Monday, 19 August 2019

In a Vase on Monday - Alison's flowers in a Vase

Yesterday Alison and Paul opened their garden, and flower growing zone,  for Flower Farmers Big Weekend.  Alison has a great gift for choosing and growing beautiful plants, and then bringing them together in wonderful arrangements.  It was through this weekly get together of In a Vase on Monday, organised by Cathy, that Alison and I met soon after I moved down to Somerset.  This week Cathy seems to have hit the bottle in her post: Sozzled! But she is not leading us astray, its just her usual very cleaver interpretation...

I was delighted to be able to lend a hand on one of the open days yesterday...generally making drinks,  and serving the most delicious array of cakes and drinks to visitors, and keeping Alison and Paul topped up with tea, as they showed visitors around the growing areas.  Money raised was for the Dorothy House Hospice.

Just as I was leaving Alison gave me the loveliest of bunches of flowers from her garden.  I was amazed at the feeling of receiving flowers.  Having had parents in this business, and also loving to grow my own for years, I seldom receive flowers, but mainly I love to give them.  I am perfectly happy with this, but hadn't quite understood the wonderful feeling of receiving flowers.

The smell of the freshly cut flowers was magical, with the Apple Mint adding a wonderful layer.   Last night they were conditioned and now they have been arranged and are gracing our mantelshelf.

Not knowing exactly what the flowers are is also a bit of foxing situation, and maybe if Alison has time and comments we may be given some hints.  So many of the elements are fabulous...just love the fluffy grass,,,the deep red bits, the long fascinating tall and dangly things, and the big  mauve powder puffs, which most of us will recognise as Asters.  If this is not the year of the Aster then next year may well be!  Alison is growing a lovely range with a real range of interesting other colours too.  As I was kept busy the whole time, (the washing up didn't do itself you know), I didn't have time to look around, and I even forgot a nice bronze carex that I had put aside from the plant stall which Alison's mother was running!

I know the name of this little fabulous phlox as Alison had showed this in one of previous vases: Phlox drummondii 'Silver Stars'.

For once I am perfectly happy to post flowers not from my garden, but they still count as they are from An In a Vase of Monday contributor.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Six on Saturday 17 August 2019

Mr Propagator  is probably out in the garden surveying the growth in the time he has been away, and in the meantime he has put up some pictures of plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh...

The last week has seen sufficient rain to make this gardener happy.  Early this morning it had stopped and I could step out and take a few pictures.

During the low light and wet days earlier in the week, the view from the kitchen window made me appreciate how the variegated plants help to lift my mood, as they stand out, which they didn't quite do in the same way when the sun was strong.  Straight across from the kitchen, just beyond the round table is a little group including Sedum (Hylotelephium) erythrostictum 'Frosty Morn' (1).

For the last couple of days I have been moving plants out from shelter of walls and even from the house to enjoy a little shower.  I used to have a range of  Sempervivums (2)all potted up separately and named, but now they get arranged as the fancy takes me, in discarded Bonsai pots....I have a spare empty one, and one of the little tasks for next week is to make a selection of the offsets to plant in it.

I've made a very slow job of replanting the front garden, due to all the painting and decorating taking place indoor.  On that account I am pleased to say all my gloss painting was completed yesterday.  As we have cleared the turf, I've planted in a very ad hoc temporary way.  Enjoying sowing seeds, and maybe also enjoying and understanding the growth of a plant for one season, I planted one of the little seedlings of Nicandra physalodes (3).  I had admired the flowers and the decorative spheroid fruits on a visit to Hampton Court Castle in 2016, and more recently to Lytes Cary Manor, and the seed came from a friend's garden.   As it has the space to expand unlike the plants in the border in the back garden, it has grown up and sideways over 1.5m across, and has needed staking:

I think it is making growth at the expense of the flowers, which in any case do not last long, and it is the dried pods later in the season that interest me.

Again in the Solanaceae the White flowered Solanum laxum 'Album' (4)growing up the fence by the conservatory was a bright spot. It has hardly stopped flowering all year and throughout the mild winter.  This was one of Morrison's specials at around £2 bought a couple of years ago.  I've always dead headed it, and having read that its berries are quite attractive, I think this year I shall leave a few to enjoy later in the Autumn

Like the rest of us I love a magazine to flick through, and get a couple of gardening ones delivered.  During the week Gardens Illustrated flopped on the mat, and attached was their free seed packet.  Earlier this year, I sowed some of their free Linaria pupurea 'Canon Went' (5) and have now five good plants, one of which is planted in the border, and the remaining waiting to be placed.  From seed to flowering in just a season, and now I shall have to wait to see how it performs over several seasons, and to see if I planted it in the right place, which is something that requires a little patience.

Pelargonium sidoides (6) with its soft grey leaves  and long flowering stems, which grow longer and produce sets of flowers, and then branch again with more buds, is in full swing.  Growing in the tall Jacky Duncan pot it sits on the posing shelf with the flowers cascading down.

Earlier this year, when the overwintering plant had a bit of a trim, it was an opportunity to produce some replacements.  With a very good rate of success I have re-potted the rooted cutting into two  pots with three plants in each.


Thursday, 15 August 2019

Date stuffed Buns

Mr S and I have a thing for dates....the sweet ones, and enjoy our brazil nut stuffed dates as our lunch time sweetmeat after dinner.  Since moving I have been buying them from Persepolis, but lately very similar dates were on sale up at Rocky Mountain twice weekly fruit and veg market.  Sadly they ran out and stated that they would supply them seasonally.  By that I understood to be around Christmas.

Anyway, as we are about to be without, I was researching the different types of dates, and came across 'Komaj Buns'.  To think there could be buns stuffed with dates for breakfast got me thinking.  We were out of breakfast buns, and I decided to make some date stuffed ones.

For my bun dough I revisited Jane Mason's Sfoof recipe, which I adapted in a number of ways.  I omitted the mahlab and the orange blossom water, and reduced the butter to 75g.  Half Spelt and half wheat flour was used, as was the anise seeds and ground turmeric.

For the filling I decided to chop up the dates together with some juicy candied orange peel.  For half the batch I followed the Komaj Buns technique using a cutter.  Finding it quite tricky to get each bun the same weight, I reverted to one of the techniques learnt in the Book of Buns, and stuffed buns with the filling.

Friday Bun Day was moved to Wednesday! With our afternoon drink it was the two smallest buns, one each.  The rest are in the freezer. 

The bun is as light as a feather, the golden colour from turmeric, and taste combinations of the date, orange and anise seeds delicious.  We have six wonderful breakfasts to look forward to in the coming month.  We love sitting together in the conservatory having our breakfasts and watching the birds and the clouds.  We have a rolling menu but always a boiled egg each on Saturday, and a special bun each on Sunday, with great coffee and tea, and a fruit platter selection. 

Monday, 12 August 2019

In a Vase on Monday - Accessorizing

This week Cathy's leading IAVOM is called On a Slow Gravy Boat to China and is full of beauties....

Had I the most perfect blooms, I would have come up with a simple display of lovely white Dahlias, perhaps with a little greenery as a foil.  However when I cut the Dahlias and brought them in, oh dear, a few petals nibbled, edges of petals bruised by the buffeting action of strong winds.  What can be done?  A few petals carefully removed, and a veil of other items to distract the eye gives the vase this week an OK look.

Moving the vase to the conservatory early this morning for better light, here are some details of the flowers:

I like the structure, texture and arrangement of the Ballota pseudodictamnus, with its fury grey green leaves, circular bracts  and the tiniest of purple pink flowers.  Lysimachia candela has flopped seriously...I'm not sure this plant quite lives up to its sales blurb, another season and it may well be removed.  Lysimachia clethroides is doing much better, though not put int this vase.  Perhaps it was the hot dry weather earlier on during the summer.

I was pruning out the stems of the Thalictrum delavayi, which still have the odd flower, but had a netting effect better to veil imperfections in the Dahlia.  Solanum laxum 'Album' joins the vase, as do a couple of Fuchsias.

A little touch of dangling earrings offered by the demure Fuchsia Hawkshead, and a brighter splash by another hardy fuchsia.  Aster x frikartii 'Mönch' is just coming into bloom and with its lovely long stems and large lavender flowers it  is one of my favourite late summer performing plants.

Dahlia Gallery Art Fair, a lovely gift from Alison, would not  pass a photo shoot, but putting on a bright smile, and suitably accessorized, she is ready to go out there for all to enjoy.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Six on Saturday 10 August 2019

I love to start with a little weather report sneaked in...not counting as my six.  At last some significant rain over more than one day, so hopefully there will be no need to fret about watering, and my water butt will have stores for later...however the heavy winds very unlike August will mean for sure time spent removing debris and staking plants.  Luckily I took these pictures before the very heavy winds.

I first admired this allium:  Allium carinatum  subs pulchellum (1), aka Keeled Garlic, in Alison's Garden and was offered a  pot with a few seedlings.  After nurturing and bring these on, for another season in the pot, they were planted out last year, now in August, there is a  fine display of firework like pink blooms.  However they have needed to be propped up with twigs. 

To have a dainty allium performing in high summer with such a quirky form is a small thrill.  The leaves are dying down and perhaps it is on account of the very dry conditions this year.  I also wonder whether because they are at the original depth of the tiny seedlings, about one centimeter down with the tips of the bulbs now above soil level  there has been little anchorage.  When they have finished flowering, the bulbs will be dug up and planted ten centimeters down.  Last year I caught the seeds off the first blooms.  The seedlings emerged, did well, and were re-potted into six pots, but they have now died down.  I'll report again next year on their progress.  Taking this picture has make me consider moving the recently cut down sedum, and planting in its place something that will provide a better contrast to synchronize with the main flowering time of the allium. Any suggestions?

Allium carinatum  subs pulchellum 

On the shed shelf is this Sarracenia, (2).  I bought a couple last December from the market.  One went to my son and this one except for a short spell for a month or so around Christmas in the conservatory, has been outside.  In the strong sun it has coloured up well, but I need to pot it on now.  It stands in water contained by the outer pot.


At last some rain falling Thursday night and a little during the day on Friday, means that there is water again in the water butt.  Of course the birds visiting the garden much prefer to bathe in rain water, after having to bath in tap water.  Twice a day sometimes whilst watering, the Bird Bath (3)has been topped up. Insects and birds take turn to refresh and drink. 

Bird Bath

The variety of insects this year visiting the garden has expanded.  Leaves being eaten by caterpillars, butterflies and bees drink nectar, and ants are farming blackfly, beetles scuttle around.  Even without a pond, dragon flies are landing in the one is resting on Origanum laevigatum  Herrenhausen (4).  This was planted as a small 10cm potted plant last August and this year it and the smaller offshoot taken early this year are performing well and all the origanums are visited by bees, hover flies etc.

I love sedums...or at least I thought I did.  I still do but I guess that is so much easier whispering I love all you lovely sedums than saying that I love Hylotelephiums....but if a good friend changes their name, is it not good manners to learn their new one?  There are so many different forms, and over the years I have grown not only to love them, but bought a few different types, and increased them from cuttings.  This one was bought a couple of years ago, suffered from rotting at the soil level soon after planting in ground too rich for them, but I salvaged the stems, made up cuttings and got three plants, which were planted out in the Conservatory border earlier this year.  Now I have to learn the new names of Hylotelephium telephium, but for evermore I shall call this one to 'Purple Emperor' (5)!

Purple Emperor

Ballota pseudodictamnus(6) is another favourite and the plant bought last year at the Autumn Rare plant sale at the Bishop's Palace is growing well, even after its short back and sides earlier in June after its first flourish.  It has looked good all the year round remaining evergreen, in our mild winter.  In the foreground is a cutting taken and poked straight in the ground in January this year, flourishing with its first set of flowers. I find the cuttings very easy, and one taken in early June, is already rooted...that one was pushed into the ground in the shady border.  Of course loving full sun, now that it has rained, the small rooted plant not in view here, will need to be moved.  Where is that ladder? *  These have not been watered during the long dry spell.

Ballota pseudodictamnus

Looking forward to more gardening and seeing what other SOS contributors have on offer.