Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Millie has been fox hunting

Would you believe it...we picked Millie up on Sunday evening...after her huge op and the vet said don't let her off the lead, don't let her run or jump up, etc etc. I thought there is no chance of her running anywhere. How wrong I was! Well, three days later and there is no holding her back. We have a new little dog. It was cold and frosty all day today so scents were good and there is a large fox which visits this garden. Actually he lives in the thicket of Christmas trees right next to our field! Well, Millie got wind of the scent, chased down through the French garden, high jumped a box hedge, went under the hornbeam hedge the other side, through the beech hedge on our boundary and took off! Hope she's none the worse for it! She came back hungry and still frisky. What joy to have her enjoying life again.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Poor Millie

Our little Jack Russell is not very well..she has just had a big op! So sad.......and Co Co the cat has been lost all day with no firend to cuddle up to.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Frosty Morning

On frosty mornings I sometimes envy people who work in centrally heated offices; where the air is nice and warm and your fingers arenot always chilled! But then I suppose winter gardens do have lots of joys!...well sometimes...especially when its crisp and cold and clear.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Rothko Lectures at Tate Modern

Last night was the last of six evenings spent discussing Rothko with Simon Morley at Tate Modern, along with twenty of so other keen followers of the great artist. Simon led us through a wide range of viewpoints from which to look and study Rothko and every week brought new insights. What more could you ask for but to immerse yourself in the subject while being surrounded by the rich and glorious Seagram Murals; monumental in size but warm enriching, enticing and certainly thought provoking. Thanks Simon, it was a wonderful journey of discovery. This one is called Untitled 1958 and ususally resides in Japan at the Kawamura Museum of Art; Smouldering Embers would have been my choice of title!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

English Garden Magazine

Thanks to the wonderful imagery of Jerry Harpur who rose very early one frosty morning to capture our garden in all its icy splendour, we now have a super article in the December issue of The English Garden Magazine. His son Marcus wrote the article so it was a family job! I love this time of year, when the topiary looks so clean and the clematis seedheads look so fuzzy. They are worth thier weight in gold now that nearly all the colour of summer has vanished.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Borrowed Landscape

The autumn colour has been sensational this year; especially the beech trees and warm and cheery. Here is the view from our garden looking over the river valley where the Great Ouse flows. Normally it is a small 'ratty' type of river, with reeds, big meanders and high river banks but just at the moment it is poised to become a huge lake as recent downpours drain off the fields and rush down to the sea.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Jazz nights at Stevington

Negative space takes on a new look. Normally paving makes you concentrate at the stone slabs, not at the mortar in between! This dance floor is in the reverse. Blue, red and yellow stones have been bonded in resin and set amongst the stones. The pattern has echoes of Mondrians famous painting Broadway Boogie Woogie reflecting his love affair with New York Jazz. So instead of a boring patio we have a jazzy dance floor and at night the whole scene is lit up with blue and amber LED lights!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Rothko at Stevington

I went to the Rothko exhibition at Tate Modern the other day and was astonished by the vibrancy of the colours in the Seagram Murals. We have been trying to capture the colours in 'living pictures' in the garden using purple berberis, beech and plum, as topiarised hedges in front of a wall of hornbeam. From late spring to late summer, the 'pictures' change continuously. Flowers, leaves and fruits all produce minor alterations as they form, open, mature etc; and all that is quite apart from any change in the light....morning sun, midday sun, evening sun, spring, summer and autumn! Or rain, or drizzle or many variations; not controlled as Rothko would have insisted upon, but then that makes the artwork here all the more intriguing. And of course it grows, and grows. Then has to be trimmed and looks nothing like it did before the haircut.

Why do we bother? Well its one of the most intriguing areas of the garden; these panels of red, maroon and purple hedging create different moods to be absorbed, inhaled, digested. The smaller the variation, the more absorbing it can be if all else is the walls of hornbeam against which these panels are seen. Just witness the circular walls of yew hedges at Hidcote (above the circular pool) with tiny box leaves at the base. We sat in there and were completely absorbed by the minutiae of detail.

Its all in the mind!

Raspberry Ripple

The crew from Gardener's World arrived in July to film our edible flower garden, along with Sarah Raven to present the piece. We had great fun talking about marigolds and dahlias, and all sorts of other edible petals then went inside to create a flowery ice bowl. We filled it with ice cream, mixed with some freshly gathered raspberries and then scattered petunia petals on top, picked from the hanging basket just outside the kitchen door...and the name of the petunia was 'raspberry ripple'. Sadly that bit was never shown on TV but the concept was so neat. We then had to walk to a garden table, about four times to be filmed this way and that, and by then the ice cream had begun to melt and so had the edge of the ice bowl. Must have been one of those few warm summer days...long gone now! Just a happy memory! This ice bowl is one from my book called Edible Flowers and it has rose sorbet inside...delicious!

Bonfire Night

November 5th and the colours in the garden are gloriously autumnal with yellow, oranges and reds firing off in all directions. The leaves and grasses and seedheads are all worth a look; just a moment to stop and stare and drink them of my favourite times of year.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Violet Jelly

I have so many apples in the orchard and chillies in my containers, and rosemary growing in the borders that I have been making all sorts of and chilly, apple and rosemary, apple chilly and rosemary. Chutney too, yes with chillies and apricots. But, oh dear, I still have lots of apples left, so today I thought I would try and make violet jelly using apple as the base then adding in some violet syrup which I bought from France. It had just reached the setting point when I remembered that I had seen some violets flowering in the garden (odd you might think, but lots of spring flowers like to flaunt themselves a little in autumn too) , so I went on a hunt to find them. I discovered about a dozen, nestling among their leaves, and was able to stir them into the jelly as it cooled. I thought I might freeze some of the extra apple juice and wait until more flowers appear in the spring. Don't know whether it will freeze well or not? Will the pectin content change?

Now violet jelly is great with scones or crumpets; so roll on the weekend!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Edible flower ideas for Houghton

I am demonstrating the use of edible flowers to a gardening group in Houghton on Tuesday evening and have been wondering how best to arrange the evening.

With recipes given to the local enthusiasts, we will have some food already two lavender flapjack batches will ever be the same.....different amounts of seeds...pumpkin or sunflower, flavours such as dates and ginger, butter or margarine, sweeteners such as brown or white sugar, honey, size and texture of oats, etc etc will make a difference so will the use of dried or fresh lavender and if its fresh which cultivar will be used; and will it be purple, white or pink. So that will be fun to try out and taste; then there will be lavender scones, and lavender and lemon drizzle cakes. How many different versions of those will be get!

For my part I will show how to create a really tasty chicken dish by using chicken breast rolled in lavender flowers maybe with leaves of tarragon or thyme. Cut into bite size pieces, everyone will be able to try some.

Baked mushrooms with thyme flowers is another idea; scrumptious with some tasty breads and salad; or excellent with roast fish or meat. The fragrance is fantastic! And the best news is that there are lots of thyme flowers in the garden right now so all I have to do is gather them and scatter them on the baked mushrooms at the last minute. Simple and easy!

So with lots of other ideas, involving ice bowls, flowery drinks and soups we should have an exciting evening with a really good exchange of foodie ieas. And the best news is that the group will be sipping violet blinis which taste absolutely is a mix of violet liqueur with a sparkling wine. Cheers!

My blog...

I've had a blog for a while but haven't managed to write much on it. So, with Jonathan back for the weekend after a long week at work, he's helped me out and set up a new blog for me here on Blogger.

A lot has happened over the last few months - Channel 5 have been round, we've been inundated by groups from all over the world and the garden is looking sensational. All of our new projects are settling in and the garden is feeling far more coherent.

My aim on the blog is to keep an open diary with loads of photos, news and updates. I hope to become part of the gardening blogosphere and to play an active part in the online gardening and design community.