Nineteen degrees! That was the temperature on Monday (15th April) late afternoon in Bungay as I dropped Charlotte off at the Community Centre where she was co-cooking the April meal as part of Sustainable Bungay’s Happy Monday crew. The highest in a very low temperature year so far. T-shirts? Outside? For months I’ve only known T-shirts as the bottom layer of several (and that’s been in bed!).
I was down for meeting and greeting people as they came in for the meal and had a couple of hours to spare, so I wandered round the back of the building and found the remnants of a garden there. Packed with tansy (I must make that old recipe, tansy pudding, one spring) and the odd fennel and lamb’s ear, and loads of red deadnettle, it was the kind of place I love, a bit of a wasteground, a bit of a garden.
I moved some of the rubbish and cleaned up a few discarded plastic jugs and containers. They might come in handy sometime.
Then I looked up, and through a window I saw the kitchen crew in the midst of preparation (it’s quite an intense experience in that Happy Monday’s kitchen, making a 2-course, multi-dish meal for 50 people from scratch in two and three quarter hours).
The menu this month was: barley and beetroot risotto, black badger peas with sundried tomato and preserved lemons, grated carrot and mustard salad and stuffed portobello mushrooms with a nettle pesto. The dessert was a chocolate crunch base topped with soaked prunes, Greek yoghurt and garnished with a sweet violet. It was delicious! And all for a fiver!
Through the window in the picture at the top you can see Margaret. Though she didn’t see me at first! Each month for Happy Monday, Margaret makes sure the tables are decked with flowers and greenery and always puts on a lovely show along with the help of one or two other people.
Yesterday she’d brought ivy, sweet violets (which also adorned the dessert), forsythia and daffodils to set the scene and we talked about everything being so late this year.
I told Margaret I’d planted some seeds from a cut flower I picked up from a roadside stall last September and they were the first to sprout of the ones I’d sown so far. The plant is a China aster called ‘Hulk’ (Callistephus chinensis ‘Hulk’) – I found that out by poring over the Chiltern Seeds 2012 catalogue from the beginning, looking at everything under Asteraceae). Luckily I only needed to go as far as ‘C’.
Margaret said she’d like to find some spare land, maybe part of an allotment that’s not being used, to grow flowers specially for Happy Mondays. Do contact us if you know of any. Meanwhile I’ve promised her to plant some of those ‘Hulks’.
“Do bees like them?” Margaret asked. “I’m trying to only sow bee-friendly plants.”
“Funny you should say that,” I replied. “I just found this picture of the Hulk on Flickr by someone called Viveka in Sweden. There’s both a bee and a hoverfly on the flowers. The picture below is of the original roadside stall bunch from last September, with the Hulk on the bottom right accompanied by dahlias, chrysanths and perennial sunflowers. The green ‘ray florets’ are actually leaves.
Images and text by Mark Watson and Josiah Meldrum: Happy Mondays through the Window, April 2013 (MW); Washing discarded plastic jugs for reuse (MW); Chocolate crunch with prunes, yoghurt and violets (JM); Violets, Forsythia and Ivy – Margaret’s flower display for April’s Happy Monday (MW); Roadside stall flowers from Suffolk, September 2012 (MW)
NB: All text and pics subject to Creative Commons with Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives license
This (amended and expanded) post first appeared on Mark in Flowers on 16th April 2013