Monday, 4 April 2016

musk mallow

We had a proper thunderstorm last night, with vivid white flashes lighting up the gap under the blinds where they don't drop all the way down to the window sill because of the piles of books and magazines, coming only a second or two before the bang.  I dislike thunderstorms.  The roof is made out of compressed straw and I suspect that by the time the fire brigade had found their way here and hooked their fire engine up to the farm reservoir, there wouldn't be a lot left.

I always used to think being hit by lightning was so fantastically unlikely that it wasn't worth worrying about, until a passage down the Oostershelde in a thunderstorm, when lightning smacked into the water very close to us despite the presence of a much larger, metal target in the form of a tanker in the deep water channel only a couple of hundred yards away, taking out all our masthead electrical equipment.  We discovered that under Belgian law we could not buy a marine radio and immediately take it away with us, and had to make the return passage to the UK without a working set.  Since then I have distrusted thunderstorms.

It was still raining this morning, so I caught up with some more housework and then sought refuge in the greenhouse.  Pricking out the second pot of Malva moschata I became concerned that the first true leaves* were so hollyhock shaped.  Surely the plants I'd admired in the long grass at East Ruston and the Norwich bishop's garden had had finely divided leaves?  Had I somehow managed to buy and sow the wrong thing?

Wikipedia came to my aid, stating authoritatively that 'basal leaves on the lower stem are very shallowly lobed; those higher on the stems are deeply divided'.  Phew.  My miniature hollyhocks may yet turn into the right sort of mallow.

*As opposed to the seed leaves.  The first pair of leaves, or single leaf in the case of grasses and other plants with long, strap shaped leaves, are generally a different shape to all subsequent leaves. It can be useful to learn to recognise them so that when weeding you can save the ones you want more of and grub out the weeds.  I can spot my enemy Herb Robert at three paces in a bed where I don't grow any geraniums so there's nothing similar to confuse it with, but unfortunately the seed leaves of Honesty look very like those of goose grass and another annoying annual weed whose name I don't know but which is all over the back garden.

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