A Detour to the Kitchen Garden – I went out, supposedly to the Kitchen Garden, but got waylaid on the way there, and on the way back. I wanted to check how all the plants were doing – so far, so good, compared to last December. By this time last year they were covered in 18 inches of snow and ice. The poor vegetable plants, even the hardy ones, turned to mush.
So this morning, being unusually sunny, I ventured up the garden with Erik’s prized camera, and decided to have a go again at taking some snaps at the state of the Kitchen Garden, and to decide on which vegetables I was going to write about before I cooked them for this weekend’s meals.
As I walked up the garden, I passed our raised decking area, the side trellis all tangled up with the seed heads of my yellow Clematis, which suddenly seemed to reach out and brushed my hair. These soft, silvery cotton-like wisps shimmered in the weak sun, and looked so magical that I couldn’t resist taking a picture.
Next stop, the garlic bed in the Kitchen Garden (not as beautiful as the seed heads, but hopefully will taste fabulous to eat). Planted in October and not due till next June/July, the garlic has sprouted alarmingly. I’m sure it’s not grown this tall in Autumn before, so I’m hoping that the weather will be kind to it. I have to lay a protective covering over it when first planted, because we not only have hungry blackbirds that dig the fresh soil for worms and bugs, but we have squirrels that try and bury their nuts in the raised beds – you would be amazed how many chestnuts I have found buried in these beds.
Then round to have a look at the Celeriac. Looking forward to making so many dishes with this – great for soups, pies, with potatoes for Gratin Dauphinois, makes mash more interesting, and the classic Celeriac Remoulade, crunchy and fresh as a winter side salad. It just needs to fill out a bit more, and then we’ll enjoy it.
Last year I didn’t protect it, and when the snows came, it was totally wiped out. It just went mushy. So I found this rather rickety cheap plastic mini tunnel, and thought I would try it out. Fingers crossed.
This next picture is of the great vegetable, Swiss Chard, this one being White Silver, so versatile and generally so hardy, but again, last year’s snow devastated it. So I took pity on it, and wanted to have it to eat through winter, so another one in the plastic tunnel. The whole of this plant can be cooked and eaten, in pies, the fresh young leaves in salads, and my favourite recipe of all, the Chard Gratin.
On to the stronger protective tunnel, with big iron hoops that are fixed so that they don’t fall over. This is protecting my favourite Kale, Cavolo Nero, the red Kale, Redbor, and Broccoli Romanesco, a vegetable I have only just discovered. So strange to look at, but so good to eat. Last year the snow was so thick it lay on the top of the tunnel and then turned to ice, which resulted in the tunnel collapsing. Erik came up with idea of using thick bamboo canes to stop the tunnel material from collapsing inside the hoops. Again, fingers crossed. And in the baby cloches, are carrots, leeks, odds and ends to make our meals interesting. The mizuna, the bright green frondy plant, seems to be happy and keeps growing for our salads.
As I wended my way back down to the house, I was amazed at the plants still flowering, and the beauty of the branches of trees and shrubs. So I couldn’t resist taking their pictures.
I love this Hydrangea, so delicate and almost like apple blossom. I think it struggled after last year’s horrendous weather, was very late but is still flowering.
Likewise this Fuschia. So luminous, so very pink it almost startled me with its amazing colour. Again, I thought I had lost it in the snow, but suddenly it emerged, late but beautiful.This shrub, or tree, is the Corkscrew Hazel. I just love the shape of these, and whether it has its leaves or not, it always looks interesting. One year I hope to smother it with tiny lights for Christmas – very designer! But if we have to trim it, or branches fall off, I use the wonderfully quirky twigs for flower arranging, especially at Christmas, as it looks stunning with tiny decorations and lights dangling from it.
And last but not least, our favourite tree. Our Acer Griseum, the very last leaves to fall, and the luminousity of its delicate leaves often just makes me gasp with pleasure. The copper-coloured bark peels, and is so unusual. I planned my garden from scratch almost, and this part has a lot of copper, delicate pink and white coloured plants and flowers.
A Detour to the Kitchen Garden took some time, and I hope you enjoy the non-Kitchen Garden plants as well. Let’s hope all the plants survive this winter, ready for us to nurture and enjoy them next year.