Saturday, October 16, 2010

Earth room

I took my first trip to New York last month. Although it has the tallest buildings I've ever set eyes on, it also has lots of pockets and snaking ribbons of green. From the great breathing spaces of central park and the botanic garden out in the Bronx through to the sympathetically planted overhead railway, offering a nature walk along the highline with views to match.

Perhaps more unexpected were the garden plots we chanced across when exploring Manhattan. La Guardia Corner Gardens is one such instance, located between Bleecker and Houston. The plot was developed by neighbourhood gardeners in 1981 on a piece of city property which was just barren land. It is a beautiful if unexpected intervention into the cityscape. Peering through the chainlink fence we watched sparrows hopping between plants while monarch butterflies and huge black bees took advantage of the buddlia bush.

Sadly, as with all city space there, land is money which makes this green space far from secure. NYU have plans to develop ‘superblock’ accommodation towers which would shade out the garden effectively killing it. A campaign has been launched to protect it but you have to wonder if planners will value the importance of this backyard wildlife habitat.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Late sun

I was almost tricked into thinking that it was high summer today even though the evidence was against it. The sun has now sunk down in the sky casting a warm filtered light. Bees are outnumbered by yellow jackets busing themselves with investigations of each freshly dug heap of soil in a slow zig-zag meandering flight. Enjoying the unseasonably warm day I edged and weeded the beds - pulling out long stolens of the subterranian roots of couch grass as it wound its way through the beetroot and chard. Though growth is slowing the plot is still producing well and showing promise for the winter: the cabbages are hearting up, the sprouts are beginning to bud and the purple sprouting broccoli is starting to stand tall, although covered with those pesky whitefly. Does anyone know of an organic way to treat them?

Monday, August 23, 2010

jam today

There is something rather yesteryear about having an allotment and the act of picking ripe blackberries from the bramble bushes on the perimeter certainly provoked a stab of nostalgia. Pulling away the fruit, some of it so ripe that it immediately gave way on first touch, felt like the definition of high summer. Fingertips stained ruby pink with juice we ended up with a bag full of berries. The undergardener even tried his hand at jam-making as well as cooking up a batch of chutney from homegrown onions and marrow.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cooling off

This visitor appeared when I was filling up the water butt. I've no idea how long he has been in there but the water level was so low that there was no possibility for escape. When the water neared the top I used a trowel to fish him out, fully expecting him to make a leap for freedom. Instead he sat happily on the trowel checking out the surroundings.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Red arrows

I keep seeing brief flashes of red as I am walking about. It's not that I need to get to the optician but that there are rather a lot of cinnabar moths about this month. Their scarlet and black wings mean that you might easily mistake them for butterflies. On the wing during the day they are seeking out ragwort plants on which to lay their eggs. The lottie seems to be providing a good playground.