Spring Update

The sun is shining and temperatures have finally climbed into double figures. And my Spring plant orders have started arriving. What more could a gardener ask for?!

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There are lots of plants in this delivery for the new bed, yet to be prepared. But the other things that arrived yesterday went in immediately. For example, some more Echinacea and Salvia for the Oval Bed and a Veronica and white Dicentra (Lamprocapnos) for the Moon Bed. You can see the Dicentra here… tiny but very vigorous!

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I never really introduced the Moon Bed, which was prepared and planted rather late last autumn. Here it is, still looking rather bare.

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Cutting down the Miscanthus next to my ‘Moon’ in late winter made it look even sparser, but it will soon start taking off now it is warmer. Most of the plants I put in last year are peeping through the soil. It is so reassuring, and exciting too, to see them appear from nowhere!

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The barriers around two shrubs are to deter a Mummy hare from nibbling… can you see a bundle of fur in here?

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One of her babies has made a nest in some hay I put out for him. He seems to like the spot under my potting bench for daytime napping and basking in the sunshine!

The colour scheme for the Moon Bed (which is actually a half moon in shape) will be limited to blue and white, with some silvery foliage and grasses mixed in. Can’t wait to see if it works! I think it is easier to experiment when you are starting from scratch. There are some new plants in there I have never grown, including a Delphinium… not sure if it will like such an exposed position, but we will see. 🙃

I also planted a few small herb plants in the Herb Bed yesterday: a Schizonepeta multifida (sounds a bit scary!) which is a mountain mint and looks like a dead stick still, hence no photo; a fennel plant to replace one eaten by the mice; and some Greek oregano. (Have any of you ever grown the Schizonepeta before? )

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My Rosemary sadly had to be dug out of the Herb Bed as it did not survive the winter, but I now have a lovely Witch Hazel on the other corner of the Herb Bed and after ripping out dozens of wild strawberry plants (or was it thousands? 😉) to make room for the witch hazel I planted some cheerful Saxifrage. Albeit not the herbal kind. The witch hazel is ‘Diane’ and looks extremely boring now the flowers have gone over and the leaves haven’t started to unfurl but, for my own reference at least, here it is.

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Today the cold wind has made a comeback, so I am spending a relaxing afternoon recovering from a few aching limbs typical for gardeners at this time of year! 😉

Have a great weekend everyone.

And Happy Gardening!

🌷☀️🌷

 

Veganuary 2021: Cauliflower ‘Cheese’

Well, the garden is pretty frozen and covered with a thin layer of snow, so there is little to report. I am vaguely planning my next projects for spring, but it does still seem a long way off! So let’s go into the warm kitchen today and see what’s cooking this January. Or should I say Veganuary. I think most people have heard of Veganuary now, as it has spread from the UK to many other countries. It is basically a campaign to promote healthy eating and vegan food.

The other day I made some real comfort food… my vegan version of Cauliflower Cheese. I use my trusty cashew sauce (which is also perfect for vegan ‘spaghetti carbonara’) and add some cheesy flavour with vegan parmesan and/or nutritious yeast. The leeks really bring out the flavour in this dish, so don’t be tempted to use an onion instead! Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Vegan Cauliflower ‘Cheese’

For 2-3 servings

  • 1 small cauliflower and a bit of broccoli or romanesco (for colour 😉)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 leek
  • 250g mushrooms

For the sauce:

  • 100g cashews
  • 400 ml almond or soya milk
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsps nutritious yeast flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Vegan parmesan or seasoned breadcrumbs for sprinkling on top

 

First of all, divide your cauliflower etc into florets. Cook with a bay leaf in boiling water for about ten minutes until just cooked. Don’t overcook it!

Now slice the leek thinly and fry gently until soft. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook through. Remove from the heat.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a high speed mixer. Just keep on mixing until it is really really smooth. My machine is pretty powerful so it only takes about a minute. Put it in a saucepan and put it on the stove on medium heat. This needs stirring constantly, so don’t forget it! Meanwhile heat up the grill in your oven and put a dish in there to warm.
After a couple of minutes of stirring the sauce it will start to thicken. This takes a while, so keep on stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan.

Drain your cauliflower (remove the bay leaf!) and put it in your warm dish. Spoon the leek and mushroom mix over it. Then pour the cashew sauce on top. Sprinkle with vegan parmesan or seasoned breadcrumbs and place under the grill. As soon as it starts to bubble and turn golden on top, remove from the oven and serve.

Good with any type of potato, bread or garlic bread.

 

I hope you might try my vegan version of this traditional dish and perhaps take a look at some of my other vegan recipes on my recipes page. (Click on recipes on the bar under the header.)

Happy Veganuary!

 

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 28th 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?

😉

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. 😉

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. 😃

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  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  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. 😃🍁🎃

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 😉, 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  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 sautée 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!