Tuesday at Two (July 30th)

It rained! After almost 40°C at the weekend, a few good showers over the last day or two have revived a few plants. But some will be lost. Never mind. A lesson for next year… more grasses and lavenders, sedums and centranthus, which all do well even if we do have damp years in the future.

TuesdayViewJuly30th

The grass seems a little greener, although most of what you see is the plaintain and moon daisy leaves mown low.

Just as I was taking the photo today, this flew over!

TuesdayViewandPlaneJuly30th

That blue sky with a cool breeze is wonderful.

I’m also enjoying the blue of the Russian Sage at the moment…

RussianSage2

The cone flowers are open now, although they suffered a bit in the strong sun…

Coneflower

And the fennel is a lovely sight too. It barely wilted in the heat, so I think I will have to plant some more in another very dry spot.

FennelwithInsect

Have you ever grown fennel?

Raspberry Meringue Tart

RaspberryMeringueTart2

I have a weakness for books about plants, as most gardeners do, but I also have a large collection of cookbooks and this German one was the latest addition…

Cookbook2

It is a collection of “Grandma’s favourites”, with real old-fashioned cakes and desserts that German Grandmothers put down in their old recipe books! What I like most is the fruity recipes, as they use berries, rhubarb, apples etc to make beautiful seasonal creations that are simple to put together and often healthier than more modern recipes.

Cookbook1

This tart was the first recipe I chose to make, as raspberries are starting to come into the shops and markets now. I was VERY impressed with the sweet pastry base, which is almost like cake. Definitely a base to use in future creations!

The first time I made it there was far too much filling, and the remaining meringue and berries was spread on a baking tray next to the tart… you should have seen me and my Mum spooning up the still warm meringues when they came out the oven, uttering just one “word” over and over:

Mmmmmm!

This is the adapted version, with just the right amount of summery filling for the tart case. But if you fancy extra berry meringues too, just add another egg white and 100g fruit to the filling mixture! 😉

Raspberry (and Blueberry) Meringue Tart

RaspberryMeringueTart1

Tart Case

  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 120g (1 stick) softened butter
  • 150g (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks (Reserve whites for below)

Sift flour, baking powder and sugar and add other ingredients. Mix to a dough (it will be rather sticky!) and chill for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Roll dough out on a floured surface to fit a greased 28cm baking tin or quiche dish. Press in firmly, prick base all over with a fork, cover with greaseproof paper and put baking beans on top. Bake blind for 15 minutes.

Filling

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g (just under 1 cup) sugar
  • 500g (1 lb) raspberries, fresh or frozen (or other berries – I used 375g raspberries and 125g blueberries)

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gradually whisk in the sugar. Fold in the berries and spread over base. Bake at 180°C/350°F for 35-40 minutes. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

RaspberryMeringueTart3

Absolutely perfect for Sunday Tea in the garden!

😀

The Colours of July

I have been walking around my garden at a more leisurely pace than May and June, more suited to the heat. Perhaps you’d like to see what has been flowering here this month. Take a walk with me, barefoot of course, and enjoy the colours of July.

ORANGE

Roses…

ApricotRoses

~~~

Geum…

Geum

~~~

Day Lilies…

DarkDayLily

~~~

Cosmos…

Cosmos

~~~

Cosmos with Hoverfly…

CosmosAndHoverfly

~

BLUE

Nigella…

Nigella

~~~

Nigella with Longhorn Beetle…

NigellaandBeetle

~~~

Gentiana…

Gentian

~~~

Clematis…

Clematis

~~~

Lavender…

Lavender

~

PINK

Rugosa Rose and Ground Beetle…

RoseandBeetle

~~~

Spiraea and Bee…

JulyBee

~~~

Crown Vetch…

Vetch

~~~

Lychnis coronaria…

Lychnis

~

YELLOW

Anthemis tinctoria..

AnthemisTinctoria

~~~

Hypericum…

Hypericum

~~~

Tetragonolobus… (Lotus?)

DragonsTeeth

What colours are making a statement in your July?

Tuesday at Two (July 23rd)

Over three weeks without rain now, and the sun has been very strong as well, so the grass is looking pretty frazzled… it crunches when we walk across it!

TuesdayViewJuly23rd

A lot of the garden has just shrivelled up in the heat, but some plants are amazingly resilient. This Ononis spinosa (Spiny Restharrow) for example…

OnonisSpinosa

And the Russian Sage of course, which has just started to bloom…

RussianSage

Which plants in your garden are most resilient to drought?

Lemon and Mint Refresher

Phew! It’s hot!

Time for another refreshing cold drink.

Lemon and Mint Refresher

Lemon and Mint Refresher1

Half-fill a tumbler with ice. Add 3 mint leaves and 3 lemon verbena or lemon balm leaves. Add 1 tsp brown sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Mash together a little to release the flavour of the leaves, and then top up with sparkling mineral water.

Add a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon to garnish and stir till the sugar has dissolved.

Lemon and Mint Refresher

Aaah. That’s nice and cold!

How do you keep cool in a heatwave?

Tuesday at Two (July 16th) and Hollyhock Rust

Beautiful weather again. If we could just have a good rain one night it would be perfect!

TuesdayViewJuly16th

Down in the rockery a hollyhock has bloomed, and is looking fairly healthy still.

Hollyhocks

However, the dreaded rust is already attacking its leaves. I shall have to remove them and dispose of them, as I would hate it to spread to the nearby Hibiscus. Do you have any plants affected by rust? Does anyone have a cure for it? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

The RHS website www.rhs.org.uk has some useful tips on dealing withhollyhock rust here.

Book Review: Bring Up The Bodies

Bring Up The Bodies

by Hilary Mantel

BringUpTheBodies3

This is a review I’ve been meaning to post for some time now. Even if you haven’t read Wolf Hall, the first in this (what promises to be a) trilogy, Bring up the Bodies is an excellent read. Perfect for your summer holidays! I thought Wolf Hall was fantastic, but the sequel was much easier to get into at the beginning, and focussed immediately on the court of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I enjoyed it immensely.

Hilary Mantel takes you back to the early sixteenth century, when Henry VIII still hasn’t had a legitimate son to succeed him on the throne of England. The death of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and the “imprisonment” of his daughter Mary, later to become Queen Mary, coincide with the increasing discomfort within the royal court at Anne Boleyn’s behaviour. At the head of this, advising the king and controlling all the strings it seems, is Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell’s political deeds and manipulations are revealed with exquisite detail. In fact, despite clearly using a lot of imagination and fantasy, Mantel sticks to details such as dates and places with fastidious precision.

As the book progresses England’s isolation from the Catholic Church becomes clearer and the fate of the monasteries is hinted at. With this backdrop, the future of Henry’s monarchy is considered to be at risk and an heir is the absolute priority. Henry is by this time besotted with Jane Seymour. Cromwell’s role here is to ensure that Anne is removed from the throne legally, so that Jane may be accepted as the new Queen, while at the same time various families and connections useful to his and the king’s own future are secured. He is a genius. And yet somehow we suspect that as his net is spun, he may also fall victim to his own cunning plans… in fact we may even begin to wish he does…

Extremely well written and powerfully compelling to the last page. Different to other historical novels, I feel – as you are drawn into the dialogues and characters so genuinely and transported immediately into the court of Henry and into Cromwell’s head. I am now hoping the third novel will be out soon. And will it remain at a trilogy? I thoroughly recommend this book, and if you have the time to read Wolf Hall first, all the better, but not a necessity.

BringUpTheBodies2

By the way, Hilary Mantel won The Man Booker Prize for both these novels, making her the first woman to win the prize twice.