Saturday, 1 May 2010


Big difference between *having* and *going* for a bath! *Having* a bath to me is the quickie, with the sole purpose of getting clean, in and out in a short space of time and on to the next thing, usually late at night, after a hard day in the garden or similar. However, *going* for a bath implies "I may be some time......", and usually involves one, some or possibly all, of the following - something to read, glass of wine/whisky, bubbles, fresh herbs, music, candles........... Ultimate decadence is a hot bath on a rainy May afternoon - so hot that you need to open the window wide to let the steam out, then being able to hear the drumming of the rain on roof and leaf, the birds singing and the general hubbub of the house below you, as you take your time and drink in the peace and calm.
Definitely one of my favourite "me" times :)

Friday, 30 April 2010

First rhubarb of the season

I've just been out and harvested the first of the rhubarb - wonderful! The first is always such a stunning colour, the leaves a crinkle of pure spring green. I just stew the first picking getnly, with a little sugar and a leaf of sweet cicely - no coincidence it's ready when the rhubarb is :) Other good things - rhubarb schnapps is excelllent, and a good way of preserving the deep ink colour. This is very easy - fill a Kilner or simlar a third full of chopped young pink rhubarb, add a couple of tablespoons og sugar and top up with vodka; leave 3 months or so, giving it a good shake every so often. I also make fools and pies, cakes, etc, and bottle a few jars for later in the year. When the stalks get older and greener, it's time for jam and chutney. The time to stop pulling it is when the first gooseberries are ready, when the oxalic acid is beginning to concentrate in the plant, leaving it bitter and unpalatable.
I use the leaves too - boil them up in water, strain, and use as a spray against blackfly on broad beans and nasturtiums. Again, no coincidence in the timings - nature comes through again :) Otherwise, they're sued for sheet mulching, or put on to the compost heaps.
The tray is full of rhubarb seedlings - far more germinated than I expected! No matter, I'll grow them on and give away to friends probably, keeping some for myself to renew my stock; this one is Glaskins Perpetual, looking forward to trying it in a couple of years time.
Can't have too much rhubarb, it's such a versatile plant and fruit.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Welcome rain.............

The rain started here about 9.30 am this morning, and more or less hasn't stopped, a good steady amount has fallen, the earth is ready for it, and so was I.
I took a few minutes to stand out in it, breathing in the freshness of the morning, listening to the sounds that only rain at the end of spring can make on the abundant greenery that has appeared over the past couple of weeks, a sound heard at no other time of the year.
This is the view up the garden from the back door, the top half being left open all day now; I spent a good half hour leaning on the door, just looking.
I'm feeling energised and positive from the full moon, and the new, freshening rain has gone to reinforce how I feel, and I'm ready to tackle everything and anything now :) Bring it on.................

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Auricula time

Just a stunning little flower, can't get enough of them.

Full moon

Her beauty never ceases to inspire and awe me :) I've been up very late a few nights in a row, culminating in full moon tonight/this morning.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The best washer up's view in the world...........

This is the view from the kitchen over at the pub where I work on and off/occasionalyy over the years. Looking out over the beer garden and on to the lBlackmore Vale and to Bulbarrow Hill, it really can't be beaten.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Lemon glazed carrots

This is a lovely, easy way to brighten up winter carrots, and a recipe I use a lot. Steam or boil your carrots as you usually do, then drain them in a colander. Add a large knob of butter to the hot pan and swirl it around to start melting, then add the juice of half a lemon and a generous handful of finely chopped parsley. Quickly return the carrots to the pan, put on the lid and shake well to coat, stirring with a spoon if needed.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sweet woodruff and wild tulips

I grow quite a few unusual/rare plants and trees in my gardens, and thought I'd share a few with you.
These two are at their best at the moment.
The wild tulip is a stunning little flower; I bought half a dozen bulbs from e-bay at the back end of last yaar, potted them on, then planted them under one of the crab apples in the orchard; they will naturalise there in the long grass.
Tehs econd one is sweet woodruff; I've never seen it growing in the wild, but bought a very small and expensive pot of it a few years back. It's nwo settled in very well here, and is creeping getnly about and I now have several colonies of it; after this flowering, I'll split one of them again and plant on the shaded side of the back pond. Best used dried for household use, it has the scent of new mown hay, being picked and dried after flowering. A tea can be made from it, but taken with caution:

"Medicinally, woodruff was a valuable herb in the Middle Ages. It has been used as a calmative; diuretic, diaphoretic and antispasmodic. Folklore says that it could combat jauntice and nervousness and could regulate heart activity. The fresh leaves were applied to wounds and a tea made from it was said to ease stomach cramps. Today, while it can be used in potpourri, teas and as a garnish, the USDA generally recognizes it as safe to use only in alcoholic drinks. It has been know to cause vomiting and dizziness in large quantities and the chemical that gives woodruff its fresh fragrance ~ coumarin ~ has caused liver damage in lab animals."

It is safer used fresh, traditionally used in German May punches.