Sunday, 6 May 2012

Early May snapshots

A few photographs to sum up the back garden in early May. Today was another mild, sunny day, although it was a little breezy.

The freestanding cherry tree flowers a few days later than the fan trained one. It's never grown as strongly, but so far this year it looks healthy - plenty of blossom, just about holding on a week into May (both trees bloomed later than in 2011).

Broad bean flowers are pretty - how many other garden plants have true black on their blossom? This is an unknown variety - from a bag of dried broad beans I bought from a local Turkish/Eastern European grocer's. Most were used to make a delicious, simple Iranian dish of broad beans with dill, but the final few I soaked to see if they would germinate. I'd call that a success.

 I tore out the three-year-old fruit bed over winter (the broad beans above are growing in its place), but the strawberries had sent enough runners across the garden to avoid the need for buying new plants. I dug a few out and temporarily put them in a nursery bed - and they are already flowering. You can see the embryonic fruit at the centre here - the yellow blob will swell and turn red in a few weeks, with luck.

A couple of 30p bags of tulip bulbs were one of the highlights of last spring, grown in pots. I did the responsible thing and lifted the bulbs - which had multiplied - at the end of the summer, and kept them indoors. But then I forgot about them. I found the bag just a few weeks ago, and decided to plant them in my sole flower bed, figuring they wouldn't survive dormant until autumn. Here is living proof that you can plant tulips in March and get flowers in May - an extraordinary bounty.

 I like barbecues, and a warm sunny day is perfect for testing new ideas. The sausages were shop-bought - though good-quality - but the rest I assembled myself. In the upper picture, you can see pork steaks that were sliced laterally and 'stuffed' with coarse mustard and honey, then seasoned; below are chicken thighs with rosemary, salt, and smoked garlic pounded and rubbed under the skin; at the bottom, chicken breast chunks and baby button mushrooms, marinated in yoghurt, lemon juice, and cinnamon, on metal skewers. All quite delicious.

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