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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sunflowers and other garden themes

You've probably been out and found a sunflower this month.  Or even just a picture.  A long, long time ago I had a little book called "The Language of Flowers" and if it didn't belong to my mother, it belonged to my aunt.  I've looked everywhere and I can't find it.  I can't find anything online about the meaning or symbolsim of the sunflower, although I have a feeling that constancy is associated with it, because the heads follow the sun. I wouldn't trust me on that, though. That's frustration for you.

My garden is another frustration.  I am fairly relaxed about where plants decide they want to grow, but I do object strongly to stinging nettles in amongst my vegetables.  Apart from using up the nutrients that my vegetables need, they sting me when I pull them out - even if they are teeny-weeny ones and I'm wearing thick gloves.  They have little hairlike structures on the undersides of their leaves and stems that deliver something like acetic acid into your skin.  Think poison ivy and you get the idea.
Peacock butterfly on buddleia
The good things about nettles: they are fantastic food plants for all sorts of butterflies and moths, including the beautiful Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies.  They also make great nitrogen rich plant feed if left to rot down in a bucket of water for a month or so.  Nettles for leafy growth, comfrey for fruiting plants.

Quite a few readers will be nodding their heads sagely at this.  I know that because I've seen a lot of lovely gardening blogs during the April A2Z, and some that blossom afterwards, especially Sue Ann Bowling's Homecoming blog.  I was blown away by the varieties of plants she grows in her garden - herbs, mints, lavenders, squashes, beans...  I do grow these... but I'm not in the Arctic Circle!  Sue's garden is an inspiration, and I must try and keep up with her!
Sue's garden (c) S A Bowling
If you're in the southern hemisphere, I expect you're just gearing up for planting your tomatoes and squashes and other plants for the summer.  Here in England I'm making last sowings of winter lettuce and carrots, hoping they get big enough to see themselves through the winter for some early spring produce.  The ones I hope to eat during winter were sown at the end of July and some slugs ate half the seedlings.  That's life in gardening.

Gardening for vegetables needs a lot of planning ahead.  I must do some more work on my theme for next year's A2Z , too - anyone know of a natural phenomenon beginning with X?

Other garden-related blogs I've enjoyed:
Marcy Howes: Creation and Compassion
Stepheny Houghtlin G is for Garden Shed
Sharon Himsl: Shells-Tales-Sails

Do you ever blog about gardening - or growing things on your balcony or windowsill?  Add your link in the comments!

Guest author Jemima Pett blogs at http://jemimapett.com about books, life, gardening and anything else that she fancies! 

28 comments:

  1. There seem to be a variety of meanings for Sunflower. I liked the meaning : Sunflowers turn to follow the sun. Their open faces symbolize the sun itself, conveying warmth and happiness, adoration and longevity. Regards Anne, Australia

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  2. Our garden is all grass. Yeah, not much of a gardener...

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    1. Grass is fine, especially if you just want to kick a ball about or similar. Try leaving the edges long - you'll be surprised what takes up residence in it!

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  3. No garden. Usually end up growing a few herbs such as basil and rosemary, and maybe a couple of hanging geraniums all on our balcony. Never been an enthusiastic gardener although I do love to see a nice garden.

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    1. Anyone who has herbs and geraniums is a gardener in disguise! Lovely mix of scents from all those :)

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  4. We usually have a vegetable garden every year that does okay. When it comes to growing herbs, I don't seem to have much luck anymore. I think it has something to do with not spending the proper amount of time with them. I like your meaning for sunflowers.

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    1. If your veggies are doing ok, your herbs may be getting too much food from them. Either that or the herbs are getting overshadowed. Most herbs like sun, relatively poor soil, and regular cutting. Of course there are plenty of exceptions - mint likes it dank and somewhat shady, basil does best in good compost with ample water... These days my herbs seem to grow where they find a spot they like - and then I leave them to it :)

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  5. Jo Jemima .. I don't have a garden right now - but would love to have a cottage size garden - a few veg, some fruit and generally somewhere to potter! But you're right .. lots of sunflowers around and by the time I've distributed some seed - who knows where sunflowers will spring up ... Gardens are just amazing and so therapeutic ... Cheers Hilary

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    1. They are indeed, Hilary. Maybe next year I'll spend more time in it earlier :)

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  6. I like gardening but have never blogged about it. Your post is an interesting one with nice images. Michelle

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. Maybe next year's A to Z theme?

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  7. I used to have a garden 30 yrs ago but now I would not be able to have one as I have joint pain but I would like a small herb garden as they can grow in pots.I may even do a tomato:) My husband found the Stinging nettle the hard way and I couldn't remember the name so now I will be able to tell him

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    1. Sorry to hear about your joint pain, Birgit. I think you're right - a small herb garden, maybe pots or troughs or even a sink, would work well, and give a little interest and delight!

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  8. I love sunflowers. I cannot face the sun because it's too bright, but the sunflowers I can stare at even forever. :)

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  9. Hello Lee
    Loved looking at your garden and reading it's story. My yard zaps all my energy in the summer and I couldn't seem to get to the computer but I think it all came to a screaming halt last night. Freezing temps. Lots of sunflowers were scattered about in my yard but one volumteer stands alone and has a trunk as thick as a small tree. It's proof that nature does it best if left alone. Ha
    I should have taken a pic of it because this AM it's most likely kaput.
    I do love your nettles but I suppose they are a bother too. I'm happy for your good fortune to be having another planting.
    Cheers to you
    Manzanita

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    1. It's Jemima, rather than Lee, on this one, Manzanita :) You can do a lot of gardening in cooler climates if you give the plants suitable protection in bad weather. I presume the same applies to very hot climates! The things I plant now won't do much in winter but they'll get going earlier in spring. :)

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  10. My whole back yard has been torn up and after seeing all the lovely photos I now can't wait to at least get some color in before Winter here. Although, it is Southern California, colorful flowers usually die out in the heat. I would love to have some butterflies too!

    Katy Did at The Life's Ride As I See It Blog

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    1. I guess your major issues are water and heat. I've seen tv programmes on some lovely gardens in S Cal, but often prairie or cactus style gardens.

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  11. One of my favourite flowers. So happy looking :)

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  12. I've found 'The Language of Flowers' by Margaret Pickston on Amazon, both on .com and .co.uk - horribly expensive. There are several different versions, by different people; there is even one for Kindle...It's the third one down (well, at least the one I own is). I would have put a link, but for some reason, the page went crazy when I tried...

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    1. Yes I looked idly at the Amazon ones, and didnt see anything resembling mine - but then it was published in the 1930s, probably! I think there are many different interpretations now, as well.

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  13. I'm not getting outside yet, but the time will come. Fall colours always call to me at the perfect time. Love how that happens.

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    1. Yes, autumn colours are definitely starting to show in the UK now!

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  14. I do really like your nettles but I assume they are a hassle too. I'm satisfied for your excellent luck to be having another growing - See more good reson to choose corporate housing vancouver thats why

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  15. I missed that you were posting here last week (maybe because I was out of town again!). My garden is winding down, much earlier than usual due to the drought. Ugh. I don't get nettles, though, just nasty persistent weeds that thrive while my veggies droop.

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