Holly and Ivy

Two beautiful winter friends, Holly is more dramatic, with a spiky personality. She has red lips and a sharp smile. Ivy is more introverted, a clinging persona who hides hidden depths. Ivy will climb up the social ladder and suppress her rivals.

Outdoor types, the girls are often seen around town together, usually in the winter months, and at the mid winter festival where they team up with pale mistletoe who hangs around with them trying to suck up to them.

Often seen at Christmas parties together it is always Holly that gets her claws into the office staff. Never one to miss some fun, Ivy likes to trail around town with Holly.

Meanwhile the baby narcissii and crocuses sleep in their beds waiting for warmer weather

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Bringing the houseplants in

Our houseplants have always sat on the kitchen window sill but they had to be unceremoniously chucked out while we had the kitchen and bathroom replaced. Some of the plants had been here since we moved in about 24 years ago. They were old, battered, pot bound, but they had survived. Anyway the upshot was they all sat outside in the hot summer sun and got watered when the other plants outside were fed and watered. They were all close to the house with lots of plants surrounding them so they were sheltered.

It’s getting cold finally this autumn  The forecast is for cold weather and winds from tomorrow. The other garden plants are fading so it was time to get them back in.

What we found were plants that had outgrown their pots, or ones where part of the plant had crisped and died, but the other side was covered in new growth. So they are all back inside now. Tucked into new pots, with found objects as trays underneath to stop water leaking onto the window ledge. I’ve used a couple of old teacups for the Christmas cactuses that Richard bought a few weeks ago. They are already in flower.

So we have a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom full of plants ….. They might go outside again next year.

 

The leaf travels

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One tiny leaf caught up by the wind and deposited on my windscreen. One leaf so thin you can see the tiny holes (stomata) that allows gas to pass into the leaf so that photosynthesis can take place and water vapour can transpire away from the leaf. Each leaf attached to a twig, branch and limb of a tree perhaps? Once I saw a programme where they cut a tree in half, lifted the top of it up and slid a large bucket of water into the gap then lowered the tree into it. Rather like cut flowers in a vase. Then they watched as breezes sucked fluid out of the bucket, up through the network of phloem or xylem (I can never remember which) and out through the crown of the tree through the leaves. There were gallons of liquid moving through the tree. Then at the end of the summer the tree or plant starts to shut down. Nutrients and leaf colour are sucked back into the tree to be stored till spring. This is why some trees such as Walnuts should not be pruned until winter. They suck up so much fluid they seem to bleed sap if you cut them. Only in winter does the flow reduce enough to make it safe to cut the tree back.

But what about this tiny leaf on my screen? There then gone, washed away by a sharp shower of rain, into some gutter or drain. But it got me thinking before it disappeared, how a small thing can make a large thing work, how being part of a team can make things work.

Pears

A couple of weeks after our small crop of apples the pears have almost all fallen off the tree following a strong breeze. There are two left up on the tree.

As with all windfalls they are a bit battered and bruised.  We had a few earlier and I think birds have been trying to eat them too, but pears stay hard for ages then suddenly ripen so they are not soft enough for the blackbirds and robins in the garden.

What to do with them? I’m going to chop off the bad bits then poach them in white wine when they are a bit riper . I dont think they will be beautiful pears standing up right in their bowls, but a bit more of a chopped up chunky pudding, with added custard. I might take photos!

Why is the tree at an angle?  I don’t know, we put it in and it  grew this way. This year we put an old shelf upright underneath it to support it as it was tipping further. As it grows large fruit, they seem to pull on the top half. Hopefully it won’t snap. It was bought as a sapling from an old Woolworth store. It must have been planted 20 years ago and since its matured it’s always borne fruit.

Hooray for the old pear tree. Faithfull fruiter!

Smell the flowers

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Poppy time is my favourite time of the summer. First the buds swell, then split. Papery petals unfurl and stretch. Like butterfly wings emerging from its chrysalis.

Poppies are my favourite flowers, to see their cheery heads waving in the breeze in a cornfield, or along the grass verges of motorways. Their lovely flowers help feed the bees, and their pepper pot seed heads spread thousands of seeds everywhere. I love breaking the dried seed heads off and scattering the tiny grains of seed all around the garden. They don’t always grow where they are sown, but like disturbed ground and can lie dormant in the soil, which is why they can appear on building sites and why they bloomed in Flanders fields.

Poignant reminded of war. Pretty flower, or even narcotic. Poppies have power.

Fruit

Oh to be a happy pear,

Sitting on an old blue stair.

Or an apple with a smile,

Laughing and joking all the while.

What a jape

To be a grape.

And even when the sun don’t shine,

Have a drink with lots of lime.

Maybe even eat a lemon

And then again a small persimmon.

But never ever be an orange,

Cause there’s no rhyme to go with it!

Apples

We have lots of apples this year, some from our trees and others from a glut of apples from local gardeners. My partner bought a couple of bags. We also had some damsons this year off a tree. If you look closely, hiding in the front of my fruit bowl, are three tiny tomatoes which I grew (they didn’t do so well this year).

What to do with them? Last week I made an Apple lattice pie, this time I stewed some of the apples and damsons with a bit of water and some artificial sweetener that you can use in cooking. The result was a pink fluffy mess of stewed apples…

What to have with them? I could have served them with cream, or icecream, or custard. But I decided to try some shop bought organic rice pudding. The result was delicious.

I wish we grew more crops, we got some good red peppers, and a cucumber this year. I might try growing some courgettes and marrows next year. We also grow raspberries and the next door neighbour has wild blackberry canes growing into our garden so I also pick those. One thing that didn’t grow this year was some onion sets off a friend. I think out garden is too overshaded by trees that have grown up. We may have to cut the trees back a bit. We have also grown potatos in the past. That’s something else to grow next year.

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