Tuesday View (21st October)

An early morning photo today, with the mist in the background and pale filtered sunlight just breaking through low cloud…

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THE rose is still flowering, and the garden still looks very colourful.

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I thought I had better take my picture early as the storm that passed over the UK a couple of days ago was on the way to us. It took all day to get here though and as I write now the wind is howling and it is pouring with rain, thundering and lightning too… I’m glad I managed to tidy away a few more pots and cut down some soggy foliage earlier.

I’m also glad I got a few photos of the silvery dwarf Miscanthus in the sunshine…

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The pink asters have gone over now, but this snail doesn’t seem to mind

AsterSnail

I  noticed that the sedum also has a new admirer – the Cymbalaria , which has spread like mad this year, has fallen in love!

Cymbalaria

A final picture today of one of my tomato plants. Yes! In mid-September I distributed some of my compost over part of the rockery and two self-seeded tomato plants appeared shortly after. They look so incredibly healthy. I don’t think I’ll see any tomatoes though!

Tomato

Have a good week – with calm weather!

In a Vase on Monday: a Tropical Touch

With a storm front on the way I decided to cut back my cigar plant drastically and bring some flowers indoors. The plant may survive a bit longer outdoors, but is far too big to be overwintered.

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This spring was the first time I bought a cigar plant, or Cuphea ignea, and I rather liked it simply for the incredible growth it put on; as a container plant in the full sun it did extremely well, barely wilting even on the hottest day, and producing red, cigar shaped flowers non-stop from July onwards. I can’t quite decide if I will grow one again though, as it is not really my “thing”!

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The dark green shiny leaves are also attractive, and are definitely worthy of a mention. Practically all other foliage in the garden has turned yellow or dropped already.

What was the most successful container plant you grew this summer, and is it still hanging on?

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme “In a Vase on Monday”. It is just beginning to get really challenging to find materials for a weekly vase now, as the number of flowers out there is dwindling!  Take a look at Cathy’s lovely autumny post this week as well as the other vases linked in the comments, and see how gardeners from around the world are filling vases as the seasons change.

:)

A Hedgehog Cake

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Before you start wondering, no hedgehogs were harmed!

For my birthday I always make myself a special cake, and since hedgehogs have been on my mind a lot recently it seemed only logical to finally try out my hemisphere cake pan this time round…

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Cute! It was a lot simpler than I had thought – and it tasted pretty good too!

Hedgehog Birthday Cake

For the cake:

  • one 15cm/6 inch hemisphere tin and one 20cm/8 inch sandwich cake tin, greased and floured
  • 225g (2 sticks)  softened butter
  • 225g (1 cup) sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 215g (1 3/4 cups) SR flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsps milk

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F. Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Gently fold in the sieved flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Add the milk if necessary to achieve a “dropping consistency”, i.e. the mixture drops slowly off a spoon. Divide between the two cake tins and bake until firm to touch: the sandwich tin will take about 20-25 minutes and the hemisphere tin will take longer, between 35 and 45 minutes. Leave to cool completely on a rack.

For the buttercream/decoration:

  • 125g softened butter
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 75g milk chocolate, melted
  • 2 chocolate drops for the eyes
  • 1 glace cherry for the nose
  • jam for the filling (I used strawberry)

Beat together the butter and sugar. Reserve enough to cover the nose of the hedgehog. Dip the glace cherry in your melted chocolate and put to one side. Now beat the remaining melted chocolate into the rest of the buttercream. (Make sure the chocolate is cooled but not cold when you mix it in).

Forming the cake: Place the hemisphere on top of the sponge base layer, but at the back edge and not in the centre. Cut the base around the edge of the hemisphere at the sides but leave some at the front to form the nose… I think it will be clear what I mean when you have it in front of you. Put some jam between the base and the hemisphere to stick it together. Spread some white buttercream you reserved over the front and form a nose shape, building it up a little. Use a knife dipped in warm water to help smooth it. Then coat the hemisphere with the chocolate buttercream and use a flat knife to create the “spike” effect. Add the eyes and nose. Voila!

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This moist sponge cake stays lovely and fresh for several days – just store in an airtight container. It serves a crowd too!

Enjoy!

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:)

 

 

Tuesday View (14th October)

It poured with rain last night, and when I looked out this morning I immediately noticed a change in the colours of the leaves, as well as a great number lying on the ground. And yet I think there is little change in the rockery itself compared with last week…

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The acer is possibly at its peak now, and I think the greener leaves will probably drop before changing colour this year… funny how it varies from year to year. The dwarf Miscanthus below the acer always flowers beautifully, but the giant one behind it (see an old post here for more photos) only produces a few flowers every few years… no signs of any yet…

AutumnView

There are still a few late summer flowers too – this Lychnis was a lovely surprise this morning…

Lychnis

And although the asters are starting to fade, the butterflies (here a Comma) are still visiting them…

OctoberComma

THE rose is still flowering… to defy me?!

THErose

And finally the Persicaria that I have mentioned many times is still offering sustenance to the bees…

PersicariaBee

Are you still seeing bees or butterflies?

In a Vase on Monday: Diva

It’s Monday again, and time to go out in the garden to see what I can find for a vase for Cathy’s “In a Vase on Monday” meme.

The curtain rises

The curtain rises

Foliage has been catching my eye this week, especially with the heavy dew every morning. And not just the autumn colours, but also the shapes. I cut some fresh garlic mustard leaves (Alliaria petiolata) first of all, and a slightly mottleded Brunnera leaf. Then I picked a couple of Bergenia leaves that have already turned red, and some pale green aquilegia foliage too.

Autumnal background scenery

Autumnal background scenery

One piece of Sedum, which has turned a lovely deep red already, three Persicaria (Polygonum!) flowers and a few grasses were all I needed to complete The Look!

Flirting with the camera

Flirting with the camera

I love the dramatic look of this tall vase with the high collar and feathery adornment which really reminded me of a diva standing on stage!

On stage

On stage

This vase has made me aware of how leaf shape can play a role in an arrangement, as well as colour, texture etc.

Blushing in the applause

Blushing in the applause

I am also learning that the choice of vessel can add tremendously to an overall effect too

A perfect performance

A perfect performance

The Persicaria is still flowering beautifully – since early July it has been making an impact with its flowers, but the dramatic foliage is visible much earlier. The colour is very intense too, even in poor light.

Taking a bow

Taking a bow

Do go and visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, where you will find her own creation for today, as well as lots more vases linked in from around the world.

Tuesday View (7th October)

Fog and mist are common here in autumn, and today the sunshine barely made it through for more than a few minutes, but luckily I was there with my camera when it did!

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Not much change since last week, but the Japanese acer is getting prettier by the day…

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… and the rose that I wanted to get rid of earlier this year has new buds…

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I think the rose has convinced me it can stay.

:)

Do your plants talk to you?

In a Vase on Monday: Moonlight

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Last night, as I walked down the garden with a plate full of goodies for the hedgehogs, I was struck by the beauty of the night… an owl was hooting in the distance, deer were calling across the valley, there was rustling in the leaves and bushes around me, the mist and dew made everything sparkly and slightly ghostly, yet when I looked up the sky was clear and the (almost) full moon was bright. That was the inspiration for this vase, as I noticed the asters glowing with the light from the house, my torch, and the moon.

Moonlight

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So this morning I picked some of the lilac asters that I haven’t been able to name, as well as some of my Aster pyrenaeus ‘Lutetia’. Then some silvery foliage: lavender, perovskia, buddleia.

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Creamy, dreamy

The last two Japanese anemones added to the dreamy theme, and the white zinnias (they are still hanging on!) are to portray the creamy moon…

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On a whim, the Heuchera flower went in last, as I passed it on the patio.

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 The resulting vase makes me feel very calm, and reminds me that nature is my inspiration.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, who hosts the “In a Vase on Monday” meme – take a look at some of the vases linked on her post again!

Wishing you all an inspired week!