Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mojito anyone?

Last year Niall, Shane and I went mojito crazy guzzling the refreshing beverage by the pint. The consumption rate was so high that we ran out of one ingredient (and there aren’t that many) – mint. This year there was no way I was going to buy mint so ignoring all advice I planted out the mint in a border. It had previously been planted out in pots to curb its invasive tendencies. In just one year it’s taken over all whole border, edging out the Sweet William. For some reason we haven’t been so mojito crazy and so I now have a garden of mint! Better get drinking...

For a perfect mojito you have to journey to Spain (or Mexico according to Chio) but we’ve been savouring the delights of the following:
Crush ice and place in a tumbler
Gently mix 2–4 springs of mint and sugar (we use brown sugar)
Add the juice of 1 lime
Add a generous slug of rum (not Barcardi)
Shake ingredients well, pour over the crushed ice, stir gently and enjoy!!

Monday, July 11, 2005


And I don’t mean our stressed public transport system although it could do with some additional resources especially on the 200 route into Wimbledon! No, overcrowding might be the reason why the hollyhocks succumb to rust last year. Finally got to catch an episode of Gardener’s World and, although Monty was referring to roses, I guess rust and the conditions for its development could be transposed to other plants. Damp, poor ventilation and overcrowding is the necessary environment for rust growth. Since removing most of the hollyhocks those left behind are healthier with less rust than last year. Clearing out the older plants has provided the seeds with the opportunity to germinate, so I’ve been gingerly removing the seedlings, which isn’t as easy as it sounds since they have a delicate and long tap root. A good exercise in patience and dexterity. And plenty of pressies to give to friends and family!

It's a miracle

This is the first year that the purple-leaved sage has flowered, okay, there are only five specks of blue but it’s a start! The flowers aren’t as big or as bright as the green-leaved sage. I cut it back hard at the beginning of the spring, to give the other herbs at the front of the border some room, which perhaps was just the stimulus it needed? Well, something seemed to work. We’ve had this sage plant since we used to live in Hackney, and that’s going back five years. It’s a lot bigger now but just assumed it wasn’t a flowering variety. Oh, it’s lovely to be wrong!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Sounds from London

Working from home today – only to relieve the burden on the public transport system. The patio door is open to maintain a link to the garden and city. A robin is singing oblivious to the chaos that brought London to a standstill. Sirens are wailing away in the distance similar to the sounds of West London, yesterday morning. Our office is close to all the emergency services; with stations and the hospital with walking distance. For most of the morning the air was full of noise with the emergency services racing against time. Life continues regardless of the disruption and sorrow that has been forced on the capital. Today the church bells chime down the road, our neighbour’s grandson, a toddler, chats to himself, bees buzz about the flowers – reassuring signs of normality.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Questions, questions, questions

The rocket has withered down to hard brittle stalks with wizened seed heads still intact. Does any one know how to collect the seeds? Do you remove the seeds and dry them out on some newspaper/tissue paper/something equivalent until they are dark and hard? I collected some soft brown seeds, from the still green seed heads, but they’ve gone mouldy. Hmm, I think I’m doing something wrong!

I’m also not sure how to collect Oriental poppy seeds either. The seeds from the seed head don’t look (or feel) ready since they are still on the soft side. Do you collect the seeds later in the year – end of summer? And should the seeds be hard when you cut the seed head? Are the seed heads left on the stalk/plant or hung upside down somewhere?

End of season clear out

The bees were in heaven over May/June as the sage and foxgloves were both in full bloom. The constant humming made the border sound as if it was alive! (No bolt of lightening or charge of electricity necessary – been watching too many vampire/Frankenstein movies.) But all good things come to an end. The sage was looking a little scruffy, so it was time for a clear out, since it ran riot over spring smothering the primroses and Lady’s Mantle towards the front of the border.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Relocation, relocation

Have I mentioned before that there’s a large lemon balm shrub in the back? During our first year here I grew lots of herbs from seed – to keep the costs down – and this was one of the survivors. My first year gardening was a steep learning curve since I knew next to nothing. Anything that made it through 2001 is obviously a resilient, despite my best efforts. Yes, the mortality rate during that year was particularly high!

One balm is enough and since the seedlings like the back so much I’m hoping that they will take to the front too. May be there won’t be as much cat/fox (not sure which) poo left as nasty smelling presents. There’s nothing worse then weeding/working a border and coming across an unwanted, sticky, yicky, mass! Yuck! Sorry, wandering off the point (as usual). The plan is that the balm will also fill the gaps between the really slow growing box – so there might be a hedge by 2020!

Off with their heads!

Although it’s been quiet on the blog front there has still been activity (albeit not much!) behind the scenes in SW19. Work commitments have interrupted time in the garden (and at yoga) – ah, everything has suffered. But June is now out of the way and there’s no more traveling, for work, until September that is!

Towards the end of last month Niall and I were out chopping the heads of the Jerusalem artichoke. After an inspection this weekend they appear to be fine with plenty of new side growth. (I think they could be termed very healthy, short, specimens!) Already on the look out for some more Jerusalem artichoke recipes!!