Yesterday was stir up Monday here. OK I know it should have been stir up Sunday but there was not a spare moment on Sunday. The house smelled fab and it felt as though the countdown to Christmas had officially begun. I’ve used Margaret Costa’s recipe for Christmas cake for more years than I care to remember and it gets compliments every time. Its from her Four Season’s Cookery Book which was dropping to bits till I was bought a replacement. Thank goodness someone decided to do a reprint. This is the recipe for the 9″ cake http://www.foodari.com/Recipes/Sarah%20Scott/Christmas-Cake but if you get hold of the book there are quantities for all sizes from 7″ to 12″.
Here it is on its way out of the oven….tempting but no, it’s wrapped in foil and in a cake tin now.
It’s so good that last night when I told a friend what I’d been up to she looked appealingly and so yes, I’ll be making another one! It’s a rich traditional cake with more fruit than mixture. And here it gets well fed with brandy at least once a week till the week before Christmas when it gets a tick coating of maripan and a topping of royal icing. Very traditional but I love Christmas cake…especially with a chunk of Wensleydale cheese in good Yorkshire tradition.
The cakey smell isn’t the only thing that’s making me feel Christmassy. The Christmas craft fair season is in full swing and I’m taking my goodies here there and everywhere at the moment. Goole last week, Barnsley this morning and Apperley Bridge on Saturday. I really know how to live the high life! Take a look at the events page to see where I’ll be next.
And fairs mean glitter and gold paint. So much of it I had to explain why I had gold fingers the other day – couldn’t get the stuff off – but have now bought more terps.
Come along to one and say hello if you have a minute – I love to see a friendly face……
I’m planning to take a space at Fabrication Shop, Kirkgate, Leeds City Centre in the run up to Christmas where I’ll have wreaths, planters and gifts. Since it’s a new venture I’m after your help. If you’ve got a minute tell me what kind of thing you buy at Christmas that’d be great, and feel free to add any other comments!
I thought I’d take a pic or two of the winter planters I’d done….but then Gloria thought she’d take a swipe at the berries on the gaultheria…..see swiftly moving hen aiming for red berries.
OK so I shooed her off and tried again. No hens to be seen, great, point the camera at the planter and ……peck! Straight at the phone..Gloria and her friend this time. “Is it edible, no, well let’s have another peck anyhow”……..so I gave up till they were in bed…but of course then it was dark. You can’t win sometimes.
Hopefully you can see what we have here though. A full sized old fashioned zinc pail filled with a 2ft conifer, gaultheria which has lovely red berries flowing over the front, with trailing ivy and pansies or violas All should do beautifully well on your doorstep all winter.
Put a string of battery operated lights round the little tree and you’ll have a lovely Christmassy welcome on your doorstep later in the winter as well.
And if you want to you can plant everything in the garden when it gets too big for the bucket. Don’t panic though the thuja (confier) is slow growing so you’re not looking at a hugenormous monster like leylandii!
So here it is in the dark. Difficult to see I know but I hope you get the idea!
The buckets cost £30 delivered to Leeds postcodes and the Pontefract/Castleford areas. Please get in touch via the contact form on the site if you’d like one.
I deliver little planters as well but it’s way too dark to take any pictures now. Will have a go tomorrow.
You’ve seen the autumn wreath before but I’ve had requests to deliver them as well. Here it is again if you fancy one too:
The base is a wicker frame decorated with seed heads and berries from the garden and the hedgerow. The frame itself will last for several years so you can decorate it again every season if you want to, and the berries and greenery will last outside for many weeks….the colder it gets the longer they’ll last! There are some advantages to the cold weather.
Delivered to the same areas as the planter the wreath will cost £28.00.
I have no idea when I’ll be able to take orders on line (I’m sorry)…. technology and I fight daily. So if you’d like either the planter or the wreath drop me a note – just click on contact in the menu bar and drop me a line.
Generally when I take a brief for a wedding the bride and maybe her mother or chief bridesmaid and I will go over pictures, flower varieties and the colour scheme for the day. Sometimes they take away magazines or books for inspiration and we visit the venue, and then we get a list together. Once I know what’s wanted and everything’s confirmed I file away all the details until much much nearer to the wedding.
A couple of weeks before the event I always get out the list of flowers and send it off to the bride for her to double check. In the months in between there might be another buttonhole or two, or maybe gift bouquets to add, but that’ll be about it, and then off we go.
This time when I looked at the order I was looking forward to putting together the soft colours to create the bouquet. The bride was quite clear that she didn’t want anything that was too contrived.
I really enjoyed choosing flowers that would create the feel and go together well and once I’d chosen the right flowers the handtied bouquet almost put itself together. The bridesmaids’ posies incorporated the same flower choices and toned beautifully with the teal dresses.
Inside the venue the fireplaces lent themselves to decoration. Across the top of the mantlepiece an arrangement was fixed which tied in to the one in the fireplace itself and on the tables informal vases were put together and the table numbers sat in the vases as well. Neat little blackboards on sticks which the bride had found and which I loved. Must ask her where she got them from…..
The couple really did love their flowers – and I loved putting them together. So guys, many congratulations, and thanks for asking me to put them together….I enjoyed it enormously.
Odd expression that, but I think we get the idea. Things are looking a bit ropey out there when I stand at the French windows, and they’re going to look much worse unless I sort things out. It seems harder in the autumn though, it’s much less like fun dismantling the summer garden than getting it up to scratch in the spring, but in fact there’s so much to do and I know it’ll make a difference.
I always know it’s time when I have to clear the tomatoes out of the greenhouse. There’s still one plant left which has some fruit which might just ripen but the rest are on the compost heap.
Once I’ve done that it’s the ideal opportunity to give the greenhouse a clean inside. Brush down all the glass and then wash it with a mild disinfectant and clean the staging and shelving. Try to choose a dry mild day so that any tender plants will be OK outside until everything’s dried out.
Then I can look at what I need to bring into the greenhouse to save for next year. There are always loads of pelargoniums. I love them and try to save as many as I can. They’ll be happy in a dryish compost kept somewhere frost free. I generally take off the flowers and prune them back to about 4” or so…I could have taken cuttings a little bit earlier but I didn’t…so I’ll try to hang onto the plants. If it gets really cold in the greenhouse either it’ll need heating or they’ll have to come into the house.
There are plenty of other things I might like to keep. This year I don’t have any very nice dahlias. I lost some lovely ones by leaving them in the ground last year. In a mild winter they’ll be fine outside but we’ve had some very cold ones so it’s safer to lift the tubers, dust off the soil and store them in dry compost till the spring when you can bring them back into growth again.
I will take cuttings of my salvia ‘hot lips’. I love it and I have taken cuttings before to ensure I keep it year after year. I’ve lost the parent plant more than once so I know I need to get some cuttings. I’ll push them into a mixture of compost and sharp sand and cover them in a polythene bag and they’ll be in the greenhouse frost free till the spring.
As for the mixed border, I tend to stand back and take a view. There are things that need to be cut back and look a messy tangle of dead leaves, and they’d be better on the compost heap, but there are lots of other things looking great – the sedum and the grasses shine in the sun, lots of the cosmos and the marigolds are still flowering like mad, as is the nasturtium that’s climbing over the fence. So they can stay. On the other hand the cerinthe is black, some of the early perennials like the campanula and yellow loostrife look sad and need cutting back. But other perennials, which are over for the summer will stay to give some structure for the winter and for the bugs to feed from. Things like the echinacea and the eringyum. So don’t be too ready to clear everything away too soon.
I almost always plant bulbs. All kinds of bulbs…..it’s no too late for daffodils and you can plant tulips until December, and as well as them you can put in crocus, alliums, grape hyacinths…there really is such a choice, you only have to go into the garden centre or pick up a catalogue and the choice is vast. They’re great though because you need to do so little, just dig a hole and drop them in and you’ll have a lovely display next spring.
Finally if I have home made compost that’s ready I like to mulch at this time of year. Good well-rotted compost is the best and if you can put it down 3-4 inches deep so much the better. That’s the bit that does feel as though I’m tucking up the flower beds for winter. Let’s hope they sleep well and come back better than ever next year.
Next job – maybe in November – some autumn pruning!
This time of the year is a colourful and vibrant time for flowers, berries and foliage with lots of choice for brides planning an autumn wedding. It’s also a time when you can bring the harvest theme into your floral arrangements using vegetables like ornamental squashes as well as autumn fruits.
For your bouquet roses are available all year round but now nerines are at their peak. They surprise me by
their beauty every year, they look so delicate. Usually they come in shades of pink but there is a rarer red one which goes beautifully with the autumn colours.
This autumn bouquet has berries and autumn foliage with roses and hydrangeas in faded soft colours showing its possible to have a country look at any time of year.
There’s a real opportunity to introduce some originality into your buttonholes as well now. As well as flowers and foliage, fruit and berries can come into the design. Here crab apples, rosehips, acorns and oak leaves make a truly seasonal design. Or you could choose late summer
dahlias for fun flamboyant buttonholes.
Right on trend at the moment are floral wreaths…a wreath is not just for Christmas! And they really lend themselves to weddings at this time of year. These beautiful circles of flowers and foliage, much of which was gathered from the gardens and hedgerows close to the venue for the reception, were used on all the tables and when the candles were lit the tables looked beautiful.
The venue itself was a tipi, warmed up for the chilly evening with a fire pit. Inside the wooden framework offered the perfect framework for swags which were hung on the main horizontal support, and more flowers and ivy trails came down from the roof.
And for the door of your venue….or anywhere else for that matter, a favourite decoration with me, a simple twig wreath decorated with seasonal bits and pieces….everything from horse chestnuts to seed heads.
I’m always happy to talk weddings with brides to be and their families and I make no charge for your consultation when we can talk though your ideas.
The other day I mentioned our handpainted signs on Twitter and caused a bit of a flutter. Clearly I hadn’t said enough about them
They are rather lovely when I posted this picture of a sign for the menus at The Mustard Pot in Chapel Allerton I immediately had people asking about them.
It began with a few bits of wood and some pots of paint and me needing a sign for something. That one turned out so well that we had a bash a making a few for sale and they looked really good. So we went to craft markets with some for sale off the peg as well as offering signs made to order and off we went from there.
The wood is all reclaimed and the signs are individually handpainted. The lettering is in waterproof enamel and so they can be used outside.
Here’s a whole pile of them ready to go.
Well then it turned out that they were really a great hit with brides to be. A lasting memento of their wedding day and personal to them. A nice sign read “Mr & Mrs ……. 21st September 2010” which could be hung at the reception as people come in and then taken home and hung in the house.
They make great presents – especially if its hard to find something a little bit different for someone. Let’s face it we all have people who are hard to buy things for which is probably why we’ve named so many sheds! What are these chap’s getting up to in there? Can’t tell you how many we’ve done – Dave’s Den, Kev’s Shed, Mike’s Shed, etc, etc….. But the ladies get a look in too, Bev’s Kitchen, Jenny’s house, Mum’s allotment, and I’m still waiting for one for my garden but maybe I should just nab this one which seems to be to be just right for me.
If you’d like one just get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in my contact form and we can sort it out. Prices are good I think when I look at others and start at about £12.50 plus postage. Tell us what you’d like and we’ll be able to give you a price.