Six on Saturday … don’t amount to a (small) hill of beans


Lovely, it’s raining hard. I’m grateful, I really am, but I can’t help wishing it would do it at night … when I am not walking the dog or wanting to dig up some ground elder. Easier to justify talking to a computer though, so I am linking up with The Propagator for Six things. And I do hope the weather is much nicer wherever his family wedding is!

Shucking Beans

It is a perfect day for processing beans. Luckily the forecast was clear enough a few days ago to indicate that gathering all the dried pods was a good idea. I’ve more or less finished harvesting Borlotti beans and am now starting the heritage ‘Blue and white’:


‘Blue and white’ climbing beans

I won’t chop the plants until forced to by the weather and then I’ll leave the roots, with their nitrogen fixing nodules, in the ground. Which reminds me, several of last year’s root bundles successfully over-wintered and sprouted again around the time I was planting out this season new recruits. I’ve not had that happen before, but I can’t see any advantage to it in any case.

Echium pininana

My beautiful, tall wonder has flowered for months. The spike stopped extending at about 8ft, but each flower cluster has continued to lengthen through the summer, producing new flowers at the end, until the whole plant looks like a yeti. It is still covered in an abundance of bees, particularly Carder bees at present. This week I’ve been collecting its seeds. This is because happened to notice some small seedlings at the base of the plant when I was weeding.


Be warned though, it is a painful task if you don’t wear gloves as the hairs are quite needle-like. The small allergenic hairs all can cause a nasty reaction in sensitive people.

I am going to cosset the babies (hopefully) through the winter in the greenhouse. I’ve also sown some seed now and will save more for spring.


They are slightly early this year, but many English walnuts (Juglans regia) cultivars are ripening now and are bursting from their green husks. Wet walnuts (as they are known at this stage) are a favourite of mine as they are deliciously creamy. The squirrels have practically polished off the crop from the tree in the corner of the garden. Luckily, I have managed to collect a few missed kernels.


Juglans regia ‘Mayette’

I’ve just eaten one and they are yummy!


For ages I couldn’t see the attraction of these strident pink lilies and I think that they are hard to place in the garden with other plants. However, I’ve now got a planting hole by the front door to play with and I am enjoying that massive blast of girl power there.


I also discovered that nerines come in whites, pale pinks, reds and even stripes. So in the greenhouse I am trying Nerine bowdenii ‘Ostara’ (seen here behind N. bowdenii) and N. ‘Alba’ (the slugs ate through the stem of this, so it is propped up and not in shot). I am also growing Nerine undulata with its wonderful rippled edges, but that isn’t in flower yet.


Hops festoon the hedgerows around here, scrambling amongst the brambles. It is not surprising then that they pop up in various places in the garden. They’ve got root systems designed to reach the centre of the earth too, so it is a bit of effort to dig them out. I’ve let them go beside the oil tank, but this vine (below) is newly established beside our neighbours’ garage and is looking quite acquisitive. I am going to have to remove it. I will save some of the actual hops for decoration, but should I try to make some beer????


The Cup and Saucer plant

I had Cobaea scandens ‘Purple’ in the garden from seed last year and it was very successful, swamping both arches in the vegetable garden. Happily, they set seed and matured enough for me to collect. This year’s plants are grown from those gathered seeds and they are not strictly purple any longer.


I do like the patterning in them though.

So that is my Six on Saturday. Remember to check out the interesting things that others are posting about today through the Propagator’s blog.

And now I can’t put off our afternoon dog-walk any longer, so I am going to be soaked …


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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15 Responses to Six on Saturday … don’t amount to a (small) hill of beans

  1. Jim Stephens says:

    Love those beans, so pretty. Who’s the supplier? Impressed you can grow Echium where you are, thought you had cold winters.

    • The beans were from a friend from a seed swap. You can get them from Garden Organic, but there is a membership barrier I think. You are right about echiums, which are touch and go here. I overwinter seedlings in a cold greenhouse. They can take some snow of course (the mountain on La Palma gets falls fairly regularly), but not wet. The Beast from the East wiped a whole border of them out at Wimpole in Feb. 😦

  2. March Picker says:

    Your English walnuts are enviable. I love that photo of the nut inside the pod! Blue and white beans are some I must research to see about growing here. Do you use them most in soups?

  3. prue batten says:

    Every year, as the green walnuts appear (December in Oz), we pick and pickle. Delicious with cheeses and fruitpastes.

    • I’ve heard of pickled walnuts, but never tried them. Do you have a favourite recipe that you could point me too?

      • prue batten says:

        I do but bear in mind this is a family recipe that has drifted by word of mouth down through generations, so it doesn’t read very well. But it is lovely!
        Here goes: Pick walnuts while green and prick with skewer. Wear gloves and old clothes because any juice will stain you black. Make brine with a gallon of water and 1lb of salt. Let walnuts stand in brine for 14 days. Drain off (get rid of brine) and spread nuts on trays to stand in sun until black. (It happens in a matter of a couple of days)
        Fill storage bottles with walnuts and then pour cider vinegar over. Then pour out the vinegar into jug to measure amount. To each quart of vinegar add 2lbs + of sugar ( I add extra sugar as did my Mum as the nuts can be bitter sometimes depending on the season)
        Boil the vinegar, sugar, one heaped teaspoon of allspice, 1 tsp of whole peppercorns and 1 dozen (+ a few) cloves. Bottle with pickle liquid and let stand for at least 6 weeks before using.
        They keep for years!!!

      • Oh that is very kind of you. Thanks for sharing. Roll on next spring!

  4. cavershamjj says:

    I have a dwarf hop, I have tried to dig it up to divide it. Failed miserably, as you say, it is a deep rooted bugger. I hacked a piece iff in the end. I was also glad of a bit of rain on Saturday-we were way for the day so i was happy the garden was getting a much needed soaking. Still pretty dry…

  5. Lora Hughes says:

    I’d been coveting Mr Propagator’s dwarf hop – I love the smell – but after both of your comments, perhaps I should reconsider. Just have to find a park or neighbour w/one & hang about, sniffing. You’ve a coupla plants in this post that I’ve added to my list. I really have to stop reading these SoS bloggers!

    • Well, if you are a tidy gardener you’ll be on top of the strays before they get their roots down?! I have a growing list too and certainly reading these blogs makes me a bit reckless when I see plant sales. I tend to pick orphans up thinking that I am sure such-and-such was recommended, only to find I’ve got the wrong variety or it was mentioned for the wrong reasons.

    • cavershamjj says:

      The dwarf variety is pretty manageable. It doesn’t spread.

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