Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Cardiff Central, Jenny Randerson, describes herself as a ‘self taught gardener’. “My experience has come mainly from taming a wilderness,” she laughs, “it’s a large garden by urban standards, about quarter of an acre, and we’ve had a complete mix, including an orchard, a veg patch, rockery, grass and even a pond. We have recently abandoned the veg to try and reduce the amount of work. Whoever invented elections every May was obviously not a gardener as it’s a crucial time to be sowing seeds in the veg garden. Both my husband and I get totally involved in electioneering so we have no time for the garden then. It’s a wilderness now; it’s heading towards being a wildlife garden but not quite created itself properly yet. We love rare, wild flowers and my husband Peter, who is a Botanist by training, always mows very lovingly around a beautiful little orchid we have growing in the middle of our lawn.”
Jenny is also an avid composter. “None of our household waste goes out in the bin, she says proudly, “it’s all composted and we have a wormery too. In fact when we moved house, the neighbours thought we were mad because we bagged up and moved the compost before moving the furniture!”
How else does she do her bit for the environment? “My weakness is the car,” she admits, “I have recently made a rule that if I have to do a long journey for work then I will use the train when possible. My son refuses to have a car; he lives in London and cycles everywhere, (“I’m no good on a pushbike,” she confides, “my Mum wouldn’t let me have one”). “ He won’t take short haul flights either and when he and his Dad went ski-ing, they went by train. It took longer but they really enjoyed it and saw so much more.”
Jenny returns to talking fondly about her garden. “It’s a tremendous source of peace which is priceless; it’s not immaculate but I love it. We have a summer house, which is called the ‘Summer Palace’ as it took so long to build, and I sit in there with my papers working in the evenings. It’s great thinking space. Gardening is also such good exercise – productive exercise, far more productive than those silly treadmills.” She concludes passionately.
Wonderful Wormeries (and more)
I have sung the praises of Wiggly Wigglers for some time – they are such an amazing company and are also growing at a rate of knots. Suppliers of all things ‘green and beautiful’, their already extensive catalogue now includes delights such as Wildflower Turf, Sprouting Seed Pergolas, unusual veg (including blue potatoes), cement shopping bags (made by a woman’s co-operative in Bangladesh, these cotton lined recycled bags once held 50kgs of cement), and the most beautiful natural flower bouquets. They still supply simple-to-get-going wormeries, insect houses and composters as well as books, DVD’s and expert advice. The catalogue is packed with tips and great ideas and information and is just a fabulous read. Do get a copy http://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/ or call 01981500391
From Russia With Love
Having just returned from a whistle-stop tour of Russia and the Eastern bloc, and whilst Hubby was absorbing historical and political facts, I thought I’d share some of the less conventional facts that I remember. In Poland, white asparagus is grown extensively and the crop has to be kept covered with soil (like potatoes) to prevent sunlight turning the spears green. This makes picking the crop quite an art and the last year or two asparagus has been left to rot in the ground due to the skilled harvesters having sought work elsewhere. In Russia, people in the service industry are attending courses to learn how to smile; The Hermitage at St Petersburg has so many exhibits on display that if you wanted to see each one it would take almost 3 years; Helsinki has recently imported foxes to control the rapidly growing rabbit population in the City Centre; Tallinn has only 4 hours of daylight each day during the winter months. Five years ago Moscow was experiencing winter temperatures of around - (minus)28 degrees but last year the lowest temperature recorded in the City was +8 degrees..... and it still didn’t raise a smile!
An entirely new species of slug has been found in Welsh gardens. The white, nocturnal, carnivorous slug has been christened the ‘ghost slug’ or Selenochlamys ysbryda (ysbryd being Welsh for ghost) by scientists at the National Museum of Wales and Cardiff University. Ben Rowson said, “We thumbed through old Russian and German records and found that they’re entirely new. As it is an undescribed species we christened it with a Welsh title which we think is the first time a Welsh word has been used in an animal’s scientific name.”
The ghost slug feeds on earthworms and could, potentially, become a pest though more needs to be discovered about it first.
Did I mention Wiggly Wigglers sell worms?