Abundance in August

There is a moment in August when the crops come at you faster than you can pick them.  Remember this in December when all is bare and still.  I had a bit of an "Oh my God" moment, in the midst of almost too much plenty,  when I discovered that the beans I had thought were still leaf and no beans weren't that at all.  I lifted the sprawling leaves thinkingthat maybe they needed tying up and there they were in their tens and twenties and more, another vegetable to be eaten or frozen or preserved.  Don't fret and fume.  Half the world is desperate for what we have.

The plum tree is only in its fourth year but is weighed down with fruit that its slender branches can barely hold.  It is a Victoria, the plums sweet and tart at the same time.  Funnily enough they are sweeter eaten raw than when cooked.  The plum crumble (don't you just love those words together?) which I made yesterday was delicious but nothing like as sweet as a single plum in your mouth.

This is a Shropshire damson.  Yes I know we don't live in Shropshire but it is not far away so practically local.  Damsons grow in the hedges around here.  Damson jam vies with blackcurrant for the title of my favourite but does have the disadvantage of all those stones.  You just have to accept that the time spent at the stove over the simmering preserving pan with the slotted spoon fishing for yet another stone, is the price you pay for the sweet tart darkness of damson jam, an adult pleasure, of a kind.

And apples, there are always apples: apple chutney and apple jelly and apple cake and apple pie.

And more apples here too, weighing the old trees down.  I am bringing the pears inside to ripen.  Their lives are shorter and sweeter.  A perfectly ripened pear, if only you can catch its moment, melts upon the tongue and runs down the chin.  Just now they sit in the bowl on the kitchen table, stubbornly, coldly hard.  Supermarkets trick you with their bags of pears.  They are as much like a pear as a plastic flower is like a rose.

And a wall full of runner beans, solid enough to keep out marauders.  Yesterday I swear there were no beans.  Today they are thickening fast.  Get them just now when they are slender and sweet and they are delicious.  Turn your back and they grow a foot long and can fell a man if you are short of a truncheon.

Did I mention raspberries?  I am still not sure it is possible to have too many raspberries even though I am bringing them in by the bucketload.  We have had our daughters staying for a few days, one with a small child and one with a large puppy.  Puppy and child adored cruising the raspberries and I do too.  I pick them and think I will make jam and somehow what is left in the colander is never quite enough. 

Flowers too.

This is a salvia, Blue Angel, grown from seed by Karen at An Artist's Garden, and singing against the valerian.  Fortunately, it does not need to be eaten, preserved or frozen.


  1. You do have an abundance of foods to be preserved. I made my mouth water to read your descriptions of them. What a bountiful garden you have. I suppose you will be very busy for some time to come, but it must be a labor of love, right? It would be a shame to let any of it go to waste and yes, ha ha, it a shame that you can't preserve and eat the flowers.

  2. A true feast for the eyes!! Wish I lived near YOU!!

  3. Beautiful.
    We're somewhat behind this year - but will have lots of plums and then apples, if we can get them before the raccoons visit.

  4. One of the things that has made me hesitate with the grow your own is all the preserving as I know I just dont have time to do it. I have managed to do a bit like freezing courgettes which was quick and easy. I was surprised your beans have only just started as Mums having been going for months and she has just cut them down.

    By the way we finally have proper rain here - its wonderful

  5. Wow, what a wonderful harvest. I've done well on the bean front too, but don't have any fruit trees here - I'll have to rectify that soon!

  6. I am swooning after reading this post and almost weighed down, like those plum tree branches, by the treasures you have shown us in your garden.

    Damsons, Victoria plums, crumble... Such pleasurable words. I wrote an article once about the poetry of fruit names. I am such a pushover for names.

    I made my first batch of pumpkin soup yesterday and it was delicious.

    If and when you have a minute (between picking pounds of plums) come and see the magic in our local allotments here in France.

    Best wishes,


  7. Fabulous fruitfulness - and yes we should remember this in the depths of winter.

    Our runner beans - after a pathetic start are now about ready to be picked - perhaps it's a 'living on the top of a mountain thing'. Suggestions for using courgettes are solicited once again.

  8. Don't those damsons look gorgeous! And perhaps I need to make room for a little apple tree.....

  9. How wonderful. I had an apple tree in my old garden and reached an agreement with a neighbour. They would take a majority of the apples and make pies of various sorts. Then whenever they got one out of the freezer, I had a piece!
    If you want to borrow my freezer ....

  10. Went up to the allotment to harvest the very things you're showing - except the beans.

    Harvesting got interupted: by the allotment committee to discuss which half of the plot I'm giving up, swiftly followed by rain of biblical proportions!

    I felt that someone somewhere was adding their comment on proceedings.

    Hope to see you when I come to stay with Karen next month :)

  11. Your beans look great! I'm very disappointed with mine this year - not enough rain or watering I think.
    Ane what delicious looking plums!
    Our plum tree is an Opal and finished cropping in early August...http://hollygrovegarden.blogspot.com/2011/07/little-jewel.html
    We now have a huge bag of Victorias courtesy of the Handyman's brother - I need a bigger freezer!

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  13. What a wonderful harvest and so much stuff is early this year! I have blackberries needing almost daily picking and my apple tree is groaning under the weight. The pears are not quite so prolific, but I can see a few beauties on there.

    Next year, I must introduce raspberries! I love raspberries and the ones in the shops are so expensive and bland in comparison to the real thing!

  14. Oh so riches Elizabeth and as you say how fortunate we are. Had to smile about your comment on fishing out damson stones as I was engaged in that activity the other evening. Did you plant all your fruit trees or were any already there? I would certainly not mind a glut of Karen's blue salvia.

  15. Those plums look delicious! Yum.
    Beautiful flowers and seed heads.
    Sunflowers are so cheery.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  16. Thanks for the reminder that what seems overwhelming now will be something else in the depths of winter, and that we're really lucky. And you have lovely flowers, too - my whole kitchen/garden/life is devoted to glut management...

  17. We have one single, solitary Victoria plum on the tree this year. ONE. The late frost took every last blossom. How come it didn't get yours?

  18. It's looking fabulous Elizabeth, enjoy all those fruits!!

  19. Nora - it is a labour of love sometimes mainly labour and sometimes mainly love, depending on mood!
    Susan Heather - I didn't mention the potatoes and the onions and the Kai Lan did I?
    Linda - if you lived near me you would maybe cross the road when you saw me coming in case I gave you some beans!

  20. Pond side - each landmass has its own pesky animals I suppose. Raccoons sound quite exotic to me. Here it would be squirrels.
    Jenny - hi! It is beautiful yes.
    Helen - we have beans at various stages, some going over and some at full throttle.

  21. Su - I love fruit trees, both for the blossom and the fruit. They are easy too. Fruit is way easier than vegetables.
    Stephanie - oh I would love to see your allotments. They look fabulous in your blog. I love names too. Apples have some of the best names. Ribston pippin, James grieve, ellisons orange I love them.
    Mountainear - courgettes? For the very first time ever we only have two plants. Bliss.

  22. Looks wonderful.
    I will be in Wales next week. Can't wait to be there.

  23. too many raspberries?
    Now that's a problem I would welcome! Your harvest is looking wonderful and a testament to all the hard work you have put into the garden over the years. Oh that I should have such bounty in the future.

  24. Hello Elizabeth and thank you for the lovely welcome back on my blog. It feels right to be blogging again as autumn approaches. Your post was beautiful and everything I love about country living was present from the panic over produce (thank god for freezers as ours is also rapidly filling up with plums, damsons, etc for a calmer time if such a thing exists). we are indeed lucky though luck needs much work to keep it going. x

  25. Finally, some time to sit and wallow in your photos. All the tangly, wild abundance looks wonderful, even if it it means a lot of work! The runner beans are especially tantalizing, since you cannot find them at all in Korea...a bunch of us were wistfully fantasizing about them just last weekend, and there you are with a surfeit of them!
    I am going to have to find myself some Damson jam - I've never tasted it!
    Enjoy your harvest - looks lovely!

  26. Such bounty is such a mixed blessing, but in the final analysis it is a blessing! My dwarf beans did just what your runners did ( to the extent I'd just BOUGHT some and realised I had kilos to pick and eat! As you say it is difficult to think that there might be too many raspberries - still lots of wonderful crumble for the winter. A beautiful display, Christina

  27. Drooling on my keyboard. Need. Raspberries. Now.

  28. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous!

  29. Oh it looks wonderful Elizabeth - such riches!

    The Salvia looks fab singing out against the valerian - it is such a good colour


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