Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Shades of red. And a couple of yellows.

The weather is still wild.

We've had one calm, sunny spring day in about ten. The rest have been in turn unpleasantly blustery, rainy or stormy. Two nights ago the temperature at midnight was 27 degrees celsius. Yesterday was humid and cloudy. Shortly after lunchtime a white flash lit up the sky (lightning is weird when you're not expecting it) followed by the loudest clap of thunder I have ever heard. Every dog within miles started barking. Goldie was inside, she ran over to me and then started running around the house panting. Then the heavens opened up and it rained all afternoon.

Clearly, the garden is enjoying the wild weather. The last of the camellias are fading, three in a row: a candy pink smaller flower, a large mid-crimson and a large deeper red with a kind of mottled pattern. Don't know the varieties. Similarly the two magnolias, the final flowers giving way to magnificent foliage which shades the west-facing bedroom window, just right for an afternoon siesta in the heat of the coming summer. Lookin' forward to that!

The smaller rhododendron is in flower, has been for about a week, massive crimson blooms. The larger is just coming out now, its branches reaching over the side fence and proudly showing off delicate white flowers with brilliant tinges of pink like crushed raspberries folded through pure white gelati.

And the roses! Right now you can just about stand there and watch them grow. A few blooms braved the cold a few weeks ago; but this week, dozens have appeared. One of the five bushes has a very deep red bloom, the deepest red I've seen, almost becoming a kind of sheeny, velvety black down each petal. They're the size of a large fist. I must be doing something right. There's a bunch sitting in the entry hall, they look too big for the vase.

The others are two further deep reds but with slightly paler 'hearts', a delightful pale pink, a crimson; and the odd one out, by the front door steps, a rich buttercup yellow. That could be my favourite. (No - you can't play favourites with roses.)

The self-seeding calendulas are making their annual carpet of orange beneath the roses, they grow like weeds. Every year they come back. There's a few other plants here and there.

In the back yard, the apple is blossoming white-and-pink. The miniature potted peach has already busily blossomed and is now in leaf and fruiting. It's two feet tall! The old apricot has leaves and the beginnings of fruit. The three plums are slower.

And the lemon tree: two years ago it was five feet tall and there were maybe one or two lemons. Last year, a little taller and probably two dozen. This year: I just went out and plucked fifty big yellow beauties!

Lemonade anyone?

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