Nature and Being Arty

I am most definitely NOT artistic! Ask me to draw a tree and I will opt for the lollipop version. Ask me to draw a cat and it will be unrecognizable, probably resembling a mouse or teddy bear more than anything feline!

But I do believe a camera and image editor allow almost anyone to be “arty”…

So, just for fun, here’s my attempt!











How about you?

Have you ever played around with your photos?

Give it a go – it’s fun!


Tuesday View (14th January) and some Blues

Winter still hasn’t really arrived, although it has been cold and frosty again. And wet. Grey. Triste.



On a more positive note:

On the sheltered side of the garden beneath those birch trees, where more sunlight falls in winter, one of my ground cover plants has been amazing me for months; Veronica umbrosa/peduncularis ‘Georgian Blue’ actually flowers in May or June and then stops flowering for me until about October, when it bounces back with a burst of indigo petals. But this winter it has just gone on and on.


It is always evergreen, forming a lovely thick and glossy carpet with its dark green foliage, but the flowers are a bonus at the moment!

Do you grow this type of Veronica?


The other blue I noticed recently was the sky. On one of the sunny days we had last week, while looking up at the skeletons of the silver birch trees the fresh green of this fir tree caught my eye against the wintry blue and whispy white.


Wishing you all blue skies this week.


Mushroom and Leek Cobbler

Thank you for the inspiration from Happiness Stan Lives Here!


I saw his post for Mushroom Cobbler shortly before Christmas and decided to try out my own version… it’s delicious! A cheesey herby scone topping over creamy leeks and mushrooms… Perfect comfort food for January. 😀

Mushroom and Leek Cobbler


For 2-3 people you will need:

  • 2 leeks, finely sliced
  • 650g (1 1/2 lbs) mixed mushrooms (I use chanterelles, porcini and champignons), cleaned and sliced
  • a little butter or margarine and oil for frying
  • 200ml (4/5 cup) vegetable stock
  • 75ml (1/3 cup) sherry or red wine
  • 110ml (1/2 cup) (soya) cream (or milk)
  • Thickener such as flour or cornflour: I use 1 tbsp potato starch
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs (I used dried wild garlic)

For the topping:

  • 125g (1 cup) SR flour
  • 55g (1/2 cup)wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 55g (1/2 stick) (vegan) butter
  • 65g (2 1/2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese (omit for vegan option and add a little nutritious yeast instead)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (try fresh too if you have some)
  • 1/2 tsp dried (or 1tsp fresh) rosemary
  • black pepper
  • a little soya milk

Gently sauté the leeks in the oil and butter until very soft, then add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Add the seasoning, stock, sherry and soya cream and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken. Add a little flour or potato starch to help create a creamy sauce.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to 180°C and make the topping: Sieve flours and baking powder. Mix in the cheese or yeast flakes, herbs and seasoning. Rub in the vegan butter with your fingertips until well incorporated. Slowly add some soya milk – just enough to bring the dough together. Do not kneed it but just press it into a flat form around 2-3 cm/ 1 inch high, and cut out rounds (about 9) with a cookie cutter.

Put your mushroom sauce in an oven-proof dish and place the scone rounds on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the scones are done and the sauce is bubbling.



Tuesday View (7th January)

While we are hearing news of the polar vortex pushing down across North America and creating frigid conditions for many regions, in comparison the Central European temperatures are positively balmy… currently 8°C on our patio, with warm sunshine and barely a breeze. A lack of snow in the Bavarian Alps is worrying the ski resorts as only areas above 1,000 metres are covered – and no snow is forecast for at least another ten days…

My view, at around 2pm today, shows the blue sky and sunshine, although the rockery is still in its winter shade. The lavender looks almost blue today too.


My thoughts are turning to spring, and I have already noticed the days are growing longer!

(The snowman may have to wait another year!)


Have you built a snowman this year yet?

Germany’s Flower of the Year 2014

Every year the Loki Schmidt Foundation, based in Hamburg, chooses a wild flower as Germany’s “Flower of the Year”. The idea behind this campaign is to draw attention to and to protect endangered flowers and their habitats. 2013’s flower was one of my favourite wild flowers – the Hepatica. Liverwort (Hepatica nobilis) grows profusely in our region and I love seeing the little blue flowers in late winter, signalling the beginnings of spring.

This year’s flower is, however, unknown to me. Maybe you have heard of it?

Butomus umbellatus

(also known as flowering rush or grass rush)


(All photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

One of the German common names is Schwanenblume – “Swan flower”…


Apparently this has become invasive in parts of North America, yet it is struggling here. This flower loves water, and is found in areas that flood regularly. I don’t think it grows near me, but on the edges and inlets of the rivers Rhine, Elbe or Oder it finds the warmth and damp it loves.

I think it’s really pretty, don’t you?


I’d love to hear if you know this flower!


Wikipedia (English): Butomus umbellata

Wikipedia (German): Butomus umbellata

“Blume des Jahres” (Loki Schmidt Foundation) (German)