Sunday, 29 April 2012

Salad Days - April

It's autumn and though the tomatoes are finishing up, there's still plenty to forage up for an interesting salad. (I posted here about the tough Juliet tomato plant - it's still hanging in there!) Luckily green tomatoes continue to ripen if you bring them inside.

This pot of mixed lettuces is almost finished. I have another pot growing on in the glasshouse which will be ready to switch out soon.

Grow, my darlings, grow.

For the coldest days of winter, I have sorrel. This is one tough little plant - even frost won't knock it back. It has a delicious lemony tang which livens up any sandwich.

A yummy mixed salad of lettuces, sorrel, rocket, tomatoes and feta cheese.

This post is part of the 52 week Salad Challenge hosted at Veg Plotting. Once a month everyone posts to show how they are getting on producing salads from their garden. Here's this month's post. I missed last month's due to my internet problems but now I'm back... and I'm aiming not to miss any more!

Saturday, 28 April 2012


 Last year I was interviewed for an article in Avenues magazine, about Christchurch bloggers. The article was meant to be published around December/January, but though I peeked there was no sign of it. It wasn't in February, March or April either, so I figured they had decided not to use it after all, and got on with my life. Then last week my workmate brought a copy in for the staff room table. I was flicking through it on my lunch break and to my surprise, came face to face with myself. The article highlights five bloggers in total and all are worth checking out.

Mr Lui is SO impressed that his mum is in a magazine. (He did find the article useful for sitting on - as the muddy pawprints will attest.)

It's the May issue, and if you would like to read the article it's online here.

Welcome to everyone who's found my blog through the article - I hope you'll want to visit again.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

On my reading table - Vintage Flowers

 When this book and I met at the library, I eyed it somewhat dubiously and imagined its pages to be full of kitschy, retro arrangements featuring genuine vintage silk flowers. (An impression strengthened by the way my library has cut and pasted the cover, making this arrangement even more funerary.) Well, granny chic is hot right now, it could be interesting, I reasoned, and tucked it in my bag.

Upon arriving home I opened the book, and realised that my first impressions weren't too far wrong, except that the arrangements are made (mostly) with real flowers. However, it is still kitschy, retro, granny-cool and gorgeous. Also, I must point out, it's a new book - from 2011.

The layout of the book is beautiful. There is a chapter dedicated to roses, and thanks to the quirky vintage vibe, the arrangements are classic but never boring. It's not a how-to book, but the gorgeous photos and juxtaposition of the images will give you inspiration aplenty.

There are plenty of seasonal ideas too.

While it's not a how-to book, there are still some basic techniques explained - how to make a hand-tied posy, how to make a satisfying jug of flowers, how to use floral foam. But really it's all about the images. I'm already missing this book (I had to return it to the library) but it's on my wishlist, and I'm hoping we'll meet again in the future.

I'm linking up again to HolleyGarden's monthly book review post. See here for more gardening books to read.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

April afternoons

I did the big almond harvest recently. A grand total of 6! On the tree almonds look very much like unripe peaches. The green fruit eventually splits open to show the kernel, which in turn splits open to reveal the almond inside. Basically, when your fruit is shrivelled and mouldy looking, the nut is ready to be picked. Anyway, I was pleased with my 6, since I didn't baby them or protect them from frosts in the spring, so I think they did pretty well. I'd like to get another tree to plant this winter (they are ornamental as well) so having two trees might increase the yield.

We have been having lovely autumn afternoons. Just perfect times when it's a joy to be outside. Cold in the evenings though - I don't think the first frost is that far off.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

April flowers

 Flowers and arrangements from my garden in April. It's still very much the season of the dahlia and they are flowering like mad. I am still getting the odd rose (Queen Elizabeth is now on her second flush) and the cosmos will continue bravely until the frost. I saw a flock of greenfinches alight and begin to feast upon the seeds, so it must be time to start putting out birdseed cakes again.

 I've read a couple of books about flower arranging this month and got inspired. Hopefully I'll have some reviews to share soon. My favourite arrangement turned out to be the simplest - the glass jar that I put a wire handle on and hung on the wall. It looks best with one beautiful stem in it - simple and perfect.

I also learned to make a hand-tied posy, hooray! (It's really not hard at all.) It makes all the difference when putting your bunch in a vase and stops the stems flopping everywhere.

And I've recently joined the Succulent Appreciation Society, with my little pot featuring a sedum sieboldii, dichondra silver falls (not technically a succulent but its silver foliage blended beautifully), and little rosettes which I took as cuttings from a plant already in my garden, unfortunately I don't know the name. I've never really been a fan of succulents but I needed a little pot to put in a dry place, and when I saw the pretty purple blush on the leaves of the sedum I was smitten. The pink candy floss flowers are a bonus!

I'm linking up to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Friday, 13 April 2012

The potager in April

 It took two weekends, one of which was the long Easter weekend, to get the potager into shape. I weeded, pulled out old plants, weeded more, and planted out cabbages and broccoli and spring onions and lettuce. Small seedlings had plastic bottle cloches placed over them to help them put on a bit of weight before winter.

 Baby lavender seedlings are along the front path - I want a lovely bushy hedge next spring.

 Looking towards the glasshouse and it looks pretty tidy if I do say so myself. I'm impressed with the upright rosemary which will make a striking winter focal point - a couple of the plants already have flowers opening.

 This little pot of lettuces is still going strong. I have some more sown in the glasshouse to take over soon. Behind them, the bed is full of broccoli.

 At the back left a squadron of leeks is lined up. The big monster on the right is a zucchini which is just about at the end of its life. I achieved my goal this year of having the inner edge of the outer beds all lined with calendula, hopefully I timed it right so they will flower through winter.

 Two tomato plants which were neglected by me over summer (I was too busy being mad at the weather) have flopped everywhere but are still producing fruit. One is Juliet, which I grow every year because nothing seems to faze it, and one is Baxters Early Bush Cherry which is being smothered by Juliet, so I haven't really been able to form an opinion of it.

It's funny how a hard wooden chair is always more comfortable if it's intended for humans, than a soft mat which is intended for cats. (He's actually quite lucky the seat didn't tip up and send him flying!)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

My new maple

 I've been wanting a Japanese maple in my garden for quite some time, and last weekend I finally got one! It's called Burgundy Lace (I think... I've misplaced the label already) and should stay burgundy/red through summer and change to fiery red in autumn. I'm very much looking forward to watching it change throughout the seasons. That dahlia might need to be shifted though, what a clash! The maple is in a pot for now but I'll plant it in the ground in winter, so it can bush out a bit.

 Here it is backlit by the sun. It looks so pretty coming out of the white puff of gaura, almost like smoke and flames.

Lovely autumn colours. Sometimes I wish life was just one long autumn afternoon...

Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter afternoon

 We had gorgeous weather for easter. Autumn is such a beautiful time. I worked hard in the garden planting bulbs and tidying the potager, and this afternoon I decided just to relax and enjoy the sunshine. Out I went with my blanket, book, and crochet. I saw a picture in a catalogue of a crochet necklace and thought I would see if I can recreate it. No doubt if I went online I'd find a similar pattern in a jiffy but just for a change I'm attempting to do it all by myself - well, with the aid of a couple of pattern books too. We shall see, perhaps I'll get bored before finishing, but today it was a fun project.

 I had pink refreshments to sustain me - rhubarb fizz and last week's cupcakes (which were stored in the freezer and rejuvenated in the microwave).

The aftermath

Thursday, 5 April 2012


The change of season is making itself known. The end of daylight savings last weekend brings early night and the promise of colder days to come. I comfort myself as best I can by cosying up the house with extra blankets, snuggly cushions on the couch, extra lamps, candles. I made strawberry cupcakes with the last big glut of strawberries, and lavender bags with the last of the lavender.

Autumn foliage and fungus are popping up. I'll have berries soon to add to my autumn Tiny Things display. I was amazed to come across this sea of toadstools, while visiting Jon's mum in Waimate -  they are really seasonally festive.

Our internet connection is on the blink. We are still in the throes of figuring out the problem - is it the modem, at 1 year and 50 weeks, coming to the end of its life? (The techies at our ISP seem to think so.) When I plugged in the old ADSL modem, things worked fine for a couple of days, before the connection began to drop again. Presumably the next step is for a technician to come out and check the wiring, find nothing wrong, and charge through the nose for it. Oh technology, I love you so.

This weekend I'll be out in the garden, tidying up, pruning, planting the last of the bulbs. Reading magazines and pining for my internet fix. See you all soon, hopefully!


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