Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Visit to Midney Gardens

 On Sunday I made a quick check online using the NGS website to find somewhere to visit. Midney Gardens came up.  We had previously stopped here and enjoyed refreshments with excellent home made cakes but had not visited the gardens.  We are so pleased we made that decisions: as we were chatting with Dave Chase and Alison Hoghton after our tour, we found out that they had now sold their cottage and were moving within weeks. 

A rusted bent iron gate is as good as any artist would make on the entrance to a graveled area.


There were large numbers of interesting shrubs as well as perennials and bulbs, and such picturesque smaller spaces where Dave's expertise in positioning and using colour in shrubs and in the texture, shape and the many hues of green, made each space quite distinct and a joy to take in.  


Views through the labyrinth to a long path bordering the Wildlife pond.


I found Dave's positioning of short soft grasses at the apex of beds, when paths criss cross particularly pleasing.  


Quite honestly a walk in the opposite direction, and a second walk round would have been necessary to take in its many variations.  Mr S was however aware that we were cutting it fine for the piece de resistance: Tea and Cake!


You could but admire a rose with thorns this beautiful like shard of red glass shining bright., and on one corner, which I had to walk backwards to take in:  a rose with green petals, with such varieties as well as others, the name Plantsman's Garden is well deserved.

The various rambling and wonderfully scented shrub roses got me and Mr S playing the 'can you smell this rose, and what does it smell of' game.  We seem to be sensitive to different scents, and by the end we were 'nose blind'.  I cannot remember what the smell of this rose was, but its effect in the small round garden with its vitality and wonderful colour will remain with me. The colour here is true and not at all enhanced.  Dave thought it was probably Crown Princess Margareta, but I am not so sure.


Why oh why have we not visited here before!  We thoroughly enjoyed our banter with the owners and their helpers for the day as we sat over our delicious cake: Mr S had beetroot and chocolate cake, and I had courgette and lime and pistachio cake.  He had tea, and I enjoyed a freshly brewed cafetiere of decaffeinated coffee. 



Greencombe Gardens

 I would consider our first visit to these gardens a mere taster, something to occupy our afternoon, with a break on our way back walking from Porlock to Porlock Weir.  We skirted the rear boundary along the steeply wooded slope which faces Wales across the Bristol Channel.  With fine weather and extensive views we waited patiently for opening time, having creeped into the gardens and found a couple of seats. Under an old oak tree looking out down across rich pastures where a herd of cattle with their young calves were grazing, we sat enjoying the peace.


We joined the first visitors to arrive, passing the house and taking in the lawned area by the house.



The roses were magnificent, as were other interesting shrubs, of which I am not sure of their names.  Here is a garden with acid soil with many shrubs that I am unable to grow in my garden.  



Several tall shrubs with very small flowers were humming such were the number of bees feasting on the nectar.  We noticed a garden further west along the rear footpath had dozens of hives.




On our walk we noticed some very large Holly Trees said to be very old on the forest side of the path behind Greencombe gardens, and there was another ancient tree said to be over 400 years old within the garden itself. The Woods on these slopes are magnificent, and bearing in mind we hardly touched these gardens or indeed the woods such as Horner Wood above Porlock, we are sure to return on holiday in this area over the coming years, several times.


Trying to get in a view of this very large holy tree was impossible!


Back to the start, we just had to sit and enjoy the view for a few moments, before setting back on our way skirting the salt marshes along the coastal route back to Porlock Weir.




We had missed the rhododendrons and other early flowering shrubs but these gardens are within a day's outing from home, and it is on the list for a return visit next year.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Pigeon pastilla inspired by Honey & Co

 I really ought to say Pigeon pastilla suggested by Mandy too: it had been her turn to choose recipes for us to try from the Honey & Co Baking Book.

I used 4 Pigeon Breasts rather than whole Pigeons, ground cinnamon  as I lost patience trying to find the sticks amongst my spices, For the filling I used almonds instead of hazelnuts as I had run out.  I did approximately half quantities, poaching the breasts in a small frying ban.and made all the filling yesterday.  Some of the almonds I ground up with my 'wand' with all the poaching liquid and the orange slices to make a matrix in which I turned the chopped figs, and sliced pigeon breast. 




I formed two pastilla in metal pies dishes, and when cooked turned them out and served with some nice veg.



The whole pastilla was very appealing, and having reminded myself how easy it is to use a few sheets of filo pastry to transform something in order to give an attractive presentation, I can think of many more ways or fillings I could use fillo, such as doubling up on my chicken tagine, with the aim of making some pastilla filling or wrapping salmon etc.

To cap off the meal I made ice cream this evening, using goat's milk. It is based on an egg-custard therefore avoiding cream. Half was made into a classic vanilla and the other half a rich chocolate.  Its an awfully long time: years and years since I made ice-cream, and only turfed out the ice cream making machine when I happened to fall on the recipes again in an Italian Cookery Book I was leafing through last week.

All this on the same day as our Wells WI cycling group inaugural cycle ride, baking three sourdough loaves and a visit to Midney Gardens.


The other recipe I have yet to bake: chocolate and pistachio cookies...that would go well with the Vanilla Ice Cream!

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Six on Saturday - 26 June 2021

 I was reading some of the posts linked in to Jon The Propagator this morning, and having had a talking to by Gill via her post, here I am with some bits and pieces. Nothing quite like a group of plant loving people to gee one up and get me past the 'miffed feeling one gets just as one passes mid-summer.' Jon is featuring amongst other Allium Summer Drummer which I have been admiring in a friend's garden. 

As soon as I had my telling off, I realised that what would help would be a little retail therapy.  Through our new local WI gardening club, and the visit here a couple of weeks ago, together with a friend saying she had had some good advice at a market stall last week in Wells,  I knew that Graham from Tadham Alpines was back.  I secreted the plants and had them waiting in the shade.  Mr S said he was surprised I had not had them on the table to enjoy, before planting them out.



They are out now ready to be planted in the grit garden, and also in my semperivium planters to replaced some I had lost a few months ago.

Sempervivums Sioux and Sprite, Sisyrinchium E K Balls, Jasaine laevis blaulicht and another blue one Campanula pusilla or cochlearifolia blue, and a pot of the pale pink Rhodyohypoxis baurii pintado.

2.  I very much enjoyed Paddy Tobin's post last week when he showed off some of his wonderful whites. That got me going around the garden where the whites were adding the same freshness to surrounding plants.

One of my favourite small plants both in the wild and now in the garden is the White Sea Campion. Silene Uniflora Alba. 


3. Another white which is giving off the most relaxing of perfumes is the tall flowered Valerian, which managed to survive the neighbour's cat rolling over it earlier in the year. 


4. The white flowered rose which every gardener recognises needs a little attention, with some sort of trellis.  Maybe I shall get round to ask Mr S to mount some wires, but at the moment there is hardly room to move, or at least for him to put his size 11s for fear of treading or squashing something.

Rose Iceberg


5.  Just as a counterpoint the dark leaved HardyGeranium pratense 'Midnight Reiter' again from Tadham Alpines is flowering having been first planted last year.  Further around Geranium sanguiem album with its dainty white flowers ought not to be forgotten.

Geranium pratense 'Midnight Reiter'

6.  I'm refreshing my chive border and dividing the large clumps into smaller ones.  Lots of spares are finding new homes. All these good pieces from one old clump!



Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Porlock Weir Holiday

In these times, we can definitely say that three nights away in a Hotel in the same county counts as a holiday. We walked each day.

On our way down we stopped at Kilve Beach for the first time, having found a nice small car park at East Quantoxhead.



Walking along the wave cut platform was almost like walking on a pavement.


  There are some dramatic cliffs with clear layers of various sedimentary rocks,  and we happened to arrive at low tide. looking out for a few fossils held us stone hopping for a little while. 

Our next stop was Dunster Castle where we have stayed before, we had lunch under the shade of the trees, then took a walk around, and not before stocking up on oats from the shop, as the mill was closed to visitors.

Having arrived at our Hotel, we settled in then went for a small walk exploring the small hamlet and the beach with large rounded bolders.

Our first full day entailed at walk into Porlock, along the footpath skirting inland around the Salt Marsh.  


It has its own beauty, but you can tell that it had been good farmland, but since the shingle ridge was bridged around 25 Years ago, the salt water has poisoned the ground as far as trees and ooriginal vegetation is concerned, which is now replaced by a mixture of brine tolerant plants .  We saw a couple of pairs of Grey Heron and Shell Ducks on the water, in amongst the tidal marsh. 

Solitary large Oak tree remnants killed by the salt and weathered bare added drama,

 as did the f farm building, now abandoned.





I wonder how old the Yew Tree is? It is thought 1000 years, and maybe even 1500. From an old an ancient stump, a young branch with greenery, as if grafted, such is the contrast in age and vigour, afforded a little shade for a short rest, before checking out the eateries and settling on a teashop.


We walked back along the woodland walk, with the hillsides mainly covered by Sweet Chestnut, holly and oak, with a few ash trees, as well as a few Rowan.  In the afternoon we visited some gardens.




Day two saw us walk through the Culborne Woods to visit what must be among the smallest churches in Britain: St Beuno. My walking sticks were a great help on the steep woodland paths.  


Both the wooded sections and the walk along lanes in steeply rolling farm land were breathtakingly beautiful.  On this cooler north facing slope the Foxgloves were still fresh and formed colonies along the woodland edges.  When we came out into the farming area, attractive old Farmhouses were dotted along the route, including this fine looking stone one.

Parsonage Farm


It was about the best week for the various forms of campions along the footpaths.



The pale yellow and more golden forms of

Common cow-wheat:  Melampyrum pratense  highlighted  woodland path edges.  

The Church of St Beuno at Culbone

Close to the end of our Walk at the Bottom of Worthy Combe, a road with a toll, with no pedestrians or cyclists permitted...



It has the most picturesque of Toll Houses...



Back in Porlock Weir we had a delicious lunch from the Art Gallery/cafe then wandered along the shore line just enjoying the views back towards the woods and the boats in the small harbour.


So what did we bring back as souvenirs...happy walking memories, a few bits of sea washed twigs and a few jars of dark local chestnut honey. 














Monday, 21 June 2021

In a Vase on Monday - Grace and friends

 I couldn't hold out any longer, this week it has to be roses.  This is just one stem of Rosa Grace which only needed a couple more elements.  I chose a few stems of the hairy leafed  Apple Mint to add as a scent enhancer, and some creamy edged Pittospurum tenuifolium garnettii.  A few weeks ago I was out in the garden and noticed an appealing scent and wondered what it was.  My nose took me to the shrub and I found that it was in full flower, by full I mean lots of flowers, but they are small and dark and against the dark stems only noticeable when you get in close.



The Vase is a cherished gift from Jenny, my Sister, who brought this back from her year teaching in Rouen as part of her degree.  The rocks and possibly a fossil came from our stop over at East Quantoxhead last week.



I've not been posting about the books I have recently read.  I have just finished 'Death with a Double Edge' by Anne Perry, and have enjoyed it very much.  This is not more normal genre, and a book from my WI book club, but I would certainly recommend it.

I'm joining in with Cathy and am looking forward to enjoying some other vases too. 

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Westbrook House, West Bradley Visit

 On the same day that we visited Batcombe House, it was to Westbrook House, near Glastonbury that we spent the afternoon.  Gertrude was at the front gate to welcome us, and Mr S felt immediately comfortable and looked forward to having this self assured lady as companion for an hour or two.  Her owner and the designers and owners of this magnificent garden made us feel most welcome, and the drinks and home made lemon drizzle cake very much appreciated.

The front garden retains its original layout, but with new planting, now maturing nicely.  Right down to the middle of the turning circle, in the front garden where  the yellow helianthemum 'Wisley Primrose' struck me as a great summer colour, one felt that this garden would work at any time of the year.

Garden gates again caught my eye, and on entering the side garden, my gaze was drawn to the geraium house.


Each area showed what  a great eye for design and knowledge of plants David and Keith have.  


One particular geranium, which looked like a green and white leaved miniature, was covered with numerous stems of single coral blooms. Sadly there was no name, but if you have any idea, please do leave your suggestions in the comment section. 


On our way through to the back garden, the shady corners had magnificent pots of hostas.



The lawns were marked with great tree planting


Seating was position around the garden and here flanked by large pots of geraniums, 



Or maybe a different view across the lawn...



Or somewhere more private in amongst the orchards and tree collections






Even the log store was placed and arranged to maximise the esthetic of the garden.




I shall certainly want to visit this garden again....