Call Me Vince

For some reason I thought I’d only get one shot with my butternut squash, but it’s proving me wrong in spectacular fashion. The first fruit I hand pollinated didn’t take, which thinking back may have been because it was too wet at the time. Since then however, new baby squashes have been popping up regularly.

Due to a lack of simultaneously having male and female flowers, a further two fruits haven’t made it. They have started to shrivel and will eventually fall off altogether.

I was finding it increasingly hard to keep track of this squash, so I have now gone full-on plant nerd. Once a new fruit appeared I found it so hard to find it again in the foliage, and I also had the suspicion I was counting some twice. So I came up with a solution-I now have different coloured string loosely tied around each fruit.

The pink one is doing really well, but to be sure I’ve started taking measurements. I’ll soon know one way or another whether any pollination has been successful-if it has, they should show growth within a single day.

I will leave it another two days before measuring again, just to be doubly sure.

A few very hot and dry days have brought mixed blessings. The squash is very happy indeed (I had four male flowers bloom in one day) and the sunflower finally showed itself fully.

Just today, my first aubergine flower popped out and others aren’t far behind.

My first ever dahlia has bloomed and it’s a lovely, delicate lemon yellow. Another dahlia seems to coming through pink, but all will be revealed in due course.

On the other hand, the water butt has run dry. I have several containers sitting waiting in case it rains while I’m asleep or at work, but we haven’t had a drop. By this time next year I plan to have at least two more water butts, but I don’t have the money just now.

One thing I could afford was a second compost bin. The council has a scheme where they offer subsidised prices so I ordered one which arrived today, for less than half the price than you’d pay in the shops. It’s worth checking for any local schemes before you buy anything.

Garden fashion is not high on my list of priorities, however I think I’m rocking the compost bin skirt.

As if that wasn’t value for money enough, it also doubles up as a dalek costume.

Since last writing, I have become a fully fledged member of the Royal Horticultural Society. One of their four gardens happens to be a mere 20 minute drive away, and once I was sure it was safe to visit I bought my membership and booked my slot. They are giving out allocated times to make sure it doesn’t get too crowded.

A yearly membership is less than £50 and it’s amazingly good value. You get free entry to the four main RHS gardens (including free entry for a family member) plus free entry to 200 partner gardens. This alone would make it worth it, but you also get a free magazine, access to members’ only days at the big garden shows (although of course they didn’t go ahead this year) access to the RHS library (closed for the time being for obvious reasons) and the opportunity to order seeds collected from the gardens themselves. There’s more, but let’s not turn this post into any more of a love letter to the RHS than it already is!

I visited the first garden on my list, Hyde Hall, on Monday. Just for the fun of it. I got loads of inspiration, and since I’ll be going back regularly I’ll just give a couple of highlights from this trip.

First of all, I had a massive case of sunflower envy. Although mine are taller, these specimens are particularly spectacular.

The size of it! I couldn’t see a card saying which variety it is so next time I go back I’ll ask a staff member. I MUST HAVE ONE!

The theme of this visit was dinner-plate-size plants. I saw so many dahlias as big as my head. Next year, they will be mine.

I also simply must have purple chillies at some point in the future. I don’t think my life could be complete without them.

Also, okra flowers are beautiful. Another one added to the wish list.

Before going back to work Tuesday night, I just about managed to fit in a little painting session. I’d been itching to paint all weekend but the time just got away from me. I still haven’t finished, but I’m very satisfied with my progress so far. It’s been so long since I did a painting this detailed. I’m definitely channelling my inner Vincent, but thankfully with less removed body parts.

At work, I’ve been relearning a clerical role I used to do. I last did it about five years ago, yet my fingers still remember all of the menus I used to use. It explains a lot-I can’t remember anything I want to remember, but my brain is hoarding information I haven’t needed to use in HALF A DECADE. No wonder there’s very little space for anything new.

I’m also doing my first full work week since before lockdown. As such I’ve already run out of time.

Until the next post,

Hayley x