A United Nations of Tomatoes

A bowl of home grown exotic tomatoesPicking this lovely selection of tomatoes from the greenhouse it occurred to me that  the days are long gone when we just grew British varieties like Ailsa Craig and Moneymaker – here we have American Brandywine, Italian Costoluto de Fiorentino and Russian Black Krim – they all have superb flavour and will look wonderful combined in a salad.


Rosa helenae

Rosa helenae in bloom

Rosa helenae

On my recent Swedish visit I was bowled over by this wonderful species rambling rose – in Sweden it is known as the honey-rose for the very good reason that it has an intense honey scent.  Clusters of the semi-double flowers with a yellow eye smother the plant and later in the year it bears orange hips.  I’ve prowled the garden looking for somewhere I might be able to squeeze it in – so far without success – but if you have space for a once-flowering and deliciously fragrant rose, this is definitely the one.

The Blooming Fantastic Tigridia

Tigridia in bloomI sometimes wonder why I bother growing this bulb/corm – its foliage is rather unremarkable and made less so by the slugs and snails munching on it – and then one morning I go outside and find one of its extraordinary flowers and decide its worth the effort. Each flower lasts just one day and it’s not the most free-flowering of plants for me, but I glory in it while it’s there.

Our Own Apricots

a freshly picked apricot held in a hand

I wish I could say that our apricot tree provides us with a magnificent crop, but the truth of the matter is that despite the wonderful weather, the couple of pounds of fruit we picked do not really justify the space the tree takes up.  By the time that the blue tits have pecked off half the flowers (apparently they find apricot flowers particularly delicious) and the blackbirds have stabbed at the fruit long before it is fully ripe, I’m amazed that we got even that many.  Still there were a few fine specimens that we ate fresh and we salvaged some of the damaged fruit and stewed them up.  They all tasted wonderful – now I have to decide the tree’s fate – a few delicious fruit in a good year – or more growing space.  The head knows what to do, but the heart may be less rational.a bowl of apricots ready to eat

A Haunt of Swedish Artists

Distant view of Bo Pensionat
During my recent visit to the island of Oland I stayed in a characterful guesthouse called Bo Pensionat. In the early 20th century it was a favourite meeting place and residence for some of the Vickleby School of artists who valued the wonderful light of the island. There is a distinctly Bloomsbury feel about the place, although I could find no evidence that they lived quite such Bohemian lives. Some of their paintings hang on the walls of the guesthouse and leafing through books about them I was very taken by the work of one of them – Arthur Percy – who was entirely Swedish despite the name (I photographed from the book so the reproduction isn’t great). I would love to have his still lifes hanging on my walls. Bo Pensionat is delightfully shabby chic, immensely peaceful and serves delicious food.A closer look at Bo-Pensionatflower painting by Arthur Percymore flowers in a vase by Arthur Percy