The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

white tree peony“Save it for a rainy day.”

I could never understand that phrase when I was a child. We certainly didn’t shop more when it rained. Rain meant donning a sou’wester and gum boots and jumping in puddles. Why did I need to save?

As it was raining today I couldn’t work. This meant that I was free to accompany my mum to Scotsdales nursery garden in Cambridge. A vast emporium packed with plants, seeds, pets and every gardening geegaw that you can imagine from inflated model robins to bird tables to attract the small, live versions.

We rolled up and strolled towards the complex.
“I have a list.” My Mum passed me a closely written page torn from a notebook. It was her Waitrose grocery list with the garden centre list as a commercial break in the middle.

19 geraniums. 3 pansies. Bug spray. Compost? Cactus (outdoor – this threw me). Bird table.

The geraniums had to be the same colour.

Mid May is late to be buying summer bedding in Scotsdales’ calendar. They had sold out of red and white geraniums so the choice was between pink or mixed or empty window boxes. We settled on pink. There wasn’t a sniff of a pansy so we chose violas, hovering over the Heartsease a bit later (too leggy).

We bought quite a lot of plants that weren’t on the list. Baby lettuce plants for us both to tide us over until our salad leaves (still to be planted) come into their own. A box of baby parsley plants for me.
“If you were more strident at home you could germinate them from seed,” tipped my mum. She has always been successful with parsley. She firmly believes in the old myth that parsley grows well in a house where the woman wears the trousers.
“I am growing chervil, basil and coriander,” I retorted as I stowed the curly leaved version into the trolley. I had just swapped the small “on a budget” trolley for a lottery winner’s three tiered version.

My mum bought me a pretty blue perennial. With chubby fat buds. I reckon that this might be the cushion plant mentioned by Kate Smudges a few months ago. Unfortunately I can’t locate the exact post as she has relocated from Blogger to Typepad but this blog is well worth a visit anyway. Bursting with gardening treasure and more…

Whilst mum selected a variegated pelargonium, I snapped up a scotch bonnet chilli plant and a couple of pelargonium (the darkest purple) to shine beside the over wintered white ones from the year before last. These are now giants and already in bud.

We had a coffee and a cake before we searched for the bug spray and examined the bird tables. We need to bring Jalopy next time, I knew at a glance that a bird table would just snicker at Danny’s car. What we needed was a car with fold down seats.
“And we’ll find the outdoor cactus.”
“Do you mean the ones that grow on a roof?”
“Possibly but I don’t want it on the roof. I’d never see it. They are happy in a pot.”
Next time I’m determined to find and lasso these elusive plants.

We loaded the car and drove gently back through Granchester. Past banks of cow parsley and buttercups. The grass and the leaves of the trees the stunning spring green that seems to spell hope for the summer and the promise of long warm days with the sun on your back.


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2 Comments

  1. Houseleeks? I’ve got some on the barn roof, but also a couple planted in gravel where they have done well for at least the last ten years.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    I reckon that’s what my mum means. We’ll find them next time. Scotsdales is very big!

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