“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
In search of my Mother’s garden, I found my own.
Alice Walker, writer (1942- )
Hardy fuchsias are tough – mine have been flowering well, despite very wet and windy weather in Manchester. By the time I got outside, in daylight, to pick the fuchsias the rain had pulverised the flowers on two of the three bushes I have planted around the garden. These are picked from the bush outside the kitchen window, as it’s more protected from the elements. I took the photo at 2pm with a flash, as it was so gloomy.
Fuchsias are the first flowers I remember in my Mum’s garden when I was very little – I thought they were like ballerinas. My Mum adores fuchsias, and has always had lots of hardy and tender ones all around the garden in pots. I grew up in Berkshire and our garden was heavy London clay so many of her favourite plants were in terracotta pots on the patio – I learnt to garden with her. My Mum is nearly 80 now (please don’t tell her I said that 😉 ) and still has many pots filled with fuchsia, around her large patio – and often brings another fuchsia for our collection. My Chap just smiles and finds another space for them.
I’ve cut cotoneaster too, which is next to the fuchsia by the front door, the bush is covered in red berries and the leaves are turning red – it looks glorious – I don’t know the variety as this was one of the few plants in the garden when I arrived. The cotoneaster is proping up the fuchsia stems just like it does in the garden. The dianthus was a gift and this is the very last flower – the plant never really got going this year as it’s been so wet. I bought the fuchsia in Morrisons of all places and it’s tom thumb (or a relative) – It grows to window hight which makes a lovely view when I’m washing up.
I decided to take a photo indoors too – I rarely do take indoor photos of anything as my house is quite dark (north facing) and small so there’s always something in the background.
I painted the jug at ‘Pottery Corner’ in Chorlton*, Manchester in March 2016, using glass paint. It’s just one of the many things I’ve done with my WI pals from Cottonopolis WI www.cottonopoliswi.com, in Ancoats in Manchester. I was really pleased with how well they came out, as I’m quite clumsy and not much of an artist. Do come along if you’re local or look out for a WI – it’s not what you think it will be like 🙂
Looking back – first fuchsias (and first terracotta pots)
I looked back on Facebook and found some photos of the first pots I had in my garden. My Mum came up to visit in May 2010, bringing some spare terracotta pots, and we spent a happy few hours planting them up. The number of terracotta pots has grown rather alot since then 🙂
In August 2010, I wrote (on facebook),
more pots in my garden – I had such fun planning these… could be turning into a closet gardener…
In fact, I’ve always been a gardener but I lived in flats in Manchester for over 20 years, so had no opportunity to do much. I’d garden when I was at home at my Mum and Dad’s house down South. A small garden was the number one priority when I was looking for a house to buy.
I wrote about my Mum and her love of gardening in one of my early posts in February 2015 and fuchsias get a mention too. Considering how many fuchsias I have around the garden, and how long they flower for, I’m really surprised how rarely they’ve appeared in posts or in Vases:
- Childhood garden memories – 25 Feb 2015
- Fuchsias still flowering – 25 November 2015
- In a Vase on Monday – A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (featuring a fuchsia called Star Wars) – 14 December 2015
I love fuchsias and have plenty of tender ones which live in the garage over the winter (as we don’t have space for a greenhouse). I really must remember to pick and photograph more fuchsias next year.
I’m dreaming of Spring and planting bulbs in pots in the porch where it’s dry and my Chap is distributing the pots around the garden. This week Cathy has a very zingy pink Chrysanthumum which is making me think of high summer. Do have a look at her post on Rambling in the Garden, where people from around the world post pictures of flowers from their gardens and localities. No matter how grey and wet the weather is, these beautiful photos and descriptions lift my mood.
Have a lovely week and I hope it’s dry where you are.
love Bec xx
* I paid full price for my painted vases and wasn’t asked to write a blog post about Pottery Corner.