Plants in the City: Plants Go Wild on Holiday

The weather has been quite summery here in Scotland, and the plants certainly aren’t complaining. Every day, the plants in Cosmopolita Scotland’s eco-balcony are growing up the wall, literally. They are growing faster than we can build places to transplant them! This month, Jackie comes back from a summer holiday to an army of overgrown weeds at Tiphereth.

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Jackie Bruce

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Part of the wildflower garden at Tiphereth.
After coming back from a two week holiday I am overwhelmed by the amount of growth and weeds which faced me when I arrived at Tiphereth for my first week back to work. It will take us quite a few hours of solid work to regain a sense of order.

As with most gardens, there is always a time when one needs to take stock and reassess what needs to be cleared out, split up or moved. We have a few herbaceous borders to deal with between now and the autumn, in readiness for next season.

Being Kind to Wildlife Has Its Challenges

One of these is the wildflower garden at Tiphereth, which is now in its third year and looked wonderful last season. It is now almost completely dominated by nettles, which I had left a few of to please the insects. Sometimes, being kind to wildlife has the opposite effect on the gardener. Now I have to deal with the consequences. On the plus side, I was very excited to discover a Humming Bird Moth enjoying nectar from the Bladder Campion and Valerian growing there. Maybe it was worth all the hard work, as these moths are pretty rare in Edinburgh.

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Nasturtiums are great. Bees like them and you can eat the flowers and young leaves in a salad. They taste kind of peppery.
The bees are still out and about, foraging for any nectar that is available to them. The verbena boneriensis, daucas carrota and borage are great for them and they are flowering beautifully in the bee and butterfly garden at Tiphereth.

In the Cosmopolita Scotland Eco Balcony, the bees have been visiting too. They particularly liked the Narturtiums, which have edible flowers. The guys put some of the flowers into a salad, along with the rocket and spinach that they are growing.

There’s Still Time to Plant Salad

Edible plants are everywhere, and the courgette plants at Tiphereth are well established and producing lots of fruit. Also, the gourds are growing well and enjoying the moist, mild weather.

This is a great time to continue sowing salad leaves for picking. Rocket, spring onions, mizuna, parsley flat leaved and curled also fresh coriander will all germinate and continue growing. Also, chard, peas and Florence fennel can be sown now. Make the most of this month in your green space as Autumnal weather could appear any day.

I really love kale and it is very quick and easy to grow, especially the dark green almost black cavolo nero. I have just planted some more seeds to continue on from the last ones which I harvested. Perpetual spinach is a great crop for small or large gardens. As the name suggests, you can go on picking the leaves for weeks. It keeps growing well into autumn and there is still time for some more successional sowing.

The sweet peas I planted at Tiphereth are beginning to flower at last, but seem to be quite late this year as I planted the seed in March. Still, it’s always a pleasure to have these in a vase any time.

[cml_media_alt id='7753']sweet pea[/cml_media_alt]The Eco Balcony – Pallets Everywhere!

In the Eco Balcony, the sweet peas are also taking their time. Just this week, the first purple flower appeared.

It is quite amazing that the guys have achieved so much in the Eco Balcony in just their first season of growing. They didn’t have much experience but have lots of enthusiasm. They collected some pallets from a building site and turned them into planters.

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The guys got some free pallets from a nearby building site and refashioned them into planters. Here’s the before and after. There’s beetroot, carrots and peas planted in this one.

Their peas are up to the ceiling and the runner beans are doing really well. Amazingly, the beans are only in small pots but they have practically taken over. The sunflowers, which are a good size, have not flowered yet. When they do, they will be left to set seed and feed the birds in the colder months. A few may even be used for home made bread and cakes.

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Cosmopolita Scotland’s Eco Balcony – Runner beans on the left, peas on the ceiling and sunflowers in the middle. The tall planter is filled with various types of sunflower and some herbs. A repurposed olive tub, on the right, has a happy fuchsia which is flowering well.
The herbs are a welcome addition, and popping out to pick them is very satisfying. It’s always great to be able to eat the food that you grow. Which reminds me…

Proof of the Power of Gardening and Blackcurrants

I was working in my own garden today and decided to harvest a bumper crop of blackcurrants. It has been an extremely good season for soft fruit this year.

There is a family of six lovely children in the flat next to ours and three of them were playing on their trampoline. I asked if they would like to try some of the berries. I cut back the branches and had a small bowl to fill. Slowly and cautiously, they came over the fence and started to help me with the crop.

They kept finding tiny snails on the blackcurrant branches and gently placing them on my garden table. As we pulled the currants gently from the branches, they chatted away to me.

I could tell they were having a nice time. It was lovely. It is total proof that, if nothing else, community gardening can be amazingly satisfying and rewarding, while bringing people together. What a lovely afternoon I had, and completely unexpected.

Photos by Jackie Bruce and Alex Owen-Hill. Cover artwork adapted from photo by Oliver Wendel.

Autor: Jackie Bruce

Jackie Bruce is a horticulturist who works at the Tiphereth Camphill community. She writes the Plants in the City column for Cosmopolita Scotland, which gives a fun guide to growing plants in small spaces.

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