Sunday 19 August 2012

ARCHIVE: Plants, Bees and Fascism in the Garden - High Summer Photoblog #1

Every day this week on This Low Carbon Life, one of the crew will be telling a story in photos (and maybe some words!) on the theme of High Summer. As the weather turned wet and windy last week, John joked that we might need a plan B for our theme week. Or was that plan Bee? Everything reminds me of Bees at the moment - as if with Bungay Beehive day next Sunday (where I'm leading a Bee and Flower Walk and also giving a talk about honey as medicine), I need reminding...

Meanwhile back to the photos, and a few words about my letting go of fascism in the garden. I have grown a white-seeded form of sunflower for years now, faithfully collecting the seeds at the end of each season to plant the next Spring. You can see if you click on the picture below that the flower has vibrant gold sepals with a beautiful green-gold centre.

I'd nurture the young plants (probably quite obsessively) and Charlotte would always make sure she was somewhere else when it came to planting them out as I would become inexplicably bad-tempered.

Anyway, this year as usual I planted the seeds, the plants grew and I was alone when it came to planting them out. But what were these flowers that emerged ten days ago - with bronze flames!?! Then I remembered the dark sunflower we had in the garden last year given to us by Rose at the Transition Norwich Plant Swap...

A moment of bewilderment and shock! Then over the next few days a strange sort of relief as I relaxed. I don't have to control everything! The new sunflowers are undeniably beautiful. And it means that the bees have been busy in the garden too. I think I can live with them.

Anyway, it seems I'm not alone when it comes to 'fascism' in the garden. I was telling Becky from Greengrow about my sunflower awakening on Saturday at All Under One Roof, where she had a stall next to Sustainable Bungay's.

"I know, it happens to me in the garden, too. And not particularly anywhere else," she said. "Have you read any Zygmunt Bauman, the Polish sociologist? He talks about the fascist elements of our modern consumerist 'gardening society'."

But enough of fascism. Here are a few more pictures of my low carbon high summer. Here's Charlotte on Saturday holding up the local paper with an article on Bungay Community Bees, featuring our main beekeeper, Elinor, and Elinor herself.

Here I am with Amanda, manager of Bungay library, looking at the Anise Hyssops I brought for the bee bed in the library courtyard garden this year. I talk about them so much that John tells me they are known locally as 'Mark's plant' in Little Melton these days! Amanda says they are very popular with both bees and people.

And last but not least, here is a St. John's Wort being visited by a honeybee in the garden. One of the great native wildflower medicine plants, I had never seen honeybees on it before. But this one clambered over every single flower gathering up the pollen. And yesterday the plant was full of bumblebees.

A few hours later: I just received a request from fellow Transitioner Nick asking if I'd lead the planting of the medicinal plant bed next year in Bungay Library Community Garden. I said yes of course and I'm already excited - by then maybe the fascism will have gone completely! Mark Watson

Pics: Banner of new sunflower, result of non-fascist gardening techniques
; last year's white-seeded sunflower head; new sunflower this year; Charlotte and Elinor at Sustainable Bungay stand at Satuday's All Under One Roof; Talking Anise Hyssop with Amanda at the library; St. John's Wort and honeybee

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