Since the ‘big’ day and the start of a new life, it turned out to be business as usual. Some extra marking kept me stuck in front of a screen for much of the week. A new sewing machine sat in the corner unpacked, the nettle pesto never came to being and if you looked hard enough, I could be found somewhere under a pile of paper. The next “big” day came and I am NEVER going to mark again.
The shredder was put to good use and three big recycling bags in, I dared to open the sewing machine box, not least as some great tie dyed cotton turned up on my doorstep. I created some pretty patterns of turquoise stitchery on grape awfulness I use as backing material for still life photos. I felt encouraged, even though the lines were a bit wobbly. THEN, I felt brave, and am now part way through a simple dress. You have to understand though, that I stared at a pattern for two hours before I could bring myself to cut the material. I had to have a night’s sleep before I could start stitching. BUT I’ve learned to use the guide lines on the machine, and I’ve produced four lines of stitching and have burned finger tips due to the ironing I didn’t quite realise I needed to do.
Between stitches, the sun shone, so the camera had to come out. A pollination picture was the goal. I’ve tried photographing hover flies many times, but they do move too fast for general success. Today, I encountered a more persistent one, very intent on both blackberry and dill flower pollen.
I had hoped to catch our own bees now that the borage is out in full bloom and is the most successful of my ‘crop’ experiments this year. The bees are still speeding off on some flight path to goodness knows what food source, but it isn’t the borage right on their doorstep. (Although I do have a theory – when running the other evening, I noticed honey bees collecting pollen from rosebay willowherb and himalayan balsam that have come into bloom along the canal path I frequent. You can imagine how fast I run when I notice such details, but it does make it more fun and distract from the inevitable pain of it all).
Borage is also known as starflower (you’ll be able to see why), it was introduced to these parts by the Romans. It was known as being a cure for melancholia. Apparently, with Vermouth, it makes a good elixir for improving the mood. Although, as with all things, exercise in moderation is advised, it has potentially toxic effects on the liver in too great amount.
The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible and taste a little like cucumber. They make a good addition to salads, and if the hairs put you off, they can be briefly cooked. The leaves make a good tea and the flowers a great addition to salads and desserts. They can be candied, and in Spain, they are often battered. Use them to pretty up your ice cubes.
Borage has garden benefits too. It is a good companion plant for any other food stuff you intend to grow – squash, tomato, cucumber, beans. It is not known as an antagonist for any plant. It self-seeds, so is easy to maintain, and it can be chopped and dropped as an effective mulch.
My aim is to add it to the nettle pesto I was planning earlier this week. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Dill has also done fairly well, although not as bushy as I would have liked. I’ve let it flower so that I can collect its seeds. It’s attracting pollinators – but again, not our bees!
And I know – I promised a silvery tale. It is in the wings, awaiting its entrance. Timing is everything……