Katharine Stewart’s essay for June 1st begins: “A dry day, but a cold one.” (p. 74) Today in Glasgow has been a wet day, but a cold one. In fact, this has been a very cold spring all told. My garden had 5″ of rain in the month of May, but the high temperatures in the day lately have been between 8 and 12 C / 46 and 54 F. The result is that many plants in the garden have been waiting to flower:
Stewart wrote, “This is a time of waxing moon, a propitious time for planting.” It’s the same with us this year: the moon is full tomorrow. She continued, “Older Highland people still watch the moon closely, in all its phases, for weather predictions, days appropriate for certain activities and so on. The waning moon is good for ploughing and peat-cutting, for the ‘sap’ is going, leaving everything dry. An old lady will still walk clockwise three times round the house at the first appearance of the new moon. People don’t like to see the half moon ‘lying on her back’. This is a bad omen.” (p. 74)
I don’t take on new superstitions, so I won’t be walking around the house at the new moon, or worrying about the half moon on her back (though I have a Highland friend who will comment on such a sight: “seall, a’ghealach air a cùl”). But I try, where possible, to plant at the time of the new moon, because this does seem to be a sound and time-honoured principle of gardening. The lupins that I grew from seed collected in Aberdeen are doing pretty well, in their second summer.
The garden probably looks like a sea of green to most people, but to me it is brimming with possibility:
And the cosmos (planted inside the porch at the time of the new moon) are doing pretty well. I am just hoping the snails keep away from them…
Katharine Stewart writes about something called “Gudeman’s Croft”: “a small piece of land dedicated to the ‘Gudeman,’ a kind of earth spirit, which was sacrosanct and not to be touched by plough or spade. There are one or two such spots up my way! I call it Permaculture!” (p. 75)
I want most of my garden to be “permaculture,” the same plants left undisturbed to flower year after year, or plants like foxglove that self-seed in profusion so I can choose which ones to keep and where I want them. But I have also planted some annuals, besides the cosmos. The sweet peas went in yesterday, and I bought lobelia to put along the edges. The poppies, nigella and marigolds that I planted as seed are all up, but not putting on a lot of growth just because it has been so cold.
As I write, the rain is lashing the back of the house. But it’s now light until after 11:00 pm in the western sky (unless the clouds are particularly thick), so it does, despite the weather, feel like June.
Happy June, everyone!