‘Blossom by blossom the Spring begins’ – Allerton Swinburne, poet (1837-1909)
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars” – Kahlil Gibran
wordless Wednesday – Walking boots out – Hurrah – 4 January 2017 #outdoorblogger
As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul. Anonymous
Merry Christmas everyone – I’m late to the party as usual for in A Vase on Monday; I’ve been wiped out with flu all week confined to bed, which messed our Christmas plans a bit.
It feels a bit odd writing about lavender at this time of year – it has been a very odd year in many ways – and I don’t just mean the weird weather. I’ve been back at work over a year, in a new role too, but it takes just about all my energy to do my job and run the basics of life – hence my rather intermittent blogging. Thank goodness for my Chap who is truly wonderful and takes care of me every day.
Lavender is one of my favourite plants – I adore its scent as well as the flowers. I have about 15 plants around my sunny, front garden – varieties include Munstead, Hidcote, Vera (White) – They thrive in the fairly rubbly soil. I’ve got some other lavender in the back garden in pots on the deck – under the conifers that overhang from my neighbour’s garden. So as you can imagine I was thrilled to find some still flowering in December – despite the very wet and windy weather we’ve had in Manchester. I picked these on 23 December 2016.
I’ve written about lavender quite a few times on the blog, but I think this is the first time the flowers have appeared in a vase alone.
- In a vase on Monday – keep calm and carry on – 22 September 2016
- (Not) In a Vase on Monday – Remembering the gentle giant – 2 May 2016
- In a vase on Monday – white, purple, aquamarine and john rylands too – 18 August 2015
- Spring – daffodils and a lavender project – 21 February 2015 – a very early blog post about a dried lavender sewing project.
- lavender has appeared many times on Wordless Wednesday photos too – Wordless Wednesday – lavender in the Mancunian Sunshine
- and lavender appears on my very first blog post too – I waited a long time for a garden of my own well into my 40s – 12 February 2015.
- It won’t surprise you that lavender will be integral to our wedding flowers in Sept 2017.
- The other plants lurking at the bottom of the garden are the remnants of the blackberry and raspberry canes – which reminded me to hunt out my last jam jar for the photos.
As usual, I am joining in with Cathy from Rambling in the Garden who hosts this link up – she has a simple, beautiful, vase of snowberries and rosehips – it looks very wintry and festive. I do love looking at flowers, plants and vases from around the world – it definitely brightens by days – and my mission for next year is to pick, photo and post more often about the plants from my garden – and be more prompt on Mondays even though Cathy says it doesn’t matter if I’m late.
Women’s Institute prize winning jam – yes really
My jam won ‘tastiest jam’ at our Women’s Institute weekend away in September. I am staggered still, as it’s only my second attempt at jam and there was ALOT of competition. We had a wonderful time in the Cheshire countryside at a Scout camp at our Big Weekender – do have a look at the photos :-). I was very chuffed to win this badge 🙂
- Big weekender – September 2016
- I’m a member of Cottonopolis Women’s Institute in Ancoats in Manchester city centre – www.cottonopoliswi.com/
Recipe – Autumn Fruit Jam
I used 900g mixed soft fruit which included:
- about 300g v tart blackberries from garden
- two big Braeburn apples – cored, peeled and sliced
- about 200g blueberries – only about 20 from garden, most were from a well known supermarket 😉
- about 250g frozen raspberries from the garden
- handful v v tart red currants from my garden
and 800g jam sugar (this has more pectin)
- I put blackberries and apple in first in my maslin pan, added the raspberries and blueberries and topped up with redcurrants.
- I added the sugar slowly and ensured it melted first, then added a bit more.
- I simmered and stirred, everything slowly stunned to mush.
- Keep going til you get a ‘rolling boil’ – the liquid went darker and the bubbles look thicker.
- To check the jam will set I used the frozen plate method
- put plate in the freezer – take plate out when ‘rolling boil’ – splodge a blob of jam on the plate – push it to see if jam wrinkles then it’s ready
- I’ve also got a jam thermometer but i prefer the plate method.
- My chap ladled the jam into the jars – jam funnel much easier.
- Jars and lids were washed and ‘cooked’ in oven to sterilise them.
- pour the jam in when still warm 🙂
- I’ve made chutney for years but jam is MUCH quicker to do.
If you’re wondering why I picked a Pinkster gin bottle – it’s because it’s flavoured with raspberries 🙂 and these bottles are from gin explorer boxes that come monthly for my Chap from me. It’s a really great way to try out new gins.
- gin explorer – ginexplorer.com/ *
The Christmas gin fairy might just have brought a full size bottle too – shame I’m still feeling far too rough to drink anything apart from peppermint tea. But it’s not all been bad, I’ve been checking out wedding photographers. I’m on the mend slowly, but that’s been the recurring theme of 2016.
I hope you’ve all have a lovely, relaxing Christmas break and that 2017 is a really good year for you.
Love Bec xx
*I wasn’t asked to write about ‘gin explorer’ and I pay full subscription price for each box.
14 December 2016 – Zippy Santa at the Manchester Markets – Albert Square
30/11/2016 – @MancVegPeople – organic veg boxes at University of Manchester