Weekend Reading and out in the garden

18 June 2021
I've had a good break away from the computer and enjoyed the two weeks Tricia was here. Spending time with close relatives or friends is always a valuable thing to do. Tricia brought plants from her garden so we planted out Euphorbia, Lupin and Penstemon cuttings and lots of seeds.  I've taken cuttings from some of my roses and they're growing good shoots now and although I planted a few vegetables, including turnips, a night visitors enjoyed half the seedlings the first night they were in the garden.  Funnily enough, the other half are still happily growing.

Above: the pecan tree is yellowing and dropping leaves, it will be green again in September/October. To the left of it is a native fig tree. All birds love this and fly in daily to feast on the tiny fruits.


Here is the elder tree chopped back to the bone. You can't do this kind of pruning to most plants but this elder is as tough as old boots. It's currently growing about 2 - 3 inches a day and will be back in action in a couple of months, and much healthier for the pruning.
Below: one of the yellow passionfruit cut back after a year of prolific growth and many buckets of fruit. It's about a metre high now and will cover the trellis again, shading our bedroom wall, by summer.


The orange tree returned to its full glory this year after being devastated by night moths last year. We have three orange trees - two Washington navels and late season orange called Lane's Late; two Eureka lemon trees; one elderberry, which was cut right back and is now putting on strong growth; one pecan; a loquat and two yellow passionfruit vines, also cut back and regrowing well.


Above: fragrant stock, a favourite of mine and below, Cleome - four Queens Mix.


I'm having such a lovely time at the moment. All cleaning and home maintenance work is up to date, the weather is superb, I have a garden that needs my help every day, I have a couple of books waiting to be read and plenty of sewing to do. I don't need more than that to make me feel satisfied and happy.


This is the only rush hour we have here - the chooks racing each other to get out of the coop in the morning. Now, in winter, they want to be the first to find any native figs that have dropped overnight.

I promised the recipe for the plum cake so here it is. I bought Sophie Hansen's book In Good Company recently and have baked her Visitors Cake several times since. It's similar to the old pound cake and can be made plain and simple as a morning tea cake or enriched with dried fruit, apples, apricots, nuts, coffee or chocolate to make it an ideal visitors cake. This time I added plums. And for all the chook owners out there, it's a good recipe when you want to use up four eggs, or use up 12 by baking three cakes and freezing two.  It would freeze very well.


SOPHIE HANSEN'S VISITORS CAKE - with plums
  • 1 cup (250 g) butter, softened 
  • 250 g (9 oz) caster sugar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 4 eggs
  • 1⅔  cups (250 g) self-raising flour 
  • 6 fresh plums cut in half or ¾ of a can of plums
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease a 20 cm (8 inch) spring-form tin. 

Add butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream it with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour. Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for about 35 minutes. 

The cake is ready when it smells cooked and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let it cool in the tin for about five minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.


Bidens growing near my tiny solar fountain. We still have a lot of nut grass. Has anyone had success in removing it? I'd love to know your secret.

I hope you're safe and secure and enjoying life. Thank you for being here today, say hello in the comments so I know you're still around, or you're a new visitor. 

💚 💜 💚

WEEKEND READING

My favourite webcam started up again - Katmai Alaska Bear Cam, live
Curiosity du Jour: The Talking Victorian Bouquet
Ageing process is unstoppable, finds unprecedented study

41 comments

  1. So lovely to have you back on your blog. Isn't the stock beautiful! Green and pink is a favourite combination of mine and the rich musky scent of stock.

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    1. Yes, stocks are a real favourite of mine. They look and smell divine.

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  2. Hi Rhonda, perfect timing for your weekend reading for me...I have this nasty bronchitis that is doing the rounds, it's knocked me for six and I'm now off work and ordered to rest by the doctor, my husband, my kids, my neighbour and colleague's at work! I'm not naturally a rester so I tried to push through and it's bit me on the bum now! So I have a nice pile of books, your weekend reading, some knitting and maybe a little gentle gardening to keep me occupied.

    Oh and as for nut grass, no idea how to get rid of it but if you find a solution please share it, we have heaps!

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    1. I hope you're feeling better soon. A rest might do you some good. :- )

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  3. Hi Rhonda

    The link to the satay skewers is not working. Beautiful lighting on your pecan trees. Have a great week. Kathy A, Brisbane

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  4. All your plants look so healthy and vibrant. That is good to know about elderberry coping with heavy prunes - I have one looking very shabby but was a bit nervous about cutting it back to bare branches. I have Sophie Hansen's first book and her triple ginger loaf is one I keep coming back to (being a ginger lover). It sounds like you have more than enough going on in your life and all very rewarding things too! Take care and enjoy your weekend!

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    1. If you have frosts, leave the pruning until it's a bit warmer. But overall, elderberry trees are almost indestructible.

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  5. Hi Rhonda, You sound upbeat and happy. Your flowers look amazing. Gardening is so rewarding. It sounds like you had a wonderful visit with Tricia. I just harvested apricots and rhubarb. Glad to hear your citrus has recovered. Mine are loaded with small, green fruits. I think the compost tea and thick layer of straw mulch helped them to produce more this year.

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    1. Hello Stephenie, I am happy. The work I am doing is the work I love and there are no deadlines nor hours sitting at the computer. Heaven. I would LOVE to grow apricots. You're right about the compost tea and mulch. Every bit of extra nutrition and mulch you give to citrus pays you back ten-fold. xx

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  6. Hello Rhonda, I'm still here ... I'm happy to see you again on your blog. You make me wanna do this pound cake. A few years ago, I bought some for my husband's breakfast, but I stopped when I made one myself.... much better than the one in the store...
    Here in France, we are entering summer,we had very hot days, and now, we have thunderstorms and rain.
    Our government has announced the end of the curfew (?I don't know if we say live that in English ?...) and we no longer have to wear the mask outside ! We find a little freedom !
    Have a great week .

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    1. Good to see you again patdub. Homemade pound cake is is always good. Yes, curfew is correct. I'm so pleased you're not wearing masks and have more freedom now. May it last forever. xx

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  7. That article about Fred is wonderful!

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  8. Good to see you back, Rhonda. I was just thinking I hadn't seen your blog lately, but I forgot you were going to spend time with your sister.

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  9. Your garden is impressively productive Rhonda - and such exotic fruits. We just have apples, pears. plums, red/blackcurrents and blueberry bushes. In the greenhouse, I get a decent crop of figs if I´m lucky and now I´ve bought a dwarf peach tree - tempting fate. We are keeping an eye on our elderberry tree. Soon the flowers will be ready and we can make cordial to last us the year. It´s always a race between the aphids and us.

    Another Friday, another weekend. I find it amazing that time flies past so fast. Next Saturday is Midsummer Eve which is second only to Christmas in Sweden.

    Enjoy your peaceful weekend!

    Ramona

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    1. A dwarf peach. I hope it pays it way with you. And you reminded me we have blueberries too, I tip pruned them last week. Enjoy your Midsummer Eve. I'll have to look what the traditions are in the book you sent me. I'm sure there'll be sometime fabulous. Love, Rhonda xx

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  10. Such growing happiness on your homestead, Rhonda! I love it all... and the delicious-sounding recipe too. If I may so humbly suggest... if you cut back a tree, as you have done with your elder tree, be sure to paint some pruning sealer tar on the freshly exposed ends of the trunks, so that bugs don't infest the tree and kill it or cause it to become diseased. The fresh wood of the exposed ends are a dinner invitation for all kinds of hungry critters. I do this to everything I prune or cut, if it's a sizeable end that's left.

    Have a beautiful weekend, my friend. ~Andrea xoxoxo

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    1. Andrea, we already have borers in the elder, they've been there for years but don't cause any problems. I'm waiting for a runner to come up in a suitable place to grow a new tree, then we'll cut it down.

      Enjoy your weekend. xx

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  11. Hi Rhonda,

    I'm glad you had a good break and time with your sister. I was looking at the book you've shown in my local bookshop this morning! Great suggestion about making three cakes to use up lots of eggs. I don't mind giving some away but it is wonderful to make use of them, and there is nothing better than finding cake in the freezer!

    Madeleine.X

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  12. What a beautiful post ... I'm already happy but reading that has made me smile.

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  13. Hi Rhonda
    Great to see you back and that you enjoyed your sisters visit. I love that you are relishing the simple joys of life in Australia and I am doing the same in England in a different season. Life is good and we are lucky.

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    1. Hello Penny,

      so lovely to see your comment on Rhonda's post. I have been concerned about you with the way our world has changed. So glad to read that life is good. I have missed 'catching up' with you through Fiona's blog.

      Take care and stay safe.
      Warmest regards, Maria xx.

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    2. Hi Maria
      Good to hear from you. We are all well thank you. I have been struggling with Fiona's blog because it takes an age to load and another age to comment. However you have prompted me to visit again and persevere so I can catch up with Fiona and her lovely readers again. See you there soon!

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  14. Welcome back Rhonda! It sounds like your time off has rebooted you into a very happy place and that is lovely to see. Lots of good articles! The textile recycling advance is really encouraging - I hope it scales up quickly and makes its way around the world. I also loved the article about Fred. It has me wondering if I need to develop a set of challenges for the third quarter of life for myself. I think the combination of retirement, the pandemic and being not too far from 70 has left me feeling somewhat timid, which is not my usual mindset. Thanks for the food for thought! Beth in MN

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    1. I think having your own set of challenges for this time of life is a wonderful idea. xx

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  15. Nice to see a new post from you! I don't know if you take photo requests, but I would love to see a picture of your fountain in its entirety.

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    1. There is a photo of the fountain on 16 April - just scroll down. :- )

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  16. Lovely to have you back. I'm glad you enjoyed your break.

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  17. Hello Rhonda,

    it was so nice to see your post and weekend reading / viewing list on Friday.

    I haven't commented for a while so thought I would say hello.

    The photos of your garden and hens are lovely. In the morning our hens are always in a hurry to be let out of their sleeping quarters and they race down the ramp and out into their outdoor run.

    You have inspired me to try one last time to plant two passionfruit vines. We haven't had much success in the past. After our third attempt I decided to give up. Do you have grafted plants or were they raised from seeds? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    The plum cake is already on my to make list and I have added the Hurricane Apple Cake.

    Rhonda, I hope you don't mind me saying hello to Penny P from England via your comments section. Penny would often comment on some of the blogs I follow but I haven't seen any comments for nearly a year and I have been concerned. I was very relieved to see that she had commented on your Friday post.

    I hope you, Hanno, Gracie, your sons and their families are all safe and well. Thank you for the lovely post.

    Warmest regards, Maria xx.

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    1. Hello Maria, lovely to see you again. We always grow passionfruit with grafted plants. Yellow if you're in a warm climate, purple for colder areas. Good luck.

      I'd love for you to catch up with Penny. Go right ahead. xx

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  18. Rhonda Jean, I found the fountain picture. It is lovely! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

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  19. Good morning Rhonda, Hanno and Gracie, lovely to catch up with the garden pictures and to hear you have enjoyed precious family time. We are 'hunkered' down in the south, it's been cold, damp and stormy and my garden feels like it's having a rest, waiting for spring. The flower garden has some paperwhite jonquils and hellebores starting to flower, so it won't be long. My potted lemon is covered in fruit, so cake and slice on the menu! Have a great week.

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    1. Yes, it looks like it's been a miserable winter down there. But as we know, the sun rises everyday and soon it will bring warmth and growth to your garden. Lemons are such a great worker in the garden. You'll be having lemon slices for morning tea before you know it. xx

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  20. Hi Rhonda,
    I'm finally commenting!;)) Thanks for the weekend reading list. I look forward to it.
    Savitha

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  21. Hi Rhonda,

    So happy to see that you have returned from your well deserved break from your blog and had a wonderful time with your sister. Family time is the most important time.
    Thank you for sharing the cake recipe - it looks scrumptious and one I will have to try!

    As for the nut grass, we tend to have a fair bit here too. Unfortunately the best method we found to get rid of this pesky grass with the good old fashioned 'hand picking' method. We use a weeding tool to dig into the grass to enable us to grab out the nuts attached to the grass (if you don't get all of the nuts, they will multiply and keep growing madly). The weeding tool makes a huge difference.

    Take care,
    Dana xx

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    1. Hi Dana. I use a weeding tool and every time I do, more weeds grow. My son removed all the soil about 15 years ago, sifted it and returned it to the garden. In six months the weeds were back. I'm almost accepting it as never-ending now. I think the more you weed out, the weaker the plant gets but as soon as I water and fertilise the garden, it springs back to full strength again. 🤦

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  22. There is a chemical weedkiller called Image in the US that works well on nut grass. Very surprised to find out you nave a pecan tree. Do they grow well in your climate there? Your climate sounds similar to ours in Hawaii but I have not heard of pecans here. I always enjoy your writing, thank you.

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    1. Hi Stellamarina. We don't use weedkiller chemicals in our garden. I was hoping for an organic remedy but I doubt there is one. I don't think pecans are common here. Ours was growing well in our backyard when we bought our home in 1994. It's a great tree and thrives in the chicken yard. It gives shade in summer and nuts and sunshine in winter. Stay safe, love.

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  23. We completely eradicated nut grass at our place in the most expensive and time consuming way possible- we had all the soil with the nut grass completely removed from our back yard, dumped into a skip, and taken away. We then brought in new, uncontaminated soil to replace it. It was totally worthwhile and the nut grass has never returned.

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  24. I'm still here! I love reading about your chickens :)

    Kathy T

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