If only you could bottle success, but in the meantime I have had two succcessful bottling moments this last few weeks.
How many green glass bottles have we ditched??
Ended up having to drink the contents of the fridge to free up these.
Anyway, I can vouch for the recipe as follows, this is the best we have ever made, so good that I went and picked a second lot of flowers and made another three bottles, and I am hoping there will be some left to enter in the Cordial Class in the Village Show in September...
30 elderflower heads
1.7litres/3 pints boiling water
900g/2lb caster sugar
50g/2oz citric acid (available from chemists)
2 unwaxed oranges, sliced
3 unwaxed lemons, sliced
Gently rinse over the elderflowers to remove any dirt or little creatures.
Pour the boiling water over the sugar in a very large mixing bowl. Stir well and leave to cool.
Add the citric acid, the orange and lemon slices, and then the flowers.
Leave in a cool place for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Strain through some muslin and transfer to sterilised bottles.
'Put the comfrey leaves in a bucket, fill it with water, hide it for a month and be prepared for it to smell dreadful (worse than dreadful) and then in a month's time,' says Monty, 'I'll tell you what to do next.'
Well of course I thought I must have missed the What To Do Next programme, by which time the covered bucket is exiled to the far reaches of the garden, and still we can smell it, so donning rubber gloves and yet again seeking out any available containers, I funnelled off fifteen pints of this nectar.
Apparently I now have a rich mix of nitrogen, potash, phosphorus and calcium thanks to the ten foot tap root that we know comfrey puts down. There's the secret apparently, deep enough to draw up nutrients from way down, and a cupful in a watering can will have my plants thanking me from the bottom of their roots.
It's all looking pretty full of gratitude right now, thanks also to plenty of watering through the dry spell (we bless the free spring water and hate to let it go to waste.) The clematis montana has been pruned drastically to stop it finding its way under the slates and into the loft, and plenty of cuttings layered and streaking away in pots, a long-lost late-flowering clematis has reappeared out of nowhere and is busy climbing up through the purple wisteria in the middle which is joining up with the white one on the left, and both are flowering again. To the right the evergreen honeysuckle has been reduced by half so that Jim the Postie could get to the front door. Meanwhile cosmos and sunflowers are about to burst into a rainbow of colour... we'll be trapped in the house by all this growth any day...
Honeysuckle and an old Rambling Rector are doing battle on the veranda pillar, and the Veilchenblau climbing rose, planted right next to the front door fifteen or so years ago, but that was flowering up on the roof with just bare stems below, has been cut right back. I know, completely the wrong time of year to prune a rose, but things were getting a bit desperate. I took sixteen cuttings on the off-chance one might take in case we lost it... we now have sixteen flourishing Veilchenblau climbing roses to put somewhere, and the pruned one is sprouting anew...is it a really crazy year for growing things, or do I just have the time to notice it now ??
It's all a bit crowded (lesson learnt, cosmos are big) but the little Jacques Cartier rose is peeking through there somewhere, second flowering so they must have slurped up some comfrey too...
I love Monty Don and BBC Gardener's World. I don't need trendy and shrill when it comes to the garden, I need a quiet, soothing, voice offering gentle encouragement and which suggests that everything I try has a chance of success. I need to see things going wrong too, and they do. Monty's had aphids and something or other has got rust/fungus/black spot, so it is not all perfection. He reassures on every front, not least that one day we might have, in Little Nell a dog like Nigel, who LIES DOWN AND SLEEPS while Monty gardens. Nell much prefers to dig, and bury things, it's a disaster. I looked with envy at Monty's beautiful newly planted wild flower garden last week, fine tilth as smooth as velvet, and I thought how it might look after a visit from Magnus and Little Nell. Last night's programme and Monty's wildflowers would seem to have grown already, but did you see the wisteria??
You can check it out here if you missed it, 253 feet of astonishment, at Wickham Place Farm in Essex.
On the homemade gardening front we are not quite Mr and Mrs Bob Flowerdew, (for a start neither of us has enough hair for a plait ) and when I spotted some old tractor tyres up the field Bookhound was very quick with the 'Don't even think about it...' as I eyed them up for planters, but this garden venture is all about saving money where we can in order to have more to spend where we want to. I love the idea of making our own plant food from another plant, and using toilet roll holders for rooting pots (it works, thank you for that one Carol Klein) and tying up bunches of herbs to dry using cut up strips of old tights as string (it stays tight as the herbs dry). Thank you to Tesco's too for the plastic trays that the yoghurt pots are shelved in, they are perfect for drying seeds.
Onward, and hopefully upward with the plants but meanwhile... any more homemade gardenitis tips I should know about ??
Anything else I should be taking cuttings from now??
Along with the clematis and the roses I have chanced my luck with honeysuckle, jasmine, philadelphus and lavender, we'll see.
P.S. I hope by now you have realised that dovegreyreader scribbles is on Summer Vacation Posting Schedule until the autumn, and so book thoughts of any depth may be scarce for a while, but I will still be here and wittering on to anyone who will listen, and nattering away to anyone who is kind enough to post a comment, so please do.