|There are wonderful foods|
and produce to be found.
breath, but this darling teapot did. It came home with
us after our last visit to the Burford Garden
This David Austin book on
'English Roses' came home
with us as well.
A Garden Tour
"A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches
it teaches industry and thrift;
above all it teaches entire trust."
|A David Austin 'Brother Cadfael' rose with fresh, June blooms.|
end of the day, you ought to seriously
re-examine your life."
'Calvin and Hobbs'
|Master digger, Jack.|
So that's one reason why I garden--it just makes me happy. Another reason is the urge to create--I can't not do it. It has never mattered where I live--a farmhouse, a two bedroom apartment, or a cottage--I've nurtured flower pots, planted lavender, created an herb garden, or added a window box. It doesn't matter where you are, you can propagate beauty in some small way. There isn't anything that feels quite like creating something out of nothing and for me, there's nothing better than creating beauty.
So welcome to our garden. It's a little bit wild, it's unmanicured and natural, and it's a sanctuary for people, puppies, birds, bees, and hedgehogs in the middle of a bustling city. You enter through a little garden gate, that opens onto small stone steps, taking care to duck underneath the archway in the 10 foot tall hedge.
Jack is at the top of the steps, waiting to show
|I prefer to grow Hidcote Lavender because of it's deep|
purple colour that holds it's rich tone even after it's dried.
|An apricot climbing rose grows alongside the summerhouse.|
An old garden spade serves as a rustic trellis.
or sometimes just a place to get out of the rain.
|Who turned out the lights?!|
|A quince blossom.|
|We have a bumper crop of apples this year.|
"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth."
~Dorothy Frances Gurney,
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH BLUE AND WHITE
|My first blue and white plate, on the bottom|
shelf, is still in my kitchen and has
travelled many, many miles with me.
As I raised children and lived on a budget, there wasn't much money left over for collecting anything, much less blue and white china. Antiquing with girlfriends was a favourite past-time though and I soon found something I could collect and the "budget" would never be the wiser--antique crescent spice cans. They were only a dollar or two each, but each one was brought home as a treasure.
And then I came to England. My very first trip was in 1994, and I still have the blue and white treasures I brought home with me. I'll never forget walking into the Crabtree and Evelyn shop on Cornmarket Street, here in Oxford, and seeing the blue and white transferware, which they don't even make anymore. I think I nearly fainted, or at least stopped breathing for a few seconds. A perfectly proportioned Crabtree and Evelyn teapot came home with me, carefully wrapped in my suitcase--and it's still in our breakfast room today.
|My kitchen sideboard.|
THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF
The Bake Off (#GBBO for Twitter followers) has added baking terminology to the everyday British lexicon, as well as sparking in-depth discussions about the merits or pitfalls "creme pat" (creme patisserie), soggy bottoms and how to avoid them, or the difference between a short-crust or a hot-water crust. Five years ago not many people knew how to spell choux pastry much less how to pipe it. There are even Bake Off scandals discussed on morning television, the most recent being 'freezergate'. One of the contestants took someone's ice cream out of the refrigerator, on a very hot day, making his show-stopper challenge a complete disaster. Words flew, hackles were raised, and Tweets raged--just what the producers where hoping for, and it's made for some great TV. Who knew watching 12 people bake Florentines could be so much fun?!
|Our supplies laid in for tonight's doughnut challenge|
|The mixing bowl used for my first cake|
and my first and only rolling pin.
|If you're not British but you've seen the|
movie 'Calender Girls', you'll know just
what a Victoria Sponge is.
If you'd like to try baking a Victoria Sponge, here's the BBC's own recipe. American's can just use plain sugar rather than the British castor sugar, which is finer and used for baking. Good luck, enjoy, and I'll let you know how the doughnuts turned out!
The American version of 'sponge', which
is a type of cake that uses air beat into
it to give it it's structure.
GBBO UPDATE: ADVANCED DOUGH
|Nancy under the watchful and|
highly disapproving steely blue
eyes of Paul Hollywood.
|Luis' "cocktail doughnuts" featured|
a shot of Bailey's in each one, and changed the
landscape of the doughnut world forever.
Beside Stuart and I making ourselves thoroughly ill on our own doughnuts, the best part of the episode for me was Richard's 'signature bake', a Swedish Tea Ring. I've been eating Swedish Tea Rings at Christmas since I was about two, when my mom made them every Christmas by the dozens. I started baking them myself about thirty-eight years ago, so you might say it's my signature bake as well.
|Our original recipe from the 1950's, and yes it is spectacular.|
|Betty Crocker's Swedish Tea Ring|
We were so sad to see 17 year old Martha leave the tent last night--her doughnut dough had over-proved and her technical challenge was raw as Paul Hollywood's 'thumb of doom' proved. An entire nation was rooting for this tender, young baker and we're all sad to see her leave the GBBO tent. There are only two more episodes to go, so stay tuned, and now if you'll excuse me I think it's time to bake a Swedish Tea Ring of my own.
|Our family's classic Swedish Tea Ring|
the bone structure of the landscape.....
The whole story doesn't show."
|A soggy, drippy morning.|
By noon though the trifecta I had been waiting for finally happened--the skies cleared, the sun came out, and I had an afternoon free. I couldn't get out to my garden fast enough.
Our garden is separate from the house, surrounded by a tall hedge and accessed though a little gate, so there are days I don't even set eyes on it. I also hadn't done any garden clean-up since Gonzalo blew through, so I had no idea what would greet me. But I pulled on my wellies, scooted Max out the door with me, garden gloves and daffodil bulbs in hand.
|What greeted me when I opened the|
gate and walked up the flagstone steps
wasn't so bad. Max and I would have
it sorted in a couple of hours.
|My pineapple sage was in full|
bloom, with it's beautiful red spikes.
|And now with the trees stripped of their leaves,|
one of my favorite things about our garden
was shining there, in it's full glory--
the college towers that surround our garden.
|New College Tower backdrop|
and an ivy geranium heading
into it's second winter.
Last winter we had a guest come and stay with us whose grandmother was born in one of the cottages. I love it when history comes alive, even in our back garden.
"Winter is in my head,
|My Grandpa (2nd from the left) and great-uncles|
at the Godin/Gordon Lumbercamp,
Ocqueoc Michigan, June 22, 1907
|Lake Champlain, Vermont|
|Don't flip the pancake until the top is|
covered with air bubbles--and no
|Rev. Robert Gordon, Pastor Bob,|
Uncle Bob and our Dad.
|The tradition carries on at Holywell Bed and Breakfast,|
but not quite lumberjack sized.