The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Photo: Mystery plant

Photo: Mystery plant

I love this time of year.

I watched a pair of butterflies canoodling for ten minutes this afternoon. Settling on the grass and then opening their wings for each other. If I had wings that beautiful, I think that I’d have opened mine too. They fluttered about the garden in between the wing displays, beautiful and intimate creatures on a mission.

Meanwhile I had been getting acquainted with giant spiders. The higher you climb on a ladder propped against a house, the bigger the spiders you meet. At the apex of the barge boards I met a giant. It was just an unsuccessful speed dating moment as the spider glanced at my brush and scuttled away. Throughout the afternoon this spider ventured into my life apperaring at key moments. Not helping, although it was large enough to wield a brush. It just added a frissance of apprehension. What will I do if I flush it out and it runs for freedom down my bare arm?

Meanwhile back at the cottage we are harvesting strawberries and raspberries. Finally after four years our raspberry patch is bountiful. I pick every morning for breakfast. You can’t beat just picked raspberries, yoghurt and honey. The evening pickings go into the freezer. This year I’m determined to make raspberry wine. A real winner according to Joanna’s Food. We have already made several bottles of raspberry gin. Doubling up the raspberries this time.

The autumn raspberries have the best depth of flavour but the July harvest is perfect for raspberry gin or vodka. The Guinea Fowl and chickens love any fruit that is tossed into their lair. The main fruit cage is beside the chicken run. When I step under the nets they are watching my progress carefully. I have two pots. One for perfect fruit. The other for more dubious specimens. The latter are guzzled gratefully by our flock.

On the peaky laptop front, The Newmarket Computer Company have finally decided that my old pal cannot be mended. Luckily they are a no fix no fee company. So as D snoozes above my fingers fly across his keyboard.

Meanwhile this beautiful perennial has started to bloom in the pond garden. Can any plant expert identify it? It was bought from the secret garden stand and the label was lost a couple of years ago. Even when it wasn’t flowering I loved its fronds. Our unidentified visitor is framed by Rosa Complicata and a very pretty pink fuchsia that was given by our friends Jocelyn and Miles.

Incidentally Seraphina and I went to the secret garden on the second Saturday in June to find no fete in progress. A few weeks later I bumped into the lady that tends this paradise. The local church had dilly dallied – planned to have the fete in their grounds and then realised that the uneven earth was a health risk so the fete is now going to be held on July 25 2009 at Shrublands, High Street, Fordham. If you would like to dive into a wonderful garden – don’t give this a miss.

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  1. Sorry to be a year out in my comment, but I was caught by your comparison of autumn and summer raspberries. I have a very small garden, and my 5 canes of autumn bliss are now a thicket, trying to take over the garden! I often mow suckers with the lawnmover…

    This is the 2nd or 3rd season. In the autumn, I forget to cut all the canes out as I’m meant to, and so there is old and new wood all growing together. Fruiting is underway, about 1/2lb a day, and will go right through to the end of the season! Spiders permitting of course….

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Magic Cochin

    Thanks so much for delving in and identifying this plant!

    I love it. So pretty and surprising. It’s beside the pond so I don’t care if it takes over as this is a tricky border!

    Hi Andrea

    The spider lurks on the barge board 30’ up. It’s a brown splodge on a pure white painted board and I hate it. I’m sure that it’s related to the spider that I met six years ago (same house , new clients). It’s vast.

    Hello Catofstripes

    I have no idea what this beauty is. Liquorice would be great as I love the taste!

    Hello Michelle in NZ

    I laughed out loud at the teeth flossing ?

    Love hearing about your spider caring.

    Years ago I used to hate them and killed wantonly. No I try and live alongside spiders. I don’t like the giant that inhabits the eves of my latest decorating project. I wouldn’t kill it but would prefer it if it was a little less friendly.

    Hi Pamela

    Yes, although I mourn my old trusty laptop friend I’m looking forward to the arrival of the new one.

    We’ve had two of those very localised storms with giant hail and thunder in June (this year and about four years ago). I don’t understand why there is giant hail in the summer. All I know that it shreds the leaves of our plants and all wildlife in our pond goes to sleep as the water temp goes down rapidly when a ton of frozen hailstones drops into the pond. Scary stuff.

    Hi Kate (UK)

    Thanks for taking up the challenge. It’s such a pretty plant.

    We have loads of blackfly too. Out with the soap spray. A bit breezier here today. Working outdoors ATM so my antenna are charged and working 100%. Getting brown as a nut too!

    Hi Celia

    Thank you again!

    Hello Jackie

    This plant was bought as an interesting adolescent a year ago. It has just grown a lot and flowered. If you’d like some seed I’d happily send you some in the autumn.

    Hi davmc

    Thank you for your input. Much appreciated.

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