Jubilee Fairy Cakes

I can hardly wait for the forthcoming Jubilee celebrations and this excitement is fuelled by the fact that a) it’s an extra long weekend b) I’m spending it with my family and c) there’ll be lots of food and entertainment!

Tea time! Picture from the BBC

I love afternoon tea but don’t get chance to have it very often. This mouth watering picture is from the BBC and shows dainty sandwiches, homemade tiny cakes and melt-in-the-mouth biscuits, what’s not to love? Maybe it’s a good thing this treat occurs only once in a while… otherwise I’d need to buy bigger pyjamas!

As it’s my final day at work tomorrow for four days (…hooray, four whole days!) I decided to make some vanilla fairy cakes to take to work with me. I had some little Union Jack cake cases in the cupboard, begging to be used, and thought these would be perfect.

Fairy Cake Recipe

I’m an early bird so I should have plenty of time in the morning to decorate the cakes with a Red, White & Blue theme – fresh strawberries, white frosting and fresh blueberries. To be honest, I think they’re lovely just the way they are but I know my colleagues will just love the decorated version.

Vanilla Fairy Cakes with a Dusting of Icing Sugar

So what about the celebrations? Well, many of my family still live in the village where I was born so I’m going to be spending most of my time with them and my lovely husband. The village is really old and dates back to the Iron Age. It has an old castle (mainly ruins), Norman church and an interesting High Street where there will be a street party. I’m looking forward to joining in with the celebrations :-)  I just hope the weather is kind!

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

I’m not usually an ardent Royalist but I am being swept away with Jubilee Fever! Everywhere I go there seems to be bunting and flags… and anything that enables people to gather together and be happy must be positive! I found the sweet photographs of the Queen & Prince Philip (below) on Pinterest… if you’re not interested then you’ll be relieved to know it’s the end of the post anyway!

Enjoy your weekend, whatever you’re doing!

So Sweet!

May…

You know those hazy, lazy days of Summer? We’re experiencing them now… except long days at work make the lazy part laughable! Luckily, there is enough daylight left in the evening to spend time outside, sip a cold drink and poke about in the garden. This aside, I managed to have a great weekend and tried to make the most of the warm weather.

Everything seems to be growing beautifully and I planted up extra tubs and baskets this weekend. The wicker basket (below) has been planted with Salvias, Snapdragons, Verbenas and a pretty pink mini Dahlia. It looks a little sparse at present but it will soon fill out. I still have lots to plant out but I’m running out of space in the beds… I really must start to plant more produce against the walls.

New for May

The tomato plants “Gardener’s Delight”  have also been planted out into compost bags – it’s the first time I’ve grown Toms from seed so I’m really pleased. The bags were plastic and really ugly so I’ve just wrapped them in hessian to disguise the ugliness!

Gorgeous Dahlias

Have I told you how much I love Dahlias? I don’t usually like garden show offs, preferring muted shades and dainty flowers. Dahlias are like a blast of extra happiness when it’s least expected… the word wow is never far from my lips!

Garlic & Shallots

It all looks lovely and I can hardly wait for the first garlic of the year! Before you think that life is completely rosey here in the Pyjama Garden I must confess that I’ve had a few fatalities… and a few more are on the critical list… but I’m hopeful that when I share this particular depressing post in the future you might be able to offer some comfort (and a smidge of Horticultural First Aid)!

Herb Planter

Occasionally when we have a nice bottle of port or red wine it is packaged in a handy wooden box. It seems such a shame to throw the box away after the drink has (long) gone!

Mmm… so many ideas…

1. Turn it into a bird box (but the birds are already nesting)

2. Store seed packets in it (but my collection is too large)

3. Sewing box (already have one)

4. Herb Planter for my baby herbs…..

I planted a few different herb seeds – parsley, thyme, purple basil and coriander -and placed their individual pots inside the port box. They’re only little at the moment but in a couple of weeks they’ll be all grown up!

Weeds Part 1

The new Kitchen Garden was designed to be both productive and beautiful. It’s like entering another world and it has such a tranquil quality that I almost hear the plants growing. It’s a very new garden but somehow it feels extremely old, as if it’s always been there, and perhaps it has – I’ve simply dreamed about it for such a long time!

It looks neat and tidy with clean lines and tidy raised beds… each bed has a purpose and each wall will support different plants to hopefully provide year round food and interest.

However, the rest of my garden doesn’t look like this! Half of it is still undergoing building work and has the beginnings of a driveway. The remaining areas are covered in nettles and thistles (but I like to think of these as a wildlife haven rather than a jungle!).

West Garden

One day I hope to transform the area under the trees into a woodland garden with lots of ferns and bluebells. In the meantime it will just be mowed and used as a path to get to the chickens!

The weeds near the shed have grown so much that even the pheasants don’t venture in it anymore! There is a wooden seat against the shed so please believe me when I say there are weeds here!

But as long as I can reach the doodles, and they can still look out of the enclosure without straining their little necks too much, then that’s okay. They seem very happy and we’re getting lots of eggs from them again! Even our little one-eyed chicken has settled down nicely and is usually the first to snaffle the food!!

I hope you enjoyed “Weeds Part 1″… Part 2 is somewhat scarier and may have to come with a suitable warning as those of you with a nervous disposition may be adversely affected!

Cow Parsley

Cow Parsley in a vase

 

I love May for many reasons… but I think my favourite reason is the appearance of the beautiful Cow Parsley. Around the lanes the verges are transformed into soft, frothy covered corridors that make any journey to work so much more pleasant!

I know that most people see these plants as weeds but there is something so intriguing about a plant that has such delicate flowers but is as tough as old boots!

We were never allowed to bring Cow Parsley into the house when we were young as it was viewed by my superstitious family as extremely unlucky (along with Peacock feathers & Hawthorn… but that’s another story!). In many areas Cow Parsley was known as “Mother-Die” as it was believed that death would befall the Mother in the household if this flower was bought indoors. I’m not overly superstitious but I’d hate to tempt fate so the Cow Parsley can stay outside in the fields!

The flowers look lovely in a vase (picture on left downloaded from Pinterest) but they do drop their flowers very quickly when cut so are better for outdoor arrangements… or left where they grow!

What a difference a week makes in May! The greens are so… green! There is new growth and sense of “make haste” everywhere and this is made even better by the longer days and the return of the swallows.

Mr Fox is prowling very close to the lovely chickens but their enclosure is doing a good job of keeping him out. As much as I love to let the girls out to have a scratch and stretch their wings they will be safely staying put until the fox has moved on!

The rabbits have behaved themselves too and the garden sign remains in place. This is especially important as the lettuce leaves and carrots look particularly good!

I don’t think there are too many people that remember the old fashioned superstitions and remedies… and what a shame that is! Some are based on common sense, others are from a time when history was passed on through story telling and finally some were family traditions and superstitions (like the image of an elephant should not be kept in the house as it’s extremely bad luck… I think that this is just my family though!!??). It’s a mad world… but wouldn’t it be a little dull otherwise?

Looking Forward

Time flies when you’re having fun so I shouldn’t be that surprised that it’s been 3 months since I started The Pyjama Gardener blog!

One of my (many) shortcomings is my incredibly poor attention span… I don’t think I’ve ever got past the February post when faced with a paper diary. In fact, many of my failed New Year resolutions have been to complete a diary (yet another shortcoming!). This is one of the reasons that I have multiple raised beds… they keep my interest for a longer period of time and each one is a different flavour!

So with time ticking by I’ve decided to look forward instead of back! Here are a few photos of various plants in my garden now (looking quite weedy)… and how I hope they will look in the Summer. All the “after” shots are from Pinterest so please forgive me if my Summer lovelies don’t live up to the hype!

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The carrots have finally peeked through and then instantly regretted it when the hail storm came. Luckily, they’re tougher than they look and I’m looking forward to my first crop to make into Honey Glazed baby carrots….

This peony has done really well and I’m looking forward to the beautiful bloom… yes, that’s right I said bloom, as it only has one bud on it at the moment! The Kitchen Garden will hopefully provide flowers and herbs as well as fruit and vegetables for most of the year. Thankfully there is a market in a nearby town that will supplement my need for cut flowers if my plan fails!

The strawberries seem to be doing well in the teracotta pot and l’m looking forward to eating them in time for Wimbledon! I don’t follow tennis, and the weather is usually terrible, but I am partial to fresh strawberries and cream. Mmm….

I finally received my Wallflowers from Sarah Raven and potted them up into the green containers either side of the Kitchen Garden gate. I’m not sure if these plants are rabbit proof … but I’m sure to know by the weekend. Any signs of teeth mark and they’ll be moved to the other side of the gate!

I’m looking forward to the next three months so rabbits beware!

French Lavender

Numerous studies have shown that Lavender helps to reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia. Lavender stops me in my tracks. It makes me crouch down and take  several deep breaths…. and close my eyes. As a stress reliever, it works for me!

After all the rain has come a predicted growth spurt. The Broad Beans are looking good, and with the extra help from staking, they have resisted everything that the weather could throw at them… wind, hail stones, torrential rain, frost and even a bit of sunshine! This only adds to my theory that they will probably taste like weeds but I reserve judgement until I taste my first bean…..

The raised beds are starting to fill out nicely now. I’m trying not to plant too much, too soon for fear of a massive glut (our freezer isn’t very big!). We are still in danger of frosts for a few more weeks so that will keep my enthusiasm in check.

Today remained pretty dry, and despite my cold hands and feet, I thoroughly enjoyed my first weekend in May in the garden. The air temperature was cold but I was surprised how warm the soil felt but I suppose that the raised beds help with this.

As I closed the gate to keep the rabbits out I realised that I was smiling… and had been for a while.