Saturday, 30 May 2020

Visit to Tadham Nursery on Somerset Levels

Continuing on our 'regime' of regular cycle rides, it is not surprising that since Graham has opened his nursery again, that today's ride took us there.  Around trip of about 18 miles.

I have really missed visiting his stall in Wells on Market Street.  Last year he moved to the weekly market in Street, which I tried to visit, but he was not there that week.  I happened to be searching for some more Hardy Geraniums, when I saw that he stocked at least two and that he was opening a stall at his nursery on Fridays and Saturdays.

As there was room for just this lot in my pannier, I am sure further trips during the summer may be necessary.

Clock wise starting in the top left hand corner: Geranium sanguineum album, Erodium Natasha, Geranium Russell Prichard, Geranium Dusky Crug, and Allium senescens glaucum.

I am always on the look out for stalls outside cottages selling home laid eggs:

Six on Saturday - 30 May 2020

It is still hot and sunny, without any rain.  Hosepipes, watering cans and using grey water from the kitchen has kept many plants alive.  Having drafted the post almost in its entirety yesterday, this morning I am linking in with the Prop.  Do go and check what he and others throughout the day will be adding.  Like him I find it hard resisting the urge to add to the garden, and like him have an edge that is being encroached on.  No lawn left here and no lawnmower, and the sun lovers are thriving.

The geraniums seem to be thriving in the sunshine. 

(1) Geranium sanguinuem Elke is one I fell in love a long way back.    It is a low growing geranium with finely divided leaves.  Now growing over the area which had crocuses in the early spring, I feel a little dead heading gives me plenty of opportunity to admire its jolly pink flowers, with stronger pink veins, white centre and margins,  close up. 

Geranium Elke

(2) Another geranium which I have kept on dividing to make up several clumps in the front garden is Geranium x magnificum.  Initially it grew as a very small dried up piece in the middle of the Spanish bluebells, inherited form the previous owners.  A bit of tlc has yielded some great plants,   They won't be flowering for that long but Geranium x magnificum is  very useful this time of the year.and in a couple of years the plants will have bulked out and be almost 'gaudy' with its profusion of large rich purple flowers. After flowering, the clumps of large textured leaves, which remain neat,  turn a lovely colour, then die down completely.  It was thanks to joining the HPS Hardy Geranium Group and posting a picture and question son Facebook that I found out its name.

(3) Another magnificent blue note in the garden this week is from the Clematis Justa.   I now keep it in the lee of the conservatory as there is a little shade there.  Strong sun tends to bleach the petals.  I just love a clematis that only grows to this height.  Marcel Floyd sold this one to me a few years back.  Next time I meet him at a show, I'll be asking him if he has any other this size.

(4) There is something special about the first rose to emerge on a newly planted rose shrub.  The bloom has been cut now and gracing our coffee table.  The fragrance of Munstead Wood is rich and sumptuous, and now fully open so is the rose.

(5)  Two cuttings taken from the mother plant last summer are flowering their socks off, but still not a patch on 'mother Pelargonium Capricorn' growing in another tub.

(6) Absolutely thriving in the scorching sun are two small hardy succulents.  Since they are this wonderful, despite the drought, I intend using them as a ground cover over a much larger area in the front garden.  Delosperma Fire Spinner is certainly living up to its name with orange and fucshia in the same flower. These have now been in the garden all year round since they were two tiny snippets two seasons ago.

and a little more restrained as just one colour: Delosperma cooperi.

Sadly the weather outlook is hot and dry, therefore more time watering than I would have liked is on the cards next week.  I hope you are all enjoying your gardens or reading what a standard home gardener with small front and back gardens in the UK is finding works or in some cases doesn't.  

Thursday, 28 May 2020

More Cycling

Its great to be well enough again to think of going for rides other that to Town to do my shopping.  On Bank Holiday Monday we took advantage of the clear roads and headed towards Wedmore then back through the levels.

We cycled along a ridge with views to the north towards Cheddar, and towards the south down on Shapwick Heath Reserve, and had a stop for a drink at Bagley.  The ride down Mudgly Hill was exhilarating as.  Down on the levels the were many people out walking and cycling on this fine day.

A regular feature now is a get together with WI friends whether it be the book club, netball, or as next week for the first time, a monthly meeting via Zoom.  Yesterday evening Jane came up with ideas of 'outings' of course in ones or family groups, to surrounding farm shops.  It planted the seed for our cycle ride today.  We found Long Drove across Queen's Sedge Moor with some magnificent oak trees, let us straight onto a good cycle track running parallel to the A39.

Up at Middlewick Farm, we happened to bump into the owner, whom we had met previously during a rather nice dinner on our break in Dunster.  Its taken us eighteen months to get round to popping in for a chat again.  The farm shop was well stocked, and had in place excellent procedures with hand washing, and with just one at a time in the shop.  After an icecream, we headed for home and it is sure to be asparagus as a starter tonight!  I wonder how long it will be before we are back for coffee and croissants?

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 had 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 a griddle, 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 used.

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.