Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back and Gone Again!


Honey, I'm home! But not for long as I am off again for my next holiday very soon, this time in the Netherlands.
British humor

My garden tour around Scotland was wonderful and I will tell you all about it, but not today as I just don't have the time.
Scottish Thistle

Today I will give you a tantalizing glimpse of some of the lovely Scottish gardens that I've visited these last few days.
Wonderful views

My holiday in Scotland in the proverbial nutshell.
Stunning gardens
Candelabra Primulas

This is all I have time for as I have loads to do as you always have after you've come home from a holiday. You know the drill, my washing machine is working overtime and so am I as there is so much to do in the garden. It feels and looks like I've been gone for ages instead of just one week. So I'd better get cracking. I'll be back to blog again soon(ish) after my second holiday so watch this space!
Fairytale castles

Copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Gardening must never be put on a pedestal. All that matters is that it should give its maker pleasure. Anna Pavord, Gardening Companion, 1992

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Highland Fling

That's what I'm going to have as I'm going on a holiday to Scotland tomorrow. And it's not just any old holiday, oh no, I'm going on a garden tour with a dear friend to see lots and lots of Scottish gardens. Isn't that great? I'll have a lot to blog about when I return. What's that? You are curious to know what gardens I'm going to visit ? Well, for those of you who can't wait until my return and for my garden friend Shirl who asked me about it, here are some spoilers:

Biggar Park
Carnell Garden
Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh
Portrack House
An Cala Garden Bide-A-Wee Cottage Garden
Drummond Castle Garden
Mount Stuart Garden
Mount Stuart Kitchen Garden
Arduaine Garden

I'll be gone for a week and the under-gardener will look after the Bliss team and the Bliss garden while I'm away. Please keep your fingers and toesies crossed for me that it won't rain the whole time. My teacher English went on a holiday to Scotland once and it rained for weeks. After 2 weeks of rain my teacher asked the hotel owner if it always rained in Scotland. Oh no, the owner said, sometimes it snows.


copyright text 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

It's the month of June,
The month of leaves and roses,
When pleasant sights salute the eyes,
And pleasant scents the noses.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Simply Too Busy

That is what I am, simply too busy to blog a lot. I can manage 2 posts a week, just about, but visiting other blogs and comment too? Well, not so much. I used to be able to visit my favourite blogs twice a week but there are so many of them now that that is no longer possible and I have to be content with visiting most of them about once a week. There is just so much to do at the mo and hardly enough time to do it all. How are you guys managing with the blogging and the commenting?
The potager has more or less become a jungle thanks to all the rain and sunshine we've been getting lately.
This week I had to trim all the hedges and arches of the potager, I do this by hand. Then I had to clean everything up. Then I had some fiddly jobs to do: tie in all the sweet peas, sugar snaps, peas and capuciner peas.
And the branches of the grapes needed to be tied to the pergola too.
And of course, there had to be some harvesting done too this week such as radishes, lettuce, rocket salad, many herbs and rhubarb.
A major job at the moment is creating the new border in my back garden. It is situated between the potager and the garden cottage. This border is going to be 14 meters long and 4.5 meters deep. I'm going to call it the long border because that is what it is, looooooooong.
It's a lot of work creating this new border, not only do I have to do a lot of planting, a new path also needs to be laid and a nice box hedge along side the path has to be planted as well.
The new border starts right next to the potager and it's colours are purple, pink and burgundy. Then the colours change into white, burgundy foliage and silver. Next it will turn white, yellow and silver and when we get close to the garden cottage its colour palette will be yellow, white, apricot and blue.
But speaking of the garden cottage ............ well, you see that there is still a lot of work to be done before the border on this side is finished. I'm half way there now but the former birdbath bed has to be taken apart, a tree stump has to be dug out, a lot of wood needs to be chopped, a path needs to be laid, a lot of rubbish needs to cleared out and the soil needs to be prepared with a generous helping of compost before I will finally be able to start planting.
I think it will take me another two to three weeks before the new border is finished. With all this going on in the garden I've hardly had time to
smell the roses. And such lovely roses they are. This one is Magenta with the kind of scent that you dream of when you think of roses. Utter Bliss!
Calypso has very little scent but she is such a pretty and colourful rose, that she is forgiven for not producing a stronger fragrance.
But Madame Alfred Carriere and Guirlande d'Amour are producing an enormous amount of scent. You can smell them from 20 meters away and when I open the front door huge waves of scent waft in. Magic!

Not only the roses are producing wonderful fragrance, this humble and old fashioned Pink is too. I bought it more than 20 years ago for the huge amount of 75 cents (in guilders) which translates into 35 cents in USD. Amazing don't you think?
And it is still going strong and its fragrance is simply wonderful. I like the silvery blue foliage too, it forms very nice clumps and it is very easy to take cuttings, most of them root almost instantly. I think this is one of my best buys ever.
I have no idea which variety of Pink this lilac beauty is but she is the best IMO.

Have a great weekend!

copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Flowers and butterflies are delicate,
but also suprisingly strong.
Simon Vinkenoog

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Art of Artichoking

Have you ever seen those weird looking artichokes and wondered how on earth you are supposed to eat those things and how to prepare them? And, more to the point, how do they actually taste? Well, wonder no more because here you'll learn the art of artichoking in 7 easy steps.
Step 1: put the artichoke in some salty water for an hour or so to get rid off creepy crawlies. Cut off the stem and rub the cut on the artichoke with a slice of lemon.

Step 2: boil water in a pan, put the artichoke in, bring again to the boil, add the juice of one lemon and let it all gently boil for 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke. I boiled mine for 40 minutes and as you can see it was a bit of a handful. The artichoke is ready when the leaves come off when you pull them gently.

Step 3: make the vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
- half a tablespoon of mustard
- salt
- pepper
- 6 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon of chopped chives
- 1 shallot finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together and serve in small bowl.

Step 4: eat the artichoke by pulling off the leaves one by one, dipping the end in the vinaigrette and gently scrape the fleshy bit off the leaf with your teeth.
A real master of artichoking knows to savour each leaf . Artichoking is an art, it's a slow process, it's enjoyment, it's Zen. Fast food it most certainly is not.
Step 5: after you have eaten all the leaves you are left with the heart of the flower.
Step 6: remove the 'hay' in the middle until you are left with this.
Step 7 : cut into bite sizes, dunk in vinaigrette and enjoy.
And that is how you master the art of artichoking.

How did it taste? Delicious, very tender and spring-like. Not surprisingly as it is a flower bud that you're eating. Are you a master of artichoking yet?

copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Gardeners (or, indeed, people in general) who always play safe are missing out on the thrill of taking risks and occasionally bringing off the longed-for coup. If you love colour, then try some outlandish combinations to see how you get on with them. Orange with magenta, for instance. I think those two work splendidly next to one another.
Christopher Lloyd