Thursday, 31 August 2017

Rock Pool Socks

Maybe its all in the name....I love rock pooling, and when I had a reminder from The Knitter Group on Facebook of this pattern in my regular knitting magazine The Knitter, it reignited my interest.  I thought it was worth looking through my stash of wool, and getting out the needles. Its taken me about a week to actually get to the stage of casting on.

All summer I have been focused on other things, and recently I felt a need to quiet down a little.  What is more soothing than sitting down to a little knitting.  I was finding more recently whenever Mr S and I were sitting down for a break with a drink, my mind would dart around, and I would jump up and get on with some little job that caught my eye: plant that needed watering, washing that needed bringing it, etc etc.  Now we can sit together for half an hour or so and have a little conversation...though sometimes I do go quiet whilst I count...but I can listen at the same time!

Way back in Issue 17, a special very elastic and smooth cast on was the subject of The Knitter Masterclass, by Jane Crowfoot.  Some time ago at the Kenilworth Knit and Natter Group, Mandy had organised for Jane to come to give a workshop and I have a great regard for her.  When I pick out socks from my drawer, the ones with this cast on are the most comfortable....

With a few rows of knitting in a waste yarn, its soon time to do the magic with the sock yarn.

Then with great care with the scissors, you end up with a cuff that is so very elastic and comfortable.

 There are quite a few directions on line on how to achieve this, and I would really recommend this cast on for socks.

I find that I just cannot read charts comfortably, so I find the best thing is to blow them up...

The only thing I would say about my socks is that they would have been better in some lovely blue colour....sadly I have no blues in my wool stash at present..

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Loropetalum Fire Dance

When I see a shrub or other plant that I really admire, although I may not at the time have made a note that I can always put my hand on, when I see it a second time there is a 'SNAP' moment.  Snap like the card game we used to play...yes I have seen it again, and Snap I must get it!

I saw a well placed specimen of Loropetalum at Hunningham in Peter and Margaret Green's garden, which I visited this time last year.

However in my period of restraint before the layout of the garden is fully established I resisted.  The next time I went to Morrison's they still had some rather well grown specimens, and that I remembered that in the Green's garden it was being grown in a pot by their back door.

Here is my Loropetalum Fire Dance, waiting to be planted up into a larger ceramic pot...and during the winter it will be by the front door, where has a westerly aspect and a canopy which holds the warmth from the stone of the house, will give it the protection it needs.    It is an evergreen Chinese Witch Hazel, with very early pink flowers.  The new leaves at this time of the year are a deep marooney colour, and the backs almost duck egg blue...yes, I had it against the newly painted 'beach hut' and they matched.

The  Fothergilla gardenii Blue Mist  I had doesn't seem to have survived following its extreme scorching of its leaves.  For now it is has had a light trim in the hope that it recover.  So maybe to Loropetalum is a replacement for the 'shrub of interest' in a pot!

The little Aster plug plants which also came from Morrison's, have been show stoppers in the front garden, and have yielded many bunches of flowers.  At first they were inter-planted with some antirrhinums, but lately they have stolen the show.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

In a Vase - All credit and thanks to a fellow IAVOM friend

Its not Monday, its not a vase, and the flowers are not from my garden.  However they are lovely and deserve a post.  Through the In a Vase on Monday group devised, hosted, and led by Cathy, I have met a fellow enthusiastic lover of gardening, and this is the bunch of flowers brought by Alison C when she came round to view the garden on Friday.  I am sure many have posted and linked to Cathy's Post this week, so do go and see what others have come up with.

As I knew Alison was coming with a cutting from a variegated sedum like Autumn Joy: Sedum Autumn Charm, this bouquet was a lovely surprise, and I just grabbed one of the storage jars on the kitchen counter.  The additional bonus was that in this, were stems of  weigela, another shrub which is growing beautifully in Alison's garden. As I write this on Tuesday, the weigela stems are already trimmed and potted up in compost to hopefully yield little shrubs for planting out next spring.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Mixed Grain Bread the Sourdough Way

Another wonderful smelling bake from this month's challenge:  Mixed Grain Bread.  With white and wholemeal spelt, and white flour, honey,  fennel and caraway, and a very lively sourdough starter, these loaves are sure to taste nice.

However...I doubled on the recipe, but I think I put a little too much dough in the larger tin, and also I think they were about 20 minutes over proven.  Its warm and humid today, so setting the timer for a final two hour rise, and going off to do something else, was bound to lead to  'I wish I had gone to check sooner feeling'! 

Although on the recipe it gives a 500g bread tin as the container, the picture facing shows some little loaves cooling, so this is why there are three smaller loaves and a large one.  Next time I shall make dough for four small tins and the larger one.

I played at filling all my different tins with water this morning, and weighing them, and then calculating how much dough each one should hold.  Now I have a formula for working out the correct amount of ingredients to give the dough weights I need.  Well I have to put to good use all those maths lessons!!!!!

Monday, 21 August 2017

In a Vase on Monday..Nearly by Moonlight

Its Monday evening, and I have just finished arranging my little vase.  It was late in the day when I went into the garden, and I think we had a strange light on account of the partial eclipse.

Here is my arrangement.  Most of the flowers have been used over the last few weeks...but there were two which stood out in the garden in the poor light.

The first is Iberis Gibraltarica ex Betty Swaison.  A seed must have taken a ride in one of the pots, and managed to get a root hold beneath another plant.  I love the large candy tuft like flower, and will be sure to keep more seed, as it is a short lived perennial and quite hardy.  There are the antirrhinums, asters, mints, astrantia, grape and ivy.

The little hardy fuchsia whose name I cannot recall is also making its first appearance.

From a cutting of Penstemon Heavenly Blue there was just one flower stem, but removing it is bound to help the plant to branch out.

Cathy is showing some true grit and even posting a vase whilst away.  Do go and see what she is showing and also what other IAVOM contributors are coming up with.

Rare Plant Fair Bishop's Palace August 2017

Its Sunday morning, it isn't raining, and its time for a walk...all the way to the Bishop's Palace, to see if there is something to spend this week's pocket money on.

There are many plants and shrubs...but I have still to dig and prepare, and lay out the final planting sections, so I ought not to really be here.  That's the plan but......

What is good about this small pot is that it has several seedlings...of Eryngium bourgatii, so will make a good sized clump.  I rather like the foliage with its silver markings.  I know the bees and hover flies love the flowers.

I already have Eryngium planum 'Tetra Petra', and was wise enough to bring part of the plant I had growing in Kenilworth.  However it does not have the silver veining of bourgatii leaves.

Another plant which I have seen for the first time, and whose leaves on the day are the prime attraction, since it was not yet in flower is Salvia corrugata. I think this one will be potted up in a larger pot, and I am really looking forward to its first blue flowers.

The third plant, and any more, would have meant a sub from dear Mr S who came with me for the walk, and another look at the this fabulous Sedum telephium ssp ruprechtii Hab Grey

The form is very similar to Sedum Spectabile Autumn Joy...but the leaves are very grey, which balance perfectly the yellow of the blooms.

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 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 coloured 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 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.


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 there are no large holes this time.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Pelargonium coriandrifolium joins my collection

Last week, we visited Stourhead.  This National Trust 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 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 coriandrifolium, 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 sPelargonium currently in the conservatory is Pelargonium hybrid sidoides x reniforme “Burgundy”..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 increases by growing more little bulbs...and is very easy to keep tidy..just pull off leaves as they die off, if you feel that it needs it.  Maybe it is time to propagate and share this plant around?  Since writing this post, I have discovered that Ledebouria is August's Plant of the Month at the British Cactus and Succulent Society.

This plant comes the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.  I have learnt a new word by looking around:  it is an epigeal bulb:  growing and forming new bulbs above the soil.  This in itself is an interesting aspect of the Ledebouria, since its display of purple skinned bulbs are part of its attraction.

I gather that the plant is poisonous if ingested, so keep away from children and pets: The Plant Rescue site gives a better explanation on how to grow this fairly adaptable plant.

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

An old fashioned idiom: 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 have since found it is called Salvia microphylla Cerro Potosi
I am busy repotting succulents: this one is Echeveria Elegans and a new cutting of Pelargonium hybrid sidoides x reniforme “Burgundy” , so to spare its blushes as Tickled Pink is being presented so 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 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!