Calm Winter Hues
The quieter colours at this time of year suit my mood and I find I am more than happy to wait for a change in temperature to stimulate the next stage in the garden. So I rounded up the only flowers I could find: the spent heads of Hydrangea petiolaris still clinging to the walls and some over-looked hydrangea flowers from late-summer found lurking under the bush. The burnt-out colours perfectly suited these copper-toned lustre ware jugs.
There are small signs of Spring with Helleborus argutifolius about to burst into life. It would be cruel to pick the flowers but the foliage is a huge plus and makes me aware of the contribution leaves make to a garden.
It’s the same with this Mahonia ‘Charity’ growing in the university grounds. Handsome, upright dramatic foliage with the added plus of scent similar to Lily of the Valley. Great for pollinating insects in Winter and followed by deep purple berries to attract birds in Spring. I really want to find room for this in my garden but it’s huge and deserves a generous space to show off its architectural beauty. No room here sadly so I shall take daily walks and admire it whilst inhaling deeply.
And although Sarcococca confusa (Sweet Box) isn’t very dramatic the scent from the tiny cream flowers certainly is. It makes it worthy of a space by the kitchen door and this year the black berries are enormously fat, shiny and juicy.
I have a drawer full of torn out recipes saved from the weekend papers and I plan to make one recipe a week for the coming year. My reckoning is that if I felt they were worthy of keeping then they are worthy of making so here we go. I am starting with Dan Lepard’s Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup) to improve a very bad cold. I substituted sourdough bread for his soup bread and it’s delicious but I now can’t wait to make his over-night bread recipe on the same page.
Talking of garlic January is a good month to plant providing the ground isn’t frozen solid. I experimented late-summer with a huge bunch of purple garlic brought back from the South of France but there’s no sign of life.
Using a culinary garlic sometimes works but it depends on the source. Turkish or Eastern European bulbs might have adapted to cold weather but Southern French will have relied on baking sun and a drier climate.