Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Freeze

When the ground is too hard to work and I can't feel my fingertips anymore I find other jobs to do (preferably indoors) and today my jobs have been inspired by this 1962 Good Housekeeping Gardening Book with, "A lavishly illustrated guide to better gardening."

It was minus 4 degrees again this morning with a continued gorgeous English hoar frost, reinventing familiar scenery into a fresh winter wonderland.  I blame my sister for this cold snap.  She has just come over from Oz for Christmas and she yearns for the cold.  The last time she came over we had one of our coldest winters for 31 years and she got stuck on the Orwell Bridge in Suffolk, in the snow, thankfully it hasn't been that extreme this year.

My stipa gigantea seedheads, which are usually light, airy and upstanding at this time of the year, have been weighed down with the ice, barely thawing at all during the day at the moment.

I love the look of objects and plants in a hoar frost, like they have all been involved in a 'school boy salt crystals on a string' experiment.

So it's on with other jobs this morning that don't involve getting my hands in the icy soil.

For me there's nothing nicer than spending time flicking through vintage garden books and magazines to bring a smile to my face with their lovely dated features and advertisements.   My favourites are from 1940s, 50s and 60s. They also give me an amazing amount of inspiration. I have 're-found' old fashioned cut flowers that I have never heard of before or never grown before.  There are plenty of 'top tips' included too, not in the Viz comic style but more garden practicalities and appropriate fashions for garden wear !

This smart gent, with a hat Pete Doherty would be proud of (a fedora I think, unless anyone knows better) offers some great titbits.

When reading these I was intrigued, not only by his tie and waistcoat while gardening, but by point 8. above with the mention of a "swoe". A new piece of equipment to me.  Apparently it's a hoe with three cutting sides masquerading as a golf club.  Here is a lovely advert for one from a 1958 Home and Garden magazine and it cost only 30 shillings, I'll take two please!

I did have a bit of 'shed envy' looking at his 'correct' shed vs the 'incorrect' one.  Feeling very chastised by the huge green cross through, what looked very much like, my own messy tool shed.

Each year it's always my intention to get my outbuildings, tools and equipment in order or at the very least bundle my huge quantity of support canes into manageable numbers.  I never seem to get round to it.  When the full throttle of the flower season begins and I'm grappling under other tools and netting for just a dozen canes for staking, I berate myself for not having got round to don my finest waistcoat and fedora and tidy my shed.  Maybe this year will be different.

And finally, on the topic of sheds, one last photo to share. I saw this book yesterday for those out there wanting an antidote to a book of a similar title.

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