Although I don’t think I have a favourite time of year (I pretty much like all the seasons as they all have their good points) there’s something about this time of year which makes my heart sing, unexpected sunshiney days that seem as warm as July, plants in the garden sprouting up full of growth, tree branches full of fluttering fledglings and vegetables we’d forgotten about suddenly springing into life….
A case in point was this white broccoli, it’s been a bit slow growing though that’s probably because the wood pigeons kept nibbling at the leaves, but then for some reason or other they left it alone and within a few weeks it perked up and began to grow again. A bit of lazy gardening meant it was overlooked and forgotten about and then when we looked closer it was full of tiny broccoli heads.
To begin with they look like doll house sized cauliflowers but as they get bigger they push up and open and become paler versions of regular sprouting broccoli. It’s really hard to buy white broccoli as the colour puts people off (it’s a creamy pale yellowy green so looks like it’s gone over) but it tastes lovely, lighter than the darker green variety, and very good in cream or cheese sauces.
As we’ve had a good mix of sunshiney days and rainy days, the plants have all had growth spurts so everything looks very different now to these pictures which were taken at the end of last month….
The autumn raspberries were pruned down to about a foot in height in the early Spring (then Bob from next door had a chew and nibble of some of the stalks…his owner said she doesn’t think he’s very bright and after seeing him chewing on a very prickly raspberry cane I found myself agreeing with her) but the new growth seemed rather slow in appearing (not sure if the plants were sleepy or Bob and his nibbling were the cause) finally though we began to see those first incredibly bright almost acidic green shoots and leaves, most growing in our fruit bed, but as anyone who grows raspberries know, they like to spread to now we have them both sides of our garden path, and also under the window in what was meant to be a herb garden……….
The raspberries have also gone rogue under the apple trees, bursting up along side the ground cover of alpine strawberries…..some we try to take out but mostly we’re happy to let them grow where they want, that way it’s a nice surprise to find a nice patch of fruit. The year before last a mystery tomato plant began to grow amongst the raspberries, it was a cherry plum variety and we think it must have germinated from the compost…it was a voracious grower and we had a massive crop from it, over 2 kilos of beautiful bright red and sweet tasting tomatoes. They didn’t last long as I kept picking them to eat as snacks while I was sewing out in the garden.
Along with the raspberries and strawberries we also have a couple of blueberry plants, last year wasn’t the greatest harvest but the year before was amazing, I even had enough to grow jam (just two jars that were delicious)…..right now the blossoms are like tiny paper lampshades, almost translucent when the sun is shining through them…..the blossoms are so delicate and fragile looking that I can’t help worrying and fretting when it rains or is windy but they’re stronger than they look….
As soon as the berries begin to form, both plants are then swaddled up in white fleece and an old lace curtain and pegged closed…..while the birds leave the raspberries alone, they love the blueberries, and an uncovered bush is stripped clean within minutes………one time a couple of pegs came loose and the net blew back exposing the berries, even while I was putting shoes on to go and sort it out two blackbirds came down for a fruity treat, and even when I was outside, just feet away they turned to look at me before quickly eating another few berries…..so I learnt my lesson and make sure the covers are nice and secure. Once the plants are all bundled and swaddled they remind me of Edwardian ladies in motor cars, with masses of netting pinned to their hats.
On sunny mornings I take a cushion outside and sit on the backdoor step with a pot of tea and hand sew or embroider, from time to time one of the Robins hops up close, pecking at any bird seed that’s been shaken loose by the pigeons…all the time keeping a close watch on where I am…..blue tits and goldfinches fly back and forth, beaks full of fleece and fluff from the garden….then a noise makes me jump, and Bob or Izzy form next door jump over the fence onto the water butt, then creep round the side of the shed, peeping round to see what I’m about before they stretch out and wriggle in the sunshine…..