Heatwaves, Summer Flu, some Tuesday Views and a Mystery Plant

Having recovered from the second (mega) heatwave and a rather nasty summer flu virus, temperatures (both mine and outside!) have subsided enough for me to enjoy the garden and share a few Tuesday Views at last. πŸ™‚

At the beginning of July I enjoyed a two-week interlude between our heatwaves with pleasant temperatures and good company while my sister visited πŸ™‚ The garden was left mostly to its own devices and a few individual plants were watered to tide them over. Overall, considering the incredibly low rainfall we have had since April, the new beds have done well with minimal watering. I am constantly amazed.

Here is the Sunshine Bed in early August…

The annuals really filled in the spaces and the fact that they all survived has confirmed my suspicions that slugs and snails and not lack of watering were responsible for previous failures in my old garden. So far slugs are few and far between here, and I don’t think I have seen any snails yet!

Tithonia, various sunflowers, cosmos, as well as some (leftover) zinnias – which have fortunately turned out to be red – have transformed the bed into a sunny oasis in the dry surroundings.

And I finally got some Californina poppies to grow for me!

Oh, and a mystery plant… it may have been in with some leftover seed scattered haphazardly, but is more likely to be a weed as the flowers are rather unspectacular. But I have never seen it before. Any ideas?

 

 

The Butterfly Bed has done well too, although more ground cover will be needed – autumn will probably become my main planting season as two dry springs and summers in a row have been a challenge.

The Buddleias steal the show and have been attracting butterflies galore. Mostly Painted Ladies, a couple of Swallowtails, some Fritillaries, loads of small blues and recently also Red Admirals…

Some sturdy Scabiosa have finally flowered – sown indoors in February they were brutally planted out at the end of March and barely started growing until the end of June. But they are rewarding me with dozens of flowers and buds. πŸ™‚

And finally, the Herb Bed…

Some of the annuals are looking a little tired – it has been a tough summer. But along with the beautiful Stipa tenuissima, the Hypericums and fennel, Echinacea and Baldrian (Valerian? ‘Patrinia scabiosifolia’), as well as some cosmos and Tithonia the whole bed has provided interest since mid-June.

 

 

 

Do you also feel summer is flying by? July is just a blur now, and I am wondering what the rest of August will bring… more showers we hope!

I have put Β all the photos in a slideshow…

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I hope to catch up with some blog-reading soon and wonder how everyone’s summer is progressing. I do hope excessive heat or rain hasn’t stopped you enjoying your gardens.

Happy August! πŸ˜ƒπŸŒΈβ˜€οΈ

 

In a Vase on Monday: Classic

It’s a beautiful day, the birds are singing and it’s Monday! That means I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her weekly meme, where we plonk things from our gardens into vases to share with the world! πŸ™‚

This week I kept it simple and classic – what could be more elegant and modest than roses and lavender? Add some Alchemilla mollis (not too much) and a few strands of grass and voila! No more fuss and ado.

The light was not quite so harsh and I was able to take the photos on my patio with the top of the south-facing rockery behind.

The grass in the centre is Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ and I am in love with this plant. Its feathery flowers opened this week and transformed the rockery.

Here is a picture of it taken from the patio…

The sun was hiding behind a humid haze when I picked these flowers and I took the opportunity to harvest a few bunches of lavender before the flowers get burnt and lose their intensive perfume. When I looked back at these photos I realised the vase completely mirrors what is in the garden behind it!

Oh yes, and the other grass on the left is Melica ciliata, which I first saw growing wild in a nearby deserted stone quarry and knew it would look good in my rockery.

The pale pink rose is ‘The Fairy’, but the deeper pink one was inherited with the garden and is therefore nameless.

The scent of peonies has faded, allowing the lavender to take over, although you have to rub it to notice. The strongest scent out there right now is in fact the wild strawberries. Perhaps I will post about them another day!

What smells good in your garden today?

Have a good week, and don’t forget to visit Cathy and the Monday Vase crowd for some inspiration and smiles!

The Best Pesto I Have Ever Eaten!

The title of this post refers to the compliment I received from friends who are not vegan, when I served up our homemade vegan basil pesto for dinner recently. I was chuffed, and my Man of Many Talents thought it was time I shared my secret recipe. So here it is!

Vegan Basil Pesto

For 4-6 servings:

  • 3 cups/45 g fresh basil leaves (homegrown is best! πŸ˜‰ )
  • 90 g pine nuts (they are expensive, but splash out on the best quality you can find)
  • 15 g cashews
  • 4 level tbsps nutritious yeast (essential for texture and the slight ‘cheesy’ flavour)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (fresh if possible)
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes (the sort that come in a jar, marinated in oil), roughly chopped
  • 1 – 2 tbsps of the sun-dried tomato oil
  • 100 ml of mild olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a mixer until chunky. If the mixture is too thick you can either add a drop more oil or – if it is being eaten the same day – a splash of water to thin it slightly.

Serve over hot pasta and let all that sunshiny flavour tickle your tastebuds! Very good with a tomato salad and a cold drink. πŸ™‚

Do you love basil too? What sorts do you grow and what do you use it for?

A Hearty Bake for World Vegan Month

I have been cooking my way through the World Vegan Month of November and to finish off the series I decided to share a staple recipe I have been making regularly for some time now. Since I always have a few tins of various beans in the cupboard this hearty bake can be ready on the table in 30 minutes and is not only filling, but also tasty and nutritious.

Cannellini and Tomato Bake with Garlic Bread Topping

img_3242

For the bake:

  • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin cannellini beans
  • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional ‘glug’ of red wine or sherry!

For the topping:

  • Half a baguette, thickly sliced (you could use leftover bread of any kind here)
  • 3 tbsps olive oil mixed withΒ 1 clove garlic, crushed

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and gently saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add all the other ingredients. Gently cook for a few more minutes until it starts to thicken. In the meanwhile preheat your grill to medium – high and put a baking dish under it to warm.

When your dish is nice and hot, pour the bean and tomato mixture in. Arrange the slices of bread on top and distribute the garlic oil evenly over the slices. Place under the grill for a couple of minutes – be careful not to look away as the bread will burn very quickly if you don’t watch it! Add a little chopped fresh parsley as a garnish if you have any at hand.

 

img_3511

That’s it. Dinner in 30 minutes! πŸ˜€

img_3246

I hope you have enjoyed this series of recipes. I will be posting a vegan Christmas cookie recipe for you soon!

πŸ™‚

Spice Cupboard Inspiration

Alys, who is a dear blogging friend at Gardening Nirvana, is good at organizing stuff – in fact that is her job, organizing people. So when she asked in a recent post about where we need help with organizational matters, I immediately thought of my spice cupboard… and the large tupperware container of herbs in another cupboard taking up much needed space in my small kitchen.

My spice cupboard is one of those shallow ones above the stove. Not ideal in terms of “keep your herbs and spices cool and dry”, but what else can I put in there?! Here it is after being emptied…

SpiceCupboard

(The panel at the bottom is missing due to the dormouse… a long story you can read about here.)

Alys is such a treasure – she immediately put her thinking cap on and produced a great post all about organizing herbs and spices. I was inspired!

So, step one is “gather and review”… what chaos!

HerbsBefore

The “consolidate” and “purge” steps came next: I had to be rigorous and throw out things I really never use or that are way too old. But I also discovered some curry spices I had forgotten about, and some fresh cardamon… mmm, that smells so good. My favourite! Do you have a favourite spice?

(The cardamon inspired a cake last weekend and I shall share the recipe with you very soon.)

As I already had quite a few metal jars which are stackable I decided to invest in some new ones to match. A good decision I think…Β Here is what it now looks like, after a couple of hours of cleaning old jars, re-labelling and organizing:

SpiceCupboardRefreshed

Ahhh, that’s better.

Thanks Alys!

πŸ™‚

For all you gardeners out there, Alys also did a very useful post on how to organize your gardening tools.

If you have any organizing challenges Alys would love to help, so go and visit her at “Gardening Nirvana“. πŸ˜€

In a Vase on Monday: Ticket to the Moon

Vase18th6

The flowers in my Monday vase this week look as though they are reaching up for the sky, or with those moon daisies should I say the moon, which is why this song came to mind…

πŸ˜‰

(If you are as old as I am you will no doubt remember it, even if like me you weren’t keen on it!)

Vase18th1

Of course, I had to cut a few Aquilegias (Aquilegia vulgaris) while they are looking fresh, and the tall moon daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) and grasses growing around the edge of the lawn seemed to be suitable companions. I also have a Sanguisorba minor (salad burnet) that needed taming, and cut a large sprig. The flowers are so pretty just as they start to open…

Vase18th3

Growing near a pale pink Aquilegia is my white Dicentra (Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’) and I took a deep breath and cut one piece. It still takes some courage sometimes to cut things for a vase, but I am so glad I took the plunge this time…

Vase18th2

Some lovely white Allium cowanii (also called Allium neapolitanum) have opened the Allium season. I planted these throughout the bed at the top of the rockery last autumn and am very pleased with them. They are not too tall, so have stood up to some breezes and rain showers very well. And what’s more, despite strong sunshine on a couple of days last week they have opened slowly, with no sign of heatstroke! (The weather has been quite a mixture recently!)

Vase18th5

Thanks go to Cathy once more for hosting this meme. Go and visit her today at Rambling in the Garden to see what she has put in her vase, and see all the other vases from around the globe that have linked in. πŸ™‚

Vase18th4