As the days grow shorter and the evenings grow longer, I start feeling autumn-y. All I can think of are warm woolen sweaters, crisp falling leaves and cozy rainy afternoons. It’s also the perfect time to make jam. I love making jam and all the ritual involved from selecting and preparing the jars and utensils to setting out clean cloths and lids. Once the jam is done, I love setting the jars to cool on the windowsill and listening for and counting the pings as each jar seals.
Last week we went blackberry picking for jam and made a bunch of lovely jars that seal in the warmth and deliciousness of summer. Every time I open a jar, I know I will be reminded of the day we picked them in the sunshine and long grass amongst the brambles and wildflowers. Today I was inspired to make even more jam, so I pulled out my jars, lids and big pots and got to work. I had lots of blueberries, peaches and some strawberries too, so I made a batch of blueberry and one of strawberry-peach.
After all the jam was done and the jars were set out to cool, I was cleaning up and saw a Tips for Jam Making Success pamphlet inside the pectin packet. Looking it over, it seems I have broken two cardinal jam rules: don’t cut down on the sugar (I halved the sugar the recipe called for) and Do Not Double the Recipe. Yikes! This second one was in bold and italics. Oh dear. It says breaking these rules may result in a product that may not set. Will it set?! I hope so!
I love roses. Near my home, there is a rose garden full of gorgeous country roses with blushing, nodding heads and names like Cocoa and Brothers Grimm. I recently discovered a great secret: every once in a while the gardeners prune those beautiful roses and throw them in a big bin to be composted. So there’s this bin full of roses dying elegantly. After going through the bin one day and plucking out a few gorgeous specimens, I had the realization that I am, in fact, a rose hobo.
After scouring the West End, I’ve hit the flower jackpot for your Flower Delivery Friday: a rhododendron in full bloom! In February. Actually, despite the cold weather, we’ve had a lot of sunshine so it has been feeling quite Spring-y and it was a pretty prolific week flower-wise. I have a lot of delights to tempt you!
Rhododendrons always remind me of a William Blake poem because of their wild little tiger-y spots on their inner petals. I think you can just barely see them here. These guys are so pink!
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
~ William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
This sunny little patch of yellow Crocuses (Croci?) looked like they had formed a bouquet all on their own.
Witch Hazel. Gotta love this early bloomer. I’m a late bloomer myself. Yeah, you and me Witch Hazel, we don’t have much in common.
The humble Pussy Willow – one of my favourite parts of spring. I love your fuzzy, hardy, yet delicate selves.
Catkins. I wasn’t sure if these were catkins, so I had to look them up (and they are)! I didn’t realize this before, but ‘Catkins’ is simply a name for a flower cluster found in many plant families and I believe they are a relative of our darling pussy willow (above) . In many of these plants, only the male flowers form catkins and the female flowers form a single a cone in trees such as the hazel, oak or alder. In other plants (such as poplar), both male and female flowers are borne in catkins. Wow! I believe these handsome fellas (because now we know they are boys!) are from a hazel tree. I love how they look like golden rain.