We flew from Zurich to London City Airport. Rather a strange experience to circle over London, and land, next to a water-skier. On the cabin-trolley in the plane was a pilot-bear. Remember the Red Baron in the Peanuts cartoons. World War Flying Ace, little leather pilot’s jacket, with sheepskin lining. Goggles to protect his eyes. Leather helmet, with two ears sticking out. And a white silk scarf to trail in the jet-stream. Pilot Bear still sits in our living-room next to a hand-crafted wooden aeroplane, once made for a very Young Ungardener.
And in London, we bought the Ungardener two Mamod steam trains. Which lurked in their boxes, waiting to travel the world. A few circuits in Zurich, just to see if they worked. Then Cape Town. Finally in this garden, he had the time and space to build the Elephant’s Eye Light Railway at Apple Creek. (Sadly the steam engines are awaiting further attention.)
Apple Creek is one of our two swales, our rain garden. We have two 500 litre tanks to capture half of the rainwater from the roof (the other half is shared between the pond and the Spanish reed bed). When the tanks are full, the overflow goes to the pond and Apple Creek. Creek, swale, whatever, it is a hollow to capture the rain, and allow it to soak in, and do some good. Soften summer’s baked clay and soak down to the thirsty roots. Instead of flowing away, to neighbours, storm-water drains, rivers, and the sea.
You know how you start a new bit of garden. Dotting the pots around. Shall we have that there? And now it is so green, and overgrown - that I look at these pictures. And wonder if that IS still there, under the bulrushes and the reeds? I did see a few arum leaves, so will have to make sure they have a space to come thru.
This Apple Creek bed is very pleasing to look at. Gives the eye somewhere to rest. Simple green, just a few plants, repeated. The scattered flowers are mostly white, pelargoniums and Plumbago. A little gentle sky blue Plumbago, also easy on the eye. And delicate, fragile, little soft pink flowers on the citrus pelargonium. The Ungardener does top up the swale occasionally in summer, so the reeds have their roots in the damp ooze of a bog garden. Another place for the four o’clock clicking reed frogs to travel thru.
Apple Creek because we inherited four apple trees. One died, we still have 3, and a handful of apples coming.
Photos by Jurg and Diana, words by Diana of Elephant's Eye