Thursday, May 29, 2008


I found these fantastic 19th century Japanese woodblock prints on Pink Tentacle. They illustrate men posing as a hawk, duck and crow respectively (have a look, there are more). They brought to mind the 'owl' that roosts in our garden on occasion.

Maybe now is the time to revive this fad for mimicking birds which was all the rage at parties in the Edo.
Still on the subject of birds, if you have a minute read this fabulous quote by James Thurber posted on Fed By Birds.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Here today...

... and all et up tonight. This is the first real harvest of artichokes for me. Other years I've had a plant or two that I let go to flower as they are so pretty. But last year I prepared a bed and grew 8 plants, which have become enormous this spring. There's going to be a few more feeds yet.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


"How do you like your brandy, sir?"
"Any way at all,"I said.
The butler went away among the abominable plants. The General spoke again, slowly, using his strength as carefully as an out-of-work showgirl uses her last good pair of stockings.
"I used to like mine with champagne. The champagne as cold as Valley Forge and about a third of a glass of brandy beneath it. You may take your coat off, sir. It's too hot in here for a man with blood in his veins."
... I stared at him with my mouth open. The soft wet heat was like a pall around us. The old man nodded, as if his neck was afraid of the weight of his head. Then the butler came pushing back through the jungle with a tea-wagon, mixed me a brandy and soda, swathed the copper ice bucket with a damp napkin, and went softly away among the orchids. A door opened and shut behind the jungle.
I sipped the drink. The old man licked his lips watching me, over and over again, drawing one lip slowly across the other with a funereal absorption, like an undertaker dry-washing his hands.

Working in the greenhouse at the weekend, glowing, as girls do, I was reminded of that scene in The Big Sleep where Marlowe first meets General Sternwood. I've no idea what sort of heat the tomatoes enjoy/tolerate but I wilt very quickly. Fast forward summer. I'm already looking forward to the cold winter mornings when I can steam up the windows with my tea and porridge.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Click on picture to make readable
Mr. & Mrs. Ames, Detectives for Hire
From Eightball by Daniel Clowes

Sunday, May 11, 2008


The lock upon my garden gate's a snail, that's what it is
The lock upon my garden gate's a snail, that's what it is
First there is a mountain then there is no mountain, then there is


Anyway, there have been a lot of snails about lately. Glistening snail trails through the garden every morning. Sadly they have polished off 6 out of 8 'Hugh's Huge' peas. They had to tiptoe through a crushed eggshell barrier to do it too. But I have a new weapon in the arsenal for naughty molluscs. Three actually. The hens. They don't suffer long.

Illustration from Agence Eureka
Psst.. 'E-lect-tric-al Ba-na-na is going to be the very next craze'

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lumps of Putty

"Sealing (now the customary method) is usually completed with glazing putty produced from linseed-oil varnish (linseed oil boiled with red lead or lead oxide) that is kneaded with finely crushed chalk in a mortar until, after a short while, it reaches a certain measure of hardness. The finished putty should be moulded into lumps and stored in a cool place tightly wrapped in a wet ox bladder."
Technological Encyclopedia of Johann Josef Prechtl 1836
We have spent the last month of Sundays (and Saturdays) puttying in 104 little panels of glass. I now have an understanding of putty, the putty and I have bonded. I'm not sure about the glass. Erecting this greenhouse has been about as much work as I might have envisioned building it from scratch. So finally this past weekend I moved all of my seedlings in and potted up the tomatoes. The beans are ready to go into the garden next weekend along with the 'Black Aztec' corn, now about 8 to 10 inches high.
Pictured below are some of the beans and tomatoes soaking up the rays. Notice my grimy fingerprints still visible on the glass.

Monday, May 05, 2008