Saturday, 29 February 2020

Six on Saturday - 29 February 2020

The mechanics of this post is that I top it with a reference the the Prop: he who brings us all together.  I have enjoyed his post this week, which includes a little interesting aside about this 29th February on a Saturday.  He has also worked hard in the past week dealing with a load of bark chippings.

What a week weatherwise:  book ended by storms.  I am not looking forward to the effects of Storm Jorge as now the garden is just about as wet as it can get. Overnight Friday into Saturday it sounded as if someone was pressure hosing the drive...

I could not leave the Bishop's Palace last Saturday without picking up a few beauties.

(1) Labelled Primula vulgaris Blue Horizon, this is the tiniest of primula with large flowers for the size of the leaf.  It is similar to pictures of Hall Barn Blue.  I can find no reference to the name Blue Horizon on the internet.  I had intended going back the following day to check the name, but the weather was so fowl, I decided to stay put.

(2) Crocus Cream Beauty

These were planted near Pear Beth, but once the foliage dies down I want to get in and separate them out.  As you can see there has been much cutting back of perennials in readiness for the spring bounce....

(3) A couple of clumps of named Anemone blanda Pink Star, again several corms packed in the pot, so these will be spread around in due course, remembering where they are when the foliage dies down is a challenge so this post will help when I need to refer back.  Black labels with silver writing are almost invisible!

Is it better to tease out the individual corms and separate them now, or wait till later in the year, or just leave them growing four or five corms together?  I chatted to a friend who is a trained gardener and her advice was to leave them in clumps, so that they get used to the soil etc, and then divide in a couple of years.  Hopefully they will be very happy, and I shall be sure to spread seed when it has set round and about.

(4) I was pleased to meet up with Marcel Floyd and on his recommendation came away with Clematis Sugar Sweet....

We had agreed to meet on the Sunday again, when Marcel was to have brought another clematis for me, but he emailed to say that he would not be turning up.  The weather must be playing havoc with nurseries and their sales this season.  I am planing to visit his nursery on one of his open days this year.

(5) Guttation on the indoor Spider plant.  I bought this little plant growing in a tin can from a young man trying his hand at encouraging other young gardeners to become interested in indoor plants.  The saucer, my addition, is a small empty tuna tin.  The plant was small but has been growing steadily, its the fresh green colour has been attractive in the kitchen, and in the position on the windowsill I usually reserved for Basil. Here it is in the background as I was bottling up my homemade pomegranate kefir.

 I moved it momentarily to the other side of the kitchen.  Later in the evening, against a grey slate plate, I noticed these drops from some of the tips and also along the length of the blade like leaves.  I had to look this up, and found that it was called  guttation and it is not that unusual and several indoor plants can display this phenomenon.

(6) Twists and Curls of fertilized cyclamen hederifolium seed capsules  After flowering, the flower  twists into a spiral, bringing the capsular fruit close to the ground.  I am wondering whether it is better for my plants to have these removed, maybe leaving only one or two.  Any advice?

I've read through The Magic of Cyclamen which is excellent in many ways, but could not find an appropriate answer.  From this I learnt that this plant displays thin sagitatte, arrow head to me till now, leaves.

That is it for the week during which I even had to sow a few seeds: beetroot Bolthardy into modules.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Kombucha and Kefir

Kefir for breakfast with Kombucha for me taking the place of a glass of wine with dinner in the evening:

This week's kombucha was given a few days second ferment with dried unsulphured apricots and three crushed cardamoms.  The strained fruit and spice will be stirred into the sauce for a tagine for dinner later today.

The weekend's cool drink for breakfasts will be kefir with a fresh peach infusion.  With this wide necked sealed carafe style bottle, it will be easy to clean out, and the fruit can be left in for several days even as the level goes down.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Down in the nearby Caves

As well as Cheddar Cheese and our favourite Goat's Cheese maturing in the caves, today a band of fellow members of the Wells U3A Geology group went down into the depths...

For a report on cave 20 see 

In a Vase on Monday - Spring flowers

Skimmia japonica, Narcissus Rip-van Winkle, Primula Lilac Lace, and a few leaves of Carex Ice Dance.  

As I made up this arrangement on Sunday, I was thinking about today's adventure: visiting the underground Caves worn down by water with our geology group.

The little vase of cyclamen is still vibrant except for three blooms that started their curling of stems, showing that cyclamen are an excellent and long lasting small bloom for arrangements.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

More fermenting

Back in November I had a day with Katie Veneer,  on her course: 'An introduction to Fermented Drinks and Vegetables'.  This was after a few months at home working with water and milk kefirs.  The jar of wild fermented 'piccalilli' is now finished.  Once I had served it with a salad lunch, Mr S kept on asking for it.

I now have a copy of Asa Simonsson's book: Fermentation, one of many books on the topic, borrowed from the library.  It was the one book I decided to buy....When my friend Mandy became interested in the first ferment that I posted, she asked me what book would I recommend.  I said if you needed just one book, I suggested my go to book: Fermentation.  We shall most probably be working through that book together over the next few months.

Only a few days ago, Mandy who is also a 'Sourdough Enthusiast' and I decided to join an on line 3 day fermentation course.  It is really a lead up to a paid for course, and for the moment the first three days will be a way for us to become immersed in the topic.  Mandy also suggested watching The Homesteading Family.  Carolyn has a lovely disposition and gives clear and practical advice and recipes. What I like is that Carolyn suggests using things you may already have...

With a little change to the ingredients: some orange peel left from my breakfast orange, some lovely bright green young fronds from the garden fennel, and a teaspoon of fennel seed.

The salt I used was a special one brought as present with loads of minerals

Adding the seeds and herbs

And a little pounding with my Pickle Packer, another lovely present. saw the juices running..  I remembered Carolyn's tip about using something you already have to weigh down the carrots so that they are below the surface.  I happen to have a smaller jar and its lid is very nearly the same size as the jar.

Finally the jar is closed, and I mark the outside with the date of making and the in about three days little bubbles should be forming, and then it will be time to move it to the fridge.

A taste report will follow in a few days. There may also be a link to Mandy should she post!

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Six on Saturday - 22 February 2020

The Prop will be keeping warm this weekend as he has loads of stuff to move round to his back garden, he is also eager for spring...aren't we all, any those of us in the northern hemisphere.  Hope like me you will enjoy the collections of SOS.

Yes we have had rain, lots of it.  February fill dyke is living up to its name.  However on Friday in the dry a couple of very large bumble bees were out foraging. The birds are starting to sing at around 6:30 am and one can see the rising of sap in shrubs, spring flowers are having their moment.  Of course on our sloping ground we haven't had the horrible views of water logging or flooding.  From the paths, I've been able to saunter round the garden.  This weekend, after visiting the Bishop's Palace Garden last weekend of the snowdrop festival, it will be mainly a little seed sowing.

(1) Breaking bud
Since last week the Amelanchier Trees have moved to and are now showing that they have bidden their time and are waiting no more...

(2) Blue Green leaves followed by - A host of Golden Daffodils

Narcissus Rip-van Winkle
 First acquired in 2018, about five bulbs growing in a pot, they had their first season coming up in this spot last year.  These are small daffodils growing  a little short of 20cm.  Once they have finished flowering, I ought to remember to give them a good feed.  After  the leaves have died down it will be time to lift, separate and replant the bulbs.

(3) Crocus

Large flowering Crocus vernus Pickwick is a perfect example of a crocus you would want to draw.  Its large heavily striped pale and dark purple petals form large cups which open up in the sun.  A few came over to the new garden around another plant and from maybe five bulbs there are now three nice clumps.

Crocus vernus Pickwick
In the conservatory bed are the smaller Crocus minimus 'Spring Beauty'

I acquired a small pot of these in 2018, and for Spring 2019 they were placed in three clumps close by a new planted prostrate rosemary by the sitting circle.  This year, I hunted for the emerging shoots early January and realised that the Rosemary was completely covering them.  Since I could locate them by their little tips piercing the soil, I opted to move them. For a few weeks, I have been on tenter hooks, but I am starting to breathe a little easier now.  Planted close to the path, I can pop out and have a close look at their loveliness.

This is an example of the type little pots of plants I am tempted by when I visit the stalls of small nurseries, and I doubt that I shall return empty handed today.

(4) Patience required

In a new garden, or for newly planted areas, there is an anxious period when one wonders if plants are going to re-emerge.  Patience is required as well as hope. In the meantime thoughts and questions:  Did I plant  too deep?  Was it too hot and dry last year?  Has it been too wet during the winter?  Has something eaten them? Then there is a little sigh of relief and I am full of wonder  as from the tiniest emerging piece of greenery a bright green leaf unfurls and then a little flowering stem develops in just a few days.

Corydalis Malkensis

These and another corydalis had been growing in a pot below the Viburnum, but were moved in dormant corm stage in the Autumn when the Viburnum was moved into the ground in the front garden.

Viburnum last May under which the Corydalis were growing
(5) Primula Lilac Lace 

Primula Lilac Lace

Primula Wanda ex Pluse

I have a newly acquired primula from Alison in another part of garden planted last autumn, simply described as a dark one.  It is yet to flower unlike this one. In a week or two I shall be able to compare them properly.

(6) Still in a pot 

Euphorbia Myrsinites
It works being in a pot...the stems tumble over the edge with their  waxed blue leaves, and soon these buds will open into lime-green flowers. It gest hot and it gets baked but it seems to suit it.

6(b) Books...sharing, well sort of:

At our gardening club last week I acquired these two books.  We had set up a bring and share and give a donation table for books and magazines.  Although the GP&D is an old 1999 edition, which makes it twenty years old, the line drawings are clear and the descriptions are easy to understand. I also now realise that there is another more up to date DK version.  I wonder how it would compare.  In twenty years we have seen new pests and diseases and a different attitude to insects and and the use of insecticides in the garden. 

Monday, 17 February 2020

In a vase on Monday - After Dennis

It has been a dismal period weather wise.  I feel it must be absolutely awful for those people who have had their lives turned upside down by the flooding.  We had to stay inside and watch from the outside as branches were blown about.  Plants are bruised but no doubt will recover when fairer weather returns.

I wasn't going to post but then I remembered hearing from my Grandma how people during the second world war used to really try to keep up spirits and morale, and women would work on hairstyles and lipstick, and put on a brave face and smile.

Here is are some of my bruised cyclamen from the coums in the garden., with a few contrasting slim dark leaves from Ophiopogon planiscapas Nigrescens.  It was exactly a year ago that I had a day with John Massey, and came home with a few more cyclamen for my collection.  Somewhere round the back there is even a pure white form.

They are rather awkward to arrange and also photograph.  I just could not get any idea of how to give them scale against my usual Terracotta Army warrior.  Then I remembered some very small figurines, and thought this crouching warrior could at least get fairly close to look at the pretty blooms.
 If you have time and are in the mood to enjoy some arrangements, do go over to Cathy's Blog where we link in and share something from our garden in a vase on Mondays.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Teasel Socks

Early January my friend Maggie having returned from one of her trips brought me a gift.  We are both knitters, and all the way from Australia this fine hank of yarn was gratefully received.  Of course it was soft,and a subtle pink shade called Cowrie.

Saltwater Yarns from Western Australia

One evening I brought it out, and hung it on my swift, and spent time gently winding the yarn into a 'cake'.  The only cake being the woolly kind.

Swift mounted yarn

I was supposed to sorting out all my copies of The Knitter, trying to turf out old copies.  I came across 'Teasel Socks' by Jane Burns on the very day I was sorting out my seeds and found some Eryngiums seeds.  Eryngiums are not quite teasels but not that dissimilar, so the pattern was decided. I haven't yet found one edition I am prepared to part with yet, but I ought to get round to it.

I am completely converted to knitting socks on circular needles.

With a little adjustment to the pattern, the ribbing on the cuffs runs well into the body of the sock.

Twisted Ribbing flowing into the  stiches of the pattern.

The pattern is easy to follow from the chart, which I had written up on a grid, and mark as I finish each row.

Knitting is a soothing and mesmerising pastime and helps to ground me even when storms are buffeting the house.

These have taken me just about one month to knit.....

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Six on Saturday - 15 February 2020

The Prop is extolling his crocus, and a few other nearly emerging specials.  Some of us despite the weather, and friends from overseas too will be joining in.

Both last weekend and this one are marked by a certain 'confinement'.  This week Dennis is raging as I write, with at least 48 hrs more and Mr S and I coming to the conclusion that a trip to Shepton Mallet Snowdrop festival is off the agenda, even if it is running, as the drive there entails country roads with many overhanging trees.

(1) Snowdrop seedlings: Last Monday this snowdrop was the star of my IAVOM.

Galanthus Pleasenameme 

Whether it was one I brought with me riding along on another plant, or maybe it is one that I planted the first year I was here but left unlabeled.  It has settled in and is thriving, with seed sown from ripened fruit last year coming up like little clumps of chives.

(2) Frosty Morn

Although for a couple of nights this week temperatures have dipped at low as 3 C, and we have have no frosty mornings, this little Sedum Frosty Morn lights up the dim and wet days.  Its 'current' name is Hylotephium erythrostictum 'Frosty Morn'.  This is a perennial hardy succulent which will bear pale flowers later in the summer.  For now its blue green waxy leaves with wavy cream edges add a soft glow.  Given to me by my friend Alison, like several plants given by friends, a ramble round the garden reminds me of many shared pleasures with friends,  Seedlings of snowdrops and cyclamen are peeping through too. 

Hylotelephium erythrostictum Frosty Morn

(3) Corydalis

Amongst the useful fern like leaves which never died down this year, the yellow flowers of Corydalis cheilanthifolia are starting to emerge

Corydalis cheilanthifolia
(4) Corydalis Flexuosa Blue Dragon with more than sufficient moisture....

Corydalis Flexuosa Blue Dragon

(5) Clematis shoots

Growing in a pot with a nice support is Clematis Olympia.  Its many shoots promises a fine display.  I bought this clematis on my first Spring Plant Show at the Bishop's Palace from Marcel Floyd.  Last autumn he came to give a talk at the local HPS where I was able to show him a picture of the plant and have the name confirmed.

Clematis Olympia shooting
Hopefully by May it will be at least as good as it was last May

(6) Passing the time with reading and being entertained by good writing

On recommendation from a fellow Blogger I have had my nose in this book, making notes and wondering just where I can fit in some of the plants mentioned.  Isabel Bannerman's knowledge and love for her newish garden invoke the pleasures of gardening.

 Last year we had Chris Beardshaw as our special speaker at Henton Gardening Club. Last week I found this edition in the 'Just Arrived' section of our library, and I have been dipping in and out, enjoying the entries and noting interesting facts.  I love the one about Nasturtiums.