Wild

The wind has been wild. Petals are strewn around the garden, while plants have taken on rakish angles.

Storm-ravaged Geranium Orion

Linaria purpurea 'Canon Went' and Aquilegia stellata 'Lime Sorbet' leaning after strong winds

I have become keenly aware in the past few days of how often I hesitate as I pass a window, and idly look for a glimpse of black and white in the garden or hedgerows. I catch such glimpses much less often now, as Xander tends to sleep inside more in the daytime, venturing out at dusk or under cover of darkness, on much shorter adventures than his sister. We hope that he is not searching for her.

Trapped indoors for a few days by fierce winds and driving rain, I eventually found solace from the week’s sorrow in my sewing machine, working on gifts for friends: a baby changing mat, a tote bag, a skirt for a little girl. It was good to finally have a sense of purpose after several static days of grief and loss.

Free-motion quilted flannel-topped baby changing mat for a friend

Sewing gifts: girl's skirt and tote bagΒ On Saturday, the winds dropped to a manageable level and the sun returned. We leapt outside. In the aftermath of the recent storms, some branches of the brightly blooming snapdragons that surpassed expectations by overwintering lay severed on the ground; the thick stems of the mighty cardoon were splintered and, upended, sent sprawling across neighbouring plants. One slender ragged stem remains; time will tell whether this flourishes to earn its position, or is ‘edited’ out in the coming weeks.

Burgeoning cardoon foliage , June 1st 2012

Last standing piece of cardoon after storms

In defiance, a beacon of scarlet shone in the borders as the top bud on the oriental poppy finally opened and basked in the sun against the emerald green stems of the teasel behind.

Scarlet Oriental poppy against teasel foliage

Close up of Oriental Poppy flower

The foxglove which languished on the ground was gently recovered and staked back into position, as were several fallen stems of broad beans in the kitchen garden.

Fallen foxglove

White foxglove staked upright after wind damage

We also grasped the opportunity presented by this dry sunny day to walk down to one of our favourite local foraging spots, and came back with several dozen heads of elderflowers. They sat on the kitchen worktop for a few hours, filling the house with their heady scent until we dealt with them; King of the Hill used a few handfuls to start brewing elderflower champagne, the rest I dried for elderflower tea – a pungent but effective expectorant against winter colds.

Gathered elderflower heads

The recent bouts of warm wet weather have also brought an unwelcome visitor early to the garden; garlic rust.

Lines of garlic, hardneck (left) and softneck (right), with rust on foliage

Garlic rust on foliage

The rust was much worse on our hardneck variety, Sprint; so much so that we decided we must harvest these now or lose them as the rust advanced down from the foliage into the bulbs. Cursory scratching at the surface revealed promisingly substantial bulbs, so I lifted them all, immediately discarding the rust-afflicted foliage for destroying.

Early harvest of garlic 'Sprint'

Bulb of hardneck garlic 'Sprint'

These bulbs are actually the largest we have grown to date, despite being harvested a month earlier than last year – the variety ‘Sprint’ really has lived up to its name, and managed to just beat the rust. Further inspection revealed that the softneck heads, however, are still far from formed, although the rust is not so advanced on their foliage. It will be a race against time for them to fatten before the disease spreads down to damage the bulb, it would be a shame to lose them as they store so much better than the hardneck types.

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11 thoughts on “Wild

  1. I love all your textiles Sara you have some lucky friends, I tend to find stiching and making things theraputic too,
    I have been hearing about the dreadful weather especially in Wales, there was a question on GQT radio 4 Sunday about rust on garlic if I remember she was told to cut off all the infected parts of the leaves, that poppy is beautiful and so cheery, Frances

    • Thank you, Frances, and for your lovely words on the loss of our cat.
      I should try and cut the rust off the remaining garlic, and see if that keeps it off for long enough for our crop to mature.

    • It certainly feels that way! :S

      I think we’ve stayed a lot drier than many parts of the country, so we’ve had some luck, and you’re right our position does keep us from flooding, although our clay soil holds onto quite a bit of water before it eventually drains through.

  2. I’m thoroughly fed up of this weather now. Still at least our home was flooded. I so feel for the people in Aberystwyth, it must be a dreadful feeling. Enough with the rain now, please! Have you tried roasting your garlic in the green? It’s very tasty.

    • It’s good to have sunshine again today, although it comes and goes. I’m certainly ready for some proper summer weather soon! I haven’t yet roasted our garlic in the green, must try it.

  3. Your garlic looks great! We’ve never had rust….yet….but I might also harvest my garlic early, most appear to have formed quite decent bulbs and I’m worried they’ll start to rot. Your sewing also looks great, loving the colours, lots of fabric I recognise there. Bethx

    • The ground that our bulbs were sitting in was quite wet as I dug them up, if it keeps raining I fear rot will get the softneck if the rust doesn’t! I hope that yours do give you a lovely crop soon too, glad they’ve done so well in the sun and rain.
      Ah, thank you, there are some lovely fabrics about at the minute, I have to ration myself with buying them as with plants πŸ˜‰

  4. Good on that beautiful poppy for shining through this dreadful weather and dark days for you Sara. The weekend was not too good here either and I was pleasantly surprised that my pea supports at the allotment stood up to it. I thought that they may have taken off. My garlic is also suffering from rust and if it carries on as wet as this I think that I will soon have it too.

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