Monday, 29 July 2013

Summer at The Allotment

Summer at the allotment and now is the time the plot looks its best.

So before the crops are dug up or harvested I shall take you on a little tour around the plot and share with you some of my allotment summer.

Looking over the picket fence is a stunning display of vibrantly coloured Bergamot alongside the feathery fronds of the Fennel

Upon entering through the gate on either side is the silvery foliage and shocking pink flowers of lychnis. 

The poppies struggled this year and so are not as magnificent as they have been in previous years, but their wash of colours remind me of a Monet painting.

Purple Verbena Bonariensis and Teasels attract the bees and the butterflies.

There has been an abundance of fruit so far this year.

 Redcurrants dripped from the branches (the netted redcurrant bush can just be made out in the bottom left hand corner of the above photo) 

and the stems of the red gooseberry bushes bow over with the ripening fruit.

Blackcurrants are nearly ready for picking whilst summer raspberries are plentiful

and the Bramley Apples promise a bumper autumn harvest.

There was a glut of strawberries and I was lucky enough to be invited by the very kind Eleanor to gather as many of her crop as I wanted while she was away on a three week holiday. Eleanor's strawberries are the envy of all the allotmenteers so I was only too eager to avail of her kind offer.

Freshly picked juicy sweet strawberries and cream were thus enjoyed in the garden on several occasions.

Unfortunately I am not a fan of jam, and although I intend to experiment with making jellies later on (I have a lovely recipe for Apple and Lavender Jelly), my harvest of strawberries was not destined to be turned into jam. 

Instead I blended them with combinations of my other harvested fruits - redcurrants, raspberries, early blackcurrants and even some of the frozen blackberries left from last year to make fruit smoothies. 

A special ingredient I add when blending the fruit to give the smoothie an extra zing is a few sprigs of garden mint.

At long last I got round to making a cake for my much-appreciated men-folk - Rhubarb and Raspberry Crumble Cake.  

(My food photography leaves a little to be desired, but the cake was definitely delicious and much appreciated by the men-folk).

On a healthier note, the peas are fattening up in the pods

however as usual not many will make it home - as I cannot resist ripping open the pods and eating the peas where they have grown!

The runner beans are rapidly running up their bamboo supports

their red flowers providing a splash of colour together with the bright yellow sunflowers which line the path

and the self-seeded calendula scattered throughout the plot.

An echoing of the poppies and montbretia along the boundary.

In contrast the morning shade beside the shed at the bottom of the plot has an almost ethereal effect

and as the sun rises in the sky the dappled light picks out the yellow and green of fennel 

against the duck-egg blue of the shed

The sky has been blue over the allotments and sun hot.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief pictorial visit to the plot. 

I have not been the only one enjoying the summer at the allotments, but I shall tell you more about that soon. 


Friday, 26 July 2013

Mishap at La Petite Maison

The last bit of demolition work....

One wall


One Woman Wielding Sledge


One Concrete Breeze Block


One pair of Steel Toe Cap Boots


One very bashed foot

and two broken toes!!!!

(not to mention lots of pain accompanied by plenty of anguished yells)

Lesson Learnt!


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Lovely Thyme despite The Conflict with The Council

Yesterday evening I stopped by the allotment with a sole purpose in mind. I was however distracted by the sight that greeted me as I entered the gate.  

The Herb Beds were a wash of pink, purple and green.

The creeping thyme was so beautiful that I just had to momentarily pause to appreciate the picture and enjoy the scent.

The Bumble Bees also enjoyed the Thyme as they greedily devoured the nectar

Thyme and Nepeta with Lupins and Lychnis

After my pleasurable period of procrastination I returned to the errand that had brought me to the plot in the first place. You may recall that in my post "Sunshine, Freedom and a Little Flower" I had made the extremely annoying discovery that the council had massacred the plants along my boundary. Although I did not want to focus upon the destruction at the time, I knew that I would have to act sooner rather than later.

Teasel and Montbretia with their heads chopped off.

So I made a polite phone call to the Council. The equally polite lady that I spoke to requested that I e-mail her the details and assured me that no doubt the council workers thought they were obliging me by cutting right up to the boundary. Hmmmmmmm!!!!!

Thus I drafted a very nice e-mail to the Council lady, including before and after photos to ensure that I got my message across. 

Her civil reply came soon - informing me that she had passed my message onto the Environmental Team who look after the allotments. Pleased that my message had been delivered I e-mailed back my thanks and proceeded to dismiss the matter from my mind.

Two hours later the Council had reverted back to their normal confrontational and aggressive approach when dealing with us plotholders, whom they seem to hold in the lowest of esteem. The e-mail that pinged into my inbox was curt and aggressive. ON NO ACCOUNT was I to grow plants along my boundary. The council would not be taking any responsibility for plants damaged or lost outside of the agreed boundary.

Instantly my blood pressure rose and I seethed at the contempt and disregard with which we plotholders (who I must point out had to accept a staggering increase in our allotment rents last year in return for even less) are treated by the council.

It does seem to me that the Council really do not understand their allotmenteering tenants. I must confess though that the same could be said for us allotmenteers - who cannot fathom the Councils out-dated and unimaginative style of gardening, demonstrated by their penchant for placing large tubs of bedding plants along with a few Hybrid Tea Roses upon roundabouts,

or their liberal use of pesticides and obsession for cutting grass verges where once bloomed wildflowers and a safe habitat for wildlife. I could go on, but I will stop there.

I cannot see why they have to be so unreasonable;
Firstly all we are doing is attempting to make our little plots attractive and appealing.

Secondly we are not asking the council to actually DO anything, merely that they DON'T strim the edges - which surely would be more cost effective, as this practice only began after they agreed to stop spraying the edges of the plots (a positive result for our committee that solely came about due to cost cutting).

Thirdly - technically speaking the plants that were butchered were inside of my boundary, as my fence, (which I must point out was put up by me - NOT the council), is set inside my agreed boundary.

Lastly the most important point of all! In the minutes of the meeting between the council and the committee last year, it states - "Plotholders are responsible for maintaining the boundary of their plots themselves!"

Nevertheless I have no faith that the Environmental Team will place any importance whatsoever upon anything agreed with us grubby and bothersome allotmenteers and so I am making a last ditch attempt to salvage the fresh green growth newly emerging from last months wreckage along the picket fence.

Will they pay any heed? I admit I am not hopeful!