Monday, 31 January 2022

In a Vase on Monday - Turkish Delights

Several of my favourite 'sweets' seem to come from Turkey or are Turkish in origin.    At Christmas I treated myself to small box of pomegranate and pistachio Turkish delight, which is my favourite of all and which I felt really lucky to find in Waitrose this Christmas. It came in a sweet small square wooded box, which was waiting in the to be got rid of pile, when I thought it would make a nice 'standard' for my little flower arrangement.

Figs are another of my 'Turkish Delights',  I found two small packets at my favourite greengrocers this Saturday, and felt that they would also be included in the 'tableau'.

Saturday was a real treat day for me, as I went up to collect some new snowdrops from Jackie at Triffids nurseries.  Although I am yet to become captivated by snowdrops with 'yellow', Jackie suggest I try the one whose foliage I had admired early on whilst I looked over what she was growing.  It has twisted splayed blue green leaves. She pointed out that its flower had an olive coloured ovary, and as the whole plant looked different it is much easier to tell apart.  It is Galanthus gracilis Vic Horton. 

Using every resource available I spent a pleasant time on Sunday reading more about the snowdrops I had bought, and discovered that Galanthus gracilis comes from Turkey and some surrounding areas, and likes a well drained soil, a sunny spot and dryish summer conditions. It has been planted amongst my oreganos which at the moment are cut right down.  

I can rightfully say that Galanthus gracilis is joining my other 'Turkish Delights' . The flowers were carefully snipped off  first.  They would probably have got crushed by my gloved hands during the planting.  

Mr S is trying to work out what is up with the better camera, so in the meantime please forgive this poor picture.

I am joining in with Cathy as always, and if you would like do go and see what she has for us this week too.

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Six on Saturday - 29 January 2022

 If one takes part in a group activity, it becomes a team effort, even if one is in effect on one's own.  I am sure that our leader who is a long distance runner works on this to his advantage, both on those long runs and in the garden. Jon is our leader but I do get advance notice  when my gardening SOS Sister posts.  Her contribution this week amused me, and I felt further inspired to find Six in the garden after having read her post today.  I realise one has to keep in training ready for the Spring sprint.

1. January Stubble.  Clever for any of you who guess what it is.  I have two large clay pots with this ***** based on the stones on the seating circle. It is quite nice to run your hand across this and look to see if any of the little violets seeds which ants like to move around, are germinating.  They are soon weeded out.

2. Him inside who sports a short beard similar in length to the one above, just happened to mention at lunch that he liked the plant on the table with its pinkish tinges, and I could tell that he was wondering whether I had recently acquired some new plants 'secretly'.  No I said those are the Echeveria Elegans I planted up last year, they go a bit pink when they are stressed, could be the cold in the conservatory when the temperatures can drop to around 5 C at night.

after lunch I brought in the other older plant that is growing in a piece of lava, and has been outside by the front door, but protected a little by a canopy from the rain.  That one is much pinker.  The colour will revert back with time.

3. A Heir and a Spare.  When one can propagate one's own plants and enjoys doing that there is always a down side, in that you end up with several generations and a heir and spare just in case.  That way you can keep plants for many many years, without having to buy replacements. Grandma at the back now on a leg, daughter just below, and two tiny plants. 

4. I was just looking out when I was having my beans on toast lunch at what I could choose, and my eyes were drawn to this corner. Not on account of the nice shrub or the snowdrops but the little devil at their feet.  Did I inadvertently  move it, or did this grow from a seed moved by those cheeky ants two or three years ago?  I have three or four Winter aconites across the path in the conservatory bed.  Since I acquired those in 2020, it would mean that it takes two years from seed to get to flowering size. But then I read that it can take four years to reach flowering size, so it may have come in with soil from my previous garden, or it may be one I had moved but forgotten about. 

5. Why was I having baked beans on toast you may ask: Hubby offered to quickly put that on the table when I returned back from a glorious visit to Triffids Nursery on top of the Mendips where it was cold and blustery.  This lot will keep me happy all weekend. A friend suggested I use this site which had good pictures of many available snowdrops.

6.  And as the Prop and My SOS Sis says finish off with something pretty:

First planted in January 2019 there were just two bulbs of Galanthus Lady Beatrix Stanley received from Anna to whom I give thanks for my renewed interest in snowdrops along with Cathy from In a Vase on Monday. 

Its back into the garden now....

Monday, 24 January 2022

In a Vase on Monday - Never mind the Width

 January can be a fickle month, but it always interesting to see what is growing in the coldest and darkest days.  By joining in with Cathy many of us gather what there is in the garden and post on Mondays.  

My Aunty Prue used to love watching TV and when I was young, used to have a catch phrase: "Never mind the quality feel the width".  I could never understand this having had my early years abroad, and being young had no knowledge of the many European cultures and certainly didn't understand British humour.  This was the title of a comedy series which I have just found on i-player, and really this is also now a 'historical piece' in itself and wonder whether it would now be aired given the current sensibilities.

I twisted it and as I also like small things made my own version: 'never mind the width feel the quality'.  That is why I would say when you see this very small arrangement: never mind the size see the quality and beauty.

A few of cyclamen coum from two plants growing out in the borders with one slightly lighter blooms than the other, leaves from Ophiopogan, the dark is nigrescens, the variegated is Little Tabby.  I bought this on one of my 'let's cure the winter blues outing'...and you can use the link to find out what works for me.  You'll smile for sure, a different place each year mind. The spring is from shrub is Lophomyrtus x ralphii 'Little Star'.

When I was still at school I read Vol de Nuit and Le Petit Prince of course in French, but did not take much note of this man' life or background.  I came across The Prince of the Skies by Antonio Iturbe, on the new book stand in our local lending library, and took a punt of it, grabbed it and brought it home. That was on Christmas Eve.  I had a book to finish for one of the book clubs, so this was on a back burner.  Since picking it up, I have been eager to sit down and read through two or three chapters at a time.  

For a while I shall be 'on sabbatical' from my Henton book club to pursue my own avenue of reading.  I rushed through A Net for Small Fishes which I found quite horrific in places, a little drawn out in parts, but with enlightening final chapters. I find having to read two books for clubs each month is too much at present, and may well dip in to each club, as there are now sufficient members in each to make viable groups.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Spiced Sweet Potato and Walnut Cake

 This is not just a cake inspired by a recipe cut out of an old Waitrose Magazine, but one with a few twists and one of two special associations.

Mr S does not believe that it is a cake if it contains vegetables and always mentions this if he has to have something like carrot or courgette cake when we are out.  That is an old record for sure...I think it was the photography that got me looking twice at this recipe.  The crumbling rich brown cake full of walnuts.

On one of our last Sunday morning WI rides, I happen to stop for what I thought were mini potatoes, that given the speed I was cycling can be excused.  I was delighted that there were the gardener's walnuts, for sure, small much smaller than the ones you buy in shops, but with the outline of the tree clearly visible above the high stone wall, it was evident that these were zero miles walnuts.  I  have only recently just cracked the last lot, and this cake therefore celebrates those special things you can buy along English country lanes from wayside produce stalls.

The second special touch for this cake was provided by my last pot of Fresh Ewe's Cheese from Homewood Artisan Cheese makers, that I had bought from the Wells Food Festival last autumn.  It has been turned over several times when rummaging round the freezer and also needed using up.

I followed the recipe for Spiced Sweet potato and walnut cake except for the following substitutions:  I used half white spelt, again using up the bottom of a packet and made it up to 135g with wholemeal spelt flour, and cooked the batter in two smaller tins.  The sweet potato came from the fridge and had been roasted the previous night ready for a salad with a few fennel seeds, which were in the final sweet potato puree.

For the topping I used 150g Fresh Ewes Cheese, 50g thick sheep's yogurt, two rounded desert spoons icing sugar, and of course the lime zest.  I had a little taste of course, and shall confidently use this again. 

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Six on Saturday - 22 January 2022

 Its been wintery, no snow, but we have had good frosts and the Fuchsias have been 'kissed' by the frost, well those that we still unclipped.  I know you are meant to leave the structure there, but hey this is a small sheltered garden and I'm taking the risk.  Looking forward to seeing what Jon posts as his anchor this week, and what everyone else has been up to.

Here are Six my Six on Saturday:

1. My first miniature daffodils have been potted up.  I am trying to be patient and in the meantime found a source of articles on miniature daffodils: Also I came across Ian Young's Bulb Log article about similar types to the ones I now have.

Narcissus bulbocodium v. citrinus, and Narcicus culamineus.

As I have a small garden, and not much space I thought miniatures were the solution...but I read these are tricky and therefore I must pay attention to their needs and make sure they thrive to return next year, and the year after etc.  One pot of each of these has been planted in the conservatory bed, where other spring preciouses are growing.

2. When I was little I made one of those gardens in a dish, now that I am old,  I am making scenes in a Bonsai Dish.  I don't wear purple much! 

With shards of Blackstone Limestone collected during a recent Geologising Trip, giving a little height, I added two rooted cutting of Hebe Silver Dollar,  and Gypsophila tenuifolia, that had proved 'too small' for the patch where it was growing. 

It was too wet, and too cold to safely walk in the garden early in the week, but these two little cuttings were growing away in a corner of another pot, and the Gypsophila close the the path edge. 

This will make a nice shelf show item, and can be moved to the table to admire when the very small Gypsophila is in flower. I shall attempt to 'Bonsai' the Hebes.

3. Removal of top growth on Clematis Bill McKenzie has been postponed for obvious glorious they still are against blue cold winter skies.

4. Looking down, close to where other early spring beauties have yet to pierce the surface, the leaves of the Arum Italicum are a delight.

5. The bulb bought last year as Galanthus  Jacquenetta still is not showing the green markings on the outer petals.  If I can see for myself what the real Jacquenetta looks like, I will buy it. 

This new 'imposter' is flourishing and continues with its inner three petals curving out.  I am still perplexed as to whether it is a named variety. It has now been suggested that this is Natalie Garton, though I think the three inner petals are much shorter, and the green marking on the outer of the inner petals longer.  I understand that Galanthus Natalie Garton was be variable, which for me adds interest and I shall be able to monitor this little club each year. Its stability will be observed keenly. I shall change the label and rename this acquisition Natalie Garton. I am still unsure as it is described on Judy's Snowdrops as a later flowering cultivar, but this year in this garden it is flowering early to mid January.

6. Its been strulched!  The vegetable plot with emerging garlic, awaits peas, beans etc. but it is far too early to sow these seeds.  The leeks towards the far end are growing slowly.  I don't think I shall grow these again.....

When I nipped out to take a picture of the Strulch on Friday afternoon, it was so cold, and now really too cold for me to garden outside. My attention moved elsewhere to compiling this SOS.

Monday, 17 January 2022

In a Vase on Monday - All together dried up

 After clearing away all the Christmas decorations and getting  back to unadorned rooms, it didn't take me long to realise that I had three arrangements of varied dried flowers and  those 'stag horn' branches.  I didn't participate in the anniversary dried arrangement challenge.  You could say I saved that for a time when there wasn't much in the garden.  There are a few blooms, but the coming weeks the availability will probably rise in a crescendo.  with the dried arrangement never being share. All the dried flowers except for the alliums have been brought together. Any surplus thrown away.

This will be on permanent display for several weeks all in my lovely new vase from Jean.

Honesty which is probably three years old, long dried Crocosmia seeded flower stems, poppy heads, Briza Maxima, and the old lichen twig I picked up from The Newt, all collected except the last year from the garden.

 I was starting to collect all the seeds from the poppy heads, which I shall use in bread, when it occurred to me just how pretty all the seeds heads were.  For now there are positioned in small pottery dishes.  

I'm joining in with Cathy, who I am sure will have gathered some delicate spring blooms for our 'anchor' on this weekly get together.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Six on Saturday - 15 January 2022

 The day the sun  shone, it was as if I was a young heifer let out onto a spring field after been cooped up in a barn. 

1. The first job I saw to was dealing with the sodden compost.  It had drained quite well, but I still had thought it worthless and even a hazard if spread over the garden. On my list, I did have replanting my pots of mint into larger pots with fresh compost to give a crop this year, without the hazard of planting them in the garden and having to then dig every last bit out.  Since these mints thrive with water, they were repotted using this sodden compost.  I have Apple Mint, Chocolate Mint and Moroccan Mint which I like to use for teas.

This picture shows just how many roots can grow in one season and if in the garden would spread for yards!

2. The old brain is getting even more unreliable when it comes to remembering where or even the names of plants I have planted.  Those that come up for a few months then disappear are the worst.  The Black labels are no longer available so I have opted for green ones, and making better plans of the garden and where plants are positioned. The black labels were often broken in two when I put my foot in the wrong place: hopefully I shall see these!  Probably won't look very good, but it is my garden!

3. It is a good job I checked the cyclamen seeds: C. confusum  is up, so it has been brought into the light.

4.  Cyclamen purpurascens is sporting a little friend.  The cyclamen was quickly dug up by Jo Haynes from her garden.  I wonder what it will be. It looks like a snowdrop seedling, and it probably take another two years before it flowers.

5. In my last garden I had a wonderful Hellebore. 

It came true from seed, and had been one of the plants already in the garden.  I could 'kick' myself for not having brought a seedling with me.  The seedling all came true: I know as I used to plant them around the garden, watch them come into to flower then take them potted up and in flower to sell at our gardening club.

No point in having regrets, so I placed an order which arrived today.

6. Daisies are  enjoying the Sun too.....

It is late, I had thought to skip a week, but reading other contributors, I know their offering really point to the 'doldrums' in the garden in mid January.  We are all in this together under The Prop's guiding trowel. 

Monday, 10 January 2022

In a Vase on Monday - New Vase

 This is the lovely vase my friend Jean brought over for my birthday.  I even received a box full of narcissi from The Isles of Scilly sent by my cousin, but sadly they bring on such a pollen allergy, that they cannot form the basis for my arrangement.

Instead I picked some catkins which were on a branch brought down by some high sided vehicle on one of the narrow lanes down to the levels.  After walking all the way round 'Our Hill', I picked a few stems to show off the vase. Most of the catkins were fully dangling in the breeze  in open sites where the warm weather of the previous week had brought them out.  This hazel tree was in a cold damp shady spot, where the banks are covered by Hart Tongue Ferns, so was picked whilst the catkins were still tight.  Before a few days have past they will probably act as cat deterrents amongst the miniature bulbs.

Jean said the vase was signed but probably an 'apprentice' piece.  It is very heavy with just the right sized opening, and with nothing quite that size a perfect member of my various vases. 

The Narcissi were 'delivered' to three of my friends, and in memory of the present I shall spend the equivalent on some miniature daffodils for the garden, and thus remember my cousin's present each year.

I'm one of Cathy's many followers on this weekly In a Vase on Monday slot. You can link in and view her vase and many others, should you wish.  

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Six on Saturday - 8 January 2022

 Its about as dark and damp as it could be around mid-day on this Saturday.  If it had been crisp and sunny I would have been enthused with the garden, and have several ideas sufficient for Six on Saturday.  However, Jon our Chief Propagator will have made an effort, so what could my excuse be this week?

Without further prevarication here are my Six and hopefully something interesting will come to the surface.

1. Winter view of the conservatory border:

I can sit inside and 'will' plants to grow, or else spy the damage the slugs are making.

2. Amongst some of things I observed from the warmth of the conservatory was a corm of Winter aconite Eranthis hyemalis on the surface showing small buds and roots:  out I had to go and burry it back. 

Then I noticed the Corydalis Integra which I bought last year from 'our' Andrew fellow SOS Kind Hearts and Corydalis, emerging.  This may be a little early and was wondering whether I ought to mulch it.  Maybe Andrew will comment.

3. I went to fetch some compost to 'dress' some plants, but instead found a bag of watery stuff.  I must have left the bag of compost open.  I vented my frustration by jabbing with bag many times with my pen knife and allowing it drain on some dormant moisture loving plants.  Mr S tut tutted at the view this morning at breakfast.  

4. Of the seeds I received from the Alpine Garden Society were four lots of cyclamen seed: Cyclamen purpurascens, Cyclamen confusum, Cyclamen intaminatum and Cyclamen maritimum.  

After soaking and keeping them in the warm, I had only just put them outside, when I discovered that I had done the wrong thing, and they should be kept in the warm.  So they are back in the house until next Spring, somewhere dark, and will be checked each Saturday.  During the week I happened to be browsing through The Alpine Gardening Society Members' Group Facebook page, yes that changed it name to something new during the week.  Someone asked the question about sowing guides and was directed to an excellent site, which is open to all and covers many plants in addition to Alpines.  I would be selfish not to share the source: 

Sowing guides for Alpine seeds as shared on The Alpine Gardening Society Member's Group on Facebook. The Guides are on the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plants Society site. Many thanks to them for being so generous.

5. The slugs are still marauding, and the pretty white flowers of Primula juliae are being nibbled as fast as they are opening.  The leaves have since been removed, but no slugs were lurking there.

Yesterday  I couldn't help but go out and rescue some bits to try and grow out of their reach.

6. I was picking up leaves from around the Polemonium 'Lambrook Mauve', which Anna of Green Tapestry, had recommended, and I was able to pick up from Yeo Valley Gardens last year, when a little side shoot feel off.  The plant seems to be evergreen here and looked lovely in flower last spring contrasting well with Pittosporum tenuifolium Tom Thumb.

The 'rooted bit' is now relocated in 'Conservatory Border'. I shall be able to keep a close eye on it there.  Slugs haven't bothered the original plant, so I have hopes that it will be happy there.

Sorry about the 'untouched', 'unenhanced' pictures, but I felt they reflected the glum light. 


Saturday, 1 January 2022

Six on Saturday - The First of 2022

Happy New Year to everyone......

1. Unusual warm weather is already making me feel hopeful of finding those pearly white flowers appearing in gardens.  Already a friend has sent me a picture of a couple out in her garden with wishes of a Happy New Year.

In the meantime this past week I have read through one of my Christmas presents to myself.  I have been through 'A Passion for Snowdrops' by George Brownlee, comparing notes with my one and only other book on Snowdrops. Maybe I shall be able to show one of my own flowers this time next year?

 For a great resource of open gardens etc Pumpkin Beth carefully put together Calendar of Snowdrop Garden Openings, Talks, Events & Open Days 2022.

2. Mistletoe is widespread around here.  You see whole bunches growing up in trees, and just before Christmas picked up this ball for £3. 

However I am still on Mistletoe watch.  Here on the Amelanchier  it is was just two short stems last Christmas.

In just one year it now looks like this! It might be a male so a few of the berries bought will be attached to the other Amelanchiers.

3. Tall Rosemary is in flower, 

offering sustenance to the odd  passing bumblebee. It too close to the pear tree, so will be removed later, and yes there are good rooted cuttings awaiting for another place in the garden, It had a big cut back last spring and over the months I've snipped it many times, as it is one of my favourite herbs particularly in the winter when other herbs are not growing fast, and small prostrate rosemary is happy for now in its pot. However with the very poor light this month, flowering has been falling off, so I just hope the sun comes out.

4. I have been planting seeds which arrived from the Alpine Garden Society.  Some need the cold treatment, but I have  read that they need a warm period first, after a little soak. After a week or so they are now outside as it is so mild.  Taking note of each variety's requirements, potting and labelling of course: cyclamen, crocus, daffodils and Eryngiums . Others await spring time. 

5.Alliums are coming up already!  This is the large schubertii. and others close by are coming up too.

6. For the first time I have a white mould growing on the outside of a couple of terracotta plant pots. They were giving off a strange smell but the plants still looked healthy, and for now they have been moved outside awaiting a decision as to what the next step will be? 

Have any gardens been considering their failings?  I've decided all mine are forgiven, and I shall just approach the coming year with hope and interest in gardening and learning about plants we can't grow but still admire. As ever, I am joining in with the Chief of our Group of SOS.