Tuesday 26 July 2022

Day 150, and counting ...

Hot here last week - a shot in our garden 
- but even hotter in Ukraine
Actually, it is day 153. That is, 153 days of the unprovoked and unrelenting Russian invasion of Ukraine. I was aiming to get this blog out three days ago but I'm afraid last week's heatwave got the better of me. How was it with you? I monitored the temperature in the garden here - we had 38 degrees for several hours on Tuesday, short of the 40 degree record elsewhere

Exhausting, particularly as the nights were so hot. Temperatures that they are more used to in Ukraine where, sadly, the war wears on. Meanwhile, the political shenanigans here has driven the conflict down the news agenda

Russian Grad rocket launch
Regular readers may remember that we mentioned the grain export issue some months ago (see blog dated 23rd April 2022). That came to the fore with the signing of an agreement last Friday - only to learn the following day (Day 150) that the key port in question, Odessa, was subjected to a missile attack

A few days before, you may have seen the report of an earlier rocket attack on Kharkiv. One newspaper reported the incident thus: 

"The lone father clutched a small book in one hand as he stared forward reciting a prayer. In the other, he held the limp hand of his dead son. Killed while waiting for a bus in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, Dmytro, 13, was the latest victim of the constant shelling and missile attacks by Russia. His sister Ksenia, 15, was taken to hospital in a grave condition, local authorities reported. The attack also killed an elderly couple. The teenager’s father spent about two hours by his son’s body at the site of the shelling, reading a prayer." (Daily Telegraph 20th July 2022)

Since reading the words of this report I have stumbled across the Channel 4 News video on YouTube. You can see it below. There's a slight glitch in the sound at a crucial point - please see today's endpiece which clarifies what the reporter was saying - helpfully, I hope (perhaps I should warn viewers that the opening sequence is particularly sad and potentially upsetting - certainly moving)

Committed to help
As you know, all the proceeds from our charity work this year is being directed to Ukraine via our friends in Poland.. They are close to the scene and actively involved in a variety of relief efforts. Frequent trips are being made to the east of Ukraine where the need is greatest

Plants still available
This is an Astilbe
We hear that the recent residential weekend for Ukrainian mothers and children was a great success and that another is planned for the Autumn. Remember to check out out tailpiece - another interesting snippet there

Thanks to everyone who has had plants from Codger's Nursery. So far this season donations amount to £700 (to be exact £707.00) - but there's more to come. Some supporters had reserved their donations intending to give online. I am sorry to report that it now looking as though that route won't be set up in time so I shall collecting those funds in cash. Not what I intended but I'm afraid the issue is outside my control

The good news is that it looks certain that we shall clear £1000 before long

And further good news - we still have plants availble that will do well this season. See this week's photo gallery at the end of the blog. Further donations appreciated!

This Hibiscus came over with or friends in 1991
and still doing well!

News from Holland
Although we don't have time to do the detail it's worth mentioning that we met our Dutch friends in Poland. This was in the 1980s when the Poles were valiantly breaking free from Soviet domination. They were taking relief out to Poland at the same time that we were engaged in the same endeavour

The friendship blossomed in a literal sense - many of plants in our garden came over with them from Holland! Sadly, our good friend, Jan, is no longer in good health. However, despite weekly cancer treatment, he still helps to keep Boskoop blooming. With a group of friends he has completely renovated the excellent Rosarium in the town and the result can now be seen in a video - enjoy!

Loads of gooseberries this year

Success and failure
No two years are the same. This season: gooseberries great - raspberries poor. In the latter case, I'm to blame. I reorganised our soft fruit area and did not plant the fresh stock of raspbery plants early enough. Fortunately, I overwintered some of the old stock so was able to pick a little fruit- but a poor showing, I confess

On the other hand the blackcurrants and chuckleberries have been good. I moved then into a sunnier position and it paid off. Believing that redcurrants can cope with more shade, I demoted them - no redcurrants this year! But the blueberries are doing well. I could go on - it is swings and roundabouts

Blueberries doing well
One surprise. I've managed to transplant a sunflower in bloom. The new raspberry patch suddenly sported four of them. One was stepping of the toes of one of the new raspberry plants. I dug them up as a unit. Replanted the raspberry and moved the sunflower - both patients doing well! (The trick is a good rootball and plenty of water - I generally tend to move plants successfully)

A simple practical tip - essential equipment immediately
to hand in a recycled ice cream container 
My next task is to plant out a new strawberry patch - the present area is hopelessly overcrowded. I'll go through the first step as the next item and then go through the succeeding steps in the next episode which is due out in a couple of weeks (a welcome holiday intervenes)

Whilst I'm on practicalities, a useful tip: I keep a trowel, ball of twine, scissors and pruners in a container that can travel around the garden with me. Speeds things up and means that I lose tools less often - see photo above right

Strawberries for nothing!
Here, I've zoomed in on a growing tip
Returning to the strawberries. They are a species that reproduce very easily. If you wish to introduce children to gardening, you might try this. After fruiting the plants naturally send out shoots known as runners. Their tips root very readily and will happily do so without any intervention. You can simply let this happen and dig up the mini-plants later

However, you can bring some order to the process by persuding them to root in small pots. I find it best to use, what I call, a six-pack (see photo)

Simply fill each compartment with potting compost and insert a growing tip - still attached to the mother plant at this stage. I find it best to secure each one with bent wire - acting like a staple

Here are the strawberry runners being to root in an organised way
Keep an eye on the pack and water as required. After a month or two you can sever the umbilical - just check you have sufficient root first. Leave to establish for a couple of weeks and plant out when you are ready

It's worth making start now. That way you will new plants (for free!) that will bear fruit next season. Like us, old plants become less productive with age!

In memory ...
As we finish this week perhaps I should note that since writing the above paragraphs there has been missile strike on another Ukrainian Black Sea port. We hope against hope that the shipments of grain can go ahead (before the invasion one third of the world's grain exports were from Russia and Ukraine)

Returning to our opening story. Old Codger was intrigued, not to say moved, by the extra detail provided by the Channel 4 account of the incident. It made me wonder if the reporter was able to privately interview woman police officer filmed supporting Dmytro's father

What the Telegraph said was a 'small book' was, in fact a Bible. The 'prayer' - and I'm sure it was such - was a reading from Psalm 91 (the glitch in the video sound wasn't clear at this point). Here are the words being read by the father (vv15-16):

He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation

One last thing - pertinent, I think. As well as humanitarian relief our Polish friends are distributing Ukrainian Bibles - many thousands with 5,000 recently printed for the current emergency. May the Lord strengthen their hands in the task!

... with best wishes from the Garden Codger

Echinacea are a favourite of mine and I have a few available
As you see, they are in flower now. Sometimes called coneflowers

This smaller form also available

I had planned to say that this agapanthus was available
Too late! It went to Mrs Codger's hairdresser this morning
Incidentally, I'm planning to propagate from the red Cana above (see tailpiece)

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