Pressed Flowers from your Garden

A spray of pressed flowers

A spray of pressed flowers

If you love flowers and gardens, flower pressing makes the most perfect hobby. It’s both stimulating and therapeutic and it will give you all the scope you’ll ever need to express your creativity.

And you’ll be using the loveliest materials that nature has to offer.

Pressed flowers can easily be sourced from your own garden. And you don’t need to plant anything special either. Your garden will provide you with all the material you need.

You can learn how to press flowers quickly. And once you know how, there’s no end to the variety of ways in which you can use your pressed flowers.

Artistic collages of pressed flowers and greenery make the loveliest greeting cards and wedding invitations.  Read more

A Non-toxic insecticide that works

Mealy bugs under a leaf

Photo credit:

Many people feel that a natural, non-toxic insecticide simply cannot be as effective as chemical insecticides.

They regard success stories of organic sprays as old wives’ tales and are skeptical about them.

But the result is that they resort to using dangerous toxic sprays without giving the organic solutions a chance.

We all know what damage we do to the environment when we use toxic sprays and poisons.  Not only do we poison the environment as a whole, but we also ruin the ecological balance of our own gardens.

To the organic gardener, poisonous pesticides, toxic fungicides and all manner of toxic sprays are anathema.

Now it’s true that organic methods of eliminating pests are sometimes hit and miss. I cannot vouch for all of them; but there is one method that I have used that has given me a one hundred per cent success rate. Read more

How I tricked those pesky birds

Deep Blue irises

Deep Blue irises

Those of you who have kept up with my saga of the birds versus my irises will know how long I have been battling with this problem.

Here is a reminder of what has happened year after year – and each time I have been hopelessly defeated.

The birds have beaten me hands down. And they haven’t even tried all that hard!

Each and every spring, they have bitten off all the heads of my prize irises and I have never had the luxury of enjoying them for even an hour or two.

They have simply been too clever and too quick for me.

But not this time!

Read more

My Mother’s Homemade Fig Jam

Figs ready for jam making

Figs ready for jam making
Photo:fr:Utilisateur:Céréales Killer

Yesterday I was tempted to buy a small jar of fig jam.  It brought back such memories of my mother’s fig jam on the farm that I simply couldn’t resist it.

As soon as I got home I opened the little jar with eager anticipation and an almost dreamy feeling. I plunged a teaspoon into the jam and had a taste.

What a disappointment!  It was a sweet mush with thousand of tiny pips that got in between my teeth and it was much too sweet.  Worst of all there was no taste at all of the real fig flavour that I remember so well. Read more

Best Apples for Baking and Cooking

Granny Smith Apples

Photo courtesy

I found this great chart about the best apples to use for cooking and baking. It’s a very helpful guide because it’s so easy to get unstuck when you use the wrong variety.

For example, when making an apple sauce, if you use the the type of apple that doesn’t break up, you end up with a lumpy sauce.

And speaking of sauces I find that the best apple to use is Granny Smith because it makes a fine, smooth sauce with a sharp tang.

I also use Granny Smith apples for baking.  No need to add sugar either.  Just take out the core and replace it with a  few seedless raisins.

Works every time! Read more

Blue Irises look stunning with Roses

These blue irises were planted in front of this prolific rose bush and the combination is stunning.

The irises are the bearded hybrid variety and they don’t stop blooming. The colour combination is particularly striking too.

If you click the  picture you will be able to see a bigger photo which will give you a much better idea of the impact of the  contrasting colours.

I wrote in a  post some time ago that my irises were being decapitated by birds.  And that has continued for a few years in  succession.

Fortunately, this year there seems to have been no such massacre of my flowers. Read more

Rose Hip Syrup Recipe

Rosehips make great syrupThis time of the year just before pruning time, rose hips are in abundance. So what can we do with them?

I had heard that rose hips are very rich in Vitamin C so I checked and lo and behold there are a number of rose hip syrup recipes that are used and made by those in the know.

How to use Rose Hip Syrup

The syrup can be diluted with water to make a refreshing cold drink. You can also pour the syrup neat onto your breakfast pancakes or waffles for a delicious and health-giving treat.

Some of the rose hip syrup recipes that I’ve seen are rather lengthy and they put me off because I like quick and easy solutions.

So here is a simplified version:

Rose Hip Syrup Recipe

    • Wash and trim about a kilo of rosehips. Pop them into a blender and process till they are a coarse mush. I would process half at a time so as not to overload your blender.
    • Put the rosehip pulp into a covered pot and boil for about 20 minutes. Remove from stove and strain the liquid through a clean muslin cloth.
    •  Add sugar and boil for another 5 minutes. Cool and bottle. Keep in the refrigerator and use as desired.

Some recipes suggest boiling the discarded pulp a second time and repeating the process.  But I would think that the best flavour and goodness would come from the first load.

Let me know how you like it!