SOS 24th November

We’ve been away for more than three weeks and after a time of frantic busyness and many, many miles travelled, it felt so good to arrive home late on Thursday by the light of an exquisitely beautiful full moon. All things considered, this is not a bad time of year to leave the garden to its own devices but needless to say, I was impatient for daylight and the chance to explore the changes that have taken place in our absence. Autumn has certainly happened, the valley bathed in seasonal colours and carpets of leaves; that said, it has obviously been very dry and – after several days of penetrating frost and snow flurries on the back of a bitter easterly wind in northern France –  a return to the cosy Asturian wrap-around warmth is sheer bliss. In fact, I felt such excitement and contentment at being back on our little patch of mountain that in a sudden rush of blood to the head, I decided a Six On Saturday moment was called for. Unpacking, laundry and all the rest can wait: welcome back to my garden! (Apologies for the wordiness, I haven’t blogged for weeks so needed to scratch a writing itch . . . feel free to skim! :-))


We gorged ourselves on fresh figs right up until leaving at the end of October; they are over now but in their place is the new star of the fruit world – kiwis. I spend most of the year cursing this plant for its thuggery and taking the loppers to it every month or so to save the washing line, pear trees and a barn (truly!) from being totally engulfed. Ah, all is forgiven now as the vine drips with luscious fruits, sweet and juicy and just perfect as a post-run snack. We discovered last year that there is no need to harvest and store as the fruits sit quite happily on the vine in tip-top condition (whatever the weather) until April. By then, the birds will be helping us to finish the stragglers but who could complain after five months of such bountiful PYO?


Staying with fruit and there is great excitement in the orchard as the first baby lemon continues to survive and grow. We planted the ‘Eureka’ tree a couple of years ago and should have seen the first fruit forming last year had it not been for a savage winter storm ripping off most of the foliage. We honestly doubted its chances of survival but it has fought back, nurtured through last winter and most of the spring in a blanket of fleece. The established lemon trees growing locally fruit all the year round so fingers crossed this little pioneer will be the first of many happy citrus moments.


I know I’ve featured our anniversary ‘For Your Eyes Only’ rose before but I make no apology for slipping it in again as we have come home to yet another mass of gorgeous blooms – it’s the fourth time this bush has flowered in 2018. We really couldn’t ask any more of it, could we? I love it to bits. Enough said.


The rose was one of a tiny handful of precious plants we brought with us when we moved here; previous moves have seen me lifting and potting small roots of virtually everything in the garden to take with us but as we shifted our entire lives to Spain in nothing more than a transit van and trailer, space was more than limited. No worries, there was plenty to work with here and one of the things I love about restoring a neglected patch is saving established beauties to maintain a sense of the garden’s history as well as adding my own stamp. As flat planting space is so limited, plants have been crammed into every nook and cranny, leaving many of them struggling for air. One such example is a fuchsia, very old and straggly and almost totally buried under climbing roses and Japanese quince by the steps to the kitchen. It’s a sad looking specimen but this year managed to send out a few pathetic green shoots which I promptly snipped off, poked into a pot of compost, stuffed in the polytunnel and forgot about (sorry, Mr P, but propagation has never really been my strong point). Anyway, the propagation gods must have been smiling as I now have three amazingly strong plants which have flowered for months and continue to do so. I have no idea what variety it is (maybe an expert out there can help with that one?) but I’m thrilled that one old plant at least has been restored to its former glory.



I don’t do a lot of shopping to bring home with us (although boxes of good quality Assam tea are always on the list!) but couldn’t resist the temptation of a few packs of bargain bulbs. Tulips grow well here, so I’m hoping the dusky bluey-purple of ‘Blue Spectacle’ and pink-flushed cream of ‘Crème Upstart’ will serve as perfect complements to my predominant purples. Scilla ‘Blue Arrow’ and Ornithogalum ‘Arabicum’ are both new things to try and being native to southern Europe, I’m expecting great things of them. Okay, so the allium caeruleum ‘Azureum’ is native to Siberia but I just couldn’t resist the promise of that gorgeous blue! I couldn’t find freesia corms to boost my collection anywhere but was very delighted to chance on some ranunculus; inspired by the beauty of Jane’s Mudgee Garden , I’m hoping those strange, claw-like little bulbs will provide a colourful splash of frivolous frills come summer.


Finally, I know I’m a sad muppet who needs to get out more but I was hopping and skipping with joy at the chance to go forth with my trug and collect vegetables for our first homecoming dinner. To me, this is what it’s all about: all those weeks and months of gnashing teeth and tearing hair over bad weather, poor germination, pesky pests . . . this is why I don’t give up gardening and do something more boring instead. From garden to kitchen in foodsteps, not miles, from patch to plate in moments. Yes, they are dirty and wonky and maybe a little nibbled here and there but there is nothing – nothing! –  to compare with the flavour and texture of homegrown vegetables. Florence fennel, autumn carrots and three types of kale. Perfect.


Time for me to pop over to The Propagator’s site and see what other gardeners are sharing from their lovely gardens this week. Why not join me? Forget Black Friday, Six On Saturday is far more interesting and definitely better for the soul. Happy gardening until next time! 🙂

19 thoughts on “SOS 24th November

  1. Always lovely to get home again after a long time away. The garden is usually the first place that I head for too! Love the rose, what a little beauty. And the veggies and kiwis aren’t bad either. Now off to Google where the Asturias are. The views are fabulous and I like the idea of “a return to the cosy Asturian wrap”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The path to our house passes through the garden. When I return from a trip away, it is not unusual for me to plop my bags down at the gate ‘just for a quick peek’ and then drown in garden bliss!

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    1. Just Googled ‘Delta Sarah’, I think she’s a lot more splendid and a deeper purple than my specimen here! Kiwis are massively popular here, large tracts of river valleys have been planted with them which makes me wonder if they will eventually join the eucalyptus and pampas grass taking over the environment. Will do our best to keep this one in one place (and the fruits are great).


  3. I’m another reader thinking, wow, what a great growing season that is. Your info on kiwis was fascinating – such a great fruit & that it stays ripe on the vine for all those months . . . simply wow. Your dinner haul looks great, but have to admit, the walnuts took all my attention. Do you grow those as well? Love a walnut, so a whole basket is delightful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The growing climate here is as amazing as the scenery, we are truly in gardening paradise (although the occasional storm wreaks all sorts of havoc, especially with our poor polytunnel which is more sticky tape than polythene these days!!!). Walnuts are a huge food here and we are blessed with 14 very productive trees, the trick is getting to the nuts before the wild boar find them! I keep a basket on the go in the kitchen, the rest are stored in the horreo (traditional Asturian grain store) until we need them. We eat them in pretty much everything, love the local trick of baking them in bread. 🙂


      1. Yep, normal bread. We make a sourdough with a mix of white, wholemeal and spelt flour then mix in a pile of walnuts. Some of the local recipes include Asturian blue cheese – haven’t tried that one yet because quite honestly straight walnut is more than delicious . . . 🙂


  4. Welcome back! Glad to hear some praise of the kiwi at last ;-D. The carrots are also looking fantastic. Hopefully that’s it now for UK trips for a while and back to pottering?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, try living with our kiwi!!! Honestly, that plant is a complete nightmare in the growing season. 🙂 Carrots are great, I think we’ve sussed the right planting time at last. Parsnips are also looking good but there aren’t many of them, we still need to play around with planting times and methods. No plans for another UK trip at least until February as long as there are no disasters. Meanwhile, we are very happy to be back to the pottering!


  5. Hi Lis, great to see you on SoS…I think it’s the first time I’ve seen a contribution from you. Lovely to read as always, and thanks for the mention. I’m absolutely positive you’ll get a lot of enjoyment from the Ranunculas as they are so easy. I also am amazed at your kiwis, which I didn’t know could behave so thuggishly. I am so interested to read that they can stay on the vine as long as they do. Your sweet little rose is so much like my Calypso, I wonder if they’re from the same family. Have you thought about growing tamarillos? One of my favourites and I think if you can grow kiwis, they should also grow for you in a sheltered spot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jane. Your ranunculus were so pretty and everything grown from bulbs seems to do well here so fingers crossed. The kiwi is undoubtedly the most thuggish plant I’ve ever come across, it would engulf the whole garden if we let it – but the fruits are amazing and far bigger than anything in the shops. I hadn’t thought about a tamarillo but it would be interesting to try, I’ll have to see if it’s possible to buy a plant here. Always good to have new things on the gardening list!


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