Friday 22 September 2017

Under cover

Today is the autumn equinox and summer is officially over. We've packed the garden furniture away, it didn't see much action this year. Strong winds have created havoc with my bean sticks so I'm in the process of dismantling them before the canes break. I've already stored most of the squash inside the greenhouse that's attached to the garage. They look colourful placed amongst the potted plants.
All the citrus are back undercover for the winter.
It's crowded!
The small greenhouse attached to the house is accessed through my workroom.
It's also full of plants, there's just enough room for us!
We are still enjoying sitting there, although not for much longer. It's single skin glass and now that the sun is lower in the sky it gets shaded by our neighbour's trees. Very soon it will be too damp and chilly to tempt us in. But just now it is perfumed by the many lemon flowers.

Wishing you a happy weekend ahead.

Monday 18 September 2017

Afternoon tea

On Friday afternoon we went to visit a former colleague, at ninety-nine years of age still going strong and excellent company. We had left home in a downpour but arrived to sunshine and sat in the colourful back garden to drink tea, eat apple pie and reminisce.

Black clouds and another downpour eventually took us indoors.
The house is crammed with all manner of things, collected not for their value but for their beauty and the pleasure that they give. We had come to look at his collection of drawings and prints. The large blue paintings are the artist's own work.

Transformed behind a Japanese mask.
A mantelpiece of small delights.
I love a home like this where objects have been assembled over years. It's so far removed from the awful interior design make-over programmes and bland 'themed' schemes that have nothing at all to do with the personality of the people whose home it is. The etching on the mantelpiece is a Degas print of Manet. Such beautiful marks, something to drool over! It's a reject piece, scored over by the printer. This makes it of no interest to those who collect art as a financial transaction. It was bought when our friend was a student, his only means of affording to buy a superb piece of draftsmanship. The scoring takes nothing away from the beauty of the work.
And the same with a Picasso print.
Art and good company -
what a great way to spend an afternoon.

Monday 11 September 2017

Drowned quarry garden

On Sunday afternoon we were invited to join a friend who has just returned to feeling like himself after a very hard couple of years following a bereavement and ill health. His friends, a collection of fellow artists and writers, met at his house to celebrate. What a noisy lot we were, even the wind and driving rain had to take a back seat in our company! In a short lull in the weather I went outside to walk around an unusual part of the garden, a drowned quarry.
The steps and narrow pathways were slippery and I had the place to myself. Duck weed has covered the surface of the water since my last visit. It's a rather magical place.
I disturbed a little family of ducks.

It is no surprise that this place provides an inspiration for art.

I had a happy wander around the studio.

At 4 o'clock it was time for afternoon tea, sandwiches, quiche and dainty, fancy buns. How English and how tasty! No need to worry about the weather in such good company. We all had a lovely time.

Saturday 9 September 2017

Red cabbage

Can cabbage be described as beautiful?
I think so.
Once the outer leaves have been stripped away from a red cabbage I think it looks a thing of beauty. What a fantastic colour!
And the structure is equally beautiful
once it has been cut open.
By the time I had cut away the hard stalk and thicker sections my large cabbage was considerably reduced. It shredded down to the couple of lbs that I wanted to braise with some finely chopped onion and apple.
Any recipe that uses apples at this time of year is good!
Braised cabbage.

2lbs grated cabbage
1lb finely chopped onion
1lb finely chopped apple
3tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
chopped garlic grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a few juniper berries or some ground cloves
salt and pepper.

Layer the vegetables, sprinkling the spices and sugar as you go. Pour over the vinegar, put a lid on your container and cook very slowly for about 2 to 3 hours, stirring every now and then.

Last year my red cabbages were hopeless, many of them bolted. I've reached the conclusion that they perform best in a dull, wet summer - quite the opposite to me! I've also got a mass of parsley this year whereas other years there have been very lean pickings.
This gardening lark can be a bit of a mystery!

Monday 4 September 2017


Well, I don't know what happened to summer, this year it was a case blink and you'll miss it and I must have blinked. It definitely feels like autumn now. The garden looks bedraggled, not helped by yesterday's strong winds.

The water tubs are full
and I've put most of the squash undercover for there's more rain to come.
Others still have their leaves.

In spite of my efforts there is still a lot of wastage with the apple crop.

But other crops get eaten the minute they are ripe!

Only two trusses left on 'Red Cherry' and then they will be gone.
The 'Blue Lake' climbing French beans have finished cropping. I left a good number to set seed for next year, some for myself and some to bag up for the seed swap.
I feel rather melancholic, summers seem to get ever shorter and winters go on for too long.