Category Archives: Gardening

Spring arrives & it’s all gone bonkers!

In the week that saw us celebrate our 3rd anniversary of moving to our country cottage we saw a lot of changes in the garden.

 

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Our 3rd Anniversary in Nine Mile Burn

 

We have a pair of nesting blue tits in our bird box (yay), the starlings have already fledged and there are now sparrows in their old nest. The swallows are back swooping and darting all around and the geese have returned to the fields roundabout, some with young. After a seemingly never-ending Winter, Spring is most definitely here.

 

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Rhododendron- Golden Witt 

 

The garden has gone bonkers, everything’s growing and blooming and budding and it’s heartwarming to see! The cherry blossom is out and the beech hedge is finally turning, that fresh green really makes a difference in our garden.

 

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Setting up the new Potting Shed

 

The (short) spell of warmer, sunny weather was filled to the brim with ‘getting shit done’ in the garden – everything from getting the potting shed set-up to clearing, weeding and edging, sowing seeds and bulbs (better late than never) and I even made up some hanging baskets inspired by the book Crops in Pots, that I reviewed a while back.

 

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Our latest haul from The Secret Herb Garden

 

We had a lovely trip to The Secret Herb Garden (LOVE this place) to source new herbs as the chickens have self-seasoned and destroyed what we had. We got lemon verbena, lovage and borage (inspired by Petal, Leaf, Seed), several new rosemarys, chamomile, sage, lemon balm, oregano, fennel, jasmine and rhubarb, amongst others.

 

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Re-potting some plants for gifts

 

Our new front lawn is looking great and we’ve just bought a new mower and hedge cutter so we’re getting tooled up to tackle the front garden.

 

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Thank You Miracle-Gro for this amazing surprise box of goodies!

 

 

So much to do now but sadly the torrential rain is back so no idea when we’ll be able to crack on – we live in hope though, always hope!

 

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It’s been well over 20 years since our house was a pub (garden find)

 

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Jasmine potted in a vintage watering can! 

 

Petal, Leaf & Seed – Book Review

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“Cooking with the treasures of the garden” 

Have you ever infused a fig leaf in custard and had it’s coconut and elderflower scent waft up to you on clouds of milky steam? or picked a handful of fennel seeds when they are still green and fat and scalded them with boiling water for a sweet, grassy, anise-scented tea? Or maybe you have decorated a salad with bright purple sage flowers, with a flavour that’s deeply herbal yet honeyed? If the answer to any of these questions is no, this book will open your eyes to the hidden flavours in your garden.

Well someone clearly knew me when they bought me this as a birthday present! What a lovely lovely book!

On reading the introduction above I immediately  wanted to answer yes, Yes, YES to all of those questions! Just those opening words sent me off on a deliciously intoxicating foodie daydream.

Petal, Leaf Seed by Lia Leendertz does exactly what it says on the tin and offers up a whole heap of recipes from cocktails and drinks through to main meals and desserts with butters, tisanes, sprinkles and sherbets along the way. It covers Spring, Summer, vegetable and herb flowers, fruit leaves, exotic leaves, leaves from herbs as well as herb, vegetable & flower seeds.

 

It’s the most bizarre thing, but every time I’ve picked this book up, I’ve sniffed the pages as if expecting to release the aromas from the glorious photography within.

I have a feeling that this book might well be to blame for some of my next few plant purchases, I’ve already added lemon verbena and borage to my list. My new favourite recipe book for sure – a perfect gift for a gardening loving foodie! (Thank you G!)

Relisted as a Top 10 UK Gardening Blog

I was thrilled to receive an email yesterday telling us that A Pentland Garden has been relisted in Vuelio’s Top 10 UK Gardening Blogs this year (it’s even snuck up a couple of places!)

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I’ve had a wonderful time browsing the others from this list, whether they be galloping, thirsty, patient, frustrated or cynical, they all have great sites and I’ve subscribed to them all!

  1. The Patient Gardener
  2. The Frustrated Gardener
  3. the blackberry garden
  4. Real Men Sow (they deserve a prize for the name alone!)
  5. A Pentland Garden
  6. The Cynical Gardener
  7. The Middle-sized garden
  8. The Galloping Gardener
  9. Two Thirsty Gardeners
  10. Veg Plotting

Here’s the 2015 list in case you were interested, a number of familiar names but a few completely new ones too!

Getting Creative with a new Potting Bench

I’ve been going Pinterest crazy recently for all things gardening and one thing that’s been high on my to-do list, especially with our continued Wintery weather, has been to create a potting shed sanctuary.

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Our Summerhouse, which also acts as my home office and a general dumping ground for out of season garden furniture and chicken bedding/feed etc. will be the perfect spot, once it’s been cleared out a bit.

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I’ve been gathering lots of ‘pinspiration‘ and spotted something at last weekend’s local auction that would make a perfect potting bench – thankfully, we won it and it was delivered today, along with some other bits n pieces.

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I couldn’t quite wait for it to be in situ before got ‘potting’ so I planted up a set of vintage scales with some succulents. S didn’t quite ‘get’ my vision with this one so will be interested to see if he likes it.

We also bought a vintage watering can and an old Edwardian foot bath a few weeks back that are also waiting on some potting action.

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In other news, the spring onion ends that I put in some water at the weekend, have indeed started sprouting (yes, another idea from Pinterest), although the celery isn’t looking quite so successful just yet.

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The post was also a joy – I received a new book on growing and preserving fruit to review, a packet of wildflower seeds from this year’s Grow Wild campaign and a sample of Baby Bio outdoor. Along with the seeds from a friend, I have a lot to be playing around with.

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Chickens n Chives & it’s almost May?!!!!

Since getting Ivy and Etta who both seem to have a penchant for self-seasoning themselves in the herb garden, the other girls have also suddenly taken an interest and we no longer have a herb garden at all – totally decimated!

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exhibit A – Betty tearing up the chives

Think I’ll need to re-plant everything and then stick spikes/bamboo around the edge to stop them getting into it the little monkeys. The right-hand side of the rockery is also in need of some attention after they tore everything up to make a dust bath there as well.

At least they’re all ‘playing nicely’ now – the flock integration was pretty wretched to watch – who knew hens could be so vicious!

 

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Ivy (L) and Etta (R) taking sentry duty

In other news, after a (very) brief visit from Spring we’re back to Winter – snow and freezing temperatures mean that our conservatory is still full of plants from our recent garden centre excursions that it’s still too cold to plant out.

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We have a new front garden!

Our front garden was clearly made to be low-maintenance but we were desperate to create a ‘chocolate box’ country cottage look, especially as our back garden is mainly a kitchen garden.IMG_7716

We removed all the pebbles – most going to neighbours houses/gardens – it was quite amusing to find white car parking lines underneath from the days it was a pub.

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Then in came the landscapers to dig it all up, put in flower beds around the borders and creating a lawn – Sandy has been desperate to get a lawnmower (boys and toys?!) so now he can!

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We’ve got to wait 2-3 weeks for the grass to sort itself out before we can get in there and start planting, but in the meantime, we’ve been given some very clever-sounding garden planning software to try out/review – The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner which I’m very excited about.

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Rhubarb & Ginger Jam Recipe (easy)

Rhubarb is one of the best growers in our garden (being an arctic plant the hard frosts we get in the hills keep it very happy) and I’ve spent a lot of time refining this recipe but I’m finally happy with it. I often make up a half batch (just 2 jars) if I have some windblown stalks needing using.

It’s super quick and easy to make, not to mention, very tasty! 

IMG_7613Ingredients

1kg rhubarb, washed & sliced into 2cm lengths

1kg caster sugar

zest & juice of 1 lemon

75-100g fresh ginger, finely chopped (I like a strong ginger zing)

(This makes about 4 average jars)

Method

  • Place the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice & zest into a bowl, stir and cover and set aside for a couple of hours.
  • Once all the sugar has dissolved in the rhubarb juices transfer into a preserving pan and set over a medium heat.
  • Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved and then bring to the boil.
  • Continue to cook until the rhubarb is really tender and it has reached setting point – this will probably take about 10-15 mins.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and leave for 2-3 mins before pouring into sterilized jars. Seal immediately.

Tips

Testing for Setting Point

Put a couple of saucers in your freezer before setting the jam to heat. When ready to test, drop ½ a teaspoon of the jam onto a saucer, leave for 30 seconds and then gently push with your fingertip – if the jam ‘wrinkles’ then setting point has been reached. If not, cook for a few minutes more and test again.

Sterilising Your Jam Jars

I do this in the microwave, soak the jars in hot water and then put the still wet jars into the microwave on full power for about 1 minute (until they are dry) and then use immediately.

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