our new normal?

The garden continues to be the constant in our lives. The beds need weeding, the lawn needs mowing, the seedlings need thinning, the climbing roses need tying in, the garden always needs work. I’ve spent much of these last weeks in my garden, like you certainly, watching the weather for much needed rain, pulling the weeds as they grow like crazy as soon as my back is turned. I have managed to spend longer periods of time in the garden as I’ve not been distracted by the general running around and jumping in the car that is my life. I’ve had time to consider things and to plan. I’ve managed to replant the many plants that spend sometimes years in temporary pots around my garden. Plants that don’t quite fit where I want them, plants that I plan to move on to somewhere else in the garden or plants that I don’t have time to place somewhere more permanently. I dig them up and put them into a pot with new soil and try to remember to water them. I am constantly tripping over these lost souls, I even have a nursery shelf of plants waiting to find their forever home. Happily today I can say that many of them are now tucked into new places, at long last – I can almost hear them sigh.

My raised vegetable beds, I have six, are being slowly taken over by my new found love of dahlias. Out with the tomatoes and in with the cut flowers. I love dahlias but they really do take up a huge amount of space. I mentioned to my husband that I’d really like another two large raised beds for vegetables but he hasn’t seemed keen on this construction project and quickly returned to the safe haven excuse of getting back to the office for a call – in the next room! I’m going to have to work something out. I have planted so many seeds; edamame beans, spinach, courgettes, pumpkins, broccoli, kale, spicy salad mixes and Italian salad mixes, and I know there will be tomato plants once I get out to my tomato guy. With so much growing its a good job that all our summer plans are on hold – I’ll be busy in the garden for the duration.

The raspberries and blackberries are covered in flowers and looking healthy and strong but I always have a big issue with weeds. I garden on a hill, which is not ideal, this makes weeding a very slow and difficult job – trying to not fall down the hill demands a lot of concentration. Last year I tried a weed suppressant trick – weeding the base of the plants, adding compost, covering the compost with cardboard, dampening the cardboard before covering it with wood chips. This year I’ve done the same just minus the cardboard – for me the cardboard didn’t work very well as it eventually migrated to the bottom of the hill. However, if you garden on the flat (lucky you) it will work brilliantly. The weeds have to work very hard to get through the cardboard and they become very leggy and easy to pull resulting in less weeding which I love.

In order to not use chemical sprays, I’ve been spraying the greenfly and blackfly on my roses, shrubs and mirabelle trees with a soapy mixture (1 tablespoon savon noir to 1 litre of water) which prevents these insects from adhering to the plants. So far so good it is working a treat and means I don’t have to squash them between my fingers anymore.

Speaking of insects I’ve not yet found any boxwood caterpillars on my box hedge. When I can’t see any sign of them, I water the hedge with the hose and if lots of small white moths fly out I know it is time to spray. If you have box it is really important to catch the caterpillars early, so keep your eyes open for them. If I find them I use this product from Andermatt Biogarten.

If you can bear it continue to ignore the yellowing leaves on your spent daffodils. Removing the flower heads prevents the plant from making seeds, allowing the leaves to yellow and photosynthesize allows the bulbs to become fatter and stronger before going dormant until next spring.

For the bird spotters among us Bird Life Suisse is running their annual count until Sunday 10 May. Why not spend an hour recording the feathered visitors to your garden and send your results along.

I’ve been so impressed by our small local nurseries and garden centres. They have provided a wonderful service to us over the past weeks, some moving to web sales and online ordering and others taking phone orders with safe pick-up or delivery. Changing the way they do business and interact with clients has not been easy their love is horticulture and not technology after all and it is important to continue to support them during this transitional period however long that may be. With things now gently reopening here is a little update on some of their services:

Association les artichauts is based in the greenhouses of Beaulieu behind the Geneva train station. This association grows heritage varieties of herbs and vegetables plants which are sold at outdoor markets, they also supply plants to the Ferme de Budé’s marché de plantons. They have an extensive list of plants on their website. Order on line and pick up from Geneva or Chêne-Bourg on Wednesdays or Saturdays. See the website for exact details.

Desarzens has been so over-run by the demand for its online ordering that they have had to temporarily close to orders until Saturday 9 May in order to fulfil all requests. They should be back to full service with herb and vegetable plants as well as a good selection of summer plants to order from Saturday.

La ferme de pralies has an extensive list of heritage tomatoes, peppers, chillies and aubergines on their website. Ordering plants in advance is recommended. Their shop in Arnex-sur-Nyon is open on Fridays from 14:00-20:00 and Saturdays from 09:00-18:00

La Flânerie in Troinex located in the midst of the greenhouses of Verdonnet Bouchet has reopened with a wonderful stock of herbs and plants.

Nature en scène in Arnex-sur-Nyon will be open this Sunday 10 May for Mother’s Day from 08:30-12:00

La Noyère in Mont-sur-Rolle continues to offer beautiful cut flowers and decorative items from their boutique. Mother’s day orders should be made by phone to 079.714.52.88 by Thursday evening.

Rémy Jaggi in Trélex will open every Sunday until 7 June including the two public holidays.

Schilliger is open seven days a week including public holidays until 7 June.

If you need to get out of the house:

Arboretum although the events have been postponed and the buildings and restaurant remain closed it is possible to spend a few hours walking through this wonderful arboretum above Aubonne. The website has details of walks to follow.

Château de Prangins reopens on Monday 12 May, the walled kitchen garden is well worth a visit if you haven’t already seen it. Tours are not available at the moment and groups of five continue to be the largest allowed.

Château des Vullierens with a reduced entry to the gardens and a reduced entry price of Chf 10 the irises are nonetheless in full bloom and ready to be admired.

Fête de la tulipe The 50th anniversary celebrations of the Fête de la tulipe in Morges did not exactly go to plan even though the weather was sublime. The website hosts five beautiful short videos in case you were not able to visit in person. The organizers will go ahead with their annual bulb sale on Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 May from 10:00-17:00. The format will be a little different this year given the distance regulations. A drive through will be set up for those coming by car and a walk by for those on foot. A surprise selection of bulbs will be prepared in advance for interested gardeners, the price per bag is usually Chf 10 but may exceptionally be increased slightly this year in order to help cover their costs.

and finally:

I apologize in advance if you tried to contact me for seeds and I haven’t replied, I am trying to resolve email issues. If you grow flowers for cutting, I still have a small selection of beautiful seeds for sale from Grace Alexander Flowers, Somerset including sweet peas and bee friendly sets. Drop me a note to tara@bluewin.ch if you are interested and I’ll send you the list.

I wish you well in your garden close to the beauty of nature.

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