Saturday, 21 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Friday, 6 December 2013

Outdoor Christmas Decoration

When I want to do something I just do it; a few things can prevent me to do what's on my mind. So it was this evening when I decided to decorate the entrance to my house. I did not mind the coldness and freezing wind, I just had to do it!
The fresh greenery come from my garden, a few spruce branches are a gift from my neighbor. What I used for this, well, installation are: the three wreaths made of birch twigs and Virginia creeper's vines, red apples, a bunch of white birch branches, red berries, a wooden star, some pine cones, moss, one big terracotta flower pot and a white painted branch that looks like a small tree.
Sounds like a lot of elements but, you have to admit, this is quite a cheap decor.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Early Morning Excercise

Well, we can certainly say good bye to the warm autumn days. Hello Winter! My town measures the highest snow level in the region, 20 cm. It is wet and heavy and I had lots of work to do in the morning: I had to clear the way out of the house, clean the balconies and the terrace and shake the snow off some shrubs.
I must say, It was not toil and trouble at all. Exercising in the fresh air was a pure fun!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Sorting Out the Seeds

Collecting the seeds is fun. I always have lots of flower seeds that I mostly give away to my friends. As usual, I collect lots of Echinacea, Salvia and Helianthus seeds. I also collect the seeds in nature or 'steal' some  from the other gardens e.g. when the plants peek out through the fence! So I collected the seeds of white flowering Cleome or the Spider Plant from one garden down the street. I am sure, my neighbor won't mind me taking some seed pods without having asked him before. 
I sorted out all the seed I got yesterday and made the sowing plan.

As I usually know what kind of seed I am going to collect in my garden and I make paper cones or sachets with plant names on them to store the seed. The seed that is already dry on the plants go directly into the sachets. Labelling is very important because no matter how well you recognize the various seeds, there is no way you know them all! Trust me. Otherwise you will have (as I do!) sachets with big question mark on them! 
Some seeds are released by snapping the pod or silique or simply drop off when ripe. If you are afraid to loose them before you collect them just wrap the fruits up in a sachet. When ripe, it is easy to shake off the seeds directly into the sachet.

my gourd collection 2013.

By taking the seed from fleshy fruits e.g. tomatoes, cucumbers and gourds, the most important thing is to pick them up when fairly ripe. I extract the seeds by washing them with water and dry them well before packing up into a paper bags. This year I have a nice collection of gourds. As always, there were lots of cross-pollinated ones which came in all shapes and sizes. To avoid it, one variety should be planted far away from the other. But, I don't mind it. It is fun to see what comes up.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Beautiful Days Continue

Walking around my garden today, I found out that some plants produced the second shoots and bloom again! No wonder with the weather like this. We had no frost yet and today is again 26 °C!  The first bloomer is Physostegia or Obedient plant. It is full of bees and bumblebees buzzing around. The second one is Delphinium, not yet fully opened.

I am not so sure weather this weather is good or not. In any case, it is pleasant to work in the garden. I pulled out the Gladioli corms. The old ones served its purpose and may be thrown away. But the new ones form underneath the old ones and they should be cleared from foliage and old corms. Sometimes many small corms form around the big one too. Some remain in the ground and survive the winter. Before I put them into the cellar to overwinter, I need to dry them in the sun.

There is another thing I manage to finish today. I made a warm bed for my Japanese Persimmon and Cherry as well. I made a weed free circle around the trunk, added some organic fertilizer and covered it with a straw. This will keep the soil weedless and serve as a good protection against the cold. I also bought some fleece to cover the top of the Japanese Persimmon. It is still young and needs some protection.

Pitty I have to go to the work in the afternoon. The morning always flies away!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Roses, Roses

For years I buy my roses from the same nursery. This year I bought three new and one I already had. Unfortunately, the beautiful rose 'Baron Girod de l'Ain' suddenly turned all copper brown and died! So, I wanted to replaced it. 
I find bare root roses the best way to plant them. Autumn is the best time to plant them. They will be dormant through the winter having still plenty of time to root themselves first.

Before planting them, it is good to leave them overnight in a bucket of water. There are a few simple rules when planting them. The hole needs to be deep and wide enough to place the roots freely into it. I add some organic fertilizer and water well after filling the hole with a mixture of soil and compost. Roses love slightly acid soils and adding leaf mould or leaf mulch does them good.
My new roses are:
'Augusta Loise', tea hybrid
'Acropolis', floribunda
and, 'Ispahan', old, damask rose.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Guess what it is? Jujube!

My faithful readers and commentators on my posts as well as some new followers whom I wish warm welcome, said it was a date! Well, they guessed the common name but, botanically they were far away from the truth. Ziziphus jujuba, that is the scientific name for the mysterious plant which fruits I first showed you in my last post. This tree is commonly known as jujube, Chinese date, Korean date or Indian date. But, trust me, the fruits are nothing like a true date. What's the taste like? Well, I will only say you like it or not, tastes mealy,  and sourish-sweet! The good thing is that they contain a lot of vitamin C and are actually good for our health.

Jujube is a small tree, reaching up to 10 m. In Croatia, it is only found in the warm areas, along the Adriatic coast. The fruits may be eaten fresh. In China, India and Iran they dry them and consume as a snack with coffee. 

The fruits really look like dates having a single hard seed in the middle. The common Croatian names for this tree are: žižula, cicindra, čičimak or ćićindula. It is used as herb for insomnia, anxiety and stress. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Gifts of Plenty

The days are simply beautiful here in Croatia. Another warm and sunny Autumn, perfect to prepare the gardens for the Winter and gather the fruits.
Piles of fallen walnut tree leaves are an inevitable picture in this season. Thanks God, these are the last one! Now I can collect what's left in the flower beds and other places where I cannot rake them.
I have plenty of walnuts this year; I think I will sell some too. The price is really good.

I had some friends visiting yesterday afternoon and got a crate full of apples from their orchard. The other just came from the seaside and brought me some dried figs. I love figs both fresh and dried. I always use dry figs in the Christmas cake.

This is the collection of gourds from my garden. The summer was rather dry again and I manage to collect only a few. I love these with wings. I also have pumpkins but I am not sure if they would reach the maturity.  I love pumpkins simply baked in the owen...
And, to conclude the post, there is a riddle for you. Do you you know what kind of fruit this is? And I don't mean the dried figs!

The answer follows in my next post.
Be well and enjoy the Autumn days. I wish they are as beautiful as they are here! 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Day Out

My cousin called me yesterday evening saying: 'Be ready tomorrow morning at six o'clock. I am going to pick you up and we are off to the woods to gather mushrooms.' Well, how can I cannot say no to that? Today is a national holiday and I have a day off. But my cousin had to be at work at one o'clock. That's why we were going out so early. And besides, we had one hour drive to the forest we wanted to go. 
The beams of the rising sun going through the trees was my first camera shot this morning...
We walked good four hours and found quite a lot of mushroom specimens. Well, finding specimens and taking pictures of them was more my goal of this trip. My cousin and her friend we picked up on our way to the forest were more interested in mushroom edibility!
Anyway, I took lots of photographs and found some edible mushrooms as well: cep, honey fungus, parasol mushroom, and a few specimens of the genus Russula. 

The most abundant were the Trumpets of the Dead mushrooms, Craterellus cornucopioides. I am going to dry them and have them as a spice to various dishes e.g. goulash. When dried the flavor becomes more intense and seems like a black truffle.
It started to rain just a few minutes ago and the temperature is not so low as one might expect.  Interesting, the next five days the temperature should rise up to 23°C! With enough moisture, the weather conditions should be favorable for the mushroom growth. I don't have to take a long walk to find them. I pick them in the town park quite near to my house.

Friday, 20 September 2013


I am a great mushroom lover and finding a specimen like this one makes me overwhelmed with happiness. The one of the reasons for this reaction is the fact that this fungus is very rare. It is 
Polyporus umbellatus, the Umbrella Polypore (once Grifola umbellata). 

Notice my hand underneath, and this is only a half of the whole bush!

The fruiting body consists of numerous caps growing from the base. The mushroom prefers oak stumps. This one of mine weighed 2 kg! It is edible, very savory and delicious. I gave a half of it to my neighbour who also loves mushrooms but he is more interested in their edibility. I, on the other hand, love the mushrooms in all their aspects and for years notice and photograph all the mushrooms I can find.

Well, the mushroom is edible. Fry it in on the butter with a bit of onion or garlic, season with some salt and pepper. Eggs might be added too at the end of cooking.
There is another specimen similar to this one - Grifola frondosa, Hen of the Woods. It is edible too so, no fatal mistakes possibile.

Check for my other findings on my other blog

Finally Finished!

I am on two weeks leave enjoying the things I like: music, peaceful reading in the cosy corner of my living room, going out to the woods and making pretty (I think) things. A passionate crafts women, that's what I am. I have finally finished the cross shaped succulent gardens ordered some weeks ago. Normally, making this hypertufa planters goes smoothly, but this time I had some troubles finishing them.

As the Bible says: 'To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...' This verse crossed my mind when I was making this hypertufa crosses. Surely, hot summer days are the best time to do it. The planters are dry in 24 hours and still workable - I need to brush them off with a steel brush. 

Last week when I made them, the weather was cold and wet. It was raining and my planters took ages to dry. The two of them broke in a half when I started to brush the sides! Luckily, they may be repaired. So I did it but they again had to dry for some time.

Planting them requires lots of planting material and some time but, that is the best part of the whole job. I am rather content with the final result and I hope my customer will be too.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Kale and co.

During the working week, there is not much time left for working in the garden. I have only a few hours left before dark and it is already dark at eight o'clock. To be honest, I am not in a mood to work in the garden every day.  Like today, I am a bit tired. So, I just took a walk into the garden to check it out. There's lots of weeds to pull out, lawn to mow... 
My kales waked up after the spells of rain.  It is really amazing how little it takes for plants to recover.

I did watering the garden during the dry spells but nothing can replace a good rain shower. Like the last year, I planted three varieties of kale. This vegetable has many good features. It comes late in a season when there nothing's really left in the garden. It is very good for our health. And, it is also very decorative. I love this dark variety called 'Black Tuscany'.

This ruffled leaves with beautiful purple veins belong to the 'Scarlet' variety. It shows more color as the cold days approach and it is supposed to be really all scarlet red.

Don't you love the color of these chilli peppers? I put some in my dish yesterday, they are really hot! 

This cute potato sends you love as I do!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

My Gourd Collection

I have just picked up some of my gourds. I was not really aware how big they already are and ready to harvest. My favourite this year is the white one with wings.

There is really lots of varieties in this seed collection I bought this year. 

These have almost black bottom and bright yellow top with wings.

They all came up from one seed collection from T&M called 'Autumn Glory'. I am delighted!

Click HERE to view the offer.
And, to end up this post, just check it out these siamese twins!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Late Summer Crop

Doesn't this photo say Autumn is knocking on the doors? I took it some days ago while walking the outskirt streets of my town. It is time when we pick up plenty of the fruits in the orchards and vegetable gardens. I saw many plum trees with broken branches. The plums are so plenty and the branches broke under the weight of them.

I have plenty of tomatoes. There are all kinds of fruits: big, medium, small, round, oval and egg like too. I haven't made any ketchup or juice, I love to eat them fresh in the season.

I enjoy lower temperatures and the rain that started to fall yesterday. Thanks God! Many people love Summer but I am looking forward to the Autumn days. I got a basket full of apples from my neighbour. They are to be eaten right away so I made an 'apfelstrudel'.

The whole garden came alive after the rain. I see, there is lots of work to do before Winter but, what a difference working in this cooler weather!
I guess, my first job will be cutting down some shrubs, especially Cornus. They became monsters!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Cumquat and Agapanthus

I am ashamed to admit I have completely forgotten all about my Cumquat tree. I have purchased it this Spring along the Japanese persimmon and planted it in a pot. As you can see, the foliage is not in a perfect healthy condition. This yellow patches are a classical sign of lack of the nutrient. I plan to repot it in Autumn before I get it inside to overwinter.
To my great surprise, the small tree is full of flowers and I am looking forward on seeing the first fruits. Obviously, the high temperatures does not do it any harm.

Another surprise in my garden comes again from a pot plant - Agapanthus. After two non-flowering years, this summer it produced four flower stems.

There is now a really big crowd in the pot and I think I will divide it in Autumn. The division is necessary every three or four years to keep the plant vigorous. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Summer Goes On

I wonder who made it?

Five o'clock in the morning. Pitch dark outside. Not so long ago I used to get up so early and work in the garden before it gets too hot. The temperatures are lower up to 10 degrees thanks to the weather change from the north but, again, not a drop of rain fell down. It seems this doesn't bother my tomatoes. I pick up plenty of them every day.

Some roses varieties are also continuously blooming like 'Polka' above. It is a bushy rose that might be trained as a climber. It has lovely, fragrant peach colored flowers with many petals.

This Clematis was in full bloom about month ago. I don't know really why the flowers were smaller than they used to be. It produced masses of them though, and looked beautiful.

Nothing can be done in the garden before the rain falls. Digging would only ruin the soil and I could not remove the weeds completely. 
There is no rain on the horizon for another week... terrible.