In a Vase on Monday: Light and Dark

December crept up on me and I didn’t even manage to get my Advent decorations up in time for the first Sunday in Advent… shame on me! Some of my neighbours have trees outside decorated with white lights, or lit stars and white fairy lights in their windows. WordPress has also started the snow again. And I haven’t baked a single Christmas cookie yet… I’ve got some catching up to do this week!

However, I DID manage to put this vase together for Sunday afternoon, along with some simple scones…

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The photography is appalling I know, but the light levels were low yesterday, and today was not much better. Cathy’s challenge is becoming just that now – a challenge to find materials in my garden for a vase and then get a decent shot of it too!

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The close-up above shows the mix of foliage I picked: almost black Mahonia leaves with a tightly closed bud at the centre, some pine needles, Euphorbia, Lamium and the golden Euonymous bringing light to the arrangement. And below you can see on the left a sprig of Buddleia.

(With a flashlamp and flash it looks deceptively like golden sunshine, don’t you think?! ;-)

Well, I can dream…)

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There was also a single rosehip remaining that hadn’t already shriveled up, so I carefully cut that too – ouch. It adds a bit of colour, the sedum being so dark now.

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The cones in the foreground are from trees in our garden too – the little Larch cones are so pretty for Christmas decorations, so I will have to hunt for a few more.

Have you started decorating yet?

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme “In a Vase on Monday”… do go over and take a look at what Cathy and many others have arranged in their vases this week. (Cathy’s vase is simply fabulous today!)

Have a great December!

 

The Weary Garden(er)

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Live each day as if it were your last, and garden as though you will live forever.

(Author Unknown)

~~~

After two years of posting a Tuesday view it was very strange not to do so this week… but the view is getting ugly and I am tired of it. On Monday I had cut back most of the shrinking plants and finished mulching with shredded leaves – not a pretty sight! Perhaps I will come up with a new view in spring, but for now it’s time for hibernation reflection and dreaming of warm spring sunshine and colour!

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Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.

(Henry David Thoreau)

~~~

Whilst tidying up I noticed that the Centranthus, which still had a couple of flowers on it, was already sprouting new leaves from the base. I am always amazed at how few Centranthus plants there are that fill the whole rockery in summer. One small plant that got pulled up by mistake has been replanted and I hope I will now have those red flowers all summer on the west side of the rockery too. I also noticed some Hellebore flowers and a few grape hyacinth leaves, although most of the garden is now looking brown and bare. But wasn’t it glorious in the summer!

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What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

(Author Unknown)

~~~

In December I shall be quietly reflecting on the year in my garden and will share a few of my favourite moments. It would be lovely if any of you would like to join me and also share some of your best memories of your gardens in 2014.

What do you say?

:)

World Vegan Month Recipe 4: Savoury Crispy Pasta Topping

To continue my World Vegan Month series of recipes, here is a crispy pasta topping made from scratch. I devised this as an alternative to Parmesan, since a vegetarian parmesan-style cheese is very difficult to find here. After reading the ingredients on a bought “alternative”, I decided to try making my own. You will need nutritional yeast flakes, which taste slightly cheesy and are an excellent source of protein and B vitamins – sometimes they are even fortified with vitamin B12. (Also low in sodium and gluten-free.)

This is much healthier than a cheese topping, it’s vegan and it’s crispy too!

Crispy Pasta Topping

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Chop 1 slice wholemeal bread and 30g (1/4 cup) walnuts in a mixer/blender until you have fine breadcrumbs. Spread out on a small baking tray and put under the grill for a couple of minutes, stirring now and then. You have to stand and watch it as it can burn very quickly. Leave to cool a few minutes.

Now stir in 2 tbsps nutritional yeast flakes, salt, black pepper and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.

Sprinkle over pasta dishes or gratins as an alternative to cheese. :)

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(Note: It will keep in an airtight container for several days.) :)

Tip: This is great on my Garlic Spaghetti and Tofu Bites I posted last week. ;-)

That rounds up November as Vegan Month. I will, no doubt, be bringing you more vegan recipes in the future, but if you missed the other vegan recipes I posted to celebrate, here are the links:

Garlic Spaghetti and Tofu Bites

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with Cinnamon Crunch

Tofu Wraps

In a Vase on Monday: Pyjama Pickings

After a very chilly weekend, with a light frost and a North wind, this morning felt positively balmy when I went into the garden with the dogs first thing; 4°C and not a breeze. After putting the coffee on I decided to go back out, still in my pyjamas, and snip a few things I had my eye on for this Monday’s vase. :) No time like the present, as they say!

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There’s a clump of grass under my acer that I have never identified. It is pretty non-descript all year, but has rather pretty flowers in autumn, albeit not many. Any ideas what it could be would be welcome.

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Many plants are now showing signs of decay: the sedums are beginning to topple over and all the leaves dropped off the moment I picked them for my vase. The Persicaria is also flopping and the flowers are fading too, but after such a long flowering season I really can’t begrudge it shrinking back from the cold and the damp. But the fennel is still standing tall…

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The Leycesteria formosa, which you may know as Himalayan Honeysuckle, is called “Caramel Berry” here. Have you ever tasted the berries? Like burnt caramel! Not exactly unpleasant, but one was enough. In any case, I can’t quite decide what I think of this plant. The flowers and berries hang down so they are hard to see, and the growth is a little lop-sided (another reason for cutting a stalk for the vase today). But it still has all this lovely fresh green foliage so late in the season. Do you grow Leycesteria? What do you think of it?

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Later in the day I added some wild asters that are growing on the compost heap, looking a little tatty, but still flowering prettily.

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And as the light faded I took a few photos indoors too, using artificial lighting – i.e. a powerful flashlamp! ;-) Some of the pictures turned out okay, but the next few weeks I fear my photography will be stretched to its limits!

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 To cheer a November day, take a look at what everyone else is putting In a Vase on Monday, hosted by Cathy’s Rambling in the Garden.

World Vegan Month Recipe 3: Garlic Spaghetti and Tofu Bites

As part of my World Vegan Month series of recipes, here is another big favourite, with tofu again. A simple recipe for busy days, it is ready in no time and real comfort food too, for those cold winter evenings. You could serve it with some roasted vegetables or salad – our neighbour Ingrid has been supplying us with autumn endive salad from her garden. :)

Garlic Spaghetti and Tofu Bites

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For 2 people:

  • Spaghetti
  • 5 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 small onion/shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 200g (7 oz) firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tsps cornflour
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Cook your spaghetti. While it is cooking, warm the olive oil in a small frying pan. Gently saute the onion/shallot until soft and then add the garlic, turning the heat off so the garlic barely browns.

Mix the flour, herbs and seasoning and toss the tofu cubes in it, making sure they are completely coated. In a separate pan warm a little olive or sunflower oil and fry the tofu cubes until crispy and golden. Be careful not to get the oil too hot, and keep turning them with a spatula.

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Coat the cooked and drained spaghetti with the garlic oil and then sprinkle the tofu cubes on top. I sprinkled on some flowery herbs for decoration too. :)

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Enjoy!

(I’m posting my parmesan alternative next week, which goes well on top of this pasta. ;-) )

Tuesday View (18th November)

Another year of Tuesday views has passed. Time for a new view? Time for something completely different? I shall be chewing this over in the coming week – any ideas would be welcome! In the meantime here’s today’s view – a typical rainy November day!

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And here’s a look back over the past year… Grab a cup of coffee and take a look at the slideshow!

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What is your view like today?

In a Vase on Monday: Oranges and Lemons

Is it really mid-November?!

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~~~

Oranges and lemons“, say the bells of St. Clement’s
“You owe me five farthings”, say the bells of St. Martin’s
“When will you pay me?” say the bells of Old Bailey
“When I grow rich”, say the bells of Shoreditch
“When will that be?” say the bells of Stepney
“I do not know”, says the great bell of Bow…

(English nursery rhyme)

 ~~~

My vase this week for Cathy’s meme In a Vase on Monday not only looks full of zing, it smells citrusy too!

Lemon balm at the front and lemon verbena at the back provide the greenery. (And the cake in the background was also lemon-flavoured!)

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The Physalis look like little mandarins and their colour is so cheerful indoors in November –  especially when the sun manages to shine across the whole dining room to catch them on the north-facing windowsill!

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The fading grapefruity yellow Chrysanthemums from the pot on my front doorstep, along with a couple of lemony Antirrhinhums, were looking like their days were numbered. They will probably last longer in the vase than outdoors this week.

I think the star today is the golden and tangerine Hypericum, which combined the two colours in my theme so beautifully. It has never flowered so long before. (Should I prune it or not? It has usually been cut back by now.)

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The finishing touch was two Pennisetum flowers…

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I can’t quite believe that I still have flowers in my garden for a vase in the middle of November. Enlightening and uplifting!

Thanks again to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. Go and visit her and see what she and many other participants have put in their vases this week.

:)