a weekend of many weathers
Saturday verses Sunday
I’m standing at the farmers market with a bag of cherries in my hand. There is a special kind of early morning momentum building around me, hinting at the hot day to come. People hustle about. Small children disagreeing with each other while a parent tries to pay for something, take full advantage of a turned back. Friends greet after summer holiday absences with smiles of simple delight. Others march to the sound of a finely tuned list of things to do. It is a marvel of colour, life and delicious smells. We always come to the market in summer, called by summer fruit especially cherries, cherries that are eaten before night fall. I notice a stand of plants and gently inch my way over, saying to myself that I’m just going to have a quick look. I spy a blue Himalayan poppy, something I love to photograph in the botanical gardens. The colour is something special, a certain shade of blue. I quickly scoop it up before someone else spots it. I add a variegated lemon balm and a Tuecrium Purple tails, seduced by the curl of the about to bloom flower head. I pay and then look for the other half who has been in want of coffee and then wonder if they should create a space for lost mates to find each other at markets.
Purchasing plants at the market made me realise two things:
First, visiting gardens is a wonderful way to build plant knowledge for future plant purchases. Every time I visit a garden I always have a new list of plants I wish to add to my own based on what I observe. I think what I have found most useful with seeing a plant in situ is, it teaches you about where they like to grow, how big they will grow and what season they shall bloom and if a bee is foraging on it all the better. In my case I had seen the Himalayan poppy in the botanical gardens I know it likes a shady corner and I have a similar space in the garden.
Secondly, if you have an understanding of basic flower shapes that pollinators like, it can be so helpful when purchasing plants, especially if it is a plant that is new to you. I have found knowing this give me confidence that even if I don’t know a huge amount about the plant I know my bees will forage from it. I plant new to me plants in a part of the garden where I can observe them for a season before adding them somewhere permanently. For example I look for are multiple flower heads that make up one bigger flower head open flower heads (like a dara). When I saw the Tuecrium Purple tails, I feel it should be a good bee plant as it is a similar flower structure.
Saturday unfolds in a sluggish manner. We seem to have peaked by 10.30, after that it becomes to hot to do anything. My newly brought plants sit inside on the kitchen bench along with the bucket of seedlings I brought from Awapuni nurseries. I purchased some filler plants after a weeding fit that revealed gaps I am pretty sure have been filled by now with summer growth. In the evening we eat dinner outside, enjoying the extend warmth, listening to Bob Dylan, talking about this and that. I grab the camera to capture the light in certain parts of the garden when it is just so. After weeks of indifferent weather, it finally feels like a summer moment, one the garden is built for. I watch as the light changes from day to evening with bees becoming more noticeable. They dance from scabiosa to comfrey to the newly flowering oregano. I take a number of photos of the gently swaying flowering garlic flower heads that a couple of bumbles are resting on. As the night draws in, a shift in the wind announces a drop in temperature and calls an end to the evening. We retreat inside to a house that still holds the warmth from the day.
It’s Sunday morning and I check the lunar calendar and realise it is a good day to plant my plants. Looking out the window, I discover I will need to wait until it clears. A very gentle soft rain is falling, provide cool air, also welcome moisture for the garden. The garden is getting dry and draws attention to areas where I need to work and build up the quality of the soil. Mulching has worked well, I just need to negotiate with the birds about how much of it stays on the flower bed and not on the lawn. Until the rain clears I remaining inside, tea in hand, reading a book and waiting for the weather to clear, which it does later in the day. I can go gardening now.
I sort out my plants working out who needs to go where and begin my work. Gaps are filled with sweetpeas, scabiosa and delphiniums and of course cosmos, they always become a favourite at this time of year, they are a delightful addition to the garden. I have been reading Jinny Blom’s “What makes a garden” and she talks of using annuals to fill space as you create new beds, it is also a quick and easy way to add pollinator friendly plants to your garden. All of what I plant today I know will be appreciated by the pollinators in the garden. The afternoon unfolds in a very lazy way and I cherish the lovely calm that I feel as I garden. Time melts. An hour passes and it feels like 5 minutes. It is the perfect cup filling activity before the weekend ends. A weekend filled with life, colour, summer fruit, lazy rain and most importantly time in the garden.