Delicious, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration

Rose Geranium Syrup

My latest recipe making use of the garden….

A delicious syrup made from the aromatic leaves of rose geraniums. I love my rose geranium and can’t resist giving it a rub whenever I sit near it – I have located it by the garden table so it is always to hand. It smells of turkish delight – and actually the essential oil drawn from it is used to give a rose flavour. This recipe is more simple and quite immediate.

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This syrup is very sweet and therefore works well with fruit that has a bit of tartness to it like raspberries for example. My Autumn raspberries have just started producing so I married it with them and some meringue.

 

I got this recipe from Gillon Meller from River Cottage

Simply dissolve 200g of caster sugar in 200ml of water in a heavy based saucepan and simmer for a few minutes. Pour this into a kilner jar, add 8 rose geranium leaves and leave to cool & infuse.

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These leaves will go brown so replace them with fresh ones when it has cooled down. If stored in the fridge, this syrup will last well. 

I drizzled it over raspberries and left them for an hour. and mixed a little more with some creme fraiche and served it with crushed meringue….delicious yet not too naughty.

My small but fruitful garden keeps giving.

 

 

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DIY, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Interior Style

Making an Entrance 1

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I am lucky enough to be a volunteer gardener at the world renowned Mount Usher Gardens (or maybe they are lucky to have me and my sunny disposition, I don’t know). I work alongside the Head Gardener Sean with Minnow & Max (his two jack russels) in tow. Then there is Emma, Graeme, Noel and Si each with their own talent & passions that they dedicate the Gardens. It is hard to believe such a small number of people are caretakers to such an expanse of stunning natural beauty.

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Anyhow I will write about the gardens themselves and all their glory in a separate post, today I want to write about our new entrance in to the gardens. Some industrial buildings have been lying empty for the past few years – commercial space that had become unused since the ‘downturn’.  It was a sorry blot on the beautiful landscape of the courtyard at Mount Usher which is tended to by Sean and his team. Here we have the garden restaurant, and the fantastic garden shop – which is where I buy all my plants and pots and any gifts I am ever buying for people – I could not do without it, there is also a handy Avoca deli for artisan foodstuffs and Strawbridges which is great for home  items,  especially good for tablecloths as well as furniture. I digress… up to now the entrance to the finest example of William Robinson’s way of gardening was a small (but beautifully simple) gate. Now Avoca have cleverly incorporated that empty building so it has become a more befitting entry to the gardens that lay ahead – with a nod to the history of the gardens

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Ros, Avoca’s talented and tireless stylist has created an airy space with museum style cabinets full of historical paraphernalia to peruse, including a lovely tribute to head gardeners past and present….

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They have also made use of the existing stove and added some apt decorative touches throughout …

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We are enticed to enter the gardens with style –  with the use of paint colours that sit so beautifully with the greens of nature,  simple wainscotting and recycled windows…

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Old fashioned …in a good way…. well worth a visit.

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Lifestyle

A grand day out

I have been planning to make a visit to Burtown House & Gardens near Athy in County Kildare since it opened last year. Myself and some of my family finally made it there this weekend, in glorious weather.

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I was surprised to note that the gardens, based in the midlands, were a couple of weeks ahead of mine here on the coast. They are so lovely –  informal with a backdrop of stunning views of surrounding countryside.

The tulips were coming to an end but the paeonies were coming out and in the woodland areas the bluebells and cadleabra primulas were in full swing.

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The house sits so beautifully in its setting

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some more pics of the gardens…..

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Burtown House is family home to the Fennells, there are two of the family members whose work I have long admired. Wendy Walsh who is now 99 years old is a renowned botanical painter and her grandson James Fennell is the talented photographer behind the fabulous Vanishing Ireland series of books, his speciality being Interiors photography and portraiture.

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When not travelling around the country capturing the people of our Island in their humble abodes, he can be found behind the counter in the charming courtyard cafe at the side of the house. Copies of his books can be perused while enjoying your cup of coffee and homemade cake.

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We were lucky enough to be able to enjoy our hot chocolates in the sunshine listening to Fats Waller  – fine chillax after our strenuous strolling around the grounds ….. you know how it is.

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Our visit was made complete by nipping in to the adjacent gallery space – at the moment housing a collection of Wendy Walsh’s stunning paintings and sketches,

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.. together with some beautiful enlarged shots from the vanishing Ireland series. James tells me there are plans afoot for an audio visual exhibition where at the push of a button we will be able to hear the recordings made of the people in all his photos telling their stories.

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James’s ongoing project, together with historian Turtle Bunbury is, I feel, such an important gift to us as a Nation. They have literally been travelling the length and breadth of the country recording the musings and memories of our people in their own environment, and even more fascinating for me, James has photographed their homes as they sit, many of them by their fireside or in their place of work, where they are at their most comfortable to spill their lifes stories and observations and lessons learnt. In his photographs we can see a glimpse of their surroundings, mantlepieces with decorated sills and collected mementos on display, often a sacred heart statue on the wall and the all important dresser with pieces handed down and held precious through generations.

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image: ‘George Thomas with the kettle on’ in County Wicklow by James Fennell

for more about the House or the books, see:

http://burtownhouse.ie/home/

http://jamesfennell.com

http://www.turtlebunbury.com

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DIY, Floral & Gardens, Interior Style

First Impressions

I have been planning for ages to paint my front door and rid it of the sticky green gloss that it has been since I moved in. It was dark, dank and didn’t make the most of the nice panelling and the style of the door (although in an ideal world it would be a stable door – and don’t think I haven’t considered cutting it in half). Knowing it was a bit of a job I procrastinated with the help of months and months of cold weather.

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However with a pending visit by a photographer this week, I decided it needed to be done pronto!

I have carefully chosen a colour that I know sits well with lush greens of my burgeoning shady woodland garden in the front (more about that in upcoming posts), while the fresh colour also tips its cap to the fact that we are by the sea. It is Celestial Blue by the Little Greene Paint Company  – a lovely heritage paint, very eco friendly and importantly for me, low in sheen.

And here is the result

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A lot more welcoming now don’t you think

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I was very thorough and I removed & replaced my beloved metal postbox….

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and painted my quirky kitchen window too

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bish bash bosh

I am just waiting for my scallop shaped door knocker to go up for that extra bit of seasidey-ness.

postscript

….Annd here it is!

doorKnocker

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