Note Number 31…Garden v Election Campaign…

me with whiterose

The white roses match my hair colour! 

I am, like many people I know, confused/worried about the forthcoming election and the coverage is endless on FaceBook, Twitter, the News…it cannot be escaped. I do take it all seriously, probably more now that I’m older, than at any other time in my life. But, today is June 1st, and a beautiful sunny day, so I took myself out into the garden, to clear my head and get away from the constant barrage of ‘party political verbal onslaughts’ and to clear the weeds, (some of them anyway) and tidy up.  I’m proud of what we have achieved so far in our little patch of Dorset but there’s still plenty to do. I’m hoping that a reader will be able to identify a couple of plants for me. If you know what the two below are please post in the comments box.

Anyone know what the plant on the left is? And the one on the right, is this a chrysanthemum or a dahlia…or neither? 

I’m loving the roses…look out Chelsea Flower Show 2018 (joke!)

Top left is a white climber…top right is ‘Queen of Sweden’ and the bottom is the prettiest rambling rose, it so belongs in our cottage garden…

Left, Antirrhinums (I think) and on the right the sweet peas are coming on well… no flowers yet but I’m hoping for a bumper crop! 

me with lupins

Check out the lupins! My dad would be proud of me…

I’m tempted to say that after a whole morning in the garden I’m veering towards green…

Summer’s Arrived in Le Marche

Beautiful Rose (Peace)

Beautiful Rose (Peace)

The roses are blooming the grass is growing faster than we can cut it. Summer has definitely arrived in Le Marche. It did have to be dragged out of hiding this year though, April and the beginning of May were very changeable. The kind of weather where you have to prepare for anything and everything before you go out for the day, taking with you, raincoat, umbrella, wellies, cardigan, T-shirt, sandals, suncream and sunhat. Get the idea?

Last week I mentioned the growth in the orto (vegetable garden) and it hasn’t slowed down. Today we’re going to pick most of the peas and broad beans, although the beans don’t look too healthy, some of them have black leaves and inside the pods is a sticky black substance…anyone enlighten me? if you didn't know

Peas…as if you didn’t know

In 2012 the apricots were prolific but, this year, two of the trees appear to be yielding nothing and the other tree just a few. I managed to make over thirty pots of chutney and several jars of jam last summer but this year there will be very few. Pity I gave so many away. Looks like there’s only one of each left in the larder.

One Jar Apricot Chutney One Jar Apricot Jam

One Jar Apricot Chutney
One Jar Apricot Jam

The cherries are looking good though so we’ll be harvesting them this afternoon too before the birds get them. So cherry jam will be on the boil later this evening. Such a fag taking out all those stones though.





May is a very beautiful time here, it’s warm enough to eat breakfast outside on the terrace but not so hot during the day to be unbearable. The mosquitoes are still sleeping so we don’t have to cover ourselves in deet. The evenings are drawing out and only goes a little chilly after the sun has completely gone, which, at the moment is around 20.45.


If you fancy trying out Le Marche there are some lovely places to visit and to stay. You could check out this link If you decide to try them then mention olivespastavino blog when you book, you will be sure to get a favourable rate!

The Bougainvillea has survived the winter and is blooming!

The Bougainvillea has survived the winter and is blooming!

From Garden to Plate…is it worth it?

Delish...Fresh Tuna Salad...oh with a little bit of fresh Wild Rocket

Delish…Fresh Tuna Salad…oh with a little bit of fresh Wild Rocket

One week back in Italy after three weeks in Brooklyn NYC and I’m just about over the jetlag. However, it wasn’t just my sleep pattern that was affected; it was eating, drinking and bodily functions that all went skew-whiff! Back on track now you’ll be pleased to know.

The result of three weeks absence meant that the orto (vegetable garden) had gone completely bonkers. Whilst away, the weather here in Italy had been sunny, warm and interspersed with lots of rain. Heaven for plants. It was impossible to see the paths separating the beds or to sort the weeds from the growing vegetables and I actually thought in one area that I must have cultivated some strain of triffid. Fortunately not.

My husband played hunt the strawberries and kindly cleared the bed of all but the said strawberries which, now having been shown the light, will hopefully plump up and ripen before June.

I tried, (honestly) to weed some of the beds but ended up just picking peas, fava beans (broad beans) and a lettuce for lunch. I know, I should have done more but it really is hard work and I don’t think I’m dedicated enough. I mean, it’s fantastic to pick something from the garden, carry it into the house, prepare and eat it all within half an hour. But, honestly, the work that you have to put in to get to the harvesting stage is possibly not my bag. I have friends who are devoted to their vegetable gardens, (and I do admire them) up at the crack of dawn, which here means 05.30am or it’s too hot, then toiling for three hours or more, virtually every day. Then you have to set up the irrigation system, the plants need water morning and night here in Italy from June/July through to October. Last year was so hot that even with watering the poor little veggies needed umbrellas to keep the sun off during the day or they dehydrated within minutes.

Fresh Picked, Lettuce, Peas and Beans

Fresh Picked, Lettuce, Peas and Beans

So I ask myself, is it better to just go to the market and buy fresh local produce or should I continue to try, against all the odds, to plod on with ‘grow your own’ method? The peas and beans were planted in November, as were the lettuce and they have all come through beautifully, from now on though, it’s all downhill.

Final thought. Who remembers shelling peas with their mum when they were a kid? I do and today I was reminded of that. It took me twenty minutes to shell a small bowlful of peas. They were delicious, but were they better than the frozen? The vote in this household is yes! But he would say that, he didn’t shell the peas nor did he pick them!

The Little Bowl of Peas from the Bundle of Shells.

The Little Bowl of Peas from the Bundle of Shells.