Sunday, 31 October 2010

Flowers and Fruits

Chrisanthemum, gourds, ivy, rose hips, Chinese lanterns, apples, pine cones... free your imagination.

Friday, 29 October 2010

A Touch of Frost








Sunday, 24 October 2010

Make a Home for Insects

I had a very interesting and productive Saturday. Firstly, a friend of mine came to me saying we should take a walk across the fields and into the woods. I cannot ever say no to the idea like that. Secondly, I spent a few hours in the afternoon making the insect hotel from the material I collected in nature. It was very relaxing; I always feel good when I do something creative. This small insect hotel will be attached on the wall of my garden shed. The shed is under construction now but, I am already making a planting plan for the area around it and the decoration of the shed itself.

I recycled wooden fruit box to provide the material for the house. The wood is thin so you can even cut it with a strong scissors. I nailed the pieces together and strengthen the joints with silicon.

These are stems of Angelica and some other members of Apiaceae family. They are hollow and make an ideal material to fill in the house. Make sure the stems are not completely dry because they split easily when cut. I cut them all to the same length and filled in the lower part of the house. I secured them from falling out with a bit of wood glue. The triangle under the roof is filled with pieces of rolled cardboard.
The roof is decorated with plantain tree bark and piece of wood I found in the forest. It was covered with these tiny mushrooms.

The weather is warm, clouds don't bother me. I need to collect some more twigs, rose hips, acorns, pine cones, tree bark because I have some more ideas on my mind. So, I am taking again my walking shoes and go out. If you have some spare time do it too.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Is It Really Autumn?

For several years in a row, this Horse Chestnut in the town park has flowers, fruits, brown and new green leaves at the same time - in Autumn!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Gladioli Corms

A pile of gladioli corms.

The weather forecast for tomorrow: rain (again!). I did not lift dahlias yet; I am waiting for the first frost to damage their green parts. They are still blooming quite nicely. But I dug up gladioli corms yesterday afternoon. Over the years they produced new corms and smaller cormels aside as well and, by now, I got pile of them. I will give some to my friends again.  Living in a cold climate area, I have to dig them out and store for spring planting. Though, I noticed that the winter became milder and the cormels left in the ground grow happily the next season. I've been thinking, maybe they would survive freezing if I plant them deep enough.

The corm with small cormels aside and the old one in the middle.

Gladioli (Gladiolus) is a plant from the family Iridaceae. The name came from the Latin word for sword - gladius, referring to the shape of their leaves. They grow up from the underground stem called corm. Anatomically, it is not the same thing as bulb. The bulb have scales visible when you cut the bulb in half (like onion). The corm is solid and it serves as storage organ.

The two of new corms and cormels over the old one.

Each season, the new corms form above the one we planted in Spring. Sometimes they produce two or even three new corms. After the plant finished growing and flowering, the old corm became exhausted.
I use fork to lift the corms to prevent the damaging them. It is essential to clean new corms before storing. The stem can be easily snapped off at the corm top. Then I remove the old corm and roots. Be careful so you do not make damage to corms. Keep the scales (tunic) that surround the corm; they serve as protection.

Clean corms, ready to be stored.


After cleaning, sort out the corms according to their size. Smaller corms and cormels may be planted in spring to raise the bigger one.
Let the corms dry completely. I keep mine in a net sack in a dry, cold place (cellar). Corms may be sprinkled with some fungicide powder to prevent rot. I rather discard damaged corms than store them  to prevent fungal diseases.
I grow gladioli for their decorative flowers, mainly as cut flowers for floral arrangements. They are easy to grow, though you will need some time to do staking.

One of mine gladioli.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sweet Fantasies of Mrs. Rozalija Kurjaković

Mrs. Rozalija Kurjaković has been baking cakes for years. She can make whatever you want - a violin, a heart, football ground, flower, house, vehicles of all kinds... But, some years ago, she took a "Bakery and Cake Deco Course" in Italy where she learnt how to make sugar decorations for cakes. She presented her work today in our local culture centre. And here, there are some of her sweet fantasies.

A shell with a pearl.

Woman's head decoration called 'poculica' is a part of national costume. This is its sweet replica.


Roses and ribbons.

A bouquet.

Sugar sculpture.


A mug coated in sugar.

A bowl of fruit.

And, yes all of that is made of sugar!
See her blog for more!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Autumn Joy

The sky is clearing out. A half of October is almost here, but garden still looks good. There was no frost yet and the plants are in a rather good condition. Anyway, I will soon start clearing out the beds and borders.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'  is slowly fading away.

Echinacea seed is ready to be picked up.

Anemone japonica still in full bloom!

Chaenomeles shrub brings fruit every year.

A dinner from the field; Great Inkcap (Coprinus comatus) and Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera).

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Pumpkin, Squash and Gourd Parade

Pumpkins, squashes, gourds, marrows... all names for the fruit of colourful members of one plant family Cucurbitaceae.
They are grown for food but also for fun because they come in numerous varieties of colour, shape and size. Many of us will soon carve the pumpkin for fun and make the pumpkin pie for Halloween. Being so attractive, in almost every country where they are grown there are pumpkin festivals organized.
Who does not like to eat dry seed or many dishes made of these sweet fruits? I also use the oil extracted from seed in my cuisine; excellent in kidney bean salad.


These are called 'Turk Cap' (Cucurbita maxima)

Lagenaria vulgaris

Cucurbita pepo var. ovifera

Note: If you vant to get the fruit true to the type plant different varieties well away from each other. Othervise, they will cross-pollinate and there will be all kinds of fruits which is, of course, not so bad, especially if you love surprices.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Killer Mushroom

Two years ago, I noticed he first symptoms of wilt on my walnut tree. The bark begun to blacken near the ground, the leaves fall occurred already in late Spring and the tips of the branches dried slowly. I suspected it was some fungus and it turned up to be right.

This morning I discover the species as well. It is Armillaria mellea, a Honey fungus. They are parasitic fungi that live on the trees, both dead and living.  As fungus itself,  it is very interesting. It is one of the largest living fungus on Earth. It's mycelium can cover a space of 10 km2 and be more than thousand years old!

Near the tree trunk.

Older specimens on the tree trunk.

The fungus spreads by means of root-like rhizomorphs, that grow into the wood. That's how it spreads the infection. It spreads about 1 m2 a year, relatively close to the soil surface. So it invades roots and makes a root collar which has happened to my walnut tree. Once the tree is completely girdled it will die. So, I decided to spear my walnut further torment and it goes down this winter. The thing is, the fungus may invade other trees and shrubs and destroy them. It is not dependent of the living host because it grows on the rotten, dead wood too. I am a bit worried - how to kill the mycelium?
Right now it appeared in great number in park and forests. It is really a fantastic sight when almost every stump is covered with their fruit bodies - mushrooms. The mushroom is actually edible though, some would rather avoid it. To some people it may cause digestive problems. I eat it, but cook it first for a few minutes in boiling water (which is to be spilt away, of course).
The fungus comes in several varieties and species as well. Here, there are some photographs I took over the years.