A busy time of year

Today is a bright and sparkling kind of day, with blue skies and sunshine, only occasionally interrupted by the passing overhead of fluffy clouds, blown on their way by the (admittedly chilly) southwesterly wind.  Here in England, a wind from the south west heralds rain, so I have washing on the line to hopefully dry before the wet weather arrives and have been out in the garden planting this year’s garlic (once again from the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight after last season’s success!)

I hope never to buy garlic from a shop again, home grown is so much nicer, and a lot more pungent too!  I am trying something new this autumn as well.  I mentioned in an earlier post that this year our horse chestnut trees have produced the most enormous conkers.  I didn’t think there were very many at all, but yesterday my little grandson Freddie took 102 (every single one counted individually) home with him, and there are still plenty left…

So I have decided to try to grow some horse chestnut trees from them.  Horse chestnuts were introduced to the UK from Turkey in the late sixteenth century and, even though they’re not native, are valuable to wildlife – bees love the nectar and pollen from the flowers and some species of moth feed on the leaves, their caterpillars providing food for blue tits.  Deer and other mammals also eat the conkers, though they are inedible to humans.  (Interesting aside – I recently learned that you could use conkers to make laundry liquid, though I have no plans to try this right now – if anybody has, I’d love to hear about it).

I have planted the eight fattest shiniest conkers Freddie could find and am very much hoping that they will germinate in my cold frame over the next few months.  Before they become too large I’d like to grow them on in tubs in the kitchen garden near our shepherd’s huts, Rhubarb and Custard…

Here’s Ted looking longingly at the huts but as we’ve recently seeded the banks he is definitely not allowed in to trample all the new growth with his big flubbery paws!  The huts are still very much a work in progress, though we hope to have at least Custard finished (complete with kitchen and ensuite shower room) by next spring.

Indoors I’ve been busy with my stitching too.  At this time of year I’m conscious that as well as Christmas designs, ideas for handmade presents are always useful so I’m stitching a set of three little brooches featuring woodland animals….

There’s a fox, badger and rabbit and I think they’d look nice pinned to the collar of a coat, hat or even a scarf.  There will be full instructions both on stitching the designs and assembling the brooches and they will be in the next (November) edition of the Bustle & Sew Magazine along with a reindeer, a robin and much more besides, including the ninth instalment of “A Stitcher’s Alphabet” in which we finish the letter “S”. Who knew there was so much to write about for S?  Most letters have had to share their instalments with others, but S has had not one, but two chapters all to itself!!


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