Flower Power



Saturday the 21st of July, 2012.


There’s a huge yellow and black bumblebee buzzing in out of the bright blue borage flowers that are at the front of the greenhouse. I am completely in awe of this plant. It’s amazing how a single hairy stem gives rise to several other separate strands which then branch out each producing a bunch of beautiful nectar rich flowers. Although this is my first sighting of the plant which was an anonymous donation of organic seeds, I have been told that it is quite common in Italy as the rest of the Mediterranean and some even consider it as a weed.


The leaves are meant to be quite good in salads but I left them out this morning as it seems like an insect had got to them first. Actually, I have just realised that I got this completely wrong. It is not in fact the leaves but the flowers which are used to garnish salads. At the same time, it is quite useful to know that the leaves can be used externally for treating inflamed skin and similar to fennel also in mouthwashes and gargles. They can also be used in soft drinks and wine cups because of they have a faint cucumber-like flavour. Houdret, J (2011) “The Practical Guide to Garden Herbs”, p 119.  So instead, I picked a few leaves each of mizuna, mint, apple mint, rocket, fennel, basil, lettuce, coriander and calendula. It is my own very small way of giving a little Dana to the Kitchen that provides us with such good food every day.


Despite the lack of continuous sunshine and warmth there is an abundance of colour in the garden ushering in new growth. There are pink and cream lilies at the front of the library which have emerged with stripes of burgundy the colour of shredded beetroot that’s also splashed on some hollyhock flowers which are now also in full bloom. In the next flowerbed to their right is a  beautiful plant with red flowers whose  leaves look like those of the Lily but I had not identified it yet because it’s only just started flowering. Anyway, a few hours later, I now have and it is the Crocosmia ( montbretia). A genus of six species of bulbs from tropical and Southern Africa. Red seems to be a recurring theme throughout at the moment no matter where you look. The red roses in the flowerbed to the side of Karunosom are doing particularly well. The bright red ones almost look like begonias. The red, purple and green fuchsia shrubs at the back of the office are also blossoming beautifully. It’s especially rewarding to see that the ivy that had been stubbornly strangling their woody stems since last year has finally given up.








It was an ongoing struggle for months since last autumn to remove it because it had attached itself suffocating the fuchsia in the same way that prejudice does humans. That does not mean I think of the ivy as an evil plant. I have learnt to appreciate its value to wildlife as a source of food and shelter especially during winter as an evergreen. In the past, it was used not only for decoration but also as a form of protection against witchcraft and lightning. Stanford, A (2001, “The Pleasures of Gardening”) p, 145. I also need to remember that there’s a tree growing right in the middle which needs to be removed.


I am particularly concerned about a couple of shrubs that have not shown any sign whatsoever of revival or growth. The first is the cotoneaster which I planted in November. I’m not really sure why. There has been lots of rain these last few months. However, just like I had imagined, it looked great covered in snow. It is probably better not to transplant unless absolutely necessary and there are certain varieties that don’t take too kindly to being displaced in this way. The cotton easter was definitely transplanted and at a time when it seemed to have been fairly well established. I think I’ll have another look again. The other is the magnolia (Black Tulip) which I planted in April the best time to plant the shrub using compost specific to magnolias. This one especially received a can of water every morning for days immediately after it was planted. I must be patient. Speaking of growth or rather the lack of it, this morning also outside the library I couldn’t help noticing in contrast that a dead branch can also look very beautiful completely covered in grey and yellow lichen…..


Someone has mowed the lawns and left irregular wild spaces in the middle that are inhabited by buttercups, self-heal and clover. It’s an interesting compromise I suppose between having completely flat carpet like lawns and wildlife gardening. It was also really lovely to see that the Zen Garden is looking a lot more attractive now with less overgrowth and more mossy rock some of which was covered in strips of ivy showing. Rather impressive.



The Japanese wildflowers in the dark brown ceramic pot are looking especially enchanting with long, trailing, tresses of pretty pinks and purples. Perhaps a sign that they are not meant to be potted? I just hadn’t liked the idea of scattering seeds from a small packet straight onto the ground not knowing what they were supposed to look like and then for them not to germinate. These wonderful donations left in the Garden Shed are few and far between.  So they went straight from seed tray to pot.

I spent part of the morning planting a couple of hydrangea plants that were graciously propagated and donated by Shayanti in some of the bare spaces in the Zen garden. These require plenty of water so I must remember to be vigilant with that. I also planted another two in the small Zen Garden next to Bodhihouse. This buddleia at the corner adjacent to Mettasom has not flowered yet although all the other butterfly bushes growing outside Karunosom, Bodhihouse and the Retreat Centre Kitchen are all in full flower.  Probably because I pruned it much later than the others. It’s now just gone 9 pm and one can feel that there’s a definite drop in temperature.  A lot cooler almost cold. A definite change from the day. It’s been very warm today especially in the afternoon without a single drop of rain.


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