Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reports are finished

Only three weeks of school to go! Sorry for the two week gap between news reports- all of the school work has been making me computer-shy and rather jaded about typing. Arrangements for Christmas are being made and next weekend I intend to begin celebrating Christmas in our house with the erection of the Christmas tree. I would love a real tree, but as it is summer and I like my Christmas to last right through December and some of January as well, pine needles everywhere and a very crispy looking skeleton of a tree would be the result before we even got to Christmas day.

On the summer front, it has been lovely and hot here. In other words I have felt boiled alive and was out gardening this evening until it was too dark to see because during the day I am extremely uncomfortable in the heat of the sun. I planted a few seeds and plants and did some watering. Last night I made some delicious lamb kebabs with a marinade of yoghurt (yuck says Mum) and Moroccan spices. We cooked them on the bbq. We had them with puy lentils- yes Johnny ate lentils and like them!!!!! They are nutty and tasty. Plus a salad from the garden, of course. I was very proud of this romanesco broccoli that appeared on a plant leftover from the winter crop. Wow!
This is the raised bed with some of my lettuce plantation. The slugs are appearing in such numbers I've been wondering if anyone has considered sauteeing them with butter and garlic. I can't use conventional slug bait with a Labrador around. I've got velvety black pansies, and tall, whippy garlic plants, plus some daikon, beetroot and garlic chives in as well as the lettuces.
This is a daikon or Japanese radish. The root is about a foot long. Delicious too - crunchy with just a little heat. They grow like mad - imagine how little radishes grow and multiply the size of the plant by about a thousand. Very rewarding and good to fill me up at lunchtime in my salads.

Now if anyone can explain the appearance of these beauties I'd love to hear it. In 2008 I put in a punnet of soldier poppies. Then when I got the box plants off Mrs CT they were joined by some orange toned shirley poppies. Just a few. This year I've got poppies everywhere- orange, red, pink, burgundy, white and these double ones. I didn't plant them. I'm not complaining at all, they are stunning, but I am very surprised at the development of the poppy empire in my garden. They are like a flu virus, spreading like wildfire and bullying everyone in their path. I have to sometimes come in and show them who is boss, which secretly breaks my heart, but I try to look stern and decisive in case any more get ideas above their station. These ones I am welcoming with great joy. The pink one is actually the same size as the white one, but the camera has to work hard at night and does weird things.
Remember Mrs Bird and her one egg. Well now we've got a family of four rapidly growing, charming, but rather challenged in the beauty department, baby thrushes. I thought they were blackbirds, but Johnny said he spotted Mr Bird working damn hard along with his wife, feeding the gaping maws of his offspring with worms. You can see their beaks poised ready to receive another helping of my hardworking garden helpers. Fortunately their eyes were shut when the flash went off. Mr and Mrs Bird spent considerable time making heartwrenching alarm cries today as I tried to get on with my outside activities. They are nervy creatures who make me feel guilty even hanging up the washing.

I really hope the dear wee family make it to maturity and are the next generation to give the slugs a good hiding.

On my Christmas list this year (first draft)
2 blueberry bushes (they do better with a mate)
Other fruiting plants.
English rose bushes (ones I haven't got, obviously)
Books (another list to come)
Jewellery- the more carats the better
A new car with air conditioning.
Pretty scarves, handbags, accessories.
Vintage china- especially primula or chintz designs.
A very very pretty china teapot (vintage of course)
Big flowered clematis plants
Interesting perennials.
Bedtime. Have a great week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Canterbury Anniversary Holiday

Show weekend. That's what we call this wonderful three day weekend. And true to form, it is swelteringly hot. Actually only 26 degrees Celsius, but I wilt in the heat like a poor flower broken off in the wind. I can feel a little breeze coming in to my workroom, so I will hopefully be able to get out and do some more gardening later this afternoon. I am on a weeding rampage, but the heat makes me feel woozy every time I stand up, and I'm scared of getting sunburned. I did have a quick zip around the garden with the camera. My bare feet were scorched on the hot driveway. I would be utterly hopeless living in a truly hot place.

What have I been up to? This last week I took a small group to the Canterbury A.and P. Show, which was fun. There were some moments of behavioural difficulty to keep on top of, but generally we had a fairly stress-free time. There were lots of lovely animals to see, and as we went on Wednesday, it wasn't as unpleasantly crowded as it can get. I think the most sad thing about the show is that it is huge, with lots of farmy displays and outdoor lifestyle promotions, but it lacks the wonderful old-fashioned elements like the supersized vegetable competitions, and the handcrafts. Your best bet for nutrition is a pottle of chips or a battered sausage on a stick (called a hotdog, but not like American hotdogs). They are actually a saveloy and have a gaudy red colouring which stains the interior of the batter like some kind of toxic waste. I must say, I'm very fond of candyfloss, like pretty pastel coloured clouds that magically darken in colour when you squash them. I didn't buy any though, as I had to stay on top of my game focusing on my little crowd of teenagers. If I was distracted by a giant clump of sugar I might have lost one of them.

Speaking of delicious, sweet things, I thought I'd show you some of the roses I have out in the garden. Most of them are English Roses. I love them because they are old fashioned, but generally repeat flowering and well behaved enough for a smaller garden. I'm having a mental block on the names of some of them.

Pat Austin- such a remarkable colour. I'm hoping for a better performance from her this year. She was short, but spindly and top heavy.
New last year from the South Pacific Roses sale. I'm drawing a blank on the name, but it is very pretty and quite petite.
Rosy Cushion. My only single rose.
Mary Rose. Such a long-flowering reliable rose.
Prospero possibly? Heat makes my brain melt. Deliciously fragrant.
Mystery yellow rose from the old house- possibly Teasing Georgia.
Golden Celebration. Huge, lavish, golden globes.
Leander- I'm trying to make her climb, but she is resisting.
Crown Princess Margeurite - a complete disaster in my old garden, but when brought to the new garden hasn't looked back. She is much richer in colour than she looks here, and has the wee green bit in the middle. Lovely.
Wild Eve- what an amazing rose this is! She has a low, spreading form that is quite easy to control and this year her flowers are enormous. Bigger even than Golden Celebration. Highly recommended.
Either Cornelia or Felicia- I can't remember without checking my rose book. Very pretty and smothered in blooms.
Penelope. A cutting from Mum's garden long ago, and growing madly here.
One of my newest acquisitions - Gertrude Jekyll. She is utterly divine. I planted her on Monty's grave and she is meeting all of my expectations. I'm so pleased. She will climb up the dark blue/grey fence and look fabulous.

On the garden front, as if you weren't bored enough already, I am harvesting lettuce leaves daily. My spring onions are adding flavour to salads, and today I harvested my first daikon, or Japanese radish. It was a decent size and crisp. I want to harvest them young so they don't go woody. They probably wouldn't be to everyone's taste. Slightly hot and pungent with a fairly mild flavour for a radish- not like a turnip, but juicy and crisp like a raw one. Super quick and easy to grow too.

I've got projects to get on with, and reading to do. Also my cello to play. I hope you are all having a good day. I'm having an exceedingly happy one.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Around the garden

Today I did so much! The weather was lovely and after we had brunch with friends at the Thyme Cafe I changed into my gardening gear and started working in the Vegetable Empire. I was putting the finishing touches on the baby bear patch (small orange pumpkins-hopefully) when I spotted this lovely lady in the maple by Johnny's office window. I was rather distressed when she flew away.
She left this behind.
I tried to sneak around but there was washing to hang out, the tomato patch to level and tools to put away. I kept checking but she was nowhere to be seen. I hope she comes back.

Johnny was very busy laying some lovely carpet rolls of grass where the last of dirt mountain lurked. We are both delighted, and I'm sure Miss Dog will be too, when she has access again. There is a little paddock in the corner. My lovely raised beds are planted and are busy growing things.
My little seed raising house only has basil in it at the moment. Everything else has moved out.
These are some of my gorgeous lettuces. I can highly recommend the mixed lettuce selection in the Kings Seeds catalogue. My current favourite is a wonderful speckled lettuce.
I've got my eye on this artichoke too. I've never eaten a fresh one. It feels like I will be murdering it rather than harvesting it.
My beautiful roses are coming out like old, very good friends, returning after a long holiday.

Apart from the glorious gardening, I have sewed and sewed a Christmas present. Can't show you right now, for obvious reasons. I've also revisited another lot of old friends, the Cullens, in the four Twilight books over the past week. I couldn't help myself. I'm already looking forward to reading them again. I need to discover another fabulous series of books to collect and read over and over. I'm not sorry to say, they are usually children's books - not for wee children. I've loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons books, the Harry Potter books, and others.

Well, off to bed now, I think. Another long day ahead tomorrow. I'd better give my growly voice a good rest before it has another workout tomorrow.

Ps. I'm playing Poulenc's Serenade for cello and piano, and Faure's Pavane currently. Take a look on You Tube - you won't find me (ever) but the pieces are so lovely.