Sunday, 30 August 2009

Plums, plums and more plums

A few days ago the Handyman harvested a trugful of plums from our ancient and gnarled plum tree. This tree stands on the 'Builder's Yard' side of the garden where the Handyman keeps all the materials required to develop the structural features for our acre and any recycled wood that will be used on our woodburning stove over the Winter.

So it has been a neglected little tree and yet repays us each year with an abundance of the most delicious plums. All we have to do is pick and eat them - various recipes for making use of these fruits can be found on my companion website Holly Grove Kitchen.

We planted a young plum tree (Opal - on St Julien rootstock) and a young greengage tree (Old Greengage - on St Julien rootstock) nearly 2 years ago and they are doing well, though no signs of any fruits as yet. Our hope is that they will be as prolific and tasty as the old plum which we think is a Victoria. If that is the case then I'll have to give up work throughout the Autumn to keep up with preserving, bottling and juicing our harvest...talking of which not long now until the damsons and apples are adding to the feast. Ah, Autumn is on its way, season of ripe and mellow fruitfulness, and lots of kitchen activity!

Friday, 14 August 2009

View from the Ironing Board

Last Sunday was a lovely day, the sun was shining and the garden looked very inviting...unfortunately I had a pile of ironing as tall as myself. Now I know I'm not very tall, but in ironing terms that's still quite a challenge. So what to do...ironing?...gardening? For once the ironing won out (guilty conscience), so I decided to make the best of it and set up the ironing board in the garden. With Radio 4 and Gardeners' Question Time to look forward to, I set about my task. I finished my ironing in record time probably as a result of the lovely view.

Later in the a
fternoon I managed to persuade the Handyman to stop work on the Party Patio and take a break for a picnic lunch. We laid a blanket and cushions on the main lawn looking back towards the house through the old apple trees and ate a picnic from my lovely new picnic basket (a birthday present from the Handyman). Now this is the way to enjoy all the hard work we've put into the garden over the past two years. It makes quite a change for us to take time to sit and admire the garden but that's what we did last Sunday, oh, for at least thirty minutes! Then back to weeding and deadheading for me and patio construction for him.

Friday, 7 August 2009

The Potato Picker

I make no apology to Van Gogh for paraphrasing the title of his famous painting, The Potato Eaters, after I'd finished digging for the day I felt, and probably looked, like one of the sitters in his painting!

I spent a couple of hours last Sunday digging C
harlotte potatoes from the comfort of their raised bed. It was the first warm and dry day for a couple of weeks, so time to get the tatties out of the ground and dried off for storing. My back was aching by the time I had finished, though I couldn't stop smiling as I saw the pile grow and grow.
I spread the potatoes on a plastic sheet on the ground to dry for a couple of hours and then sorted them into three sizes - large, medium and small. Any damaged potatoes I put to one side to use within the next couple of days and the others I packed into paper sacks to store in my Potting Shed where it's cool, dry and dark. I'll be interested to see how these store as they are salad potatoes and I feel that they probably should be eaten sooner rather than later.

I've four potato barrels to empty yet, one of Charlotte and three of Maris Bard, so I'd better start searching for some potato based recipes to test them out on - any suggestions?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

August Evening

After spending the evening cutting the grass and watering the pots and baskets I took my camera for a wander around the garden. It's been the first warm and dry evening for a while and it was lovely to be able to stroll around checking out the plants. Unfortunately a number of them are looking a bit battered by the inclement weather that we've had over the past few weeks.

The buds and flowers on Rosa Geoff Hamilton are prolific but unfortunately the petals are scarred by the rain. Still the scent is beautiful and if the weather improves there are plenty of buds set to open.

Living where we do we are very fortunate not to suffer from too much light pollution which is one reason I think we see so
many lovely sunsets and this evening was no exception. As I walked towards Stars gate to water the last of the baskets I was presented with the sky on fire, I was captivated, so much so that I almost missed photographing the scene. It's at times like this that I'm reminded how fortunate we are to live here at Holly Grove.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Woodpecker Alert!

The apple tree border has just been visited by a green woodpecker (you can just about make him out on the trunk of the apple tree). We've been hearing him (and it is a him) since we moved to Holly Grove but this is the first time that we've seen him.
He seems to be attracted by the windfall apples, glad that something other than wasps like them! His mate appeared very
briefly before they both flew off together. What an amazing start to the day!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Solitary Poppy

This solitary oriental poppy popped up in the border yesterday. The poppies were stunning earlier in the year but they finished flowering several weeks ago and the foliage has been dying back, but then, oh joy, this pretty madam raised her head for a final exciting!

Luscious Lilies

Sceptic tanks...hmm, a necessary feature but not a pleasant image in a rural home, we've surrounded ours with scented plants.

A low hedge of lavender, white-flowered lilac for the Spring and now, at the height of Summer, lilies. Beautiful potfuls of white, deliciously scented lilies. If the weather was sunnier and warmer the scent would travel on the evening air, but even in this wet weather and less than optimum temperatures the scent is pervasive.

I think that lilies are best in pots. You can then sight them in a prominent position whilst they are in full flower and remove them to a less obvious spot in the garden when they are past their flowering best but need to be fed and watered to build the bulbs for next year.

I have some oriental lilies in a border that I plan to lift in the Autumn and transfer to pots for next year. I think I'll place them on the Party Patio that the Handyman is in the process of constructing...more on that in future posts...for the moment let's enjoy the lilies.