I don't consider myself a 'proper' gardener. My garden is very small, untidy, overgrown and...well, just plain wild in places. I don't have the knowledge/know-how or (more importantly) physical strength to try and tame it (small though it is), so Mother Nature and I just muddle along together, and sometimes the ivy, dandelions and brambles make way for me, and sometimes they grow unchallenged for a while. I feel very protective of this little patch of land though, and whilst it may appear unkempt to my tree-felling, slab-laying, artificial-grass-loving neighbours, it's beautiful to me. At the moment there is literally nothing that makes me happier than my morning and evening rounds with the watering can, tending to my 'crops' - nibbling on delicious, crunchy mange-tout peas and gathering little handfuls of raspberries to eat with yoghurt and honey. The slugs and snails (a.k.a. The Enemy) seem to have been ever so slightly deterred by the eggshells I've been spreading around my strawberry plants - so I'm currently harvesting at least two strawberries for every one they hollow out with their thousands of microscopic teeth*. Hooray! The blueberry bushes I planted last year have started to produce fruit, and my blackberry patch is covered in flowers, but the big success story of the year is lettuce. Four different varieties in heavily fortified containers, with 'moats' and copper tape to keep The Enemy at bay - I reckon I might be self-sufficient in lettuce all summer!
*It's true, they do have teeth, I saw it on Q.I.!
The tables outside the kitchen window are where some of the most intensive growing action takes place. The planters on top are a lot easier to tend to (less bending), and a little easier to patrol - it was my (sadly mistaken) belief that very few of The Enemy would be willing to make the climb to get to them. Turns out it's actually the most determined/elite specimens that ascend to the summit, and they don't just pose for a photo and head back down once they do. I'm trying to abide by a 'live and let live' policy with The Enemy, but it's hard to show mercy when they munch through entire crops of seedlings in the space of just one night...so if they're captured on the table top they get lobbed as far away as I can muster - usually into the ivy on top of the garage*. Currently growing in this area are mange-tout peas, chives, sage, lettuce and tomato seedlings, some sweet peas, a rogue foxglove and a wonderfully flamboyant nasturtium plant, which is spreading like wildfire.
*Yes, I know this is ultimately a futile gesture, as (a) they have a 20 metre radius homing instinct, and (b) I throw like a girl. It just makes me feel better to think that I've ruined their day.
The nasturtium and an accidental poppy that appeared in one of the blueberry pots have been the floral highlights of my summer so far. I really can't decide which I love more. Nasturtiums make me incredibly nostalgic because my Mum always had them growing in the garden, wherever we were living, but this is a particularly magnificent poppy, standing around three feet tall and simply covered in buds. I can never seem to grow poppies on purpose, so I make sure to really appreciate them when they arrive by chance. I think this one may have been 'planted' by a bird, as it's directly below one of my bird-feeders.
Speaking of birds, this is 'Girlie', a very tame female blackbird who comes and calls for meal worms every morning, sitting on the fence, or the extension roof, saying "Bip! Bip! Bip!" until I give her her breakfast. She is quite unperturbed by me moving around nearby, watering the pots or having a cup of tea on the bench. This gives her a decided advantage over the other birds (mostly sparrows at the moment) who watch impatiently from the hedge until I go inside or move further away.
When I looked more closely at the photo below, of the windowsill birds and the nasturtium flowers, I realised that it also captured Girlie sitting on the fence, and the little red dot of the accidental poppy in the distance. Simple pleasures - garden joy!