Now that I’m on vacation I can start catching up on all the things I had no time for during most of June. Such as buying clothes for the kids. And digging a trench for the hedge.

One edge of the trench is easy to dig because it was recently moved, when the retaining wall was built. Along the other edge, after less than the depth of the spade, I’m already digging down in hard-packed, dead-looking, gravelly soil untouched by any grass roots, and prying out rocks of various sizes.

In the middle, there is an area that is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you get. It looks like the soil hasn’t been touched in decades. But it has been moved at some point, probably either when the house was built, or when the extension was added. I’m leaning towards the former, because among rusty tools (such as this rake) and building materials (broken bricks, chunks of concrete, bent and rusted L-bars) I find pieces of animal bones. The extension was built in the 70s and I’m kind of guessing that people did not throw bones in the garden at that time. But in the 1900s they might have thrown them on a compost heap in some corner of the garden.

The first poppy flowers have opened.

Being the lazy gardener that I am, last year’s seed capsules are still there.



Late spring and early summer is the time of sweet-smelling white-flowering shrubs and trees. Cherries, hagberries and lilacs are everywhere, including in our garden, and everyone loves them.

Today I noticed another white-flowering tree in the garden that rarely gets any attention: a whitebeam. I did know, in theory, that it also has white flowers but I’ve never actually noticed its flowering. I decided to take a closer look. It’s not as striking as a flowering cherry tree or a hagberry, because the blossoms are fewer and sparser, but still it has pretty sweet white flowers.

Or that’s what I thought until I got closer and smelled them. Up close they are anything but sweet. They actually smelled pretty disgusting. Cloying and sour, sort of rotten.

No wonder nobody writes poems about the Swedish whitebeam, or arranges festivals for its flowering.


Is it truly the third summer for this flowerbed already? The blog says so, so it must be true.

Galium odoratum is taking over more and more of it. It’s a good thing it’s both pretty and nice-smelling: it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if it occupied the whole flowerbed in five or ten years or so and pushed out even the larger perennials. Currently its spread still makes me happy.


After another stressful day in the office, I went out into the garden to look for peace. And photos. Those two go well together.

The first lilac flower I looked at was a five-petal one. Those are lucky in Estonia; I don’t know about the rest of the world. I remember hunting for them as a child. I spent my summers with my grandma at her summer cottage. That is what Estonian children do for summer – get sent to their grandparents. (Did thirty years ago, at least.) Swedish children – today at least – don’t do that. They get sent to camp instead.

I have many fond memories of my grandma’s garden. The cottage was there for us to sleep and eat in, and I remember it well, but it’s the garden I miss. And the forests nearby. Years after I moved to Sweden, she sold the place because she got back a part of her family’s lands, which had been expropriated when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union. Of course I understand that that place was home to her on a deeper level than the summer cottage could ever be, but I still wish I could go back.

I can’t recreate that garden here, and any attempts to do so would be sure to fail. But it is there at the back of my head when I plant the garden I have. This garden also has birches that sigh in the wind, and swallows that fly past in the evening. There are berry bushes and rhubarbs and strawberries – and lilacs and poppies and hostas and bleeding hearts.


I had intended to plant a hedge along the retaining wall that we got built last summer. But somehow summer ended and I hadn’t even started planting. This year it’s definitely happening (and one of the three sections is already done).

What I hadn’t planned for were the weeds that came up in the meantime. It’s only half a year, I thought – how weedy can it get in that time? Plenty, it turns out. The earth along the wall that was bare last autumn is now covered in greater celandine, white nettle, couch grass and other unwelcome plants. They have… spread like weeds. Now I’ve spent a full day in total digging them up and carting away several barrowloads of biomass. Never again will I underestimate their growing power.


The world is white.


Surprisingly, the plants in those boxes had generally survived the rough delivery. Some looked more near death than others, but not so bad that I’d give up on them. So today I planted them all. Hopefully they will recover now that they can spread their branches in fresh air and sunlight instead of getting crushed and tumbled around.

Physocarpus opulifolius “Dart’s Gold”, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing. Chosen for its hardiness and ability to tolerate less than ideal conditions. This part of the garden is in the shade of several large trees which take up much of the light and water and nutrition, so the hedge will have to make do with whatever is left over (and whatever top-ups I give it).

Planting bushes is always a mystery project because it takes so long before you can really see the final outcome. Will they thrive? Will they look as good as the photos? How large will they turn out? Different sources have very different estimates for the final size of this variety: some say 0.8 to 1.2 metres, others 1.5 to 2.0. I’m rather hoping that the harsh conditions will keep the size down – I don’t want the garden to be completely walled off from the street.


It’s cherry blossom time, and for about a week, the garden is dominated by two white giants.

Ours flower about two weeks later than the pink-blossomed cherry trees planted here and there in the streets and parks in Stockholm.


April barely felt like spring. It was truly “April weather” all the way, with repeated snowfalls and temperatures barely above freezing. Today it’s May, and it’s like spring suddenly arrived at full blast, with brilliant sunshine and balmy temperature. We brought out the deck furniture and had both breakfast and lunch outside. During all of April we hadn’t considered sitting outside even once.

In the afternoon Adrian and I got busy in the garden. (Who knows how long this weather will stay!) We did all of Adrian’s favourite things in the garden, which coincidentally happened to be useful as well.

First we spread cow manure in all the planting boxes. I carted sacks of manure in the wheelbarrow, with Adrian sitting on top and shouting that he’s the “king of cow manure!”. He then killed the bags with a pair of scissors (after checking with the bag if it wanted to be killed, and the bag said yes) and we spread it out together.

Then Adrian asked if we could also assemble the frames for the netting over the strawberries. That’s his favourite project in the whole gardening season. So we did that as well, even though we’re nowhere near needing them yet.

The next coolest task in the garden is cutting things – any things – with pruning shears. So we did a bit of that as well and culled the raspberry bushes.