Thursday, May 7, 2015

Days in May

Those who follow Bovey Belle may have seen photos of her recent baking spree.
I knew that I had to have a Lemon Drizzle Cake.
It was easy to find recipes on line but most were from UK sites so the measurements weren't do-able for me.
I eventually found one with the ingredients listed in familiar cups, tablespoons and teaspoons.
The top of the cake browned a bit more than necessary [I'm still learning this oven] but the cake is moist--and very lemon-y.
You can see that I grated a goodly amount of lemon zest and added the pulp to the freshly-squeezed lemon for the 'drizzle' topping.

The side porch steps are flanked by rugosas.
When I noted the first stripe of deep color on the buds I hoped they might be Roseraie de l'Hay--a long time favorite.
Instead the blooms are 5 petaled, soft and blowsy. 
I'm curious whether the bush on the right of the steps will be the same.
Two more smaller rugosas grow in a bed flanking the walk.
As yet those are not budded. 


Old roses have such interesting histories--and rugosas are always unpretentious and wonderfully hardy.

My largest rosemary, sadly, is showing the effects of severe frost damage.
The rosemarys were nipped by a surprise frost in mid autumn before I had moved them inside from the porch.
My two remaining large ones spent the rest of the winter in the small basement room here.
More damage during the horrible weather of February when temps went below freezing overnight near the basement window.
I have done some pruning and set the plant on the side porch.
It appears that more dead branches need to be removed.
I can't bear to abandon this as long as there is hope of renewal.

This one had some frost damage as well, but was not as close to the window in the basement.
It began pushing out new foliage before I moved it onto the porch.  Much of the new growth was pale and lax, but it seems to be reviving. 

Darling Nellie on the retaining wall that flanks the front drive.
The wall extends the length of the house and along the drive to the rear of the stable.
There are semi-circular metal 'loops' set at intervals in the concrete of the wall top--used to hitch Amish horses when visitors arrived in their buggies.

Nellie, showing off for my camera. He doesn't seem to realize that rolling about on a narrow ledge is courting a tumble.

Nellie in the act of jumping down from the wall.

The garden plot on the south side of the workshop.
The shop was built only a few months before we acquired the property. 
Topsoil/fill was hauled in.
As winter approached we discovered that the soil contained a liberal amount of turnip seed, a popular cover crop in the area.
Before the heavy snows arrived, I tweaked out turnip plants whenever I spent time in the yard.
During the rainy weeks of  March and April the turnips grew with a vengeance, becoming thick-rooted plants with tops rapidly  flowering and starting to form yet more seeds.

If you look beyond the tractor you will see the area that has to be cleared by hand before the small walk-behind tiller can be used. The guy wires anchoring the utility pole are driven into the ground in the near corner, which is bolstered with railroad ties. 
I'm thinking the most practical use is to establish some perennials there--with several of my salvaged roses in that triangular space which will be difficult to tend.

Tonight we set out tomato, melon and pepper plants. 
Jim sowed a row of corn and one of green beans.
We will be gardening, at least for this season, in a much smaller space than previously.
Perhaps that is not a bad thing, but it will present a learning curve.
Most of the soil on our hillside is gravel-based. 
There is potential to build up several areas with compost and hauled-in topsoil.

I ask myself if we have the available years and physical stamina to accomplish that when there are so many projects needing to be done.
The cellar cold pantry shelves are still well-laden with green beans and tomatoes which I 'put up' last season. We live a few miles down the road from a produce farm where we could buy that which we don't raise this year. We are now a 15-20 minute drive from the Mennonite produce auction.
We do have options available--although nothing quite compares with the satisfaction of 'growing your own!'

The delicate flowers of early springtime have passed their first beauty.
If you look closely at this photo you can see that seed pods were already forming along the stalks.
I haven't been able to identify this plant.
Today the temperature reached 85 F in the afternoon--so quickly the 'floor' of the woodland is becoming a mass of lush greenery--the flowers giving way to the heat.
Although we have moved merely from one end of the county to the other, the changes in soil and native plants provides a continuing interest.


  1. I'm the other way around to you, if I see cups I shudder as I like pounds and ounces, and what's a stick of butter? even that isn't straight forward as a lot of our recipes are in metric and I don't like it, I usually get Tom to convert for me.
    I'm afraid I come from another era, lol, I really don't like all the metric stuff.
    Good to see you settling in now, it was a long haul wasn't it

    1. Briony; Yes, its a long haul--still hauling! I had forgotten that Britain has had two systems of measurement, neither of which I understand. My Pyrex measuring 'cups' also have ml printed on the other side--utterly confusing to me to convert.

  2. What a lovely, interesting post. I love your header picture, a huge difference from when it was all snow covered.

    I'd love your lemon cake recipe!!! Hint, hint.

    Enjoy your challenges, do what you can each day, resting in God's tender care during the night, waking refreshed and ready to do what needs to be done in the new day.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Learning to be satisfied with 'doing what I can' is challenging--it always seems I should accomplish more.
      I printed the lemon cake recipe--will post it--need to look up the website so that I can give proper credit.

  3. The lemon cake looks wonderful and I would love having lots of lemon zest and pulp included.

    You have so many challenges but I know you will find ways to cope with everything and have beautiful flowers and a great garden.

    1. Lillian; I think next time I will put all the grated zest in the batter, but the pulp will remain with the 'drizzle' juice. Its a lovely moist and tangy dessert--goes well with fresh fruit.

  4. I love the rugosas roses. They seem to be the only ones that have survived our second winter of arctic weather here. Getting pretty discouraged with my roses at this point! Cutting back on gardening might be nice, since you live so close to other venues for fresh vegetables and fruit. But on the other hand, there's nothing better than picking a tomato warm from the sun and ripened to perfection and eating it immediately. Have no idea what your blue flowers are, perhaps a native bluebell? Have a nice weekend, Sharon, and don't work too hard!


    1. Jane; I feel certain that we will always have a garden for the table--maybe less so for canning and freezing. We;ll see how this year goes.
      Still looking for a match on the blue flowers.
      Rugosa roses were good for my Vermont garden even in the coldest winters.

  5. You're right, there's something very satisfying about growing one's own food.
    A smaller garden is probably not a bad idea though.

    1. Janet; Smaller garden is probably the way of our future--I'm getting creak , for sure!