Monday, May 19, 2008


As of last weekend, the garden season was in full swing in our little corner of the world. According to German meteorological folklore, May 11-15 are the days when a sudden period of frost could damage plants set out too soon. These days, collectively referred to as the Eisheilige (literally 'The Ice Saints'), get their individual names from bishops and martyrs from the 4th and 5th centuries: Mamertus (May 11), Pankratius (May 12), Servatius (May 13), Bonifatius (May 14) and Sophie (May 15), also known as die kalte Sophie - cold Sophie. With past changes to the Gregorian calendar, the dates no longer really apply and many people start their gardens early, but there are still a few superstitious souls who adhere to the old sayings:

Pflanze nie vor der Kalten Sophie
(never plant before Cold Sophie)

Pankraz, Servaz, Bonifaz
machen erst dem Sommer Platz

(Pankraz, Servaz, Bonifaz clear the way for summer)

We, of course, have been ignoring every rule in the book and sticking our tongues out at any mention of frost. The weather has been fabulous for weeks and it looks like there's no end in sight.

Just look at how the grass has been growing! We threw some grass seeds onto the bare place in front of the new steps and in a couple of weeks it looked like this.

Quite a miracle in a garden where the lawn usually ranges from a soggy, mossy swamp to a crispy brown desert. Too much shade and the wrong type of soil aren't going to win us any Perfect Lawn prizes, but what do we care? We just enjoy it the way it is and give thanks that fabulous weather conditions this year are helping in a big way.

So the grass is growing like crazy and lately when it comes time to get down to business we've been ignoring the electric mower and turning to this baby which runs on an environmentally friendly, renewable energy source - elbow grease.

The kids just looove the thing and will happily volunteer to mow the lawn whether it needs it or not. Interesting factoid: I was never allowed to use the lawnmower as a kid because my father was (and probably still is) afraid that I would cut my toes off! Still got all my digits, Dad!

In other news, my messy herb garden is coming along just fine. In between the forget-me-nots and dandelions you'll find parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (hmm, I think I feel a song coming on!) and lavender.

I love cooking with fresh herbs and everyone adores this (easy!) rosemary foccacia bread so I make it often.

The rhubarb plant is going great guns..

...but the strawberries still need to catch up.

The few nice red ones we did have were immediately gobbled up by a couple of naughty birds who think they own the place. Nets are now in use.

Since we just couldn't wait I did a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler trial run with fruit from the supermarket on the weekend. Yum.

Oops, is that the time? Gotta go pull some weeds!

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At May 20, 2008 4:15 p.m., Blogger traveler one said...

Awww... you've just reminded me of when I was a little girl and we'd visit our "Popsy" (grandfather). He always had a push lawn mower like yours and my brother and I would fight to be the one to cut the small plot of grass. We were always careful of our toes too!

Today was my big gardening day as well... now everything looks lovely and I just hope it all stays alive.


At May 20, 2008 4:27 p.m., Blogger swenglishexpat said...

You have a beautiful garden and the bread looks very tasty!

At May 20, 2008 6:31 p.m., Blogger Angie said...

Mmm, bread.
I just started posting some pictures of our new house which has a backyard that I aspire to make look as welcoming as yours. Right after I finish painting the inside... and buy some furniture... and write my novel... oh my.

Interesting article in the NYT today about Berlin's Tempelhof airport -- at least, I thought it was:

And a final bit of news, since I've been woefully bad at visiting of Mausi's blog lately: My grandparents-in-law lived in Germany in the 1970s on a military base. Last weekend, I helped them with a garage sale and came upon something that I had to buy: "The New German Beer-Drinking Songs," a like-new record album complete with a lovely feathered-hair German fraulein on the cover. I think it'll decorate our new basement. Now I need to find a record player.

At May 20, 2008 7:39 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

This is so YOU, Christina. All of it. I'm delighted you're having the weather you need for your gardening soul. Wouldn't you know, today I mowed our yard but there's no way I could do it with the push mower I grew up with! Too hilly. So thank God for the self-propelled lever I can use when necessary! BTW, I LOVE strawberries and rhubarb cooked together! Yummy.

At May 21, 2008 1:55 a.m., Blogger Maribeth said...

I'll be planting in about two weeks. I just re-potted things today in the greenhouse.

Do go check on Tor. He has lost his son.

At May 21, 2008 9:50 a.m., Blogger Pippa said...

Heavens, Mausi, your home and garden seem like a haven beyond description. Don't you want to adopt me? Pllllllease? :)

Enjoy summer! It is cooling down here and getting browner by the day.

At May 21, 2008 2:04 p.m., Blogger Betsy said...

Hey! Your mower looks just like ours! Except for the tiny fact that the wheels are not encrusted with dog poop...

At May 21, 2008 5:41 p.m., Anonymous Motormouth said...

I have a lot of dried rosemary from last summer's garden; any chance you would share your recipe with me? I'm lynn (at) motormouth (dot) com

At May 21, 2008 11:20 p.m., Blogger Thimbleanna said...

That lawnmower is awesome! I'd love to be able to use one of those. Your garden is looking very pretty and I see you've been cooking again! It all looks very yummy!

At May 24, 2008 2:43 a.m., Blogger Expat Traveler said...

oh the strawberry rhubarb looks incredible! And that yard is beautiful!!!! WE've got green moss on the patio.. haha

At May 24, 2008 4:04 a.m., Blogger beaverboosh said...

The miracles of global warming!

At May 24, 2008 3:08 p.m., Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

While you are enjoying the good weather (not to mention your superb looking dishes), i'm hoping for a glimpse of sun. Yesterday (a work day, of course), the weather was pretty nice. Today, ...Rain, rain, rain. Oh well. C'est la vie. :)


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