Monday, 28 September 2015

Malvern Show

On Sunday I had a day out on the outing to The Malvern Autumn Show, organised by Letti Blakefrom Our Horticultural Club.  We had a really good sunny day, with hardly any wind.  I wondered around on my own, as I had left my hero behind, painting out the airing cupboard after our new gas boiler was refitted this week.

 I felt that the plant and flower areas had dwindled compared to several years ago, but heard that it is the Spring Show that gardeners should head for.  I even felt that I had missed a tent!  That is all well and good, but the Autumn is the time for lovely show plants and Michaelmas Daisies.

After reading my blogging friend Helen Johnstone's review of The Plant Lovers Guide to Asters, and her previous visits to Old Court Nurseries, I was pleased to find their stand.  It was after sitting down and listening to a short talk given by Helen Picton.  It was great to see so many well grown plants together, and here make a note some of my favourites: Blandie


I also know why my Aster Macrophyllus twilight one of mine is not performing: it is not getting sufficient sun.

There were some excellent Fushia stands, with a huge range.  Some had been grown as bonsai and looked magnificent...but I prefer the much lower maintenance regime of hardy garden grown varieties.  This new one called Cherry Lee really appealed not only because of its lovely flower but because of its pretty foliage.

This Rudbekia Triloba Prairie Glow stood out, with its flowers held on sturdy dark stems.  I am on the look out for some seed or do let me know if you are reading this and you know where to source some from.

There was a marquee where giant vegetables were being exhibited...

but towards one end were some displays of herbs.  This African Blue Basil would be worth growing just for its leaves.

With the Rudbekia and African Blue Basil on my list of plants to find for next year...

What did I come back with...

I loved the Fernatix Stand, and maybe it was because this fern reminded me of the ones I saw growing in Yorkshire, I brought back this Polypodium Vulgare.  I love the green and the frond shape.  and being quite short growing to 8 in it will look lovely cut in vases.

I also picked up a punnet a round green Butler cobnuts and some apples from a local grower.  And to finish off the day a delicious Buffalo milk icecream form a producer who comes from just a few miles from Kenilworth, at Napton and from whom we have had many delicious cones at other shows!

In a Vase on Monday - Catching this lovely sunshine

And yes, with the dew on the flowers, I went into the garden still in dressing gown.  I am giving myself a slow start this morning, as I spent some time gazing out of the back bedroom window at the sight of the lunar eclipse...It was wonderful.

Again in the little green vase with holes, few flowers, but with some pretty foliage.  You can tell that yesterday I spent some time looking at the wonderful artistic arrangements at the Malvern Autumn Show!  However, no oasis, no pins, just the material from the garden.

Feverfew, Nasturtiums, Helenium Sahins Early flowerer, stem heads of white flowering agapanthus with any odd seed heads removed, the black leaves are Ophiopogon planicapus niger, the long green and yellow leaves from a low carex morrowii variegata , stems from Geranium Blue Sunrise, and another one name unknown, shoots from Phuopsis stylosa because of their lovely green and structure.

My little brass snail picked up somewhere...probably a car boot sale.

Cathy is showing how you can use flowers which you never would have thought of putting in a vase.  We are sharing what is in our gardens and coming up with delightful arrangements, well worth looking at.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Chelsea Buns

Again this Friday I baked from The Book of Buns...a very traditional English Bake.  I've baked Chelsea Buns many times, but not to this recipe.  I have used spices, different fruits, added savoury fillings, but all have been baked so that when they have risen and been baked, they need to be prized apart to be eaten.

In this instance I followed the recipe exactly, with just raisins and candied orange peel, but I did add a little extra grated orange peel from the orange I was eating at the time!  The buns were placed far apart on two trays so that when baked they would look just like the picture in the book.

The dough bun is soft and tender, with the flavour of the fruit coming out, with just that lovely surface sweetness from the honey glaze.

I do like this 'not stuck together' form, as they can be easily frozen and reheated.  Yes I am still baking and losing weight because we are eating one at a time, on different days.  Sometimes we have one for breakfast!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Short break in the Yorkshire Dales

After our holiday in Gunnerside last September, we thought that another short break in that area was due.  Mr S had missed out on visiting the Ribbleshead Viaduct, and we had just driven through quite close to this area, and found it very attractive.  On the way up we stopped to have our packed lunch, and very much enjoyed exploring the town.

 every looking skyward, they were some interesting ornamentation

 We walked up to the Castle

and had lovely views

As we still had some time and a little energy, we popped into Settle to have a look around.  It was coming to closing time, and the very helpful people at the Tourist Information Centre suggested that as we were interested in architecture and railways, that we walk down to see if the lovely people at The Water Tower had their gate open.  Do go to the link and see what a great up-use has been made of this once derelict building.  We found it and very much enjoyed the walk round the garden, the back of the house, and a chat with the owner, when we told him we were from Kenilworth.  He said we were the first visitors from Kenilworth.  The whole house looked very interesting.  You don't get to look round inside!  However you can tell that it would be very interesting.  We were asked to sign the visitors book.  The reason I am making a particular point of adding this visit to the Water Tower House, is that a friend from Kenilworth visited the next day, and sent me a picture of the visitors book, with her entry just three entries down.

We stayed at the New Inn in Clapham, which was in an excellent location, in a beautiful village, with very little traffic.  It has been nicely redecorated, and has a good car park at the rear.  The public areas were also very attractive.  We had great breakfasts, and delicious evening food.  One evening I had just a seafood salad, which was perfect.

We found out from the village noticeboard that there was a guitar and harp concert at the Local Church that evening, and went out early for that.  If you have the opportunity to going to one their concerts, then you will have a wonderful evening.  They were Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman.  What  a great duo, we had such a variety of music and the banter was entertaining too...and how nice to be greeted so warmly by some of the friendly villagers whom we had chatted with just in the last 24 hours.  I did my thing too, by rescuing a bat crawling along the isle.  I took it up in my scarf and carried it outside, so much better for it than getting trodden on!  The wine and home made cheese scones made by the villagers was excellent too.

The village itself had several interesting businesses/shops. There was one dealing in sheepskin gloves, slippers etc, a really lovely wool shop Beckside Yarns, which was full of the most wonderful yarns.  I had a nice chat with the owner, who although has a web 'presence' deals just with the vast number of calling customers.  Just next door is a large shop selling retro items.  I bought myself a couple of old plant pots and a codswallop pop bottle.  The village shop too was well stocked.

Another find was the Bunk House....we dropped by after having a chat with the 'Landlord' about the lovely doorway.  We were going to have lunch after our long walk, but arrived later than we thought, so opted to share their Yorkshire afternoon tea for one: a very large sandwich on superb bread, salad garnish, fruit cake and Wensleydale cheese, scone, cream and jam, tea and an extra coffee...well we had been out for about five hours! We sat outside in the sunshine watching the world pass by:  a few walkers and cyclists.

On the ground floor:  half is a teashop and the second half a pub, the uppers are a bunk house for groups travelling through. Looks like the manor house  got a special update in 1701, when this lovely fireplace, front door and dovecote got added.

What a lovely love token...carved in stone and still standing over three hundred years later.

The houses in Clapham are well maintained, and we enjoyed little walks are just a few.  I love the canopies over the doors.

A short stroll along the river and over the little stone Brokken Bridge, found us at the start of the trail through the Ingleborough Estate Nature.  The river which runs down the middle of the village is so pretty and we stopped to watch the birds and ducks, and this little waterfall.

There is a little toll to pay on entry which we were more than happy to contribute to.  There is a leaflet to help point out the points of interest which would be quite easy to walk past.  The former large landowner Reginal Farrer was a botanist and plant collector, travelling in China, Tibet and Upper Burma in the early twentieth century,  and in the woods you could see some lovely specimens, which he planted. 

Along the footpath there are views across the picturesque lake, which was dammed and enlarged and has been producing hydroelectricity since 1893. 

I love geological features and remember this one's name from my Geography Lessons:  The Craven Fault.  Here the fault lies at the head of The Lake, and thanks to the marker we made a stop to enjoy it.

One place we found gave us contradictory emotions. The first one was the wonder at such a beautiful, large, old yew tree, then a feeling of sadness which Mr S felt coming off the tree...he felt it was suffering from all the coins which had been knocked into almost every accessible piece of it. 

It was surviving, but how sad to see such a mutilated tree.

This lovely old stone bench helped to dispel the gloom.

as did the Grotto

As we came out by the Ingleborough Cave, we crossed the stone bridge which passes over the stream which emerges here, having disappeared down the sink hole at Gaping Gill which is further up the Valley.

We followed the track till we came to this narrow cleft in the limestone

Trow Gill was formed by ice age melt waters, and we needed to clamber up some steep stones

and at the top some limestone pavements.  Mr S felt he did some 'climbing', but he is not the one who has crossed the Pyrenees, or done the Tour de Mont Blanc, come moi!

We arrived at our turning point Gaping Gill where the stream falls around 100m then goes through a series of caves 

there were surefooted sheep very close by

on our way back I stopped to admire numerous ferns of which these are just a few

After our Yorkshire High Tea, we set off by car to visit the Ribblehead Viaduct.  The route there and back had the most fabulous of views of the hills, and valleys.  We parked up and enjoyed our walk to the Bridge.  We have traveled across it several times in Steam Trains, but down in the Valley you can easily understand the scale, and the extraordinary feat it was to build this viaduct.

Mr S had to admire the stonework

On the way back, having gazed at the beautiful clouds, I looked down and could not believe my eyes:  small, really small flowers growing in the close cropped turf.  They looked like gentians, but they were mauve, not blue like the gentians on the continent...and both five and four petals in the blooms in the same clump!  Having come home and searched, I find that they are gentians:  Autumn Gentians.

We just stayed a couple of nights, and have much more to go back for.  On our homeward bound journey we stopped at Malham Cove.  The weather was quite different to the previous day, still dry, but with a slight mist in the air.  We made our way along a rather 'too tidy' path, presumably to make access for wheelchairs etc, up to the famous cliff face, where there were several parties of absailers.

The traffic coming home was ghastly!  My hero drove all the way and kept his cool ..

Monday, 21 September 2015

In a Vase on Monday - WI flowers

Wednesday last week was a milestone in the WI.  Last Wednesday was our 100th Birthday, and the day of our monthly meeting.  I only just 'remembered' about half an hour before  leaving for our meeting, that we had agreed to 'dress up', and take a nice tea cup, saucer and plate!  What prompted me?  Hubby was watching the early evening news and I heard some local article in the distance.  I made the 'dressing up', gathered our everyday white Wedgewood China, and the little vase full of flowers for the Chairman's table.

Isn't that a lovely tradition?  Each month we have volunteers who make up a bouquet for the table, and also a posy for each person who has a birthday.  Sometimes one person volunteers to make both, or either the table flowers or the birthday posies.  I had agreed to step in to help out someone who was on the rota for the table flowers, but who could not make the meeting.  She was at Denman doing 'goldwork'.  I think Kay must have been on every Goldwork course since the year dot!  This was what I managed to pick quickly from the garden last Wednesday.

Of course there has to be two sides, so that the members have a nice view as well as the Chairman.

In this little Caithness Vase were leaves from Carex comans Bronze Form, which grows so well in the garden, and I usually have lots of little seedlings to give away, some lovely marjoram seed heads, some late flowering Lavender, the three asters as below, Coreopsis Sunfire, Rudbekia Goldstrum, Lysunachia clethroides also known as Gooseneck Loosestrife.  I had dead headed this a few weeks ago and it is paying me off with more blooms, and lastly a little spring of golden leaved Feverfew.

Our speaker cancelled at short notice and Victoria who has master minded and runs the Tree House Bookshop in Kenilworth, stepped in to give us an excellent talk on Vermeer, and the way he portrayed Women in the domestic sphere.  Dr Meir is a specialist in Art History of this period, but also a well loved and respected 'local'.  By the way a lovely yellow silk jacket/blouse the colour of the rudbekia turns up in several of Vermeer's paintings!

But this is In a Vase on Monday, so here is today's bouquet.

Picked again, as last week, in the pouring rain, I am happy with this medium sized arrangement.  The Vase is a rectangular one, which I picked up from an artist at the Cotswold Show in Cirencester back in the 1990's.  The shape was quite unusual then, but now it is everywhere.  There is a nice design etched on it, so even when empty is usually stays out somewhere.  Yes I can say this is still a WI arrangement.  The reason is that I ought to have brought one of the birthday posies home to give the following day to Pat who lives just round the corner from me.  She was out for the day to visit Lincoln, so I slipped the mag through her door, with a promise of a posy from the garden this week, when we got back from our weekend away.  As she called me back to say thank you and was particularly complementary about my flowers, I thought maybe this bouquet would do.

The pink feathers from the flamingos at Coton manor have a similar colour to the dahlias, which came to me as a rooted cutting earlier this year from the gardening club.  With some raindrops still on the petals of the daisies: Aster frikartii Monch, King George, and the smaller flowered one from my friend Penny.

 The pink sedum, I believe is Autumn Joy, and some stems of Rhamnus alaternus argenteovariegata complete the arrangement. Once I have finished this post, I shall take the arrangement round to Pat's.

Cathy is making sure that we think about the warm and sunny days this month with her arrangement, so as an antidote to this pink and mauve arrangement do go and enjoy hers, and see what other Vase on a Monday contributors are posting.