Monday, 25 May 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Early Summer

We can probably say that Spring is over, and we are now in Summer.  Clear deep blue sky and wall to wall sunshine today, is bringing people out into the fresh air.  I picked my flowers early, and just as I was taking the pictures, we decided to go on a cycle ride.  Both of us are feeling much better and stronger now...we achieved the longest cycle ride for ages round 18 miles.  I have never seen so many walkers and cyclists, and so few was like a country festival on the roads, with lots of hellos and waves. Now that we are back and have had our lunch in the garden, I can settled down to complete this post. Later I shall catch up with all the other posts on Cathy's IAVOM post which has a very similar vase filled with the sweetest of Sweet Peas.

The flowers stand in a lovely heavy Caithness glass vase.

Verbascum phoeniceum violetta, which I had bought from the Malvern Spring Show and had written about in my vase last year, has thankfully returned this year.  Kathy who hosts this weekly meme, grew hers from seed.  The very hot weather does not really suit the plants, with sun scorching the blooms, so it was worth while cutting them for this vase.

Allium cristophii here with small blooms continues the purple theme.  They had given very large blooms when the bulbs were first planted in the front garden.  When I needed to dig them up to make way for some other plants, I split the bulb and replanted it amongst the other herbaceous plants in the back garden.

Centaurea Montana Alba has been marvellous, with over fifty blooms to one plant.  It is looking a little tired now, so next week it will be chopped right down, with a good watering to set it on its way for its second flowering.

Quaking Grass: Briza Maxima gives a little pale green freshness and movement and is just the right scale for the small garden.

Yesterday the Bishop's Palace opened for the first time in weeks.  Members only for a few hours followed a well marked route.  Under the large Paulownia tomentosa Tree, also known as the Foxglove tree, my love picked up the little seed pod and gave it to me as a gift.  This man really knows what pleases me.  There are a few of these fine specimen trees dotted around Wells,  with a two youngish Paulownia tomentosa outside the entrance and one fine large Paulownia tomentosa with its blue flowers and later large leaves in the Bishop's Palace arboretum in Wells.  To look up in the springtime and see a  tree covered with large blue flowers, before any of the leaves emerge,  is indeed very exotic sight.

The pair of swans and the six cygnets, now growing fast were very much enjoyed....the seventh cygnet got separated, and not accepted back into the group, but I understand it is thriving somewhere with special care and will be reintroduced to the large flocks on the levels when the time is right.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Six on Saturday - 23 May 2020

There are such a variety of plants with leaves that I find so attractive.  In a small garden where I try and indulge and accommodate these, plants that either go dormant at different times of the year, or can grow to hide plants that are going into dormancy is a canny way of getting more in a small space, and at the same time having a reasonably attractive garden to look at.

I have always enjoyed hardy geraniums.  They are left alone by slugs and snails, and are fairly tolerant of a wide range of conditions.  It is saying something that some of them have needed a little water, since we have had hardly any rains for many weeks.  Even the forecast overnight rain did not come. As a quick aside...Rose Chaffer beetles have been flying around...

(1) This is Geranium Blue Sunrise.  This Hardy Geranium has been very slow to put on any bulk since it was first planted on our arrival.  It disappears completely during the winter leaving the tell tale label which reminds me to to plant some minute bulbs right above it.  I resisted digging it up this spring and trying to divide it.  All well and good, since I have heard on good authority that it is difficult...but I shall pretend that I haven't heard that and still try towards the autumn.

(2) Geranium x cantabrigiense Cambridge, another hardy geranium,  is just coming into flower.  Its leaves have a nice gloss about them, and keeping small and green all the year round, are a lovely foil for the early crocus, which have now died down.

(3) Another garden favourite is Phuopsis stylosa, bought in 2014.  I love its intricate green foliage topped by an inflorescence  that almost needs a magnifying glass to appreciate its intricacy. This is pretty drought it has not yet needed to be watered.  What I like about this plant, is that it can have a good chop back and come back for a second performance later in the season.

(4) In my last garden I had a lovely generous clump of Iris Sibrica.  I was missing it, and acquired a good sized pot of of Iris Sibrica Silver Edge in 2018.  Although the plant looked flowering size when bought,  in its second season in the garden  last year, it sulked.  What a is flowering, maybe the wet winter did it good.  A good weekly hosing for about six weeks has paid off dividends.  As one bloom fades another one opens on the same stem.

(5) Another little plant nurtured over the last year or so from near obliteration has been one of my little sedums.  Hylotelephium 'Bertram Anderson' is reveling in the strong sunshine.

(6) Last year after trimming back Pelargonium coriandrifolium, I took a few cuttings.  I have just one left here and it is doing very nicely.

It is that time of year again for the mother plant to be cut back.  I have taken quite a few more cuttings this year, as I hope to swap them for other types, with fellow enthusiasts.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Baking Muffins together with Jane Mason

I accepted the invite to bake along with others this Sunday guided and directed by Jane Mason.  This recipe features in her Book of Buns, and also in her Sourdough book, which is now sadly out of print.

There is always something new to learn, and also having an appointment to meet, gives one something to look forward, with discussions and advice.

Having has the recipe and appointment details, I had everything ready and had the muffins cut, and proving before the rendez-vous.  I was particularly pleased as in the notes, I read that this could be cooked in oven instead of on a griddle. I no longer have one, as the old one was specially for the gas cooker.  The baking in the oven method was not using the rolling with a rolling pin and cutting with a cutter, but cutting a 'log' then dipping it in polenta or semolina. However I had already used the rolling method.  I had a 'eureka' moment, after Jane advised that the muffins ought to be squashed down prior to going in the oven, to prevent them simply rising rounded like a bun.  I tried out my idea, which was to cover the raw muffins with another sheet of baking parchment with another baking tray on top.

They are a little browner than muffins are traditionally,  and as the Silverwood biscuit trays are great conductors, next time I shall pre-heat and bake at 200 C fan,  rather than 220 C.  I loved the technique than Jane demonstrated on forking the buns all around to 'tear' them opening, thus giving just the right amount of raggedness, so that when they are baked, they have lots of crannies to capture sauces etc.

I tried three different sized cutters.  The smallest one was a little 'dainty' but just right for afternoon tea.  The middle sized one if the one I shall settle on in the future.  The largest was right as a base for large poached eggs and spinach with a lovely Hollandaise Sauce.

In 2013 I wrote about  muffins

Four years ago once again, but this time a sourdough version was

In a Vase on Monday - Grace and The Dragon

Sounds like the start of a fairy tale.....

My Vase today, with material which could have been gathered last week, shows just how early roses in our gardens are in bloom this year.  Maybe it is the bright clear sunshine: I am just accepting things just as they are for now, what else can we do? 

Persicaria Red Dragon, a pass along from Cathy, forms a lovely contrast for the deep rich apricot of Rose Grace, and a few stems of 'barcode' grass:  Phalaris arundinacea Picta previously known as Gardeners' Gaiters adds a bit of height.

Linking in to Cathy, the fairy Godmother of this weekly get together, where she is posting some beauties from her garden.  Others too from around the globe join in.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Six on Saturday - 16 May 2020

The week started off by my feeling devastated after seeing the garden littered right over with leaves and twiglets broken off the Holm Oak by the strong winds.  I am gradually clearing them away, leaving some as mulch in between the herbaceous plants starting their early summer sprint.

(1) Allium nectaroscordum SiculumSicilian Honey Garlic catches the early morning light ricocheting off the conservatory. I am yet to get the garlicky scent mentioned in all the descriptions.

Growing alongside the  Phlomis purpurea Matagallo now recovered from its flopping in the heavy rain. The grey waxy bloom and colour are in harmony with the Phlomis, and the surrounding planting.

With Erigeron karvinskianus, prostarate rosemary, and Geranium Elke this makes up a pleasing arm around the sitting circle.

(2) Now in the Gravel Garden the three Allium schubertii are top of the bill.  I love the way the sun moves round and highlights different plants keeping the rest in shadow....

(3) Weigela Florida Variegata bought as a small plant at a table top sale is looking great at the moment. It is in a spot which is in shade for the best part of the morning, however with its variegated leaf, bring a little spot of light to the area.

(4) The self seeded Foxgloves moved to Acer Corner are doing their vertical bit but splatted around the bed, not wanting to be in the same picture.  Again the light punctuation during the shaded part of the day make them even more dramatic...

(5) Silene Uniflora of my little favouritesLast year I moved it and at the same time tried to divide it.  It was almost a teary moment as I wondered whether I had killed the whole plant.  So relieved I didn't and have four clumps.  One of which is being overwhelmed  by a nearby Geranium Joy.  So that one is on the list to be moved, one of the silenes..not Joy.

(6)  There are two Rose Grace Shrub roses in the Conservatory Bed.  Middle of May and the roses are blooming. Yes it is lovely, but it doesn't feel right to have roses so early.

I usually cut the first blooms to bring in the house.  We seem to be in the garden far more, with the lovely weather, eating and resting outside.  I just want to get away from the radio, news, media etc.  Also I felt low and just could not bring myself to cut something so beautiful and keep it indoors.  A few buds will probably be cut for Monday's IAVOM.

On effecting the link to The Prop's post, where we all meet I see that he has a Weigelia and a Rose, but not quite a perfect match...there is so much variety in gardening, isn't there, and we are sure to find some beautiful plants to inspire and lift us today.

Monday, 11 May 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Indecisive

I'm in a strange mood.  Not sad, not depressed, not angry, flat maybe....certainly indecisive.

I could have cut the first of the Grace Roses, and made an arrangement, but somehow I am not in the mood for colour or extra beauty in the house.  Maybe the change in the weather from warm and sunny, to very windy and cold was the catalyst...after all nothing has much changed over the last few weeks.

This morning I was determined not to post, and instead go out and clear the extraordinary amount of leaves and twigs, dead and alive littering the garden.  However it was too cool, and the task daunting.  After a few chores I just went to check for any messages.  I had a short and sweet question to my post from Ann, also a regular contributor to this meme, on my Six on Saturday Post, which included Alliums and a violet.

Alison C also a contributor to IAVOM had suggested we made head garlands, and I was all set up to make one with my Grand-daughter, but she decided not to do one with me via zoom or some such like.  My contribution towards Loving your Garden day on Sunday...was to eat some dainties.  They all went into the lunch time salad: Lettuce, dill, tips of chocolate mint, winter savoury flowers, nasturtium leaves, coriander and parsley, chives and their flowers, and Ajuga Burgandy Glow leaves and flowers.

We had been out for a walk and seen the field awash with the flowers of Ajuga, and having looked up the herb, found out that it was edible and fine for salads.

So what is the link that makes Anna's comment the little thing that got me moving and motivated this morning?

"What a sweet white violet Noelle. I must divide the chives at the allotment and bring some home so that I can snip them at short notice. Such a pretty flower. Have you ever eaten them?"

My mushy mind was wondering whether Anna was asking about eating the flowers of chives or of Violets?  I got me looking into violets...both flowers and leaves can be eaten, so many thanks Anna for leading me into something else I can forage for.  Maybe it is the weird times we are in that are activating the foraging part of my brain.  Elderflowers too have been featuring in the kitchen over the last week.

As for chive flowers, when they are young and tender they are delicious, and worth adding for a splash of colour to salads.  I find they are nice split up into the tiny little flowers.  The next salad will include a leaf of two of violet to try.

As I went out by the side door this morning, amongst the debris I started to clear up was a little spring from a conifer tree growing somewhere over the wall out of sight.  It quite sums up my current self preservation mood of trying to find beauty in the most ordinary. Both Anna's question and the little sprig have given me a little lift today.  Many thanks to all my blogging friends....

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Liked them so much I made two: Teapot cosies

An old unfinished project was frogged: aka technical knitting term for undoing yarn.  The first teaccosy made on a knit, unknit, reknit xxx times till it was right.  The second one was just a copy, and worth while doing whilst I had all the notes,  but with the addition of my favourite colour: green as a contrast.

The polo neck, surely they are due for a resurgence, was added to accommodate the knob on this lovely stainless steel pot.  Mr S manages to get three full mugs which he drinks at each sitting....

It is Mr S who has tea, but I do look at the teapot on the table!  Mats were colour coded with an addition of a 'crocheted' edge.

I have a friend Diana who is a wiz with colour work.  I find it tricky but using the technique known as mosaic knitting manage not to end up with unruly and untidy backs. 

Crenate Socks by Rachel Coopey

Another pair of socks..following a great pattern but with a few tweeks.  Up a size needle to 2.75 for the first 7.5cm so that the longer sock fits over my calf, then with 2.5mm makes the sock snug around my slim ankles.  The way the stitches vary around the perimeter add an architectural element.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

75th VE Commeration in our little Close

Just in time I found our two little flags, and as I had been looking through old photographs posted this one on my facebook page, to share in with the younger generation of our family.

In our little close some of us joined together in a completely impromptuous way.  Artifacts came out of lofts, including a Union Jack that had been out in Bosnia.  We have just two little union jacks, even the four young lads joined in with great good grace.  We came out again in the evening, and listened to the Queen at 9 pm together, and sang We'll meet again. We heard  from Val on how she was grabbed to shelter in a doorway and thus avoided being shot at by bullets flaying down from German aircraft along the High Street, when she had been sent out a buy cigarettes for her father.  At least she was not in the Cinema watching the Saturday Matinee when over one hundred children were killed, many of her friends amongst them.  Val remembered VE day, although not allowed by her parents to join it with the festivities in their town down in Kent, watched from her home.

Two neighbours challenged each other and baked a Victoria Sandwich Cake.

This was the first time Nick has ever baked, and this was Tony's second effort after twenty years.  His mother was a fine baker, and must have learnt a lot by osmosis, each being very clever had researched, and had baked cakes they were completely satisfied with.  I was the judge. Their first challenge a couple of weeks ago was Toad in the Hole, which simply was shared on our Whats app group.

We parted for dinner and reconvened early evening.  With Mr S's help certificates were prepared.  These were awarded in the evening front drive get together.  The fine and warm weather meant that we could be together outside and raise our morale at the same time.

Earlier on I listened to our Prime Minister's broadcast which touched me as well.

Six on Saturday - Alliums and small plants 9 May 2020

The Prop has shown this week that Clematis are captivating....some beauties there.  So after the day when we thought back to the very real deprivations of the World War 2, and the joy of knowing that fighting was over in Europe, our gardens are ready to show Six on Saturday.

I wanted a theme but couldn't make up my mind from at least three.  This week I have some lovely alliums but I have also been admiring some of the small plants in the garden....

(1) Garlic...not the wild sort that grows in abundance in this area, which is all out in flower now, resplendent.  The sort I love to use in the garden: Allium sativum

Five cloves taken from the outside of a fat head of garlic, grown locally, bought from a friend for Kitchen use last summer.  Two of the cloves grew two plants each, so hopefully I shall have seven heads.  I planted them in September, so let us hope they split into cloves.

(2)  Allium schoenoprasum..a whole edging from two pots only of supermarket chives, divided over two years.

(3) Allium schubertii

Very pleased with these. I have two groups of three in the front garden, and some more in the gravel garden.  A neighbour has taken some pictures and is entering some pictures are shoot, download and post. 

And now for some of the little things:

You may have seen the standard or rather giant Gunnera, the sort even I can stand under.  A whole clump would probably fit in my back garden.

(4) This is  Gunnera magellanica under which the odd woodlouse could shelter.

Gunnera magellanica leaves have a lovely fan shape, .  I've just moved this to the front edge by the stepping stones...Looking down I feel like a Giant!  It was overshadowed completely before by other plants.

(5) Viola sororia 'Albiflora'

First flowers are just emerging. Compared to the wild ones which have finished flowering, this large flowered one appears to be someone's tasty meal.

(6) Erodium Fran's Delight over in the sunny gravel garden had been in flower now about three weeks. It was only planted in January this year, and came beautifully packed from Potterton's. I am growing, sorry about the pun, to really like this gravel garden effect.  It is a lovely way of growing small specimen plants.  The only problem here so far is having to clear the leaves falling from the Holm Oak, which at the moment is dripping with a large amount of catkins, and the whole thing is humming with bees and other insects.  The odd jay turns up looking for missed acorns too.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Exploring around.

With the fine weather, our daily exercise has been either walking or cycling, or a little combination of both.  A couple of days ago we cycled to Wells Cathedral, parked our bikes, and went to explore just a little way into the woods on Tor Hill.  Still gaining strength, only shortish walks are in order.  The  'Triangular Field' sloping down to the top of Torhill Lane was glorious with many herbs and flowers.

Ground Iv was coming up along the margins

In many pockets in the middle and along the Eastern side alongside the wood, the flower spikes of Ajuga were visible across the fresh growth.

Along the Western edge the pink campion were in bloom

Returning along Torhill Lane 

Torhill Lane edged with Wild Garlic

Back view of Wells Cathedral
Shaggy Highland Cattle

Today a walk close to home with views, climbing over several stiles which we agreed not to touch....

Passing on the way the farm that has been our 'egg depot' recently.