Archives for posts with tag: autumn

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I’m not quite sure what the other school mums thought, but I didn’t care as I was having so much fun bustling around the undergrowth along the village bank taking photos and coming up close and personal with autumn. My treasures were complete when I found Toady. He was completely disguised amongst the leaves and his warty skin creates fabulous texture and just look at those golden eyes. Incidently, to tell the difference between frogs and toads look at their feet as frogs are webbed but toads have dear little toes!

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About this post: I plan to have a countryside photo session once a month during 2015.

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What fantastic colours pumpkins are – their glowing fiery orange is perfect for a winter garden. I am so excited by my eight pumpkins that have been ripening. But how was I to know when to pick them? I scuttled back to my computer to do a search and this is what I discovered:

  1. They need to be a deep rich colour
  2. When you tap them they must ring hollow
  3. Their skin must be tough enough to resist a finger nail poking into them

Once the pumpkins had passed those three steps, I placed them in the green house to ‘cure’ for a week. And now they are being stored in the garage (a cool dry area) and should be able to keep for upto six months. We’ll gobble them up before then though as I plan to make delicious soup.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter
2 onions, roughly chopped
700g of pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced (approx half a small pumpkin)
2 apples (peeled & diced)
5 – 10ml mild curry powder
pinch of nutmeg
3 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups milk
Juice and grated skin of 1 orange
Salt, pepper, pinch of sugar
Chopped parsley
Yogurt or cream to swirl in when serving

Method:
Sauté onions, add pumpkin & apple. Sauté for 3 minutes to develop flavours. Add curry powder, nutmeg, and stir. Add stock, orange rind & juice. Simmer for 20 – 30 mins. Stir regularly as it can stick to the pot. Liquidise, add salt, pepper, sugar, milk. If you wish, add a little more curry powder or even a touch of cayenne pepper for a more spicy favour.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt swirled into it and chopped parsley or fresh coriander sprinkled on top. Serves 6 decent helpings or 8 delicate ones.

Pumpkins always bring back happy memories as I think back 10 years when my big boy was a delicious two-year old and posed with a pumpkin in Beatrix Potter’s garden. He will always be my little red-headed pumpkin no matter how old he is!

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This year’s autumn lasagna ingredients

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Layer 1 – Tulip bulbs

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Layer 2 – Narcissus tete-a-tete bulbs

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Layer 3 – Crocus bulbs

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Top with winter flowering pansies

I have been working incredibly hard on various design projects and decided it was time to take a break and grow a lasagna. Inspired when off to buy chicken food at my local garden centre, I bought 3 different types of bulbs and wintering pansies.

Ingredients
A pot and compost
20 x crocus bulbs
12 x narcissus tete-a-tete bulbs
10 x tulips bulbs
6 x winter flowering pansies

Method
Place gravel at the base of the pot
Fill the pot halfway with compost
Place the tulip bulbs on the surface and cover with compost
Place the tete-a-tete bulbs on the compost and cover
Place the crocus bulbs and cover over with compost
The final layer is the winter flowering pansies. In the past, I have also used ornamental cabbages which look fabulous and amusing although they can smell a bit… cabbagy.

The beauty of this lasagna is as each layer dies, the next will appear in a blaze of glory taking you all the way to April. And I feel very pleased as normally I’m shivering in November and trying to poke frozen soil forcing daffodil bulbs into the ground – too little too late. Go on… and cook your own floral lasagna.

I am not obsessed but ever since reading the fascinating biography of The Mitford Sisters, I have been intrigued to learn more about these six controversial sisters especially when I realised that the youngest daughter is still alive and is now the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, aged 91 and until recently lived in Chatsworth. Her son, the 12 Duke of Devonshire, and his wife now live there. Richard and I had a weekend sans children and used it to explore Chatsworth and what a fabulous time we had – the palace is soaked in history and yet is also a family home. Opening it to the public has given us a great privilege to enjoy treasures in the house and gardens. It helps when you have ‘Capability’ Brown and Paxton in your landscaping retinue and a number of the dukes were collectors of treasures and sculptures on a grand scale. I loved the surprises around each corner – wickerwork entwined into trees like giant seed pods, bronze Greyhounds against a stark background and a sculpture gate incorporating the scenery. When Richard had enough of my photography, he decided to try some silly walks… and we left to find our hotel. Want to know more, read the following books: The Mitford Girls and Wait for Me. Even better, go and visit Chatsworth itself.

An extract from my Seasons Journal: ‘The ground is an autumn carpet of leaves in the narrow Twilly Springs short cut. We swish through them, spotting lumpy hard pears and know we will watch the fruit turn into mush over the next few months. At either end of the carpet, the leaves disintegrate into slithery mud. It is a month of putting down, a month of laying to rest, a lonely month, a somber month. It is the right month to remember Armistice Day with the poignant symbol of a poppy.’ Wondering what this project is all about? Have a look at this entry.

An extract from my Seasons Journal: ‘Trees are slowly shifting from pale orange at the top down to green on their lower branches. The fields have now been tilled and are brown and empty and there are no cows, only rooks. I am guessing they are rooks because of the proverb: “A crow in a crowd is a rook. A rook on its own is a crow.” Rooks are meant to have grey-white faces, thinner beaks and peaked heads. Carrion crows are black with blunted beaks and are solitary birds. To be frank it is hard to tell if they are crows or rooks across the damp, misty fields but the cawing is quite haunting.’ Wondering what this project is all about? Have a look at this entry.