Homegrown coriander (cilantro) seeds

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Harvested coriander (cilantro) seed. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. Well it’s certainly feeling much more autumnal since my last post. After a few bright and sunny days, the weather has turned much cooler and, as I type this, it is pouring with rain.

Towards the end of last month, I harvested my first crop of coriander (cilantro) seed. When I sowed the herb seeds back in late spring, my only intention was to grow the herb for its leaves for use in salads, curries and salsas. However, once the seedlings appeared, I never quite got round to thinning out the crop. I kept them all in the same pot, in the greenhouse, just picking off a few leaves here and there, and never quite finding the time to separate them and plant them outside.

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Coriander (cilantro) flowers. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

After a while, the individual plants became leggy and formed flower stalks. I enjoyed the flowers for their aroma and the splash of brightness they offered. The leaves had started to become coarser in texture and had a bronze edge, and weren’t quite so appealing to eat. In early August, I decided it was time to get rid of them altogether as the flowers had dried and were falling. However, on closer inspection, the fallen petals had left behind bright green “berries”.

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Bright green seeds. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

After a bit of research and a quick change of plan, I decided to keep the plants with the hope of being able to harvest the seeds. You can pick the green fruit and use it in cooking, but they don’t store well. I tried one or two, the flavour was mild, fresh and slightly sweet, and would be good chopped up in a salad or added to a relish. The green berries can be pickled as well.

However, I read that if you leave the fruit on the stems long enough, the berries will dry naturally and can be harvested for longer storing, and used as the familiar fragrant spice.

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Beginning to dry out. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

By the end of August the seeds had turned light gold, and in another month, they had dried out completely. At the time, we were blessed with some dry weather so I think this helped with the drying process. I guess that a damp atmosphere could cause the seeds to turn mouldy.

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Coriander seed dried and ready for harvesting. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I found it easier to pull the stems from the soil and pick off the seeds into a small bowl. I left them in the greenhouse for a few more days to finish ripening naturally in the sunshine.

It was a very small harvest, accidental by nature but rewarding all the same. Now the seeds are in a tiny jam jar in my spice cupboard waiting for the right recipe to include them in.

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Precious seed harvest ready for storing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Until next time, take care, my best wishes to you, and thank you for stopping by again 🙂

Late summer splendour

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The gold and blue of late summer, Golden Rod (Solidago) and Echinops. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope you are well. I have been enjoying some lovely weather in the garden this week, and both myself and the bees (and other flying insects) have been making the most of the later flowering plants and shrubs that have opened up in the past couple of weeks or so. This post is a collection of my current favourites in the garden right now. I hope you enjoy the colours as much as I do 🙂

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The bees favourite, Echinops. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I was fortunate to be given this wonderful Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile) at the end of last summer. It travelled back with me from a visit to see my mother in Sussex, to its new home here in central Scotland. After over-wintering in a large pot in my unheated greenhouse, I put it outside in early July and it has flourished. It stands an impressive 1.25m from base of stem to the top of the flower ball. The colour is such a vibrant blue, it looks stunning up against the fresh bright green leaves of the beech hedge. The bees love it as well.

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Agapanthus Regal Beauty. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s not all blue in the garden, plenty of pink and orange splashes here and there. The stunning Star-gazer lilies are growing in 2 places in the garden, in both locations partly shielded by shrubs, and both growing very tall this year. At the front of house, the heathers thrive, and there are also a few foxgloves producing second flowers. The Crocosmia Mombretia is one of the signs to me that the year is moving on but I do love their vibrancy, and after a rocky start, the pink Lavatera has rallied and has a fine crops of pink petals.

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Bold and bright, Star-gazer lilies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Pink foxglove and Autumn heathers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Late summer oranges and pinks. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It wouldn’t be a proper late summer post from me without a mention or a show of Japanese anemones. There are more than ever this year, mostly white, but I am trying to get more of the pink variety settled in the garden. Apparently they don’t like having their roots disturbed so it is quite a challenge to get them to take off, but slowly, slowly they are settling in.

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Late summer white and pink anemones. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To end my post this week, one of the definite signs that a different season approaches. In the gloom and shade of a large shrub I spied the first of the Autumn crocus appearing out of the darkness. They are lovely to look at, but at the same time, I am always a little disappointed to see them.

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A floral sign of Autumn. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you are able to enjoy what is left of the summer in the next few weeks, and I look forward to posting again, from my kitchen, in a couple of weeks or so. Until then, my very best wishes to you.

Midsummer rainbow garden

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Midsummer garden. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope you well and that the sun has been shining wherever you are. It’s been a mixed bag here. Some sunshine, some rain, but warmer temperatures on the whole.

I have a very simple post this week. Several plants in the garden are about 2 weeks behind this year, and this has enabled me to put together a post I have wanted to do for a while but have not, until now, had the selection of colours to make it work.

Below is a compilation of flowering plants from my garden photographed this week from Midsummer’s Day on Monday through to this morning. All the colours of the rainbow plus a couple more. I hope you enjoy them.

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The reds: Aquilegia; Plume thistle, and Skimmia Japonica berries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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The oranges: Azalea, Lupin and Pilosella (fox and cubs). Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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The yellows: Sedum, Lysimachia and Day Lilies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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The greens: Euphorbia, lemon Thyme, and sage. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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The blues: Geranium Magnificum, Campanula and Centaurea Montana. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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The violets: Lupin, trailing Campanula and Violas. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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The pinks: Gertrude Jekyll rose, Foxglove and Lupin. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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The whites: Hebe, Veronica and Foxglove. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m heading back to the kitchen for my next post. I will see again in a few days. Until then, take care and keep safe 🙂

Golden garden

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Golden corner. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well and that you have been enjoying some good weather. After a mostly miserable May all over the UK, the clouds finally disappeared towards the end of last month and the warmth and sunshine began in earnest. I was away from home for a few days and when I came back I was amazed at how much the garden was transformed. Every corner and flower bed was alive with golden yellow Welsh poppies.

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Welsh poppies in paths, beds and rockery. Images: Kathryn Hawkins.
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Poppy-filled borders. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The amount of poppies this year seems exceptional, and they are a welcome flash of brightness now that the bluebells are finishing. Quite a sight to behold when the sun is shining.

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Welsh poppies ablaze in the sun. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

As you can probably imagine, the poppies seed themselves and are very well suited to the climate here. One of the most successful plants in the garden in fact. They are loved by the bees and will keep producing new flower buds well into the Autumn. Something I hadn’t noticed until this year was how they close up towards the end of the day. Given that it is light until well after 10pm at this time of the year, they seem to fold in their petals a long time before the daylight begins to fade.

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Day-time and dusk. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The bright yellow petals make a great contrast with so many other plants in the borders. Also doing well this year is the aptly named Snow in Summer or Cerastium which is cascading over one of the walls at the moment, and the fresh, green Euphorbia is thriving at the very back of the garden.

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Poppies amongst the Cerastium and Euphorbia. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Just a short post from me this week, but hopefully a bright and cheery one. I wish you well for the days ahead and look forward to sharing my next recipe post with you a few days time. Until then, take care and my best wishes to you 🙂

May’s finest: asparagus, purple sprouting broccoli, Jersey Royals and some of my favourite (rain-soaked) flowers

Hello again everyone. I hope you are keeping well. We have been suffering another down-turn in the weather since my last post. Very unseasonal hail storms, winds and heavy rain. It’s been chilly too. The lack of heat has helped keep some of the spring flowers going but delayed later ones like the bluebells, and some of the trees are still bare.

I have been busy with work since my last post and haven’t been able to spend much time in the kitchen. The poor weather has put pay to spending much time out of doors. However, May is my favourite month of the year and I have been eating some fine seasonal produce. And today, I ventured out into the garden to take a few images of some of the best May flowers.

When vegetables taste as good as this selection, I rarely do anything adventurous with them. The asparagus and broccoli get trimmed, brushed with oil and lightly seasoned, then roasted on a tray for a few minutes in a hot oven. As for Jersey Royals, I just steam or boil them and eat them dressed with seasoned oil or a dot or 2 of plant-butter. Simple but delicious.

Most of my flowery images are a little bit rain-soaked this month. The tulips started flowering early this year and many have been out for 3 or 4 weeks. With the heaviness of the downpours, some have started growing horizontally.

This beautiful purple tulip was actually filling up with water as I took the photo.

There are now bluebells in the garden, but the lack of sun is slowing down the opening of the flower-heads, and the rain is holding back the scent in the air which is something I love about this time of year. The forecast for the week ahead is for more of the same, so it may be a while before I am able to enjoy their sweet heady fragrance.

More blue flowers. The forget-me-nots are growing in abundance in one of the raised beds and provide quite a carpet of blue until other flowers take over. I spotted the first Centaurea or Mountain Cornflower in bloom today. These robust, thistle-like, flowers will continue multiplying and flowering well into the autumn. They are a great value garden plant and their vivid blue colour is very striking in the borders.

Usually in my May garden posts I am able to share pictures of abundantly flowering vivid pink and red Azaleas, but at the moment they remain stubbornly in bud. The scarlet rhododendron has come into flower this last week and is putting on a lovely display. It sits next to one of my favourite rhododendrons in the garden, a rich, candy-pink variety. Sadly the frost caught the other side of this mature shrub. These blooms are on the sheltered side and thankfully remain untouched.

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Red and candy-pink rhododendrons. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all for now. I’m off to start practicing my sun-dance which I hope I can perfect in order to drive the rain away for a while 🙂 Until next time, take care and keep safe.

March blues and blossoms

Hello again everyone. Here we are almost at the end of another month. There has been a big transformation in the garden since my last out-of-doors update at the beginning of the month. We had a lovely spell of warm, sunny weather last week and as a consequence there are flowers and plants in bloom everywhere. This time of year certainly lifts the spirits as everything comes to life with such vibrancy and splendor.

The beds, paths and borders are once again covered in a blue carpet of tiny Chionodoxa. I did a bit of reading on the species and their common name is Glory of the Snow. We had a lot of the white stuff lying in February so I am wondering whether this has had something to do with the fact that there are so many this year.

Whilst the Chionodoxa have done very well this year, I have lost a lot of Muscari (grape hyacinth). No idea why. This is the only patch left in the garden now. I will try to remember to plant more in the Autumn.

This is the last clump of crocus for another year. The bees were very busy making the most of the pollen-rich stamens before the petals curl up completely.

And now it’s time for my annual Hellebore fest. Just a couple of images this time. The reddish-burgundy varieties are looking exceptionally dramatic and bold this year. I couldn’t resist capturing them again.

From the bold and dynamic to the tiny and delicate, this little wood anemone appears in a crack on the stone steps leading up to the top garden every year. It blooms for a very few days and then disappears without trace.

More delicate petals, this time in the shadiest part of the garden, where the primroses grow. There are two new plants to add to the mix this year. This seems to be a good spot for the other primroses to multiply so hopefully the new plants will thrive in the same way.

The pink “candy-floss” rhododendron is just going over now and beginning to lose petals, but it has put on a good show this year and has had no frost to nip the blossoms.

My final image this week is set against a glorious blue-sky canvas from last week. The bell-shaped flowers of the Pieris are a sight to behold on a clear and sunny day as they sway gently in the breeze.

In a few days it will be Easter, so I am back in the kitchen again for my next post. Until then, enjoy the spring flowers and sunshine (if you have it), and see you again soon. Take care and best wishes 🙂

Winter whites

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Snow-covered apple tree. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Greetings from snowy Scotland. I hope you are keeping well and warm. The weather hasn’t changed since my last post. Snow has been lying on the ground for a while and there have been intermittent snowy showers almost every day. Fortunately it’s not lying very deep and right now it is raining.

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Winter 2021, snowy garden. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The garden is quiet at this time of year and having a bit of a rest, but I have found a few signs of life. I’ve been taking photos for the past couple of weeks but nothing has really changed. I was hoping that the snowdrops would have opened out by now but the petals are still clamped closed.

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Snowdrops still in bud. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Usually the Cotoneaster hedge at the front of the house is untouched by the birds. It’s bright orange-red berries offer some colour when there is nothing much else around. This year the hedge has been stripped by pigeons. I did find a smaller plant that still has its berries. Perhaps it is too awkward for the birds to get to.

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Two Cotoneasters. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Just round the corner from the now barren hedge is the white Hydrangea bush that flowered so abundantly last summer and autumn. I always leave the faded blooms on the plant until the weather warms up. This is believed to help preserve the new leaf buds. The dried blooms have caught a light dusting of snow which makes them look quite pretty.

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Snow-covered faded Hydrangea blooms. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The Hellebores seem to be taking forever to show this year. I can see the flower buds forming at the bases of the plants but only one plant has produced stems so far. It’s been in bud for a couple of weeks now. I think it’s only going to be tempted into bloom if the weather warms up by several degrees 🙂

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My first Hellebore of 2021. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Just a brief post from me this week. I’m heading into the kitchen again at the weekend, so there will be a recipe post from me next time. Until then, stay well and have a good few days.

End of December garden

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First snowfall of Winter. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope you are well and have enjoyed whatever the festive season brought your way. Like so many, I had a quiet one at home, unable to travel to see my family. Hogmanay and New Year celebrations are also cancelled. There has been plenty of time to reflect on what has happened this year, and also to think about new projects for the year ahead.

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Three glorious morning views. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

We have been treated to some bright, crisp days here in central Scotland this year end, with some spectacular sunrises, and the first snow of the winter falling a couple of days after Christmas.

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Snow-covered seat. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It seems like a long time ago since I was able to take a rest on my favourite seat and enjoy the peace, quiet and colours of a spring and summer garden, but even now there are some signs of new growth to gladden the soul. I took these images on Boxing Day of a primrose and one of my rhubarb plants. The poor things must have had a bit of a shock waking up the next day to a covering of snow.

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New shoots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Back in September, once the cucumbers had ceased fruiting, I cleared some space in one of the greenhouse beds and planted 6 seed potatoes. It was an experiment to see if I could harvest fresh new potatoes for Christmas. I’m delighted with the results. All 6 plants produced, and I was able to enjoy freshly dug Maris Peer potatoes over Christmas, with a second harvest for the new year. At the same time, I sowed some carrot seeds, but these are much slower to grow, and I am beginning to doubt that they will ever root properly, but you never know. I will report back if they do develop to an edible size.

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Christmas new potatoes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Late planted greenhouse carrots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

There were lots of berries in the garden over Autumn and early Winter this year, but by now, most of them have been eaten by the birds. However, our feathered friends never seems to dine out on Cotoneaster or Skimmia berries, so I am grateful to be left with these festive colours to admire.

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Festive berries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Like so many, I am looking forward to a fresh start in a brand new year. I am ever hopeful that we will be able to return to some semblance of normality in the not too distant future. Until then, thank you for following my blog for another year, and I send you my very best wishes for the year ahead. Stay safe and healthy, and a Happy New Year to you all 🙂

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Early flowering Rhododendron. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Late Autumn in the garden

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A blue-sky November day. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I’m back in the garden this week. It’s been a topsy-turvy few days of weather. We have had a lot of rain, a few strong winds, and plenty of grey, gloomy skies. However, there have been one to two blue-sky days, one of which was today, and as well as being a great opportunity to get outside and do some tidying up, I have been able to take all my pictures in the glorious November sunshine.

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Flaming yellow Acer before and after the fall. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The two images above capture the essence of Autumn for me. One day you can admire the brilliant colours of a tree in leaf, and then the next day, following a heavy downpour, the leaves are washed to the ground and the paths and beds are covered in a rich golden carpet.

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Beech hedge in the Autumn sunshine. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The beech hedge is more robust than the Japanese Maple, and is still fully clad although the golden leaves have dried and browned this week. I love this hedge. It is quite tall and thick and is alive with the sound of bird-song – many sparrows live in this hedge and at times their chitter-chatter tweeting is quite something to hear. You never feel alone in this part of the garden.

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Sunlit Cotoneaster. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There are several Cotoneaster shrubs growing around the garden. This one hangs over the front drive-way. It is rather spindly compared to others that grow up against walls, and to be honest, I rarely notice it. In the sunshine the other day, the tiny leaves were glowing red, it really caught my eye.

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Late-flowering Hebe. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Just the other side of the Cotoneaster, this pale lilac Hebe has come into flower for the second time this year, and in the back garden a lonely, and tired-looking Foxglove is still clinging on to a few of its precious pink flower heads.

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Fading Foxglove. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Last greenhouse tomatoes of the year. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m feeling a bit sad this week as I have finally harvested all my tomatoes. The plants were slowly withering away in the greenhouse due to a lack of light and warmth at this time of year, and with the prospect of some very chilly weather in the offing, I decided to pick off all the fruit and bring the tomatoes indoors. I am hoping some will ripen off a bit more, but the majority will be going in chutney. The greenhouse is looking pretty bare today now that I have taken down most of the vines.

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November Chamomile flowers. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It seems slightly unseasonal to me to have so many Chamomile flowers in bloom. The rockery in the back garden has four large plants, all with several daisy-like heads. They certainly make a cheery feature in this part of the garden now most of the other plants are dying back.

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A flurry of snowberries. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Before I started writing this post, I looked back at images I have taken of the garden in previous Novembers and I came across a picture of a small cluster of snowberries taken a couple of years ago. The same plant is now covered in berries after being given a new lease of life earlier in the year. It was given a lot more space to develop when an old shrub was taken out. I’m so glad it has made the most of its new found freedom.

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Japanese Anemone hybrid “Loreley”. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My final image this week is of another new pink Japanese Anemone which wasn’t in flower in time for last month’s piece. This one is called Loreley. It has gone from strength to strength since it was planted, and still has flower buds yet to open. I wonder how long it will keep flowering given that we are heading for winter.

That’s all from me this time. I hope you are all keeping well and staying safe as we head into the winter months. Until next time, my best wishes to you. See again you next time.

Bright October colours

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Acer Palmatum in Autumn splendor. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well. As I sit down to compile this week’s post, it is very wet and dull outside. In fact it has been raining just about all week and there is very little end in sight. During the very few brief dry spells, I have been outside to capture some of the bright colours that are on show in the garden at the moment. One positive thing about the low light levels is that natural colours do seem to stand out all the more.

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Maple leaf ground cover. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The rain rather than the wind has driven many leaves from the trees this year. The colour of the Japanese maple is stunning – so many shades of pink, orange and red from just one tree.

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3 Nerines. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

In the rockery in the back garden, the foliage is mostly fading green or dying back now, but the Nerines are standing proud, bright and bold.

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Second flowering of Rosa Felicia. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Just along the border from the Nerines, is my old faithful rose bush and true to form, it is in flower once again. The heads are heavy and drooping with the weight of rain drops but the perfume is just as sweet and fragrant.

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October Runners. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

In between the rockery and the rose are my runner bean plants. Still going strong and still providing me with beans. This latest basketful weighed just under 500g. We have had neither very cold weather nor strong winds so far this autumn and these factors seem to have given the beans an extended lease of life.

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Late Autumn raspberries. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The Autumn raspberry canes are still fruiting well. Another wee basket picked ready for my morning granola.

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Anemones still flowering. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The white Japanese anemones are still going strong, and now the garden has a new addition to the collection, this pink hybrid anemone called Pamina. Lots of pointed pink petals. I hope it does well in its new home.

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Hypericum Rose of Sharon. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I gave the Rose of Sharon Hypericum a big “hair-cut” early last month. It had flowered very well but had become too large for the flower-bed. I am amazed to see that it is flowering again already.

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Saffron crocus. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

As you can see, it wasn’t raining when I captured these delicate little saffron crocus. To be honest, is was over a week ago when I took the pictures. Sadly, they haven’t survived the rain battering this week. I love the shadows of the saffron-scented stamens just visible through the petals.

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Second time around Borage. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a very good year for Borage and I have had a continuous supply of bold star-shaped flowers since early summer. Long may they continue adding their vibrant splash of electric blue colour.

Already decorated for Christmas. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m returning to the Japanese Maple for my last image. As I was capturing the leading image for my post, I noticed that the small conifer next to the tree was covered in red leaves giving it a rather festive look 🙂

That’s all from me this week. I will be back in the kitchen and recipe posting again soon. Until then, take care and keep safe 🙂