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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Bugs

Many people get creeps just on a very thought of insects but, I simply love them! They have been fascinating  me the whole of my life. OK, I admit, not all of them are pretty sight but, there is many beautiful creatures among them. Just think of butterflies and many colourful beetles.
Many of them dwell in our gardens...

The dragon fly feeding itself.

This green one likes mint leaves.

A kind of wasp.

Mating is in order.





Sunday, 26 June 2011

New DIY Projects

What I have been doing these days...





Friday, 24 June 2011

Honeysuckle


I think, most of you would agree with me when I say that honeysuckle has one of the most intoxicating of all garden scents. It is especially intensive in the evening and all through the night when it spreads over the garden and comes into a house through the open windows.


I planted one of my honeysuckle some four years ago after having rescued it from a certain death! My aunt, namely, all of the sudden decided that the honeysuckle became too big for the spot and wanted to eradicate it! Luckily, I was there that day visiting her and took the root ball  to my garden. Ever since, it has been growing happily up and along the fence and on the rose arch as well. It twines alone on the support and doesn't need tying up. It is my scented sitting place right in the middle of the vegetable garden; the rose 'Felicite Perpetue' on one side of the arch, honeysuckle on the other...

honeysucle and rose 'Felicite Perpetue'

Honeysuckle loves moist, rich and light soil. They are adopted to shade but love to have some sun during the day. They can be easily propagated by semi-ripe cuttings taken in July or August.

Scented friends, honeysuckle and 'Felicite Perpetue'

***

Yesterday evening I sow a multitude of fireflies in the garden! They always appear around June 24th, when Christians celebrate St. John the Baptist Day. It was a beautiful sight and I thought how little it takes to bring smile on our face, don't you agree?



Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Garden Detailes

Garden is not all plants and layout. Adding some interesting details gives it a personal touch. I love the items I find in nature...

Wooden plates and snail shells.

A hollow stump used as a planter.

An old basket filled up with seasonal flowers.

Old brick fit nicely into a natural looking garden.

Old mugs used as planters. Make sure to drill the hole for drainage!




Monday, 20 June 2011

Red Currant Jelly


Red currant is ready to be picked up. This year the crop is exceptionally well. I have six young bushes and each of them gave 2 kg of pure berries!! I made a jelly today and I want to share this recipe with you.

Ingredients:

2 kg red currant berries
1 sachet of jelly powder (25 g); contains pectin
1.2 kg sugar

Put the berries into a cooking dish and crush the berries to get the juice. Cook until hot and pass it through the clean clothe to get the pure juice. Or, do it in the juicer without cooking it.
I got 1.2 l of juice out of 2 kg currant.
Now pour the juice into a cooking dish, add jelly powder and stir until starts to cook. Add slowly sugar and stir constantly. Remove foam as it appears. Jelly is ready in five to ten minutes. You can check the consistency on a plate; just put some jelly on the plate and cool it. If you can turn the plate up side down and jelly is still there - the jelly is done!
Warm up jars into oven and fill it with hot jelly. 
I got five 1/2 litre jars of jelly of 2 kg currant.


Jar labels by   

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Lavander Sugar


It is nearly the summer day and lavender started to bloom. Who can resit it's beautiful scent or those tiny violet flowers? I think many of us use lavender sachets as repellent for moths in our wardrobes. But, you can use lavender flowers to aromatize sugar. Just fill a jar with alternate layers of sugar and lavender flowers. You can crush the flowers between the fingers as you add them into a jar to release the essential oil. Close the jar and leave it for some time. This sugar may be used to make desserts or as tea sweetener.


Don't wait too long to pick the lavender flowers. The best time is as soon as they start to open. You can make bunches and dry them up side down on some warm airy place. Usually, we fill sachets with the flowers, but stems too contain the essential oil and you can simply cut them into small pieces and mix with flowers. Or, you can make this 'package' of lavender itself.


1. Cut some long lavender flower stems and make a bunch.
2. Hold the bunch up side down and brake all the stems downwards.
3. Hold the stems at the top and arrange them evenly around the flower part. 
4. Tie the ends firmly, trim them and voila! you have a nice lavender bunch for your wardrobe.


A Time for Hortensia









Thursday, 16 June 2011

Decoupage Workshop


Both my friend Marina and I are known as creative persons and were asked to lead the decoupage workshop in The Community Centre in our town. We use this technique to decorate all kind of things - plates, boxes, watering cans, bird houses, picture frames... Lately, we enjoy making shabby chic furniture. 
The Community Centre provided with all the material we needed: paint, brushes, paper serviettes, special glue, flower pots, boxes...


It was 12 of us all together - just about the right number to avoid the crowd - with occasional visitors who only popped up to see what's going on. Marina demonstrated  mixing the colours and provided the old furniture. She also showed how to get this shabby look.


In three hours, women made lots of lovely decorated things. In the end, we all came to conclusion how relaxing this work was and we certainly have to socialise this way it more often! As myself, I really enjoyed it.



Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Flowers To Eat

Tropaeolum majus 'Tip Top Apricot'

 Nasturtium flowers as well as leaves are edible - not a secret at all. I love them because they remind me on granny's  cottage garden where they were trailing and climbing old weathered wooden fences. 
What is commonly known as nasturtium is actually the genus Tropaeolum. When the plants came to Europe from South or Central America, I have no idea. Anyway, thanks to one who has brought it here!

on the terrace

Being a very popular plant, there are many cultivars of them present on the market. The trailing species are good for window and terrace boxes, and the climbing ones for trellis and fences. I also plant them in the vegetable garden circling the vegetable beds with bushy one species. Snails don't love them and, except of being decorative, they have this protective function as well.

Tropaeolum majus 'Strawberries & Cream'

Tropaeolum seeds are usually sown outdoors where are to flower. I have sown mine in pots in March to get the plants early and then transplanted them in the garden and containers. I keep collecting the seeds but often some seeds overwinter outside and germinate in Spring. 
All parts of the plant is edible. Some make pickles of flower buds, looks somewhat like capers. Leaves and flowers may be put into salads or you can make this nasturtium butter.


You will need:
250 g butter, some salt, 10 - 15 nasturtium flowers and 5 nasturtium leaves. Chop flowers and leaves to tiny pieces. Mix into butter and add salt to taste. Roll it into sausage, Wrap it into cling foil and leave in the refrigerator or deep freezer for some time. The flavour is really mild and it also looks attractive. Use it to top cooked vegetables or bread spread for breakfast or cold plates. If you have time, you can fill the cookie moulds with it to form butter cake.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Vegetable garden

I picked up the last pea pods yesterday and have all together 3 kg of peas. Not bad for only 2 square metres of land sown with peas. Following the crop rotation, I planted kale on the same spot. I had pretty nice young plants of kale grown from seed. It germinated very well and I had some extra plants to give away to my friend and neighbours. I have two cultivars of kale - 'Black Tuscany' and 'Dwarf Green Curled' - and I cannot wait to see them fully grown because they are actually pretty plants. I mulched the bed with hay.


The weather last week was really the topical kind - warm, rainy and very moist. No wonder that garden looks abundant and luxurious. Everything grows like crazy! Well, weeds too!

climbing beans

kohlrabi

early cabbage

celery and tomatoes

In spite of all that moist and rainy weather favourable to fungus diseases, all plants are healthy. There are not many snails either. I keep collecting them regularly and trap them into used toilette odour containers! I fill it up with beer (snails love it!) and put into vegetable beds. The container has a lid that looks like a small roof so, beer is also protected from rain falling in!





Sunday, 12 June 2011

Herb Labels

It's easy to make these simple and very decorative herb labels. All you need is a piece of terracotta roof tile, a bamboo cane and some glue. I used silicon gun for the purpose.
The name is written with all surface writing pen resistant to water. And, voila! It looks good, doesnt' it?



Saturday, 11 June 2011

Salvia sclarea var.turkestanica


I got this sage a few years ago from my neighbour and ever since it happily self seeds in my garden. This is is a bold, robust plant and needs lots of space in the garden. It can be up to 1 m high. The leaves are pretty rough to touch, broad and hairy. The flowers are tiny, held in colourful bracts that can be white or lilac.
Like all sages, the plant contains oil. It is used widely in perfumes and flavouring for vermouths, liqueurs and wines. Clary sage is a biennial plant native to the Mediterranean. 


Like all biennials, the young plants develop by the winter in the first year, and produce flowers the next year. The flowering time is pretty long and it is surely a nice addition to mix flower beds and borders.






Thursday, 9 June 2011

Cane Tops

Canes we use for plant support may be very dangerous, especially for eyes so, use of cane tops for safety is a good idea. There are cane tops to be bought in the garden shops but, I use perfume bottle tops for the purpose. Both decorative and practical, it is yet another way to recycle and reuse the things that will surely end up in the trash.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Garden in June


I am certain, the most of the gardens look their best in June. So it is the case with mine. For most of the plants in it, this is the blooming time. The garden is rich in colours, shapes and sizes of numerous species of plants planted in it. 


The rain gave the boost to plants and washed the dust. Purple and violet colour tones of Penstemon hirsutus and Salvia nemorosa 'Blaukoeningin' mix well with silvery leaves of Stachys byzantina.



The bells started to open their flowers too. Soon, the lilies will follow along with hemerocalises and phloxes. Mowing and weeding are done and these days I only enjoy walking around and taking the photographs. When the garden is large, the most important thing is to keep it tidy and free of weeds. It takes an hour or two of slow work a day. Once the garden became neglected, it takes much more to bring it back to shape.
Actually, I have not so much weeds in the borders because of the dense planting. More work is needed to keep the brick edges and paths clean. I do all my weeding manually because I don't want to use any herbicides. To avoid weeding in the vegetable garden, the beds are covered with grass clippings.


This is my resting place in the middle of the vegetable garden, a shady place under the rose 'Felicite et Perpetue' and Lonicera, full of sweet scent.
And, this afternoon I picked up the first pea pods. There was not a single unhealthy pea and I got 1.5 kg of peas out of one large bowl of pods!