Monday, 27 December 2021

In a Vase on Monday

 This period between Christmas and the New Year is one I enjoy.  A quiet sort of period, when  one can indulge oneself in quiet pastimes. For instance I had some time on my own and having at first planned a cycle ride, which had been put off on account of the mizzle and rain early in the day. Itturned out nice with sunshine from 11 onwards.  I pottered in the garden, sowed some seed, and even had lunch in the garden, feeling the warmth of the sunshine on my face. I was facing towards the Winter flowering jasmine, and knew that a few stems could easily be spared for today's In a Vase on Monday. 

Joining the Jasmine nudiflorum, are a couple of Cyclamen hederifolium leaves, and some of black leaves of  Ohiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens.

The twig has been moved around to different places over Christmas.  At one time it was on the mantle, then the side board, and sometimes across the coffee table. It's yellow lichen link in with the yellow Jasmine flowers.  

On our monthly visit to The Newt, out in the woodland when we were 'stalking' deer, I found a lovely lichen covered twig on the deeply leaved woodland floor, it reminded me of this fine stag with its many branched antlers. As this fine stag has over 16 points, I believe it has grown the right to be called A Monarch.

The twig has been moved around to different places over Christmas.  At one time it was on the mantle, then the side board, and sometimes across the coffee table. It's yellow lichen link in with the yellow Jasmine flowers.  

I shall be joining in with Cathy as usual, then set off for my walk, and maybe a little light embroidery after that.  Cathy too has a twig or two this week.

Saturday, 25 December 2021

Christmas Breakfast Bread


First pieces enjoyed for our Christmas breakfast thing morning.  Here it is out of oven late last night.  I had to increase the milk in the recipe.  I increased the size by using three egg yolks.  The original size would have done very nicely.  I shall probably tweak the recipe but in principle make something like this instead of a tall Panettone next year.

Focaccia alla Panettone on the Bakery Bits site.  I may well drop them a message and see if there was a typo regarding the recipe. 

Thursday, 23 December 2021

The Bishop's Palace Wells all decked up for Christmas 2021

 The Bishop's Palace in Wells had been handsomely decorated for a couple of weeks leading up to Christmas.  

The table in the entrance hall is said to the one where Bishop Ken gave dinner each Sunday for twelve Almsmen.  Although the top is modern the base is seventeenth century.

A canopy standing on clear legs above the table had greenery, berries, gold sprayed Asparagus setaceus - Lace Fern, and suspended with glass baubles with little cherubs.

Material from the gardens contributed to making some delightful table arrangements and also to cover pillars and arches.  

Up on the first floor in the long gallery where portraits of previous Bishops hang, the Christmas them continues...

With the long table more sumptuously laid out....

with this smaller of three cakes along the table tastefully decorated with an impressed pattern on its icing,

In a side room, let's call it a parlour, which is one of my favourite rooms, Father Christmas's chair was set out, with other decorations.

Children could come and speak with Father Christmas who was established in a room with many Christmas trees and paper angels. On the Monday and Tuesday set aside for this, I saw some family groups leaving the Palace, and the look on the small children's faces was a joy.

Of course who would not want a letter from Santa Clause

Or wish to peep to see where they stood on Santa's list

Maybe after Christmas when he was resting he would return to his embroidery?

The previous week we just happened to visit the Newt where they have a deer park.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Vegan Chickpea and carrot frittata by Elly Pear

 Picking up recipes from the Cookbook feed from my online newspaper has become an interesting way of introducing new dishes.  Monday has meat free meals. I had a star against this post, and opened it up this morning.  As we are going out to dinner tonight, I thought a light meat free option for lunch would be good.

Verdict? Excellent and will make this one again.  I took over a couple of slices for a vegetarian neighbour.  The quantities serve eight, so I may well make this next time in a smaller pan using half quantities.

Saturday, 18 December 2021

Six on Saturday - 18 December 2021

In a week where the light levels have been low, and days short, it has been warm and without rain, so a little planting out, and tidying up has been possible. I came across a small slow worm probably seeing its first winter, and as it started to move in my warm hand, I moved it towards the edge of the garden to some soil with a good covering of leaves.  

On Thursday morning we enjoyed a fine looking fox as it jumped onto the top of the stone wall where it stood looking around for two or three minutes.  Looking straight towards us it effortlessly jumped down, walked down down the path, explored the area close to us, then both sides of the house which ,to the fox who cannot open a gate,  are in effect dead ends.  Because he reappeared he obviously had not jumped over.  His return did not follow the garden paths as he first did, but took a straight line across the garden. Just like out view of the badger in the garden in June 2020, this close up view of the fox will be cherished for a long time.

1.' Purple 4 Polio' crocus bought at the local 'Charity Market' last Sunday are either Crocus tommasinianus – Ruby Giant (deep purple) or Barrs Purple (light purple). 

They have now been planted and that clump of crocus will be forever called Purple 4 Polio Crocus 2021.

I hadn't realised the market was on, and having just gone out for a leg stretch was delighted to find the town in a friendly buzz.  What a great idea to raise funds, the link above sends you to where you may choose to buy 4000.  I remember Polio was around when I was young in Mauritius, and all of us at school we given the sugar cube and the purple smudge.  That was the first time I had seen a sugar cube!  When I was older we had a very good young Geography teacher, and she had callipers on her legs, yes polio had ravaged through the population and I thanks to the vaccine I and most of my friends had been spared.

2. All the winds and the rain over the past few weeks meant that all three pots of Japanese Grass Hakonechloa macra Albostriata were starting to shed, of course it could just be that time of the year, luckily it does regrow its being foliage each spring.

With the possibility of all the garden being covered, it was a swift 'back and sides, and top'.

3. Pseudowinteria colorata Red Leopard is adding a nice splash of colour and 'evergreeness'. This shrub is ever patient and resilient, having been moved in and out of pots and around the garden.

4. Jasmine nudiflorum is getting into its stride...

tall enough to escape the slugs, or maybe the slugs and snails have a special table set up with Christmas goodies?

5. Down at ground level, buoyed by the recent balmy, damp long nights, the slugs and yes caterpillars have plenty of time to much on this pretty little primrose. Port and Lemon reminding me of 'old fashioned drinks', and being a little worse for wear the following day.  Except I drink very little and I don't think I have ever had 'Port and Lemon'.  A decent local apple juice suits me very nicely or else a local cider. Party games: hunt the caterpillar there are several kings, the large ones gain extra points.

6. This is a view of my tub of tulips which I planted up in November, taken a couple of weeks ago. Tulip Cabanna is probably just forming its first tentative roots.  I placed some daisies on top and I hope they are the nice double ones.  We have some pesky squirrels exploring pots, so this is placed close to the house, and I am hoping that some old oyster shells picked up from a beech will put them off. 

Jon has found the best excuse to show plants from another garden, and has certainly won one his gold stars as far as Santa is concerned.  I can't think of a better escape that to delve into one's garden or explore that of others, a few of us will be joining Jon to wish his mother a speedy recovery. As well as Santa who will be very busy before and after Christmas, Jon has let it be known that we are convening again next year on the first.  

Monday, 13 December 2021

In a Vase on Monday - 13 December 2021

How can one feel Christmassy when it is so mild, and shrubs normally bare are still clinging on to their leaves?  Yesterday when gardening, ie planting out newly acquired snowdrops and crocus,  and cutting back some perennials, my eye was drawn to the large pot of Alstromeria Indian Summer.  There were the last four stems braving the rain and drizzle and quite untouched by whatever very mild frosts we may have had over the last few weeks.

With low light the only place to capture the little arrangement was in the conservatory.  Today is the day for setting up the Christmas Decorations.  Will that make me feel more Christmassy?  Who knows, just like the Alstromeria I am out of sink with the seasons....

This weekly get together clusters under Cathy's cloak aka her post. Although my flowers are completely unseasonal and now I understand why these are grown for the flower trade, she has a couple of very pretty and nicely scented seasonal blooms to show. Make the most of your week.........

Saturday, 11 December 2021

Six on Saturday - 11 December 2021

 Today it isn't freezing but it is definitely damp and mizzling.  It is coming up to Christmas, yes I've mentioned that word. I'm not a very Christmassy sort of person well I do carry the name around all year, so maybe that is my excuse.

1. To help displace the feeling of 'Am I missing out on all the manic last minute shopping that goes on around me, and not being at all sucked into the pressure in the media to rise to the occasion to decorate, spend and overindulge'?  To show that I am able to buy myself a little Christmas present, here instead of Galanthus Three Ships which I would have loved are three new snowdrops as consolations.  I went to see Jackie Williams right at the top of the Mendips, this morning and picked up Galanthus Wasp, Galanthus elwesii Godfrey Owen which will have six outer white petals, and Galanthus reginae-olgae vernalis Christine, which she says flowers early here. It wasn't about planting snowdrops which would be in flower at the start of December but rather finding ones which will show a great promise and will probably be in flower just after Christmas.

2. It is cold and damp, but the Salix gracilistyla Mount Aso is clinging onto her leaves.  Gently glowing yellow the leaves have been a special feature in the low light. 

3. In the front garden the Geranium x magnificum is doing the honours.

4. Bobbing back again to the rear of the garden, the Weigela florida  variegata has yet to shed its leaves and forms a good focal point toward the middle rear.

5. Even Geranium Rozanne is holding out....

6.  I nearly missed out on these lovely sticks. As we set out for our walk on Friday, a man was tackling his overgrown boundary onto the levels that shirts our housing estate.  I guess he wanted to have a great view over towards the Tor.  Who can blame him?  On our return he had made an excellent job of making a layered hedge, and had these sticks of Field Maple on the ground.  I asked him what he was going to do with them, and as they were destined for destruction, I was delighted to have him say I could have them.  I am thinking of supports for the herbaceous plants in the Summer.   

These six meant scaping the barrel, but with a small garden, and it being close to the Winter Solstice, there isn't much going on.  I bet the Prop and all the other gardeners will have sufficient to make getting together this Saturday well worth it. 

Monday, 6 December 2021

In a Vase on Monday - Hedgerow gleanings

 Yesterday morning, we set out for one of our regular leg stretche straight from our front door.  Having a small and narrow hall which will be recognised by many British people as being the norm in newish houses, means that walking shoes often need to be put on outside, as any bits caught on the soles and not washed off, would otherwise inevitably get scattered around, and then require a good clean up on return from the said walk. In  the Summer this is no problem, but during the winter it is another thing! 

We have a circular walk from the front door, of around 7 Km which takes us round a hill and down onto the Somerset Levels which is crisscrossed with ditches called rhynes.  Before you reach these wet 'hedges' as you walk down, hedges abound with plants, ferns and bird wildlife. Down on the rhynes stands of sedges line the road.

Willows abound on the section we walk along, in other areas different types of trees dominate. Without secateurs I still managed to pick a few stems, taking care that I didn't fall in any of the ditches.  Arriving home, I arranged the bits in a brass vase. 

A few berries remained on the Euonymous europaeus aka Spindle Bush

I'm not sure whether I was picking Alder Buckthorn but I think from the position of the shiny black berries this is Wild Privet Lingustrum vulgare.

Of course there is no confusing the berries on the ivy...

The higher banks are dripping down Hart's tongue fern, with its many variations, some leaves are long and pointed, some broader, others forked at the ends, some with very wavy edges.  Because they grow in such large drifts it is easy to overlook them as 'background' greenery. 

This week's vase is in celebration of the magnificent countryside and wildlife that surrounds us. I'll be joining in with Cathy as with others to mainly celebrate things growing in our gardens.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Six on Saturday - 4 December 2021

 At the start of the week it felt like winter, yesterday it was much milder.  Leaf fall here, even with the storm over the previous weekend, is late. The Fuchsias are still flowering, whilst I have noticed the very tips of some of the spring bulbs are just about breaking the soil surface.

1. Right up by the back door, is the small grafted Acer Wakaranai (Japanese for 'unknown'), with a close up of the leaf detail, for identification for those experts out there. Until  Wednesday there was no hint of colour.

2. Acer Corner acer too has shown very little colour compared to previous years.

4. Continuing on the tour of the start of December, both Cornus Mid Winter Fires are not yet completely bare.

5. Over on that side of the garden another Fuchsia is still looking far too lovely to be cut down. It might be Riccatonii or it might be something else as I don't think the branches are that arching: they are strong and upright.  Maybe someone might be able to name it.

6. Him inside was complaining about one of my plants dropping sticky stuff on our new window sill in the study.  

On closer inspection I found the culprit: scale insects. 

Luckily this is the only plant in this room, and it appears that no other plants around the house are affected. It was likely contaminated when it went out into the garden for a little summer holiday.  I've spent quite some time wiping all those individual leaves, with some inevitably falling off. 

Taking it outside in the good light yesterday I saw a few more very tiny ones.  Some spray was applied, and more in a fortnight of so.

Jon The Prop needs to get his hands dirty this week planting bulbs.  If the weather is anything like it is just now in his neck of the woods, he should have the job done in time. 

Happy gardening, or planning or reading everyone.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Corn Bread with Leeks, Pumpkin and Cheese - This New Dish was also a success

 My original inspiration was a recipe from a regular feed that drops into my emails.  I read the blurb ahead of the recipe proper, and decided that I would give it a try.  The Recipe was for Corn Bread with Leeks and Feta. by Diana Henry.

I have used Polenta in several sweet recipes and also in just plain Polenta, but had never made or tasted Corn Bread. Last night was the evening I first tried this.  Do read the recipe from the Telegraph, linked above, for techniques etc.  I changed a number of items, and scaled down the quantities to give four portions which would fit one of my oblong glass Pyrex dishes.

I used 400g leeks, cooked as per the recipe, and instead of the sweetcorn I used preroasted pumpkin which I had in the fridge, which I put into the dish to preheat whilst I was cooking the leeks on the hob top.

Instead of the Feta, of which I had none open, I used 200g grated strong goat's cheese, or which 50g was sprinkled on the top after 30 minutes in the oven. The oven was set at 170 C fan, and had a further 15 minutes after the cheese was sprinkled on top.  For this dish size I used 170g boiling water with 120g polenta, but since it was incredibly stiff I  added a little more water to facilitate mixing in the egg and cheese.  I had added the 1.5 tsp baking powder to the eggs and that went blobby, but a quick mix with my blender stick smoothed it out, then it all went into the polenta, and again I used the blender stick to thoroughly blend in the egg,.  I used a fork to mix in the cooked leek, pumpkin and grated cheese, and some salt and pepper. I do think the leeks really work, but suppose you have none, then onions ought to be used.

We had the first two portions for supper and the second two will be reheated for another meal. We enjoyed this with a lovely salad. The flavour of the Polenta came through and with the grilled cheese and a drizzle of my hot chilli sauce on the top, our lasting impression is of a good tasty dish.  Countless variations are possible, I would probably add herbs and olives, and even roasted peppers and nuts another time.