Duchess and I have decided to take you on a stroll through our garden.
It has been a dry and cold winter and we are hoping to get some spring rain sometime soon. In fact I had a grin from ear to ear one morning earlier this week as we received just a few mls – it was nice to watch and listen to the rain falling.
The garden is coming along nicely and our citrus are now happy with their new home, luckily they survived the harsh frosts, unlike many in the area.
The Magnolia bed is looking quite pretty with the tall bearded iris starting to bloom
along with the Californian poppies (Milky Way) and lavender (Violet Lace), and the roses are coming along nicely after their winter prune.
I have planted the redcurrants that I grew from cuttings taken from a plant at our previous home, and also one that Maggie kindly donated to the cause. I also planted an elderberry. All were doing nicely until our beautiful four-legged friend, Duchess, started racing through the bed – hopefully they will all survive the battering she gave them. I have since erected something that slightly resembles a fence that seems to be working.
The vegie patch is doing well.
It’s my first time growing garlic and I am hoping to get a nice supply for my efforts.
The raspberries are about to flower and have certainly settled in well, and we are very excited that the asparagus is beginning to produce well – although it makes me search for it given that I planted a few lettuce on the edge of the bed… Asparagus will certainly be starring in a few meals, and if there’s enough, I hope to put some in the larder.
Seeds have been planted indoors for the summer crops and the beds are about to be prepared.
The fruit trees that we espaliered appear to have settled in well, and we have seen some lovely blossom, but the cold, windy weather seemed to keep the bees at bay, so we’re not sure if we will get much fruit this year.
As we wander around the garden there are spots of colour here and there…
and the old flowering cherry is a picture…
Over the winter I dug up all of the cliveas that were under the Chinese Elm, and relocated them so that they lined the footpath. They stood up to the frosts and my moving them so well, and are looking so colourful at the moment.
The stag horns were well protected by the Chinese Elm during the spell of frosts and are doing quite nicely now.
They were a gift from our friends Beth and Steve – I just love walking around the garden, seeing a plant and having it remind me of someone special.
Up on the terrace the ferns are recovering, and the little orchids are as pretty as a picture.
Just out the back door is a miniature mandarin in a pot,
again the wonderful little tree has produced enough fruit to stock the larder with mandarin marmalade jelly for Gary’s brioche for quite a while.
Mandarin Marmalade Jelly
While Gary and my mother both love marmalade, they prefer the type that is more like a jelly with thinly shredded peel suspended throughout. This recipe has come about through trial and error and quite a lot of research!
- 5 kg mandarins
- 250 g lemons
- 6 litres water
- 5 kg sugar (approx)
- Wash the fruit.
- Pare the peel from half of the mandarins and shred the peel into very fine strips.
- Place the shredded rind into a non-reactive bowl, cover with 500 ml of the water and leave to steep for 24 hours.
- Chop the flesh of the peeled mandarins, and the remainder of the unpeeled mandarins as well as the lemons, place the fruit into a large non-reactive bowl, cover with 2.5 litres of water and leave to steep for 24 hours.
- The following day, put the fruit and liquid into a large pan and add the remaining 3 litres of water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2 hours, or until the mixture has reduced by half.
- Meanwhile, place the shredded rind and liquid into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for one hour. Strain the liquid from the peel, place the peel into a container, cover and refrigerate. Add the liquid to the large pan of simmering fruit.
- Remove the large pan from the heat and ladle the mixture into a jelly bag set over a large bowl and leave to drain for 24 hours.
- Measure the strained liquid and pour back into the pan. For every 600 ml (1 pint) of liquid, measure 450g of sugar and add to the liquid, add the peel and over a gentle heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved completely.
- Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 20 minutes and then start testing for setting point.
- Once setting point is reached, remove from heat, skim any scum from the top and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Stir gently to distribute the peel evenly.
- Pour into jars, seal and lable.
- Store in a cool, dark place.
- When testing for setting point, reduce the heat or turn the heat off so that you do not overcook the marmalade.
Finally, the best way to finish a stroll around the garden, is a nice cup of tea with delicious scones, gluten free in this case.
I am delighted with my new recipe, it is the first time I’ve had scones in years, They are delicious, the texture spot on, and the following day were still fresh, so with a quick 10 second burst in the microwave, mmmmm, yum.
Gluten Free Scones
My Gran taught me to make scones when I was a young child. We not only had them topped with jam and cream, but also loved them topped with some cheddar, or tomato and onion done her special way. Finally I have come up with a gluten free recipe that brings back all of those wonderful memories as I make them, and then as I sit and savour the taste and texture.
- 60 g butter (chilled)
- 250 g GF Flour Blend
- 1 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 240˚C.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl or into a food processor and mix to combine.
- Cut the chilled butter into small dice and add to the dry ingredients. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingertips (or process in your mixer) until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
- Whisk the milk, yoghurt and egg white together in a separate bowl and then add to the dry mix.
- Gently mix with a knife. Do not overwork the mixture. It will be a little sticky.
- Tip the dough onto a well floured mat or work surface and knead to bring it all together.
- Using the palm of your hand, pat the dough to 2cm thickness then cut into rounds using a 6 cm/2 inch cutter.
- Place the scones on the prepared tray, almost touching each other.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.
- Gran always mixed the dough with a knife.
- The link for the recipe for the gluten free flour blend is below.
Well, Duchess and I hope that you enjoyed a stroll through our garden this month, and look forward to taking you through again soon.
Until next time…
Happy gardening & bon appétit!