Friday, 30 September 2011

Mellow Fruitfullness (VFTA No 7)

I made a trip to Malvern in Worcestershire last weekend to spend the day with my best friend, C at the Autumn Show.  This is the 4th year that we've met here for three reasons: 1) it's half way between our homes - I'm in Shropshire and C is in Devon; 2) it's a fun day out; 3) we've been so lucky with the weather each year benefitting from September sun.

This year we were dubious about point 3 as the weather has been variable from sunshine to grey and miserable however the show didn't let us down, the sun shone for most of the day and it stayed dry and warm.

Malvern Autumn show really is a family day out with events in the two arenas; this year we spent some time watching the falconry display - fantastic to see these beautiful creatures in full flight.  There is something for everyone including beautiful crafts, giant vegetables, (almost like a village show), plant stands and displays from specialist nurseries, displays of ancient farm equiment and machinery, country clothing stalls, dog breeds, chickens, rabbits etc, etc, etc...

rustic images

fantastic veg

Gold medal winner through the square window

one for the Handyman...

and another!
So there are a few images of our day, not as many as I would have liked but we were so engaged with the show and catching up on news and just being together for a while that the camera was forgotten though the day remains fresh in my memory - a lovely day out with a very dear friend!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

September in Bloom

It can't be the middle of September already - can it?  Seems like it is and it's time for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day courtesy of May Dreams here's what's blooming at Holly Grove this September...

Lilium White Heaven opened its buds on 1st September; it's as lovely as I remember when I bought the bulbs at the Malvern Spring show in April this year.  It is a very robust lily and about 90cm tall and the scent is gorgeous.

This is the first of my sunflowers to bloom this year.  A poor show for me with the first batch of seeds failing to produce anything.  It was an old packet so I'll be gathering some new seeds from this flower for next year.  I expect the weather has played a part too - not sunny enough for these chaps.

This little nasturtium has selfseeded itself right next to the little purple-black viola below; what a lovely combination!

I planted several violas earlier this year and they have been flowering non-stop since June. This one is viola Rosecastle Black, I also have viola Rebecca Yellow and a pale blue one that I can't remember the name of at the moment; all little gems.

I've planted two of these pretty blue autumn flowering shrubs in the past year - ceratostigma willmottianum - and they are beginning to settle in and produce their flowers.  With the leaves blushed pink at the edges they promise to be a lovely autumn addition to the garden.

We have several lavatera around Holly Grove, this one is lavatera Bredon Springs; they flower profusely from June to the first frosts.  Although a realatively short lived shrub they are so easy to propogate from cuttings (and they selfseed so easily in our light soil) that we are able to replace any losses.  They also have the advantage of speedy growth filling a space and adding height to a border in a single season. 

This malus Sunset has produced lots of lovely apples this year though it will be a little longer before they are ready to pick.  This variety provides a relatively late harvest around the end of October when the apples are a glorious bright red.

This unusual plant was a last minute purchase for a shallow basket.  I know it as cigar plant, cuphea ignea, it is a native of Mexico and therefore is grown in the UK as an annual.

These hardy fuchsias are growing in a very difficult spot at the back of the swing seat; they receive very little light and the soil is very dry as this corner of the border is very tight to the hedgerow.  Despite all of this they produce these lovely bright flowers and, hopefuly, they will grow into large shrubs providing interest through the autumn.

Well, there's more blooming at Holly Grove in September that I expected; have alook at other gardens in bloom around the world at the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day hosted by  May Dreams Gardens.

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Shropshire Plum

It's the time of year to scour the hedgerows around Holly Grove in search of autumn fruits.  In recent weeks I've spotted crab apples, sloes and damsons and have been waiting for them to ripen a little before foraging. 

Then I took my eye off the ball and was distracted by our courgette glut; finally I refocused and gathered some riper than expected damsons.  I say some but actually there was more than 5kg on the kitchen table when I finally managed to stop myself.

All this from two small and gnarled damson trees in our hedge; damson trees are prolific in this part of Shropshire, all over the hedgerows, no wonder they are known as the Shropshire plum.  Strange and magical little fruits, too bitter to eat au naturel, they are great for making jam, cheese, chutney, liqueurs etc and they look beautiful too!

You can see what use I put them to over at Holly Grove kitchen...

Monday, 5 September 2011

Nasturtium Time

I planted a few nasturtium seeds a couple of years ago and ever since they've been selfseeding madly around the garden.  Nasturtiums generate a huge number of seeds so there are no issues with gathering and storing or giving away.

However the other day whilst browing through a recently acquired preserving book, River Cottage Handbook No 2 Preserves, I found an unusual use for these little green seeds...nasturtium 'capers'.

So I gathered the required quantity and had a go; very easy to prepare and pickle, I'm now waiting a few weeks before I try using them in any recipe that requires a more traditional caper.