Saturday, 11 June 2011

Enjoying a "ME" day

Isn't she lovely? This is the unfurling flower of my new rose Absolutely Fabulous. Sometimes Floribundas hit the spot . . .

Ab. Fab. behind the willow branch planters.

Something I am proud to show you - the weed-free and well-planted veg. plot at the top of the yard. Growing here are: front left Pot Marigolds grown from seed; front left behind them - rampant raspberries which seem to love it here! Further back are just-sown peas, Cauliflowers, French beans, Runner Beans and spuds. Out of sight on the right, Onions, which I started off on the top of boxes of soil and which are now plonked on top of the soil here so as not to disturb the roots. Normally they refuse to grow for me at all - don't know what I do wrong - but this year they are doing well.

This is the WEED FREE and hopefully CAT PROOF seed bed. It used to be my raised herb bed as it is in the very sunny south-facing yard. I've bunged my Courgettes in at the far end (they are sulking for lack of sun now!), and this end is Pak Choi, Spring Onions and the only TWO carrots to germinate and a rogue Welsh poppy I will move once it's finished flowering. I have sown more Pak Choi, Carrots and Spring onions, and there are some baby Leeks under the netting too.

I can't remember when I last had a chance to really be ME for the entire day. I am more or less on top of the housework and garden, and there is such a good crop of Elderflowers I was desperate to do something with some on my trees at the bottom of the yard. I picked 20 Elderflower heads (giving each a good sniff to make sure that they were all young blooms and hadn't got to the slightly-yellowing-and-smelling-of-cat-pee stage of older blossoms which will totally ruin Elderflower cordial if they slip through the net). Anyway, on Friday afternoon I did stage one of the cordial, which is to snip the flowers from the main stalk and then put them in a pan with water and simmer for a while. Then I put that through a scalded jelly bag and left it to cool overnight. Yesterday was stage 2 (if you're not busy you can do it all in an afternoon!) where I added the sugar and lemon juice and simmered again, and then skimmed and bottled it.

The recipe came from this book. Doesn't Hugh look young there?

I also raided the freezer for the remaining gooseberries from last year's picking. This yielded 5 1/2 lbs, so as my recipe called for 3 lbs goosegogs, I then had to do calculations on the back of an envelope to work out how much sugar etc I needed. So now I have nearly a double quantity of what will be sparkling Gooseberry wine on the go in the fermenting bin, and have persuaded a neighbour to make some sparkling Elderflower wine, so I am off to hers with a spare demijohn and airlock this morning. If you look at the price of a good bottle of wine in the shops, it is certainly worth making your own, and I can see it coming back into fashion again. I've been making wine - of the drinkable and less-successful varieties - since the 1970s now. My mum used to make it too - our efforts at Dandelion wine when we used entire heads rather than just petals - dissuaded us from ever trying that one again!

Gooseberries in the fermentation bin. I have a Champagne yeast to use and make the usually-excellent Sparkling Gooseberry Wine.

I wanted to do some baking and as my darling husband always says he doesn't want a cake - too sweet and FATTENING (he is annoyingly slim still, unlike me!) - he did succomb to the temptations of Aunt Arabella's Iced Lemon Gingercake. Mind you, I had to halve the sugar, and forget the icing or he wouldn't have gone within ten feet of it! (I'm wasted on him, truly I am!!) So that satisfied my creative baking urges, especially as it was quite a tedious recipe with lots of different stages.

I suppose you would like the recipe too? I'll jot that down in a posting later on today.

Paul's Himalayan Musk nearly at its zenith, romping across the garden from one side to the other.

Close-up, with bee (look at his big pollen bags on his back legs).

Another view of PHM.

Happy little Viola faces.

I was SO frugal with the shopping this week, I was able to shoe-horn another indulgence in. I know - I shouldn't have, but I had just the spot for it - beside Ab. Fab. It was a special offer in Lidls', thus just affordable.

The Oriental Poppies in the intake area are just starting to bloom now, a couple of weeks later than their parents in the main herbaceous borders.

A few more flowers and lots of buds on my Albertine climber.


  1. Your garden looks wonderful! Ab Fab looks such a cheerful rose. a real splash of vivid colour where you have planted it.

    Your weed free veg patch puts ours to shame. This year we are just clearing a patch when we need room to plant something out. Never mind, the self sown poppies are so pretty.

    I don`t think I have come across Hugh F-W`s Wild Food book. It looks a good one.

  2. DW - for once I am on top of the weeds in the garden (till I sneeze twice and they spring up behind my back!) I wanted it tidy for the agents valuing it and for any (hah!) prospective buyers. . . I cannot remember when it was this sorted - even last year it got away from me.

  3. Glad you've managed to find time for a 'Me' day, not before time either:) I have The Cook's Scrapbook' - lots of inspiring pictures and a great homemade lemonade recipe if I remember correctly. Must get it out and look.