Monday, 2 June 2014

Here comes Summer

The end of May was rather dismal here in North Yorkshire. Usually our favourite month of the year with brighter skies, better natural light for working in the Studio and the excited anticipation of the blossoming of the garden. But this May the rain clouds seem to gather over our heads too often for comfort and we unfortunately discovered the soak away from the back of our house ends in the bottom of one of our newly dug and planted flower beds. After watching this area fill up to pool like proportions we are having to re-think the planting there. Thankfully we decided not to plant the Iceberg climbing rose straight into the ground. Instead Gary constructed a 'Versailles' style box planter from off cuts of wood and painted it in the 'Wild Thyme' garden paint we so love. The rose seems to be enjoying it's raised new home and has rewarded us with it's first flower, this looks especially lovely at dusk when it illuminates that end of the garden.

Iceberg Rose in it's new home

As the end of last week was so soggy, Gary holed himself into the studio to photograph a couple of new linocut prints ready for release while I decided that it was a good opportunity to get on with those jobs that never seem to make it to the top of the 'to do' list. So the freezer was switched off and allowed to defrost. This lead to those freezer discoveries, strange plastic boxes and unlabelled bags of long forgotten things. I found a number of bags of damsons, scrumped off a friends tree last Autumn. As Gary, (aka the Squirrel for his tree climbing exploits), doesn't mind scaling the top most branches of the tree we get to keep what we pick from those dizzy heights. The jam pan stayed on the shelf in the pantry as I have recently discovered the slow cooker is great for making jams without all the 'hubble and bubble' of the jam pan. I simply put the fruit in first, set the slow cooker to high and let the fruit bubble away gently for a few hours. Then the sugar is added, stirred in for a couple of minutes and then the glorious deep, dark purple mix is left to 'plop' away to itself until the required set is reached. I find it much easier to fish for stones and the slower process means the fruit stays more intact leading to luscious lumps of damson in the finished jam. Of course just one other thing is required when a newly made batch of jam is sat on the kitchen counter in it's motley assortment of jam jars and that's a freshly baked loaf of bread, preferably a tasty wholemeal.

One slice or two?

Jobs for this week include stringing up the two packs of garden solar lights around the newly built arbor and archway in the garden divide, can't wait for dusk! Other garden jobs to be finished without delay include planting up the strawberry table and finish planting all the tomato plants in the greenhouse. 

The Studio - which had a major tidy up last week - will see another print emerging from Gary, this one will be his first venture into a wintry landscape. While I am working on my own lino print and my passion for gardening cannot be ignored. Gary has challenged me to make it using the reduction method, thankfully he is on hand to give me his wealth of knowledge of the medium.

New Print - Schnauzer - already drawing lots of attention in our online shops

Second new Dog Print - wide eyed Beagle

'May and June. Soft syllables, gentle names for the two best months in the garden year; cool, misty mornings gently burned away with a warming spring sun, followed by breezy afternoons and chilly nights. The discussion of philosophy is over; it's time for work to begin'
Peter Loewer


  1. Hello, I came to see your blog, from the Folksy Talk forum.
    I love your dog prints! So glad you posted about them on Folksy Talk, so I got the chance to "discover" your shop and your lovely work!
    Nice to read about gardens, jam and printmaking all in the same post - I like all those things, so I'm happy!
    The jam-making in a slow-cooker is a brilliant idea. I will try this when our plums are ripe, as my cooker is evil and will not let the jam boil - it keeps turning itself down when a certain temperature is reached (not high enough for jam or sweetie-making)...My only jam-making attempt since we moved here was a nightmare - grrr!
    Nice to find your blog - I will add it to my "reader" in the hopes of not forgetting to visit again!

  2. Hi, I've just been admiring your purry prints and beautiful rose. We also pick the wild damsons and make jam with them. My favourite is the yellow damson jam as it tastes like apricot. Best wishes, Pj x

  3. You remind me that perhaps instead of making art today (or at least most of it!) that I should venture into that dreaded refrigerator and see what mysterious things are germinating into something completely new and probably quite frightening!