Garden Frolics

After a festival weekend a couple of weeks ago, last weekend I had garden centred frolic. The community garden I belong to has a couple of open afternoons a year where we all bake a few cakes, open the garden to the public and invite them to have a cup of tea and a slice for a small donation. We have a tom bola and sometimes a raffle to add to the jollity and usually we get a good turnout which boosts our funds to pay for any new equipment and materials we might need.

Last weekend as it was men’s finals at Wimbledon on the Sunday we made it an open morning so as not to clash. The weather was perfect and all available umbrellas and gazebo’s from member’s gardens were brought into service. I donated a couple of copies of ‘Androula’s Kitchen’ for the tombola and made my version of Revani that’s written in the cake section, for the cake stall.  My good friend Gill of Paisley Pedlar fame has raved about this cake often and seems to find any excuse to make it, in fact she bought a new oven recently and the first thing she baked in it was Revani tis Sonia now that’s dedication! I also made some fig slices, I was looking for a very quick recipe using dates and found one online but realised I only had figs in my cupboard so these were duly substituted and I have to say they were a winner.

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The copies of the book were duly signed for the lucky winners. If you want a chance to win a copy, a lucky draw is ongoing at the moment on the Eugreeka website http://www.eugreeka.com/cyprus-on-a-plate it’s open to any one until 18th July and the winner will be announced in the newsletter out on the 19th July.

The same weekend, one of the member’s had a milestone birthday, it seems to be the year for them , and invited a few of our members to a birthday bash in her garden, and very lovely it was too.

I love it when the weather is lovely down at the garden and at the moment it is thriving and we are busy harvesting soft fruits, broad beans, spinach and chard, cauliflowers and cabbages, as well as digging up shallots, onions and garlic to dry off for storing. We also have masses of salad stuff on the go. I was recently delighted to find a community garden has been set up on the outskirts of Lefkosia in Kaimakli and it has been founded on the same principles as our own Tangmere garden: community and friendship and learning how to grow your own good food to live healthily.http://collectivebahce.wordpress.com/the-community-garden/

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Nicos in the Garden

The man Himself

Recently I read an article  by Jill Campbell Mackay on The Red Cactus Post called ‘Perfection in Polis’ which was a review of The Old Town restaurant. This brought back memories of the first time I set foot in this restaurant.

Nicos’ Garden

In 1989 I went to Cyprus with several members of my family to scatter my dear mum’s ashes from Troodos as was her wish and as we were based in nearby Prodromi, we visited The Old Town many times. My cousin Nicos was the proprietor at that time and the cooking was fabulous. Most of the work on the building and the garden he had done himself. There were many secluded spots outside where you could tuck yourself in a corner and hide away from the rest of the diners. It had a couple of levels which were divided by stone walls and of course bushes and foliage. I was very impressed with how well he had done the work and how creatively he had designed it.

Mythical Man

I discovered later, when visiting his home, that he was indeed  an artist in stone. His garden is a delight and is retained on the boundaries, by many beautifully made stone walls, some of them dry stone, with features of carving dotted about, as well as larger carvings he has worked on or are works in progress. On a more recent visit, a few years ago I discovered he had laid a whole area with stone mosaic paving, depicting some mythical story, sadly I did not understand what the story was as my Greek wasn’t quite up to the task. Indeed his garden is turning into an art exhibit.

Nicos’ Garden

Even more recently as readers of this blog will know, I returned to Cyprus to attend a wedding and it was Nicos’ daughter who was getting married. The second celebration was held in the Old Town Restaurant, now under different management but the magic of the garden was the same.  It was a pleasure to visit these surroundings again in such fitting and  romantic circumstances.

The bride and her mum

Serendipity

I’ve just come back from a wander up to the community garden to take a few photos. Our resident phab photographer, Lois,  is on her holidays at the moment in Normandy. I write a blog for our garden as well as Androula’s Kitchen duties and  I needed a few illustrative shots for this weeks bit of banter.

Not much of a chore to be honest, as it’s a beautiful day, big puffy clouds sailing in the sky and warm.

As I was approaching the garden I bumped into some old customers of mine from my furniture decorating/restoration days. A surprise, as I usually bump into them in Waitrose in Chichester, for some bizarre  reason it seems a bit of a Bermuda triangle in there as I often meet people I haven’t seen for ages, usually old customers. Unusually I hadn’t seen Barbara and Nigel for some time. They were walking their dogs.

Waitrose

Waitrose (Photo credit: several_bees)

I started telling Barbara about “AK-COP”  as I might start to call it. Don’t you hate the way acronyms seem to be creeping in everywhere? Useful I know but if you’re not in the know, you haven’t a clue what people are talking about, it’s almost getting to the point where you need some sort of dictionary to unravel the mystery. Of course this one is easy as it stands for “Androula’s Kitchen- Cyprus on a Plate”. Anyway, Barbara is always so encouraging  and came up with some marvellous ideas for  marketing and publicising the book when I get into print. This last couple of weeks has seen a glimmer of light at the end of that particular tunnel and a window of opportunity to boot so this might not be too far away.

Serendipity is a wonderful thing and I love these moments of meeting someone or reading something that provides just the right snippet of information that you need at that time. Ain’t life marvellous!!!

 

Here’s a few photos from the garden.

 

 

Lovely Leeks

Leeks for sale

Image via Wikipedia

I recently joined a community garden in the village where I live which unlike its name suggests doesn’t grow flowers but is given over to growing all kinds of fruit and veg. I don’t consider myself a skilful gardener at all, I’m a sort of common sense gardener. My dad had an allotment for many years and he was always after some help usually to do weeding  and I was very reluctant to venture down there. But when I did I was always enthralled as on a small plot he seemed to grow everything. Typical Cypriot style.  He had all kinds of soft fruits and strawberries as well as sweetcorn, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and so on. In his greenhouse he grew tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers and aubergines. In true allotment style the shed was made of discarded  doors and windows and the same with the cold frame.

Our community garden on the other hand seems more sedate, but the shed is an old railway carriage so quite traditional. We have a very large poly-tunnel in which there is a jungle of tomatoes and cucumbers reaching for the sky at the moment as well as peppers both green and red and some dinky little aubergines. It’s a pleasant place to be when it’s windy outside.

Today I planted out my first lot of leeks. I love leeks and have not got the space in my garden to grow them so I was delighted to see someone had sown the leek seeds in March and now they are ready to plant on. Some were fairly large already and the roots had all tangled together. I managed to untangle them by gently pulling them apart; they reminded me of a young girl’s long hair after washing. I had prepared myself  by checking out Monty Don’s very helpful video on how to plant out leeks. So I raked over the soil to get rid of the stones and dib dib dibbed with my dibber . The rows were a bit wonky at first but I improved. Now all I hope is they will thrive otherwise that will be my head on the block…..

I have got some lovely courgettes growing in my front garden this year. You might think that’s an odd place to put them but it is the only place I have space and it gets the sun nearly all day so they love it. Courgettes are also very decorative  with their huge fan like leaves  and magnificent yellow cup flowers. They taste delicious as well.

Garden of Delights

I feel  complete content standing in my garden, the sun shining and  the breeze  rustling the leaves and flowers, the birds singing. April and May are my perfect months in my garden as all the blooming happens then. The daffodils

of course are first up in March or sometimes even February, bringing that lovely cheerful golden yellow to cheer us on after  barren, dark months of winter, promising life and light to come along with the hellibore bearing the soothing pale lime green floral abundance.  Hiding beneath this green glory are the shyer pale purple and green ones, their heads always bent in modesty but when you lift up their heads their perfect beauty takes your breath away.. In January looking out of the window at the brown earth and naked twigs and branches, it is hard to believe that in a brief two or three months a dense mass of varying shades of green will take its place.

Sweet cicely is first, it seems overnight its ferny mass shoots up and fans of delicate cream flowers stand tall amongst it’s green frothy cushion. The ornamental cherry then puts on a magnificent show of dark pink blossoms that makes your heart sing for joy at its beauty.  The day lily leaves all shoot up like arrows along with the flag iris; every year these promise to put on a good show of flowers the buds thickening and bulging under their fine wrapper of petal, I wait in anticipation for the first flower to throw off its cover in a dah dah moment, and then, overnight, the dreaded slug strikes biting into the stem just under the buds, leaving them with no channel of nourishment. This year however, as the weather has been exceptionally dry the pesky slugs and snails have retreated to moister climes and the flags are flying in their purple glory.

The aquilegia flowers  shoot up from their clover like leaves, white, aubergine, purple, blues and pinks every one different ,my favourite has a white ruff around a blue base and nods like a lantern.  One day I’m watching the peony break through the earth alongside the spear shaped heads of the Solomon seal, ten days later the peony buds are opening to reveal their voluptuous cerise lushness, soon to be blowsy, the green edged trumpet flowers of the Solomon seal neatly arranged in pairs along their delicate stems , nodding gently over them, with a mass of lime green euphorbia flowers spread underneath.

Everything is in a rush to show off its finery, each one vying for your attention, look at me, over here, the bees having a feast. Even without the rain everything is lush and cool. Yet to come are the burning orange of the day lily, the wonderful scents of honeysuckle, jasmine and apothecary rose and the jolly yellow saucer shaped flowers of hypericum not forgetting the calming scent and soothing blue of lavender. Such a garden of delights.