Autumn light – dusk

The evening autumn light is magical; it washes the garden in warm colour.  Fleeting though it is it is one of my favourite times of day in this season.

The rays of the sun wash over the trunk of the mulberry making the seat under it even more enticing, if only for a few minutes.

Where would the garden be without grasses?

The light captures their ephemeral beauty.

….. and then of course there’s the sky!

GB Harvest Day- Autumn Plenty

The cooler days are encouraging some things to produce more but it is inhibiting the growth of others.

I have removed all the tomatoes from the greenhouse, even though they were beginning to produce more foliage and flowers I don’t think there is enough time for them to ripen.  Even the few tomatoes that are still being produced outside don’t have the same flavour and I think they will be pulled out next week too.  Most of the cuttings I took from the tomatoes at the end of last month did root but it is something I need to do much earlier.  I will try again next year at the end of June or certainly by mid-July so that I can plant strong new plants when the first cropping ones are becoming tired from over producing.

Peppers, aubergines and chillies are still producing reasonable crops, I was able to make one last Mediterranean roast vegetables last week.  Basil and Thai basil need to be cut ruthlessly otherwise they flower and this in the end will stop them producing the best leaves.

Red pepper outside, with more green ones that may or may not turn red!

These yellow ones are in the greenhouse

A smaller variety of aubergine that I grew from seed

In this very narrow bed, I squeezed, auberines, chillies, chard and celary

Mediterranean roast vegetables

I am harvesting huge quantities of Dwarf green beans; yesterday there must have been 3 kg. too many at once, but that’s the problem with dwarf beans, it meant I was able to give masses to the guy who helps me in the garden, I don’t freeze them, really I grow vegetables to eat seasonal vegetables, I have been better at successional planting of the beans this year and I have some more plants growing now, hopefully there will be time for them to flower and produce some beans before the weather becomes too cold; yesterday I sowed a few more in the greenhouse just to see it they will grow there and perhaps give me fresh beans up until Christmas.  I also sowed spinach in the greenhouse and in the garden, plus some Bok choi outside.

A few of the beans from last week; yesterday this washing up bowl was almost full!

I harvested the last of the Barlotti beans – these were amazing this year as from one sowing I had three harvests, some as fresh beans and some as dried, I’m looking forward to soups made with these and just cooked with new olive oil drizzled over them when we harvest the olives and make oil.

I’m picking small quantities of strawberries and raspberries, just enough for a taste of summer.  Pomegranates and quinces are about ready to harvest.

Just a few raspberries almost every day

The splitting Pomegranate tells me it is ready to pick

My quinces are pear shaped the apple-shaped form is “the golden apple” from the garden of the Hesperides, from which inspiration this blog takes its name

The wild rocket, arugula, has lots of nice strong tasting new foliage now and the pretty yellow flowers can also be added to salads.  The ‘cresto di gallo’ another wild leaf that I use in salads has produced hundreds of new baby plants all over the Slope so that editing and eating the very first new leaves will help the other plants have more space.

I picked one last cucumber last week, and zucchini are giving me a meal every couple of days but are nearly finished, most of the leaves have died back so I don’t expect many more.

New winter vegetables are ready to take over.  I’ve already eaten a ’pointy’ cabbage and several others are ready, red cabbages are hearting-up and broccoli are just beginning to form heads.  Some fennel bulbs are a reasonable size so I’ll use them soon, I might put some plants in the greenhouse to have a little later in the year; I love raw sliced fennel with sliced oranges, a few black olives and a drizzle of olive oil as a refreshing winter salad.

A caterpillar of a Swallowtail butterfly was hiding on its favourite food supply – fennel.

All of these brassicas are nearly ready to eat

Delicious pointy cabbage (a little eaten around the edges

There are lots of lemons and limes, I would like to make marmalade from them this year; if anyone has a reliable recipe they use for lime marmalade do please let me know.

Lemons

Limes

I’m joining The Gardening Blog for their Harvest day meme.  Visit them to see what they’re harvesting in spring.

Plant of the Day – Sedum

In truth Sedum is a plant that gives pleasure over a very long season, not just for a day.  The newly emerging foliage in early spring already adds beauty to the planting scheme.  I like the thick, moisture retaining leaves; I like their colours which range from bright green to bluish to purple.

By Mid-September the flower heads are present but they take a while to actually open, several weeks even.  Bees and butterflies find them irresistible.  Better still it is so easy to take cuttings, pieces of stem or leaves will all grow to produce new plants if just pushed into some sharp compost.  The cuttings I took early this year are even flowering; I’ll be planting them all this week.

Sedum spectabilis ‘Iceberg’

Sedum spectabilis ‘Iceberg’ – I like the pure white flower

…and that all the parts of the flower are white, so not distracting from the overall effect

This was given to me by a friend, who doesn’t know the variety – it is one of my favourites, bright green foliage, bright pink flower heads that change to a satisfying deep red.

Starry flowers attract bees and butterflies

Sedum Matrona combines well with grasses, here with Penesetum villosa in the small island and Stipa tenussima

I’m not so sure about the colour combination of purple leaves and ‘brown’ flowers in I think S. ‘Purple Emperor’

Two varieties (one is S. Matrona) mixed with Miscanthus and ground cover Verbena in the LHB.

You Can Tell It’s Autumn When…..

When it rains everyone begins to start counting the days until there should be Funghi (wild mushrooms to pick.  Unless the wind swings round to the north or it suddenly gets very hot ten days after a good downpour the woods and hills are filled with people with baskets. They are up at the crack of dawn; there is a lot of competition!

Foraging for food is still a very common practice in this part of Italy – very soon it will be chestnuts when it is dangerous driving on the roads for the number of food hunters bent over collecting the chestnuts that have fallen from the trees onto the public road and therefore available for harvesting by anyone who is brave enough to share the road with the speeding cars.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to dinner by friends who had just returned from a successful morning’s collecting.

We had raw porcini (ceps or penny bun or its Latin name is Boletus edulis) and raw ovoli (Amanita caesarea – Cesear’s  mushroom to as an antipasto.  Sorry, no image of this; it was eaten too quickly!

Followed by a fried Parasol Macrolepiota procera.

Parasol, Macrolepiota procera

The main dish was roasted potatoes with the caps of the enormous porcini cooked on top so that all the delicious flavours dripped down onto the absorbent potatoes.  The caps were studded with a shards of garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper and the magic ingredient a sprinkle of dried fennel flowers.

The cleaned mushrooms waiting to be cooked

Mostly porcini but you can see a couple of orange capped ovoli

The classic shape of Boletus edulis, Porcino

To have a sense of scale, Lidia is holding up two of the prize specimens

A wonderful meal was rounded off with roasted chestnuts!

Thank you Lidia and Giuliano

Plant of the Day Garlic Chives

Now that the rain has begun to fall and temperatures have fallen; many plants that usually bloom earlier are beginning to flower now.  Today Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum are displaying their starry white flowers.  I like to use the leaves on potato salad in place of ordinary chives.  I would probably grow them just for their pretty flowers, brightening up an angle of the garden.

Allium tuberosum

Allium tuberosum, like little stars