They arrived in dribs and drabs, as bloggers are want to do, and there were laughs and introductions and handshakes as faces and blogs were paired, like playing snap! Talk was of posts, vegetables, comments and the weather - which was warm and sunnier than the whole rest of summer put together, evidently. There were about 15 people in all. We moved the chairs outside, some seeking the sun, some the shade.....actually it was like a cool spring day in Adelaide but the locals thought it was quite hot! The Oxford Botanic Gardens have lawns that any Australian would die for....soft, fine,dense, brilliant green.....heavenly.
There was a bloke there with no blog! He turned out to be Ben, the guest speaker from Real Seeds and what an absolutely lovely bloke. He spoke about the importance of seedsaving....much along the lines of the thing I wrote called 'Sowing the Seeds of Civilisation' and cleverly used a string time line and pegs to illustrate where we have come from and what devastation lies ahead if we don't take care of our seeds. He even said that seed companies should only sell each type of seeds once to each customer, after that the grower should save them for themselves.....not bad for a bloke whose job it is to sell seeds! His passion for biodiversity is paramount. Most of these bloggers don't save seeds and that was a bit of a surprise to me, seeing as how all the people in Adelaide I know do try to save seeds and it is just a part of what we do; a part of growing food and treading lightly on the earth. I hope they will think more about it after hearing Ben's wonderful talk.
Then Patrick spoke on his passion for growing garlic....he is growing 100 varieties and has 1000 plants....and that is a lot of garlic!! Needless to say he brought lots to give away and I have some now to give to the people in France who I will be visiting soon. It was so good to meet Patrick...he is a little different to what I expected...but who isn't, in blogland?
Next Simon spoke about the changing face of allotment gardens and about his shed and his love of sitting there, outside his shed, and having a chat with other gardeners.....and he even has written some poems about it. He feels connected to the history of the place and all the other people who have gardened in what is temporarily his space, for longer than white people have lived in Australia. All this is a side I hadn't thought about before because in Australia we are focused on the produce more than the history..... and as more people take up plots like Simon's because of talk of food miles and peak oil and chemicals, the less emphasis the history and the vibes and the connections there may be and the more the plots may become a commodity. Nothing is what it seems, in life, and I really enjoyed hearing what Simon had to say and would like to talk more with him and for him to show me his plot.
We set up rugs under the trees and shared our lunch...it was great to eat tomatoes from Patrick's garden....it is that whole connection thing and the fact that I haven't had a home-grown tomato since the end of our last summer, about March! There we all were, most having never met before, talking and laughing like old friends because everyone has a blog and everyone reads at least some of the other blogs....even this one!
Back inside we shared our seeds and plants and I have quite a selection to now take to France and I gave away some of our seeds ....soon Joy's cos, Kathy's celery, my chrysanthemum greens, the Bari cucumber and Cath's capsicums etc etc will hopefully be growing in gardens and greenhouses around England and in Amsterdam. And some of Wilson's tropical beans will grace the greenhouses in gardens far and wide.
Along with many other people out to enjoy the sunshine, we wandered around the Botanic gardens and it was interesting to see what what worthy of note to people from these colder climates. Succulents were individually displayed in the glasshouses along with many plants we would consider very ordinary! Nobody seemed interested in the cottage gardens and that wonderful winding pathway of lawn with not a blade missing!! But everyone was interested in the vegetables and I was totally astounded at the size of the rhubarb leaves and stems!
After most people had left, some of us went and got a coffee at a cafe across the road (which badly needs lessons in making a decent coffee.....but the lemon cake was good!) and then later, Patrick, Steph and I had dinner and got to know each other better which was lovely. All this....just because of blogs and vegetables.....who would have thought....
Look Wilson, look what I found growing in Oxford!!
I am off now to do some washing as I have been away for almost a week and that is the limit of my clothes, which fit nicely into what most people carry onto a plane as hand luggage....it is just the electronics that are cramping my minimalist approach to travel! Here is the list of the all the bloggers that came yesterday.....