Six on Saturday – Eeek, it’s December


Oh wow, it’s December already. Have you got your advent calendars out? Have you got all your spring bulbs in? I’ll be honest, I’ve been beavering away on this task on and off all week to meet the end November deadline, but there are still a few left. Most are tucked under the soil though. Oh, except for that order I placed yesterday for  70% off sale bulbs that I couldn’t resist. Anyhow, here are my Six things on a Saturday. You play don’t you? If not, it’s easy to join in by linking to The Propagator’s blog and checking out the many and varied contributions about gardening ‘stuff’.

1) #NationalTreeWeek

As we reach the end of National Tree Week (25th November to 3rd December), my first ‘Six’ today is a celebration of a favourite specimen. It is an Indian Bean tree on the lawn at Wimpole Estate. With it’s leaves now fallen, it has been revealed in all its gnarled glory and is dripping with ‘bean’ pods. Over the years storms have twisted its spreading limbs rather more than it could bear and annual tree inspections have forced the removal of some of its damaged branches, but it remains an energetic and much admired presence at the edge of the parterre. Long may it stand.


Gnarled Indian Bean tree (Catalpa bignonoides) on the lawn at Wimpole Hall

2) Hot Lemon Drops

The chilli plants I potted up and brought inside at the end of October have stopped flowering. However, the existing fruits continue to ripen, making the kitchen windowsills look festively decorated. This year I’ve particularly enjoyed growing Aji Limon or the Lemon drop chilli. True to its name, it has a very definite citrus tang to its heat. And it is a hot one (15,000-30,000 SHU on the Scoville scale apparently). I tend to nibble the ends and then hand the rest over to Steve!


Aji Limon or the Lemon drop chilli

3) Hazel catkins revealed

The butter yellow tones the hazel leaves have been brilliant this autumn. With recent gales stripping off the last of the foliage, we can see the evidence of seasons moving on and once again anticipate the cheerful sight of clusters of dancing catkins. They are there, ready and waiting. Look at it this way, Winter’s days are already numbered.


Hazel catkins exposed

4) Meadow residents

I’ve been planting bulbs in the wild meadow: Wild daffodils, camassias and Byzantine gladiolas. I have been surprised by how many chafer grubs I’ve discovered in the process though. I add more bulbs to this area every autumn and I don’t remember seeing so many pests last year or the year before. I hope that they are not going to become a problem.


Chafer grubs under the rough grass in the meadow

5) Winter Honeysuckle

As I walked passed the garage this week I noticed some very welcome winter scents. At one corner I have a clipped viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, which, on following my nose and looking, is fairly covered in flowers. On the other side of the door there are a couple of winter honeysuckles (Lonicera fragrantissima) and I was surprised to see that they have started into flower already too. My attention was drawn to the bushes because they of the number of insects buzzing around them, including several types of hoverfly.


Hoverfly on Winter Honeysuckle

6) Crab Apples

For the last couple of months Sadie, our dog, has had a tendency to get distracted by fallen damsons on the driveway when she is sent outside to do her stuff. However, in the last week she has changed her browsing area to beneath our crab apple tree. She loves apples and since we hit zero last week the apples have started to drop to the ground. The birds are also evidently pecking at the fruits. Blackbirds and pigeons so far, but the field-fares and thrushes won’t be far behind. So I’ve been out today, collecting a bowlful while they are still there. This will be turn into an amber jelly for Christmas dinner.


Glowing crab apples (‘John Downie’)

Have a good week!


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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19 Responses to Six on Saturday – Eeek, it’s December

  1. karen says:

    Lovely. I love crab apple jelly. Thanks for sharing your photos this week.

  2. prue batten says:

    May we have your recipe for crabapple jelly? Yum!

    • Sure:
      * Rinse the apples and remove any damaged bits.
      * Place the whole apples (pips etc. help with setting) in a pan and just cover with water. I usually add a chopped up lemon and boil them together gently until soft (~30mins- 1hr).
      * Strain through muslin overnight, saving the liquid and throwing the pulp.
      * Boil up the resulting liquid with sugar (I tend to do this in a 1:1 volume ratio, but the sugar can be reduced to 70%), until setting point is reached (see test).
      * Test this by taking small drops of mixture to a cooled saucer and seeing if surface wrinkles when touched once cool.
      * When it does, carefully pour the beautiful amber liquid into sterilised glass jam jars (prettiest one I can find) and leave to set.
      – Great with cheese, great with pigs-in-blankets, great on sour dough toast.

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Six lovelies. The crabapples look pretty even on their own in a bowl.
    Since we had a surprise early snowstorm that never melted as expected, a number of bulbs never got planted, so I potted them up for forcing. I’ll be happy to see them in Feb. when we still have 6-8 wks left before the snow melts.
    I ordered Jacquie Lawson’s digital online advent calendar. The setting is Edinburgh. Always a lot of fun.

    • How frustrating the snow must have been! I’m potting the rest up too. Easier than finding clear patches in the garden and having accidentally chopped through last year’s bulbs. That calendar does looks fun.

  4. janesmudgeegarden says:

    The chillies are a gorgeous colour which belies their true heat, it would seem. Also a gorgeous colour are the crab apples which must make a heavenly jelly.

  5. Christina says:

    The yellow chilies look lovely, I don’t remember seeing yellow ones before.

  6. fredgardener says:

    I also grew Aji lemon chillis this year and they had a special taste, as you said. However, they were too hot for me or I just had to add some to my dish. Another solution, after boiling them, I put them in olive oil to get a lemon-flavored chili sauce … for pizzas …

  7. Lora Hughes says:

    The lemon chilis fascinate me, especially w/Fred’s pizza sauce. Your apple eating dog reminds me of another one we see on our dog walk that jumps up to snag apples from a tree growing along the edge of the field. My dogs are so not into fruit & veg – bet yours has great gut health. Love that twisted tree – I wondered if a bean tree were the same as a catalpa, then saw your caption under the photo. Never seen such a venerable one in my life! Fantastic.

    • Yes, the chilli oil for pizzas is a great idea, ‘cos we currently buy it! I think that Sadie is secretly a fruit bat, since I’ve yet to find a fruit she doesn’t like and nick. Bananas are possibly her favourite though.

  8. Chloris says:

    The lemon drop chili look fun. I usually grow Apache but maybe I will try it next year.
    Your winter honeysuckle is early.

    • Those Lemon Drop chillis are very attractive, both in shape and colour. The citrus taste is very unusual and a bit deceptive as it allows the heat to creep up on you.
      Yes I thought so too.

  9. cavershamjj says:

    Ooh I’ve grown lemon drop this year too. Haven’t tried them yet. I tend to stick them straight in the freezer and use in cooking. I never seem to have a glut, not for want of trying. Next year perhaps I will have enough to get more creative.

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