Saturday, 2 August 2014

Veg. in the herbaceous border

There ain't no rules
Corny idea?
      Gardeners should be willing to try something new, something outside the prescribed layout which gives an added interest even if it's a querky one. I went into a toilet in a theatre the other day and was captivated by the plumbing: when I went to turn the tap on to wash my hands it didn't work; it had a sort of lever on it and when I pushed it to the right - nothing, then left - nothing. The only thing remaining was to move it vertically but this also brought nothing - not a drip.

      "No mate, you do it like this", said a bloke who had been smirking at my performance, and he moved his hand across the sensor (which was cunningly disguised as an overflow), causing the water to make its appearance.

      'What next', I thought, envisaging brain implants which would enable  us to think the tap on. The point is, I've forgotten  many hundreds of toilets, but I remember that one. Same with the garden, try something new and it may well give you something to remember:

      My eldest son and his girlfriend  have taken to sowing seeds of just about everything in pots on their flat window-ledge. This worked out fine with subjects like lettuce but it quickly became apparent that sweeetcorn, which can reach a height of eight foot, was not really ideal for a window ledge unless you had a wartime fetish for blackouts. So, in spite of my protestations that I hadn't got room, they brought a couple along to me and, not wanting to waste them, I bunged them in the herbaceous border.
Colourful Chard
      In retrospect, this doesn't seem such a bad idea: the young foliage forms an architectural contrast with the more floriferous subjects and the thought of possibly getting a bit of a crop is attractive. They are normally planted in blocks to enable good pollination, the reason being that a wind can blow the pollen away before it can drop from the tassels at the top of the plant and onto the female stigmas below. However, if I can catch the them on a still day, a quick shake will do the job equally well. Whether the things will look daft when they tower above everything else remains to be seen. I'll report on this in a later blog.

      This isn't a new idea of course - combining the aesthetic with the functional is carried out in many gardens and allotments. Seemingly mundane subjects like carrots have pleasing ferny foliage which contrasts well with purplish beetroot leaves. Equally, chards, with their varying attractive stem colours, are worthy of more than just a place on the dinner plate. Asparagus, apart from providing the spears (expensive in the shops) go on to produce attractive foliage which will be at home in any self respecting flower arrangement. Thoughtful planting of a wide range of vegetables can create an attractive feature in a garden but I draw the line at the ornamental cabbages: I think them garish and, in my experience, they taste horrible. Still, whatever turns you on.
Matter of taste?
      Coming back to my lavatorial experience: having washed my hands I went to dry them and, instead of being confronted by one of those things that blow heat out at a rate which dries in about three days, I found one of the newer type. For anyone unlucky enough not to have encountered one of these, they look a bit like a trouser press. You move your hands up and down in them for a few seconds and they blow so hard that you can see the skin wrinkling like waves up a beach. I've fallen in love with them and want one for Christmas. It'll be great for drying socks in.

For more thoughts on being adventurous go to link

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