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DECEMBER slush slicked & sparkling

December 20, 2010

The roof garden disappeared this weekend, and today sits slush slicked and faintly sparkling.  The back door is frozen shut so for now we share moments through the bathroom window – me letting out woolly clouds of steam and it letting in cutting blasts of ice.  Spear-like icicles are hanging decoratively from the guttering and the winter herbs (bay, rosemary, chervil) are sporting snow jumpers.  By day it looks very festive and by night it glows orange, stained with London’s ever burning lights.

This weekend I made a Christmas wreath from foraged bits of greenery found out and about in the snow, and dragged home on the back of a sledge.  It should be hanging on the front door of course, but ours is hidden from the road and the wreath would languish unappreciated by passersby, so it’s hanging inside instead.

To make it, I bent an old wire coat hanger into a hoop, then wrapped it with bushy branches of pine, tied on with string.  I then looped round some ivy and big bits of holly, using more string where necessary.  This foliage made a kind of oasis that I could then poke more decorative berries and seed heads into.  Red holly berries, deep pink rose hips and green-brown clusters of ivy berries were studded around and used to disguise any visible bits of string.  The final flourish was a hot pink ribbon that I could use to tie it onto my bedroom door.  Et voila – one homemade wreath, which smells rather delicious (but is vicious if you walk into it).

There’s not much gardening going on at the moment but I guess now is the time to reflect a little on the year almost past.  The most successful crops, and the ones that I feel most excited by, were the garlic and the potatoes.  I’m still eating the garlic I harvested, the bulbs may be small but they taste wonderful, especially when roasted whole.  I think the remaining bulbs will flavour my food throughout most of the winter.  The potato crop was fairly meagre I suppose, but I was impressed considering the size of my garden and that they flourished in a handsome hessian sack.  The fact that one grew heart shaped is something that makes me very proud.

In some ways, though, this year has been a little disappointing.  My tomatoes and beans weren’t nearly as successful as last year, I harvested only one, tiny carrot and I didn’t eat a single strawberry or radish as the resident, greedy squirrel beat me to both first.  However I can’t be too gloomy.  My herbs and flowers continued to thrive, and I discovered how much I love chervil.  I also just enjoyed having my secret garden space.  It’s such a welcome extension to my tiny living quarters and I love how it turns into an edible jungle throughout spring and summer.  I just hope next year my crops do a bit better.

** merry Christmas from the roof & I **

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