Day’s End Over The Garden Fence

IMG_1869

Summer came back this week, a few days of full-on sun before tomorrow’s promised thunder storm. As you can see, the helianthus in the guerrilla garden are all of a glow, caught here yesterday evening – sun dipping over Wenlock Edge. Even Townsend Meadow, recently doused with herbicide, looked quite good in sundowner light. The story here is that after the barley was harvested in July, much of the fallen grain germinated, turning the field into a grassy sward. This has now been dealt with. Next comes the ploughing and drilling. It is also the season of muck spreading, though thankfully not in the field behind the house. Even so, the odour is wafting about the town, especially pungent when combined with a heat wave. All of which is to say,  beauty presently comes with a bit of a whiff.

IMG_1882

*

Meanwhile back in the Farrell jungle, all is gold…

IMG_1880

IMG_1881

IMG_1856

IMG_1877

IMG_1874

IMG_1828

IMG_1858

IMG_1781

Life in Colour: GOLD

The Changing Seasons ~ This Was August

IMG_1606

And it has been all about tomatoes. The allotment polytunnel has been in production for many weeks now: more than enough from a dozen plants. This in turn has meant tomatoes with every meal and much processing of the remainder. For the latter, this year’s method of choice is simply to roast  them until soft. Additives include a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, sea salt, garlic and fresh basil.  Once cooked, all is whizzed with an electric wand-thingy and put through a coarse sieve into plastic containers. These are then frozen, contents decanted and stored in bags as sauce ‘bricks’.

Otherwise we’ve been enjoying a very simple Greek dish of repeat layers of thinly sliced potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes (starting and finishing with the potatoes) – also with added basil, seasoning, garlic, drizzle of olive oil, and baking the lot slowly in a moderate oven until the potato-slice topping is crispy. Good with baked fish and/or thinly sliced and steamed runner beans or Violette French beans. We’ve also been eating runner beans as a meal on their own, sprinkled with parmesan or pandano cheese, with or without a homemade pesto sauce, or the pistou version which uses up a tomato.

IMG_1497

I’m thinking that by now we must comprise 99% processed vegetable matter.

*

For several weeks the weather here has been more like early autumn than summer – some sun, but many overcast days and often quite chilly. We’ve even lit the wood stove a couple of evenings. But lacklustre temperatures have not stopped the garden. Geranium Rozanne made a bid to take over the entire upstairs terrace. Serious curtailing had to be implemented to ensure a bit of space for human kind. The rest of the borders also seem to be several feet taller this year, including the guerrilla garden which has done great service standing in for the too often absent summer sun.

IMG_1534

IMG_1594

IMG_1539

*

For those of you who missed our special garden visitor in early August – here he is, the male Holly Blue butterfly. It was spotted first on the sedum also seen in the photo above. Later I saw it feeding on the oregano, also much favoured by the bees:

IMG_1459

IMG_1464

IMG_1505

*

One of my favourite August flowers is the wild yellow toadflax. This is one I’ve grown from seed bought from a specialist wildflower nursery. It is common along the verges of Shropshire’s hill country, especially on the lane up the Long Mynd to Rattlinghope.

IMG_1521

*

Another summer latecomer is the Morning Glory. The deep indigo-purple ones have just started blooming in the polytunnel where they’re happily growing up a Sun Gold tomato plant. A pleasing cohabitation:

IMG_1657

And in the home garden we had a single ‘Flying Saucer’ version. I caught it fully open just as a little bee found it too. Said little critter could not get enough of the nectar. Every time it thought it was full, it made to leave, only to return again and again. Made me wonder if there was something seriously addictive in there. And what with all the pollen too: a new take on the meaning of Bee-line perhaps.

IMG_1676

IMG_1683

IMG_1682

IMG_1686

And just to show we have had some sunny interludes along with the sun flowers:

IMG_1710

The Changing Seasons: August  This month hosted by Ju-Lyn at Touring My Backyard alternating with Brian at Bushboy Blog. Ju-Lyn has been doing some delicious cooking, though sadly short of tomatoes when she needed them (Sorry about that!) And Brian has some fabulous plant and birdlife on show.

Today A Piece Of Sky Fell In The Garden

IMG_1453

And here it is:

IMG_1459

…a male Holly Blue butterfly Celastrina argiolus on the sedum. Blue butterflies tend to be very skittish, and as far as I know I’d not seen a Holly Blue before, though they are quite common. This one was also very shy, and after he flitted off to feed on the oregano flowers would only show me his underwings. But still, they are also very pretty – at first sight white, but then a shimmer of iced blue.

IMG_1464

IMG_1479

copyright 2021 Tish Farrell

Over The Field Not Far Away

IMG_0984

We’ve gone Mediterranean in Wenlock this week with temperatures hitting a surprising 30 degrees C. Here is this morning’s view of Townsend Meadow and the well ripening barley, caught as I was heading for the allotment on a pea and raspberry-picking mission.

I don’t seem to have written much about my allotment garden so far this year, even though it is my essential ‘get-away-from-it-all’ space and somewhere I go to most days. Best of all, it is only five minute walk along the field path from the house, yet it is quite a world of its own where there are now-and-then quiet exchanges with fellow gardeners, or sometimes no one else there at all.

IMG_0986

Anyway now is suddenly the season of concerted picking and consumption (peas, strawberries, new potatoes, cauliflowers, broad beans, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, onions, globe artichokes, Sun Gold tomatoes, courgettes); and also the moment when many crops are shifting gear towards later production mode: French, butter and runner beans, sweet corn, cabbages, parsnips, leeks, purple sprouting. All of which means there is much change in Farrell eating habits (another kind of getting away) as produce dictates meal content. Today, for instance, we had globe artichokes for lunch with garlic butter – and so we might well have been in France. Later we’ll have new potatoes with steamed broad beans, peas, and crispy bacon lardons. There may well be strawberries too.

IMG_0938

IMG_1001

IMG_0907

IMG_0978

IMG_0962

*

This year I’m growing a late variety of runner beans not tried before. Today the blossom was just opening – a lovely shade of pale apricot. It’s aptly named Sunset. IMG_0998

I also have a row of Firestorm growing beside the polytunnel. That bean blossom is also living up to its name:

IMG_1030

Another newcomer on the plot this year: round courgettes (zucchini)…

IMG_1004

*

And here’s the Sweet Corn being rather Incredible too – a variety not tried before:

IMG_0990

*

I also have flowers on my plots: some that bring themselves like pot marigolds, purple toadflax, the pale pink musk mallow, and others I have grown from seed e.g. Verbascum Wedding Candles (2nd photo from top)  and detail in the next shot:

IMG_1032

IMG_0989

IMG_1019

IMG_1017

And what with all the flowers, vegetable and otherwise, the place is humming with bees and hover flies. Also this morning in the heat there were scents of strawberry jam (as the fruit began to simmer on the plants) and high octane rose and sweet pea scents as the volatile oils filled the air. I kicked off my gardening clogs and went up and down the grassy paths barefoot, variously harvesting and filling water butts and watering cans, soaking myself in the process. It was blissful. Then I went back through the barley field to he who is still trying to construct a greenhouse, even though the right glass has not yet been delivered. Instead we podded a big bag full of peas and beans. Harvest home!

IMG_1025

Lens-Artists: Getting Away

Bert and Rusha at Oh, the Places We See have posed this week’s challenge.

Mysterious In Monochrome: Digitalis purpurea

IMG_0704

Foxgloves – also known as Fairy Gloves, Lion’s Mouth and Witches’ Fingers – have long featured in herbal medicine, the leaves used as infusions and compresses. But it was in the 1780s that William Withering, Shropshire-born botanist and physician, discovered the plant’s most potent use is for the slowing and strengthening of the heartbeat. In 1785 he published An account of the foxglove in which he outlined his findings and the results of his clinical trials. Foxgloves are also highly toxic, so getting the precise dosage was absolutely critical. Nevertheless, efficacy won over potential risk and eventually the active principles, digitoxin and digoxin were isolated and purified. These are still used in mainstream medicine, though the source of choice is a European species Digitalis lanata.

In his Flora Britannica, Richard Mabey also tells the story of how my corner of Shropshire on Wenlock Edge played its part during World War II when the import of European foxglove supplies was foiled by war. Apparently the foxgloves growing on certain areas of eroded limestone were especially potent. And until 1949 large quantities of the plants were also gathered across the county by members of Women’s Institutes, the leaves put to dry in nets in bakery lofts and clothes drying rooms.

The foxglove in the photo is growing in a shady corner of the garden. It brought itself there a while back and in real life is of a colour more rosy pink than purple. In monochrome, though, there’s a compelling eeriness about it. Witches’ thimbles, eh.

IMG_0702mono

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: flowers

The White Gallery

IMG_0129

This month Jude at Travel Words asks us to find beauty in shades of white and silver.

Here are a few recent finds in and around the garden.

IMG_0275

IMG_0417

IMG_0585

IMG_0587

IMG_0581

IMG_0409

IMG_0378

IMG_0479

Flowers from the top: columbine, allium, foxglove, valerian, pyracantha, pulmonaria leaves, lamb’s ears and finally, a most welcome interloper to the guerrilla garden, among the valerian, hesperis and red campion some white campion; who knows how she got there.

Life in Colour: White/Silver

After The Rain Some Garden Magic

IMG_0398

Here on Wenlock Edge it seems as if we’ve gone from winter to summer with not much spring in between. These last ten days have been warm and sun-filled, a great a time for encouraging squash and French bean seeds to sprout and planting out sweet corn. Of course along with heat and sun come worries about watering newly planted crops: the water butts were growing perilously low, and then quite unexpectedly (because it wasn’t intelligibly forecast except by the Norwegian weather site YR Weather) came a couple of nights of gently soaking summer rain. The barley in the field over the fence shot up another six inches and the home borders turned into jungles. Out in the guerrilla garden the invading Queen Anne’s Lace was bowed down with raindrops. I can’t think when I have seen anything quite so pretty. Who needs diamonds.

Life in Colour: white/silver This month at Travel Words Jude asks for white and silver sightings.

Columbine Carnival

IMG_0262

With the May rains came the columbine invasion. It happens every spring, and you never know where they will pop up next, but this year they have excelled themselves and are everywhere: over the back fence in the guerrilla garden, in the front bed beside the main road, in the paving outside the kitchen door, along the top terrace. And in all shades. They are very promiscuous. I’ve also grown some species aquilegias from seed, and this year they are flowering for the first time. I’m now wondering if they will ‘co-mingle’ with the local wild bunch and produce even more lovely shapes and shades.

IMG_0279

IMG_0272

IMG_0259

IMG_0280

IMG_3619

IMG_0270

IMG_0295

*

Now meet the cultivated bunch: the first three grown from seed from an aquilegia specialist grower, and the last one a plant ‘rescued’ from an abandoned allotment plot. The yellow varieties seem to gently flower all through the summer.

IMG_3579

IMG_0255

IMG_0287

IMG_0298

 

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Purple on the plot: bean flowers

IMG_3462

Aren’t they amazing! I was astonished this week when I saw the colour of this year’s field bean blossom. They’ve never turned out like this before.

The beans were sown back in October and the plants were around six inches (15cm) tall when winter struck. I was surprised how well they survived the recurring frosts.

Once they start flowering, they often put on a growth spur which means staking may soon be required. One year they grew nearly as tall as me. But in any event, by early summer each plant will produce a mass of small pods with miniature broad (fava) beans inside.

They are usually grown by farmers for animal feed. They also make good winter cover to protect the soil, dug in the following season as green manure. This is done before flowering. Which means NO BEANS. Which would be a shame. They are delicious (if you like broad beans) and make a very tasty version of humus. Also good for the Tex-Mex refried beans approach. But for now we can just admire the extraordinary flowers. I’m only sorry I can’t pass on their wonderful scent.

IMG_3465

Life in Colour: Purple

Six Word Saturday

“Apple of my eye”

IMG_3426Every gardener has their treasures season to season. The Evereste crab apple tree probably tops my favourites list because she covers all of them. Here she is, caught this week in the evening sun after a day of buffet and bluster, hail, wind and downpour. Already much of the blossom is ‘blown’, and whether any fruit has set, we’ll have to wait and see. The apples that come in the autumn are small and russet-blushed, an inch or two centimetres at most, but each one image perfect; doll’s house apples in other words. And after we have admired them for many weeks, the winter weather then softens them enough to make them a valuable food store for the blackbirds and pigeons. We watch them from the kitchen door.

A tree of many pleasures then. Here she is a couple of weeks ago, the blossom just opening:

IMG_3231ch

*

And this was last September (in the midst of an early autumn gale), the apples freshly formed:

IMG_9855

100_7068

*

Evereste is also queen of that unruly quarter, the-garden-over-the-fence aka the guerrilla garden, caught here early one summer’s morning. Its content changes every year:

IMG_2867gg

*

And in winter there are many new scenes:

IMG_6553

img_1083

IMG_6106

IMG_6565

IMG_1586

*

And so yes, the apple of my eye:

P1050485

Lens-Artists: Gardens  Please visit Amy’s very lovely gardens. She is hosting this week’s theme.