Scentsations

It starts in March, February if you are lucky. You are walking along the edge of woods in a bare and frosty landscape and suddenly… WHAM. A sweet floral perfume awakens your olfactory senses for the first time this year and the only flower in sight is a clump of Hepaticas. Hepaticas don’t smell of anything though, do they? You stick your nose in one and inhale. Nothing. But moments later another waft. It is magical and transitory.

Next the violets. I love them and hate them because I may smell the first one for a brief moment and then cannot detect a hint of the sweet violet perfume again. Apparently a trick our noses play on some of us. I envy people who swoon at the perfume they emit on a warm spring day.

Later, a bluebell wood in England. Then the lilacs in a friend‘s garden. The plum blossom on a neighbourhood tree.

And then the highlight of my spring, telling me summer has arrived and reminding me of the cordial, sorbet and pancakes I will be making – the elderflowers. The first hint of them in May crescendoes into a heady and intoxicating scent. I have never had elderflower champagne, but can imagine the taste. There are a lot of elder trees near us and their fragrance dominates for several weeks as plants in shadier spots open their flowers more slowly and later, lasting long into June. It sweetens on a warm day and in a very hot spell in early June it becomes almost overpowering. Mix that with the peonies and you are in heaven!

Oh yes, the peonies are nice too…

Another June delight: walking in the countryside on a warm day there is an occasional waft of a sweet scent similar to wild strawberries. It makes me look up and around and look again, really hard, at the wild flowers at the side of the footpath… Bedstraw? (Galium alba). Such an insignificant plant until it flowers. Like the Hepatica, if you go up to it and sniff, you probably won‘t smell a thing. Maybe you have to sneak up to it from behind to catch it!

I can enjoy the scent of roses, and like sweet peas too. But my favourite scent in spring or early summer has to be the elderflower.

What is your favourite scent on a spring or early summer day? Could you choose just one? 😉

In a Vase on Monday: Herbal Tea?

Monday has come round again and I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with a vase. I must confess this was actually put together on Saturday, as I discovered the cornflowers on the edge of a corn field while walking our dog. I couldn‘t pass up the opportunity of having enough cornflowers for use in my cornflower teapot!

There is nothing quite like these beautiful blue flowers. And they really are blue. (Centaurea cyanus)

 

I realise I recently posted a similar vase of wildflowers, but I love them so much and this time there are a few new additions. Pink Campions (Silene dioca) for example…

Then the Scabiosa are flowering. They are usually pink in the wild – I‘d love a pink one in the garden but only seem able to find blue ones. Another one to put on my ‘Grow from seed’ list!

I also found some delicate pink Dianthus (Dianthus deltoides) but only picked one on our own land as they are rare. Then there are Harebells (Campanula patula), a Moon Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), some white Achillea, the fragrant Bedstraw (Galium mollugo, I think) and a slightly pink flower which I mistook for cow parsley (on the left in the next picture, slightly blurred!) There are so many similar flowers it is hard to identify it, but I will take a better look at it next time I see some.

I wonder what is growing wild near your gardens this June.

Have a good week everyone!

Elderflower Pancakes (vegan)

If Elder (Sambucus nigra) grows in your part of the world you may be seeing the frothy white flowers this week or even enjoying a whiff of the heady fragrance. For us the elderflowers are a little earlier than usual. Time to make cordial, perhaps some sorbet, and definitely pancakes. ‘Hollerkiachl’ as they are called in Bavaria. 😃

We are lucky and have several trees/shrubs directly on our doorstep and in our lane, away from traffic and foraging passers-by!

First I made the pancake batter. Here is my recipe for about 8 small pancakes:

  • 200g (1 3/5 cups) flour
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • 2tsps sugar
  • 425 ml (1 4/5 cups) almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 ‘veg eggs’ or 1 large tbsp soya flour mixed with a little water

Whisk all the ingredients together to make a smooth batter. Leave to stand while you cut your elderflowers.

The best time here to cut elderflowers is late morning on a still and sunny day. The aroma seems to be at its peak then. You will need about 8 -10 flowerheads, one for each pancake. (It depends on their size so cut a few extra if you aren‘t sure.) Shake off any flies and beetles. Bring them indoors and shake again over the sink, then place on a yellow surface. This attracts any remaining tiny flies to crawl out.

Heat a little sunflower oil in a pancake pan. Dip an elderflower head in the batter, holding it by the stalk, and drop it in the pan with an extra tablespoon or two of batter.

You can now cut off as much of the stalk as possible so you can turn the pancake once you see little bubbles forming. Fry until golden brown on both sides, and sprinkle with a little sugar. Continue until you have used up all the batter.

Enjoy!

 

In a Vase on Monday: Meadow flowers

On the edge of the woods and the perimeters of the garden there are lots of pretty meadow flowers and grasses opening. Some of the grasses are as pretty as the flowers with a reddish tinge to them, so I picked a mixture for my vase this week.

 

On the left are some of the remaining Moon Daisies from last week‘s vase, in my cornflower teapot. On the right, two Purple Rain Alliums that had disappeared beneath an ambitious Euphorbia and a single Scabiosa that got cut off by mistake. And in the middle the meadow flowers.

Harebells…

Cow parsley and bedstraw, ragged robin, buttercups and daisies and a few grasses…

The elderflowers and dog roses are also in flower already. I shall be making elderflower pancakes again soon. Doesn‘t time fly!😃

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this special Monday meme. 😃