Monday, 5 December 2011

Wild Excitement

Wild excitement yesterday! I noticed a 10cm shoot growing from my 'orchid' - a tiny plant which came into my possession sometime late in 2009 or early 2010. I think it was a present from one member of the family to another, and it was left behind in my flat where I was then living above Manse Furnishings. The tiny, exquisite bright purple florets fell off one by one and I would have chucked it but there were signs of new green leaves so I spared it. It moved with me to Milburn House in Sept 2010 and has sat on the windowsill of my little first floor kitchen ever since, neither quite dead nor in full vigorous plant life. This summer, concerned for its welfare, I even went into the garden centre and tried to buy some appropriate compost to repot it. To her eternal credit, the lady behind the till refused to sell me any, insisting that these fragile plants like to be cramped and starved. How right she was! Four months later, a flower shoot has emerged and I have pinned it carefully to the narrow stake which once held the (now dead and brown) previous shoot and flower head, using the tiny plastic clip that does not damage the shoot. This gardening exploit set me thinking about the garden I am going to make at 21 Well Road, behind our new offices and a workshop. I made a four square grid with 'low' and 'high' maintenance at either end of the vertical line and 'practical' and 'pleasure' on the horizontal. What would please me best is a garden that somehow complements the pretty mid 18th century building we have restored, both in appearance and for use, whether as a meditation walk, a 'hortus conclusus' or a patch to grow fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers, with perhaps a few chickens. Speaking of vegetables, yesterday I rescued all the blackening carrots from my wire basket in the hallway (kept there because it is cool) and one withered parsnip. I roasted some in the oven, adding an onion, and the rest I browned first in oil and butter, then added water and boiled them with a chicken stock cube. I also roasted a squash. Inspired, I then browned two beef olives in a frying pan with some sliced garlic, added some carrots and their liquor and a bay leaf. When the beef olives were done, I removed everything with a slotted spoon and added some couscous grains to the gravy and feasted on the result. In the evening, I had egg mayo with beetroot salad - a magical combination that I commend to you, with possibly a freshly baked potato, butter and plenty of freshly ground pepper. I have hung my Christmas wreath on the front door and last night it snowed. Moffat looks beautiful

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