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…
Some days are destined to be extra special and the last day of September was one of them. Not only did I get to swan around a secret garden in the heart of London, I - along with twenty or so other garden bloggers - had the good fortune to meet Monty Don and preview his latest book, Down to Earth.
...nestled close to Piccadilly Circus and whisked up to the fourth floor, there's a different world waiting to be explored. It's a beautiful, productive roof garden complete with a bug hotel, bee hives and a green roof on the shed. It was a great space to explore with my blogging buddies and unlike my poor tomatoes, the hotel's were still going strong with not a hint of blight. I also envied the huge aubergines and curly chillies in the display.
There was plentiful space for entertaining, though we were too busy chatting and enjoying the warm afternoon in the garden to move onto the inviting sofas. Then Monty appeared…
When an owner says their garden is 'drier than Jerusalem', the last thing you expect is to arrive in a downpour of biblical proportions. That's what happened when I visited Ulting Wick recently. 'Third time lucky' I thought when I made the arrangements, as I've tried and failed to visit the past 2 years. That thought was almost my downfall. Almost.
The rain was coming down so heavily when I arrived I could hardly see out of the car window and I was deafened by the noise. Bright flashes of lightning made the courtyard stand out in stark relief for a second before fading again into the murk. I was giggling so hard at the irony, I struggled to get into my rain gear. Also which of the buildings I'd glimpsed should I run to for shelter?
Luckily owner Philippa Burough quickly came to my rescue and guided me to the potting shed where she and new head gardener Lou Nicholls had taken shelter from the storm. It was a great opportunity for Lou to take a selfie of us …
I entered a new world at the weekend, courtesy of my friend Sally who invited me to judge the flower classes at Foxham Horse Show. After I said I'd love to, a little bit of jiggery-pokery ensued and I swiftly achieved promotion to fruit, veg AND flower classes.
I was totally unaware this event existed until Sally volunteered as show secretary this year. Not only does it exist, it celebrated its 30th birthday on Saturday. The horse show is the main raison d'etre with around 300 horses attending this year's competitions of all kinds. The produce classes were added a couple of years ago as a fun way of involving more people.
Foxham is a small village around 5 miles north of Chippenham. It's a pleasant drive which follows Maud Heath's Causeway for quite a way and goes through the hamlet of Kellaways. This is the source for the naming of the Kellaways Formation, a particular series of sands and clays from the Jurassic period.* It shows even a tiny dot on the map can ach…
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.
This plant always makes me smile at this time of the year: it's a reminder of a wonderful afternoon at Knoll Gardens in the company of owner Neil Lucas's enthusiasm a few years ago. He had many Persicaria to show us that day, and it was 'Fat Domino' that stole my heart with its large flower heads waving to me from the nursery area.
It's proved to be an easy care perennial since I placed it in the lower terrace bed; it only needs cutting down at the end of winter and then given a topping of mulch to see it through the year. It's rewarded me with over 60 flower heads from one plant, and when I peered below the leaves yesterday, it looks like I have a plant ripe for division into two. This is earmarked for behind the white phlox you can see in the background as there's a hidden gap there which needs to be filled.
I've also cleared a space in front of the phlox, which is thick with alliums in spring, but now needs something added there for later interest. …
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…
It's the first weekend of September and time for the autumn edition of #mygardenrightnow!
We had a fantastic response in March and June, and I look forward to seeing how your garden's growing this weekend. I'm expecting to see lots of late season colour and harvests from the plot, plus plenty of projects and garden tasks on the go. I wonder if we'll have clear winners in the flower and crop photos this time? Mr Linky is lined up below for your blog only contributions, followed by some FAQs for those of you who are new to #mygardenrightnow.
I'll also scout for your hashtagged submissions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote your posts. Facebook entries can be a little tricky to find sometimes, so do please give me a nudge via my Facebook Page to help find them if this is where you choose to respond (NB a tip from my friend Bren in Ohio - make sure you set your post to Public, so we can find it).
A note for Mr Linky, please submit the URL of your blog post, …
I don't know who leapt the furthest, me or the frog I found in the garden on Sunday. I was tidying a quiet corner of the garden and this beautiful sight was my reward, once I'd got over the surprise! It got me thinking, I don't have a pond at VP Gardens, but frogs do seem to like it here. There's a stream nearby which helps, so what am I doing right to encourage them?
This article from The Guardian has some pointers. Apparently frogs spend two years on land before they breed and they love lots of leaf litter and log piles to hide in. These places are also a good source of favourite food such as slugs. I have plenty of leaf litter courtesy of the trees nearby and my 'compost direct' policy, plus I've hidden a number of small log piles in quiet corners. Shady areas and the clay soil probably help as parts of the garden remain damp even in exceptionally dry weather.
I've since realised I had an improvised pond in the shape of a small tub trug tucked away a…