Monday, 2 July 2012

Fitting in

Just stepped in from a spot of gardening because the rain's come on. Our garden is a low ledge that runs along the front and (one) side of the house. We have nothing at the back, a neighbouring garden comes right up to our kitchen window.

Apart from space its main shortcoming is light. The house faces north, so most of the plants get very little light and almost no sun. The side of the house faces east so we do get some morning sun, and thanks to the close proximity of the house opposite, at this time of year, in the middle of the day, some of the plants find themselves able to enjoy sunlight reflected off its windows.

Because I like to cook I want to be able to grow herbs, and today I bought sage, mint, parsley, and oregano. I already have chives, rosemary and bay. The bay tree is doing marvellously, the rosemary less so. I may have to move it, though I suspect it's the constant rain that's causing the problem.  I hope I've put the new herbs in spots where they'll get some sun when it shines, I'll have to keep my eyes open to their needs and move them if necessary.

On another note: I'm about half way through reading my novel; it's nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be and I'm actually quite enjoying it. The basics are there: the idea seems sound, I stick to the theme, the characters have all the necessary dimensions and, crucially, it has a narrative thrust. I think I now know what I need to do with it and sketched out plans for a major rewrite this morning but will finish reading it before I begin all that. It's getting quite exciting.

Reading, noting and sketching I do in bed, but once it comes to the rewrite I'll have to go (all the way downstairs!) to my desk everyday. Luckily I've found a cosy spot to put it.

My workspace: between the window and fireplace, and behind the (man-size) TV.

 Not that it's mine. It once belonged to an aunt of Dave's and so is really his, I've just borrowed it for the time being. As you can see I've covered it in the debris of my existence, and I feel quite at home sitting here at it, typing this post. I have my own office chair (which was once Bob's), my computer, pens, pencils, notebooks and knick-knacks. And, when he's not out fishing, I have Dave sitting at his desk on the other side of the stove working on his own (second) book.

If anyone out there has experience of gardening in heavy shade areas, and, thus, any tips to share please do.


angryparsnip said...

No tips on the gardening in heavy shade area, I have way too much sun here. We look for some shade. But have you thought of hanging baskets. There might be the possibility of more sun ?

Love your work desk.

I made your Dal recipe, from your last post, and wrote about it on my blog today. I didn't have any red lentils but it came out great.

cheers, parsnip

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nowhere near as bad = backhanded compliment. You have to be kind to yourself. When you publish, there will be plenty of jealous fools out there to do the dirty work for you.

savannah said...

i haven't a clue about gardening, sugar! plants come here to die, not thrive. BUT, even with that, i've found that a good nursery/garden shop is the best place for tips on shade gardening. love your desk area! xoxoxoxox

Kim Ayres said...

I'm not a gardener, and Maggie's gone to bed - she knows about this kind of stuff. If I remember I'll ask her in the morning. However, I do remember her talking once about growing potatoes in a dustbin for people who are short of space.

The Weaver of Grass said...

It is lovely to hear you sounding so upbeat Eryl - I am so pleased for you. Rosemary - of all the herbs you mention - loves sunshine, so that is probably why it is not doing so well.
I just adore that painting over the fireplace.

debra said...

We've grown hostas, astilbes and ferns in shady areas. As for edibles, can you grow cool weather plants in containers before the trees leaf out?

Scott Bartlett said...

Hi, would you be interested in participating in the blog tour for my award-winning humour novel Royal Flush, to be held in August? If so, email me at scott_t_bartlett@hotmail.com to discuss it further.

(Feel free to delete this comment.)

Philip said...

Gardening in that much shade is so tricky. Window boxes on first floor windows? I'm really excited about your writing news. You have always been the person that I thought could "get it done". I want a signed copy ;-)
And i love the parallel desk thing. That, just there, is love.
I really like the sprightly tone in your posts of late. Makes me smile.

Pat said...

Rosemary and bay thrive in my garden - not in particularly sunny spots so persevere. Perhaps the odd chat ala Charles?
I've just been going through my manuscript eliminating those green squiggles Word makes - quite satisfying.

Eryl said...

Parsnip ~ hanging baskets is a great idea, thank you.

UB ~ I had feared it would be a lot of senseless gibbering. I just wrote two thousand words a day until it was done without reading over any of it, so that it actually has a backbone is quite surprising.

Savannah ~ I will go and have a wee chat with my local garden center. X

Kim ~ I've heard of people doing that and keep meaning to try it.

Weaver ~ I'll move the rosemary round to the sunny side and see if it perks up. The painting is by Dave's sister, I love it too.

Debra ~ I'm not sure what an astilbe is, I'll google, but hostas, yes, I've grown those in shade myself and have one in a pot in my old garden. May see if I can bring it over.

Scott ~ thanks for asking, but blogging is a random activity for me these days.

Philip ~ upstairs window boxes is a great idea, thanks.

A signed copy will be yours, if it ever gets published.

Pat ~ my neighbours think I'm bonkers as it is, goodness knows what they'd think if I started talking to the plants. But, hey, nothing ventured...

Good luck with your eliminating.

nick said...

Sorry, I don't have any experience of heavy-shade gardening as our garden is pretty sunny. But glad to hear you're still happy with your book now you're re-reading it. Good that the characters are solid - I read so many books with characters that are little more than cardboard cut-outs.

The World According To Me said...

I love your cosy spot.
And your novel, wow!
Things have changed round here - I'm trying to catch up!
Good to hear you've been feeling settled, creative, taking photographs, and growing herbs!

red-handed said...

Nice for you that you can read (and even enjoy, Christ!) your own work. That's something.

india banks said...

the cottage is as bright & cozy as I had imagined it, Eryl! I love your desk, the painting, the light. I think you've found the perfect place to work. About the flowers in Istanbul - I THINK they're wild hibiscus. happy writing xx

rochambeau said...

Hi lovely Eryl,
It is really great to hear about how you feel about your novel!! Yeah!! And it is a privilege to have the opportunity to follow your creative process, as I am a big fan of your writing and your "voice". Usually these is humor and a special authenticity in your words that touch me. Writing is a gift that not all possess, so it's fun for me to watch you and your talent.
I like your writing den very much.

All I can say about your gardening dilemma is not much except this: Rosemary thrives here (where it is HOT). We kid, that If all else fails, we can always go into the rosemary elephant topiary business.


india banks said...

the flowers are hollyhocks - Eryl. a friend just left a comment telling me. a fine country girl I am! about the herbs - you're probably going to have to move them around to catch the sun :)

Golden West said...

Hi Eryl,

I've been away with family passages and stop back to see you have a whole new life! Always a pleasure to read your latest and catch up - wishing you all the best!

Anonymous said...

I have some nice herbaria at hand, not coloured, I'm afraid that's all I can say about garden and herbs. I think putting them on windowsills is already mentioned, so no additional ideas from me.

Eryl said...

Nick ~ I think I'm just going to have to keep moving things around so that everything gets some sun sometimes.

My main character makes coffee too much, but that's what rewriting will sort, hopefully.

Worldy ~ yes, it's been very exciting around here lately!

Red ~ I hadn't looked at the novel for over a year, so it's been like reading someone else's work. There's a lot of crap that needs to be taken out, and quite a few gaps that need to be filled in, but I think the bones are solid. Now for the rewrite.

India ~ how lucky am I to have wandered into this place and found it home?

Constance ~ I love the idea of rosemary elephant topiary! I've now moved my poor specimen into the sun and hope it does better from now.

India ~ I should have known that, I once grew hollyhocks, in another lifetime.

Golden ~ hope you've been having fun. And, thank you!

Mago ~ no additional ideas required, it's just nice to hear you.

63mago, sorry no time to sign in said...

Hello Eryl, just an artsy link that possibly is interesting for you, pictures of an exhibition in Germany.


Eryl said...

Thanks, Mago, I'll look at it right now.

Kass said...

I'm not much of a gardener, but I enjoyed viewing a slice of your life, especially the rubber chicken hanging from the wall.

Eryl said...

Ah, you're a chicken fancier, Kass!