Sunday 28 July 2013

Buddleia and butterflies

With all the sunshine we have been enjoying, I was hoping that I would have butterflies visiting my garden.  Up to last week, I hadn't seen any at all.  However, with the sun and my (supposedly) dwarf buddleia in full flower and smelling wonderful, the butterflies have started to appear. Above is a peacock butterfly, which was a little camera shy initially, but eventually it showed its lovely wing patterns.
Here is a small tortoiseshell butterfly, which seemed much happier to be in my photos.
I particularly like the blue patterns around its wings. 
The buddleia is in a small tub and was one of the 'Buzz' series - magenta, I think.  It is supposed to be a dwarf variety and while it is not as big as some, it is not really a dwarf as it is about 5 and a half feet tall.  It is a lovely plant though, with a honey scent and if it continues to attract butterflies, it definitely deserves its place in the garden.

Welcome to new followers - I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Meringue trials and tribulations

My meringue trials and tribulations all began a few months ago when a colleague and I were talking about growing soft fruit.  I am growing raspberries and blueberries in tubs and he is lucky to have a large garden so can grow raspberries in the ground.  He said he would bring in some raspberries and I rashly suggested I could make a meringue (never having made one before, you understand!) and we could have a pavlova at work. 
So, the months rolled on and last week he brought in some raspberries.  I used a Delia recipe and made my first attempt.  It turned out rather browner than I would have liked and was very squidgy in the middle.  So we had to have Eton Mess with the outer, crispier bit, but that was very tasty.
Undeterred, I looked on the internet to see what I may have done wrong and discovered that 1) I hadn't whipped the egg whites for long enough and 2) the oven temperature was too high.
Yesterday, I tried again.  I whipped the egg whites until I could put the bowl upside down over my head without them moving and I lowered the oven temperature and put the meringue on the bottom shelf.

 Here it is when baked - SUCCESS!
 Here is the finished pavlova (a perfect summer dessert) with double cream (and a bit of natural yogurt mixed in), my colleague's raspberries and icing sugar.
We all enjoyed it and I was delighted with the meringue consistency - crispy with a slightly chewy bit in the middle - YUM! (The only thing that worries me is, was that a one off, or will I be able to repeat the success when my blueberries are ripe?!)

Sunday 21 July 2013

A productive gardening day

I have had a busy day in the garden today, doing jobs which I have been unable to do in the week, due to the hot weather.  This weekend has been grey and cloudy with cooler temperatures, so I was able to catch up a bit.  Above is Jasmine 'Clotted Cream', which is doing really well, with lots of flowers still to come.
 I have planted a couple of Penstemon 'Garnet' and potted my Blueberry 'Goldtraube' into a much bigger tub.  I have also potted my Raspberries 'Joan J' into a big tub too as they had filled the original one.  Above is Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'.
I did some cutting back of geraniums which had flowered and also removed some violas which had become rather thug-like.  Above is Clematis 'Piilu'.
I wasn't the only busy one in the garden - lots of bees were visiting the jasmine and lavender.  So, a good day (but my back is aching a bit now!)

Tuesday 16 July 2013

July 2013 - blooming marvellous!

 The recent sunny weather has done wonders for the roses, which have been lovely this year - not just in my garden but in everyone's, I think!
 Rosa Mundi has been beautiful but has been suffering from mildew as the soil has dried out so much, so I have been trying to remember to give it extra water.
Cottage Rose has done really well too.
My favourite (but don't tell the others!), Gertrude Jekyll, has been the best it has been for quite a few years.  You can also see Clematis 'Arabella' and Hydrangea Arborescens 'Annabelle' in the background.
The clematis (I think this is Etoile Violette, but if not, then it is Jackmanii Superba) has just started to flower and has helpfully draped itself across the trellis, disguising the fact that the trellis has seen better days!
 Finally, here is my first proper vase of sweet peas.  I know everyone seems to grow them and they are rather ubiquitous at the moment, but these are the first I have grown successfully from seed. I am delighted that after a very slow start when I planted them into their tub in June, they are getting into their stride now and looking fabulous.  These are Cupani and a mixture of fragrant ones.  I think I like the scent, but now and again, I'm not sure.
I couldn't resist a slice across the colours - the colours of July in my garden.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Village Fete goodies

 Yesterday, Chris and I went to my Mum's village fete.  You never know what you may find and I think we did pretty well!  Above was a little set which I knew I would have to buy (£1 - bargain!), just because it was so pretty.
 This gorgeous glass jug was...10p!  Can you believe it?  It would look lovely with either flowers or drink in it.
 This little cup and saucer set with delicate green and lots of gold (there were five more saucers, but no more cups)...
 ...together with this cup and tea plate (£1 for them all).  Didn't we do well?
The one thing I was hoping was that there would be a plant stall again. Last year, I rashly purchased a Streptocarpus.  Now, I am not known for my green fingers where house plants are concerned, as the only things I have managed to grow and not kill are Aloe Vera plants and Spider plants.  However, the Streptocarpus 'Myfanwy' which I bought then, not only survived the winter and my rather haphazard care, it is flowering profusely.
 Here is Streptocarpus 'Myfanwy', which has the most beautiful markings.  So, buoyed by my success with that one, I wanted to buy some more and I was in luck, as the plant stall was there and did indeed have some.
 Here is 'Bristol Ice Castle'.
 This dusky pink one is 'Jessica'.
 Here's a close up of the flower.
 Here is 'Hope'...
...and a close up.
I think they are gorgeous!  Having done a bit of internet searching (Dibleys nursery here seems to be the one to look at), I am feeling confident about having a go at propagating, as they seem to propagate easily from leaf cuttings.  I have a feeling that this may be the start of yet another collection!

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Garden Visit - The Garden House, Saxby (part 2)

 Here are the rest of the photos from our visit.  This was the first time we had seen the roses in bloom in this part of the garden.
 There was a beautiful combination of roses and penstemon here (possibly Penstemon 'Heavenly Blue', 'Sour Grapes' or 'Alice Hindley').
 Further along there was an introduction of deep red with another penstemon (Garnet?).
 Looking back through the garden the other way.  I do like the formality of the hard landscaping and the yew and box contrasted with the 'floofy' penstemon.  (I really should find a more technical term for floofy - exuberant, perhaps?)
 We walked through more wildflower meadow down to the pond and saw flashes of purple (a type of knapweed, I think).  There were lots of insects about and they seemed drawn to either my hat or my suncream!
 This was the first time we had visited in time to see the lovely wildflowers and grasses.  Usually, we visit before it has grown up or after it has been cut down. 
 We kept seeing flashes of the most brilliant blue which, I later discovered, is the male Damselfly.  We noticed one had landed but on closer inspection, he had landed for a purpose!  A polite term is the male and female 'in tandem', so I shall stick with that!
 Walking back towards a much looked forward to cup of tea, the lavender path gave a lovely vista of the surrounding fields.
 Back through one of my favourite areas, the Cathedral Garden.  Meditative, quiet space, full of greens - pleached limes, grass and hedge - three elements working together so well.
Another view of the space.
We really enjoyed out visit and I am looking forward to the next one...

Also, today is our 20th wedding anniversary - I can't believe that it was so long ago!  Those years have just flown by!

Monday 8 July 2013

Garden Visit - The Garden House, Saxby (part 1)

 Yesterday, on a really hot and sunny day, Chris and I went to my favourite local garden, The Garden House, Saxby, which has appeared several times on my blog.  On previous visits, we had not managed to visit in time to see the meadow, so I was really hoping we would see it!  I wasn't disappointed.  Initially, it was a haze of white ox-eye daisies and plantains.
Then we could see subtle pinks... (This photo reminds me of an Angie Lewin woodcut or lino print - something like this?)
Angie Lewin - Meadow II

(After that little interlude, back to the visit.) 
..and then the bright red of poppies...
 ...contrasting beautifully with blue cornflowers.  A perfect combination.
 This is one of my favourite photos from this visit.
 A little further on, there were a few irises still flowering. Chris really liked the caramel and butterscotch tones of this one (we think it was 'Howard Weed').
 However, I preferred the pinks and purple of this one.
 I do love to see what I call 'floofy' planting, and this is where my garden cannot compare to one like this, as they have the space to plant in huge drifts, which look amazing.  My poor plants don't have the space to be drifts and have to jostle and crowd one another. I suppose if I stuck to fewer varieties, I could then have more of each one, but "my name is Ellie and I'm a plantaholic", so that would never work!

 The obelisk garden provided a view of greens and yellow.
 More lovely planting, with red hot pokers looking red hot!
More drifts of pastel colours, with a touch of terracotta, for contrast.
 Some varieties of lavender were just starting to flower and the scent wafted alongside us as we walked up here.
The Tudor/Elizabethan gardener sculpture was almost hidden by the rose leaves. 
(More photos of the rest of the visit in my next post.)