Stitchwort

Our designated daily exercise took us up the moorland hill that looms malignly in view of our house.  In truth we skirted rather than climbed.  It was quiet, except for the exuberant birdlife, and the fresh air was soothing and much appreciated.  The wildflowers are being to shine, it is their time.  The celandine, the violets, the thorn, all beautiful.  They will be there whether or not we are there to appreciate them.  I rather like that thought.  It is all going on even if we aren’t at the party.  Fair play, I say.  Get on with it, do your thing.

Stitchwort is one of my favourite spring flowers.  I love its name and its simplicity.  Although I cared to see it, it didn’t give a fig whether I was there or not.  That is how it should be.

Six on Saturday – From a Safe Distance

Harold Wilson once said that a week in politics is a long time.  Over this past week so much has been happening worldwide that it feels like an eternity.  Still spring skips along and stuff is happening; good things both in the garden and out.  If you want to see how alike we are around the world, in our gardens but also in our woes and joys, pop over to The Prop’s site where all will be revealed.  Here you can find out what our fellow humans have been getting up to and how many extra hours they have been in the garden when they should have been “working from home”.

First we have the same Muscari latifolium that I featured a couple of weeks ago, now all grown up.  Fabulous.

Last year my little brother and his family went to Tanzania on holiday.   As they are what we affectionately know as “The Cloggies”, ie they are mostly Dutch and live in the Netherlands, they very kindly posted me some African coffee instead of a postcard.  Unfortunately, possibly due to my extensive criminal record, the Customs and Exise people intercepted it.  They then proceed to break the seal, rootle around inside for a bit, before sending it on to me.  I decided not to drink the coffee.  The empty tin makes a rather nice container for a couple of baby sempervivum.  Thanks bruv, it was a nice thought.

Now we have a pot of radish and spring onions, well the potential for them anyway.  This is a feeble grow-your-own attempt.  I made a bit of a boo-boo and bought seed tape for the radishes.  It is weird stuff.  A bit like knicker elastic.  Nothing has germinated yet.  Perhaps it was knicker elastic after all.  Like the true professional I am, I have been checking for action several times a day.  Nowt yet.  Do you like my “no poo-ing in this pot” defence system?  For the cats you understand.

A couple of days ago OH decided to dead-head the hydrangea.  “Don’t stand on the bleeding heart that is growing underneath” I pleaded.  He gave a look, and it wasn’t the look of love.  He didn’t.   Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Valentine’ is quite safe.

I am trying to get my Jacaranda mimosifolia re-accustomed to life in the big bad world by moving it outside during the daytime and bringing it back into the relative comfort of our dining room at night.  It has been “in, out, in, out” but as yet there has been no “shaking it all about”.

Lastly we have the unfolding fresh foliage, red-edged and vulnerable, of one of our many Woolies acers.  Every one a winner baby.

‘Til next time my friends, stay safe and well.

 

GMBG – March – Flowers

Did you think I had forgotten about my Book and Reader dating agency?  I mean March is almost over and not a whisper.  Do not fear, all is well.  You can’t hurry love.

The happy couple this month are the book Flowers and my friend the delightful Cathy.  I like to call her Swotty.  She is an eco-warrior, she loves flowers and the world.

I found this little book in a covered market in a nearby town.  The cover is repaired and retorn, and features the humble daisy.   It was love at first sight, quite irresistible, and I wanted it for myself.   But that was not meant to be.

It is a book for children, with text by C E Smith and drawings by Janet Harvey Kelman.  Although I can’t find a date anywhere in the book, I think this edition might have been produced in late 1920’s to early 1930’s.  Inside the front cover, in pencil, the name Josephine Fulford – Upper IIIP is written.  I love that.  A tangible link to the past.  One that gets you thinking: who was Josephine and what became of her? Did she marry and have a family, are her descendants close by?  Perhaps she became a famous botanist or naturalist.  Did she love the book or were her botanical studies a chore?  I am hoping this mini-tome was a joy to her and inspired a lifelong love of nature.

For ease of identification, the book is divided by colour, illustrated by 48 colour plates.  These plates are quite stunning.   You won’t find any tongue twisting Latin names here, just evocative common ones: Dog’s Mercury, Mouse-eared Chickweed, Brooklime Speedwell, Biting Stonecrop, Tormentil.  Beautiful words, a salve to the tongue.  Words to be said out loud, to be savoured and tasted.   And all for 3/6, three shillings and sixpence.  A bargain.

 

Home Not Alone

I have decided not to work until things sort themselves out.   I will miss the gardens.  But they will wait.  Annoying, they will probably thrive.  Perhaps more irritatingly, the sun has shone in constant sniggering glory ever since.  I will miss my friends; human, canine and feline.  But they will welcome me back when the time is right.

Today was good.  I am not expected them all to be the same.  Things got sorted, a few more stitches were made, bread was baked, washing dried, and a stroll was peaceful and reviving.   And I have counted my blessings that I am lucky in all this.  We have enough and I am not alone.

But I am not getting complacent.  The house may well get smaller over the coming weeks.

Six on Saturday – Hope

Welcome to this week’s Six on Saturday.  My theme, and I do like a theme even if I do tend to go off piste, is “hope”.   I googled “what is hope?” and I was presented with two options.  Firstly; a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.  It was however the second, archaic, definition that I believe is most relevant; a feeling of trust.  When Pandora inadvertently released a truckload of woes into the world by opening her famous box, hope was left behind, jammed in a corner at the bottom no doubt.  Hope is not always easy to hold onto, but we must try, and we must trust in the future.

This morning I was up early wandering around the garden in my PJ’s taking photographs, the neighbours are used to it now, and I found lots to shout about.  Horticulturally speaking this is a time of great hope, seeds are beginning to germinate, plants sprouting, plans are huge and expectations immense.  If you would like to know more about SoS, all the information you could possible want, and much, much more, is over at our leader The Proptastic Mr Prop’s site.  Shall we begin?

First we have the valiant Rhodotypos scandens with its corrugated lime green leaves just beginning to emerge.  The photo is a bit blurry, but it was blowing a Klondike gale out there this morning.  All winter it rocked and rolled on its roots in the frozen hinterland of the front garden, but it has come through undaunted.  Soon the flowers, perfect in their simplicity, will give me joy each time I walk up the garden path.

Next the flowers of a pot grown blueberry.  Yesterday I suggested to OH that we get rid of it, or donate it to someone else who would look after it better, as it isn’t very productive.  I think it is flowering just to make me feel guilty, which of course I do.  Plans for its demise are on hold.

This Impatiens stenantha should really be snoozing, or perhaps just emerging, but it has had insomnia all winter long.  The leaves are beautiful with their toothed red edges.  An early flowering perhaps?

The Lavandula pinnata has also not slept.  It is like having a garden of hyperactive teenagers at a sleepover.  Unlike teens, I am confident unremitting flowering will not make them grumpy or late for school.

Soon there will be tulips.  These look sturdy and full of potential.  I can’t remember what varieties they are, we are all in for a surprise, hopefully a good one.

Lastly, a kindness.  At this moment in this world’s turbulent history some people are having toilet rolls and pasta left on their doorsteps by caring neighbours.  I had a Woodwardia radicans and a packet of tigridia seed.  Thanks Hero, you know how to make me happy!

That is your lot.  Stay safe and stay happy my friends.  ‘Til next time.

More Rain and Banana Bread

Rain yet again stopped play today.  I tried very hard to be a brave little bunny.  After sloshing around in my waterproofs for a short while, it was obvious to all but a fool that it was too wet to continue.  All I was making was mud pies and myself miserable.

Home and dried, I wondered what was to be done on such a day?  And then my eagle eyes honed in on some well-tanned bananas in the fruit bowl.  And I thought about banana bread.  Which is strange because I haven’t made banana bread for at least 30 years.  I rarely bake, I am not a fan of sweet things, I don’t often eat bananas.  I am not sure what came over me.  After a short rummage, I found the above recipe.  It is quite peculiar coming across your own handwriting from years ago, looking directly at your younger self.  I smiled to see that I started out with my best handwriting and as it progressed I became more slapdash.  Mistakes, amendments, rushing to finish.  A familiar tale.  The recipe is one I first used as a teenager, pleasingly splattered and smudged with memories of past efforts.  It was strangely comforting to think of it.  Why not?  I thought.  Let’s give it a go for old times’ sake.

As usual, I will carefully guide you through the recipe, with the reality in italics:

  1.  Oven 190C, Mark 5. Minimal information young Gill, I imagine this means I should turn the oven on to that temperature.  Evidence indeed that all those episodes of Bake Off were indeed educational.
  2.  Mash bananas with lemon juice.  Chop walnuts.  Sift baking powder and flour.  The recipe calls for 3 small bananas but mine are rather large, will chuck them all in, the more nana the better!  To compensate for excessive banana use I added a bit more lemon juice.  Chuckle at my correction on the sheet.  We don’t have any walnuts but we do have some mixed nuts, so chop those instead.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until creamy, beat in eggs.  Type of sugar not specified but as we only have light muscavado decide this is the perfect choice.  Butter rock hard, try to soften on the radiator but get bored very quickly.  Try with electric hand mixer.  Carnage.  Tidy up.  Decide on “ye olde” wooden spoon method.  Blimey, forgotten how hard that is.  Smells delicious.  Time passes.  Decide that is creamy enough.  The eggs are large, hope that is OK.  I’ve gone too far now to let a small matter like that trip me up.  Beat in eggs with spoon.  Looks disgusting.  Decide to try electric hand mixer again.  Mini-carnage, then all well.  Looks much better.
  4. Stir in bananas. Easy peasy although it does seem like quite a lot.  No matter, it will make it particularly moist.
  5. Fold in flour and walnuts. Forgot to sift flour earlier so do it straight into the mix, saves on the washing up as I don’t have my slave/little brother to clear up for me anymore.   Perform a highly professional fold in, though I say it myself.
  6. Bake for 1 hour.  Although not mentioned, I presume that I then transfer the mix to the buttered bread tin.  Again thank you Bake Off.  Worry slightly that there is too much batter and it will overflow.  As I am past caring I just pop the tin on a tray so in case of spillage it won’t mess the oven up too much.  I am such a grown up these days.  Set grumpy cat time for 1 hour and wait.

Me:  The excitement is too much; I think I will take a peek.

Inner Dialogue:  No you will spoil it.

Me:  But what if its burning?

Inner Dialogue:  You would smell it if its burning, take a chill pill baby.

Me:  If you are you quite sure.

*grumpy cat bell rings, rushes to oven*

Me:  You told me it wouldn’t burn, that I would smell it!  Why do I continue to listen to your advice?  Anyone with any sense would have stopped paying attention to the rubbish you come out with years ago!

Inner dialogue:  Stop fussing, it is known as “charred” not burnt.  All the top restaurants are doing it these days.  In fact Mary Berry has a new book out called Singe.

Me:  Or I could just cut the black bits off and no one will ever know.

Inner dialogue:  Good plan.

*OH walks into kitchen*

OH:  It’s a bit burnt!

Me:  It’s called charred.

OH:  OK, shall we have a piece?

OH:  Delicious, I could eat it every day!

Me:  Another happy ending.