Friday, December 12, 2014

Bah, humbug!

"On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads, 
as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels.." 

Charles Dickens 1812-1870


Amidst the jangling consumerism that has hijacked Christmas I am as content as Mr. and Mrs. Blackbird to simply enjoy the garlands of berries that festoon the view through my studio window.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Popping out for some veg

Recently I heard the inspirational Camila Batmanghelidjh interviewed on the radio.

Peppered in with more serious matters she mentioned that when she meets anyone for the first time she always categorises them in her mind as a vegetable. 

Well, we all have our own eccentricities! 

Don't you think she screams "aubergine"?
(Yes I know it's technically a fruit)

I was on the train home from London last night doodling fellow travellers. As I looked up and down the aisle I could well have been filling my basket at the greengrocers… 

What do you think of my selection?

Monday, December 1, 2014

A nip in the air

This autumn has been so mild, I still have geraniums in flower, salad leaves in the greenhouse, the odd rose determined to bloom and the occasional raspberry to pick.
But last week we had our first overnight frost and that always feels like the beginning of winter.  

The dahlias were blackened, their starry bursts of colour and peppery scent reduced to a memory. The sunflowers suffered shipwreck, although I won’t be cutting them down just yet. They’re still popular with the birds who twizzle round the broken masts pecking every last kernel from their stripy casings.

This weekend it was considerably warmer. Damp hung in the air neither falling nor ceasing, merely shifting the world quite beautifully out of focus. So I put on my boots.

I cut down the dahlias and gave them a good mulch. I squelched up to the veg garden. I put wood ash round the shallots and garlic, picked celery and pulled carrots and rescued some very overgrown beetroot... which would surely still be fine for chutney?  

In its favour the frost has eradicated the caterpillars from my brassicas. Like a gruesome game of pass-the-parcel I was beginning to tire of preparing cabbage only to find ugly forfeits tucked into the outer leaves.  

I’d also had my eye on some rose hips for weeks. There are still plenty in the hedgerows, enough for me and the local wildlife I concluded. 
So after an hour with my secateurs I’m all set to make my secret ingredient... and to contemplate those burly beetroot!