I would love it, if you could join me, in a stroll around my garden.
We have enjoyed so much sunshine in the past few weeks, that the garden is romping away. The change is so dramatic, that I would love to share the changes with you.
last time we walked around the garden, these Alliums were tightly formed buds.... and look at them now. They are proud and standing to attention, and the colour purple is beautiful.
.... and the ferns, which were little curls waiting to unfold are now filling their allotted space in the garden.
I am so pleased that this standard lilac, which I created, using a stem, from my father-in-law's lilac tree, has survived the move. Not as many flowers as I'd hope, but I feel sure, that next year it will be well and truly settled in its new home and in years to come, it will gift me with many flowers.... we gardeners just have to be patient.
I decided to plant my centre piece this week. The plants are young, but even after a few days, the sunshine has encouraged the flowers to open. Around the centre piece I have planted lavender, now I grant you, it does look a little bare, but in a couple of years time, the lavender will increase in size and fill the circle. When planting a new garden, as tempting as it is, to fill every available space, it's best to err on the side of, less is more, to give larger plants the space they need to grow.
I am so pleased with how the Cypress trees have settled in. As you can see by the lumpy soil, I have a lot of clay in my garden, which is a bit of a devil to dig, but on a more positive note, the roses loves clay soil.
These Dicentra have travelled very well. I started with a few bulbs, but they were really slow to increase and I had practically given up hope, but since I have moved house and planted them under the Weilega, they seem much happier.
I really must treat Daphne to a plinth, because where ever I place her, a plant grows, which hides her lovely face. The weather today is really warm, so as you can see the foxglove is drooping a little. I have to say I am surprised because we had a lot of rain yesterday afternoon.
Isn't this peony lovely. I had read somewhere, that peonies hate to be moved, well I have to say, this peony didn't seem to mind at all. Whilst the peony waited to be planted, we made sure we kept it well watered and look at her now, isn't she looking gorgeous. I call her a 'she' because with those big, blousey flowers, I feel this peony, can only be described as a 'she'.
The white bells and blue bells are finishing and the foxgloves and geraniums are taking over. I am thrilled with this border, as it is exactly how I had imagined it.
.... and finally, my little flute player, needs to be moved a little further forward, otherwise, very shortly, he will be enveloped by the shrub.
I do hope you have enjoyed your stroll around the garden, as I am thrilled with how the garden is evolving.
I am also very proud of both George and I, for what we have achieved in the past year. When I remember how the garden looked, when we first moved to the house, it is hard to imagine that it is the same garden.... all our hard work is really paying dividends.
.... and what am I doing for the rest of the day. Well, the sun is shining, so I am going into the garden to hoe those pesky weeds, which are relentless.
So take care and I will catch up with you next Saturday.
Do you feel the year is galloping by? No sooner do I blink and it seems the month has gone, with the month of May being no exception. Not that it has finished, as it has barely started.... or so I thought.
You see the month of May has really thrown me into a tizz, because I seem to have lost track of the days. On Sunday I had it in my mind that it was the beginning of May. I have no idea why, it just was.
I was waiting for my nephew to collect me to go to a family bar-b-que. I had finished packing pasta salad, 3 bean salad and a plum tart into my basket and I was covering each item with an ice block.... please don't ask me why I wasn't using our ice box.... that is a whole other story, so a basket had to do.
Just as I put the last ice block into the basket, the phone rang and it was my niece, Rue, who, after a little chat, mentioned the reason she was ringing, was to ask, if I had the time to make her mum a chocolate cake for her birthday. Which of course I was pleased to do. Whilst talking to Rue, I was thinking that I had plenty of time to make the cake as it was not needed until a week Thursday. Just as I was talking to Rue, my mobile rang, so I ask Rue if she would mind holding on, because I knew it was Gloria ringing. Gloria mentioned that her son was running late and would be with me in 10 minutes, I thanked her, said I was looking forward to seeing her and put the phone down. I then had a quick chat to Rue and said I would see her a week Thursday and I never gave it another thought.
Of course George was not privy to this conversation because he was already at Gloria's, helping with the bar-b-que and I had forgotten to mention that Rue had rung. If he had heard the conversation I feel sure he would have said something earlier.
Anyway, Thursday arrived and I was getting myself ready to go to my new craft group. I said goodbye to George, saying I would see him later in the afternoon.
George said, 'Before you go, I just wondered, did you remember to buy a birthday card for my sister, as we can pop over, to wish her a happy birthday, when you get back.'
To which I replied,'Oh yes, I've bought the birthday card, but I think you have got the date wrong, as it isn't her birthday until next week.'
George gave me a strange look and said,
'It's not next week, I think you will find, it's today.'
'Of course it's not today, it's only the beginning of May'.
'I think you've got yourself in a bit of a muddle, as today's date is the 10th, check the barometer if you don't believe me.'
I checked and the date read, the 10th, but I wasn't having it, I thought maybe the battery had made the clock run too fast. So I decided to check my trusty paper calendar.... and there it was, the date was certainly the 10th May, to which I howled, yes honestly, I think it is fair to say, I howled,
'Oh no, I promised to make a birthday cake for today.'
George asked, 'What birthday cake, I don't remember you mentioning that you would make a cake.'
I replied, 'No you wouldn't know, because you weren't here on Sunday, when Rue rang to ask me to bake a cake... and now I feel awful, because I have mixed up my dates.'
George said, 'I don't know what your getting upset about, why don't you just buy a chocolate cake from the bakery.'
.... and it was as if he had blasphemed.... buy a chocolate cake from the bakery. How could he even suggest such a thing, when I had promised to make one.... I know, I was a tad dramatic.
I said, 'Anyway, I couldn't buy a cake, even if I wanted to, because I have bought all the ingredients, ready to make the chocolate cake.'
I am smiling to myself, because on reflection, that really doesn't make sense, but my mind tends to fixate on the strangest things when I become stressed.
'Yes, but there is nothing that won't keep'. George continued, 'Seriously, you have arranged to go to your craft group, so there is no time to bake a cake. Make it easy on yourself, pop to the bakery and buy a cake. I would go but I will probably choose the wrong sort of cake.'
I remained in a 'fizz' for a while, but George gently 'stroked my feathers' and I calmed down. Of course I could see the sense in buying a cake, so I decided I just had to get over myself and not feel I had let my sister-in-law down, by not making the cake myself.
So I went to the bakery and I bought a lovely chocolate cake and we delivered it to my sister in law later in the afternoon.... and guess what, she was over the moon with her surprise. I apologised to Rue, and she laughed and said she didn't know why I was so upset, to which I replied, that I felt awful because I had promised to bake her mum a cake.
When George relayed the story to the rest of the family, he of course, embellished it quite a bit, which made everyone roll around laughing, saying I was silly to get myself in such a tizz.
.... and of course they were absolutely right.... but it's just the way I am.
So today, on 12th May 2018, we are making the Chocolate Yoghurt Cake, which should have been made for 10th May 2018.
Which secretly pleases George no end, as this cake is an added extra, as I was not going to bake a cake this weekend.
So it's on with the pinnie and I know I've not chosen any music for a while, but today, is an exception. I have chosen this video for George, for being so nice.
Neil Young singing Harvest Moon.... are you swaying yet.... I am.... I love, love, love this song. I really must stop listening to Neil and organise my ingredients.
YOU WILL NEED
DAPHNE'S CHOCOLATE YOGHURT CAKE
100g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
175g unsalted butter ~ room temperature
200g dark Muscavado sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
3 large eggs ~ beaten
150ml Greek yoghurt
150g self raising flower ~sifted
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
YOGHURT, BUTTER FROSTING
100g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
50g unsalted butter
350g icing sugar ~ sifted
6 level tablespoons Greek yoghurt
YOU WILL NEED
23cm loose bottom cake tin
Pyrex dish to fit the saucepan
HOW TO MAKE
CHOCOLATE YOGHURT CAKE
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan
Butter the cake tin and line with baking parchment
Boil a kettle of water and pour into the saucepan until quarter full. Place on the heat.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in the Pyrex bowl. Place the bowl over the saucepan and allow the chocolate to slowly melt.
Place the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla essence, then gradually add the beaten eggs. Continue whisking the mixture. If you find it is beginning to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour to the mixture.
Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl and the yoghurt and continue to whisk until both have been fully incorporated.
Using a metal spoon, gently fold the sifted flour into the mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is thoroughly cooked.
Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes then run a palette knife around the edge of the cake to make sure the edge is released. Leave the cake in the cake tin until it is cooled.
When cooled. Take a second cooling tray and
turn the cake upside down, so that the top becomes the bottom and the bottom becomes the top. This gives a nice flat surface to decorate.
HOW TO MAKE THE
CHOCOLATE, YOGHURT FROSTING
Using a low heat, melt the butter and chocolate in saucepan.
Pour the butter and chocolate mixture into a bowl.
Add the icing sugar and the yoghurt and whisk until smooth.
Continue whisking until the frosting cools. At this point you will also see it thickening.
Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and if you like you can spread the topping down the side of the cake.
Sprinkle with sifted cocoa and decorated with chocolate stars.
Then all there is left to do,
cut a slice and enjoy.
As you can see, this cake has a lovely, moist texture. It looks as if the cake has sunk in the photograph, but as you could see, when I turned the cake upside down, the surface was flat. The frosting has decided to run down the centre of the cake.
If you do not fancy yoghurt in your frosting, just make your usual frosting. I however, love the flavour of this chocolate frosting, as the yoghurt stops the frosting from being too sweet.
Whether you make this Chocolate Yoghurt cake on a Thursday or Friday.... I feel sure you will thoroughly enjoy it.
When I write to you each week, I feel I am writing a letter to a friend. In the letter, I tell you about things which have 'tickled my fancy' during the week.
The letters tend to be long, because once I start writing to you, I cannot stop, as the words keep flowing.
.... but as from this week, every now and again, there is going to be a slight change, as I am going to introduce a postcard. On my postcard, there will be fewer words, but the bonus will be, not one picture, which is the normal rule, but between 6 and 10 pictures, because why have 1 picture when you can have many more to enjoy.
.... and the reason for the postcard is, I want to share our progress in the garden and what better way to do that, than with photographs. I also need to spend more time in the garden because as you know, when we moved here last year, there was so much work to do. If you are new to Ivy, Phyllis and Me! and you would like to see the huge task we faced, please press this link
As an added bonus, we listened to the weather forecast last night and we have been promised the most glorious 4 days of warm sunshine. Which is so lovely, but as you know with the sunshine, comes the weeds. We really thought we had eradicated most of the weeds, but no, they are like a 'bad penny' they just keep returning. I do not use any chemicals in the garden, so I have the laborious task of hoeing the weeds, over and over again as this weaken the little blighters. On the plus side.... and there is always a plus side, I am exercising my arms.
So before this postcard, turns into a letter, I will show you how the garden has evolved in just one year.
Now why am I showing you a shabby window box? The pansies, fritillary and daffodils are looking lovely, but the window box, well, that is in a sorry state of affairs.
.... but it is spring time and the birds have taken a fancy to my window box and are using the recycled material for making their nests. I certainly do not begrudge them, actually I am pleased.
This Montana Clematis is spreading so well and the flowers are so pretty.
The ferns are unfurling all over the garden and when unfurled they will cover this space. In the background an Evening Primrose is growing. I have been very successful with growing these plants from seed.
The grass is growing well and when the bushes along the fence grow, we will be living in a sea of green.
I really think the daffodils and tulips will be finished by the end of this hot spell, so I will enjoy them while I can.
These bulbs I planted in my chimney pot have grown very happily.
Now this photograph, you might think is a little strange, but the reason I am showing you, is this is what I am working towards. All my borders spilling over with cottage garden flowers. Here you can see foxgloves and campanula ready to throw up their flowering shoots.
Look a little closer and you will see the little pink flowering buds on this geranium, which I feel sure will burst open over the weekend.
.... and at the end of last summer, I sprinkled Forget-Me-Not seeds into the soil.... and they have rewarded me by popping up all over the garden.
What do you think of these pair? As you know George has a brilliant sense of humour and he is the reason these fabulous little frogs are sitting on the stone. Apparently, they represent George and I.... do you like how I am looking adoringly up at George.
I love a little humour in a garden.
Speaking of George, I think it's time I left you and went to check on him.... as left to his own devices, you never know what he might get up to in the garden.
Take care and I will catch up with you next Saturday.