Garden reflection

November has come round in a flash. Up until last weekend the weather was rather pleasant, we hadn’t had much rain at all and even though night temperatures had dropped, the days were still mild. However last weekend began the assault of storm Angus! With it’s timely arrival came rain, rain and more rain. Coupled nicely together with an ice cold wind, my trips to the stables to feed my beloved pony ended with my face feeling quite, shall we say, fixed. Yes, that’s right, between the wind and the rain I think I ended up with a cheap version of a facelift.

Days like these, give an opportunity to reflect on the garden and allotment for 2016. If you haven’t done this yet, may I recommend to do so on a squishy, comfortable sofa preferably in front of a fire with your dog gently snoring on you. Have paper and pen to hand to make notes and plans for the next year and of course an obligatory stash of seed catalogues to pour over.

In the flower garden

I was really pleased with growing Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) from seed this year. The two varieties I tried were ‘Vesuvius’ and ‘Ladybird’, both flowering throughout the summer, in fact the Vesuvius, right up until last week when the frosts finally got it. These are easy to grow from seed. Perfect for a pot on the patio or as a bedding filler (especially raised beds where they can elegantly trail over the edges).

 

The sunflowers (a cut flower mix) produced sturdy plants, whose cheery faces made a great addition inside. Tagetes (African Marigold) was also a pleasure to grow, providing big blooms at a lower height. I was impressed with ‘Pineapple Crush’, the colour was very unusual for a flower and quite rightly named, it is the exact shade of a pineapple!

At the allotment

Looking back at my plans for this year, I may have been a little over ambitious. I wanted to grow ten varieties of tomatoes…I managed two! In 2017 I probably won’t aim quite as big but I think four varieties would be suitable yet doable. I have had great success with both ‘Flamingo’ and ‘Sunbaby’ and will probably be growing them again as they were heavy cropping but also tasty. Broad Bean ‘Masterpiece Green Longpod’ was a success in the fact that this year I had beans to taste (in 2015 my plants were completely destroyed by black fly), however six plants weren’t enough when I realised how much I actually liked broad beans, so I’ll be growing more next year. The unusual yellow wax bean ‘Orinoco’ did really well, and I actually grew this in pots as the plants are compact.

 

All photographs provided by fortheloveofpeas. Seeds purchased from Chiltern Seeds http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/

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Pub lunch at The Pack Saddle

I love a pub lunch at the weekend, especially in the autumn, when its nice to settle down in a cosy pub with the fire roaring whilst you tuck into a hearty lunch.

We recently paid a visit to The Pack Saddle in Mapledurham, a privately owned pub fairly local to us but one we haven’t been to before.

pack-saddle

We enjoyed starters of the grilled halloumi and selection of bread. The bread came with garlic, basil and chilli flavoured butters which were just the most delicious accompaniment.

For mains we picked the Pack Saddle beef burger and minute steak saltimbocca, both were outstanding. Presentation of all dishes was high, I am afraid I am one of those that can be easily won over by chips turning up in baskets and food presented on slates! All dishes were packed with flavour and the only thing I was disappointed in, was the fact I was too full for dessert!

Last but not least I must also commend The Pack Saddle staff, they were all so friendly and attentive. The food arrived quickly and I cannot wait to return.

Read more about The Pack Saddle on their website here: http://www.thepacksaddle.com/