December 31, 2007
My search of oldest olive tree shows that it might be one in Zakynthos (Greece).
Crete also seems to be over 1000 years - but how much over?
In Portugal there is also one.
One info made me worried little bit. Global warming endangers olive grovs. According to Turkish Daily News due to lowering underground waters and sand coming from over Sahara, the harvesting this year was predicted decrease by 40%.
Interesting enough there is also news about growing olive trees commercially in UK, but also as decorative plant in the UK gardens.
December 30, 2007
December 29, 2007
There is seeds of many beautiful annuals and perennials, that I will or I will not use - some of them I do not like anymore, for some of them - somehow - there is not enough space in my garden anymore...
Recommended reading on Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition
December 28, 2007
Olive tree in our zone can be a house plant only :( which I deeply regret, cos I am attracted by them like bee by some flowers. They are holy and magic.
My 'miniature olive trees are still in the garden, because it is good for them :) No I did not forget them outside. I placed them in a nice place against the warmest, sunny wall and let them chill enough.
I will keep them there until temperature is under -12 centigrades (10F), which is lowest they can take and they are still fine. Older trees can survive even -28 centigrades (-20F).
Why it is good for them?
I would like to get the fruits - olives :) And in order to make the tree happy to bear olives, first you need to have two kinds of them. Olives are semi-self pollinating and single tree will bear fruits, but it is better to have 2 varieties.
Second, they need 300 hours of chill in a year.
According to theory they should bear fruits after 3-4 years, which should be soon :)
OK - I will let you know if that happens.
We do not have the olive tree forests in Poland, so at least I can grow them in pots.
During my travels I saw one very special place.
Olive tree forests looks great the older they are. One of the oldest olive tree forests in Europe are on Greek island Corfu. They were planted by venetian merchants in 17th century, following the decision of Venetian Senate offering money for plantings - tens of thousands of trees were planted at that time. In 18th century the number of olive trees surpassed 4 million. It became the most important tree cultivation for local farmers. Today Corfu and surrounding islands are one endless olive grove.
What is special about olive trees in Corfu?
They are never pruned.
Olives are allowed to drop when ripen, so as a result the trees grow tall and create a unique sensational shapes of the trunks and branches. There are endless relief forms and odd figures which continue for long kilometers of forest. That's one of the most amazing and mysterious views.
Pictures below were taken in Corfu by me in 1999. Little boy on the tree is my son.
December 23, 2007
- Eggnog or hot chocolate?
Traditionally no alcohol allowed during Christmas Eve, however lifted by church 2 years ago.
For 25th and 26th there was no such limitation.
I love home made coffeenogg. Which is very easy to make.
Proportions are following: 1/2 ltr condensed milk (without sugar), 1 spoon vanilla sugar, 2 spoons instant coffee, 100g sugar and either 1/2 ltr of vodka (abt 40%) or 100 ml of alcohol (90%).
First you cook milk mixed with vanilla sugar, coffee and sugar for about 10 minutes and mix it constantly - please beware - it has strong tendency to boil over, so you need to make the flame small. After it cools down (important) it may need using mixer, cos there might me some bigger particles caused by milk and it is not nice to get surprised by it while you drink :) So when it is cooled down and smooth you add slowly alcohol and mix well.
At this moment it is ready to drink, however tastes litlle bit better next day :)
- Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Santa is still coming to our house - that's a great time to give presents to people you love. Santa wraps presents in his headquarter, where everything is planned logistically and labelled properly:)
- Colored lights on the tree/house, or white?
White white white.
- Do you hang mistletoe?
Not every year, rather not - more often nope.
- When do you put your decorations up?
I try to put them in December as soon as possible - I like the house to have that extra decoration and lights, when outside is sooooo gray. It cheers up a bit.
Usually in Poland we decorate the Christmas tree and the house in the morning of The Day - which is Christmas Eve 24.12. This year it looks that we will be following the common habit, or do it just one day before - which is today.
- What is your favorite Christmas dish (excluding dessert)?
In many jokes we divide Poland in 2 parts - both of them follow little different culinary habits: one is doing traditional wild mushrooms soup, the second one is cooking betroot soup with tiny ravioli called 'uszka' (ooshka) stuffed with special sour cabbage with wild mushrooms.
Because our family is not tight with any special part of Poland (due to long family story rooted in second world war 2) we switch the traditions. However I prefer mushrooms :)
And my really favourite dish is the fish that we eat only on Christmas Eve - it is fried carp. It special taste is in my head strongly related to Christmas.
- Favorite Christmas memory as a child?
Many blurred pictures - no favourite one. Why?
- Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Santa always arrives before That Most Important Special Dinner on Christmas Eve and puts his presents under the tree. All presents have to be opened just after dinner :)
- How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
The main 'tree' - it is difficult to call it 'tree', cos it is a small ready decoration on form of small tree. Many years ago I decided to not have real tree for Christmas - which is wide tradition here - just symbolic decoration. Since years I use same decoration - boring, ha? Nope... just symbol of one stable thing around me.
Aditionally, since moment that my araucarias became big enough, I decorate them too :)
- Snow! Love it or dread it?
I love it - to walk on it, to look at its sparky lights and most of all I love the sound it makes while you walk on it, when the temperature is below 10 centigrades.
- Can you ice skate?
- Do you remember your favorite gift?
- What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you?
To gather as much family members around one table as possible - maybe because it was not happening often when I was a kid, so for me Christmas was unique time of having all important people around. This time it will be different and I try to not think about it, however I am aware that Christmas Eve will be tough.
- What is your favorite Christmas dessert?
Poppy-seed cake.... mniam... mniam... its is great and gives a lot of energy :) There is a kind of magic connected with it. Maybe because of.... hmmm....
- What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Sharing the christmas wafer (poppadum) at Christmas Eve dinner.
- What tops your tree?
- Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Giving definately - I hope to make 'them' happy.
- What is your favourite Christmas song?
Bing Crosby "White Christmas"
December 21, 2007
December 14, 2007
You know how it is - you live somewhere and things, places which are in your closest distance don't take your attention.
But one day - being in the mood of having 'sightseeing' - pushed by that unknown impulse, that possibly comes from inner you and tries to kick you out of routine - we decided to look around - just a short walk in a place that is close, but completely unknown.
Luckily I took camera with me, cos that walk was full of surprises. We found something really worth to see :)
These ducks are most common in Poland.
But only take a look at this next picture!!
When I saw it first time, I thought: OMG somebody put artificial duck on the lake! What a disgusting thing!
But wait a second! It is moving! yey!!
What is this??
I took photos first :)
Then I looked in the book and look what I found: Mandarin Duck - male. I never saw them before in my life. I never thought they live wild in Poland :)
They are rare in Poland, and as far as I know rare in entire Europe.
They originate from Asia (China) were they are native.
They are 'endangered species -despite being evaluated as Least Concern because of large-scale exports and the destruction of its forest habitat' - this is they say.
I understood while looking at numbers: only 1000 pairs is living in China and Russia, 5000 in Japan.
And we also have ONE pair in Pruszków city park!
So, what is my lesson from the walk? Even in something/a place that seems to be very common and of no interest, there might be something you never saw before :)
"That I exist is a perpetual surprise which is life' by Rabindranath Tagore
December 8, 2007
This is a nursery with long tradition - have no idea how they survived communist time.
It was started by grand grandfathers, which among other precious plants brought by ship from US this beautiful Metasequoia glyptostroboides.
The tree itself is very impressive - lightness of foliage and interesting colour of bark. There is one more thing that makes it outstanding - arrangement! It is literally smashing in reality. Small cushion plants, mainly different kind of Calluna, on the bottom - make it more beautiful!
The secret is - you need space to present this tree, otherwise it gets lost and loses impact.
Isn't it real discovery to see mature plants, that in our garden are maily small and we have little chance to see them mature, because they grow very slowly. 2-3 cm yearly is everything that Conica was doing! Today 2 m tall Picea glauca Conica known also as White spruce Alberta.
Columbine - Aquilegia vulgaris plena here Nora Barlow in large beds make a real true experience.
And now my favourite one - flowering rhododendrons.
Last picture taken there, but not last awsome spot to look at - I didn't take pictures of all of them.
I will do it coming spring, cos place is really worth to mention and explore.
December 7, 2007
My autumn crocus is still flowering.
And look here! This little strawberry is flowering since June and still doing well.
It is Fragaria hybride. 'Dee Rose' - I think.