Monday, 28 September 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Making the most of a glorious autumn day

I may have a biscuit barrel, and Cathy has a jelly mold with jewel like fruits flowers, but I wonder whether there will more on that theme? I'll be exploring links to find out more.

Yesterday was one of those glorious days, when the sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky.  Snipping a few blooms to add to my Pewter biscuit barrel was a soothing Sunday morning occupation. 

The stems of Salvia Amistad all shining and darkly velvety works well in tandem with the colours of the Fuchsia.

Vase contents: Salvia Amistad, Astrantia Major 'Sunningdale Variegated', Dahlia Gallery Art Fair, Solanum laxum 'Album', Sedum spectabile Autumn Joy, variegated ivy, and a leaf of Fern Polypodium cambricum Richard Kayse.

All of these were more neatly arranged into a tied bouquet and destined for a neighbour's mother.  Hope Val is able to receive these, in her new nursing home as soon as a visit is permitted this week.  Should flowers be allowed, I have offered a bouquet each week, following the routine I had set up in the spring. It was lovely to take bunches across the road and to see Val's face light up...I shall miss that.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Dan Lepard's Apricot and wheatgerm loaf made as buns

 So what is for breakfast tomorrow?  I was thinking about this as we have no buns left in the freezer, and looked through my copy of Short and Sweet.  The Apricot and wheatgerm loaf sounded nice.  Making this into twelve buns, we have six breakfasts: two tomorrow, and ten for the freezer for the next few weeks.

The recipe is available on line, but I just love to add notes in pencil on my book.  Yes I'll make these again using the pureed dates technique, but using an orange, substitute some orange juice for some of the water and the add the grated orange rind, chop the apricots smaller, and use just 150g. 

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Six on Saturday - 26 September 2020

This past week has definitely seen a change to more autumnal weather, with a little rain, winds and much cooler temperatures.  We must fete what beauties remain because who knows what next week, or month may bring. The Prop has some classic autumn specials. 

(1) Sedum spectabile Autumn Joy now has a little space with surrounding perennials cut back a little. I feel that it is a little later flowering this year.  A standard garden plant but still a good doer, and worth having at least one clump. On its left is Aster amellus King which will be divided this year. This year I seem to be cutting back and dividing plants rather early.

(2) Will this be the last cucumber?  Having planted some seed earlier this year, rather late, and growing cucumber for the first time in many years.  I picked my first cucumber on the 1st of August, and with luck will have ones to pick up to the end of September.  Just two months of cucumbers doesn't seem very long, but I have enjoyed growing them, and they have been delicious.  I had thought the plants were giving up about three weeks ago with yellowing leaves, but a good dose of liquid feed  has seen green up then put on new growth and hopefully there will be a few more fruit, should frosts keep away.  They are growing on the outside against the conservatory, and have been holding up its autumn clean down.  You should have seen the look on Mr S's face when I suggested moving them into the conservatory, all I can say it that is not going to happen! Next year I shall sow seeds earlier.

(3) One of the 'Perennial Runner Bean' plants after a cut back of the fruiting stems, and very old leaves, thinks it is a young one again, and is setting beans even better than mid summer.

(4) French Beans: it is very nearly curtains for them.  I've left a few stems and should the very cold weather hold off, a few setting flowers should yield a few beans to add to stir fries. On the whole I grow beans for the young tender pods.  A few that were too high, or the back got away. I wasn't going to throw the beans with seeds away, and  have been cooked them whilst tender, and frozen them down ready to add to casseroles during the winter. 

(5) I could not stop: gone too far? Only time will tell.  .

The Artemisia Powis Castle had grown rather too well.  It is the ideal plant for the hot dry sloping front garden, but I had concerns about its ability to cope with a wet and windy winter ahead.  I went out merely to trim it back a little.

The smell was divine.  A few cuttings were taken as an insurance against its demise.

(6) Dahlia: just the one in the garden.

Dahlia Gallery Art Fair has been hearing all about the wonderful specimens that having been growing in Six on Saturday's gardens, such as  The Prop's magnificent Dahlia Karma Corona. We don't often talk aloud: we use a form of telepathy.  Don't ask!  However Dahlia's rescue from the garden to the tub, has worked.  It is in full view and therefore can receive all the attention it needs: watering, feeding, dead heading, blackfly squished etc.  It is certainly a 'high maintenance' plant.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Short walk on the Mendips

On Sunday, we had decided to have a short walk, not far away, and used the car to get to the starting point.  Arriving up at Deer's Leap, the car journey up the hill above Wookey Hole was hair raising, and we both agreed that that road was not to be used again, as it is far too narrow, and the oncoming vehicles we met just did not back up the hill, even though there was a easy road junction just a few roads behind them, which would have made passing easy other so easy.  Should we wish to go  on the Deer Leap another time we would come via the Priddy, travelling south to the pull over.

Having parked up at the Deer Leap pull over, and started our walk, we soon turned back.  The wind was blowing fiercely over from a northerly direction, and it was more than 'a hat and coat' cooler than down in Wells. I heard this term from the daughter of a Mendip Hills Farmer, and certainly felt it that day. 

As we wanted at all costs to avoid driving back down Deerleep, we decided to have a little look around Priddy, which we have often driven through.  

Manor Farm off Priddy Green

In the middle of the green, there is a a stack of Ash Sheep Hurdles, 

which has a well thatched roof, which at a great height making inspecting the the straws and all that live there quite mesmerising.

We stopped there and enjoyed passing our time, looking at some of the stone buildings, and the interesting church of St Lawrence.  

There is a beautiful embroidered old altar front from the 15th, now behind glass on the wall, and well worth a closer look.  Walking around  the church and the by the school, we found a stone stile, and from there a the green path through the recently cut meadow beckoned us.  

This led to a wooded area at the top of Greenhill, which is surrounded by closely planted beech trees.  To one side we could see a group of people, and I assume they were waiting for cavers to appear up from Swildon's Hole.  There are extensive underground caves to explore, with ropes, wetsuits, lots of safety equipment etc, but neither Mr S or I are tempted.  Visiting Cheddar Caves were top of our list, but with the lockdown and now closure for the foreseeable future, I'm not sure if and when that will be possible.  Luckily we both recently had a tour of the Wookey Hole caves with my U3A Geology group.

As we arrived back at the green, we had a pair of horses to admire:

This was just a taster, and we are sure to return for more walks.

Monday, 21 September 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Simple but not Plain

A week ago yesterday, Alison C and I met up and spent a couple of hours touring the Rare Plants Fair at the Bishop's Palace together.  A few plants were parked around us as we sat down together afterwards in the Palace gardens enjoying a cup of coffee.  We parted ways agreeing that our visits to each other's gardens ought to start again soon, and I pleased to say Alison may be visiting this week, weather permitting.

I spent the rest of that Sunday gardening, but probably did too much crouching and twisting at the same time, and spent the following few days afterwards feeling a little sorry for myself.  I even missed the first meeting of our gardening club. Everything is back to normal now.

As soon as I could walk again, I had to make up a vase, and here it is.  The plants were grown from a seed head picked at the same Rare Plants Fair, this time last year, from the Scabiosa columbaria subsp. ochroleuca plant that Alison had bought.  

The vase which is a dark blue  Victorian chemist's bottle, is tricky to do justice to.  On the mantleshelf with side light the arrangement  has quite a 'contemporary' feel, in a monochrome way. I think the sun has bleached the 'pale yellow' of the blooms to almost white.

There is something about the form of scabious flowers that charm me. I rather like the dainty flowers on strong wiry stems. Earlier in the year I had decided that its giant cousin Cephalaria gigantea was far too large and took up too much room in the garden and remains as 'despatched' in my spreadsheet. Sections of the large are destined to be planted up by my friend Jean, in large and long border of he Mendip Hospital Cemetery, whose grounds she manages along with a band of volunteers.  

and the small seed heads are quite surprising too. 

Its time to collect seeds, sow, and propagate, cut back, or maybe just arrange a few items from the garden in a vase.  Why not join in?

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Six on Saturday - 19 September 2020

The Prop in whose web we are caught each Saturday, this week has a stunning picture of a seed head in action, as well as a candy pink Dahlia.

(1) I do like silvery plants.  Maybe it is the way I see things.  I find dark things difficult to see inside and in the garden, and whether in daylight, or moonlight, summer or winter, silvery plants do stand out for me. Since I acquired this plant, I have propagated it, and is has been shared too.

Ballota pseudodictamnus

(2) At last week's Rare Plant fair, I had a gardening friend meet up to share conversation, discussion of plants, etc.  So for my second SOS I must say that friends who share my passion are an important part of my joy of gardening, and my life.   I met Alison through another regular meme: In a Vase on Monday, and we made contact when Mr S and I moved here.  I have also made friends through my local gardening club too. You regular SOSs, who post comments are amongst them.  I love that plants can be shared too.  

(3) That same friend and I had visited last year's show together, and amongst the plants Alison bought, I managed to beg a seed head of Scabiosa columbaria subsp. ochroleuca.  It happens to have lovely silvery leaves. From seed sown last September, I have a few plants now growing and am enjoying its lovely small flowers and here is a seed head, from my very own plants. Sorry Prop, no action of seeds being ejected, though I am sure he who dusts and vacuums may have a few words with me during the week!

Scabiosa columbaria subsp. ochroleuca seed head

(4) I guess I ought to list the plants I brought home from this 2020 September  Fair

2 x Cyclamen hederifolium with dark magenta flowers as spotted on  last week on SOSs, an Erigeron Karvinskianus 'Lavender Lady', Alstromeria Indian Summer, Geranium cinereum subcallescens, Asclepias tuberosa, and Fatsia Japonica Spider's Web.  A few if these were on my list...

(5) The one that wasn't on the list is the Fatsia Japonica Spider's Web. The plant I bought was small, and has already been potted on.  

It is destined as a replacement for my Hydrangea Vanille Fraise in the large planter, in the one and only shady corner by the conservatory.  I have had the Hydrangea about ten years, and it has really been enjoyed greatly, but it time for something new.  Something that will look good all year round.  I was talking though my quandary, with Alison, over what to choose as we were walking around.  The Fatsia, tucked down at ground level suddenly provided the answer.

(6) Caterpillar Safari: what is it? Thanks to posting for just a day on the Hardy Plant's Society Facebook page, now remaned The Gardening Bubble and open to everyone, and also Somerset Wildlife, I now believe it to be the caterpillar of the Knot Grass Moth.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Six on Saturday - 12 September 2020

The Prop is back on home ground this week , and I shall also be keen to see how my fellow Six on Saturday garden bloggers are doing, and what six gems they are sharing this week: here are mine.

(1) Little ones grow into big ones, then increase and cause havoc around the garden.  This doesn't just apply to weeds, but to slugs and snails.  This little snail is feasting on the fruits of Fuchsia.

 (2) After flowering well for several months, Fuchsia Upright Delta's Sarah has enjoyed the cooler weather. First planted May 2019, the garden also has two other shrubs taken as cuttings last year.  All overwintered without protection.

(3) Fucshia Tom West, also very easy to propagate, keeps low, and is a great plant as soon as it is in leaf. As I was prunning it early in April, I pushed some small pieces amongst other other plants, and I have even more now!

(4)   No Frosty mornings on the horizon, still,  here Sedum (Hylotelephium) erythrostictum 'Frosty Morn', from now on to be named Frosty Morning, reminds me that I really ought to try the Chelsea Chop not just on her, but on several other herbaceous plants. 

(5) Case in point being Aster x frikartii 'Mönch', which in any case is ready for division and replanting at the end of the season.  Advice is to  split in the spring, but I am going to try it before the end of the month.  I am being foolish? It is very mild here, and there will be a couple of months for it to get established before the cold and dank weather.  

(6) Finishing on a bright note, a Gaillardia. This is in its third year, it florished in the hotter and drier weather and showed no sign of flagging.  I am going to try dividing this one.   

Monday, 7 September 2020

In a Vase on Monday - September garden blooms

 Seeing Cathy's bright arrangement this week is enough to bring sunshine into your day whatever the weather. 

In our mixed shower and sunshine type of weather, I have enjoyed catching half and hour here and there, in the garden. This week's vase sitting on my kitchen counter this morning will remind me of the long strange summer we have had, and of the flowers that have adorned the garden this September.

Linaria 'Canon Went, , Verbena rigida, Fuchsia Hawkshead,  Astrantia Major 'Sunningdale Variegated', Geranium Rozanne, Aster amellus 'King George', and finally Dahlia Gallery Art Fair and an ornamental origano, name unknown.  Both of the last plants came from Alison C!  For all of us missing her on our weekly SOS.  The good news is that Alison, although she has been very busy with her flower business and expanding on the planting in her garden, is coming over next Sunday to meet up and visit the Bishop's Palace where we have the first slot book for the Rare Plants Fair.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Six on Saturday - 5 September 2020

The Prop is intending being first in the queue for some plant bargains this morning.  We are with you in spirit...looking forward in dipping in and joining others in this weekly get together.

With a small garden I find beauty in the detail.  Early morning is a good time to spend looking, observing and enjoying.  Atfter the string of gloomy days the light is uplifting.  

(1) Even before they have time to open the Eschscholzia californica, best known as Californian poppy, is the great golden yolk in the bed. All this from one seedling, aka self-sown, close to where they had been growing the previous year. In the evening light it also gives out a pleasing warm  glow.

(2) Another pretty small flower, with petals all tousely, and you should see her when she is wet, is the tall stemmed and wonderfully scented pink: Dianthus superbus.  

Taking a longer view towards the gravel area

(3) It wasn't the wonderfully metallic looking flowers of Eryngium Giganteum Silver Ghost that held my attention,

 but one of its leaves, starting to degrade gracefully.  

How plant material degrades in the garden and what it looks like is very much a matter of taste.  They say you ought to leave plants as they give structure etc during the winter.  Whether it was my mood, or was it not wanting to be reminded that the 'not summer'season' will soon be on us, I took the secateurs to the whole clump of Eryngium Tetre Petra. I found the greying stems and browning flower heads jarred with the fresher flowers surrounding it.  However the Giganteum may fade silver grey and be a little like those galvanised sculptures of seed heads one can buy to stick in borders. Can I be persuaded?

This week several of the pot grown plants have been repotted.

(4) The Sempervivums in their recycled bonsai pans, which I love to look for in junk shops, are spilling over the edges. and have too much old decayed leaves around the bases of spent rosettes.  The cream pan is one I replanted earlier this year, and is fine for another year.

This mass of old decaying leaves is a no no as damper wetter weather creates a soggy substrate.  The gaps where the old flowering rosettes were removed are also not exactly attractive either.

Fresh healthy rosettes have been replanted in very gritty soil, together with some slow release pellets. A finish of grit on the surface helps the plants over the winter. Three done, three more to go.

(5) Other pots which will spend the winter inside in the conservatory have been subjected to  a similar treatment:  Ledebouria socialis endemic to South Africa is another small potted plant, ready for the re-potting treatment..  Earlier this year I had repotted some out in new soil, but my old pot had become unattractively congested, with bulbs climbing onto the shoulders of other bulbs.

With a few sorted out there were many other destined for the bin.  However, reading that they may survive outdoors in milder areas, I am giving them a go, just to see how they fare.  On previous occasions, I have carefully nurtured bulbs for members of my gardening club, and only a few were passed on...obviously only a few takers, so I shall pass on keeping pots going to give away this year.

Haworthia venosa subsp. tesselata was also very congested, it was last repotted in 2017. A few perfect rosettes were chosen to be repotted in my one and only special pot from Whichford Pottery, bought on a visit there several years ago.

(6) Finding solutions: 

Last week Gill asked for details of the labels and markers, which I gave in reply, in the comments section.   I have to admit to having more plants than would be normal for a small garden, which means too many plant names to remember, hence the many labels. I like to know their names, even when gardening just on my own. It is not a sign than I have too many plants , but that I have found a simple 'aid'.  

I used to be able to remember plant names wonderfully, but have always found a problem with people's names, by the way.  Sadly plant names are falling into the same black hole, but I have them all on a database, with various notes, and pictures too.   

I love it that on Gardeners' World, gardeners with various disabilities are presenting and showing ways that they are able to enjoy gardening.  It showed me that I ought to think of solutions.  It is after all the enjoyment of gardening, and the sharing of that pleasure and plants, that is my main aim. I started to feel embarrassed when visitors used to ask me the name of plants, and was starting to fear questions, and avoid the embarrassment by not inviting friends to come round.   Now I label plants, and label the plants that I intend to give away too...though they may have 'recycled' or up-cycled' labels. 

But isn't gardening all about finding solutions: right plant right place, learning about what conditions a plant does best in, why a plant is ailing etc...each and every gardener is working out solutions, maybe you would like to add to these in the comments. 

Friday, 4 September 2020

Butter Buns from Whiddetts in Cirencester

Whiddetts, sadly now closed produced a bun beloved in Cirencester. A plainish bun, with simple ingredients: The Butter Bun.  I wrote about this some time ago, with a recipe, and today for Friday Bun Day.  Today another half batch of sweet dough became buns.....

Some went to neighbours........

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

We were there, together after eight months

 We met up just before Christmas......

The next time we were to  have met up, we postponed our visit as I was unwell, probably with Covid19, but who knows? And the following day Mr S was not well enough to drive.

Finally it was to time for a mid-way socially distanced get together, missing out a big hugs, but enjoying a lovely walk found by Veronica. Schools are just about to start back, so we thought this is just about the optimum time.  Who knows when we shall meet again?

A hill with a good view is always interesting

Unlike the Uffington White Horse, this horse on the hill side is concreted over.  The steep hillside grass land is showing clear signs of 'creep' formed by the thin soil very slowly slipping down the underlying chalk, which is probably further enhanced by sheep and cattle walking along the parallel ridges in the turf.

As we walked towards Bratton, the north easterly views of the chalk land escarpment were magnificent too.

Along the way, it felt quite autumnal even though it was still August, with remains of knapweed seedheads.

Skirting the very edge of the Village, close to the Church of St James, we came across a 'contraption with paddles spraying water in a pond'. It certainly held our attention and by googling several words have indeed come across such machines which increase water aeration.

Mr S spotted a beautiful blue butterfly, which flitted away far too quickly, but this bee, a ginger bumblebee and most probably a Brown-banded carder bee (Bombus humilis), spent some time on this Devil's-bit-scabious.

How strange to meet up with nearest and dearest and not be able to have a hug!