Saturday, September 06, 2008

More flowers, and some large hips.

Charmless Dutch Bulb-Growing Neighbour has done a charming thing. Or rather his Thai wife has. She brought round some bulbs a couple of weeks ago, as an aid to Tom's recovery, or a pretext for enquiring after him.

'Put them on a plate, in the house, for flowers. After, put them in the garden.'

She told me a name, which I forgot. I wasn't too sure about the plate either, and thought perhaps she meant a bowl. She and the CDB-GN speak a strange form of English together, she is valiantly learning French, and poor little Marcel, their two-year old, is not quite sure what he's supposed to be speaking. He's known as 'poor little M' mostly because the name Marcel is so desperately unfashionable in France these days that whenever you mention it to anyone French they always grimace and say 'Poor little thing', or words to that effect. I can't quite think of an equivalently unfashionable boy's name in English, perhaps Cyril? Which, interestingly, is in fact quite trendy in French, as are Doris and Fanny for girls. (He is also the object of no little sympathy on account of his having CDB-GN for a father, but we're trying to get over that, and persuade ourselves of the latter's good qualities.)

But to come back to the bulbs. I compromised and put them in a shallow dish. They were very odd looking bulbs, smooth and dark brown, with no rootlets at the base, and anaemic, fat white shoots worming out of them. which have now burst into these.



Ah, I thought, autumn crocus! Thanks for the autumn crocus, I said to CDB-GN, next time I saw him. No, not crocus, no relation, he asserted, but this other name, and gave me a lecture on plant taxonomy and the number of important reproductive bits in crocuses, tulips and these things respectively.

I stood by my guns; but we call them autumn crocus, they're what saffron comes from, I assured him. No, they're poisonous. In English they are called naked ladies.

These words dropping from his lips were slightly disturbing. Better not look that up on the internet I thought. But I did look up what I thought he said, and found that they are indeed autumn crocus, colchicum. And she was right about the plate: they don't need any soil or growing medium, you can just put them on a plate in the light and out they come. Out of curiosity I then googled CDB-GN. (Why does googling someone you know always feel a bit weird? Does everyone do it?). He is clearly well-respected in the bulb trade, but keeps himself to himself.



Saffron is a spice I have little luck with, perhaps because I am simply too cautious and mean to use it with the profligacy it requires, or to buy good enough quality. I like it that that the flower is the complementary colour of that associated with the spice, purple to yellow.

I first bought it about twenty years ago on the island of Simi, in the Dodecanese, where I went on a day trip from Rhodes, a beautiful place, as I remember it, a stone's throw from the Turkish coast, with elegant Venetian looking villas on the waterfront. Much of the trade to tourists seemed to be in herbs and spices, and better than the saffron was a bag of heavy, fuzzy-leaved sage that an old lady was rubbing in a big plastic bowl on her lap, sitting outside her house. Good for the throat, she indicated, miming a cough, and it really was, I made it into tisane with honey several times, and it always worked.

~~~
Regarding the rosehips.


I failed to get the set on the jelly, so in fact it resembled nothing so much as Delrosa rosehip syrup, and was similarly bland and sugary. I was obliged to pour it back out of the jars, but hope I have just rescued it with the addition of the juice of a couple of lemons, which will have added pectin and also a little much-needed sharpness. I was surprised at the natural level of sugar in the hips themselves. I still squeezed the bag. I'm not entirely convinced that the impurities that threaten to make it cloudy wont't rise to the surface where they can be skimmed off anyway. But I won't start a fight about it. If the jelly's OK, I'll make some scones and photograph it posing on top of them.

~~~

So once more, I have failed to revive the essay in English as a serious and incisive form in the medium of blogging, and wittered on about food and holidays years ago and my neighbours instead.

~~~

I also wanted to share a useful tip which doubtless everyone already knows about, as indeed did I, but which I had never actually put into practice. To shrink photographs for uploading to Blogger or elsewhere, highlight them all in the My Pictures folder, then in the side taskbar select 'e-mail these files' and then Windows will offer to shrink them for you. Then e-mail them to yourself, save the attachments, and upload these. They'll be a handy size for the web, will upload quickly, won't use up your allowance, and it's much faster than messing about with Photoshop. Of course this is only if you're a cruddy PC Windows XP user like me.

21 comments:

katydidnot said...

if i had a printer i would print all of your photos and hang them all around my house.

Lucy said...

You are so sweet!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Wonderful photos and entertaining post,

Robin Starfish said...

Rose hips the size of tomatoes! What must the roses be like - dinner plates?

HLiza said...

So funny how you describe the neighbour..I didn't know any name in Malay that will trigger that respond! I love the purple colour..purple is my favourite colour..not surprisingly most my career outfit are from this colour! I even graduated from a college that use purple as their theme colour!

Granny J said...

I can only say an extra WOW! if your pictures don't require a pass through PhotoShop for one reason or another aside from resizing! The rose hips are beautiful.

Lucy said...

Thanks.

Robin, well, small tomatoes anyway! They're rugosa rosehips, and are as ornamental as the flowers, which are quite big but single petaled.

Hliza - I like purple too, and there are so many different purples. I like red also but not so much on me.

GJ - Hmm, I have to be honest, I do pass the pics through Picasa's tuning and (sometimes) cropping. There's an 'I'm feeling lucky' button which is often enough to just get the white balance and contrasts sorted,(sometimes it has the weirdest results you wouldn't want!). But for the shots like the autumn crocus, I turn the shadows up quite a bit. I like using Photoshop, and you can do so much more with it and it is more subtle, but I do find it time consuming and it's hard to know when to stop, whereas Picasa's scope is self-limiting. The light through our dining room window when the sun shines (when!) is really fab for flowers, though.

Plutarch said...

The jelly may not have set, but my goodness, the photographs are worth the wasted effort. Your latest photograph on qrrtsiluni proves, as sis the previous one, that you a truly accomplished photographer.

Plutarch said...

Why, I wonder, do you say that you have failed to revive the essay in blog form? Before you mentioned it, the thought had already come to me that many of your postings were in fact essays,and essays of which you should not be ashamed. Keep it up. Pity about Marcel! I suppose Dudley might be an English name to avoid. Though I personally would steer clear of Jason and Darren.

Julia said...

I do love the photo of the crocus against the dark background. And am impressed that you just used Picasa for that one.

Speaking of Picasa, you might try using its export function to automatically resize future blog pictures to your desktop or another convenient folder. It saves a step or two in the process. Now if Blogger would just give us the option of resizing pictures when we import them we'd save even more steps!

Rosie said...

oh dear thanks for the tip..I have just been loading in massive photos. I suppose my blog will be out of space soon!

Lucy said...

Joe - every other inhabitant of our village seems to be called either Marcel or Marcelle, and I'd quite forgotten about Proust! Many old fashioned names in English have come back into fashion now; there's a vogue here for 'celtique' names, which will probably get the Darren and Jason response ina year or two, Kevin already does!

I don't feel as if I've written a real essay for a long time; perhaps I've still got the odd one in me...

Julia - thanks for that, I'll try it. As I say, that front window int the afternoon does give a good backlighting for flowers. The one thing that would put me off going over to a Mac, if I had the chance, is that Picasa's not compatible, though I think they're working on it...

Rosie - it doesn't matter so much if you don't do a huge number of photos, though the click to enlarge really does enlarge a lot! If you want to reduce in PS, right-click on the blue bar at the top of the image, and select 'image size' and you can do it from there, either in cm or pixels. There are other slower ways too.

Lady Prism said...

I've read about names....weird names....like that girl, "Tallulah Does The Hula" who had her name changed. Marcel isn't that strange a name, but I must agree it does have a bit of a softie' sound to it. Hmmm...come to think of it, I don't like my "real name"...but...I've learned to embrace it. I googled "me " last night trying to find out if there would be anybody in the world with the same combination of first and last name I have. I don't think so.

N'ways, when I read here about bulbs and tulips and such, it makes me wish even more fervently that I have a bigger garden instead of this little little little tiny square plot of space in my front and back yard. Someday I'll have that garden I swear...and also a neighbor who will bring me strangely named bulbs that bloom even on a plate...pretty..

Jean said...

Sage is a wonderful herb, excellent for digestion, pmt, hot flushes, as well as sore throats.

Jelly that won't set is just right with natural yoghurt.

Good tips re photos which I should probably take urgent note of.

Dick said...

Yes, the rosehip pictures are wonderful. There's something almost animate about them.

Lucas said...

There is something luminous about these photos and essay is alive too.

Jan said...

Lucy: Brilliant post on a dreary rainy dull chilly UK morning! Thankyou for words and colours and attitudes and life enhancement!

marja-leena said...

I'm late but better now than never. Gorgeous photos as always, love the luscious red rose hips! My colchicum isn't in bloom yet, and they are a disappointingly paler cousin compared to your beauties.

I join the others is saying how impressed I am that most of your shots are NOT photoshopped!! And your story about the neighbour is so very entertaining.

Reluctant Blogger said...

I have a friend who brings me back saffron from Tunisia on a regular basis and so I often chuck loads in. My children love it - well, they love the way the food turns yellow and it makes them eat all sorts of surprising things.

I have a tomato glut at the moment- I'm sick of eating them!

Hope all is well with you and yours?

apprentice said...

Yes those rosy hips really cheered me up. Autumn crocus put up huge leaves in the Spring, of hosta like proportions -I think they must feed the bulb/corm for the autumn flowering. So when you plant them out you have to give them "Spring space".

You can save for the wb in photoshop too, easier to do if that's where you edit shots.

Lucy said...

Thanks again!

Prism - I've googled me too! It comes straight here, which is a bit odd as I'm not here directly with my full name, clever things those little algorithms! Surprisingly few people with my name either it seems.

Jean - yes, I always mean to take more sage. I'm not sure we could really eat enough yogurt to use all the runny jelly though! Julia's advice on exporting from Picasa is even better than e-mailing with the windows shrinking thing.

Dick, thanks, they really are very red...

Jan - nice bit of colour's what you want!

ML - we've had them before which weren't nearly so pretty. The shots are Picasa'ed remember!

RB - Turmereic's better for really shocking yellow! We're OK thanks, m'dear, in something of a lull, all ticking over, touchwood...

Anna - Yes, our neighbour said about the spring leaves, but thanks for the warning. I checke dout the tutorial on saving for the web on PS, but it's a bit easier and quicker I thinkthe way I described. I do value and appreciate your wonderful PS, and if I've gotr something I think needs special editing I always use it, I'm just corner cutting really!