Sunday 25 June 2017

Glam Rock Rules the Garden

Hello Friends!

There’s been a proper mixed bag of weather in the Shire of late!  After the bad weather I spoke about in my last entry {two weeks ago ~ where does the time go?} we had our summer! Parts of the UK had heatwave conditions, but here in the west it was not unbearable, as it was tempered by the now nearly constant sea mists that lightly swirl around the high cliffs, feeding from a deeper sea fog that sits further out to sea and helps keep us cool most of the time. So thankful!  I know that 70 degrees is not hot, but I can no longer take the high 90’s that I could in my youth!  The last few days have been quite overcast with outbreaks of rain, and just generally dreich. We get what we get, we can’t do much about it, but we still love to chat about the weather, don’t we?

Since we last chatted, we’ve had the Summer Solstice. Each year, I long for, and dread, this day in equal measures, for I love the long days that stretch into the late, balmy evenings of early summer, but I also do not look forward to the darker, longer evenings as night draws slowly in as we lose daylight in our journey towards autumn and winter. Once we get there it is not quite as bad as it seems looking at it from a distance, for there is something quite comforting about closing out the night as we draw the heavy drapes across the windows, snuggle by the cosy fire, and sip on hot chocolate while reading our favourite books and magazines. Then, in January, as the days are once again lengthening, the seed catalogues start to drop through the letter boxes, excitement mounts, and we start to plan our gardens once again as the wheel of the year continues to turn.

Here are a few of the blooms that survived the nasty weather of two weeks ago and have recovered in the few days of summer since {details under each one} ~~~ I'm always amazed at how nature recovers ~~~

Field Poppies ~ I'm honoured they picked my garden!

Glam Rock Hydrangea ~ new bloom which has a very green tint to the centre

Glam Rock blooms at different stages, I'm wondering what the final colour will be!

Glam Rock is supposed to transition in colour and end up a vivid blue ~ still waiting to see some blue!

Pink Petunia

A beautiful, unusual striped Verbena

Mixed pot of annuals ~ seeds to be harvested!

I think this is called an Echeveria. It looks as if there are blooms getting ready! 

Finally, I found a few straggling succulents in a pot, so I put this terracotta plant pot tower together. The found succulents are in the bottom two tiers, and I bought a new one at the local, small independent garden centre that specialises in perennials, herbs, succulents and more unusual plants. I went back and bought three more the following day as I have a plan for them too ~~~

It does come as quite a shock to the system, though, to be eating my favourite comfort food of a bowl of hot tomato soup with a summer twist of fresh picked basil and a meltingly delicious grilled Cheddar cheese sandwich made with Caerfai Organic Cheddar cheese in July. This is normally my winter comfort food, so it is strange to be cold enough in summer for this delight, but I’m all for it.

Speaking of comfort food, a favourite breakfast of mine is “Eggy Bread” or French Toast.  I love taking two organic, free range eggs and whisking them really well, then soaking two slices of Sourdough bread until all the egg is absorbed, and dropping them into my sizzling cast iron pan, with just a smidge of melted butter for flavour. I adore my cast iron pans, and properly seasoned they are the healthy alternative to non stick cooking.  You can cook pretty much anything in them, and I love that they go from the stove top to the oven as needed. I’ve baked and cooked pretty much everything in them, and I find food tastes amazing when cooked in cast iron pans. Even high sugar foods, such as sweet onions or carrots don't stick, and Halloumi cooks to caramelised perfection without leaving any behind in the pan. Well cared for pans can be handed down for generations, so even though they can be a bit expensive at first, in the long run they are an investment to cherish.  

A quick and simple healthy, low fat stir fry with tofu and vegetables

breakfast sizzling in the pan

home made cinnamon and brown sugar

perfectly cooked without sticking one scrap

sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, gently melting in the heat

ready to eat!

So, Dear Friends ~~~
Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xo

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