In the Autumn, when the days become rainier and chillier, your peony shrubs are yellowing and browning, and it’s a good time to prepare them for Winter. It’s simple enough, all you need is a good pair of secateurs! Armed with those, trim your peony shrubs, cutting the stalks at their lowest. Don not discard them, though. Arrange the stalks and leaves on top of the trimmed shrubs, to provide a warm and comfortable blanket for the cold days -do not use mulch, peonies hate mulch! And that’s about it.
Then, when Springtime comes…
Your shrubs will regrow.
And you’ll have these gorgeously scented, stunning flowers with their vibrant green foliage well into the Summer, to enjoy in the garden…
The rose tree in our front garden is consistently blooming from mid-March till late October, which is lovely, especially when the weather is grey and wet, like today. As we’re going to have more and more of these days, I’ve collected the beautiful and rather large rose hips it has grown, and made this fragrant
Rosehip Syrup. Now, even when it the shrub stops flowering, I can have a reminder of its sweet smell, in a drink or a cocktail!
Ingredients (makes about 250 millilitres/1 cup):
5-6 large freshly cut rose hips
2 cups water
4 tablespoons caster sugar
Thoroughly rinse rose hips under cold water. Halve them with a sharp knife, and place them in a small saucepan. cover with water. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat.
Once boiling, reduce heat to medium, and continue simmering 35 to 40 minutes, until rosehip halves are tender and liquid about reduced by half. Remove from the heat and mash rosehip halves with a potato masher, to release all their flavour and the pips. Then, strain through a fine mesh sieve, into a small bowl, to get rid of the skins and pips and most of the small hairs, that can be irritating. Throw skins and pips into the compost.
Clean saucepan. Then, strain rosehip mixture into the saucpan through a cheesecloth or coffee filter, to make sure no small hairs remain. Stir in caster sugar, and bring back to the boil over medium-high heat. Boil rapidly, a couple of minutes, until slightly thickening.
Pour hot Rosehip Syrup into a sterelised glass bottle, and close tightly.
I’ve made this
Distilled Geranium Water, particularly good for combination to oily skins, with the flowers of the geraniums I’ve grown and tended to for a couple of years, and I’m quite happy with its scent and its soothing effect.
Ingredients (makes about 500 millilitres/2 cups):
2 cups geranium flowers* (a mix of fresh and dried flowers)
1.5 litre/6 cups filtered water
a few dozen ice cubes
1 ½ teaspoon Leucidal (natural preservative, made from radish root)
Rinse geranium flowers and placeinto a large, deep, low (preferably enamel) pot. Place a metal or heat-proof glass bowl or dish in the centre of the pot. Pour filtered water over the geranium flowers, and cover with a large well-fitting lid.
Place pot on the stove, and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, you can carefully upturn the lid, and fill it with ice cubes, to help condensation form. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, about half an hour. Once the ice cubes have melted, scoop out the water, and place new ice cubes.
Remove from the heat, and let cool completely.
Remove the lid, and remove metal or glass bowl from the pot. You should have about 1 cup liquid. Stir in Leucidal, and pour Distilled Geranium Water into a (sterelised) glass bottle and use within four to five months, keeping it in the refrigerator.