And Bane of my Allotment and Bloody Nuisance in my Garden, as it spirals up the stems of everything taller, twirling and strangling  as it goes.

Bindweed: what is it good for?  Absolutely nothing!

But no, hang on a minute.  The very essence of bindweed – its basic bindiness – can be turned to an advantage.  Ever been stuck down the allotment without your string?  The stem of bindweed can be used to bind stuff, in this case to tie up a bunch of lavender – and you can even knot it.

Bindweed has its uses
Bindweed has its uses



Girls and boys shall have their play,

And every woman have her way,

And every son shall have his say,

And every ox shall have its hay,

And every dog shall have its day,

And every June shall follow May,

And the Witch will have her Business.


R is for Revolting

Revolting larvae of the lily beetle
Revolting larvae of the lily beetle

How can something as handsome as the Lily Beetle ( See H is for Handsome), have such revolting offspring?  They are fat and maggoty, and live in a lump of sticky black poo, glued to the underside of the lily leaves by their crafty parents.  As mentioned in the previous post (H is for Handsome), I remove them with the hose, set on a gentle spray, and as they drop, I collect them by hand, into a container bound for the compost heap. Yuk.


H is for Handsome

A lily beetle looking very handsome
A Lily Beetle looking very handsome

The Lily Beetle, aka Lilioceris Lillii.

I noticed them in spring, just a mating pair, and in a moment of weakness, I was overcome with admiration for their shiny scarlet carapace and natty black antennae.  Besides, it was spring.  Let them have their fun, I thought.  Needless to say, I have regretted that moment, as over the following months, they and their loathsome offspring  have decimated my lilies. (See R is for Revolting)

From then on, it has been war: I use my hose, set on a gentle spray, to wash off the grubs from the underside of the leaves. The thin threads of orange eggs I scrape off, although they are not easy to spot.  As for the adult beetles, and here I’m being completely honest, I crush  between my nails.  OK, OK, I know it’s gross, and I do have a twinge of regret.  However, I love my lilies more, so I harden my heart against the scarlet blighters.

The RHS are currently tracking Lilioceris Lillii, as it scoffs its way through the lilies and fritilleries of the UK, concerned that their numbers are on the rise. If you grow lilies, you may like like to take part in their survey: it only takes 2 minutes.  https://www.rhs.org.uk/lilybeetleonlinesurveys


P is for Patten, Marguerite

I mentioned Marguerite Patten in my first post (A is for Abundance), and then I realised with some sadness that this wonderful lady has died, aged 99.

Although I was vaguely aware of her cook books, (and she wrote 170 of them, the photograph and her bold signature on the cover of her ‘500 Recipes’ series will bring back memories), it was only recently that I began to read them properly.  Her ‘Eat to Beat Arthritis’ is excellent: I have the beginning of osteo-arthritis in my knees and toes, so I do her arthritis diet once a year. Since I have got into preserving, I’m always dipping into her ‘Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook’ from the Basic Basics series.  Her ‘Feeding the Nation’ cookbook gathers the recipes she promoted during World War 2, with recipes for making sponge cake from potatoes and biscuits from carrots, without wasting a scrap. And the classic ‘Century of British Cooking’, where each chapter covers a decade of the 20th century, giving both recipes and history, has just been re-issued.

She had considerable success as one of the first demonstration cooks, along with Fanny and Johnny Craddock, but she will be remembered best as a distinguished and much loved cookery writer.  Described by Jamie Oliver as ‘a matriarch of the kitchen’, she made it clear that she was a cook, not a chef, and she wrote for ordinary people. I admire her because she understood why it was important for people to know how to cook.  In 2015, the year of her death, when we have an obesity epidemic, an over-reliance on ready meals, and we waste vast amounts of food, her books are still as relevant as ever.

Hilda Elsie Marguerite Patten, cookery writer and broadcaster; 4 November 1915 – 4 June 2015. RIP