It’s time to tackle the pond…

I saved the clearing of the pond until last. Partly because I knew it would be a major job but also because I am a little scared of… poisonous snakes… and my neighbour keeps warning me about them (despite the farmer’s wife in the nearby village laughing at such a ridiculous idea). It is fair to say that I’m not taking any chances!

When I first arrived at the house the site contained a concrete ornamental pond with a make-shift wire fence around it to keep dogs out. There was one large Laurel in the corner by a side gate, a few Yukka plants and a Hazelnut tree. Over the years, English Ivy, Virginia Creeper and brambles had overtaken virtually everything and you would be hard pushed to know what was down there! The pond itself was mostly full of decaying leaves, seven goldfish (how they are still alive I will never know) and a bunch of bullfrogs. But that was then…

Over the past three days, I have cut, cleared and dragged off what seems like hundreds of barrow loads of greenery. The site is slowly opening up to reveal a charming pond and shady area that I hope to plant up with white Calla Lilies come the spring. The gate is now accessible although I’m yet to locate the key! I will post more pictures of the finished pond once its done. SCH

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A rustic summer lunch: courgette fritters

Last week I cooked lunch for friends who are vegetarians and finally got to try out Nigella Lawson’s recipe for courgette fritters (Forever Summer cookbook) as well as use up a pile of courgettes I had grown in the garden.

It’s a simple and yummy recipe that goes well with a green salad, a wedge or two of lime and a baguette. It’s also a great way to incorporate fresh summer herbs and vegetables from your own garden.

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– 750 grated courgettes

– 5-6 spring onions, finely chopped

– 250g feta cheese, crumbled

– small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

– small bunch fresh mint, chopped

– 1 tbsp dried mint

– 1 tsp paprika

– 140g plain flour

– salt and pepper

– 3 eggs, beaten

– olive oil for frying

– 3-4 limes


Coarsely grate courgettes and spread on a clean tea towel to soak up excess moisture (20 mins). Put onions, feta, parsley, mint and paprika in a large bowl and mix. Add the flour and season well with salt and pepper. Gradually add eggs and mix thoroughly before adding courgettes.

Heat a tablespoon of oil and fry gently on both sides until golden brown and cooked throughout. Depending on the size of your saucepan you will need to cook the courgette patties in batches.

Chop up the limes, squeeze some juice on each and sprinkle a little extra mint; serve on a plater with the remaining lime wedges.

Delicious… go on, give them a try! SCH

Garden update

As the heat of summer begins to fade and the first signs of autumn appear I can finally sit back and appreciate what’s been achieved in the garden these past four months.

It has been a battle (albeit a fun battle) to tame the weeds in the roundabout and in the gravel on the front drive… but I’ve finally cracked it; a mixture of brute force, hand weeding, spraying and mulching means I can finally put the iris rhizomes back. See the before and after shots below:

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Then there was the lawn which needed cutting weekly, the edges strimming, the privet hedge which looked better once nicely trimmed, roses to deadhead, containers and flower beds that needed to be weeded, as well as shrubs in need of shaping. And let’s not forget all those fruits and vegetables that needed tending (although not watering – fortunately).

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The tasks were endless but the result is now worth all of the effort as I look out of the front door across the garden and into the countryside beyond.

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However, there is still one major task that I’ve been saving until last… clearing/opening out the pond area and cleaning the pond itself. But that’s for another post since it’s going to be a bit of a mission! SCH