Thursday, 29 May 2008

Firsts, foxgloves & fairycakes

Today I nearly trod on a snake at our allotment! I thought someone had dropped some rope onto our allotment until a 15" brown grass snake uncoiled itself and disappeared into the undergrowth. It was the first snake I have seen there.

The first foxglove has opened in the garden.

Wild foxgloves in a nearby wood.

The roses are in bloom.

Rambling Rector


Wild Dog Roses

The hardy geraniums are in flower.
Mrs Kendall Clark
Kashmir Pink

Johnson's Blue
Today we walked through a field of Ragged Robin.
And I have used my heart cupcake moulds for the first time.

I sprinkled 100's and 1000's onto the mixture before cooking for a sugary, crunchy topping. I was worried that they might not come out of the moulds but they did.
I also made some hazelnut cookies with the last of our foraged nuts.


225g/8oz plain flour

15g/0.5oz baking powder

115g/4oz Stork block margarine

115g/4oz demerara sugar

115g/4oz chunkily, chopped hazelnuts

0.5 tsp vanilla extract

25-50ml/1-2 fl oz milk

Preheat oven to 170'c. Sift flour & baking powder together & rub in margarine until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Add sugar and hazelnuts. Stir in vanilla extract and enough milk to form a soft rollable dough. Turn out onto a floured surface, roll & cutout cookie shapes. Bake for 7 - 10 minutes until pale brown.

Nuts can be substituted with chocolate drops.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

... of Butterflies & Frogs

Yesterday I spent all day in the garden. First I mowed the lawn and then started raking out the moss at the shady end. Do I ache today - what a workout! Then I pruned the shrubs and generally tidied up.

Each summer the catmint is covered in these tiny butterflies (or moths). Their wingspan is only about 1cm.The first flowers are open on Rambling Rector.

Granny's Bonnets
Saxifraga x ubium or London Pride as I was brought up to call it. This is another plant that has been handed down to me from my Nana via my Mum.

First pink geranium to flower

The "geraniums" in my baskets that I overwinter each year.

Posy Ripple

Molly Sanderson

I have revamped the flower bed under the window box. This was a meant to be a herb garden, but as it is undercover and keeps nice and dry, the cats were using this bed!! So in an effort to dissuade them I have turned it into a seaside garden, with the shells, rocks and fossils that we collect from beach trips.One of my little garden helpers. Our garden is full of tiny frogs, there are even two bigger ones living in the greenhouse. Ella is intrigued by the rustling in the flower beds. Previous years she has carried them indoors and let them loose in the kitchen!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Focus on Ferns

The ferns are looking particularly lovely at the moment.

I love the way they unfurl,

how delicate they lookand yet they don't get attacked by the slugs and snails.

Unlike the hostas!

Yesterday the sun shone again, so I spent 2.5 hours at the allotment digging and weeding. I planted some of the courgettes out and 2 Turk's Turbans and 3 Hundredweight. Last night the Met Office forecast possible frosts this week - I hope that the squash plants survive. A few of the sweetcorn plants have been nibbled but the beans are okay so far. The gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes have baby fruit on them and the strawberries and raspberries are in full flower. I forgot the camera again!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Rhubarb Muffins

We have lots of rhubarb growing at the allotment, this is one of the ways I cook it.
Rhubarb Muffins - Makes 12
250g plain, wholemeal flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200g light muscavado sugar
50g chopped walnuts or pecans
6 tbsps sunflower oil
1 medium egg
250ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1. Preheat oven to 180'C. Line muffin tin with cases.
2. Mix together flour, baking powder,cinnamon, muscavado sugar and nuts in a bowl.
3. Mix together beaten egg, oil and milk. Stir into dry ingredients, do not over mix.
4. Spoon into muffin cases and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for approximately 20 mins.
Jay loves to eat these warm. They only keep for 3 days because they are moist, but they freeze very well.

Yesterday ...

... was a day of highs and lows. It was Fay's last day at school and she came home and announced that it had been an awesome day. By evening the emotional tiredness struck! Teenagers! It's a good job we love them :0)
It was shirt signing at school, but Fay and her friends decided to decorate their arms and faces instead. (Note the fake blood on face - she is a vampire!! That's too much Manga for you!!)
More rain today.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Bouquet of Buttercups & Green Manure!

Buttercups & Green Manure (Phacelia) from our allotment.

I had previously chopped the green manure down and left it to wilt before digging it in, but it wanted to carry on growing and produced beautiful flowers. Yesterday was forecast as being the last hot, sunny day for a while, so I spent 2 hours digging and weeding and planted our sweetcorn, dwarf borlotto beans and purple dwarf beans before the rain arrived. I then spent the rest of the day in the garden sowing more seeds and planting some freebie bulbs from a magazine. There were freesias, alliums, irises and lilies. speaking of lilies, that beetle has been munching!

The wisteria blossoms are slowly starting to fade.
The aquilegias self-seed everywhere, but this year are covered in aphids!
The first allium of the year.

And today the rain has watered everything in for me. I just hope that the slugs aren't feasting on my beans!
Today is Fay's last proper day at school, from now on she only has to go in for exams. She said that it doesn't seem real to her. It doesn't to me either, I can still remember her first day at nursery school, come to that I can still remember my last day at school! And how many years ago was that!!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Snail Garden

You may have wondered why my blog is called "The Snail Garden"... it is because of my love/hate relationship with snails. I love beauties like this Banded Snail, but hate the common brown garden snail and the way that they munch through my garden! Unfortunately we have a phenomenal amount of the brown snails. Luckily we also get a lot of frogs in the garden.
White-lipped Banded Snail

Chalkhill Blue Butterfly

First flowers on the lilac that I planted last year.

Green Carpet Moth
Luckily they don't eat carpets or in this moth's case - curtains! Their main food is bedstraw.
Another WIP finished. This felted lavender heart was made from the wool I received in a forum swap. I knitted the wool up and felted it quickly, but then it took a while for me to pluck up the courage to cut the heart shape ... I was worried that it would unravel!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Sweet 16

The birthday season is upon us. This week Fay was 16.

Not even 1 day old.Who would have guessed that 16 years on she would become manga mad? I painted one of the characters from her manga books onto her birthday cake. After this photo was taken I put glittered, letter candles, that spelt her name, around the top edge of the cake.

I had to share this photo with you. My husband's idea of keeping an eye on the baby!