I’ve been making the effort to get out for more walks recently, partly because the gentle slide from August into September is one of my favourite times of the year and I don’t want to miss a minute of it. There’s just something about the light in the countryside, the rumble of combine harvesters, the smell of the freshly shorn fields, and the ripening of the hedgerow fruits. It’s a bittersweet feeling in some ways, as the sun drops lower in the sky, the evenings darken and the mornings grow chillier. I enjoy the seasonal routines of berrying and preserving, and I love the rich colours, reds, purples, cerise, gold and green that I see around me in nature. This year seems to be a good one for hips, haws, blackberries and crab apples. I gathered a few bag-fulls on a Bank Holiday walk through rural Lincolnshire.
I used Cherie Denham’s recipe from Country Living (actually an extract from her new book The Irish Bakery) to make a rosehip and crab apple jelly. It was very easy and the colour, a golden rosy russet, is like bottled sunset. This preserve can be eaten on toast, or as an accompaniment to cheese or cold meat. I enjoyed painting the fruits of my hedgerow harvest too, it’s so satisfying to try to mix those beautiful colours with my paints.
There has been harvesting closer to home, too. My cherry tomatoes are ready to pick! I grew Sungold in my mini greenhouse and Tumbling Tom in a wall planter, mixed with pelargoniums. This combination has worked so well. I have had to feed it once a week, and I water the planter daily, but it has paid off. I have had over a kilo of tomatoes from this one plant alone. With my mini-glut, I made some tomato and feta fritters from a recipe by Diana Henry for Waitrose. These did not last long! We’ve also been enjoying lots of tomato salads.
Cooking with foraged or home grown produce always makes it more satisfying. We were given a big box of blackcurrants from one friend, which ended up in a lime and currant cheesecake (so delicious), and the figs were another gift. I baked those with red wine and honey.
It has been a joy to sit out in the garden – and we have managed to do this a few times with friends, despite the unpredictable weather. I’m currently loving the zinnias with the grasses, and those little orange geums – still growing strong!
The dahlias are finally flowering. Here’s a beauty, grown from a Lidl tuber. I wasn’t sure if it was a bit OTT at first, but now I’m really loving its flamboyant presence.
And here is another bit of copper for my collection. I’d sworn off car boot sales for two years, as I wanted to stop accumulating stuff that I didn’t really need. However, I fell off the wagon over the weekend, and had the nicest couple of hours browsing the stalls at our local venue in bright sunshine. I went with the intention of buying picture frames, and I did find some of those, but I also ended up bringing home an old wooden stool, a selection of baking tins, a French glazed jug, and this rather beautiful old watering can. It was very dull and ordinary looking, but I remembered the amazing transformation of my fish kettle from France (see previous post), and for a couple of pounds, this was worth a punt. It turned out to be a real beauty under the tarnish, so I am very happy with that purchase. Oh dear, I can feel the car boot urge returning. Just as well it is the end of the season!
Tomorrow I am off to the Gardeners World Live Autumn Show at Audley End, so that should be a real treat. I will report back on the day’s events. I have another very interesting gardening-related trip coming up next week, and I’ll be blogging about that, so please do stay tuned!
I will leave you with a little painting that I currently have for sale. It is inspired by our local community orchard and is intended to evoke feelings of dewy mornings, long grass, tangles of michaelmas daisies and rosy windfalls. It is approximately 20cm x 30cm. ‘Apple Picking’ is £40 unframed, including postage. Please contact me if you are interested at email@example.com