Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Marmalade wrapped up

There is something quite enchanting about fruit beautifully presented.   Ordinarily Waitrose sells the oranges in Kg boxes, but I was attracted by the wrappers adorning the fruit, beautifully packed, in open cardboard boxes, depicting The Ave Maria Organic Orange Farm close to Seville. Don't they look pretty used up as a wrapping for the jars before they are stored away?

These organic Seville Oranges were fresh, bright and in perfect condition.  The wrapped ones had slight marks, but it just proves that they are grown on trees and not made by some magic plastic fairy.


Fruit tissue wrappings for transport are not a novelty.  The New Gastronome has an article by Lisa Schultz on citrus fruit wrappers which is interesting.  I was transported to the foothills of Mount Etna, when we  walked through the organic citrus groves, after a delicious lunch cooked for us on the farm, 

And are those oranges on the kitchen tiles?  Maybe.  I have been making marmalade each year for years.  A note in my old cook book for 1977 shows I had made 48lbs that year, and that the oranges cost 16p per pound, and the sugar om 1979 29p per kilo.  In 1980 the oranges were 24p per pound.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Cyclamen posy In a Vase on Monday

After all the fireworks, it is now time to do a little spring cleaning, and yesterday, during a little pottering around in the garden, found some early flowers.  Linking up with Cathy, who is the 'House Keeper' of this weekly Monday 'club', I am able to share with others a little of our gardens.

This particularly early flowering cyclamen coum could have featured in a posy a couple of weeks back, and really needs her moment of glory before the specials emerge. 

 The little bit of greenery is from a fern which 'arrived' in my previous garden, spores floating in from how far, your guess is as good as mine.  A few leaves of Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ picks up the deeper maroon of the base of the petals and underside of the leaf.

The posy is set against a very large and beautiful antique damask linen napkin which came to me from my grandmother.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Six on Saturday - 16 January 2021

This morning I joined a Zoom talk given under the auspices of the local branch of the Hardy Plant Society.  I've taken a few ideas, and made some notes too.  I mentioned the meeting to Anna who contributes here and also to In a Vase on Monday.  These talks are open to non members for a fee, and if anyone is interested, next month's talk is on Euphorbias given by Timothy Walker.

I'll just pop over and link in with Jon and anyone else who is posting this Saturday.  

 1. Its toes leaves are turning blue pink with the cold: some succulents let you know when they are stressed. It is kept very dry and it will have to enjoy the minimums of about 6c at night! I usually split and repot them before they become this congested.  If anyone is a knowledgeable succulent grower they probably think this is cruelty. By the way the standard colour is that aqua blue right through all the leaves.  It will be interesting to observe what happens to those pink leaves as the season progresses.  Some younger plants in larger pots have not 'turned'.

2. Our gardening club is a member of the Gold Scheme at Castle Gardens Group, and each year they offer composts delivered to your door at competitive prices.  It is the first time I've put in an order.  Ordered before Christmas, the bags arrived this week.  The very nice delivery man from Castle Gardens had several orders from our club members, but he still had the time to move them all to my potting area right round the other side of the house.  Thanks John!  I thought to move just one bag to the shed and now it smells divine in there.  Am I alone in liking the smell of a good compost or manure? The grit, sand, and other composts are outside.

3. I read Jim's post about the history of his garden where he mentioned that he probably had not taken sufficient pictures of the garden layout.  Of course I would not deem to compare my garden with his, but I did lean out of the study window and took a picture of what my garden  looks like now, at the bleakest time of the year.  I'm not happy with the winter look, but boy,  there are a lot of plants out there, just waiting their moment of glory.  It is mainly the plants which I am interested in! But I shall have this picture to look back later in the year, and also in years to come.

4. Mr S came and had a look to see why I had opened the window and was letting all the warm air out, with the cold air flooding in.  He happened to look down and noticed my row of cyclamen hederifolium.  He was taken by the similarity of the colours: dark grey green leaves with what looked like aqua, ie silver markings of different kinds, and also how the leaf shapes were quite different. For a 'non-gardener' I was impressed by his observations. However he does have great powers of observation, and enjoys detail.

5. Being encouraged to grow from seed.  Apart from veggies, I am fairly new to growing shrubs, and other plants from seed.  I am delighted by how easy it has been to grow hardy geraniums, and this little pot has been in front of me each day, in good light in the conservatory. It may be Geranium Harveyi.  Whatever it is I have enjoyed watching it.  It will probably need potting up singly soon.  When it flowers I'll be posting it to the HPS Hardy Geranium group to see which they think it is. Thanks again to Jim for great quality seed.

6. Reading and books. I had another SOS contributor: Off the Edge gardening recommend  this book.  I managed to get it from the local library before the current lock-down.
The Garden Jungle or Gardening to Save the Planet by Dave Goulson: Earth worms, hover flies, bees, etc. Which are the best plants to grow for wildlife such as the specific lavender etc.  

Monday, 11 January 2021

Sourdough Flax Prairie Bread revisited

 It has been a while since I last made this loaf.  This time I scaled up the quantities to made two loaves in my Silverwood 500g tins.  These tins are great to bake bread in, but they are not 500g tins! Having measured the volume of a number of bread pans, I found that 700g made up sourdough is about right.

All the seeds for the recipe were ground and added to the flour.  However I thought adding some seeds as a coating to the inside of the tin would be fun.  However they tend to fall off, quite nice for the birds who will have all the dustings.  They had a 13hr cold rise in the conservatory.  Next time, I shall just leave them overnight on the kitchen counter to rise during the winter.  This makes a lovely loaf, and whilst the seed is still in date, I shall bake these for a few weeks in succession.  Looking back on a previous post, I found that I had made some of the dough into fruited breakfast buns, and intend to try that again next week.

In a Vase on Monday - More Fireworks

 Just as people continue to let off fireworks apparently on random evenings during the year, I am following with some even larger fireworks than last week. I don't have a vase large enough, and in any case, these are quite dry and don't require water.

Featuring this week are the seedheads of Allium schubertii.  

 This is the largest of the seed-heads, and is perched alongside my Great-grandmother's 19th Century pancheon, which is 45cm across.  It sits on the bottom rung of our conservatory side table, alongside an old copper stockpot and an arts and crafts salver. 

I had a wonderful harvest of these seed-heads last year, and was able to give several away too.  The remainder spent the summer hanging as chandeliers down from the conservatory ridge.  After the big pre Christmas clean of the room, they found their way on the side of shelves. As Mr S and I each have our different allergies, and some scents and blooms are difficult to bear except for the shortest time, these dried seed heads are a welcome floral decoration.

Linking in with the great goddess of Vases on Monday: Cathy.  She has some of her scented specials this week.  We have gardeners from sunnier climes and at opposite sides of the world so there is always something interesting to see.  Keep safe everyone.