A quick peek

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Colleybird and Hellebore

Blackbird or "colley"bird, our much loved garden bird, with its handsome plumage and bright yellow beak, calling its raucous winter alarm, here on my favourite square dish.  



Unfeasibly bright orange berries with cerise seed cases.  Gladdens the heart on a dull November day.

A November find

Wood Blewits found on my early morning walk, Seen from above their russet caps do a very good imitation of a fallen oak or beech leaf, but their beautiful violet blue gills mark them out as very special.  Even their scent is intensely lavenderish.


last colour of 2015

Snatched from the teeth of the storm (Barney) I picked the last few flowers in my garden before they succumbed to the imminent frost. This is definitely the end of Autumn, so these colours I'll hold in my mind to keep me going for months to come.

Small packets of hope

A rare sunny moment in November is to be seized upon!  Today I  planted some more spring bulbs; tiny crocuses (not those big bruisers which seem to have flooded the market), fragrant narcissi, iris reticulata, and as a treat some Snake's head fritillaries. Some to line the path to the orchard and some for under the fruit trees to coincide  with fruit blossom (I hope).

I have a small worry that in doing so I have laid out some nourishing morsels for the hedgehog who regularly wanders that way.


After days and days of dull foggy weather finding a solitary spindle tree full of bright orange seeds in their cerise cases encouraged me to sow a few.  It seems as though they are sticklers for the right conditions to break the dormancy, but it is worth a try.


plums and custard

click on image for a larger helping

Still days of Autumn

The season changes and the subtle light of autumn glows low on the horizon.

October begins. Here is my walk one morning - as I go higher, so the mist lifts...

I play a mean game of table football...


Finally decided to cut down my squash plants - a difficult decision when they are still gamely scrambling over the teepee I made for them.  But nights are cold now and very soon they will turn into poor bedraggled things, so better enjoy their beauty in a photo now.


More from the village Garden show

Here's how 5 tomatoes can set your pulse racing....   Cut throat competition in the Tomato category.  What a joy to see a person lavishing affection and pride on their little darlings as they present their garden produce to the world, rather like the Debutante's Coming Out Ball for the very well heeled.  Onions are even polished with a little talcum powder to bring out their silken sheen.

Fame fortune and winning at Lydbury North Garden and Produce Show

The joys of small village life.  Last weekend was the local Garden Show, eagerly awaited by many of residents of our small rural community, it is a major event in the local diary and I was mightily pleased to have got First prize for my vase of home grown annuals.  Here they are afterwards having endured a cycle ride home in my bike basket.


The scouting gene

Something happens at this time of year when even with dubious English temperatures the urge to cook on fires outside is irresistible.  This year it has been in many forms, not just your classic barby.  Today I fancied hot smoking some trout fillets for supper.  I had the fish, I had the newly cut plum branches, so it was the work of an instant.
The fire was not too hot, so on went the plum wood to create the smoke, then the trout, then the lid and in 8 mins it was ready, lightly cooked with a delicate smokiness.

 Along with this an intense dill and horseradish creme fraiche, rosemary and chilli roasted potties and a bowl of salad from the garden.



Preprandial delights

The joy of early summer harvests.  The first broad beans - sweet and tender and totally different from any bought ones (they need to be picked just before eating), pop them out of their pods at the table and nibble along with home made bread sticks whilst sipping a cool sauvignon blanc...


St Patrick's Cabbage

Tellima grandiflora, this one had me going, even Fitter and Fitter only had a squiffy little line drawing, but the joy of trawling the internet finally found me the answer - although I confess I have not the slightest about what St. Patrick had to do with it.  I first saw it growing in a hedgerow a couple of years ago and next year when it grows again I won't be left wondering what is this odd plant. click on the image for a bit more detail.


Early morning walk... blackcap announcing he has arrived in UK

This is a magnificent beast, self sown verbascum.  It currently measures over a meter in diameter.  Soon it will produce a lofty flower spike with yellow buds, then the verbascum moths will arrive (as sure as eggs is eggs) and shred it to a sorry thing.

garden catwalk

What the well dressed water butt is wearing this season. Sashaying in with this fetching little number, equally good for daywear or cocktail hour.  Much as I like the practicality of a water butt next to my greenhouse having sun warmed rainwater at the ready for my thirsty seedlings, its old faded plastic was ugly, so I made it a "dress" out of old roof battens.


Poplar plantation

This has got to be one of my favourite spring sights, the first leaves bursting out from poplars grown in strict rows.  The ones on the right turning a gorgeous gold green, the ones on the left still to catch up.


First to be out in the garden

It marks a special day in spring when I can plant out the first fragile plants.
Safely under cover they look so strong and healthy, but put out in the ground where they have to fend for themselves against any passing pest is a worrying moment!  If they survive this then the promise of delicious tender sugar snap peas beats anything you can buy in a shop. These are called Delikett - I don't think they are available anymore so I save the seed year after year.


Tomorrow's breakfast cooling in the larder

I don't always manage it but home made hot cross buns are definitely worth the effort.  Made on the Thursday to eat Good Friday morning, lightly toasted with butter.


Tardy spring but still some treats

By the end of March I'm just about desperate for spring to get a hold.  Each year brings its own surprises, 2013 was thick snow on 27th, last year was warm early.  This year it's stormy cold winds have the upper hand.  But I have been keeping a beady eye on my favourite patch of wild garlic growing on the far side of our village brook.  Yesterday, clad in my wonderful new Dunlop wellingtons crossed the stream to gather some.  After steaming it and cooling it for mere moments I made a Korean dressing of soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds and oil and serves it with some home made tofu - my new skill!  The wild garlic was sweet, crunchy and tender but packed with a punch.


Beautiful and functional, the perfect combination.

First crop of the year

Purple sprouting, I love it for the name alone - abbreviating it to just its adjective.  But mostly because these tough, winter resilient plants manage to produce the tenderest, sweetest spring shoots which need steaming for a mere nano second or two.  


Progress report

The surprises one is dealt in life sometimes come thick and fast.  A couple of years ago I would never have imagined my working life would have reached these exciting markets.  As one window closes, another unexpectedly opens.  Sadly our manufacturer in Stoke is no longer making our English Creamware.  We still have some items for sale, but they are now in short supply.  They are listed on the right of this page.
Our next designs are now selling well in South Korea and in the future we aim to have these designs available in the UK too.


Armed to the teeth

Armed with my new garden implement a -  wrotter - dutch for "weedy outy" thing, or in Old Frisian "tough worker", no dandelion is safe in my garden.


Too much of a good thing??

Winter snowdrops, am I weird for not liking carpets of them?  I like the few in a group growing beside the village brook just as they come out of bud.


Return of "Frankie"

Many thanks to our neighbours for crucial info on how to make one's weathervane accurate.  Now our sky running hare is absolutely on the button with the wind direction.  Admittedly he is now bolted together with lumps of lead weight to his head - hence him being re-christened after Mary Shelley's gothic character.


how to distract myself from January

Dream of summer and sow some sweet pea seeds.  Snow still lying here, but I am planning ahead. Made newspaper tubes for long pea roots this morning and sowed seeds collected in autumn 2013, here they are on my kitchen window.  Then went out to try lunch at Powis Arms, and PINK BEEF!  Wonderful, why can't all pubs keep their beef rare, who wants to eat boot leather?


14 jan 15

Not even "Fuji Blue", but as it was this morning on my Oakley Mynd walk.  A thin layer of snow defining the fine mesh of branches on an ancient ash tree.  Stunning blue sky, violet shadows in the snow and a brightness we only get here in winter.