A Visit to the Christmas Markets

I mentioned Christmas markets in some comments last week and several people asked me to share some photos. I do find it hard to take photos that capture the atmosphere, but here are a few snapshots.

All over Germany the Christmas markets open throughout Advent attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Some are spectacular, nestled into candlelit hillsides or in the parks of great houses and castles. Some are world-famous, like Nuremburg with the angel (Christkind) opening it in an age-old ceremony. Others are simpler, offering just the traditional well-known specialities and crafts. Whichever type you visit, you will be caught up by the magic of a Christmas tradition going back centuries. Surrounded by the soft babble and chatter of other visitors, the smell of fried food and cinnamon sweets, the glitter of decorations for sale, and the cheerful faces around you, it is hard not to smile or be a little frivolous, splashing out on an extravagant candle, a glass of punch, a bag of roasted almonds or a huge jam-filled steamed dumpling covered in vanilla sauce!

I visited two markets this year – first of all Ingolstadt, which is about an hour’s drive north of Munich.

With the New Castle in the background, a sprinkling of snow, and good company, the market has all you can wish for… the traditional wooden decorations and crib figures, food and drink, jewellery, warm socks, cookie cutters, candles, more food, more drink, more decorations ….!

This man has been selling his wares on this market here for at least the past 25 years.

A smaller area nearby offered a quieter repose for another glass of punch (non-alcoholic, I assure you!) and a chat with my friends. But it was very cold that day, with a north wind.

Some of the stall-holders looked frozen to the bone, despite being well wrapped up…

On another day last week I took myself off to Regensburg, a beautiful city on the Danube, and not far from the Bavarian Forest. I always walk over to the old stone bridge if I visit, and the River Danube looked particlularly cold (but blue!) on this occasion…

Despite some bright sunshine it was a chilly day again, but the markets are so enticing and I did all my Christmas shopping there. Take a stroll with me around the markets in Regensburg and see the traditional goods they offer. (Click on any image for a slideshow…)

 

The markets take on a different atmosphere at night, which I have never managed to capture in photos as there are always SO many people and it is hard to move! The thing I love about them most of all is the cheer and friendliness which is definitely lacking in the shopping centres and supermarkets at this time of year. And the food of course. This year I had my favourite warm snack – potato noodles with sauerkraut – as well as some roasted chestnuts, roasted almonds and pumpkin seeds and some delicious non-alcoholic fruit punch. It was nice to go into a cafe afterwards to warm up properly though! ๐Ÿ˜‰

What is your favourite tradition in the run-up to Christmas?

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: A Peace Offering

Only a few sprigs of this and that were peeking out of the snow this morning, but I do love joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with a vase each week, so they made it into a little red tealight holder that a friend gave me at the weekend.

And then a few cookies were added as a peace offering, since the ingredients of the vase are far from wonderful!

Or perhaps you’d prefer a homemade mince pie?

The rosemary went into our pasta and tomato sauce for dinner, and the mint smells lovely if I touch it. ๐Ÿ™‚ So bringing a little of the frozen garden indoors does have its benefits!

Other snippets that made it into the container were golden Euonymus, yellowy-green Vinca, Pennisetum, some Erica, the very last Scabiosa and a shy Hellebore flower that insisted on turning away every time I pointed the camera at it!

(The artistic photo bottom right is courtesy of my Man of Many Talents, and a torch! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย )

If you have had snow, do take care. It is slippery out there. And if you live in warmer climes, please send me some December sunshine!

In a Vase on Monday: Yippee for Hippee…astrums!

No vase today I’m afraid. I think this picture may explain why…

But not to fear, I have a card up my sleeve and some Hippeastrums (Amaryllis) on my windowsills!

This is Jewel…

Jewel has produced one very tall stem and one very short, both flowering at the same time. I like its simplicity. Just white, no frills.

And this is Lady Jane…

I really like this one, not least because it has flowered at the perfect height of about 20cm, requiring no support whatsoever. And it is a lovely peachy orange colour with pretty markings.

Now go and visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, the host of this weekly meme which encourages us to find things from our gardens to plonk in a vase. (And forgive me for cheating a little this week! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

In a Vase on Monday: Warm and Spicy

With this Monday meme, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden encourages us to find materials from our gardens every week, all year round. By the end of November pickings are limited, but there are surprisingly still a few blooms to be found, some seedheads saved, and foliage of course too. The colours for my vase this week reminded me of cinnamon and spices, both of which will be used soon in my Christmas baking.ย ๐Ÿ™‚

I decided I could spare one sprig of the Hypericum, which is still looking so very pretty in the rockery. To accompany it there is a sprig of bronze Epimedium foliage, some Clematis seed heads, Briza (saved in the summer), and an oriental poppy seed head, all secured in floral foam inside my shallow dish which also has useful holes in the lid. A Physalis seed head and a maple and oak leaf complete the November scene, along with cinnamon sticks and a wooden mortar and pestle for grinding spices, found at a Christmas market several years ago.

Talking of Christmas markets, some have already opened, but most will open at the end of this week for the first Advent weekend. I am looking forward to the delicious smells of Cinnamon, mulled wine and roasted nuts…

Will you be visiting a market or doing some baking soon? Have a good week and stay warm!

Top Six November Blooms

Chloris at The Blooming Garden has recently been posting her top ten blooms for each month, and encoraging others to do the same. I am pleased that I can manage to join her and post six lovable flowers this month, despite the fact that is November!

The first is one you may have seen in my vase last week:

Persicaria/Polygonum amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’.

It has been flowering since July and has just got better and better. The flowers look a little battered after some heavy rain earlier in the week, and the foliage is starting to collapse after several light frosts, but it looks like I may still have some in flower in December!

Number two is my Hypericum. I have finally found the label:

Hypericum inodorum ‘Magical Red Star’

After freezing back hard last winter I was a little worried it would recover, and it did indeed take its time. But it flowered only a little later than usual in early summer, took a break for a while when it got too hot, and then with our damp September it suddenly almost doubled in size and started flowering again! Very impressive.

I will give it some extra winter protection this year (some mulch and evergreen branches spread across it).

The third flower that has become a firm favourite is this tiny Chrysanthemum which featured in my cabbage vase a couple of weeks ago.

Cath at Absent Gardener suggested it is an Argyranthemum, but the lack of a yellow centre is keeping me searching for the exact name. I love the frilly petals and it is still looking really healthy, tucked just under my porch roof for shelter. I have no idea if it will come through the winter in its pot.

Numbers four and five are new plants bought in October and planted up in pots for winter interest.

Hellebore ‘Christmas Star’.

This pure white hellebore will be planted out in spring, along with the Heucheraย below, which did not have a name on it but is one of the most common ones found here.

Heuchera foliage looks good all year round, but the little flowers on tall stalks are often quite pretty too.

Finally, number six:

Teucrium hircanicum

This Teucrium is a wonderful plant that I can recommend if you have got space, as it does spread! It loves the warm and well-drained rockery, withstanding heat and drought without any problem whatsoever. It might curl up its silvery green and aromatic leaves when it is very hot, but the next morning it looks as fresh as a daisy again. Mine is purple, but I have seen a reddish one online too called ‘Paradise Delight’, which happens to be on my shopping list for next year. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, a big thanks to Chloris for encouraging me to go out and focus on some of the better parts of November. Why not join her too? I bet there is more out there in your gardens than you think! ๐Ÿ˜‰

And to prove my point, look what I found…

 

The Tuesday View: 21st November 2017 Looking Back (Take Two!)

(Due to a technical hitch I am posting this again, hence the “Take Two”!)

Since little has changed recently in my early winter garden, and since it is pouring with rain right now, kthis week my Tuesday View is a review of the year to remind myself of how this part of the rockery develops. In fact, this was the whole point of posting photos each week; to follow progress and spot gaps or particularly successful or not so successful planting combinations. I have also been able to see how various plants cope with the conditions they face throughout the seasons in this stony bed.

I started posting photos of this view in April… doesn’t that seem like a long time ago now!

And isn’t that spring sunshine lovely? (Sigh… we are stuck in the damp fog of November right now!)

Within just two weeks the view had been transformed, with the Acer and other trees in the background leafing out and the Viburnum ‘Aurora’ in full flower… it smelt gorgeous!

From then on progress was rapid: here is a gallery of May, and you can click on any picture to see a slideshow…

June brought the Lysimachia into flower, which eventually meant changing the angle I took my photos. It was a very dry month too, but fortunately ended with several days of showers.

In early July the garden managed to recover from the long drought and was surprisingly lush for the time of year! I was very impressed with the Teucrium and Hypericum standing up to the heat, and glad to see my pink Potentilla finally flower well.

The following month was hot and very humid, and it was hard to believe it was August considering how green everything was; usually the grass is brown, and the rockery is looking frazzled. But the moisture kept everything looking fresh and healthy.

September is a beautiful time of year. It is when I breathe out and enjoy the garden most of all… the heat is over and I no longer need worry that things may burn or dry out. The rockery was still very green and I think the Teucrium – which spread throughout the bed – contributed to retaining moisture. The grasses also started looking good. My favourite season…

The Acer never fails to put on a good show in October, and the asters flowered intensely too, some right through into November. By the end of the month I could finally return to my original spot to take the photos, as a lot of plants were cut down or died back.

To sum up my thoughts: it is pleasing to see that for seven or eight months of the year the rockery has been attractive from various angles and hardly any plants suffered seriously from the heat. A couple of spots need attention, and fighting the ground elder in spring is always a problem, but overall I am a satisfied gardener!

I wonder how you feel about your gardening year. Were there any particular highlights – good or bad? Have you been able to pinpoint problem areas or gain inspiration from successful planting?

The Tuesday View posts have, for me, served their purpose. So I will not continue with them over winter. But I do hope all those who have joined me over the past months will continue sharing their views as long as they can.

Thanks to you all!

PS Here is Christina’s post this week: https://myhesperidesgarden.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/tuesday-view-21st-november-2017/

 

The Tuesday View: 21st November 2017 – Looking Back

Since little has changed recently in my early winter garden, and since it is pouring with rain right now, kthis week my Tuesday View is a review of the year to remind myself of how this part of the rockery develops. In fact, this was the whole point of posting photos each week; to follow progress and spot gaps or particularly successful or not so successful planting combinations. I have also been able to see how various plants cope with the conditions they face throughout the seasons in this stony bed.

I started posting photos of this view in April… doesn’t that seem like a long time ago now!

And isn’t that spring sunshine lovely? (Sigh… we are stuck in the damp fog of November right now!)

Within just two weeks the view had been transformed, with the Acer and other trees in the background leafing out and the Viburnum ‘Aurora’ in full flower… it smelt gorgeous!

From then on progress was rapid: here is a gallery of May, and you can click on any picture to see a slideshow…

June brought the Lysimachia into flower, which eventually meant changing the angle I took my photos. It was a very dry month too, but fortunately ended with several days of showers.

In early July the garden managed to recover from the long drought and was surprisingly lush for the time of year! I was very impressed with the Teucrium and Hypericum standing up to the heat, and glad to see my pink Potentilla finally flower well.

The following month was hot and very humid, and it was hard to believe it was August considering how green everything was; usually the grass is brown, and the rockery is looking frazzled. But the moisture kept everything looking fresh and healthy.

September is a beautiful time of year. It is when I breathe out and enjoy the garden most of all… the heat is over and I no longer need worry that things may burn or dry out. The rockery was still very green and I think the Teucrium – which spread throughout the bed – contributed to retaining moisture. The grasses also started looking good. My favourite season…

The Acer never fails to put on a good show in October, and the asters flowered intensely too, some right through into November. By the end of the month I could finally return to my original spot to take the photos, as a lot of plants were cut down or died back.

To sum up my thoughts: it is pleasing to see that for seven or eight months of the year the rockery has been attractive from various angles and hardly any plants suffered seriously from the heat. A couple of spots need attention, and fighting the ground elder in spring is always a problem, but overall I am a satisfied gardener!

I wonder how you feel about your gardening year. Were there any particular highlights – good or bad? Have you been able to pinpoint problem areas or gain inspiration from successful planting?

The Tuesday View posts have, for me, served their purpose. So I will not continue with them over winter. But I do hope all those who have joined me over the past months will continue sharing their views as long as they can.

Thanks to you all!