Potager Garden: August 2020

We started a tree hospital in our garden. Wilting self-sown spindle trees from the front garden and seemingly dead twigs were replanted with care in prime positions. I watered them every day and fed them a seaweed feed. After five weeks – a rush of bright chlorophyl-green shot up the stem of the smallest twig and signalled the start of the healing process. A week later, tiny leaves appeared.

Our little daughter started to spend all of her time in the garden. Together we created a little reading nook, shaded from the full sun under the giant fuchsia. She took Mouse and Rabbit into her hideaway and taught them their alphabet.

We celebrated when the first solitary bees moved into the tiny hive I had been gifted for my springtime birthday. The spaces are almost all filled now … happily, we may need to add a second one next year.

Helpful friends identified this exotic looking self-seeded bloom as a Himalayan Honeysuckle. At first I was perturbed that it was entwining its way up the rose arch with surprising speed. Having been reassured that it will reach a comfortable 4-5 foot and then calm down, I can now enjoy its presence in our shady miniature woodland area.

In the last week of August, the storms came; too rough for the delicate summer blossoms. My daughter and I together collected the fallen flowers – mostly stemless so not destined for a vase arrangement. I was suddenly inspired to paint with them instead. I let the raindrops fall away into the artist’s paper and then added a matching pigment.

Back in the Springtime, we had watched the delicate apple blossoms, hoping that they would brave the breeze…

…we then watched the very same branch as it bobbed and swayed in the gales. It held on until morning – just!

Many nights were too fierce for a real candle. Standing out in the dusk gales was exhilarating nonetheless and I loved being in the night garden, buffeted by the swirls of fresh breeze.

Eventually, the storms drifted away, leaving us with a second Summer. Lavender, Salvia, Buddleia, all had their third flowerings. To add a little smidgen of anticipation, the Sedum began to bud, just as September approached.

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Art Journal: Collecting wild seeds and finding inspiration

On an afternoon when it is too hot to be outdoors, I unroll some parcel paper on the table and set out our recently foraged seeds. Cloud parsley, milk thistle, clover, grasses and rose hips.

My little daughter can see that I have plants all over the table. She runs out to the garden and returns with a freshly harvested fuchsia flower.

“Away on a Breeze”

The feathery seeds are awaiting their first flight on the tiniest of air currents. Every time I breathe, they start to float out of frame. I carefully encourage them back into place. I hold my breathe. Time stops. Click.

My daughter returns from another garden visit and hands me two fallen hollyhock blossoms.

One of my younger boys runs through the kitchen singing. Grasses scatter across the table whilst milk thistles take to the air. He happily helps me catch them as they float towards the door, a practised skill from many hours spent chasing delicate storm bubbles in the garden.

“Gentle Partings”

The patter of footsteps. My daughter has found six faded rose petals and a handful of leaves.

Of everything in this wild harvest, the cloud parsley seeds are my favourite. I almost prefer them to the actual flower. I lift the sprig out of the diorama and study it in detail, turning it in my hands, before laying it back down carefully. The brittle stem makes a scratching sound against the thick paper.

“Be Free”

When I have completed my work, my daughter is still intrigued, standing on her tip toes to see.

I recreate her mouse doll in petals, using delicate little seeds as the eyes and lashes. She asks if her mouse can be a dancer, so we use the hollyhock petals as the skirt and give our ballerina a tiny fuchsia crown. Snipping a piece of the cloud parsley, we give the mouse a miniature flower stem of her own.

“At midnight, Mouse transforms into a Dancer”

We take a photograph together and safely store the seeds away to sow in our garden.*

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Commission Enquiries: tinypotager@hotmail.com

*We only gather a few common seed heads that have already fallen to the ground in the hedgerows near our home. Wildflowers in bloom should be left to go to seed so that they may return the following year. Please respect the wildflower laws wherever you live.