April hath put a spirit of youth in everything

And so we stepped cautiously into April and not an April fool to be seen as it feels like we are living the worst one ever at the moment and no one could top this. The lock down continues, the nursery is still closed and I am working away on all the jobs needing done, in peaceful contemplation: plants don't stop their growing, needing potted or watered for no virus or no one. I am as ever grateful to be able to come to the nursery every day and get on with my daily task list. The weather has taken a turn for the better and I am enjoying working in the sun absorbing the warmth. We have been lucky to get a number of orders for collection or delivery which keeps some pennies coming in, much needed and much appreciated in these uncertain times. David is continuing to accompany me to the nursery most days and is making huge progress on our new garden. I can't wait to unveil it once it's finished.

I am also grateful so far that we haven't been affected by the virus heath wise and all our friends and family so far have stayed well. From our youngsters stuck in their flats and homes, furloughed from work or working from home to my older relatives, self isolating and staying safe. It's an ongoing worry.

Gorgeous views driving home from the nursery

As a small business the support and custom we get from our customers at any time is much appreciated and we like to reciprocate. Last week it was Errington cheese. This week we are eating some of the venison from Tweed Valley venison. We've enjoyed a rich venison stew, cooked for a few hours in red wine, herbs and veg, served with mash and onions and kale. We also had the pork, leek and venison burgers with sweet potato fries and fried onions. We're drawing up a list of places to visit and small businesses to support once we can go out on our day off again, hopefully they will still be around to do so.

I've been putting collections of planters together in the sales area to give customers idea and it's nice to see them coming to life with lots of spring colour. While David has been digging new borders I have been working through the stock beds, I'm now on P, there's a lot of those and I'm also integrating persicarias from another part of the stock beds so it's a bit chaotic in P and N's and M's have been evicted further along the bed, it will all come right in the end and looks great once it's tidied. 

Spring colour in the sales area

The rainbow has become a symbol of this strange and worrying time we find ourselves in. Some nurseries have been posting a different rainbow colour of plants every day, so I thought I would join in.... I also thought I would challenge myself to not use just any plants but plants that are that colour now! I may come to regret that......so that's my challenge..... your challenge is to name all the plants in the collage, don't worry you don't have to give the full latin name, but feel free if you do, genus or common name is great. Over to you.

Red

Orange

Yellow

Green

Blue
too be continued next week......

Meanwhile at home in my alpine troughs there is plenty of colour and interest happening. They might be wee but these plants pack a small punch. Some of them are about 20 years old, having been planted into my troughs when I discovered them two decades ago. Plants often become like old friends, they've been there through thick and thin.

Cyclamen coum

Anemone trulifolia

Corydalis malkensis

Crocus 'Cream Beauty'

Pulsatilla vulgaris

This week's useful plant in the garden -


Rhubarb
The first fruit of the season…………. or is it a vegetable? Technically and botanically it’s a herbaceous perennial vegetable! But we usually use it in sweet dishes so it then feels like a fruit. My go to dessert for rhubarb is crumble, with custard or cream… yum!

500g rhubarb, chopped to thumb length chunks                     100g golden caster sugar
3 tbsp port (optional)                                                               140g self raising flour
85g butter, chilled                                                                    50g light brown sugar
1 tbs ground ginger

1. Tip 500g thumb-length chunks of rhubarb into a saucepan with 100g golden caster sugar and 3 tbsp port, if using. 
2. Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 15 mins, adding more sugar if you want. When soft (but still holding its shape) and sweet enough, pour the rhubarb into a medium baking dish.
3. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
4. To make the topping, rub 140g self-raising flour and 85g chilled butter together with your fingers until you have a soft, crumbly topping.
5. Now add 50g light brown muscovado sugar and the ginger. Mix together with your hands.
6. Scatter the topping over the rhubarb and bake for 30 mins or until golden brown on top.
7. Serve piping hot with a big jug of thick vanilla custard.


Rhubarb from the garden


Making rhubarb crumble

Rhubarb crumble

On Sunday we did this! Can you spot the difference? We always knew the big box planters weren't permanent. We built them with the beech hedge in to give a back ground to the herb garden when we got married in 2017. Now we are working on the next garden beyond the herb garden it was time to remove them and plant the hedge in the ground. I am so pleased with how it looks now and I can't wait to plant up the new garden. We enjoyed working together in the lovely spring weather and Bracken enjoyed snoozing in the sun or sniffing the opened planters! I won't show you any of the new garden until it's finished, hopefully in time for us re-opening when ever that is. It will be lovely to show off our finished middle terrace and the borders David has been digging, while he can't do his own work during this worrying time. This garden is one we've been planning for a long time and it will finish off the garden railway too.


Before, the big box planters

After, so much better

Including a dog sleeping in the sun!

A day off! After braving a certain supermarket in the morning we made the most of the lovely weather and this week's walk from the cottage was up the forestry track opposite. Through the plantation to not quite the top, cause David doesn't do hills. We saw a red squirrel, a roe deer and toads! The views were lovely, lambs in the field next to the cottage and primroses on the banks. Bracken was out without his coat meaning spring is really here, there's a naked dog about. Back via the birch woods and river and home for a late lunch of bread, the last of the errington cheese and sitting outside for the first time! This place is full of wild life around the cottage, there are otters on the river, red squirrels in the forest we now know, deer, buzzards, fish in the river, a heron we see regularly there too.

Lee Pen in the distance







Whatever you do this week, enjoy the weather, stay safe, stay well and stay at home if you can

take care

Title quote - William Shakespear (Sonnet XCVIII)


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