Friday, 9 June 2017

After The Rain ~~~

Hello Friends!

After the rain comes ~~~ more rain! We’ve taken quite a pasting with strong gales over the last few days, not only here in the west, but right across the country. At one time over one hundred twenty thousand {120,000} lightening strikes hit the southern counties of England and the northern coast of France in twelve hours! That must have been some show, and frightening if you do not like lightening.

We have had several days of strong winds, topping off at around 50~60mph, but at this time of year, when all the plants, big and small, from rose bushes and poppies right up to the big sycamores and lime trees, are in full flower and leaf, it all seems so much worse than during the winter months when there are few things to grasp the wind as it rips through the air. 

The garden, which was looking so pretty, is a bit of a mess ~~~pauses to dry tears~~~ many coloured rose petals are strewn beneath bushes; verbena bonariensis did not whip, but lie snapped and flat; not for the first time my delicate Oriental poppies resemble soggy, wet tissue paper, ink splotched with their dark pollen. Weeds, of course, flourish ~ did we expect them not to do so? The peonies and arum lilies are, thankfully, past their best but have since been helped on their way! 

One thing is sure ~ nature has a wonderful, magical way of recovering, and once this spate of nasty, inclement weather passes, I know all will be restored and a quick recovery should follow.

There has been enough rainfall to consider building an Ark. Put your name on the list and I’ll swing by to pick you up as the next round of torrential rain arrives from the Atlantic Ocean tomorrow!  There has certainly been no need to water and the raspberries are swelling magnificently now.

Yesterday, despite the cold, blowing wind, I managed a quick ramble out and about between the downpours which abated somewhat yesterday afternoon because I wanted to see what the wild foxgloves are doing. They are such a magnificent wildflower and probably my favourite {but then, so is gorse; and bluebells; and cowslips; and sea pinks; and ling too}. I was not disappointed, but I have seen better displays. Here are a few photographs of what I saw ~~~

On my way home, I saw a quick flash of movement in the hedge as Mamma Blue Tit flew quickly away from feeding her recently fledged baby.  Poor, drenched little mite as it is, it obligingly sat while I quickly took some pictures of it, and then began preening it's soaked feathers. I did not stay long, I did not want to stop Mamma from returning with yet more juicy bugs to feed what seems to be her only surviving baby ~~~

I feel immensely privileged to have shared these few intimate moments with such a sweet little creature of our planet.  Nature is magical, wonderful, pure and unashamedly so.

Until next time ~~~

~~~Deborah xo

Thursday, 1 June 2017

I'm A Wildflower ~ What Are You?

Hello Friends ~~~

June is upon us ~~~ how did that happen?

I'm giddy with delight ~ it's taken me a long, long time to realise this, but I am a Wildflower! 

How did I come to this? Well, it is simple ~~~ if you know me well, then you will know I'm a wild child and free spirit at heart.  I love nothing better than being out in the countryside, traipsing the byways and hidden paths across the Shire where I live ~ the further away from so called civilisation the better! Although I have cultivated flowering shrubs and perennials in my garden, few things make my heart sing more loudly, or my face smile more broadly, than seeing a wildflower freely give of itself by sowing it’s seed and growing in my garden. It gladdens my heart, spirit and soul to the end of time.

Of course, that all of these natives are of great benefit to bees is icing on the cake, but would you believe me if I tell you that a fortnight or so ago one of my neighbours asked me if I wouldn't mind deadheading the dandelions!  I think you will know what my answer was, that is after I'd recovered from the question!

Please, don’t misunderstand me, I love the perennials and annuals that grow and flower in my garden, and I will always grow them, but it is the wildflowers, the natives, that bring me more pleasure than most {of course, my heart also belongs to sunflowers, lavender, and roses too!}

Right now, my garden is burgeoning into bloom after that ‘green period’ that comes between spring and summer. The rosa rugosa are bold and blousy splashes of deep pink with their saucer sized and deeply fragrant blooms; the hydrangea “Glam Rock” are teasing me daily with progress towards the first fully open flower head; pinks fragrantly flower in cushions, sitting alongside mounds of pink geraniums; Oriental poppies are keeping their buds tightly closed waiting for the first rays of warm sunshine as we sit in a murky mire of days of a stubborn and chilly sea fog; quaking grasses quake and shake across the garden, and every which way I turn there is something putting in its annual appearance, which is confusing because they are all perennials!

 Amongst all these God~given beauties I find the true beauties ~ the wildflowers ~ foxgloves, valerian, native ferns, wild carrot, Alexanders, dandelions, herb Robert, daisies, buttercups, milkmaid's smock, toadflax, and even those aforementioned pinks which, at one time, were wildflowers on the near continent that arrived in this country with the Normans and became cultivated. My list goes on, and every time I find a new wildflower arriving in my garden I welcome it with open arms indeed! 

Milkmaid's Smock

Two Native Ferns

Herb Robert

Stinging Nettle






 My spirit is wildflower, for as a child I spent many hours traipsing along the lanes and byways in the countryside, accompanied by my Nanna ~ a not inconsiderable gardener herself ~ who taught me all the names of native wildflowers and grasses that decorated the hedgerows along our way ~~~ before I began school I could name every plant, grass and tree around my home  and I had scrapbooks filled with pressed and dried wildflowers, grasses and leaves, all stuck firmly in place with that scourge of all early scrapbooks ~ Sellotape!

Nothing makes me happier than to be in the company of wildflowers; it is a connection to something so deep in my soul that words cannot express that feeling of deepest joy, but those of you who have something that brings that feeling to your own soul will know of what I speak.
I have decided that I am going to encourage more, many, many more native wildflowers into my garden, so I shall be looking out for seed packets, maybe harvest some on a walk, or buy some ready grown plants from Wiggly Wigglers who specialise in wildflowers for bees and wildlife. I may even plant a small section of native hedging ~ who knows what this wildflower will get up to next! 

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Let There be Mint {and Basil}

Hello Friends!

It is a glorious afternoon in the Shire, maybe at times a tad muggy, but then the wind freshens and whips it all away for a few minutes, and it is such beautiful sunshine to lift my flagging spirits after several days of murk.

Over the past few weeks you’ve seen photographs of my free mint plant. Well, not exactly free, in the middle of winter, when there was no mint in my garden, I bought one of those growing herb pots for £1.00 and when I had used it, I put the pot outside to be dealt with later when the weather improved.  In the meantime, the root kept on growing and a few weeks ago I noticed lovely, small green shoots in the pot, so I potted it up into a bigger container with some fresh compost and look at it now! A few weeks of moderately warm days, a few days of rain, as well as regular watering when it is dry and I’ve got a lovely, big, healthy mint plant.  I’m not certain, it may be Moroccan Mint, but it has that deliciously fresh minty taste to it, and which is perfect for fresh mint tea {which I love}

These photos are taken over several weeks, in chronological order ~~~

7th April
20th April

28th April 
13th May

24th May

Then, I did the same thing with some basil {which I never have much success growing from seed} I bought a pot, used some of it, then planted up the twenty or so stems, which are invidual plants, into a bigger pot and I now have fresh basil for a few weeks longer ~~~

I've also found an early~ish lone foxglove in my hedge ~~~ I love foxgloves dearly and am privileged that the simple, pink native has chosen to make a home in my garden ~~~

It's nearly June and things are moving along in the garden now ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo

Friday, 19 May 2017

Butter Bean and Avocado Tacos

Hello Friends ~~~

I've been looking for something a little different to give my taste buds a lift lately and this is one of the recipes I've come up with. It's still a work in progress, but then I do love to play with my food!

As a vegetarian I'm always looking for different ways to cook with pulses, beans and grains which I love, and which form a staple part of my diet. So, yesterday, I went on one of my Fridge Raid meals and tonight I made a tweaked version of last night's Fridge Raid. I'm calling it Butter Bean and Avocado Tacos.  This is a cold filling.  Here's what you'll need ~~~

For two servings:
1 can Butter Beans, drained
1 ripe avocado, peeled
50 grams of cheese {Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or any hardish cheese of your choice ~ I used Harlech, a lovely cheese flavoured with horseradish, from my local deli} grated.
4 spring onions {salad onions, scallions} thinly sliced
A generous pinch {to taste} of chilli powder {optional}
A generous pinch {to taste} of smoked paprika {optional}
A pinch of sumac {to taste and optional, but I like the slightly sour taste}
A squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or some of the pickling juice from a jar of Pepperdew or similar
Olive oil
Spring of mint, chiffonade
Pinch of Chipotle flakes, for presentation, optional
Taco shells, or soft tortillas to serve

Here's what I did next:

In a large bowl, using a potato masher or a fork {which gives you control over the texture} mash together the avocado, butter beans, cheese, spring onions, mint and seasonings. When all mashed and blended, but still with some texture, slacken it off with a squeeze of lime {or lemon} juice and some Extra Virgin olive oil. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Heat your taco shells or tortillas according to the packet directions and fill with your butter bean mixture. Sprinkle over the Chipotle flakes if using. Serve immediately and enjoy ~~~

Bon App├ętit ~~~
Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo