Thursday, November 30, 2006

Old new borrowed and blue

Collecting seed is a favourite hobby of mine and I am not adverse to knocking on strangers doors to ask for a seed or two from their garden plants. Most people seem surprised though they are often genuinely delighted that a stranger took an interest in their garden. The draw back with this tactic is that often the plants are unnamed, the occupants having inherited the plants from a previous occupant, and I often have to wait several months before I can identify my new plants. The advantage is that you get much more satisfaction from growing a plant from seed as well as the obvious savings. Don’t be frightened to ask for seed as most gardeners are only too pleased to encourage others and much material if unclaimed simply ends up on the compost heap.

On a visit to a garden nursery near to Empuriabrava on the Costa Brava I befriended an elderly Doberman bitch that belonged to the owner. She reminded me very much of my own Doberman ‘Z’ who had died a couple of years ago. Glad of the company she followed me around the garden taking each and every opportunity that presented itself for a stroke. Dobermans, contrary to their Hollywood reputations, are intelligent and friendly creatures but will guard their home ground.

Agapanthus was high on my wish list but the plants in this nursery were really quite expensive. However the owner who was amused at the way his dog and I had bonded during my visit and he offered me a little seed from his Agapanthus display. This had turned out to be a great visit I had a new friend in the Doberman and I also had my Agapanthus seed. Plants are a great reminder of the personalities you meet and as you tend your garden each flower carries it’s own story of an episode from your life, evoking happy memories of family and friends.

I sowed the Agapanthus directly in a new and raised nursery bed containing amongst other things varieties’ of dianthus and the yucca’s pups. The three young seedlings sprouted and looked healthy enough to form strong plants.

With so much ground to contend with and a lot of work involved in renovating the house, weeding is a constant battle ground. The plot being so open means that wind distributed weed seeds are free to descend onto my carefully tendered soil. Fransico’s sheep are not adverse to importing weed seed on their frequent and untimely visits either.

On cultivated ground a push hoe makes light work of small weed seedlings which here can be left on top of the soil to perish under the hot Mediterranean sun; before being turned into the ground to add humus. It was on a day like this that I found to my horror that I had murdered my Agapanthus seedlings. Cut down in by the blade of the hoe.

Carol and I paid a visit to the same nursery I had visited earlier, half the attraction was the promised introduction to the Doberman. The owner told us that she, the dog, had gone blind suddenly and at nine years of age had to be put to sleep. He had another dog but still missed his old friend.

We haven’t replaced the Agapanthus yet. We haven’t replaced our Doberman either.

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