Bluebells in February?

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These plants are growing outside in a box and my husband bought them in to show me as my cold is no better and I haven’t been outside because I feel too poorly.

What are they? They look like bluebells but they are not curved over like British ones. They might be Spanish bluebells which grow upright, with thicker stems. But bluebells don’t normally flower till April or May? Also the flowers are sticking out sideways. I guess they are actually a form of hyacinth? They don’t have many bells on them but they do smell like hyacinths. On the other hand they are not like the ones we had on the windowsill and are nothing like grape hyacinths that we sometimes grow in the spring.

So my question is to any gardeners out there…. What are they?

Rode Hall snow drop walk.

Gallanthus, the Latin name for Snowdrops. They are out in force at Rode Hall gardens near Scholar Green, on the North Staffordshire/ Cheshire border. It’s off the A34 between Stoke-on-Trent and Congleton. The snowdrops are in flower right now and you can buy little bags of them (in the green) wjuch means you get bulbs with the leaves and flowers and you plant them directly into the ground under trees so they can spread out. They have many different sorts of the flowers that brighten the grounds of the hall. The snowdrop walks are on till March 3rd? And open till 4pm.

We walked through the grounds and gardens of the hall. Winding paths lead through bushes and trees, up and down little hills and slopes, past pools and woven willow sculptures down to the lake at the end of the longest path. There you can see a wooded island where Herons are starting to nest. I got blurry shots of four herons flying around the tree tops.

Back up past the hall we had a meal and coffee at the cafe and then on to an old barn to see an Exhibition by three local art groups that is on till the start of March.

It’s great to get out into the world and see it changing. The snowdrops were in such great clumps on the ground that it truly did look like they were patches of snow under the bare trees. It’s a great place to explore.

 

Pears

A couple of weeks after our small crop of apples the pears have almost all fallen off the tree following a strong breeze. There are two left up on the tree.

As with all windfalls they are a bit battered and bruised.  We had a few earlier and I think birds have been trying to eat them too, but pears stay hard for ages then suddenly ripen so they are not soft enough for the blackbirds and robins in the garden.

What to do with them? I’m going to chop off the bad bits then poach them in white wine when they are a bit riper . I dont think they will be beautiful pears standing up right in their bowls, but a bit more of a chopped up chunky pudding, with added custard. I might take photos!

Why is the tree at an angle?  I don’t know, we put it in and it  grew this way. This year we put an old shelf upright underneath it to support it as it was tipping further. As it grows large fruit, they seem to pull on the top half. Hopefully it won’t snap. It was bought as a sapling from an old Woolworth store. It must have been planted 20 years ago and since its matured it’s always borne fruit.

Hooray for the old pear tree. Faithfull fruiter!

Acers

I took lots of photos of these trees at a garden centre in Wales. Small and perfectly formed, their colours seem to glow against the dull grey sky. A shaft of sunlight makes the colours explode. Glorious and wonderful.

A lot of the leaves are palmate, meaning hand shaped. The leaves are strongly divided into thinner and thinner strips of crimson red or deep yellow at this time of year. We have an acer in our garden but it always seems to have a white sheen to it. I think it is in the wrong place next to a bigger tree which is robbing it of moisture. I sometimes water it to try and help. It changes to a very dark deep red in autumn and its leaves are less indented, more maple like. With the sun shining through them this morning they look bronze or copper coloured.

Afternoon sunshine

We came out of the cafe and the clouds had lifted in penkhull. The sun was shining and the breeze had dropped.

I saw a small plant with almost ivy shaped leaves and little white flowers with yellow centres. It reminded me of the woody nightshade we have growing in our garden.

I would have loved to take some seeds home but didn’t see any on the plant

I’m trying to grow as many interesting local plants in the garden to attract the bees. These were good because they are flowering right at the end of the summer.

I quite like asters and other autumn plants such as dahlias.

We did get some fluffy red valerian seeds. They make a bright display of colour in August onwards. They seem to grow out of cracks in the pavement. Much nicer looking than some other weeds or garden escapees.

Apples

We have lots of apples this year, some from our trees and others from a glut of apples from local gardeners. My partner bought a couple of bags. We also had some damsons this year off a tree. If you look closely, hiding in the front of my fruit bowl, are three tiny tomatoes which I grew (they didn’t do so well this year).

What to do with them? Last week I made an Apple lattice pie, this time I stewed some of the apples and damsons with a bit of water and some artificial sweetener that you can use in cooking. The result was a pink fluffy mess of stewed apples…

What to have with them? I could have served them with cream, or icecream, or custard. But I decided to try some shop bought organic rice pudding. The result was delicious.

I wish we grew more crops, we got some good red peppers, and a cucumber this year. I might try growing some courgettes and marrows next year. We also grow raspberries and the next door neighbour has wild blackberry canes growing into our garden so I also pick those. One thing that didn’t grow this year was some onion sets off a friend. I think out garden is too overshaded by trees that have grown up. We may have to cut the trees back a bit. We have also grown potatos in the past. That’s something else to grow next year.

X

 

“That spiky things flowering…”

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Conversation:

‘What thing?’

“That thing on the corner”

‘What thing on the corner!  Where abouts?’

“On the corner , you know…”

‘What’s that?’

“The spiky thing”

‘On the corner?”

“By the willow”

‘What willow?’

“On the corner”

‘Oh hell…..what are you going on about?!’

“You know”

‘But I don’t, that’s why I’m asking’

“Its spiky, got yellow and orange berries”

‘Pyrocantha!?’

“Yes!”

Silence. ………

‘What are you doing? ‘

Noises in the kitchen……..

‘Hello? Whats happening?’

“Just mending my steam engine!”

😠 ‘argh!’

Is it like this in your house? It is in mine.