Sunday 29 June 2014

Raindrops, Sunbeams, a Mystery, and a Find ~~~

Gentle Reader ~~~ how I wish I could share with you, not only the fragrances that scent the air but the sounds of The Shire ~~~ for this very morn I awoke to golden sunlight streaming through my window and when I opened it wide to let in those sweet scents of the rambling rose and pinks just outside, the sounds of The Shire tumbled in too ~~~ the bees are a buzzin' in the buds that are blooming and burgeoning with pollen for them to make honey for tea ~~~ the birds are a twittering and a tweeting their songs ~~~ and the most joyful sound of church bells pealing out across the valley and the parish on this blissful Sunday morning in The Shire ~~~

Today there are raindrops and sunbeams, a mystery and a find ~~~

Over on Facebook, where some of us are Friends, I have been taking part in a "One Hundred Days of Things that Make me Happy" ~~~ right now we are up to day 31 ~~~ but yesterday I said that one of the things that makes me happy is looking at things differently ~~~ so here is the underneath of one of the cream Oriental lilies that opened this week, and we are looking at it differently ~~~ one thing that stands out to my eye is that it is anything but cream!  Look at all those colours within the petals ~~~ from the normal view it would be more or less just cream but from underneath there are the most vibrant and delicious deep purpley~reds ~~~

The farmers have been making hay while the sun shines ~~~ at the end of last week these fields were cut and already they are starting to show signs of greening up again for the next cut of hay or silage ~~~ I love the patchwork effect, all the different textures and colours too ~~~ and the old, red clay ridge tiles of a chapel abandoned long ago and now turned into an art gallery ~~~

I told you there is a find and here it is ~~~ are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin ~~~ a long time ago my dear Aunt gave my mother a clematis as a birthday gift. With all honesty I cannot tell you exactly how long ago this gift was given, but it is at least eighteen years, maybe more, for it was in the ground a long while before I came to live in the cottage in The Shire ~~~

The plant did not thrive and eventually did not return and so was proclaimed lost, never to be seen again ~~~ until this very afternoon when the bad weather suddenly lifted, the grey clouds disappeared, the sun started to shine brightly, and my eye was drawn to something purple~pink in the middle of a very large patch of Japanese Wind Anemones ~~~ I went to see what it was {for curiosity always gets the better of this enquiring mind} and Oh! My Giddy Aunt ~~~ if it isn't a clematis flower ~~~ I began pushing back the anemones and carefully tracing as many of the multitude of spirally tendrils and stems as I could unravel and could hardly believe my eyes as they traced right back to the very spot where my late father planted the clematis all those years ago ~~~ indeed it must be the very same plant given to my mother all those years past and that has not been seen in the garden for nigh on twelve years. It has either lain dormant until the conditions were right, or it has grown in the deep shade underneath the planting of the border, not coming into the light until this year. It is a miracle ~~~

The climbing frame that supported it has long since rusted and been thrown out, so with nothing to hand but a few bits and pieces and my imagination I have rigged up an emergency support from two shorter supports and a few iron poles that were lying around ~~~ I have twisted the fragile and spirally growth around and will shortly {after my tea and cake} go and tie it on to the support for added stability ~~~ a small piece snapped off so I shall pot that up too and see if it takes ~~~ I do love free plants ~ what gardener doesn't?  Here are some photographs and it looks in a very healthy condition to me, despite the adventure ~~~

Now to the mystery ~~~ isn't this a lovely blue flower?  Well ~~~ this was found in my 'waiting to be composted' corner ~~~ I knew it came from a packet of Seeds of Italy Radicchio seeds and had been overlooked and run to seed, but had no idea what it is.  It was correctly identified by one of  my Facebook friends who follows A Garden In The Shire page as a chicory flower!  How amazing is that? Now I want to grow these just for the pretty blue flowers ~~~

One of my favourite things in the garden are my herbs and this corner is alive with busy buzzy bees all day long ~~~ with lavender, oregano, rosemary, and more to attract them in ~~~

The fennel blooms are tight and ready to unfurl ~~~

The borage, brightly blue against the feverfew, will make a lovely garnish on a Pimm's or G&T

Do you remember just last week I showed you this?  These are the tiny transplanted mixed leaves I sowed a few weeks ago ~~~

Well, less than a week later here they are! My goodness they are growing well ~~~ I will harvest some today for a small garnish which will encourage them to grow more quickly ~~~ soon I will have a salad bowl a day ~~~

Bees love the verbena bonariensis and they are now opening up with another source of pollen and nectar ~~~ I started with just three plants about twelve years ago and now they grow, self seeded, throughout the garden ~~~

The poor verbascum carries on blooming beautifully despite being denuded of leaves ~~~

The Nigella has started going over into these magical seed pods ~~~

and something is growing in a discarded pot ~~~ I know not what so it will have a chance to prove it's worth and then I will decide to keep it or not ~~~

Looking at things differently again ~~~ the reflection of my garden and deer antlers in a shiny silver orb ~~~

and never despair when it rains, for we need the rain, and then it gives us rainbows ~~~ or in this case ~~~ some bright clouds and raindrops on a window pane ~~~

When the sun comes out after a long, cloudy, grey day over The Shire it does it in style ~~~ how magical is this ~~~ the radial rays of sun through the cloud ~~~ like some old master painting or an Art Deco pattern ~~~

Finally ~~~ when life gives you raindrops ~~~ take photographs!  More of the garden from a very different angle again ~~~ upside down and back to front ~~~

Until next time Gentle Reader ~~~ remember that ~~~

 ~~~A Gardener's Work Is Never Done~~~

Thursday 26 June 2014

Photographs I Thought I Had Lost!

Gentle Reader ~~~ a few years ago, when my much loved Papaver Orientalis "Coral Sea" {which you have seen often on my blog, for it is a particular favourite of mine} was new and gave me just five magnificent blooms in that first season, there was a promise of what was to come ~~~ I just happened to come out of my cottage at the most opportune of moments.  I honestly think if I had been an hour earlier or an hour later I would have missed what has become 'one of those moments' in my life. 

One of the great, big, green buds, about the size of a large Kiwi Fruit, and all covered in the finest and tiniest of fuzzy hairs, was in the process of opening and oh! what an opening it was ~~~ I rushed indoors to fetch my camera immediately!

I think the whole birth of this bloom took about three hours from the first tentative cracking open of the protective bud to the final emergence of the complete and perfect bloom, like a beautiful ballroom gown, fit for any waltz, or the skirt of a ballerina as she floats across a stage ~~~ layers and layers of tulle~like petals scrunched and folded into an otherwise uninteresting package ~~~ never, ever judge a book by it's cover!  Who would have realised such magic, such beauty, was about to emerge from such a boring bud ~~~

Just look at all the textures within each image ~~~ so amazing that it survived, so tightly packed, so delicate and fragile, a perfection of God's creative hand indeed ~~~ I was over the moon to think that I was chosen to witness this and to record it too ~~~ it is still one something that amazes, delights, and humbles me to this very day ~~~ Some of the images are very similar, and some are post edited, but I have included all for you to see, for each one holds it's own special merit ~~~ I haven't even talked about the colour!

Here, Gentle Reader, is the delicate texture of the crumpled bloom, held captive for so long as it grew encased inside the tight, green bud, finally breaking free of it's bonds, revealing such fragile petals, tightly packed, full of creases releasing, like the most expensive silk dress of a Princess emerging from her tiny, Cinderella carriage ~~~

While a Gardener's Work is Never Done, some days the rewards are more special than others ~~~

 ~~~A Gardener's Work Is Never Done~~~

Monday 23 June 2014

Summertime ~~~ and the snails think it's easy!

Gentle Reader ~~~ Summer is now a few days old and Wimbledon is upon us again; I make no secret that I am relieved, for I would rather watch proverbial paint dry than watch the World Cup these days {remember, this is a one time 'wouldn't miss a game' 'dyed in the wool' soccer fan speaking, but these days Wimbledon, with strawberries and cream, and Pimm's or champagne is more for me}

We are basking each day in glorious, gentle, warm sunshine, tempered by {slightly irritating} stiff breezes which are whizzing and whipping things around the garden, and as I sit here I can hear the stiff rustling of trees full of dry leaves that are calling for rain.  The winds make it comfortable if you do not like the scorching, baking~hot days, but towards the end of this week there is a low pressure system currently journeying across the Atlantic towards Britain, bringing with it predicted thunderstorms and a lot of much needed rain, but also a substantial unseasonable dip in temperatures too.  Just as I have planted things out ~~~ I guess that means I am to blame?

Over the weekend I was given two tomato plants!  What a lovely thing to receive.  They already have fruit, and were in desperate need of potting on, so I cut open a grow bag {which will give feed for up to six weeks} and planted them, giving them good staking too, to keep them upright and sturdy against the winds while they settle in and put out new roots.  I put one on each end, and being the constantly thrifty person that I am I put a catch crop of mixed leaves that I brought on from seed a few weeks ago, I think it was May 26th I sowed them in a tray of cells.

Here are my two tomato plants with the catch crop of leaves in the middle ~~~

and the mixed leaves, which in a couple of weeks will be cutting and cropping for about six weeks into August ~~~

I think it was about June 2nd I sowed my soaked runner bean seeds and two germinated in the direct bin sowing, four in the cells, so yesterday afternoon I potted the cell grown ones in with the bin grown ones ~~~ the bin is wrapped with double layered bubble wrap to try and compensate for the wind chill factor ~~~

So, you can imagine my utter horror this very morning when I came out to four plants eaten {by something, probably slugs} overnight down to almost all but the growing tip {so that is something to be thankful for!} and two relatively intact plants ~~~ Garden Emergency Services to the rescue immediately!  I cut the bottoms off my stash of 2 litre water bottles and they are now placed securely over each individual plant in the hopes they will recover {as I said, the growing tips are still intact} very soon ~~~ I raised the bubble wrap blanket a little higher too, giving more protection and hopefully keep them better insulated to help them recover ~~~

Remember these guys?  Such pretty, but voracious devourers of my mullein {verbascum} plants?  Well, another horror story!  My lovely dwarf pink verbascum {below} has hardly any leaves and all the new flower buds are almost all eaten.  I came out to find the plant covered in these white, black, and yellow caterpillars merrily munching their way through all the juicy leaves and tasty buds ~~~ what to do now?  I cannot kill anything {I think the caterpillars, slugs, and snails all know this} nor do I use pesticides, so ~~~


I picked them off, one by one, and put them all down on the path hoping they would move on to some other garden ~~~ no sooner done than Mrs Blackbird arrived and promptly started to scoop up the offending bugs in her beak to flit off with a tasty feed for her hungry brood of chicks!  We helped each other out! ~~~

This is one corner of my garden, with a thousand shades of green ~~~ the rosemary {almost out of shot on the top left} I bought in 1995 and it moved house with me three times!  I have taken many cuttings over the years.  The oregano I bought at the same time and that has grown and seeded everywhere ~~~ it is in nooks and crannies, growing among the paving stones as it would in it's native Mediterranean habitat, and I use it in small tussie mussies along with other small, suitable flowers and foliage plants to give to friends.  See the lavender spikes pushing up in between the green?  I love to let things mingle and mix like this, softening each other and complimenting other plants ~~~

My sage is in full flower ~~~ beautiful, purple spikes on one of my favourite herbs {I love roasted sage leaves!}

Now, earlier in the year I said there would be departures, so, Gentle Reader, this is my first foray into sharing a simple recipe.  As a vegetarian I eat eggs, and I have a supply of lovely, fresh, organic, free range eggs available to me.  I do so long to have hens of my own, one day I will but for now I have to buy them.  Here is my recipe for a very simple egg salad ~~~ it is what this gardener loves to eat!  All measures are approximate and you can adjust everything according to your preference ~~~

First, hard boil four eggs ~~~

Peel them, and while still hot ~~~

Crush them in a ricer ~~~

This gives a really fine texture without any mashing around with a fork and stops them from going too mushy as they might in a processor ~~~

Working quickly, while the eggs are still warm, add 1oz unsalted butter, 1/2 oz butter spread {such as Flora or Utterly Butterly} 1 tablesp Heinz Salad Cream, season to taste with salt and pepper {I like lots of pepper as you can see, and I use Steenbergs Organic Four colour peppercorn mix }

Blend it all together and chill until ready to use.  It will keep overnight if you wish.  I love it on thick slices of home made bread and butter as an open sandwich, with a small salad of tomatoes and onions ~~~ or piled into lettuce leaf 'dishes' ~~~ Cos or Little Gem work well, I've even used it to fill cherry tomatoes ~~~

There, that wasn't so bad, was it?  How did I do?  Who knows, maybe next time I'll do cake! ~~~ of course, you can do more and adjust everything accordingly!  I've made it with finely chopped celery and onion too ~~~ but very finely chopped, and about a tablespoon of each ~~~ I hate to overpower the delicious organic eggs ~~~

Would you like to see some flowers now?  I thought you might, so here we are ~~~

I bought these Argyranthemums and crimson, highly scented dianthus in the local independent plant centre.  I will be potting up tomorrow ~~~

Can you imagine the fragrance from this David Austin rambling rose Frances E Lester?  It greets me every morning as I awake, for it is planted very near my bedroom window and the fragrance flood fills the cottage all Summer long ~~~ as well as the garden! ~~~ it is totally intoxicating ~~~

A pink osteospermum with a tiny, seeded grass ~~~

My dwarf clematis is not doing very well this year, hardly any flowers, they are much smaller than last year's flowering, which was quite magnificent.  They are also much more grey and the stripe is more defined I think. I am wondering if this is some sort of balance, after last year's all out effort ~~~

The herb Feverfew {in the background} is growing madly and I'm sure there will be much weeding and transplanting of seedlings next Spring, for it is prolific ~~~

Buttercups and Daisies are full the lawn ~~~ I have not mowed for three weeks, can't you tell?  I will be doing this job, which I really do not like, tomorrow evening as it is long overdue and with rain coming in towards the end of the week it is a job that needs to be out of the way ~~~

Here is a tiny jewel of a treat ~~~ an alpine strawberry ~~~ I have many hundreds of these plants that I have allowed to run through the borders as they please, for they are a great ground cover and weed suppressor and a tasty treat for the gardener going about her jobs, to find a tiny red morsel of sweet delight ~~~

The raspberries are nearly ready, in fact I picked my first one today and promptly ate it, forgetting to take a photograph to share ~~~ it was slightly under~ripe, but I could not help myself!  The few blackcurrants that have come this year may yield enough for one pie, which saddens me that there will not be jam for the Winter, for I value it for it's Vitamin C content as it makes a delicious warming and comforting drink with lemon and whisky if I catch a cold.  The gooseberries, too, are very nearly ready, almost ripe enough to pick so I shall check them daily now.  Things are moving as Summer days are with us, but remember that ~~~

 ~~~A Gardener's Work Is Never Done~~~