Monday, 18 February 2019

Cyclamen Coum and Cyclamen Hederifolium from Ashwood Nurseries

After the talk on Hellebores, I left 'my party' to wander off to search for cyclamens. 

All round John Massey's Garden some very special cyclamen such as the Cyclamen Graecum above have been artfully placed with aof course all the well planned soil preparation.  In some areas of lawn old seed was broadcast in the lawn, and is making colourful early spring displays  and then there other areas where ants and other creatures have move seed to just the right spots, and the result coums brighten up stony areas.

After a walk round the public areas, and not finding what I was looking for, I approached the information desk.  Soon they found a very knowledgeable and helpful specialist member of staff who works on the Cyclamen Section:  Hayden Worton. 

He has been working at Ashwood for around 10 years, and the area of propagation for the cyclamen is extensive.  We chatted about the Coums and Hederifoliums, and Hayden showed me some of his new developments and the large deep pan full of numerous small cyclamen seedlings which need several more seasons growing.  Wouldn't anyone agree that even without flowers these make just the most eye catching plants, sadly these were stock plants or not available for sale.

Hayden very kindly showed me various strains and cultivars and helped the novice that I am in the specials...choose a few.

I shall start with the Coums:

Cyclamen Coum George Bisson which has pure white flowers

Cyclamen Coum Tilebarn Elizabeth, with its silver leaf I understand it is one of the last Coums to flower in the season.  With its beautiful bicolour flowers, this is definitely one for my 'show shelf'

This coum is probably an anomelee, as the flowers appear larger and on close inspection there is some fasciation with more than the usual number of petals apparently per bloom.....

A Cyclamen Coum Pewter group- mid pink colour blooms, but with a little shading

Cyclamen coum  with pale pink flowers, with silver leaves with a green marking in the centre

Cyclamen coum pewter group with pale pink flowers

Cyclamen coum Maurice Dryden which has a pewter leaf with green edge, and a white to pale pink flower with pink 'lips'  so it is 'Blush'

And now for the Hederifoliums which will flower in the autumn, and all of these are very hardy.  For  a year or two they may be potted up and displayed on my shelf or brought into the conservatory to enjoy.

 Cyclamen Hederifolium with Silver arrow head shaped leaves

 Cyclamen Hed. Silver Shield

 Cyclamen hederifolium, Silver Leafed form

Cyclamen hederifolium arrow or almost sword shaped silver leaves with green margins.

I only grew to be interested and indeed aware of silver leaves on the Cyclamens when a few of my seeds collected from friends gardens germinated.  What is nice about germinating and growing on such special beautities is that I was able to share them with two other friends.  Over the winter the low winter light and sunshine have made the 'darker corner' of the garden rather pretty:

From home germinated seed now lying in a darker corner of the garden, covered with slowly degrading evergreen oak leaves.

Date and Walnut Cake

On Saturday I baked  Date and Walnut Cake, a version of which I devised for the schedule for my first gardening club.  When I moved and joined another gardening club this was added to their schedule under the heading:  'Baked by a Gent'.  Baked several times over a month fefore the competition, and members told me just how much they loved this recipe, and that is was already a firm family favourite.  The chaps really were very keen, and knowing that there would be none of the usual lady members who had years of experience to worry about, threw themselves into the challenge.  My current gardening club is strictly Plants but I think I shall bake this for one of the get togethers that require is so very easy!

I had not baked this Date and Walnut Cake for years.  Other Date and Walnut tray bakes exist on this blog, but I wanted to bake something that was easy enough to carry at the bottom of my bag.  The original with a few tweeks, such as roasting of the walnuts and addition of my signature spice, is really the best of all.

Yesterday I was being treated by gardening friends to a day out: visiting another 'Garden Great'.....more about this to follow on the next post.  Of course, I love to take something as a 'Thank you and  shall we share'.

I like to bake this in a '2lb Loaf Tin'....strange that we have had grams yet baking tins are still measured this way, and always line my tins with baking parchment for cakes.  Preheat the oven  to 160 C, and reduce this to 150 C after ten minutes, for an electric fan oven.

200g Dates chopped, the hard dried ones for baking
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch of salt
280ml boiling water

Put all of these in a bowl, and continue to prepare the rest of the ingredients as this stand cooling

60g walnuts kernels...which are gently roasted, at about 150 c for 5-7 minutes, chop coarsely when cool

250g self raising flower    flour, sifted with
1 tsp ground Mace
110g butter, I use goat's butter, but cow's butter will do fine

Rub the fat into the flour/spice to fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the chopped walnuts

110g light Muscovado sugar...only the best such as Billington's should be sifted over the flour butter mixture, to ensure there are no lumps, and this also helps distribute the sugar evenly when it is folded in now.

To the above, fold in the cooled to around 35 C Dates and Water, and

1 Large Egg

Carefully move to your lined tin, and sprinkle the top liberally with Demerara Sugar

Bake in the oven, watching carefully for around 1 Hr  15 Minutes. It should not catch so cover with baking parchment if necessary.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, then remove but keep the paper on to continue cooling on a rack.  Remove paper only when completely cold.  Wrap in foil for transporting or freezing.

We all loved the cake, and I was impressed that John asked which spice was in the cake as he could not exactly work it out.  I was also flattered when he asked for the recipe, so here it is....enjoy!

After coffee and cake, John and his lovely two dogs lead us out to look at some of the many beauties in the garden.  I had visited previously in June of 2015, and as I love gardens in Spring really enjoyed seeing John's garden at this time of the year.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Warm and Sunny Weather

Its been warm and sunny, and almost like a Summer's day, except the day is not as long, and the sun is lower in the sky.  Bees and bumblebees have been visiting the crocuses, and other spring flowers.  We have been sitting out in the garden for our morning coffee stop.

Whilst we are enjoying rather unseasonable weather, and we ought really to have a little more cold weather and rain to ensure the ground is well soaked, over in America where a blogging and gardening friend lives, they are battling with snow piled high.

With a new garden and some plants only in their first true season it is wonderful to watch for the first signs of growth brought on by the few recent warm days and glorious sunshine.  There have been jobs too such as pruning and feeding rose bushes, and today a severe cutting back and thinning of the winter flowering jasmine. 

Corydalis Malkensis

 Crocus fuscotinctus

 Crocus sieberi firefly

 Cyclamen coum

 Primula name unknown with strong red flowers

Crocus minimus Spring Beauty

Another 'triumph' has been the planting out and potting up of Tulipa Sprengeri 'Trotter's Form'.  I was given some seed when visiting Hunningham Garden with friends back in 2016, and it was my first gardening task when we moved in, and the seedlings germinated in 2017, so this is their third spring.  I saw the leaves emerging, so gently got them into the garden, and planted up eight pots with five to six bulbs in each pot.  Maybe I shall have a corner like this one below in a couple of years?

Monday, 11 February 2019

In a Vase on Monday- Golden Goblet

A small crocus is catching the sun at last and shining across the garden.  I planted just a small patch of these bulbs last autumn.  Described as golden goblets they have been closed tight during the colder days but now are opening.  They are virtually the same colour as the Mango Jam I made yesterday, and also very fragrant....

My little old salt glazed ink bottle is just the right size, and in with Crocus chrysanthus var fuscotinctus, a little branch of  Hebe Topiara.  This makes a lovely small compact silver green ever green shrub.  I had taken some cuttings from Liz's garden in Kenilworth before moving, and they are sturdy enough now to have a little bit chopped off.

I think it was last year, Alison C posted a vase of snowdrops poised on a mirror.  I've just received my mirror and remembered to take it outside for its first 'showing'...inside it is a wonderful way of seeing the underside of nodding blooms, particularly snowdrops.  Here when the blooms are open, the marron stripes are still visible.  Cathy asked if I bought the mirror specially.  Yes I did after the yearning for one was going round my head for over a year!  A real bargain, nicely finished and with little pads underneath .

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Sunshine Jam on a rainy day

When its cold and wet....making Mango, Lime and Cardamom Jam is the way forward:

The link above leads to my blog on preserving in case you would like to follow a step by step guide to making this fabulous preserve.  Just right for topping yogurt, cheese cakes or any other way you would like to.  Marie Claire, I know would have it on brioches.