Jo ensure the very best of welcomes. I may be biased but they really are great folks.
They are famous for their fantastic home-made sausage rolls and they are plenty of naughty but nice things for those with a sweet tooth.
The blackboards list the meals from light bites to more substantial meals. There is even Bratwurst on the menu and the salads are really good, prepare to be converted salad dodgers.
What a delightfuly cosy lounge, you might even get a visit here from Milo the cat.
Here is Milo with local cat whisperer, Bill Killick. This is a real bromance.
Jo and Pete stock a range of local made food items and crafts from local artisans.
I’m on my way to Australia for the whole of February and I couldn’t be more pleased. Why am I pleased? Well, for starters we’ve had snow at home for 4 weeks and I’m fed up with it but more importantly I get to see my cousin Chris and my lovely Aunt Trin.
Long overdue visit
I forget but it has been at least 15 years since I saw my aunt which is a shame because not only if she a wonderfully kind human being but she is also very funny.
First leg of the journey is over
I flew from Frankfurt to Incheon in South Korea which was a very pleasant experience and as I write this I am having a 6 hour break in the airport lounge. This is a wonderful airport and it is clear to see that great effort has been put into its design.
So, what is so good about Incheon airport?
The airport is massive, not only in length but in height and breadth as well. It is full of natural light. Like most airports it has huge windows overlooking the airport as you would expect but it also has very high ceilings and the ceiling of the atriums are made of glass allowing more natural light in. They grow real plants and trees and it transforms the airport experience, what a nice change from plastic, metal and artificial light. They also have huge pots full of flowering orchids along the main walkways. It really adds a touch of class and all of these plants and trees, that’s got to be good for air quality right?
Can you name the first plant? I’m signing off now but you can expect more from me once I’m in Australia and have visited some gardens.