Musings from the heart of Wiltshire, erm Chippenham actually... Gardening, GYO, Food, Travel & Lifestyle
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Most of the year this shrub lurks unnoticed at the bottom corner of my garden. However, it comes into its own at this gloomy time of year with its cheerful candy pink blooms and delicious scent. It's Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'.
The arrival of a big box is always exciting, like Christmas come early, and last week was no exception when a trial recipe box arrived courtesy of Riverford. They currently have Sarah Raven as guest chef and this was the first week out of four different recipe boxes on offer, with seasonally adapted recipes from her latest book, Good Good Food.
The box contains everything needed* to create three recipes with accompanying goodies for two people and retails at £36.95. There's a suggested cooking order for each dish; I reversed 2 and 3 as the chicken recipe requires marinading overnight. The dishes were:
Tomato and Poppy Seed Tart served with salad leavesSangria Chichen served with red rice and salad leavesSweet and Sour Vegetable Curry served with red rice
My box arrived on its appointed day last Wednesday at 7.30 am, much to our surprise. It seems deliveries can start as early as 6 am, so luckily ours arrived when we were awake**
As you can see from the above collage, everything is…
I was really happy when Barbara gave me an unusual looking Pilea peperomiodes aka Chinese Money Plant last summer. Little did I know then just how cool and trendy they are, being at the forefront of the houseplant revival. They even have a dedicated Pilea Lovers page on Instagram with over 21,000 Followers - it's not often you'll find me amongst the hipsters!
I nearly wrote an article on my new treasure back then, but Jane beat me to it with a far more comprehensive guide than I could have managed with loads of links to further information. Jack's written a great blog post on how to divide them too.
When I noticed my plant wasn't looking quite as happy as it should as you can see above photo, I knew just the right people to consult on Twitter, along with Andrew who's acquired quite a houseplant collection recently.
From their replies it's clear I am a perfect example of how not to look after a Pilea as follows: Place it on your sunniest windowsill - south facin…
It's been great to see lots of people showing off their produce and show prizes on social media the past week or so. Prime village fete season is here and I'm delighted to be judging at Foxham again after my debut there last year.
I dusted down my judging clipboard this week to find most of the 'equipment' I use is still in there. Can you spot what's missing in the above photo? NB there's a clue in the next paragraph...
I also see there's some hastily scribbled notes on what I was looking for, plus some general observations on last year's standard of display. I thought I'd expand these, so that my job is harder this year. These notes should be good for anyone thinking of dipping their toes into showing off their produce, not just at Foxham Show.
Before the show Have a look at the schedule and spot which items in your garden and/or house are likely candidates for you to show. It's been a tough growing season this year, but don't let that put …
The great thing about memes like #mygardenrightnow is they let us pause and have a proper look at the garden. I've been on holiday this week and I thought the recent cold snap would mean a wintery drabness on my return. Yesterday's inspection showed the garden's having none of it. There's still plenty to see, plus a few surprises.
Autumn hasn't quite finished here at VP Gardens, which means there are flashes of colour and some floral delights everywhere I look. True, they're on a smaller scale than previous editions of #mygardenrightnow, but the current season means they're especially welcome. Those fat hellebore buds shown bottom right in the collage also show promise of winter delights to come.
Sometimes fate conspires to take us in an unexpected direction, just like it has with my quest for fitness this year. In the last five minutes of a 5 week trial of walking netball, my feet got carried away in chasing after a ball. I eventually crashed into a cupboard then onto the concrete floor. Ouch.
I've got off relatively lightly. My pride at playing a better and swifter game suddenly came crashing down, which is a good lesson to learn. The more obvious results are a goth-like face without the need for make-up, minor concussion, bruised knees and a fractured wrist. 10 days later, yesterday at last brought good news... the bone has stayed in place without pinning, so I can look forward to 5 more weeks in a plaster cast. No driving in that time and no return to netball for around 3 months.
As is my usual wont, I'm concentrating on what I can do rather than what I can't. However, I'm also having to face up to reality. What I need to do in the garden is out of the que…
I've decided one of my salad challenges for this year is to grow as many lettuce varieties as I can, ready for the publication of my planned Factsheet* later on.
The idea is to grow as many of the Tried and Trusted lettuce varieties last year's Salad Challengers helped compile, then provide a visual guide and as many lettuce facts as I can muster. So far I've found around half of those listed**. Then naturally whilst I was out searching - because such is the way with seeds - a number of other varieties found their way home too ;)
A couple of weeks ago I sowed 22 varieties***. Just the simple act of sowing them has me intrigued. Why are some lettuce seeds black and others white****? They split into about half white to half black in my sample and as far as I can tell it's nothing to do with whether they're a type of cos, iceberg, or whatever.
I sowed them indoors and popped them into a propagator on the windowsill. The soil's too cold outside for sowing and it w…
This year has seen a bumper apple harvest, possibly the biggest in decades, so like many of you I've had my work cut out keeping up with the crates of apples piling into my kitchen. NAH has been most happy for me to convert a fair portion of the spoils into the pictured jars of his favourite apple jelly. As you can see all kinds of jars have been pressed into service. My apple jelly is a little different to the usual kind. Neither NAH or I are particularly big on jellies or chutneys accompanying our meat, fish or cheese*, which is the traditional way of eating them. Also when I chose my apple trees, I went for the dessert varieties as that's what we like to eat. So my apple jelly is used like jam: on bread and often accompanying peanut butter. All the recipes I have are for a savoury jelly, often flavoured with herbs such as mint or rosemary. They usually call for cooking or crab apples and so need quite a lot of sugar to sweeten them and to counteract the recipe's vinegar. T…
Christmas wreaths are increasingly common feature on front doors in my corner of the world, and to make your own is a popular workshop (here's my attempt from a couple of years ago - I made something similar on Saturday).
I think this simple arrangement of Aucuba japonica and red Cornus stems tied together with ribbon is an equally effective seasonal welcome. It's an easy idea to source and copy using festive looking greenery and stems foraged from your own garden or nearby.
The doorway hails from Holt and it isn't the first time this delightful Wiltshire village has featured in my Unusual Gardens strand. I found an equally beguiling Statue nearby in 2014.
It's major catch up time this week, with seed sowing underway at last*. Quite a few have been sown at home, and the others are set to be dealt with at the allotment this weekend, once I've cleared the raised beds of all the naughty weeds that have sprung up. I'm particularly looking forward to trialling the new Optigrow seeds I've been given (at the bottom centre of the picture) as they might just help me make up for lost time.
So far I'm particularly impressed with the cucumber seeds I'm trialling courtesy of Mr Fothergill as they all germinated within 4 days. These come with their own mini greenhouse and coir based compost; the latter was great to watch grow from its 1cm high starter disc to an impressive 5cms when I added the water**.
Our curries have been transformed this year by the use of fresh turmeric, which in turn gives a wonderfully fresh flavour. I was delighted to find there's lots of information about growing and the use of this in Matt Biggs…
"Do something today your future self will thank you for" ~ Unknown. This is a great quote for New Year's Day and the ultimate resolution!
Looking at the last few Muse Days I've posted, it's obvious I'm ripe for trying out new things, just like I was when I started this blog. I've signed up to try walking netball and Rock Choir already, and I'm looking forward to the Try Something New event at the Neeld Hall soon. I wonder if this is the year I finally pluck up my courage and go to the Chippenham Ukuleles sessions ('scuse pun).
Garden and travelwise, I'm looking forward to a trip to Ashwood Nurseries in February and the Garden Bloggers Fling in Texas in May. It'll be interesting to see gardens from a totally different climate to mine, as well as experiencing what Texas has to offer, Austin in particular.
I'm going to try growing Lithops from seed in Jane's Houseplant sowalong and my Flowers for Mum project is set to morph into Toma…