Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ebony Knight and MACS



The Ophiopogon Planiscapis Negresens or Black Dragon, or Ebony knight. Also Mondo Grass I think someone called it once. I saw this first at Harlow Carr. I love the way the leaves turned black when exposed to Sunlight.

It is a dwarf evergreen (or black?) perennial that looks good in the front of borders or in raised beds to form clumps, that contrast in colour and texture. The centre of the grass is emerald green.

It likes full sun or partial shade, and well drained soil. It has been awarded the RHS award of garden merit, which means most people can grow it in most conditions. What a beautiful plant though. This is waiting patiently for news on the house front.

I was watching some video clips today from the Gardeners Corner website. It is reported on the GC website by the BBC radio Ulster team. There is an allotment project that helps vulnerable young people gain new skills in preparing, maintaining, and growing an allotment. The Project is called MACS, or Mulholland aftercare services, and is based in and around Belfast I think.

They were all amateurs the young people and their mentors, and asked for email advice through the BBC's email address.They planted potatoes, leeks, garlic, onions, runner beans, carrots, and strawberrys. They must have planted Peas, Pumpkins, Corn, and Swedes but not with the video camera there.

The idea was to grow some things that could be used in two weekly meals arranged at the allotment. A lot of the Young people (16-25 years old) had never experienced gardening, or growing vegetables. They all contributed, and did their allotted tasks in the videos.

It gave them new skills, brought groups of people together in a communitywho otherwise would be isolated, made them work together, and shared the things they grew. Either taking them home, or by eating them at the two weekly meals.

The funny part was what they could call the Allotment which is a dull name. They came up with the Lost Plot, a play on words where to lose your head is to lose the plot. They have somewhere to go now when they think they are losing the plot.

In essence it was like the Monty Don Growing out of trouble series. These were young people in contact with a charitable organisation which aims to support them and integrate them into a network for housing, training, education, mentoring, etc. Montys were Young people with Drug addictions on court orders.

The two projects work on the premise that healing that takes place is putting hands in the soil. and planting seeds. This simple act, and the maintenence of the crops seems to be working out, with the projects aims. There are all kinds of analogys you can draw between life, and planting seeds, growing on, flowering etc.

In the USA they call allotments Community gardens, which seems to be a better way of describing them. On the Video an old gent gives his advice about how to treat an outbreak of potato blight. The older gardeners must have accepted the younger generation in the plots.

My green fingers are itching to get some dirt on them, under my fingernails.The act of touching the soil and planting seeds makes us aware of the seasons, of the weather, and the wildlife around us. The simple act is the stone dropping in the lake, the benefits move outwards like ripples from a single act.

The bloggers who love gardens are a further extention of the gardening community. Thats how so many disparate groups and people can come together with a single passion. Whether its tomatoes, daylilys, orchids, or broccoli the passion binds them all together.

I hope that you who have Real Player can see these videos.The link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/gardenerscorner/allotment/index.shtml

I am back to work tomorrow, so maybe a late post, or one on Saturday. May all your gardens be healing ones!

2 comments:

Vanillalotus said...

That's a nice perennial. The color change is so unique. Does it flower also?

Community gardens are really popular in the USA. I am trying to find some around my area to go and visit and see if I can get a lot. The ones that are targeted towards kids and people in need are so useful! I think it is a wonderful idea. But they do have some just for anyone to go and garden, like people who live in apartments. I wish I could get a lot so I could garden outside of containers.

snappy said...

Hi Vanillalotus, at the Harrogate flower show I saw this black coloured plant with small purple flowers rising from it.It does flower..
I applied for an allotment months ago and have heard nothing.I have heard you can rent private ones too so i may look into that.All my plants are in pots :(
Need some soil and sunlight soon!