Sunday, 20 July 2014

Home and garden

As promised, this time I have a tour of the garden and a few other random home-related things.

My bargain chilli plant is flowering. I was worried it wouldn't fruit with (hopefully) no insects in the house to pollinate it, so I've tried hand pollinating the flowers with a small paint brush. No sign of any chillis yet though.

While I was on staycation I bought some of these strange fruit from the supermarket: they're mangosteens. Have you tried them? The nearest I can get to describing what they're like is lychees but they're fruitier and more fragrant. We really liked them but they're a bit pricey so will have to be a rare treat.

Chickpea wanted to make a cake a couple of weeks ago and chose this one from our favorite Clandestine Cake Club book: it's Blueberry, Peach and Amaretto. Absolutely delicious and the cake was lovely, light and moist - she obviously has the right touch for baking. The top is drizzled with blueberry syrup and, as there was far too much, I used it up by mixing it with plain yoghurt - mmm! I really can't recommend this book highly enough - everything we've made from it has been absolutely yummy.

Talking of blueberries, look at what we have in our garden! I'm so excited!!! It's our first ever crop as I only planted the bush last year. The gooseberry which was planted at the same time hasn't even flowered so it seems even more miraculous that our little plant has produced these perfect little berries.

Elsewhere the yellow courgette is in full flow. I grow them every year as they're so reliable and prolific. We've already harvested several and we ate more for dinner tonight.

We also ate our first crop of yellow beans tonight. There's something so satisfying in wandering into the garden to pick vegetables and minutes later they're on your plate.

The name of these is 'Dwarf Orinoco': if you're a geographer, you're probably thinking of the Orinoco river now. If you're a music fan, maybe this song by Enya. Me, I'm thinking Wombles!

The tomatoes are also doing well. This one is 'Outdoor Girl'.

And this is 'San Marzano'. My 30p bargains couldn't be doing better. I've managed to grow plenty of green tomatoes before though and they usually end up falling victim to our fickle English summers and rotting before they ripen. Fingers crossed the sunshine and warmth last long enough for me to taste at least a few of them.

My clematis have done quite well, though the light pink one has performed better than the dark pink.

On the other side of the garden, I've had plenty of flowers on this one too.

As usual I planted up troughs to put along the small wall outside the kitchen. There's a mix of petunias and pelargoniums and both have been flowering away for several weeks.

I recently treated myself to an osteospurmum and absolutely love the purple daisy flowers - so pretty.

Another purple beauty has been my orchid. This was taken a couple of weeks ago as it's finished flowering now. I think it's a common-spotted but I'm not 100% sure.

I am 100% sure this is a goldfinch. They used to be pretty uncommon around here but this year they seem to be everywhere. I've been trying unsuccessfully to get a photo of them and then, Friday morning, I opened my bedroom curtains to find this little fellow perched on the telephone wire outside my house singing his heart out. They have a lovely twittering song which you can hear on the RSPB web site here.

My yoga class has finished for the summer but we've decided to carry on meeting and to go for a walk instead. On our first walk we started off in bright sunshine but with dark glowering skies behind us. The colours were so dramatic looking back over this field - we had just walked along the path in the middle. Eventually the sky did catch us up and we all got soaked.

We were lucky not to get soaked in Manchester yesterday as it absolutely chucked it down. The Haunted Underworld tour was really good. I would have taken photos but most of it was conducted in complete darkness in musty cellars. The guide is a great story teller and made us both laugh and jump out of our skins!

Today the weather was lovely again so I went out for a quick walk. I was on a mission for a photo for the Scavenger Hunt and, although I didn't get what I wanted, I did find these:


Hedge Brown

And lots and lots of speckled wood. I know I've shown you photos of them before but I just liked this one.

And so ends another weekend. Chickpea is impatiently waiting for me to finish to watch a dvd with her ('This means war') so I'll bid you farewell and hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday. x

PS Don't forget, my Blogiversary giveaway is still open if you're interested. Closing date is 25 July.


  1. My first thought was wombles too when you mentioned Orinoco! Goldfinches used to be a lot less common, but now we all feed the birds and so many people buy nyger seeds for them they've become much more common again. Love the walk photo, it's very atmospheric and the light is great. Your garden looks lovely, and seems quite productive too!

  2. Hey Julie!
    What a lovely post, I love your flowers and vegetables. Love the shot of the goldfinch, I have only seen photos of this bird, I hope to see it one day in England!
    And that cake that your daughter made looks really good, I bet it is good with a nice cup of tea!

  3. Your garden is looking wonderful! I really like the sound of that cake, and the leftover blueberry syrup with plain yogurt - yum. x

  4. What a lovely garden - such pretty flowers. Loved the dark sky over the meadow. Your vegetables look to be doing great. I finally have a few yellow pear tomatoes and some cherry tomatoes on the vines. I think our summers are quite similar - so I too hope to get to taste some of these lovelies.

    Oh what a luscious cake.

  5. Very nice garden, I'm just in the process of changing our back garden, hard work in this hot weather. Love the photo of the dark clouds over the feild. When I moved here I'd never seen a goldfinch , they have done realy well and we get them all the time now, they don't usually stay long for photos so well done. Think your second butterfly is a Gatekeeper, not really good at I.D butterflies so check it out...
    Amanda xxx

  6. Your garden is looking fantastic, it's doing so well. Love the look of that cake you made too. I have never heard of that fruit, but I love lychees so will need to ask our green grocer about them.
    Marianne x