Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Contorted hazel and sky

I'm away to visit my Mom in Holland for 2 weeks, so see you all when I return. Wishing everyone some lovely warm days, to go and putter in your gardens.

Looks like the weather will be nice here, this was the sky yesterday evening. "Red sky at night, shepherds delight" And I suppose, birds and airplane's delight as well!
See you!

Monday, February 18, 2008

winter food: lambs lettuce

Lamb's lettuce (Valerianella locusta) has self seeded all over one of my veggie garden plots. It has been growing all winter, and it has been used on many of our sandwiches for lunch. I've left it there, for not many things grow all winter long, so fresh and tasty.
This is the leafy green that Rapunzel's mother was craving in the faerie tales. She was pregnant at the time, and begged her husband to steal it from the witch's garden. I don't blame her, it does have a lovely taste. But her husband was caught and the witch demanded their first born child in exchange for the lamb's lettuce. He agreed. Crazy man! I don't think I would got to that length to acquire this green! Luckily, it grows easily in my garden, so no need to give up my first born.

Photos not showing?

Has anyone else had problems posting photos today? Mine don't seem to be uploading correctly.
Wanted to post about more winter food..
Testing silly photo...
*edit* Eh.. 10 minutes later.. now it works. *bewildered*
Edit again.. many minutes later, and it again doesn't show. I think I'll wait a while to do my post.

Friday, February 15, 2008

February Bloomday

There's a few flowers out. The weather has been lovely, warmish days, good for weeding and getting soil ready for veggies.

Starting by the back door, I'll show you around the garden:

In the round bed behind the house, there is a calendula, which has been there all winter. It's in a sorry state, but still putting out flowers. I've left it be, just for its spunk at pulling through the cold weather.

Next to it is the only blooming daffodil at the moment. All other daffs are still buds.
A candytuft has been sitting in a pot by the back door all winter, trying very hard to bloom. I think it might just succeed soon.
There was a zaluzianskia blooming too, but the photo didn't quite work out.

Going onward to towards the back of the garden, snowdrops poke through the grass by the witch hazel. I have planted snowdrops everywhere, here and there. I love them.

Across the stepping stone path, the corkscrew hazel is starting to grow its catkins, there is the first little group in the center of the photo.

Next to that is the little pussy willow, Salix Caprea. One little catkin is just beginning to show.

In front of my shed, there are wallflowers beginning to bloom.
Now we move around the house towards the front. There are little daisies here and there in the grass, but the photos just didn't come out well. There was also one feverfew flower in a stray plant by the side door, that also came out fuzzy.

In the front garden, the euphorbia is looking spendid.

In front of that, the heather is still blooming since the beginning of winter.

Going further to the front, Pippin is helping me find the flowers.. oh, there's a daffodil bud near him.

The little primulas look eaten, must be slugs around. There was a couple violas nearby, but they looked even worse.

Ah, here's a daisy, pretending to be an important flower in my front flower bed. I hate to weed it away, so it will stay awile.
Now we go back around to my veggie garden. The kale was blooming little yellow flowers, but the photo was fuzzy.

Snowdrops bloom in the freshly weeded strawberry bed.

Inside, the Christmas cactus is still putting out the odd flower or two. The thunbergia is also still blooming a few flowers, but looking very ragged. Time to trim that soon.
There are flowers blooming all over the world today, you can see some of them on Carol's blog at May Dreams Garden, for February Bloomday.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I love my apple trees

The fruit of love, the apple tree.

I've been wanting an apple tree in my garden since I was a child. Apples are my favorite fruit, I eat one almost daily. Now that I have a nice large garden, I am finally able to grow two apple trees of my own. Neither is self pollinating, so it was necessary to have two. Even better!

Going through the seasons.. here are the pink flower buds before they open in mid April.

And more opening later during the month.

Mid May, they still flowering nicely. I can see the pair of trees out of my kitchen window, so can admire them as I wash dishes.

In early June, little apples begin to form. As they get larger, many fall off on their own, making room for the healthiest to grow on.

Finally, apples are large enough to start picking and eating! The branches are so heavy with apples, I had to prop them up with old christmas tree branches to keep them off the ground.
This is the cooking apple tree. Very large and slightly sour, but mostly sweet. With a most lovely blush of red on bright green apples. I have lost the labels, and can't remember the names of either one, unfortunately.

The eating apple tree has lovely red apples, very sweet and juicy. We bought both of these trees from a local nursery. The owner was the sweetest man, talking to us of oak trees and grape vines and wild fuchsias. Of apple trees, he only had these two there at that time, so we had no choice but to get these. I had brought with me a little list of ones I might like, but he had none of those.

Anyway, I am very happy with my two trees. In their third year, they produced an amazingly large crop of apples. I ate a red one off the tree every day for a couple months. The birds were especially fond of these as well, as you can see in the picture, they have pecked it to bits. And the cooking apples were used in various dishes, my favorites being red cabbage and apples, stewed apples with spices and raisins, egg-soaked bread baked with sliced apples and cheddar cheese.. But my most favorite way of using them was cut up in oatmeal.

Oatmeal, raisins, apples, water, milk.. cook it up. Then in the bowl with a knob of butter, a little bit of brown sugar and lots of cinnamon. That was my breakfast for many cold winter days, till I ran out of apples.
For a few weeks after I ran out, we had bought several types of apples from the shops. They all tasted like cardboard to me, so I went without for several weeks. Then one day, my craving for apples had me eating one of the store-bought cardboard apples, and it tasted fine. Puzzling.. I might have gotten used to the fresh taste of my own apples off the trees, and store-bought apples just didn't compare in taste. Till time went by and my tongue forgot.

Here is one of them draped in webs, I think it was only a year old here, during September, when the air is filled with flying baby spiders.

And here is one in winter, in the company of a snowman.

A little bit of apple lore:
In ancient Ireland, the apple tree was known as one of the Seven Noble Sacred Trees, of which the apple was the most noble. It is said that apples were the food of Celtic Gods.
The word "Avalon" comes from an old Irish word meaning "place of the apple trees". Avalon, sacred Isle of the Apple Trees, was the place where King Arthur of legend was taken to heal his wounds.
Apples are used during Samhain (also known as Halloween), to ensure an atmosphere of trust and friendship.
Apples are also an important ingredient in love spells and healing spells.
Apples are known as the symbolic fruit of love. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, has the apple as her symbol.

So.. as today is Valentines Day, it seems appropriate to praise the apple tree.
Love and apples to you all.

March festival of the trees will be at Orchards Forever. She will have a special theme of fruit trees and orchards. For more info, see Festival of the Trees.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cheshire Cat welcomes spring

Yesterday evening, I went outside to get some herbs for dinner. And I saw the Cheshire Cat sitting in the beech tree, grinning at me. He's a long way from home, isn't he? I thought he looked especially happy, as it was a lovely warm spring day, and the evening was filled with the songs of blackbirds. In fact there was one in that tree just above the cat! I wonder if he knew. But the bird didn't seem to notice.

Down on the ground earlier in the day, the snowdrops were happily blooming in the bright sun, keeping me company as I weeded the strawberry patch they inhabit.