Monday, 14 August 2017

In a Vase on Monday - Stars

In the wee small hours this morning, I tiptoed into the garden...I just could not sleep, and wondered whether I would be able to spot some shooting stars.  It was not to be, it was around 3:30 am, and then slowly the sky began to cloud over.



This morning at the breakfast table I have something to brighten up the day.  The vase is like a glazed stone with holes in it...and it just the right shade of green...picked up in a Charity Shop some time ago.

The little yellow flowers of the Sedum Kamtschaticum variegatum  are the stars in this arrangement.  I love the way the leaves have a narrow cream margin, and the flower buds are tinged pink, then open to a golden yellow colour.  This colour is then echoed in the nasturtium, and also the leaves of the Japanese grass Hakonechloa macra Albostriata.  I wonder whether this is the correct name since the striata are more golden than white! Maybe it is Aureola.

This is a picture of the sedum at Tatton Park, where I first saw it, but where it had been sold out.



My plant came from the pop up stall in Wells where Tadham Alpines set out their tantalising range.  We are very fortunate to have plant growers at both the Wednesday and Friday markets, and pop up stalls, as well the special events at the Bishop's Palace Gardens.

Cathy who hosts this meme has some rich coloured blooms in her arrangement this week...and a plant I may well have to acquire for the garden:  it is Persicaria 'Fat Domino'..Do go and have a look at her arrangement, and maybe even join in with this meme.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Izzi stays for a couple of days

It's a treat to have Izzi stay a couple of nights.  First we met up at Stourhead, where we had a walk round the grounds as Izzi wanted to visit the grottoes.  There were more than one...all were rather interesting, some had sculptures, water, mosses and ferns too!



A Dwarf Buckeye was in full flower in a shady part of the walk.  Shafts of light piercing the canopy of higher trees spotlighted the intricate flowers.


Another interesting tree was this Corylopsis glabrescens from Japan...


I've just looked it up and it turns out to be a Fragrant Winter Hazel.  Since I love the form of this plant in the summer...I am looking forward to a trip next spring to see it in all its glory.  The arboretum at Stourhead has a wide range of trees arranged in a parkland setting surrounding lakes, with paths that lead you around, and where there are magnificent views from almost all angles.

I'm not sure if this is an angel or not, but I spied these little 'cherubs' painted on a bench in The Pantheon...


Mr S was given a 'family ticket' for the East Somerset Railway by his team at work...so on a wet and dismal day it was off to see the trains, and have lunch in their cafe...but we had to make sure that the train was running to time...In between we played a game of marbles..yes you can play a game based on guessing the number of marbles in the other persons hand..Izzi has confirmed that it is called Eggs in the bush.  It was one of the games printed in the little book, which came with a little bag if you bought ten marbles.  Both Izzi and I have even more marbles at home!



On another day we spent the afternoon at Wookey Hole Caves. I had no preconceptions, but overall rather enjoyed the visit.  There were no dolls hanging from strings...no coloured lights...no bangs...but rather good walkways.  For part of the tour we had to don hard hats:


Often in caves you can see seams of minerals, here there were 'cheese seams' and you could see large blooms of the special molds that help to make this wonderful tasting cheese.  These were seams that you could smell even before you could see them.   Had I known there would be goat's cheese there, I would have bought one...


We had an informative guide, and there were some very interesting formations, such as this one known as King Arthur's Beard.  I would even go to say I would like to visit the caves a second time!


Once outside, we explored the avenue of dinosaurs and had to have a little sit down to admire the scenery...and this one had been turned into a wooden seat.


We watched the film in the 4 D cinema...but sadly missed the circus performance.  Instead we rather enjoyed the exhibition, admiring the many clown faces painted on eggs, and the extensive miniature circus models.


Close up they were rather detailed...in one of the cabinets...(no photograph) was what looked like a potato which had been a clown's face, long forgotten...but completely rotten and oozing junk down a couple of shelves...we were both fascinated, and Izzi had not forgotten this the next day.


Izzi is not aversed to getting in there with soggy linen etc, and trying her hand at one of the first stages of paper making.


Of course in between craft and drawing at home....picking courgettes, the one cucumber, and parsley.


Fuchias

The fuchsias are doing well in the garden.  For many years I have had one or two in the garden...perhaps up to five different varieties.  Down in Somerset they seem to flourish.  When Izzi came to visit, on our travels to the post box to post cards to her friends, and all around, we admired the many types embellishing front gardens and hanging baskets.

Back home, we had a tour of the garden and of course picked a few rather lovely blooms.


Whilst Izzi was with us, she had of course, access to Grandma's best art pencils..her favourite for the moment are my Derwent Inktense pencils..and a little pot of water and paintbrush.  Izzi soon learnt that the best results needed clean water, and changed the water regularly.  I very much left her to her own devices during periods when I knew she needed some quiet, and it also gave me time to get lunch or dinner sorted out.  Three of the fuchsia blooms have  been committed to paper.



and I love this 'botanical' drawing.


Kamut Bread the sourdough way

This is one of the loaves we are baking on the Facebook Group.  I do rather like Kamut flour or as it is also known: Khorasan flour. I used to get this flour as part of my order from Shipton Mill, and even posted a recipe for Khorasan  Breakfast Buns quite some time ago on their site.

This time I quickly picked up a bag of Dove's Farm Kamut flour from a local supermarket.



My starter was healthy and bubbling, and as usual I had upscaled the ingredients to make two loaves.


and the soft golden colour of the Kamut Flour was silky smooth in the kneading.  I followed the recipe, and everything looked fine....until I looked at the loaves rising in the oven, each on their own shelves.  I knew straight away that it would the tale of the good, the bad and the ugly!  The recipe is good, the baker had a bad technique: turning out the dough from the baskets was problematic with 'ugly' results!


When I cut into the loaf, it rather looked like one of the caves in Wookey Hole.  Mr S had thought of getting one of his n guauge scale figures to stand in this huge hole.  However, we were desperate to start our lunch!


Non of the loaves were wasted.  We ate the more reasonable slices, and the rest got made into a rather delicious bread pudding...enriched with egg, milk, raisins, peel, spices etc.

Yesterday I attempted the recipe again...but did not feel like having the fight with the baskets, so used bread tins.  The dough was rather lively and gave big rise...no there are no large holes this time.


Monday, 7 August 2017

New Pelargonium

Last week, we visited Stourhead.  This National Interest property has a superb garden.  Of particular interest to me was the Geranium House.   Sir Richard Colt Hoare was an avid collector and loved pelargoniums.  I find the species plants charming and some have wonderful form...the leaves and their arrangement, their colouring and shape are so varied.

I am in a restraining mode...so chose just one of the many species plants on offer at the very good shop to bring home with me.  I love the foliage  it is much divided and almost fern like, ranging from bright acid green in the younger leaves to older one having purple tones.    Here is my new plant: 
Pelargonium myrrhifolium v coriandrifolius, though the plant label read Geranium coriandrifolium.  



It originates from the Western Cape Province of South Africa.



As soon as there is a flower, I'll add a picture.

Just in case you want to read more and find sources leading to more about Pelargoniums, you really must try Pellynut's site.

The other species Pelargonium currently in the conservatory is Pelargonium sidoides...of which I have now two newly rooted cuttings.  I love the round grey leaves and the purple flowers just keep on growing on the same stalk!




Ledebouria Socialis Silver Squill one of the Soft Succulents

I have a nicely congested pot of Ledebouria socialis 'Silver Squill'.  At last I have found the correct name through simply inputting some keys words into google: bulb spotted leaf purple underneath.

I first bought this at the Shrewsbury show in August 2014, when is was labelled Scilla Nervosa...I have since corrected the original post!  I am learning more about the lovely succulents that grow in South Africa, as this one does.

This is what it looked like



This is what it is like now:


I've placed the plant on a 'shady' shelf in the conservatory, where I can peer in with my short sight at the wonderful little flowers.


Its one plant that grows and grows more little bulbs...and is very easy to keep tidy..just pull off leaves as they die off.  Maybe it is time to propagate and share this plant around?

In a Vase on Monday - Pink to make the boys wink

An old fashioned idom: Pink to make the boys wink came to mind as I grouped these blooms in an old fashioned medicine bottle.  They are from a Salvia Bush, which I bought as a rooted cutting earlier this year at a plant stall run by a local gardening club.

The plants did have a label on the sales bench, but by the time I looked at the two plants the following morning it was too late: the 'efficient' cashier had removed the name tags!  There are so many salvias that I have wadded through on the web, that I don't want to use any name.  Maybe I shall call the plant by another idom: Tickled Pink!

I am busy repotting succulents: this one is Echeveria Elegans and a new cutting of Pelarganium sidoides , so to spare its blushes as Tickled Pink is being presented so sparsely..it had some sidekicks in attendance.....


Cathy who hosts this meme, has blooms in abundance...and has gone for a white theme, so do go and see some perfect blooms, and also what other has chosen for this week.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Beetroot Chutney using local Cider Vinegar

Back in 2014 I posted my recipe for Beetroot Chutney on this blog rather than my other blog Mrs Mace Preserves.  Once again there are lovely beetroots in the market. I trailed through my books and on line for another recipe.  I had got rather excited and bought a little too many bunches.  I upsized the quantities to match 1.5Kg prepared beetroot.  I think 1 Kg gives about the right number of jars for home consumption.  Friday evening when Mr S was out playing trains...it was time to get out the chopping knives and boards.

I ended using my own recipe....dear reader!  However for the first time since moving, I used a locally bought and made cider vinegar.  This latest purchase from Earthfare Glastonbury comes from a small holding within Somerset: Honey Pot Farm.  The vinegar is unfiltered and unpasturised and has a lovely golden colour, it tastes good with great cider and appley flavours...we have a little tipple diluted in water for medicinal purposes each day...but the greater quantity goes into my preserves.  I wonder whether we shall come across a cider vinegar tasting or competition now we are in Somerset.  If you know of any, please do link them into this post.

Each time I make this chutney, I may slightly vary the blend of spices.  Instead of dried ginger I used some fresh ginger very finely chopped.


It was red onions....


and having first cooked the beetroot for 20 minutes in the pressure cooker, they were very easy to chop up.


Some time later, with many jars washed and sterilised it was time for potting them up.


Not bad for an evening's work: output 6 large and 9 medium jars of chutney...lots of lovely chutney stashed away, ready to enhance many a supper or lunch: great with goat's cheese, cheese mac, cold meats etc....


My hero returned in time to rescue me by helping;  clearing and washing up with beetroot deserves a medal!

Monday, 31 July 2017

In a Vase on Monday - Asters

This springtime we were far more focused on getting jobs done in the house...so it was an easy solution to grab a couple of modules of small plants...the ones that come in eight with a little handle on the top.  I planted the little annual asters out into larger pots to bring them on,  and prepared a narrow border along the drive, digging in some compost and giving the ground a dressing of fish blood and bone.  The ground sighed with relief: I felt that this was the first time it had had some TLC in many years.  

The plants grew stronger, and were finally planted out Mid May.  They are now coming into bloom.  Its the first time I have grown annual asters...here is my vase of the first blooms.  The vase is cloisonne, and the embroidered mat is from Madagascar...both collected by my mother on her travels.  When I was choosing where to pose the flowers I remembered my mother saying flowers are 'doubly beautiful' in front of a mirror.



With heavy showers, I have been nipping out to cut blooms, and rather than have them rain stained, I have been giving bunches to neighbours.  Down out little cul de sac...there are several of these in Vases this week!

Instead of pink, Cathy is celebrating the golden sunshine with her selection this week.  So do and catch a glimpse of the wide ranging blooms she has this week, and also those of others who link into IAVOM.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Sourdough Pizza Base

This is one of our bakes for July from Jane Mason's Book: Perfecting Sourdough.  I had been refreshing my wheat sourdough ready for a couple of white loaves...and had enough to start off the mix yesterday morning.

The recipe says mix 60g wheat sourdough, 140g white wheat flour, 1 tbsp fine semolina, 90g water, 3 g salt, just mix and leave to rest for 12 - 24 hrs. All you then need is some olive oil for dressing, and an assortment of toppings.   Just how easy can it get?  I had planned to make the pizza for lunch today...but once one has Pizza on one's mind, I could find no further inspiration for supper.

Having roasted two large pointed red peppers, in the 'dying embers' of the oven's heat from the sourdough loavews, there was no accommodating the 12 hrs wait.  Four hours short, the dough was dressed with pesto, all the red peppers, red onions and garlic which had not long come out of the oven, with a large gloriously soft and juicy Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo mozarella which I had bought that morning, torn and spaced oven the top.


With oven set at its highest setting...it wasn't long before supper was ready


I felt this beauty needed to dress for dinner...with some green basil torn from the Kitchen windowsill herb.


I'm already thinking of alternative toppings.....

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Repotting Haworthia Tessellata

I've been watching the Haworthia in its salts encrusted pot and wondering whether it was in need of repotting.  Its been trying to flower all summer...trying to.... because for one reason or another I have been pulling out the extremely long flower, as I felt it would be better making side shoots rather than trying to reproduce through its flowers.  It has been in the same pot now for four years since I bought it at The Shrewsbury Show.

I wrote about my little Haworthia Tessellata showing its very long flowering stem, and have since found some posts which are very informative such as this one: http://www.plantsrescue.com/haworthia-venosa-subsp-tessellata/ and Dave's Garden, which is often useful too for many gardening problems.




With some of the very old lower leaves removed, they were repotted in new compost with added grit and perlite, and a pinch of slow release fertiliser.  On the top is a light layer of grit, which I think adds an attractive background to show off the plants.

I shall refrain from much watering over the next couple of months, and try to keep it in good indirect light, and hope that it will be happy for the next few years.


Monday, 24 July 2017

Lytes Cary Manor

What could be nicer that a trip out to a local National Trust property on a Sunday afternoon.  With my friend Vickie down from London for the weekend...after a lovely lunch, we ventured out along the green and undulating countryside to Lytes Cary Manor.    It was our first visit too, though we had drawn up into the car park this winter for a driving break and coffee from our thermos, but, in future, when travelling close by I shall be sure to engineer a stop during opening hours just to see where they are with their garden.

The house is lovely...parts are very old, there is fine furniture and tapestries, BUT

their garden is fabulous....it is not very big, you could get round in about half an hour, but if you like plants, and like garden design, and you have the time, and the weather is fine....you could go round two or three times and continue to find interesting plants and planting combination to admire.

Just a few pictures of only some of the interesting plantings and views:

these Veronicastrum virginicum 'Album' plants quite close to the front of the border punctuated the overcast day, giving not only great structure within this white border, but also gaining much admiration from other keen gardeners.  I also the whorls of grey green leaves, and the stout and upright growth.  I'm adding these to my list of plants for the new garden!









 Rushing back to get to the tea rooms....with heavy rain on the horizon....Mr S and Vickie threaten to leave me behind...but I shall be returning soon to the gardens!



Summer Visitors

Even though we are a long way from being 'straight' after our move, have still our best china in boxes, and have umpteen projects in the pipeline to bring this home to what we would like it to be...our best friends and family are happy to come and take us as we are...and we are overjoyed to have them visit and show off our new County.

Last weekend my cousin visited and we attended an open day at the Wells Almhouses...They have some attractive courtyard gardens



From their chapel I give you the Angel of the Day:  St Matthew as found in some floor tiles


To one side are seats with a stone canopy...they made for a charming place for sitting and watching the world go past.


We went on to visit the Bishop's Palace and this week there were some interesting performers from unusual 'hot house specimens'




To the large Indian Bean tree in full flower....


and a spot of posing for Angel of the Day



As well as walks up Ebbor Gorge, with visits to the Cathedral and Vicar's Close, the market etc and many opportunities for dog training...Pat and Breeze had a great visit...