Ash Arch

The garden has quite the little forest of volunteer ash trees and saplings.  They are starting to become a bit of a nuisance to tell you the truth, popping up in cracks between the cement and wall.  I’ve cut down a few of the smaller ones, and am half thinking that perhaps we’ll need to get serious to thin out some of the patches they have taken over.  But in the mean time, I’ve been cutting some of the longer lower branches that are pushing out and clogging borders.

Silly me, I’ve tossed countless branches into the trash, but this year I’ve been using some to hold up my tomatillos (lots of flowers, but still no fruit!) and tomatoes.  And this got me thinking about what else I could do with them.  The little branches are quite bendable, while the thicker bases can be quite strong and stable.  So bending them into an arch seemed quite easy and logical.

So… here’s my first attempt at any sort of garden structure construction with branches.  It may not be the prettiest arch in the whole world, but I’m totally happy with it.  I’ll leave it  hanging for a week or so to dry and then hopefully it’ll be easy to put in the garden.  I’ve a wee clematis already in the garden that could grow up one side, and I may plant another one to grow up the other side too.   Or I may leave it in the stairwell landing and grow a jasmine on it, if they can survive 10 degree C or colder winters, as it gets REALLY cold out there in the winter.  I’m not sure yet but we’ll see if it holds it’s shape once I take off all of the twine that’s currently holding it together.

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Elderflower Apple Vodka

Elderflower HelmetJune rolls around and so does my hay fever.  Going for a bike ride with the kids along the bike path is fabulously fun, but I could not do it in June without a good dose of Loratadine.  I was fine all day, riding, picking elderflowers and throwing rocks into the Water of Leith.  But once we got the flowers home and I started pulling off the flowers for my vodka liqueur, no dose of loratadine was going to hold back my super sneezes.  But no pain, no gain eh?

I should have been more greedy with my elderflower picking, but my kids and I picked about 6 heads of lovely little white flowers.  Most recipes call for 10-20 heads per 1L of alcohol, so we’ll see how things turn out in a fortnight or so.  To round out the flavours and boost the interest, I threw in a half of an apple too.   The hard part is going to be the waiting for infusion and dissolving of sugar.

I added the apple to push the liqueur all the way to the top, eliminating any air bubbles.

I added the apple to push the liqueur all the way to the top, eliminating any air bubbles.

Thankfully I made an elderberry gin in September, so was able to enjoy a splash of that over ice today.   I’m all about eating in season, but the joy of preserving and liqueurs is that I don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying flavours that are half a year from my local season!  I might finally crack open my pickled nasturtium pods, now that I think about it!

 

They might be giants – Sequoiadendron giganteum

Many of my fondest childhood memories took place while spending summers camping in the northern California redwood forests.  Standish Hickey was our family campground of choice, and I long for the steep trail (known affectionately in my family as “cardiac hill”) down to the Eel River and wading into the fish filled swimming hole.

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I would like my children to share in these memories, but sadly, the wee redwood groves in the UK have young 100-year old trees, and they usually come in clumps of 5 or 20 trees.  The Scottish climate seems like it would be perfect for redwoods, so I wonder why there aren’t more of them growing about here.

After a particularly strong hankering to grow my own redwood, I finally bought some Sequoiadendron giganteum seed.   Now, I should note that I have collected seeds from countless pine cones here in the UK, and tried my hardest to germinate them several times, including soaking seeds, putting them in the refrigerator, and never had even one hint of sprouting.  So, I figured buying seed would likewise be a waste of time and money.  Perhaps our young trees here haven’t yet reached maturity in their seeds?  Perhaps my pine cones were just duds?

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19 May 2014 Sequoiadendron giganteum seedlings

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20 May 2014 Sequoiadendron giganteum seedlings

 

However, I am SOO excited that a few of my store-bought seeds have indeed germinated!  I will now need to quickly find some nice homes for these wee fellas so that they can start to lay roots some place safe to grow into giants.  Fingers are crossed that they continue to grow and can be potted on easily.

19 May 2014 Sequoiadendron giganteum seedlings

19 May 2014 Sequoiadendron giganteum seedlings

20 May 2014 Sequoiadendron giganteum seedlings

20 May 2014 Sequoiadendron giganteum seedlings

Cinco de Mayo

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Spring is in full swing in the garden and many of my perennials are about ready to burst open with blooms.  The veg plot is still just a dirt square, but there are three rows of carrots, beets and parsnips sowed, which should start to pop through in the next week or two.  There are a few tomatillo plants hardening off in my flat stairwell, so they should probably be put outside sooner as opposed to later to get them acclimated and ready to fruit.  The cucamelons have to be the word’s slowest growing fruit plant, but I am hoping that once they get to at least 2 inches tall they’ll finally start to take off???

If the weather holds, perhaps I’ll enjoy a margarita today in honour of Cinco de Mayo in the garden to enjoy the flowers.  Come to think of it, these flaming parrot tulips remind me of the swirling skirts of Mexican ballet folklórico dancers.  Hermosa!