The Best of 2020: A Week of Flowers

We are feeling very miserable right now – our dear doggie was taken from us suddenly a few days ago and we are incredibly sad.

I need something to cheer me up. And with so many of us having to stay at home at the moment, and so much uncertainty regarding Christmas (Thanksgiving) plans, I think most of you will feel the same. I therefore propose a joint effort to cheer us all up.

From this Sunday onwards I will be posting some favourite photos of flowers and plants from this year’s garden: A Week of Flowers, Days One to Seven.

So why not join me!

From Sunday the 22nd through to Saturday the 28thΒ let’s share a photo a day (or more than one if you like) of our flowers and gardens and brighten up this dreary time.

And here is one for a taster.

Are you with me?

πŸ˜‰

The Yard in November 2020

Everyone has a problem area on their property don’t they? Well, in terms of planting, our problem area is our yard.

The yard is a large paved area between the house, barn and garage, and in summer it heats up immensely. In the summer months it is brightened up by geraniums (well, Pelargoniums actually). They are about the only flowers that do not wilt in the heat, and it is clear why they are such a tradition on Bavarian yards and balconies.

Here you can see some in late summer, also planted around the bamboo in the huge green pot.

But this year I tried planting up some additional pots with shrubs and plants that should also overwinter. Not easy when considering how shady the yard is in winter and that we may have temperatures constantly below zero for several weeks. In emergencies I can put a few plants in the barn for a few nights. Anyway, we will see if we get a mild winter again…

Violas are great for autumn pots, as they simply freeze in winter and return as soon as the first rays of spring sunshine warm them up. The Carex will last a couple of years in a pot and will then be planted out in the garden, as will the violas next May, and new Pelargoniums will take their place.

I also like to use small conifers in my pots. Again, they will be planted out into the garden once they get too big.

Below you will also see a red rose, some small sedum, dianthus, carex, a pale pink Potentilla and a dwarf Buddleia.

I am hoping these will all prove to be hardy enough and will come back next year.

On the other side of the barn doors is the sledge, which will have a small potted Christmas tree in it soon, and be decorated with fairy lights for some essential Advent kitsch! I may go over the top this year; with Christmas markets banned I will need some extra sparkle at home. πŸ˜‰

And here are the pots on that side of the barn too. On the left, a Hippophae rhamnoides, or Sea Buckthorn. This one is male and will not bear berries as I want it for its foliage here. It is supposedly very hardy and takes any amount of heat, wind or frost.

The next pot is Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’, another very hardy and heat tolerant plant, and it has absolutely gorgeous autumn colour.

A yellow summer Daisy is tucked in behind it, already damaged by frost but still flowering!

If the Itea and Buckthorn survive our north winds in winter they will get bigger pots next year as a reward. πŸ˜ƒ

You can also see some grasses in the picture above – Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ and Hakonechloa – then another rose (The Fairy), and the wonderful burnt caramel Β of the Spiraea japonica ‘Magic Carpet’. This small shrub looks lovely when it flowers, but the autumn foliage and fresh green shoots in spring are why I chose it.

I still have a couple of summer plants left. All the pelargoniums went a couple of weeks ago but I can’t bring myself to put this pretty little purple daisy on the compost until the last flower dies.

I don’t even know its name, but it has been beautiful all summer!

And here is another summer daisy that didn’t flower until it cooled down a bit in September. It seems to like chilly and damp November days!

 

Finally I planted up one little winter pot with a new creamy white Hellebore, an erica and some wintery white violas.

I have already potted up lots of tulips which will bring extra colour to the yard in late spring.

So I am almost ready for winter now.

How about you? Are you and your garden ready for winter? Have you got any containers for winter interest? How cold can it get in your part of the world?

Thanks for visiting. And happy gardening!

 

World Vegan Day 2020: Butternut and Sage Risotto

Good morning, and welcome to November!

My favourite month has passed for another year; this October’s highlights included planting a giant redwood tree and eating wild parasol mushrooms from our garden. 😁

And now November is here with its dark evenings and frequent fog. Some find it a difficult month, but personally I don’t mind it much. After all, there is Β a lot that can still be done outside this month. We have trees on order and my latest flower bed to finish. And I still have apples (apple strudel is in the oven right now!) and a basketful of homegrown butternut squash in my cellar too. πŸ˜ƒπŸπŸŽƒ

To get November off to a good start and to celebrate World Vegan Day 2020 I thought I’d share my latest new recipe: Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto.

I had never made risotto until this autumn, but when I was looking for inspiration for butternut recipes I saw a picture of a butternut risotto and decided I had to try it. I am afraid I don’t remember where I saw the basic recipe, but I adapted it a bit anyway; my risotto/arborio rice has the instructions for cooking time and liquid on the packet which varies depending on the brand I believe. Also I just had to add some garlic πŸ˜‰, and since we don’t usually have wine in the house, a dash of ‘cooking’ sherry was added instead.

Here’s the recipe, for two very hungry people:

Butternut and Sage Risotto

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped Β or minced
  • a little olive oil and vegan butter
  • 2 cups butternut squash, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 handfuls frozen peas
  • 6 sage leaves, finely chopped, plus extra for garnishing
  • 1tsp dried thyme and freshly ground black pepper
  • 200g arborio (risotto) rice
  • 500ml vegetable stock (check your rice packet for exact amount of liquid)
  • optional dash of sherry (or white wine if you have it)

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan and sautΓ©e the onion and garlic. Add the all the other ingredients except the stock (and sherry) and stir well. Add sherry and enough stock to cover the bottom of the pan and stir on a medium heat. Continue adding stock and stirring every few minutes so it doesn’t stick to the pan. My rice took about 20 minutes to cook through and the vegetables were then nice and tender. You may need a little extra stock or hot water. Also, depending on your stock, you may want to add a little salt. You will know when the rice is cooked as it starts to go creamy. Remove from the heat as soon as you notice this. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of vegan cream and serve immediately with sage leaves and vegan ‘parmesan’ to garnish.

I hope you enjoy this vegan recipe and will try more vegan food this November as it is World Vegan Month too!

Thanks for visiting!

In a Vase on Monday: Harvest Festival πŸŽπŸŒ»πŸ

We harvested our first ever apples on Saturday.

πŸ˜ƒπŸŽπŸ˜ƒ

Some of the trees in our orchards are yet to bear fruit, but we were nonetheless able to harvest all this…

Four different kinds of apple and two pears.

Unfortunately, when the gardeners were planting the trees the labels all got removed! So we will spend the next few years trying to match up the trees to those listed on the delivery note. πŸ˜‰

As it is Monday, I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for another Monday vase. The choice of colours for this week reflects harvest time too. We had such terribly strong wind again on Saturday that I decided to cut a few of the remaining flowers from the Sunshine Bed and Herb Bed.

Sunflower Earth Walker

Tithonia

Chrysopsis

Red Zinnia

Echinacea Flame Thrower and Yellow Zinnia

I also used some Helianthus Sheila’s Sunshine and Lemon Queen, some Antirrhinums and a few grasses.

This extra vase was stuffed with pieces of my lovely tall Aster ‘Septemberrubin’ (September Ruby) that had been broken off in the storm… I need a taller support for that aster as it grew beyond expectation to about 160cm. Wonderful!

Have you been able to harvest anything from your gardens this week?

Happy October gardening!