A very Happy New Year!
Wishing you all peace, happiness and a wonderful gardening year!
A very Happy New Year!
Wishing you all peace, happiness and a wonderful gardening year!
A dried up branch was spotted and retrieved from the floor of the woods some time ago and carefully tucked away in a corner of the garage. Then yesterday I brought it indoors, stuck it in a vase with some brown paper to keep it upright, added some greenery and then started unpacking my little baubles and bits and pieces to decorate it. Such a pleasing and relaxing activity, and satisfying too. My favourite little tree decorations have been collected mostly from Christmas markets over the years since living here – this will be my 25th Bavarian Christmas – and each bring back memories as I unwrap them from their tissue paper.
The standing angel was given to me by a student many years ago, the vase itself a gift from my Man of Many Talents when we still lived in a flat in the town centre! My goodness, that seems like a lifetime ago! We had a ten metre long balcony that overflowed with flowers and tomatoes each summer!
The red fairy was a gift from my sister, while the pretzel decoration was found on the Christmas market in Regensburg fairly recently. And the tiny little green Christmas tree bauble and the little green house bauble were bought with my Mum when she visited one Christmas – we visited so many markets over the years that she flew over in December!
Christmas is always full of memories for me, and I try and make new ones each year. This will be our first Christmas in the new house, where we seem to have settled permanently now. But my thoughts are already streaming ahead to next year and all the plans I have for the garden…
I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful new gardening year! Thank you for reading, liking and commenting throughout 2018. And special thanks go to Cathy who has tirelessly hosted this Monday vase meme for another year.
I may not have any flowers left in my garden for sharing with Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) for her Monday meme, but a walk in the woods provided me with material for this Advent arrangement instead of a vase.
A piece of bark, probably spruce, was found on the ground, along with some spruce and pine twigs which must have come down in the last storm. There were also plenty of spruce and pine cones and I took some lichen too. I added a few walnuts given to us by friends, and a chestnut and acorn or two gathered earlier in the autumn. At the front is a piece of the silver fir from our old garden – I love using it in Advent decorations as it lasts so well.
Wishing you all a peaceful Advent with lots of cosy candlelight.
I couldn’t let November pass by without posting a vegan recipe or two, could I… after all, it is World Vegan Month. What, you didn’t know?!
“World Vegan Month is celebrated around the world as a time to recognise how far the vegan movement has come, to highlight how accessible and beneficial a vegan lifestyle can be and to encourage the vegan-curious to adopt veganism by sharing advice, recipes and ideas.”
The Vegan Society website.
So today I am going to share a delicious lemon drizzle cake recipe which is based on my ultimate vegan victoria sponge. (You can find the victoria sponge recipe here).
It is a light and very lemony sponge cake with a lemon syrup poured over while still warm and then a tangy lemon icing drizzled over when it has cooled. So if you fancy something sweet, but fresh and zesty too, why not treat yourself! This cake has been served to non-vegans, vegetarians and vegans alike, with everyone agreeing it is extremely lemony and very tasty!
It is also incredibly easy to make.
Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F) and grease and flour a round 24cm (9 to 10 inch) springform cake tin.
For the cake mixture you will need to sieve together the following ingredients into a large mixing bowl:
Next, melt the following together in a saucepan and then allow to cool:
You will also need:
Once the butter/sugar mixture has cooled down, add it and all the other ingredients to the flour mixture and gently fold in until all the flour is incorporated. Do not beat or overmix. You should see little bubbles in the mixture as the chemistry starts to work. 😃 Pour into the cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. Check after 30 minutes as ovens do vary. Insert a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out clean the cake is done – it should be golden brown on top and starting to shrink away from the sides of the cake pan.
While the cake is baking you can prepare the syrup to drizzle over it immediately after it comes out of the oven.
In a saucepan, melt
As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, prick little holes all over the surface with a toothpick and pour the syrup carefully and slowly over the cake so it can absorb it all. Wait until the cake has cooled a little before removing it from the tin and place it on a cake rack to cool completely.
The final stage is the icing.
Mix the lemon juice into the icing sugar slowly, making sure you don’t have any lumps. You can stop adding juice as soon as it reaches the right ‘drizzling’ consistency. Drizzle this over the cold cake and allow to set a little before serving.
This recipe serves 12. Simply halve the recipe and use a 16cm round tin (or a small loaf tin) for a smaller cake like this one…
We got 8 slices out of this size.
Happy World Vegan Month!
I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to celebrate the fifth anniversary of ‘In a Vase on Monday’. Congratulations to Cathy and all those who have joined in over the past five years!
This meme has enabled me to see flowers, foliage and grasses from places in the world I will most likely never visit, as gardeners share the secrets of their beautiful gardens in a vase each week. And it has been an opportunity to share my flowers with others too. I remember being so hesitant at cutting materials when I first joined in, but gradually developed my garden so that I always had plenty of flowers for bringing indoors. And now my new garden at our house out in the countryside is being planted with vases in mind too. What a brainwave this meme was, and it is still going strong!
Well, my neglected garden at the old house has amazed me this year. With very little attention, and no watering during the months of drought, here are some summer flowers still looking good in NOVEMBER!
While doing some tidying up at the weekend I stopped for a brief cup of coffee and took my mug out into the garden. It soon became a provisional vase for trimmings, so I decided it would suit for Cathy’s theme ‘Not in a vase on Monday’ for today. I realised afterwards that it is my ‘Happiness Garden’ mug. (Zoom in and you will see the print). How appropriate!
The Persicaria is still flowering like mad, and the lovely purple Geranium too. I found a few half-decent golden asters (Chrysopsis speciosa ‘Sunnyshine’), some fresh lavender(!) and a couple of roses from my red patio rose. A sprig of Miscanthus, some golden Euonymus, various Hypericum flowers and some sedum also went into the mug. The orange ‘lanterns’ from the Physalis alkekengi are so cheerful dotted around the rockery, but I have pulled a lot out again or they would take over. The best seedheads are then always saved for decoration.
Has your autumn also been so mild? Despite a couple of early frosts and some foggy mornings it has been more like spring than autumn, and many plants are growing new leaves.
Now, do go and visit Cathy and all the others who have posted vases today. A big thank you to Cathy, as always!
If you visit here regularly you will know I had two new flower beds dug at the beginning of the month. Well, I was extremely lucky and our beautiful October weather continued long enough for me to get the plants in that I had ordered, as well as several hundred bulbs.
Here is a photo of the herb bed in the sunshine…
… and on a frosty morning (We even had snow flurries today!)…
This contains my kitchen herbs as well as some for pure decoration such as a red-leaved Hypericum. I added some grasses – a couple of Pennisetum, an Erogrostis trichodes and several small Stipa tenuissima (will the Stipa survive our winter I wonder?) – and a Viburnum (‘Eskimo’) as a focal point in the middle. The rosemary has been planted out, rather optimistically, from a pot. Depending on how cold the winter is it should survive with a bit of coddling (i.e. mulch and fleece). (Any tips on overwintering rosemary?)
The other bed is the ‘Butterfly Bed’…
… and has already been visited by a few late butterflies, including this one (no idea what it is), posing on this newly planted Aster pringlei ‘Pink Star’…
I have also planted a lot of different grasses here as wind protection as well as for their love of dry and open positions. But among the grasses are geraniums, lavender, verbena, Japanese anemones, Perovskia and three buddleias. I am not sure if I should cut the buddleias back as they are only about 1m tall anyway. Any buddleia experts out there?!
I also bought this lovely Hellebore “Ice ‘n’ Roses, rose” from a garden centre. It is a new hybrid from the north of Germany and is supposed to flower from December to April! Well, this one is already in flower, brought on early for the nurseries, and it is so very pretty.
It will be nerve-wracking to watch these exposed beds through the winter, but most of the plants were small, well-rooted specimens from my favourite trusted online nursery (in southern Germany) costing only a few euros each, so hopefully any casualties will be minimal and not too expensive to replace. With our last two springs being so very warm and extremely dry, I have become wary of spring planting and am taking some risks.
Do you prefer to put in new plants in autumn or in spring?
As I write the rain and sleet is hammering against the window – a fine start to our ‘winter time’, as we turned our clocks back last night. Do your clocks change soon too? The debate is on in the EU whether we should finally get rid of daylight saving and stay with ‘summer time’ all year. But it may take some time before a decision is made. I will just wait and see, as I can’t see much of an advantage either way!
I first heard of this meme last autumn via Eliza, but I was too late to take any photos to join in. So this year I was prepared!
Hosted by Robin at Breezes at Dawn, this is a challenge to share a walk you have taken in the beautiful month of October. Since October is probably my favourite month of the year, and this October has been particularly beautiful in many ways, I am happy to share a walk with you that we have been taking regularly over the past few weeks with our dog, Gina. Once the heat of summer subsided in September we started exploring new territory to find a longer walk nearby and found this lovely loop that takes us about an hour. Unless we dawdle. Or meet someone to stop and chat with!
We start off by walking down from our house to the cycle path, but turn off as soon as we can to avoid ‘traffic’ and take this track parallel to the path…
It opens out onto this spectacular view…
We pass this oak that fell in the September storm. It has been partially removed, but the huge canopy remains, slowly drying up. So sad to see such an old tree uprooted. Perhaps the dry summer had weakened it.
We walk across the meadow with berries in the hedgerow…
… and look back across the path. We always walk this way late afternoon and the golden sunshine highlights the colours of the trees…
To our left, a small pond lies behind these trees. The sun is lower now…
Then we cross the path and encounter this wild bee garden that is clearly tended with loving care…
The bee house is home to several colonies of bees and is buzzing, even so late in the day and late in the season.
The next part of the walk is shady, and we speed up a bit to keep warm, but I stop to admire the wild asters…
… and the autumn leaves strewn across the footpath (do you see Gina’s ears?!)…
… as well as this large Euonymus tree/shrub…
… and this lovely old apple tree groaning under the weight of a bumper crop…
Passing an old farmhouse, this tree next to the outbuilding catches my eye. A lovely old lime tree (Linden) with two smaller ones behind it…
We also see a lot of Sumac, an invasive species here but such gorgeous colour in autumn. The German name ‘Essigbaum’ – vinegar tree – refers to the apparent use of its fruit for making vinegar… I have never heard of anyone making it here though.
A brief steep climb away from the village we have passed brings us out on to the top of the world. Well, not quite, but it feels like it! I stop for a breather. Winter wheat has been planted here and is already making the fields look a little green again.
Now we are back down in the woods – dark fir trees to our left, but still some colour from beech and oak.
Did I mention what a great year it has been for acorns? We have been crunching them underfoot since August and they are still dropping from the trees.
Finally I spot this fungus and consider it worth a shot, although it is quite dark in these woods.
Then we cross the little brook that runs alongside the cycle path and we are almost back to where we started. Just one more short uphill stint and we are home and ready for our dinner!
I hope you enjoyed our walk. Why not share a picture or two of one you have taken this month and put a link on Robin’s page by the 28th. Thank you to Robin for hosting!