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.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Labour of the month: February

We're more than half way through February, time for another Labour of the Month on PPPs – something that for me signifies the time of year in my garden or kitchen.

But first, I've been thinking . . . how do you see your garden? I mean, how do you picture it in your mind? Is it a series of photographs or a plan or diagram? For me a two dimensional representation seems inadequate, a garden is more than that, you need to see the garden in 3D and then add a 4th dimension – time.

I see the garden as music – a composition for a large orchestra with various movements and occasional solo parts for different instruments or voices, with sometimes a choir and complex ensemble crescendos (I wonder if this is a kind of synesthesia).

After the conductor/gardener has tapped her baton and settled the potatoes into trays to chit at the end of January, the opening notes of the overture start in February and I walk through the green door in the wall, into the vegetable garden – for me February means . . .

Sowing Broad Beans
I know that the gardening books will recommend
an autumn sowing direct into the soil outdoors
but this is how I do it and it works for me.

I carry with me seeds saved from last year's crop of Crimson Flowered Broad Beans – I've noticed that the pale green beans produce the deep red flowers, if the seeds are buff or darker brown then the flowers had cross pollinated with another variety and this year would produce white or dusky pink flowers.

A mixture of colours is nice, but I want to keep this heritage seed as true as possible, so I pick out the green beans to sow into pots of compost in my greenhouse. I plant three beans just below the soil surface in each pot (yes, I know that's cramped - but this method works in our garden) that's 90 beans planted – plenty for me and some to give as small plants to friends . . .

Now the music has begun – another season – another year – another orchestration!



  1. When I "see" my garden in my mind's eye, I also smell it (am I part dog?) Right now, with my garden covered in snow, I also imagine sun on my shoulders. It's all a jumble of senses. What I don't do is imagine a garden plan! :)

  2. You make it all sound so beautiful! I love growing broad beans too and your post might just be the nudge I need to get out to the greenhouse. Lucy x

  3. cant wait to get into the garden this weekend... so bloody excited!... I love the way you've got yourself organised...

  4. That sounds like a job for the weekend. I've saved some beans from last year which were grown from beans saved from the year before from plants you gave me!

  5. That's a great way of thinking about your garden. I sowed some broad beans the other day in toilet roll inners which I'll plant out in the plot when there's a decent number of roots formed, seems to work nicely.

  6. We've planted our broad beans too. It is so exciting to get started.

  7. Just had some compost delivered this week so in to the greenhouse this weekend yippee!

  8. In my dreams, my garden would be a song in-the-round. As it is, it's a cacophony and I get to enjoy what the muntjac don't nibble! I need a garden wall.

  9. Wish I liked broad beans, then I could join you!

  10. I am hoping that my greenhouse will be repaired this weekend (triumph of hope over experience I suspect!) then I can get out and get my fingers mucky in pots too!

  11. What a good question Celia. My immediate response is that I don't know how I see my garden. It's just there and means everything to me. I love everything about it in any season but I shall reflect on the question and ask my husband later what he would say. On a discordant note I am in the 'broad bean haters' camp so they won't be getting a look in in my greenhouse. Sorry! Lesley

  12. Lovely post. Sadly I see my allotment as a big weedy warzone, but I know if you look in the right places there's plenty of treasure to be found!

  13. My garden is an unruly child ! Also my 2 chickens managed to fly over my gate so my herbs garden looks like a sandpit at the moment !!
    My hubby is the proud head gardener. He is a very busy businessman and when he is gardening, he is just another man... relaxed, happy !

  14. i see my garden in a cross-section of layers: bedrock (o.k., but damp-ish), soil (will need serious amendment to address drainage in one corner, & calcium lack in another), topsoil, plants.

  15. what a lovely post - the garden as music. I love that.
    Just need that soil to dry out a little then our batons shall get to work and the magical music shall quietly begin...

  16. I like your orchestral metaphor. When I am planning I sometimes listen to just one or two instruments, and have to drag myself back to check that the parts I am writing for them still work within the whole. I sowed some broad beans last week in pots, they are just starting to show. I wish I had room for more, I love them.

  17. Hi Terry - scent! yes that too...

    Hi Locket Pocket - hope you got the broad beans sown.

    Hi Dom - The weather was pretty crap - did you get some gardening done?

    Hi Gina - well done for saving the seed!

    Hi Damo and Flower Garden - hope your broad beans are doing well.

    Hi Chicken Lover and Skybluepinkish - good to get started after such a long hard winter!

    Hi Chrissie - Muntjac - little b***ers!

    Hi Fiona and Lesley - but have you tasted home grown broad beans cooked freshly picked? And the ones I grow have thin tender skins too - no need to peel them. I think I could convert you ;-)

    Hi Nome - good luck with the allotment this year :-)

    Hi Catherine - sounds like the garden is great therapy for your husband.

    Hi Petoskystone - I like your geological/ecosystem view.

    Hi Carrie - hope your garden and allotment are slowing coming to life.

    Hi Plantaliscious - nothing is ever perfect in a garden, but sometimes the unexpected is better than the carefully planned. enjoy your broad beans.



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