Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bring me a bedding plant crocodile, and make it snappy...

Planted by Dumfries and Galloway Council in the RHS/Ball Colegrave National Flower Bed competition (silver medal) at Tatton.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Natural design

Several gardens at Tatton had cultivars of Sanguisorba* in them, and they did look very good.

But what was even better was seeing a field of Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) in a hay meadow in the Lake District, blending beautifully with meadow cranesbill, birdsfoot trefoil, and a host of grasses.

* The Latin name rolls round the mouth nicely, but actually means 'blood staunching'.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tatton Park in the rain

Subtitle: getting stuck in the mud, so you don't have to...
This year, I've been lucky enough to go to Malvern Spring Show and Gardeners' World Live, and now Tatton, my local show.

As always, a mixed bag of show gardens (although I wish I had just one tenth of the imagination of the designers), but some of them really caught my imagination.
Some I wasn't so keen on...
Glyndwr's Vision (Silver-Gilt) - a bit 'bedding' (not that there's anything wrong with bedding - Tatton is well known for its national flower bed competition - photos of those at a later date).

Time (Silver) - when I saw it on the TV I thought I liked it but close up it didn't grip me at all. Not to mention the fact that the wood is splitting after only a few days of Cheshire rain.

Those I liked...

Revolution Order Versus Chaos (Silver) - gardens don't half have pretentious names, don't they? This one was a real zinger - it sang out through the rain, mud and murk.

Time and the Bell (Gold) - sounded nice in the breeze and I enjoyed the effect of the grass against the bamboo.

The Lunch Hour Garden (Silver) - not many places of work have such beautiful places to sit and eat your sandwiches!

Quilted Velvet (Gold): Not so much for the planting (despite three gardens, I still haven't been brainwashed into buying Quilted Velvet loo roll) but for the contouring of the plot.

'So 80's (Silver) - as the 1980's were my formative teenage years, I felt some kinship with the bright colours used for the hard landscaping (and the fact they were playing Heaven 17's '(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang'). It looked bare on the TV, but outside of the neon flooring, there was lush, colour co-ordinated planting. Anyway, the '80s are back - just listen to some of the music in the charts nowadays.

Fibonaci Numbers in Nature (bronze) - I wasn't keen on a lot of this garden (not enough plants!) but I liked the tagliatelle at the back. Must be the devil's own job to weed bindweed from though.

Those I loved...

Cubed3 (Gold and best visionary garden). I loved this. Although it is very geometric, the tumbling cubes reminded me of the shattered rocks I'd seen the previous week in the Lake District, and it seemed full of energy.

Strictly Come Gardening (Gold). Rather twee name and concept but I loved the planting.

I may have accidentally bought a couple of plants...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Batteries recharged, muscles aching

After a very busy few weeks at work and Bill Cat going missing for five days (thankfully he turned up, with a nasty but entirely treatable infection in his leg), we have had a week away in the Lake District.
Wonderful views...
...except when we were inside clouds.
We think we reached the top of Bowfell and then Esk Pike - it was rather hard to tell, except for the fact that we stopped going up and started coming down again. Apparently, there are fantastic views of Scafell Pike, but we barely had a view of each other if SomeBeans got more than about ten paces ahead.

Today I had a trip to Tatton Park to finish off a relaxing (although rather rainy) week - report to come.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Sunday, July 05, 2009

A goulash soup moment

It's the time of year for lots of soft fruit. We've had about 5kg of strawberries in recent weeks. They're now coming to an end, to be replaced by the raspberries from the thicket in the back garden.

Most of these are eaten fresh, but last week I made some strawberry sorbet and two lots of strawberry puree ready to be incorporated into Delia Smith's strawberry cheesecake ice-cream.

This afternoon's toiling over a hot stove has been with the blackcurrants. I harvested around 2kg from the bush in the back garden (rather incongruous in the middle of a herbaceous border, but who cares!). I've made blackcurrant jam - as per VP's post (see point no. 12), it has been rather hot today. I also made the blackcurrant base for blackcurrant gin sauce - we've been rather remiss in gin restocking so the most important ingredient will have to be added at a later date.

Which brings me to the title of the blog. A 'goulash soup moment' is code chez Mouffetard for the moment when you realise you've over-filled the blender. And the kitchen becomes decorated with what they delightfully call 'spatter' in CSI. As the name suggests, the first product to be artfully sprayed over the kitchen was goulash soup - I was attempting to recreate the lovely soup we have had in the Alps. I assume that the mountain restaurants don't normally scrape it off the walls before they serve it. We still find the occasional orange spot in odd places in the kitchen. Well, the orange has now been joined by a (luckily smaller) eruption of bright purple from the blackcurrant sauce.

I shall be glad when the soft fruit season is over.