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.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly

What's that? Who said "She doesn't blog about her vegetables and her Purple Podded Peas any more" ?

Guilty as charged. I could go on about all the reasons why my vegetable plot isn't something to show off this year, but the PPP-rules are no whinging, no apologies and no negativity (well sometimes a little bit, but I'm quite capable of all three of those things in real life, so it does me good to ban them from my blog posts).

So, here's an update on the garden – it's a tale of the good, the bad and the ugly. It's a long story, with lots of photos, so make a cup of tea and get yourselves comfy. Let's start with the bad news . . .

The Ugly

It was all going so well, I had lots of pots of different pea varieties germinated in pots, I built some lovely twiggy wigwams and planted them out. Then this happened! Yes, to ALL the peas in the vegetable garden. I'm not even sure what has caused it – so if you know, break it to me gently. Oh well! there's still time for a late summer crop.

And now for the not quite as ugly but not good . . .

The Bad

The Three Sisters mound. Not much progress here this year . . . yet.
I have squash plants in pots in the greenhouse and they will get planted out into the 'mound' – yes they will!

The Winter Potager. This raised bed has been earmarked to be planted with all those crops that are harvested over the winter and following spring – leeks, broccoli, etc. The thing is, I haven't got around to preparing the bed. Then lots of parsley seedling sprang up and some interesting poppy plants which looked like Iceland poppies, but turned out to be the pretty orange Papaver atlanticum which I brought with me from a previous garden and I thought had died out.

The greenhouse is jam packed with plants in waiting . . . waiting to be pricked out, potted on or planted out.

Various brassicas which needed a home after the end of the Village Fete – destined for that Winter Potager, when I get round to moving those poppies!

Now you've had a good snigger, let's look at something a bit better . . .

The Good

I planted a couple of wigwams of peas in a flower bed next to the patio, unlike the peas planted in the vegetable garden, these are doing well. Here is the stately 'Victorian Purple Podded Pea' just coming into flower.

Spuds are doing well – hurrah!
And behind you can just see the 'Ronda' grapevine romping away. Lots of lovely fresh vine leaves for dolmadas too.

Crimson Flowered Broad Beans, doing OK despite the really tough spring we've had.

We had a superb crop of asparagus this year, now I'm letting the fern grow to build p the crowns for next year. In the foreground are wigwams for climbing beans (San Antonio and Bird's Egg) and in between stone circles protecting the Algerian Courgettes from soil run-off when I water them.

I think we'll step up a notch and call the next section

The Bountiful

Courgette Nano Verde di Milano will soon be ready to eat.

Gooseberry 'Invicta' looking superb – no sign of sawfly or mildew yet. I think I'll make so jam this year, I love gooseberry jam in a sponge cake with elderflower cordial flavoured icing on top.

The Redcurrants are ripening fast against the warmth of the 'Suffolk Red' bricks. The nets are there to stop the Blackbirds from snaffling the lot – we want to replenish our store of Redcurrant jelly!

Strawberries have produced just in time for Wimbledon. Lovely intense sharp 'Gariguette' and plump round juicy 'Cambridge Favourite'. The pole supports a net to stop birds nicking all the fruit – it doubles as a beam for the tabby studio assistant to show off her gymnastic routine!

The Globe Artichoke survived the long harsh winter and has some very promising looking heads appearing.

Sage planted at the end of the vegetable patch is in glorious purple flower, the bumbles bees love it!

A good crop of Damsons – what will we make?
Damson cobbler? Damson Gin? Damson Vodka?

A few nice Cambridge Gages filling out. The crop is sparse this year, but I'm going to enjoy eating these, they won't even get as far as the kitchen.

And lastly, the areas of the garden that don't need me to help them put on a good show . . .

The Beautiful

This is the informal border along our gravel drive, I limit the colour palette to white, lime green, gold and dots of magenta and metallic blue.

The west facing wall, the Wisteria flowers are over and have been replaced with white 'Iceberg' roses. The froth of white behind the seats in Crambe cordifolia, its flowers smell of honey.

We made a new path behind the Dragonfly Pond to access the door to The Wild Wood, it means there's a new view back across the pond to the walled garden.

The shrubs and climbers planted to disguise the wooden fence near the back door of my studio are at last looking abundant – and fragrant with Honeysuckle and Mock Orange (Philadelphia).

All the photographs were taken this morning in my garden.


  1. Looks so good and promising,it's so nice to be able to go out in the garden and fill a basket and then back to the kitchen to prepare a meal full of flavour.

  2. I think it all looks lovely, and after all we all have some "bad" and "ugly" parts in our gardens - they just make the good and the beautiful look even better.

    Your gooseberries have reminded me how I miss the ones I had on my allotment, I really haven't got room here, but will have to investigate if the local PYO have any.

  3. Oh dear! My veggie patch isn't quite so beautiful this year. All my lettuce, chard, cabbages and beetroot have been munched! Yours looks quite lovely to me!

  4. What a gorgeous garden, mine is really tiny, so I can't manage much veg but I'm happy to say my peas are doing ok. (not purple podded though)

  5. Ah, I want to move into your garden. Our allotment is a bit behind this year - and something has cropped off all my peas. the ones at home are fine, but the ones out there are all nibbled - our allotment meighbour thinks it was partridges and very sagey said "You can't win them all!" Some of them would be nice ...

  6. Hi Celia- I tried using netting to protect my blueberries, but within a week there were birds and chipmunks caught in it. Sad and gruesome. The netting was sold specifically to protect berry crops, so now I'm afraid to use any at all. What's the size of the mesh on yours?

  7. the good outweighs the bad and the ugly is not so terrible, I am sure your garden gives you a great deal of pleasure and plenty of wonderful things to eat.

  8. It's all looking pretty good to me and it is nice to find others have their not so fabulous bits too! You do have a stunning garden though.

  9. What a lovely set of photos. Those peas don't look well! I would only be guessing to say some sort of virus - perhaps some of our expert pea breeders, Veg Heaven or Rebsie might be able to enlighten.
    No problem if you want some clean seed back, mine are looking splendid and very healthy. Such a good example of why it is good to distribute rare and unusual seeds in case of failures like this!

  10. Well, I might send you some sympathy re the first photos and the weather that affected them.

    However ... those following pictures are spectacular. What a wonderful garden you have, such variety, beautiful to see, to smell, to taste...and of course to touch also.

    Bet that you can hear birds and bees, too.

    All senses engaged in that wonderful garden. xo

  11. snigger? Never! Your garden is always cause for celebration and inspiration Celia and it's nice to know that it isn't always as perfect as it looks!

  12. Lovely pictures - I do love a nosey into people's gardens. Strange about the peas. I'm not an expert in spite of having a go at breeding them, but as it happened to all, I wonder if there was a problem with the compost. Did you raise them in mudules or direct into the ground? Any difference in the way you raised the Purple Podded?

  13. Lovely.... gorgeous garden, not too tidy at all, sort of shambolic - nothing nasty intended as it's the style I go for myself with veggies growing amongst flowers in some cases. Last year our gooseberries were all taken... we didn't know by who or what, as the foliage was left intact. This year the blighters got at the bushes again, despite netting. So I asked my friend James about it, he is often to be seen spouting off on telly about gardening so he is a fount of free knowledge, and he said MICE. So we have used a bigger netting, banged it down all around and hope nothing will get at the remaining fruits. No chance of cherries again, but we're used to that and it's impossible to net a huge tree! Sad about your peas though, but the purpley flowered ones look promising. Happy harvesting!

  14. Ouch, I see what you mean about the peas. Pest and disease problems are outside my expertise really, but it does look like it's probably a virus. Up to you whether you want to pull them - you can just wait and see, but viruses are spread by aphids so you may want to be careful the little green blighters don't spread it to your other peas.

    I've had a lot of similar looking damage to my peas caused by the hot weather, as peas are a cool climate crop and a few days in the hot sun can really shrivel and distort them. But the damage tends to focus around the leaf edges, whereas with yours it seems that they are growing distorted, which is what makes me think it's a virus.

    As you say though, still time to get another lot in for a late crop.

  15. Shame about the peas, of course, but everything else is looking just great! Very envious of you having a walled garden...

  16. Your garden is looking wonderful Celia. Such a shame about the peas but everything else is great compensation. I love everything ... the globe artichokes ... your strawberry bed ... the sage and the potatoes - fantastic!

    I posted about my kitchen garden yesterday.

    Jeanne x

  17. Just had another thought - since you say this is affecting ALL the peas in this bed, but not the ones you have growing in another part of the garden. I don't suppose you've used manure in the affected bed? I'm just thinking it looks very like the effects of aminopyralid poisoning, an agricultural weedkiller which has been causing problems for gardeners through contaminated manure, hay and grass products (even shop-bought composts have been implicated). The classic symptom of aminopyralid poisoning is that the growth is stunted and distorted and the leaves curl upwards at the edges in a spoonlike shape. As I say, just a thought.

  18. wow! Huge amount of veg! All looks pretty good to me. I'm over the moon that I have seven mange tout and a handful of carrot thinings for supper from my little patch so I'm green with envy! P x

  19. I went up to the allotment this evening - the purple podded peas you sent me are beginning to plump up nicely. Counted 20 3 pods so far!I was tempted to pick a few and see what they were like as a mange toute.

    The salmon peas are flowering, as is King Tut, and the Lazy Housewife is anything but, she's fair romped up the 8 foot poles!

    Like the Elderflower icing idea - will have to try that. I made 7lbs of Gooseberry at Elderflower jam at the weekend - its very good - used a Delia recipe.

  20. What a verdant and prolific post!!!

    Great.. I am inspired! I did find a 'purple podded pea' (singular) on the plants yesterday.... but they are all little weedy, didn' t have the best start to the year without a green house to get them going.

    Love your post... beautiful garden, you must work very hard at it.

  21. Your veg patch is my idea of how a veg patch should be, I love it, and your garden too. It looks like you're mostly self-sufficient in the fruit and veg dept, so impressive. So pleased your exhibition went well, it must have been wonderful for the visitors, what a wonderful location to have it in. Love Vanessa xxx

  22. Well, if my garden looked anywhere near as good as yours, I'd be more than happy. It really does look very good.

  23. even your poorly areas look lush & gree ! would love to have a greenhouse--of course, i would first need enough space to put one up ;) a pity about the sickly peas. will you pull them up? looking forward to shots of the 3 sisters mound greening.

  24. it was really lovely to meet you and annette last week. my daughter really appreciated the time you took to explain the process for your prints and the opportunity to look at your sketch books. we had a wonderful time and hope to meet you again....your prints are really wonderful

  25. Well it all looks divine to me. Nature is never perfect so a garden (or gardener!) never will be either. I love the redcurrants and adore redcurrant jelly for Christmas. I think perhaps I'll try those next year.

    Our alltoment is a disgrace. We are eating produce (new potatoes and peas this week) but we have whole beds covered in grass and someone's even been and strimmed the buttercups back - oh the shame!

    There'll always be more to do won't there but high summer is for sitting back and enjoying it I say, and what a lovely garden you've got to enjoy. Hope the weather lasts for you.

  26. Oh it all looks so fabulous, I have garden envy. This is my very favourite sort of garden.


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