What comes first the title or the photograph?
Sometimes when out and about in the garden a plant or an insect will catch my eye and a line of poetry, quotation or a phrase will come to mind. On other days it will be the light shining through a leaf, the form or colour of a flower or the composition of leaves with fruit or flowers that will make me reach for the camera.
This time it was the cucumbers hanging from the beams in the greenhouse with the light illuminating the structure of the leaves and the beams adding a framework and colour contrast.
Whilst musing on the prospect of eating freshly picked cucumer for lunch, the phrase “fruits of the vine” ambled into the mind’s eye. Not exactly a Eurka moment, more of a gentle nudge of inspiration and something to ponder as I wandered across the croft to the polytunnel.
Most of the tomatoes are still on the vine, slowly changing from green to orange. The bright red fruits are not allowed to linger, picked almost daily, and savoured as much as a bunch of the finest muscat grapes. Freshly picked tomatoes have a perfume and flavour that cannot be matched by any commercially grown crop, requiring little more than a pinch of salt to arouse even the most jaded palate. This is a precious crop, and the surplus will be hoarded to provide a touch of richness to winter casseroles or preserved as chutney to turn some good bread and farmhouse cheese into an epicurean lunch.
French beans can be a little temperamental and are too delicate to survive a Hebridean summer. Last summer I changed from growing a dwarf to a climbing variety and had a phenomenal harvest of long, tender, green beans. They take up very little space, and in a relatively short time are festooning the superstructure with luxuriant heart-shaped leaves and delicate mauve flowers. The beans hang down in long elegant clusters and are always just out of reach. For a brief span the polytunnel is transformed by this verdant profusion of vines, fruit and flowers into a green, tropical arbour. Green beans are one of the quintessential summer vegetables with a delicacy of texture and flavour that has to be savoured for the shortest of seasons and whose arrival has to be eagerly anticipated each year.
The autumn harvest is slowly coming to an end, and as the days grow shorter and more stormy, it is time to think about waking the soup dragon from her slumber. I have a bowl of very ripe tomatoes, shall we have soup for lunch? Do join me in a bowl of more or less tomato soup…….