Before And After ~ Just Look What Became Of The Quince Blossom

Back in May I posted photos of the allotment quince tree in its final flowering and pondered on the fruit to come, the delicate scent of it when ripe and ready for the making of quince jelly and quince ‘cheese’ – the dulce de membrillo of Spain’s Iberian peninsula that is eaten with Manchego cheese. I have never made either, but this year may well be the year, that’s if I speak nicely to Phoebe, Ian and Siegfried who have taken over the care of the allotment’s small orchard where the quince tree (Cydonia oblonga) is growing.

The other day I noticed that the tree is now fruiting magnificently, doubtless a response to our heatwave, its native lands being a good deal warmer than the UK – i.e. Georgia, Armenia and Turkey. Although, according to what I have read, it is an amenable plant and will do well in cooler climates. It is drought tolerant too, so another candidate for nurturing here in the UK with our increasingly hot and rainless summers. I think I would grow it for the beauty of its blossom alone. The fruit is a bonus, even if one only wants to look at it. But no picking it yet, no matter how fat and golden it looks. That pleasure must wait till autumn’s end, after the first frosts.

IMG_1673

IMG_1678

In the Pink #14

The Thing I Didn’t Tell You About Lower Brockhampton Farmhouse…

P1080222

…was that out in the garden the air was filled with the dreamy scent of cyclamen. They were growing everywhere including under a medlar tree whose unpromising looking fruit is only ready to eat in winter, after it has ‘bletted’ i.e. the flesh softened by frost. Then, so I read, it tastes like apple sauce and can be eaten raw, or else made into a fruit jelly. The tree was introduced to England by the Romans.

P1080211sq

*

Nor inside the house did I show you the ornately carved Tudor bedstead in the master and mistresses’ bedroom off the gallery above the great hall. Or down below, the huge fireplace where once, in medieval times all the main cooking would be done. The spit-roasting tackle is on the floor beside the cast iron grate.

P1080143

P1080147

P1080137

*

Then there was the impressive timbering upstairs in the must-have gatehouse for the family going up in the world. Also in the doorway there was a nice sample panel of wattle and daub, the construction method of choice in medieval England. And then there’s the door itself – very much the thing to keep out unwanted callers with its faux portcullis lattice work:

P1080127

P1080122

P1080124

*

Back in the garden there was the swing to linger on, and across the moat the ruins of a thirteenth century Norman chapel. In the orchard the damson trees were hanging in fruit. I’m guessing these might have been sold as much for dyeing as for eating, since this is what they were used for in my part of Shropshire during the nineteenth century, and therefore probably earlier too. The apples in the orchard would have been turned into cider, Herefordshire’s traditional tipple.

P1080188

P1080190

P1080205

P1080164

P1080182

Cheers!

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

See previous post for more of the manor’s history.

In the Pink #7 

Today over at Becky’s it’s all pink wigs and tutus.

In the Pink At The Allotment And That Includes The Cauliflowers

IMG_1506

I’ve not taken you to the allotment lately. It’s been hard work all summer doing the watering, protecting crops from scorching and defending the brassicas from butterfly onslaught. But just look what cropped up this week. (And yes we have eaten it).

You have to watch cauliflowers. They can sneak up on you. One moment nothing but a bunch of leaves, the next a big head enough for two. If you miss the moment of readiness, they can soon be spoiled by grazing earwigs – the rotters.

With this year’s prolonged drought there have been a few losses and some so-so results. The broad beans and peas struggled fitfully. The runner bean seeds did not want to germinate. The strawberries started off well, then fainted. Some of the greens went grey with white fly and other nasties. The sweet peas went to seed as soon they flowered, then were attacked by aphids and had to be chopped. The French beans, though plentiful, were unusually stringy right from the get-go. And the runner beans are only now appearing at a manageable rate, this with the drop in temperature.

The courgettes, on the other hand, simply galloped away and are still producing. This I do not understand as they like to be watered well, and I have not watered them well, though they did have plenty of compost to grow in. We’ve also had good raspberries, beetroot, carrots, onions, a few squashes, and Swiss Chard which has grown itself. The borlotti and butter beans and leeks look to be doing pretty well, and we’ve had tomatoes and mini cucumbers from the polytunnel. The star success is the sweet corn, both the crop from the seedlings I bought in, and the Lark variety I grew myself. Round of applause for the Lark please even if it isn’t pink…

IMG_1541

And we have asters, which are amazingly pink. I used to think I did not like them, but after last year’s gift from fellow allotmenteer, Siegfried, when he appeared on my plot with armfuls of them, I have been quite won over and decided to grow them too. Some of them come with their own crab spiders.

 

In the Pink #4

Yesterday In The Garden ~ Kind Of Pink With Added Blue

IMG_1454

P1010049

I love the way these Blue Lace Flowers have leaned in among the plumes of Hydrangea paniculata. It was not planned. In fact I did not know what to expect of the seedlings grown from the free packet of seed that came with a gardening magazine back in March. The water colour image on the packet verged on the surreaI and I was certain I had never seen anything like it in real life.

Didiscus caerulea also known as Trachymene coerulea  was apparently introduced to Britain from Western Australia in 1828 so I can’t excuse my ignorance of its existence by thinking it a ‘new’ plant. Anyway, it is well worth growing – a half hardy annual, delicately scented, good for cutting, long flowering and around two feet tall. The leaves turn a lovely shade of tangerine as they age.

An all round good-looker then, and although dead-heading encourages new flowers, I haven’t persuaded myself to do it so far. When the petals fall the flower turns into a star burst, which then curls up into a little fist of seeds. I’m wondering if it will sow itself, though imagine the seeds would not survive an English winter. But I might try collecting some and drying them for next spring’s sowing.

That the flowers also attract hoverflies is of course an added bonus.

 

In the Pink #3

An Excitement Of Daffodils At Bodnant Garden

Even glimpsed from afar, it was an extraordinary sight – a yellow prairie against a Welsh hillscape. Euphoria was instantaneous. Whether old or young, there was nothing for it but head for the daffodils!

 

Patti at Lens-Artists asks us to show her action. Please visit the Lens-Artists to see their inspirational photos and take part in their challenges. And it’s also ‘In the Pink’ day 2 over at Becky’s.

For the story behind the creation of Bodnant Garden see earlier post  Marvellous Magnolias

Lens-Artists #9: Action

In the Pink #2 Today Becky’s gone batty.

The Changing Seasons ~ August ~ A Change In The Weather In Wenlock

P1080003

After three solid months of wall-to-wall summer with broiling temperatures and barely a spot of rain, we have skipped a good month or two and landed in autumn. It’s all very disconcerting. Fields are shorn of their grain crops, the stubble cut, bailed, stacked and now being hauled past the house in juggernaut  consignments. The muck-spreaders are in action too, top-dressing the hard-baked land for the next crop. Dubious odours waft about the place – some of them human.

Our Midlands water and sewage company  do a good trade in what they euphemistically call bio-solids. It has a low-grade, lingering pungency, but having recently watched a BBC documentary on the Secret Life of Landfill (a brief horror clip HERE on YouTube), I’m glad something useful is being done with the stuff. Animal waste also has to be recycled and one morning this week we had four tractors, grisly muck-spreading tanks in tow, thundering in convoy up and down Sheinton Street – to and from somewhere for and with some very potent slurry.

More scenically, early on Saturday evening as we were driving over to friends in neighbouring Staffordshire, we saw two tractors ploughing the red sandstone soil in tandem, a flock of seagulls swirling after them.

I keep wanting to yell, hang on! It’s still summer. Except the sudden 10 degree drop in temperature has me scurrying to the winter vest drawer. But still, out in the back garden it at least looks like summer, so to make up for talk of weird weather and bad smells, here is my August garden gallery. Somewhat perversely, the Morning Glory that has been twining up our small apple tree all summer, has waited for the cool weather to arrive before deciding to flower. A welcome sight, if surprising in the gloomier light. Likewise the Mediterranean-loving zinnias, which have stepped up a gear to full throttle blooming, and continue to be a favourite bee haunt.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The Changing Seasons  Please visit host Su for some fine NZ vistas

Lens-Artists #8 Colourful And please visit Tina and the other Lens-Artists. for some ‘colourful’ photography.  I hope Tina won’t mind my doubling up here.

Things One Finds In the Godetia!

P1010021

Godetia is another ‘good old gardener’s’ annual flower that I grew from seed this year. They are a bit pink for my taste, but very obliging. This particular plant is accompanying the chives and some Persian basil in a pot by the kitchen door and, flower-wise, is taking over blooming duty from the drumhead alliums which are now palely drooping. Yesterday it was also hosting a new bug – new to me that is. You can spot it making an entrance top right.

When I first glimpsed it, I thought it might be a dreaded crimson lily beetle, though I don’t grow lilies. They have very nasty habits (their larvae, very cunningly for larvae, disguise themselves from predators by coating themselves in black excrement while they chomp through the lilies, bud and leaf).

A closer look, however, revealed…

P1010034

… and after a few quick snaps, sent me searching on the internet, where after googling ‘orange and black bug UK’ its ID was swiftly established. So here it is, a cinnamon or rhopalid bug Corizus hyoscyami. Originally only common in southern Britain, it is now spreading. This one is probably newly emerged, August to September being the time slot for a new generation. It likes dry habitats, and has no unpleasant habits:  i.e. it does not emit smelly effusions that some other bugs are wont to do. Nothing I read indicated culpability in the plant damage department. So, until I learn otherwise, I think we may simply admire it for its very snazzy livery.

Later it hopped over to the Persian basil, where I thought it looked particularly fetching.

P1010036

Six Word Saturday

 

Pleasing Patterns

IMG_1445

The other day I noticed the tips of the apple tree boughs were encrusted with greenfly. I was going to treat them to a soap and water spray, but then forgot. The next time I looked the ants and ladybirds had moved in on the job and the greenfly invasion was much diminished. This ladybird is obviously having  some R and R in the nearby zinnias. Always good for a smile – ladybirds.

Popping Up Among The Doronicum – Crocosmia

IMG_7433

The squeezing of HeWhoBuildsSheds’ new shed into the small back garden last year meant the loss of a herbaceous border. I didn’t mind too much, although it was a challenge to find new homes for the plants. Some were sacrificed altogether; some were thrown over the hedge to take their chances; some were planted outside the back fence in the guerrilla garden, some were put in next door’s guerrilla garden (I’ve started a trend) and others were just put somewhere.

Then in the spring, as soon as the tulips were over, Shed Development Phase 2 was thrust upon me. This meant moving more plants in order to create enough space to turn one flat bed into a raised bed so that the shed could have its own gravel forecourt and thus be accessible in all seasons. This also included digging up what was left of the lawn. The upshot of this HouseThatJackBuilt ‘school of gardening’ (fortunately no cows’ horns were crumpled in the process) is that much of what is happening out there now is a complete surprise.

For instance, I have no memory of how this crocosmia arrived among the doronicum. On the other hand, I do feel I need to give it a round of applause for cutting such a horticultural dash. Well put, that flower, however you got there.

IMG_1424

Six Word Saturday

Please visit Debbie. This week she has some handy advice!

Out In The Garden Bee-Dazzled And Bee-Dizened And Bees Showing Their Knees

IMG_7412

IMG_7456

IMG_7458

IMG_7466

I popped out in the garden at lunch time, armed with my little Canon Ixus, and found it was all go on the bee front. The header flower, Helianthus Capenoch Star was proving very popular. I’d only bought it the other day, to go in the back of the flower bed that I said was ‘officially full’, and it is still in its pot, waiting for a slightly cooler moment to plant it out. In the meantime, it is being much visited. But then that goes for most of the other flowers: zinnias, cosmos, liatris, doronicum, echinacea, rudbeckia, and the self-sown purple toadflax. So many happy buzzing souls.

IMG_7428

IMG_7370

And then there was also the hoverfly:

IMG_7380