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June 8, 2012

I am very pleased to see that a favourite self-seeder Erigeron karvinskianus is beginning to colonise the steps to the front door. When I first encountered this plant in a nursery near Usk fifteen years ago it was adorning ancient stone steps and I hoped it would do the same here. There’s been no shortage of self-seeding from pot to pot but it took a few years to establish on the treads of the steps even though it will survive in cracks on paving. So last year I tried blowing the seeds into the join where the tread meets  the riser and it seems to have worked there are now about ten small plants at various levels.  It’s a simply gorgeous plant and as the summer progresses the white flowers fade to a deep pink with a bright yellow eye.

Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris has done well this year covering walls on both sides of the garden. It’s in flower now and mingles on one wall with the blackish-purple leaves of Sambucus nigra. The flowers of this elder are soft pink and I have been assured that they can be used in the same way that the common elder is for making syrup. I experimented with a jam made from strawberries cooked with six pale pink flower heads and it tastes delicious with a hint of elderflower.

I steeped the flower heads for 10 minutes in lemon juice and a syrup made from 50grams of water plus 50grams of caster sugar. This I strained  onto 550grams of mashed up strawberries. I added 400 grams of jam sugar and stirred over a gentle heat to dissolve the sugar. It boiled rapidly for 10 minutes and produced two jars of delicious jam with a definite hint of elderflower.

A friend brought me a gorgeous bunch of Sweet Williams which incidentally are the Dianthus family and as a short-lived perennial can be grown from seed sown in summer for next year.  I stuck to similar colours for this week’s cut flowers and picked a crimson rose winding up the railings,  Nigella ‘Love in a Mist’,  Linaria purpurea ‘Canon Went’  with its lovely spires and more purple aquilegia which has been flowering for weeks. As soon as seed has set on that and the linaria and the nigella I shall sprinkle it round various beds for next year.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2012 9:49 am

    I love Erigeron too. It always reminds me of holidays in Devon and Cornwall were it grows out of walls, tumbling down. I bought 3 plants from a nursery a few years ago and the owner was most reluctant to sell me them all, oddly. She warned me about how it self seeded and that it would take over. It certainly hasn’t taken over and I love how it pops up in little nooks and crannies growing where other plants won’t. Loving the sound of that jam.

    • June 8, 2012 10:10 am

      The jam is excellent. And it’s so tempting in this weather to comfort eat with a slice of jam and toast every time I’m in the kitchen.

  2. June 8, 2012 10:15 am

    I love erigeron too – sadly it hasn’t taken in our garden but I think I shall try your seed blowing trick and see whether that helps!

    • June 8, 2012 10:25 am

      I think it was what did it here although weather plays a large part too. But worth a try or maybe buy a plant and carefully prize it apart at the roots into small fragments. Then post those into cracks and maybe time it for wet weather like now!!!

  3. Marigold Jam permalink
    June 8, 2012 11:12 am

    Lovely post. Elderflowers go well with gooseberries too and can be dried to make a tisane for winter colds along with the syrup made later from the berries. I love your little floral arrangements so natural and “country” just my cup of tea.

    • June 8, 2012 11:22 am

      Yes to combining a few bowls of elderflower syrup from the freezer as soon as the gooseberry bushes crop for a jam making session.

  4. June 11, 2012 8:26 am

    The people who live opposite have a sambucus nigra in front of their house & I’ve always thought how beautiful it was…didn’t really think about eating it…but if it’s related to elderflower…(I’m still waiting for the elderflowers to really bloom here- it is so frustrating!)

    • June 11, 2012 8:33 am

      They have started to blossom on the allotment at last but are getting rain-soaked which isn’t ideal-they have a more intense flavour if picked when the sun has been on them for a few days.

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