Sunday, January 9, 2011

Holiday snapz


I'm not sure what the official definition of a holiday is. One possible one is that if you're not sleeping in your usual bed, but you've got your usual partner beside you, then you're on holidays.

However, this time round we holidayed at home. The nights might have been same bed (same girl!) but the days have been very laid-back and irresponsible. I needed a break from blogging and we both needed a rest from work. So we concentrated on really difficult assignments like going to the movies, eating out at restaurants, and catching up with friends – on weekdays, for lunch. So that's my new working definition of a holiday. If you see your friends for a long lunch on weekdays, then you must be on holidays.

And so here are a few holiday snapz of my lovely summer holiday spent here at home, a million miles from care.

Every year Pammy designs her own Christmas cards, gets a local printer to print up a couple of hundred of them, then she hand-writes a message in each of them for family, friends and clients. This is this year's card, a complete departure from anything she has done before, and I love it.

Out in the garden, almost everything that happened was pretty much expected for this time of year, but there has been one exception. This orchid normally flowers in June and July, so what possessed just one plant to come into flower for Christmas, for the first time ever, I don't know. It seems healthy enough, but I've got my eye on this weirdo now.

The freshly harvested red spring onions looked so nice I had to take a photo of them before I started cooking.

Lazy me bought a punnet of 'mixed assorted capsicum' seedlings and all of them, every one, was of the yellowy-green banana capsicum type. Serves me right for not starting them from seed a month earlier.

I'm just starting to harvest the first of the Lebanese eggplants which I blogged about in December, here. What a wonderful colour, and it's a handsome plant.

I've created a monster with my Lebanese cucumber plants. We are cucumbered out! Fortunately both of our Greek neighbours' families eat cucumbers by the score, and so a couple of armfuls have been handed over the fence on both sides so far. And whether they want them or not, friends and family all leave after a visit here with some cucumbers. Where I went wrong is that I noticed there were few bees buzzing around the cucumber plants, and so I hand-pollinated the flowers with a paintbrush – and ended up with a major glut. They're very nice to eat, though, and we've even cooked them as a vegetable, sliced into sticks and sauteed in butter with either chopped chervil or dill tossed in at the last moment. Nice side dish.

As well as having too many cucumbers, I definitely have too much basil. There's only so much pesto you can eat or make, same for tomato and bocconcini salads, tomato pasta sauces, etc. The upside is that it's a nice plant to be around. If you lightly brush past it as you're weeding around the area, the air is scented with basil as you work.

Don't you love it when a sick plant bounces back from death's door and gets well again? That's real job satisfaction. A while back I did a blog posting with the dreadful name of 'The Black Lagoon' about the radical attempt to resuscitate this struggling pot of French tarragon by soaking it in an inky-black lake of Seasol and a wetting agent. Well, it worked! Lovely aniseedy flavour, French tarragon, and I'm sure the revived stuff tastes better than ever.

At the same time as I rescued the tarragon, the chives needed the same rehab treatement, and that soaking trick definitely seems to work on sad, struggling pots of herbs.

Another former hospital patient has bounced back well. This Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon' has looked as though it was headed for the cemetery twice in its career, and both times it has recovered beautifully thanks to repeat sprays with Anti-Rot, followed by a radical prune. The honeyeaters are loving it now, squabbling over the nectar-laden flowers every morning.

Down close to ground level the little Tibouchina 'Groovy Baby' has hardly grown at all. Iit is a dwarf that will only get to 60cm (two feet) but it's going nowhere fast. However, it has been in flower since late September and is still going strong. Some of the lower leaves are yellowing a bit, which is a worry, so I've fed it recently in the hope that it's just tuckered out from flowering so much.

I'm a sucker for quick-growing, dense-blooming summer annuals, and these marigolds are as reliable as they come. Once planted, they need almost no attention.

Ditto these rudbeckias. Easy-peasy and cheerful too.

As I started with Pammy's card for the masses, I might as well finish with Pammy's card made just for me. Her gift choices, gift-wraps and cards are a constant marvel to all who know her, and this year she made a special card for me, a whole year in our garden. Each month, on the first of the month, she took a photo of the garden from the same spot. The card itself is a whopper, A3 size (and of course the other six months are on the other side). She's a special one, my Pammy.

So welcome back to all my readers, and I hope you too enjoyed some good times over the Christmas/New Year period. I know from watching the news how hard that would have been to achieve for many people. I saw how appalling the snow and cold has been in both North America and Europe, and how drenched and heartbroken much of Queensland has been as well. I just hope that 2011 is a better year than 2010 for all of you (and us as well), a much better year.

This year I am planning on conducting a hi-jacking of sorts of my own blog. I'll still keep rabbiting on about my garden as I usually do, but if things work out as I expect they will, I might blog a bit more about food and cooking this year, and a bit less about gardening. We'll see what happens.

Pam and I are in full swing planning our holiday to the US later this year, and 'American cookery' was the theme of the various books and packages of ingredients which formed her Christmas present to me this year. So don't be surprised if I blather on about gumbo instead of grevilleas and jambalaya instead of jasmine, from time to time.

5 comments:

veggiegobbler said...

Sounds like you had a lovely holiday. Hope you're feeling rested.

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

Your garden looks so gorgeous. My basil got eaten by something voracious, my capsicum is lean to say the least and even the rhubarb has gone to seed in the rain. But the tomatoes keep right on marching.

Vinisha said...

What an exciting experience!/Hilarious! Delightful! True!/wonderful stuff! thank you!
Kitchen Garden

Alistair said...

Sounds like my kind of holiday Jamie, only difference you do it in a lovely warm climate. Ah well, I keep complaining about our weather but I really do love Scotland.

simmone said...

What lovely pictures for cards,perfect for this time of year.Garden looks great!