December 31, 2007

Oldest olive tree and first olive grove in UK

After making post about my olive trees in pots being still outside, I made some research on this subject. As result I found interesting blog about olives in general.

My search of oldest olive tree shows that it might be one in Zakynthos (Greece).

Zakynthos-Exo Hora/oldest olive tree

The one in Crete also seems to be over 1000 years - but how much over?

In Portugal there is also one.

One info made me worried little bit. Global warming endangers olive grovs. According to Turkish Daily News due to lowering underground waters and sand coming from over Sahara, the harvesting this year was predicted decrease by 40%.

Interesting enough there is also news about growing olive trees commercially in UK, but also as decorative plant in the UK gardens.

December 30, 2007

Niszka in Sedum spurium

I just found this old picture taken when I still used to live in Warsaw. On the balcony I used to have a pot and growing Sedum spurium - its abundance - as you can see - not only me made happy. My cat Niszka (Neeshka) also loved it - her look on this picture is pretty... eee... absent - but she really loved to sleep there :)

Fern and cactus friendly Cohabitation

I just discovered that my tiny Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) decided to host self-appeared seedling of Adiantum raddianum. I do not have this fern since one year - it died of unknown reasons :( To make it more misterious I assure you, that I picked new segments of cactus in the spring - which is after my fern fade away - and sticked it to new pot. Where did I take the soil from? hmm... don't remember.

December 29, 2007

Days become longer

Winter solstice joy made me get prepared for new season. I realised it today and it must be totally intuitive.
I have a green box filled with seeds, that I used to buy in excessive amounts when I was about to get a garden and continuing for the first year I already got one. I can't explain it today how it happened that I filled it so easily.

There is seeds of many beautiful annuals and perennials, that I will or I will not use - some of them I do not like anymore, for some of them - somehow - there is not enough space in my garden anymore...

I think I may swap them with other gardeners - there is still time to do this.
Whatever amount of seeds I have, still of course some plant's charm hit me unexpectedly and somehow... there is enough space for them :)

My last 'fallings':

- I bought some seeds: meconopsis, lagerstroemia indica, asclepias, ophiogon (did not arrive yet) and centranthus,

- I sow lagerstroemia on 8th of December already. I recycle for this purpose plastic boxes remaining after shopping - to make hot and humid bed for them. After three weeks my lagerstroemia looks like this:

My plans:
- make the veggie rotation crops planning,
- learn more about good vegetable seeds. Actually I found very interesting website offering organic seeds. I still have plenty of them from my first seeds heat in 2004 :) so I will use some of them - but one day they all will be gone...

Maybe coming year will be a good year for growing chilli - I never did this before :)

Recommended reading on Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition

December 28, 2007

Miniature olive tree and wild olive trees in Corfu

Maybe 'trees' is little bit exaggeration concerning the size... none of them is more than 30 cm :)
Olive tree in our zone can be a house plant only :( which I deeply regret, cos I am attracted by them like bee by some flowers. They are holy and magic.

My 'miniature olive trees are still in the garden, because it is good for them :) No I did not forget them outside. I placed them in a nice place against the warmest, sunny wall and let them chill enough.
I will keep them there until temperature is under -12 centigrades (10F), which is lowest they can take and they are still fine. Older trees can survive even -28 centigrades (-20F).

Why it is good for them?
I would like to get the fruits - olives :) And in order to make the tree happy to bear olives, first you need to have two kinds of them. Olives are semi-self pollinating and single tree will bear fruits, but it is better to have 2 varieties.
Second, they need 300 hours of chill in a year.
According to theory they should bear fruits after 3-4 years, which should be soon :)
OK - I will let you know if that happens.

We do not have the olive tree forests in Poland, so at least I can grow them in pots.
During my travels I saw one very special place.
Olive tree forests looks great the older they are. One of the oldest olive tree forests in Europe are on Greek island Corfu. They were planted by venetian merchants in 17th century, following the decision of Venetian Senate offering money for plantings - tens of thousands of trees were planted at that time. In 18th century the number of olive trees surpassed 4 million. It became the most important tree cultivation for local farmers. Today Corfu and surrounding islands are one endless olive grove.

What is special about olive trees in Corfu?

They are never pruned.
Olives are allowed to drop when ripen, so as a result the trees grow tall and create a unique sensational shapes of the trunks and branches. There are endless relief forms and odd figures which continue for long kilometers of forest. That's one of the most amazing and mysterious views.
Pictures below were taken in Corfu by me in 1999. Little boy on the tree is my son.

December 23, 2007

Happy Christmas and my Christmas Meme

I would like to wish Happy Christmas to all fellow gardeners from all over the world, which I met in the last months and thank for sharing the passion!!
The picture - that's the Christmas Card we have received from my mom this year for Christmas.
I found this meme on Karen's blog and I decided to do mine. I will point my choices at the end of it and you are kindly invited to do it at the time of your most convenient choice - either during or after :) It would be nice to know better your Christmas habits :)
However if you are too busy to make this meme, please just send your mental blessing :)
  • Eggnog or hot chocolate?

Traditionally no alcohol allowed during Christmas Eve, however lifted by church 2 years ago.

For 25th and 26th there was no such limitation.

I love home made coffeenogg. Which is very easy to make.

Proportions are following: 1/2 ltr condensed milk (without sugar), 1 spoon vanilla sugar, 2 spoons instant coffee, 100g sugar and either 1/2 ltr of vodka (abt 40%) or 100 ml of alcohol (90%).

First you cook milk mixed with vanilla sugar, coffee and sugar for about 10 minutes and mix it constantly - please beware - it has strong tendency to boil over, so you need to make the flame small. After it cools down (important) it may need using mixer, cos there might me some bigger particles caused by milk and it is not nice to get surprised by it while you drink :) So when it is cooled down and smooth you add slowly alcohol and mix well.

At this moment it is ready to drink, however tastes litlle bit better next day :)

  • Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?

Santa is still coming to our house - that's a great time to give presents to people you love. Santa wraps presents in his headquarter, where everything is planned logistically and labelled properly:)

  • Colored lights on the tree/house, or white?

White white white.

  • Do you hang mistletoe?

Not every year, rather not - more often nope.

  • When do you put your decorations up?

I try to put them in December as soon as possible - I like the house to have that extra decoration and lights, when outside is sooooo gray. It cheers up a bit.

Usually in Poland we decorate the Christmas tree and the house in the morning of The Day - which is Christmas Eve 24.12. This year it looks that we will be following the common habit, or do it just one day before - which is today.

  • What is your favorite Christmas dish (excluding dessert)?

In many jokes we divide Poland in 2 parts - both of them follow little different culinary habits: one is doing traditional wild mushrooms soup, the second one is cooking betroot soup with tiny ravioli called 'uszka' (ooshka) stuffed with special sour cabbage with wild mushrooms.

Because our family is not tight with any special part of Poland (due to long family story rooted in second world war 2) we switch the traditions. However I prefer mushrooms :)

And my really favourite dish is the fish that we eat only on Christmas Eve - it is fried carp. It special taste is in my head strongly related to Christmas.

  • Favorite Christmas memory as a child?

Many blurred pictures - no favourite one. Why?

  • Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

Santa always arrives before That Most Important Special Dinner on Christmas Eve and puts his presents under the tree. All presents have to be opened just after dinner :)

  • How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?

The main 'tree' - it is difficult to call it 'tree', cos it is a small ready decoration on form of small tree. Many years ago I decided to not have real tree for Christmas - which is wide tradition here - just symbolic decoration. Since years I use same decoration - boring, ha? Nope... just symbol of one stable thing around me.

Aditionally, since moment that my araucarias became big enough, I decorate them too :)

  • Snow! Love it or dread it?

I love it - to walk on it, to look at its sparky lights and most of all I love the sound it makes while you walk on it, when the temperature is below 10 centigrades.

  • Can you ice skate?


  • Do you remember your favorite gift?


  • What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you?

To gather as much family members around one table as possible - maybe because it was not happening often when I was a kid, so for me Christmas was unique time of having all important people around. This time it will be different and I try to not think about it, however I am aware that Christmas Eve will be tough.

  • What is your favorite Christmas dessert?

Poppy-seed cake.... mniam... mniam... its is great and gives a lot of energy :) There is a kind of magic connected with it. Maybe because of.... hmmm....

  • What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Sharing the christmas wafer (poppadum) at Christmas Eve dinner.

  • What tops your tree?

Nothing :)

  • Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?

Giving definately - I hope to make 'them' happy.

  • What is your favourite Christmas song?

Bing Crosby "White Christmas"

As promised at the beginning, that I will ask 3 of you to make your Christmas meme, however if you are too busy, please just send your mental blessings to me :)
So it will be:
Yolanda Elizabet at Bliss
Ida at Surfida
Important: If you make your Christmas meme, please point another 3 persons, however at the beginning you need to refer firstly to the person that pointed you and secondly to origin of this meme, which is Sharkey Malarkey
Have fun during Christmas and don't get stressed!
If you didn't do something it means it was not ment to be done!!

December 21, 2007

A secret place...

I am still 'on the way to Christmas'. In the last time I was touched by the story of somebody I met on one of the garden forums I like to read. I opened a thread about making more lively the habit of visiting 'other gardens' and I 'met' somebody who twenty-something years ago was coming here, to Komorow (place where I live now) and had the best vacation ever.
With the help of my camera I helped her to identify which house it was. Seeing it on the pictures for the first time after so many years was very touchy for her.... and moved my heart as well.
That story made me think about places from my own childhood, which I remember best and which shaped my sensitivity to natural beauty. It is a small town in the Western-Northern part of Poland. Scent of meadows and scent of lake, that I will always remember. Today entire region is under protection for its special natural values.
On the picture above you see the island, placed on the lake. It was taken from the plane by my bro (thanks bro!).

The heart of the region is the lake, clean and beautiful.

It was so great to watch birds and fishes swimming in the water. They are not affraid of you, even if you walk around in the water - they even like to touch... (ee... not everyone would like it I guess)
The water is still crystal clear.

That is the road from the town to the beach, 2 km long, it was beautiful and dreadful in my mind - trees were big, there was no people, so you could be always surprised by the genius loci and littlle forest fairies or little forest animals.

Best time was, when season was ended and tourists were gone - I was owning the place again. If it would depend on me, I would keep it in secret.

Water, fishes, boats, fishing, water birds, water plants etc. that is still part of me.

This above is the best sunset I ever photographed - colors were unique by the end of October.

I still visit that place from time to time and maybe one day I will move there... who knows...
It is far enough from any bigger city and close enough to any forest.
I do not want to say i don't like where I am now - it is just not only the beauty of the kid's memoires. I still love this place and still I am enchanted when I have the chance to see it again..
My brother loved this place more than I did, or at least I always thought so - he decided to live there and he did continuosly for 40 years. He used to say "I can not imagine my life somewhere else". I admired him for that. In comparison - I was like a wind - always somewhere else.
3 months ago he decided to change it, leaving many people puzzled, and I am still trying to understand...

December 14, 2007

When something pushes you out of routine...

There is a park in the neighbourhood with old trees. The little city itself is not interesting, so we were not so much interested in looking what is going on there.
You know how it is - you live somewhere and things, places which are in your closest distance don't take your attention.
But one day - being in the mood of having 'sightseeing' - pushed by that unknown impulse, that possibly comes from inner you and tries to kick you out of routine - we decided to look around - just a short walk in a place that is close, but completely unknown.
Luckily I took camera with me, cos that walk was full of surprises. We found something really worth to see :)

These ducks are most common in Poland.

But only take a look at this next picture!!

When I saw it first time, I thought: OMG somebody put artificial duck on the lake! What a disgusting thing!

But wait a second! It is moving! yey!!
What is this??
I took photos first :)

Then I looked in the book and look what I found: Mandarin Duck - male. I never saw them before in my life. I never thought they live wild in Poland :)

They are rare in Poland, and as far as I know rare in entire Europe.
They originate from Asia (China) were they are native.

They are 'endangered species -despite being evaluated as Least Concern because of large-scale exports and the destruction of its forest habitat' - this is they say.
I understood while looking at numbers: only 1000 pairs is living in China and Russia, 5000 in Japan.

And we also have ONE pair in Pruszków city park!

So, what is my lesson from the walk? Even in something/a place that seems to be very common and of no interest, there might be something you never saw before :)

"That I exist is a perpetual surprise which is life' by Rabindranath Tagore

December 8, 2007

Nursery close to Warsaw, in June

These pictures were taken at one of my favourite nurseries. It was for me awsome experience when for the first time I got there - views were truly breathtaking!
This is a nursery with long tradition - have no idea how they survived communist time.
It was started by grand grandfathers, which among other precious plants brought by ship from US this beautiful Metasequoia glyptostroboides.
The tree itself is very impressive - lightness of foliage and interesting colour of bark. There is one more thing that makes it outstanding - arrangement! It is literally smashing in reality. Small cushion plants, mainly different kind of Calluna, on the bottom - make it more beautiful!
The secret is - you need space to present this tree, otherwise it gets lost and loses impact.

Isn't it real discovery to see mature plants, that in our garden are maily small and we have little chance to see them mature, because they grow very slowly. 2-3 cm yearly is everything that Conica was doing! Today 2 m tall Picea glauca Conica known also as White spruce Alberta.
It looks good here with low growing Juniperus and cushion plants.

Columbine - Aquilegia vulgaris plena here Nora Barlow in large beds make a real true experience.

And now my favourite one - flowering rhododendrons.
Different colours, mature shrubs - real breathtaking view!

Last picture taken there, but not last awsome spot to look at - I didn't take pictures of all of them.
I will do it coming spring, cos place is really worth to mention and explore.
On the picture Himalayan Pine - Pinus wallichiana. Looks amazing during 'candle' stage, while all needles look down.
Yellow - an unidentyfied by now kind of Berberis.

December 7, 2007

Garden surprises!

Having my pyjama on - I just jumped in the shoes and dressed the coat to see whats going on out there. And look! Suddenly my hedge got much taller! Yes! it took less than 3 years ;)
Unfortunately this is temporary only.
Neighbour is selling Christmas trees, and this is kind of storage.

After Christmas they will be all gone.

My autumn crocus is still flowering.

And look here! This little strawberry is flowering since June and still doing well.
It is Fragaria hybride. 'Dee Rose' - I think.

Rose New Dawn would like since at least 2 months to open this bud, but look how fresh it is still.

Digitalis purpurea getting prepared for new season.
As you can see parthenocissus leafs are still reddish.

Surprisingly, the garden still looks nice.
Colors are more calm, not so vibrant, but still attractive.