Jane's Delicious Garden Blog

Baby boom

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the March 5th, 2009

Our double storey house is covered from head to toe with Virginia creeper. This living coating provides many delights – and surprises. After a winter of bare skeletal wrapping, translucent green buds unfurl into newborn leaves until the entire house is covered with layers of vivid green.
The slightest breeze lifts the leaves, making the walls ripple and dance in the wind. New growth shoots out, colonising any empty space. If we left it, all our windows would soon be covered with green creeper curtains.

In early summer tiny green seeds are produced , like miniature grapes. These start trickling down the walls until they become a seed avalanche, sounding like a waterfall. The creeper is home to an entire ecosystem. Spiders are frequent visitors and I have gradually calmed my panic about sharing my space with a creature I grew up being terrified of. Every now and then a praying mantis will come inside and lay its foam egg casing on curtains or tucked inside a handbag. We will wake up one morning to a hatching: hundreds of spidery, baby praying mantises (manti? mantids?) scurrying, hopping and floating across the bathroom. We have worked out the most efficient methods of catching these elusive little creatures and carrying them onto their mommy’s creeper. It is quite an interesting excuse for being late – “Sorry, but I was rescuing the praying mantis’ babies . . .’ A Zulu woman once told me that it was very lucky to have them hatch inside. It meant that money was going to come. But to ensure that the money comes, I need to put the empty egg casing into my wallet.

By late summer the leaves are starting to curl on the edges as senescence sets in.
Within weeks the house is alight with a blaze of reds and oranges, each leaf a picture perfect ode to autumn. Sweeping seems endless as the creeper gradually sheds its summer dress and again lays bare its bony fingered winter embrace. These leaves are precious, a gift from the house to the garden, as they rot down into nutritious mould to feed the hungry vegetables.

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