Tag Archives: lavender

A Treasury of Flowers

I’ve been looking at other blogs with envy this year, particularly Derrick J Knight and Tootlepedal’s Blog.  They have a lot of things in common, including beautiful gardens, great photography and gardening partners – the Head Gardener and Mrs Tootlepedal.

It may be time for a little pep talk with Julia. Nothing major, just point her to a few relevant posts and leave an unspoken suggestion…

That way I hope to avoid being told to do it myself, as I already have lots to do. That TV won’t watch itself and blogging takes time.

Meanwhile, just to show we can grow plants (despite the state of our garden this year) here are a few things from last year at the farm.

 

A touch of cookery

Apart from the weather (see previous post) it’s been a good day, with a possible new member coming to have a look at us. It was a good day to visit, as we had had a cooking session planned, which ended with us eating cheese scones and lavender biscuits.

Yes, the same lavender biscuits and cheese scones we have been cooking for a couple of weeks now, but people like them and we have the ingredients.

This is the recipe for the scones – it’s an easy one because it uses rapeseed oil (or canola if you want the American translation)  instead of butter. It’s therefore probably healthier for you (though these food fads could be reversed next week), cheaper and considerably easier. My scones never reach that “fine crumb” stage, on account of having hands like bunches of bananas.

Please note at this point – I’m using the cheapest oil for this recipe as it doesn’t need a quality oil. In fact I use the cheapest oil for most purposes – we are self-sufficient in it and that’s a good enough reason for me to think of changing from olive oil if all else is equal.

As usual, it’s difficult to tell where  the truth lies because the we internet contains a web of science, lies and stupidity that makes it tricky to see the truth. Good luck if you’re the sort of person who likes to base decisions on all the facts, because you’re going to have plenty of hard work  looking for them.

The lavender biscuits contain flour, sugar, lavender and butter.

I can’t link to the recipe because Julia has it on a scrap of paper, but there are plenty of recipes about if you want one.

Next step for the scones is to try blue cheese and pear and Stilton and date. Next step for the lavender biscuits is to try a recipe with rosemary.

If you don’t hear any more about them you can take it that they failed.

If the blog stops, you can take it that they were fatal…

Meanwhile, here are some pictures of our fruit and veg, which is finally coming to life. And a cricket – we don’t actually eat them.

Finally, on a sadder note, we lost two chicks today and we aren’t sure why. The keets are looking well and if they are still OK by Wednesday they should be safe. Fingers crossed.

 

 

And finally…

It’s the end of the day. I’ve just been drinking tea and eating lavender biscuits. It’s not all been this easy of course; I’ve actually had to spend some time pressing computer keys, walk round with a camera, do a bit of thinking and  and make sure the kitchen is tidy for the bread group.

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I did have to do a bit of toilet cleaning, but even that isn’t so bad. If I had to do it all day and every day I’d probably grow to resent doing it but a couple of times a week isn’t going to kill me. (Unless I catch typhoid but I don’t really think that’s likely).

Basically, toilet cleaning is nature’s way of telling you that you should have worked harder at school, so it’s hard to feel bad about it, as I definitely should have worked harder at school.

I also had an epiphany on the way to work, which is something that doesn’t happen every day. We were talking about applying for grants (we’ve just been turned down for another one) and I said that the time involved in applying must be between 20-40 hours.  You have to research, think, write, listen to unwanted advice and try to match the project you have in mind to the funding criteria of the funder. This is out of all proportion to the time and effort it takes to print a form letter telling you that you’ve failed.

In truth, I may as well have wasted a week playing Solitaire. I say “wasted”, but it’s a skill, and you need to practice to get better.

Or, as I said to Julia, I may as well have spent the time arranging bag packing or collection sessions at local supermarkets. Even in these depressed days, we should be able to raise a few hundred quid that way. We are currently looking at taking on charitable status, and at that time it might be possible to persuade supermarkets to let us in.

It’s a tough gig – I’ve packed quite a few times (helping fund a junior rugby team to Canada and buying shirts for an entire junior section) and I know that getting volunteers is tough, and getting money is even tougher.

I once packed bags (neatly and efficiently) for a well spoken lady who, at the end, said “I won’t be able to give you anything, of course, because I never put money in open buckets.”

Until that point I hadn’t realised I looked like the sort of man who would steal from children. And I really felt the sting of that “of course”.

As a result I went out and bought a dozen of the proper buckets. You secure the top with  a cable tie, put a label across the join and start packing. People give you money and at the end of the day you go home, cut the cable ties, pull off the stickers and (I you are that way inclined) steal the money from the kids.

The only difference is that you are spending money on buckets and cable ties instead of on the kids.

 

 

The Butterflies arrive!

We haven’t seen many butterflies this year. Even on sunny days we’ve not seen more than half a dozen and I’ve been starting to worry that we were in for a disastrous year.

However, things took a turn for the better today when Julia came back from the lavender patch with reports of 16 Small Tortoiseshell as the headline figure. I had to have a look for myself and found the butterflies dotted about all over the lavender like rubies on velvet. Of course, I exaggerate, they were more like orangey things on purple shrubs, but for a moment I felt in the mood for a simile. Butterflies and sunshine can have this effect on a man.

On a more prosaic level, it gave me a chance to compare new camera with old one (I think the old one won) and several exciting times as I thought I saw new species.

The possible Ringlet turned out just to be a very brown meadow brown but the skipper gave me my first photograph of a Large Skipper. It took me over 20 minutes to identify it when I got the pictures back to the computer, but the pointed antennae (from a picture taken by the old camera) finally solved it for me.

It’s a bit like children – they all look the same to me. Unlike children, of course, I can take lots of photographs without incurring any suspicion.

 

Nipplewort and Commas (2)

It seems I was a bit premature when I made my last post, because as soon as I stood up from the desk I found myself surrounded by a mob of over-excited children. I was just in time to help with the garden-dismantling process known as “nature bling” – making jewellery from flowers and leaves. It’s an activity better carried out in the wild in my opinion as they took far too many wild strawberry flowers from the plants in pots and even picked some of the day lilies that I’ve been forbidden to eat on the basis that we don’t have many.

We call it “nature bling” to be down with the kids, but in fact it’s using double-sided tape to stick flowers and leaves to bits of cardboard which can be used as bracelets. They look for flowers, and they learn to avoid bees, so it’s quite a useful exercise. Unfortunately it doesn’t teach them to sniff the flowers, and when you suggest they do they often just say “it smells of mint”. Seeing as it’s often marjoram, thyme, sage or oregano, it doesn’t actually smell of mint.

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They are a little better with lavender, quite often describing it as smelling like “soap” or “grandma”.

Anyway, there I was in the garden when I looked across at a buddleia bush and saw a Comma.

For some reason it didn’t fly away when I moved closer. I’m not sure why because stealth isn’t my forte, maybe it just felt sorry for me, but here’s the picture, taken about 20 minutes after I’d posted to complain I could never get a good picture of a Comma.

. It’s never going to win any prizes but it’s one of the better shots I’ve taken of butterflies, and certainly the best shot of a Comma.

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The Big Butterfly Count starts tomorrow so I’m hoping for a good showing – we’ll be counting several times with different groups and with any luck we shopuld end up with a few extra butterflies compared to last year.