dandelion clocks

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:

We’ve decided to leave more areas of uncut grass in the garden this year, to encourage wild plants and flowers, and provide a food source for pollinating insects. We’re already seeing a wide range of species, including clover, speedwell, buttercups, herb robert, and, as you can see in the photo, dandelions.

20150505-132017The flowers are rather bright and brash, but I think the seed heads are things of beauty; delicate, fragile and ethereal.

When I was a child, we used to blow the individual seeds from the seed head (to the dismay of local gardeners, no doubt), and you were supposed to be able to tell the time from how many puffs it took. Hence dandelion clocks. I’ve only recently become aware of the idea of blowing the seeds and making a wish. I don’t know whether that’s a piece of modern folklore, or maybe just something that wasn’t local to…

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may flowers


At last, possibly some quince blossom!

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:

quince blossom bud quince blossom bud

March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers, according to the old rhyme. We actually had a very dry, sunny April, but nevertheless, we do indeed have a beautiful display of flowers now that May is here.

The quince tree hasn’t quite made it to full bloom yet, but we have high hopes. It’s the third spring in the garden for the quince, and this is the first time it has shown any sign of having blossom, so we’re looking forward to seeing how it looks. Also, with luck, looking forward to some fruit.

Plenty of other flowers are already looking their best.

I think that some of these might be considered weeds, strictly speaking, but we don’t tend to worry too much about that. The cowslips in particular have been amazing this year, springing up all over the garden.

The one downside of the mild…

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April Calendar 2015


April has been a good month in the garden, with mild sunny weather so a lot has been done and everything is now looking very green. No time to relax though as last night we had a frost so we had to put fleece over the peas as a precaution. The broad beans however, should be hardy enough to survive a mild frost and are under enviromesh which gives some protection. The strange twine construct over the shallots and the potato bed is to deter our cat! Today, more potatoes to plant, main crop “Sarpo Mira” a blight resistant variety.

The week ahead look more changeable with the temperature rising into the low 20s again, but with more rain.

Looking south

Looking south

Looking north

Looking north

Three ways with wild garlic

The wild garlic we planted two years ago is now growing strongly in the garden and so we were lucky this month to get our first leaves off the plants.

They have a mild garlic/strong leek flavour and we used them in three different meals.

All recipes serve 2 people.

Wild garlic risotto

I have always made risottos using Jamie Olivers basic recipe from “Jamie’s Italy” but I only use this as a guide and below is my amended recipe.


6 ounces (170 grammes) arborio rice

1 onion

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1 small glass of white wine

1 pint (500ml) of vegatable stock (I use cubes)

handful of wild garlic leaves (to taste) roughly chopped

parmesan cheese


In a large pan, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until tranlucent but not brown.

Add the rice and the wine, and cook the wine out.

Then add a ladle full of stock and cook out, repeat until the rice is cooked and the risotto has a thick soupy consistency. Do not let the risotto dry out!

Add the wild garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add a good handful of grated parmesan, and season to taste.

Take of the heat and place a lid on the pan.

Leave for 3 minutes then serve.


Wild Garlic Omelette

I’m not going to tell you how to make an omelette!

Just add a handful of wild garlic leaves to the beaten egg.

I also dot with goats cheese and finish the omelette off under a grill.


Wild Garlic Pasta


6 ozs (170 grammes) pasta ( I usually use wholemeal penne for this recipe)

4/5 anchovy fillets in oil

1 or 2 garlic cloves

4/5 chilli flakes

6/8 cherry tomatos or similiar

handful of wild garlic leaves

parmesan cheese


Prepare the pasta as per its cooking instructions.

Meanwhile heat the anchovies and garlic until the fillets melt and the garlic is cooked but not burnt.

Add the tomatoes and cook until you have a thickish sauce consistency.

Add the wild garlic leaves and cook for a couple of minutes.

Drain the pasta and add to the other ingredients.

Serve into bowls and add some grated parmesan.



uninvited guests


It’s very interesting to watch their comings and goings.

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:


We seem to have some uninvited, though not necessarily unwelcome, guests taking up residence in the outside wall of La Petite Maison.

We noticed a couple of bees buzzing around the house yesterday, and on closer inspection they were busily flying in and out of these little holes in the south-facing end wall. I assume that the holes must have been drilled to fix something to the wall in the past, but they are now clearly very attractive to these bees.

We think that they are red mason bees, but we’re happy to be corrected if anyone knows better! In any case, they are obviously solitary bees, which are not aggressive, and do not swarm, so they are very welcome to make their homes in our wall. Hopefully they will repay us by pollinating our flowers, fruit and vegetables throughout the spring and summer.

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Early april days

The weather is set fair at the moment and we are having a lovely period of cool nights and warm sunny days. The sky is strangely clear of vapour trails these past two days – french air traffic controllers strike!

Lots of work is getting done in the garden and the views from the road above the house are shimmering in this early springtime heat.