Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Taming wild things

It's time to get back into a regular routine and that means reviving the daily 'lunchtime garden work-out', not just for me but also for the senior under-gardeners and the Spice Girls.

I remember doing this last year and the year before: pruning and tying-in the blackberry stems – reducing a wild tangle of thorny stems into a neat arrangement of healthy arching stems tied along the wire supports. It was like a scene from a medieval calendar (I love those medieval manuscript illustrations showing toiling peasants). Picture me as the peasant working in the cold winter fields, complete with wool shawl swathed around my neck to keep me snug and warm. Other essential accessories include stout thorn-proof gloves and sharp secateurs. To secure the stems to the wires I was able to re-use last year's plastic ties – a modern, not medieval, invention and an excellent investment.

Job done . . .

The task was made even more enjoyable because it was to the accompaniment of robins singing their territorial songs and the soft mutterings of the senior under-gardeners and the extremely enthusiastic Spice girls, as they rummaged in piles of leaves under the Bramley apple tree. When the robin on the nearby apple branch seemed to be singing a solo I realised that the hens had moved on to a far more exciting activity – slight panic! What UGP* had they dreamt up today? Ahhh, good girls – compost turning.

Time for lunch girls! Thankfully, like the under-gardeners, the Spices have now been trained to recognise the long curvy stick that, when held out like a skilled shepherd holds a crook, signals 'time to go back through the green gate' . . .

*UGP = unauthorised gardening project


  1. Ah yes! I have done my blackberries and raspberries. Despite all gloved protection I still managed to get covered in scratches! I think it will be a good year for raspberries this year, they will have loved the cold snap!

  2. You have a Bramley! I have apple envy!Here, people think Granny Smiths will do for cookers.(But there is someone down in Victoria trying to revive the old varieties.)

  3. oh can you please come and train our girls? Two of them seem to be able to understand us and follow instructions well while the others I think were bred for their looks - everything baffles them and holding your arms out wide and walking toward them means "lets all go in different directions" or anywhere but forward. Sigh! They are good with compost turning though. Blackberries are such an invasive weed here it is hard to think about them as food - I've had some awful scratches from them too. Yes and I have apple envy too - so hard to get interesting varieties here.

  4. I do wish we could have chickens here,endless entertainment and the best eggs. darn

  5. love the "ugp"! your ladies are certainly cooperative.

  6. What a lovely post. I really wish I could have some chickens...

  7. My blackberries are not yet big enough to need this but there might be just one or two stems to tie in. Thanks for the reminder to make them ready for spring.

    Lovely shots of the girls!

  8. Matron – oooh I hope so!

    Moreidlethoughts - of course! It's probably the most common cooker to grow around her.

    Jacqui - we thought the Spices were beyond training! but they are getting under control.

    Ed - but you grow fantastic veg!

    Petoskystone - we think they are (we just have to lower the bar!)

    Toffeeapple - they give you the best of times (but also the worst of times) - life lessons.

    Silverpebble - is it a named variety? they are usually less vigorous. But it's worth keeping them under control.



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