More postcards from my garden

Things are quietly busy round here. Like my garden, I’ve been growing and rooting creative projects behind the scenes through winter; soon everything will be blossoming and I’ll be able to tell you all about it! In the meantime, while the fruits of the (creative projects) garden are still fattening on their vines, what I can share with you are the goings-on in the actual garden.

Spring has well and truly sprung around these parts and just like clockwork, the chickens have come into lay. I find it amazing how their little ancient dinosaur brains interpret the weather and the moon and the light and the temperature and divine that it is time for ALL THE EGGS. Here is the Lauryn. Her eye so beady! Her comb so red!!! And in the background, her pal Becky. The chickens go in pairs; Missy and Lizzo are one pair, Lauryn and Becky are the other. We think we know who lays which eggs by this point, too. Becky and Lauryn tend to do a basic egg each morning by the door without fuss; Lizzo’s are large and pointy and leave her slightly boss-eyed; and Missy’s layings are a grand affair with much faffing and processing in and out of the henhouse (also squawking).

I love the hens so much.

Lauryn looks up with her beady eyes and her bright red comb

The wild birds – Robins, Tits, Blackbirds, Sparrows, Starlings and a pair of Ostentatious (so SHY!) Jays are to be continually found going in and out of the hedge at the back, and in and out of the mulberry tree. We have espied a nest but think this is an old one and that the real birdlife is happening at an undisclosed location deeper in the leaves.

a scruffy, broad nest wedged deep into the clefts of the branches in our hedge

Have you been watching Chris Packham’s excellent BBC 2 series, “Animal Einsteins”? I particularly enjoyed learning about nature’s builders and it has reignited my interest in the totally fun basket-making craze that started for me last year. It began with finding the amazing and enabling book BASKETS by Tabara N’Diaye, and has quietly rumbled along ever since. I love Tabara’s book; it’s inviting and accessible, and the projects are varied, fun and colourful. The whole book and the projects in it speak with celebration and respect to the Senegalese basket-making traditions lying behind Tabara’s beautiful work at La Basketry. I made a couple of La Basketry projects last year; this one, using a kit of dyed jute twine and cotton rope

spirally basket, in pink and green, made using jute twine and cotton rope from a La Basketry kit

…and I went off-piste and employed ideas from the book to make a little felted egg basket from Neon Lopi wool and Jacb fleece.

Basket made from neon yellow lopi wool and Jacob sheep roving

Sturdy little felted egg-basket made of neon lopi yarn and grey Jacob fleece

…but a dear friend put me onto the idea that I could also explore foraging basket-making materials from my very own garden. We have a tree-stump and a section of fence covered in pervasive ivy; I often cut it back to prevent it from strangling the spot where the squashes and corn like to grow, and this year I followed an excellent tutorial from Foraged Fibers to harvest some ivy vines in preparation to make a tiny basket. My ivy vines are all strung up hopefully to dry out in the dry and windy spot underneath our little outdoors shelter.

Now the most difficult part: waiting for the fibres to be ready! (Are they ready yet) (What about now)?

hoops of ivy stems strung up to dry from a roof beam

I also have a tupperware box hidden inside the house near a radiator where some green wood ribs and hoops are drying out as well.

Because you have to strip the ivy vines of their leaves in order to ready them for basket-weaving, I decided that, rather than wasting them, I could steep and boil them to make a weak laundry soap. I don’t know how effective this will be – it’s definitely a bit sudsy because of saponin in the leaves – but only time will tell if this is really a good cleaning product; I’m enjoying uing it on delicates for which laundry soap is a bit much.

a colander of ivy leaves soaked and washed and ready to steep and boil for making laundry soap

I’m loving that there are finally enough flowers in the garden to put together a bouquet for a dear neighbour whose birthday it was recently…

a bouquet of range/yellow pom-pom type flowers, periwinkle with little blue flowers, and dusky dark pink hellebores

…and grateful for the indestructible chard patch which in spite of chickens, neglect, frost, snow and rain, continues to yield delicious dark leaves and thick fleshy stems which are amazing sauteed in garlic, salt and olive oil, and served with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. My tip is to finely chop the stems and fry them first before adding slim ribbons of the lovely lacy leaves. So tasty! So green.

deep green chard leaves

I was reading on my friend Helda’s social media about her love for fresh Fenugreek leaves in cooking, and so have started sprouting some Fenugreek inside; it’s loving its light little spot under an LED striplight we have installed for the sake of the plants (our house has very few light spots inside suitable for all the indoors plant babies). I’ll have to prick the seedlings out soon as they are quickly outgrowing their little seedling pot!

Maybe, in a few weeks’ time, I can have a tiny ivy basket full of Fenugreek leaves to show you… what’s growing in YOUR garden?

A little pot of sprouting Fenugreek seedlings

Until Soon –

4 thoughts on “More postcards from my garden

  1. I love those baskets! Particularly the neon yellow one 🙂
    The birds here are very active as well. And I’ve seen a lot of squirrels on my walks lately.
    Looking forward to see what you’ve been planning over the winter!

  2. What an enjoyable visit! I would love to see a video of Missy’s dramatic egg-laying extravaganza! Will we get a shot of that beautiful egg basket full of eggs?

    1. Chard, so awful that chickens leave it alone.

      I was very impressed with some baskets I saw in Pitt Rivers made from telecoms wire…

      1. That’s some serious chard-hating! I love the stuff, but each to their own. Those baskets in the Pitt Rivers sound amazing, I imagine wire would be hard to work but also lead to very, very strong baskets?

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