GBHD – Eating and harvesting at the beginning of December

I mentioned picking the main heads of broccoli, well already many of the plants have large secondary heads; one plant has so many there is more to eat from the secondary florets than there was from the first main head!  I love broccoli cooked in many different ways: just plain with a little new oil drizzled over, cooked then refreshed and then recooked in oil flavoured with chilli and garlic, roasted in the oven with coriander and garlic and, perhaps my favourite, cooked then used to make pasta sauce along with anchovies, garlic and chilli – this is a speciality of Puglia (Apulia).  Risotto with broccoli is also a warming winter dish.  Last week when I picked all the secondary heads that were ready there was enough to make risotto, pasta sauce and two portions just eaten as a vegetable.

A few fresh dwarf green beans - a treat at the end of November

A few fresh dwarf green beans – a treat at the end of November


I’ve never had such large secondary heads on broccoli before.


Colourful chard is giving a good crop and amazingly I picked fresh dwarf green beans from the last sowing outside, they are slow to grow now but taste very good.

Strawberries continue to give us a couple of bowlfuls a week, such a treat at this time of year.  I made juice with the pomegranates, there weren’t so many this year and they were small so not enough to make jelly as I had intended, but the juice was delicious.

Last weekend was cold, a time to be in the warm kitchen and cooking.  With some leeks, carrots and celery plus frozen Barlotti beans I made a hearty soup, served drizzled with our oil it was perfect to warm us in what is now definitely winter.

I also decided to make some jams and jellies with fruit I’d stored in the freezer during the summer.  Raspberry jam and Blackberry jelly (actually from fruit from 2011)

Blackberry jelly, just beginning to boil

Blackberry jelly, just beginning to boil

and strawberry jam, crab apple mint jelly and (something I’ve never made before) green pepper and chilly jelly; there is one red and one yellow pepper but the rest are all green and I don’t think there is much chance of them ripening, hence the idea of making the jelly.

Green peppers ready to be added to the food processor along with green chillies

Green peppers ready to be added to the food processor along with green chillies

I can post any of the above recipes if anyone would like them.

There are a few aubergines, enough for one last meal but then the plants will be pulled out and added to the compost heap along with the basil plants that have lost all their leaves.

I’ve already used all my onions from this summer so I’ll have to grow more next year.  I’ve already planted some garlic and bought some red and yellow onion sets plus some shallots, I think now that the weather seems to be getting cold, I’ll wait and plant all the sets in February or early March.

While I was buying some new gardening gloves I saw that they were selling asparagus crowns, so I was tempted into giving them a try.  They weren’t a named variety and I’ve no idea if they are male or female, I will have to wait to see if they are worth the space they will take up.  I’m trying to work out how I might have space for some more beds – there is an area that is part of the property but outside the fence.  I is a bit of a slope so will need to be terraced I think.  It maybe too much work to be able to develop this space but it is hard knowing the space is there but I can’t use it.

Thanks to Christine and Barbie for hosting GBHD; they have late spring and summer crops now, so that will be a contrast to the wintery veg from the northern hemisphere.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day October 2011

Welcome to the second GBFD!  I’m hoping to see some wonderful autumn colour from some posts; here in Italy, although we’ve had some rain and coldish winds for a week, the garden, in many ways, looks more like Spring than autumn.  Our autumn colour usually begins mid-November and is often very short-lived.  So I’m depending on you to share the colour around you with me.

I’d also like to thank everyone who joined in or left comments last month; there were some fascinating posts all with great images, this month should be even better with autumn (fall) beginning to give some beautiful colours in the northern hemisphere and spring just commencing in the southern hemisphere.

I have the feeling that the garden thinks it’s spring; is not just the number of plants blooming, and I have to say that there are now more than there were a week ago for GBBD; no, it is more the new foliage on everything from the red new foliage of the roses, to the fresh bright green of the Arbutus, to the peachy hues of Nandino.

I love this huge mas of Thyme with holly behind

Having said that there are a lot of flowers in the garden, it is the foliage that is predominant.  Maybe the blooms are smaller now or fewer per plant but whatever it is, the foliage sings out.  Looking from the drive across the upper drive bed to the large island the variety of different greens and not only greens of the leaves is like a tapestry or an embroidery blending together to give the garden a harmonious feeling.

New 'spring' growth on the Nandino

I never remember the name of this self seeding annual gem.

I was given a specimen of the above plant last year, during summer it is a bright vibrant green; it needs little water even though it looks as if it would be very thirsty.  In autumn the leaves turn first pink, then crimson, the flowers are the same colour as the foliage so maybe I’m cheating including this in a foliage post, but it looks much more like foliage than flowers so I’m including it.  I will try to check on the name and add it when I can.

Stipa tenuissima on the bank always gives me pleasure

At last this wonderfully lace-like Albizia 'Chocolate' is beginning to grow

I bought Albizia ‘Chocolate in September 2009; it only just survived the cold winter last year and until the last couple of months has hardly grown at all.  Suddenly it has begun to put on some healthy looking growth so I’m crossing everything hoping that at last it has its roots down and will grow into a small shrub and to take its part in the silver and purple combination I’m trying to achieve in the large island bed – all with plants that need no irrigation!

Most of the lavender has put on lots of new grow after being heavily pruned in early August.  It does sometimes grow back from old wood.  The colour and form is just right as we go into autumn and winter.

Box, lavender and the view to the fig tree with its tinsel bird frighteners

All the grasses are looking at their best, but I’m not going to include them here as it is their flowers, even if they don’t seem like flowers that are the attraction at the moment.  You can see them in the background of many of the photographs.  I have been surprised that Penisetum villosum continues to produce flowers into the autumn, there was a moment in mid-summer when I thought they were finishing.

Beautiful and also delicious fennel

Doesn't broccoli have amazing blue foliage?

When I was wandering around the garden I noticed that the leaves in the vegetable garden were putting on quite a show.  Bright green, feathery Florence fennel and the almost blue or jade colour of broccoli foliage help make the vegetable garden pretty as well as productive.

Click on the image below to see more foliage from My Hesperides Garden.

Looking across the large island bed to the greenhouse

I hope you will join in with your own foliage, either just one stunning leaf or a review of how foliage works for you in your garden, please leave a comment and the link to your post.