|Jar of Apricots, Jean Simeon Chardin (1758)|
oil on canvas, 57.2x50.8 cm
Art Gallery of Ontario
I have spent most of the month busy pretending to be an anthropologist. Reading, reading and more reading with a bit of eating and gardening thrown in.
It is a long time since I have grown anything from scratch. Our last two gardens were already well established when we inherited them and all we had to do was make sure nothing died. Growing vegetables is much more exciting. I prowl the garden several times a day and now the weather is warmer you can actually see things growing by the hour. My first attempt at tomatillo seedlings was a disaster because I tried to start them too soon. The seeds I planted out two weekends ago have gone berserk. I now have a forest of little green plants growing stronger everyday. And there are beans on the broad beans. Did you know that the pods grow upwards? During the month I've planted eggplants. If they all survive, and at the moment it seems that they will, we will have nine bushes which means we should have enough fruit to set up our own stall at the markets. And there are zucchini - only six plants this time. I am so excited about harvesting my own vegetables.Even though the choice is a bit limited at the moment it is such a joy to wander out at dinner time and come back with fresh lettuce and 'squeaking' spinach leaves.
This month we have also planted a lemon/lime (Eureka lemon grafted with a Tahitian lime) and a passionfruit vine - at the moment just a stick with half a dozen leaves but we hope that it will eventually sprawl over the outside loo.
Over the years I have made a collection of bromeliads and orchids of one sort or another and most of them are in flower at the moment. At the bottom of the garden we also have an old cottage rose - one I planted twenty years ago - which I have nurtured and nursed back to health after many years of neglect and that too has flowers. So with the roses and the orchids and the borage and the flowers on the beans the garden looks very festive.
The bromeliads are grouped around another new addition - the frog pond. The other week I enlisted a friend to help me drag home one of those blue plastic shell sand pits which was discarded on the footpath. Then I enlisted my son to dig out and level a shallow depression to sit it in. We filled it with water from the tank, organised some duck weed, an aquatic plant or two and some tiny little fish. Now all we need are the frogs. Despite the fact that we live in the thick of the inner city suburbs in a row of narrow terraces there are frogs in the neighbourhood because last summer we heard them calling every night. Surely they won't be able to resist our luxurious accommodation?