Fig tree cuttings – a success story

Aren’t they looking good? These three were started off indoors last October and are well ahead of the outdoor cuttings I set at the same time. I started hardening them off last week and eventually they will stay outdoors all year round.

The outdoor cuttings have also started to sprout and it looks as though I’ll end up with at least eight young fig trees. Two or three will go to the community garden and one into my own garden. I’ll be giving the rest away to neighbours in the hope of reinvigorating the local fig growing tradition. I may even do some guerilla planting in suitable corners of public land so people can forage the fruit in future years. The more food we grow locally, the better in my opinion.

The parent trees are in the Tarring Fig Garden which date back to around 1745, if not earlier, and were once quite a tourist attraction with a tea room for visitors. Sadly most of the fig garden was lost to new housing in the last century, but the few remaining trees are protected and can be visited by the public once a year.

I thought it would make a nice link between past and present to have some descendents of the original Tarring figs in the new community garden. The current owners agreed and kindly gave me the cuttings. Having successfully produced more young trees than I need, I’ve expanded my ambitions and hope to encourage more people to grow a fig tree or two.

I haven’t actually grown any figs of my own yet, but I have a small tree in a pot that my brother gave me at Christmas and that will hopefully provide me with my first crop this year. It already has a number of fruit buds, so fingers crossed for clement weather!


Local shopping – the greengrocer’s

I’m lucky to live within easy walking distance of a good range of independent shops and, although I do a weekly(ish) shop at a supermarket, I like to support my local retailers too. Kimpton’s greengrocers shop has been at 6 Station Parade for 56 years and thus is just a couple of years older than me. I love the sense of stepping back into my youth when I shop there.

When I popped in the other day to buy some sprouts and salad stuff I asked if I could take some photos. Not only did I get permission to snap away, but I was also shown the owner’s album of photos from the shop’s heyday and heard some fascinating reminiscences. Sadly there wasn’t time for more than a brief chat, but it was lovely talking to someone who clearly enjoys his work and to hear something of the history of businesses in the area.

There are several vintage weighing scales on display in the shop. The set you can see on the right of the picture was used not only for produce as you would expect, but also for weighing the local babies! Health and safety would have a fit at the thought of such a practice nowadays, but I love the idea of the local young mums wheeling their prams to the shops to buy their groceries and get the baby weighed. The modern digital scales of today seem dull in comparison, but in forty or fifty years time they too will be vintage items with stories to tell.

Inevitably the owner of Kimpton’s has seen a lot of changes since he began working there. Once there were three sweet shops all making a living in the parade, two banks and other food shops. There are still numerous businesses in the area, including a newsagents, a pub, a couple of cafes and the garage where I get my car MOT’d, but some premises have been turned into homes, some are boarded up and others that were once shops are now offices.

Taking my inspiration from blogs such as Spitalfield’s Life and Julia Cameron on Upper St Giles Street I intend to investigate my local area more thoroughly in the coming months and to write about my discoveries. People are wonderfully willing to chat about the things that interest me and I’m nowhere near as shy as I used to be about initiating conversations with strangers!

Thinking about the place I live…

Because twitter is not enough, brain dump of random thoughts about ….

As an incomer of nearly six years residence it seems to me that a possible future identity for Worthing could be that of “the market town between the sea and the Downs”. My knowledge of the town is still limited, but here are a few thoughts, which mostly reflect my personal preoccupations of course 😉

Attributes: close to sea and Downs, natural resources, good growing area, plenty of sunshine (and wind!), 20s/30s development advertising emphasised healthy qualities, interesting heritage, pier,

Keywords: health, natural, outdoors, local, trading, creating, unpretentious, fun-loving (Birdman), improvisation, innovation, simplicity,

Heritage: fishing, market gardening, rebellion (or celebration, depending on perspective 😉 ), health resort, figs, creativity, spiritual,famous visitors/literary/artistic links,

Build around town motto: Ex terra copiam e mari salute (From the land plenty and from the sea health)

Develop markets – combine Farmer’s and Wednesday Markets, create a fish market (as a concept if not necessarily a place), establish regular antiques, vintage, arts, crafts, collectibles, book, ephemera, clothes markets. Pop-up markets? Unused floor of Guildbourne a permanent flea market? Make more of annual Tarring market.

Create an identity for local growers/producers with emphasis on sustainability/low food miles (e.g. Sussex produce in supermarkets).

Encourage edible planting, wildlife havens, home veg production.

Seafront and general flatness good for walking and other exercise (waymarkers would assist people with exercise goals). More could be made of the ancient footpath from the coast to Salvington? Circular urban walks. Linear walks/cycle rides using train/bus out then walk or cycle back.

Turn the things that might be seen as downers into advantages, e.g. large community of older people = wealth of experience and pool of volunteers; not being a city = friendlier, get more for your money, more peaceful….; lack of interesting shops = cheap day out (OK, maybe not such a good idea)… ; no obvious centre/identity = eclectic patchwork of jewels to discover/soething for everyone…

More if and when I think of things… Constructive feedback may spark more ideas 🙂

Bearded irises

I absolutely love bearded irises and it was a heart-lifting treat to spot these gorgeous purple beauties in a tiny suburban front garden near my home this morning. There was a border of rich blue irises under one of the the art room windows at school that I loved seeing each year. I used a painting of one of the blooms as the inspiration for one of my A-level art textile designs and irises have remained one of my favourite “brief glory” early summer flowers along with lush paeonies, rambling clematis and sweet scented lilacs.

Suburban fox

A lucky conjunction of camera in pocket and the right weather enabled me to snap Foxy out on lunchtime patrol. The local foxes are more active around dusk, but it’s not unusual to see the during the day.


About 7:55am today. The not-very-pretty view of suburban houses that greets me when I open the curtains in the morning looks a lot better on days when there’s a bright sunrise colouring the sky.

I’ve had a low-energy sort of day, but after a long rest this afternoon I’m looking forward to a bit of Christmas preparation this evening – wrapping parcels and writing cards to post tomorrow. I must make some soup for tea first though…

Horticultural show

This afternoon my neighbour and I visited the local Horticultural Society autumn show. I love such events and it been far too long since I last went to one. Today’s show was well attended, but not so crowded that we couldn’t take our time to view the exhibits properly and decide whether we agreed with the judge’s awards.

It was good to see a lot of young families as well as the retired contingent. When we had seen everything and passed our own judgments we had tea served in the traditional village hall green china and scrummy buttery flapjack. A lovely way to pass a sunny September afternoon – do go along if there’s a show near you this autumn.