Monday, 26 November 2018

In a Vase on Monday -Scrabbling about

I wasn't going to post today, but if everyone did this on the same week, it would still be Cathy with her lovely arrangement that keeps things going....

Scrabbling  around the plants looking for a pewter leaved cyclamen corn to give to a friend this afternoon, the sun came out and a few of the shy beauties shone out.


Two leaves from the pewter coloured Cylamen probably heredifolium, with a marbled one for contrast, which I found when I was searching below the minutely flowered Fuchsia microphylla 'Silver Linings'.  Through a few clicks I found that this plant was introduced by the Wynne-Jones from seed they collected on the Cordillera de Talamanca in Costa Rica at 2800m in 2004. they call it 

Fuchsia hemsleyana 'Silver Lining'

 I then found a link to their nursery: Crug Farm  in North Wales......Again, I had not read the growing instructions, and it seems neither has it, since it is flourishing in the new garden in full sun.  

Just close by, sheltered by the stone wall the Salvia Corrugata is putting on a good show.  

Its strange how descriptions of a shrub or plant and its tolerances to weather conditions can vary.  British sites say tender, the Australian site to which I linked Salvia Corrugata above gives a very good description.  My shrub spent the winter well outside in its sheltered spot but it is late to flower. 

The final element in the arrangement is a twig of Lophomyrtus ralphii Little Star.  This is very slow growing where it is and again there is confusion about where it is best to plant it.  At present it is in a sheltered mostly shaded position where it shines out with its evergreen cream and pink margined leaves.  If anyone has experience of growing this shrub, it would be interesting to have your views as to its performance.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

A few days break near Lyminton

Mr S quite rightly thought a few days break whilst the paint dried and hardened would do us good.  Its quite a strain being without a living room for so long.  We had got on much better with the decorations, and its still a week before the carpet is due to be fitted....and I have a birthday coming up.

He spotted deal for a mid week three night break, booked our hotel and off we went.  The weather  was about as good as it can get for this time of the year.  On the way we stopped at Shaftesbury, and after a walk around, including up and down the famous 'Hovis Hill' and a coffee, we started on the last leg of our journey.  The hairpin bends up to Cranborne Chase were magnificent and we shall certainly be returning to explore that area soon.

The New Forest was just perfect.  The low sun highlighted the warm golden colours of the oak tree leaves, and dotted around were some lovely pine trees.  As usual the ponies ambled along, grazing patches of bright green tightly cropped grass on parts of the moorland.




Our hotel was just across the estuary from Lymington, and had had quite a varied history...for now it is a hotel.  We had a spacious room in the grounds in modern two story blocks.  You can guess...our cheapest rooms were up the wooden stairs which lead to pairs of rooms.  The room however was large, neat, clean and quite satisfactory, and importantly had a sofa and TV.  We have been without sofa and TV for what seems like ages.  The Spa: swimming and whirl pools,  steam room and sauna were enjoyable and not at all busy...but I could just manage it just once, as on the other days I didn't feel well enough.



The grounds were wonderful and each morning we would walk down the large lawn bordered by well clipped hedges to admire the views across the sea.  We ended up taking our binoculars as there were so many birds on our side away from the busy little marinas on the other shore.  We even saw a little egret within twenty yards!

The trees were bent over maybe growing away from the salt air.



We enjoyed a day browsing around Lymington, which has some handsome old houses, and an interesting High Street.  Not surprising we headed for the St Barbe's: the Museum and Art Gallery.  There was a special Exhibition on Wood-block Prints by Allen W Seaby and John E Platt.  I recognised the style and also many of the Seaby woodcuts of animals and birds from early Ladybird Books.


The adjacent Museum was well put together and these are some of the displays which caught my eye:




So we thought flash cards were something new?  My mother loved to quote the rhyme about the months of the year, and I loved to listen and imagine what snow and ice and changing seasons would be like.  Its quite probable that she would have learnt using aids like these strips of fine wood with poetry lines on them:


January brings the snow,

Makes our feet and fingers glow.



February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.



March brings breezes, loud and shrill,
To stir the dancing daffodil.



April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.



May brings flocks of pretty lambs
Skipping by their fleecy dams.



June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children’s hands with posies.



Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots, and gillyflowers.



August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.



Warm September brings the fruit;
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.



Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.



Dull November brings the blast;
Then the leaves are whirling fast.



Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire, and Christmas treat.




I wanted to be reminded of the whole poem and have found that it was written by Sara Coleridge.



The Boldre Hoard

This display reminded me of the series we enjoyed watching: The Detectorists.

We knew we wanted a rest so stopped for lunch in the Cafe, best meal we had all holiday!!!!  We went for the Vegetarian Option of dahl and rice.  It was a brown lentil dish with balanced spicy flavour with added sweet potato on top of a spicy rice.  I complimented  the staff thinking it was pretty good for a 'boil in the bag', as I had not seen any cooking.  It was explained that the owner makes these dishes fresh off site, and brings in the dishes each day for the varying menu.  Its not surprising that the cafe filled up to capacity as local people came in for lunch. 

Our lunch at the Museum and Art Gallery cafe trumped the highly rated Pebble Beach Restaurant at Barton on Sea, which we had booked for the following day..  This was to have been my early Birthday Lunch.  However we were disappointed: parts were good, such as the bread, scallop starter, but the mains were a let down, as was my dessert.

On our way home we spent the morning at Buckler's Hard where some of Nelson's ships were built.



The little Chapel dedicated to St Mary is set in the row of Georgian Cottages, and has a beautifully embroidered Alter Cloth.


Ever since I worked for my tying knots badge at Bluebirds...that is what Brownies were called in some parts of the Commonwealth, I have been intrigued by them.  As no children were watching, I  worked at tying a bowline.  Have you ever tied a bowline?


There was a wonderful little glass display with many different types of knots....



I didn't feel at all well for part of the break, so could not really take everything or even much in.  We could have spent a whole day here.  I wondered what was up...it must have been a virus, as last week once we were home, Mr S felt many of the same symptoms.


Monday, 19 November 2018

In a Vase on Monday - Unseasonal collection

After the excitement of last week's IAVOM's fifth anniversary, Cathy's New Dawn arrangement is rather lovely.  Do go and have a peek.

Whether it is the weather tricking the plants into flowering after a dormant period due to heat and drought, or whether it is simply because here in my new garden new plants are enjoying sheltered and frost free conditions...I have been able to collect a few flowers this morning for our IAVOM.


With the sun shining this morning, the Winter Flowering Jasmine nudifolium on the shady side of the fence is a bright accent which is repeated further down the garden by the still flowering nasturtiums.  In China where is originates Jasmine nudifolium's Chinese name means Flower that Welcomes the Spring.

The white starry flower with small yellow centres is Potato Vine  Solanum laxum 'Album'. I picked up a small plant last year at Morrisons, and planted it out this spring after some tlc.  Its doing nicely, and is part of my creating some shade plan.  

The blue is from a little low growing campanula which my neighbour gave me.

The bronze fennel after a close cropping is flowering on low stems...it may not last the day and end up chopped up on my lunchtime salad!

Fuchsia Hawkshead is proving a good addition to the border, and is teeming very nicely with some 'supermarket cyclamen', a present from a lunch guests.  These are the larger indistinct blob at the back, the leaf is however from one of my species cyclamen.  

I love cyclamen, and on holiday in the various Mediterranean Islands and also in Italy, I enjoy looking out for them on my walks.  Recently in a garden I found some seeds beneath a well patterned plant, and guess what?  They are now sprouting in a little pot of compost.  

 Some people love cyclamen, others dislike them.  How do you feel about them?



Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Apple D'Arcy Spice

People who know me well will understand why I chose this apple to grow, and believe me it has proved right on so many levels.  It will be one of my little 'projects' over the years to come.

They say never go shopping when you are hungry, I was 'hungry' or rather lacking ( I was missing our garden terribly), with no trees, very few shrubs and smaller area too in this garden, I was in mourning for the plants I had left behind.

We visited Glastonbury for the first time when we first moved to Somerset, it was just during the weeks before Christmas 2016, we still hadn't unpacked and the gardening tools were somewhere behind packing cases in the garage.

I loved the small market we came across based around Glastonbury Cross, and I was naturally drawn to a stall with plants.  It was a young gardener tending the stall.  It was cold, her hands were cold, but she lovingly tended her young apple and fruit trees, with their root ball covered in sacking.  I had not intended buying an apple tree...the garden was not ready at all.  I looked over the saplings, examining the names...and should one buy a plant based on only its name?  D'arcy Spice...both names significant to me....I just had to have this apple. I had never heard of its name, it was an old variety etc etc...

It had to come home.  Mr S was miffed.  I explained that I was buying it with 'my money' and that it was a My Christmas Present to Myself.  Although not a gardener he knew we should prepare, and had also thought I would grow the apple Scrumptious.  We had a tree in our previous garden bought at An Apple Day at the Hill Close Gardens in Warwick.  Its a sweet and delicious apple cropping very early in the season. 

Back to D'Arcy Spice: a patch was dug, the one year old bare-rooted tree planted, had been standing in the lee of the house for a few days, its roots cocooned in compost which had been pre-innoculated with mycorrhizal fungi, was ceremoniously planted.  I had decided to put no stake as the garden is sheltered, and it was very small...just one stem, a Maiden Tree.  It grew slowly during 2017 and I was beginning to wonder at my folly.

This spring 2018, there were flowers, and whether I was right or not, I decided to remove all the blossoms as soon as the petals had fallen, leaving only two fruit to swell.  Its only during the last two months that I have got round to learning more about this cultivar.  

I have read that it is an old variety, it is slow growing, it is a late cropper, it is rare....it is dual purpose, has spicy flavours...oh dear I ought not to have picked the first fruit so early.  But I did it look large for the little tree, and I would leave the smaller one.  I read that it should be stored, and for a small crop, well two counts as a small crop, a fridge would do.  The first fruit has been sitting in the fridge since the start of October.




Today mid November with the low sun, the leaves on the apple tree are turning a golden yellow, and even the fruit with its very short stem is flushed with colour unlike the first one which was a matt green with patches of roughness not unlike a russet.  I have decided to pick this second and last apple and store it ready for our Christmas Day Treat!  Next year, hopefully I shall allow just four or five to develop, and harvest these and test which are best.

The first fruit was 155g, the second 195g, therefore not accounting that it was the smaller of the two, it has gained at least 25% in weight over six weeks.  It was still very firmly attached to the tree and I wonder whether it could have been left even longer.

It is only today when looking for dates of planting, that I came across the card given to me by the grower, and that I have learnt more about the variety and the wide range of trees grafted and grown by Steepholding.  They grow a variety of Heritage Fruit Trees, grafting and growning them organically:  www.steepholding.wordpress.com

Shame I had not found out these growers earlier, as they do grow Mirabelle de Nancy and would have loved to have bought it from there.  That is the second fruit tree that I had sourced and planted this autumn.


Descriptions of Apple D'Arcy Spice




D'Arcy Spice is an old English variety originating in Colchester, Essex in 1785. Staying true to its name it possesses a spicy, nutmeg flavour that sweetens with age. It is an excellent heritage apple for eating and juicing and will store well into the following Spring. The tree itself is tough and hardy and though fairly slow growing, it will often do well in less than favourable conditions. It offers good disease resistance too and the apples hang well on the tree, so good for more exposed sites. Walcot Organic Nursery
'D'Arcy Spice' is a light-cropping, late-season, dessert apple requiring lots of autumn sunshine to develop its sweet, spicy flavour. It is in pollination group 4, partially tip-bearing and erratic to crop. The fruit is green, flushed with red, sometimes purple, and with extensive, fine russetting.  RHS


Not in a Vase on Monday

Its the fifth anniversary of Cathy's In a Vase on Monday.....As soon as Cathy had set us a challenge for the Anniversary post, my mind was in a whirl.  Its 'Not in a Vase on Monday'.

I've spent almost all week thinking about it, even when I was lying on my side, on bare concrete floors, painting skirting boards.  It did make the painting more interesting!

I chickened out, I felt I could not take the stress.  The armistice, news of loss of so many lives lost in the fires in California, the get together to 'celebrate the life' of a friend last week, had all left me in a pensive and sad mood.  Additionally I fell over whilst trying to carry a very large and heavy ceramic plant pot filled with succulents back into the conservatory, insult was added to injury in that most of the contents fell on top of me.  I really thought I had broken something at first...thankfully pride, and  soft tissue bruises and broken plants were the only injuries.

Today I plucked up courage, and took a peek at Cathy's post.....and over the next few days when I feel like some 'shed time', I'll explore others' posts.

This is not Monday, so if I were to post a vase today it would be 'A Not on Monday Vase'.  I have been known in the past to post late, and was accepted and forgiven by Cathy!

I had thought of not using a vase but something like a jug, or a bowl, or floating blossoms in a dish, or even lying down material on the table, similar to the Mandalas that Wild Daffodils makes..  I have been looking at collected acorns arranged around a circular slate in the middle of our table, which have been building up over the autumn, along with other seed pods.



Some dried flowers on the table besides a vase came into my mind as a possibility, whilst I was writing a birthday card for my friend Marie-Claire.  Guess what: I remembered that once a friend had enclosed lots of little 50s in a birthday card, and it was a few months before the very last one was found.  Several birthdays have passed since then!  Instead of numbers I added some lovely coloured dried 'flowers' from the Hydrangea Paniculata Vanille Fraise in the envelope.  So the challenge inspired me to do something I would never have thought of.


Even with the frosts round about, the back garden is still showing no sign of damage, and I had been thinking of the possibility of putting some of the Nasturtiums in a a vase and calling the post:  Not in a Vase on Monday Again?  Mainly because that would have been boring as I have already had recourse to using them more than once before this year.  Here is a picture of the bottom of the stone wall taken today, best left for the last of the season's bees and insects.



The joining in of this meme has proved an interesting way to share and learn about each others' gardens, and also note the effect of the seasons on our gardens, whether it is snowdrifts in the US or searing heat and drought in South Africa.  This meme has widened my horizons.

What is new for this week is a peek at the Lysimachia candela plant which is just starting to display its autumn colours.  I am not cutting this to put in a vase, as it was just planted a few months ago, and it is probably best left to 'feed' the plant ready for a stronger plant next year.  This is Not in a Vase this Monday.



I had been not particularly impressed by its blooms, which were somewhat disappointing compared to Lysimachia Clethroides which I grew in my previous garden.  However if the rest of the plant colours up like this stem, it will have redeemed itself.  For cut flowers I am still on the look out for Lysimachia Clethroides.  I joined Cathy for the first time over three years ago, and on the way have made some lovely friends, and enjoyed the beauty of their arrangements.

Just as a little encore...a very funny and entertaining read: Rhapsody in Green by Charlotte Mendelson



Thank you Cathy.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Sourdough mastered

Its been a interesting journey, and I've picked up tips all along the way.  Learnt about nutrition and patience, and this has kept me out of trouble.  

Baked today best half wholemeal wheat 80% hydration sourdough



Last week pumpkin and spelt sourdough


Earlier this week Finish Rye


Does that mean I will no longer borrow or buy books on sourdough?  There must be more to learn, surely?

Thanks to Jane Mason, Venessa Kimbell, Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, Dan Lepard, Andrew Whitley, Tess Lister, Richard Bertinet and more!!!

Down the Garden Path Socks

 Loved the name of this pattern...and very easy to knit too, after I had worked out a few simple corrections to the pattern.  As usual transcribing the pattern to graph paper and colour coding stitches helped me to read the chart easily and follow my progress.  These socks were mainly knitted up during those moments when you have to sit down a little:  waiting for coffee to cool, sitting keeping Mr S company when he is watching TV or listening to the radio.



Without wearing the socks myself and contorting myself in order to take a reasonable shot of the socks, its difficult to show off socks that have matching but 'opposite' patterns on the outside of the foot. Are they mirror images?  Each pattern for each sock is different.  There is therefore a right sock and a left sock.

For a long time I have been admiring the wooden sock and stocking forms or blockers in Museums, and were aware that there were modern ones in plastic.  Of course they are quite unnessary when knitting socks...but its a great way of showing off the patterns of socks such as these.  I was delighted to source some nicely made ones. 

There is a tiny little problem in that I like to knit long socks...but the maker has pointed out that as I am interested, they may start to make longer versions.  I just love the little sheep and stars that came in the package too.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Haworthia venosa subs tessellata

After repotting the three plants in July 2017, the colony of Haworthia venosa subs tessellata is now well established, with more offsets emerging through the layer of grit.  I had almost forgotten about this pot until I mentioned to a friend that I had only one of the half  pots from Whichford Pottery.  I had been on a visit there with a gardening friend from Kenilworth, and had only bought the one...of course, now I wish I had bought a few.  Its one of my little treasures.  I went in search for it around the garden, then thought of looking in the house.  

During the very hot and sunny days, some of the leaves had been slight stressed by direct sun, and the plant had been moved to a more favourable position out of direct sunlight.  This is an easy succulent to grow, and although slow growing is interesting with its surface patterning and intricate shape.  I am apt to pull out the flowers before they grow too long. 




Friday, 2 November 2018

Marina di Chioggia Pumpkin, former post in the name Ironbark Pumpkin

I'm putting the update at the top of the post, but leaving the rest intact.  Through leaving a card at the Deli, the grower has been in touch.  She grows the pumkins in her own garden along with a number of other pumpkins.  She bought the seed for Marina di Chioggia which is an old variety, and was grown along with Uchiki Kuri, and Crown Prince, so I am afraid that the seed cannot be guaranteed.


This morning we were out of the door and walking briskly to Town ready for our early checkup at the Dentist.  I was rushed out by Mr S, so I blame the early start for my forgetting to take any shopping bags.

After receiving the all clear by the dentist, we sauntered round Wells, popping in and out of shops, primarily looking for new leather gloves for me, hopefully in a nice shade: pumpkin or orange, or maybe even a golden yellow.  The only ladies leather gloves we came across were black!

Bear with me:  the finding of the object is part of the pleasure of my day.  Along our way home, we found two clocks, and bought them...we have been looking for some for over a year!  Mr S found just the right bolt for his lathe, from the cycle shop, then I wanted to go to a kitchen shop to get a flexible spatula which was just one piece, with no joints...and found it in a local shop, together with a new spatula to replace the one we have had for about twenty years!  Both in a lovely green colour too.

Our outing was proving to be very productive...and I have been having a little craving for something sweet..chocolates are out of the question, I daren't even have one of chocolate bats.  One of my favourite treats is really good Turkish Delight, and I felt it was worth trying the deli to see if they had Pistachio Turkish Delight.  I have had two lots in the last year from the Village Shop in Wedmore, which does stock some delicious things.

Queen Street Deli came up Trumps!  I was triumphant, and with my Pistachio Turkish Delight paid for, turning to leave the shop,  my eye was caught by the window display.  A trio of different pumpkins were in the window with a particular magnificent pumpkin which I didn't recognize.....they had been brought in by a local gardener.  I had never seen the like of the one that caught my attention.  Its variety was unknown to the Deli owner, but it was a culinary variety.  In any case, without anything to carry the said pumpkin in, which was over 8Kg, it had to stay in the shop.  I was shown a few other smaller pumpkins or squahes and had thought they may be 'under developped' Turks Turbans.  I had grown some lovely specimens several years ago when I had an allotment.  However having trawled various specialist pumpkin seed merchants, and realising the grower may be into some 'exclusive' varieities, they may be Burgess Vine Buttercup.  I shall be at the Deli again tomorrow!

Having arrived home, on went the PC, and I started to trawl the internet for pictures of  dark green pumpkins with knobbly skin, and came up with Ironbark Pumpkin.  It is a heritage pumpkin from Australia.  I knew I had to go back and get it...my only thoughts were the dismay I would feel had it been bought by someone else.

This time we took the car into Wells...and I was triumphant...Mr S did the gallant thing and carried it to the car.



The two other pumpkins in the picture are Crown Princes, which I have had for a few weeks...but their noses have definitely been put out of joint by this beautiful Ironbark.



Today the 'carved pumpkin', set out to advertise the presence of baked goodies, having been baked, is already being made into sourdough dough loaves.  I am going to have such a good time finding and making Pumpkin dishes.

If anyone has grown this one, and visits this site, or has cooked  Ironbark Pumpkin  I shall be delighted to hear your experiences.