Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss.. Only a #Rose

Welcome to the last in the series of Gardening columns first shared in early 2018. In this post the rose… the beautiful symbol  of love, romance, celebration and as a rallying cry for warring armies….Paul Andruss lets us into some secrets..


Only a Rose by Paul Andruss

This most romantic of flowers has been lauded by poets across the ages as a symbol of love, sacred and profane.

The Plantagenet King Henry II, that great robber baron who ruled an empire covering England and half of France, loved only one woman, and it wasn’t his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. No, she spent most of her married life as her husband’s prisoner to stop her plotting. The woman Henry loved was his beautiful mistress, the fair Rosamund: Rosa mundi – Rose of the World.

Legend has it Henry attempted to conceal his affair from his wife by keeping Rosamund in a maze, specially constructed at Woodstock in Oxford (and just for the record Bob Dylan didn’t play there either). Eleanor, no slouch in the brains department, confronted the girl in the middle of the labyrinth and offered her the choice of dying by poison or a dagger. Like most legends it is unfortunately untrue. Rosamund retired to a convent when Henry tired of her and died before her 30th birthday.

The earliest record of breeding roses comes from China 2,500 years ago. Due its long cultivation there are now a couple of hundred species and thousands of cultivars, with new ones introduced every year. This makes it very difficult to know much about its historical origins. All we can say for certain is the rose is been used as a perfume and flavouring for almost 4,000 years.

The earliest records are from Iran where rose jam, made from the fruit or the hip (now known to be richer in vitamin C than oranges), is still popular. Rose water, traditionally made by steeping petals in water, is used in Middle Eastern cooking, flavouring things such as Turkish delight. Attar of Roses is the essential oil used in perfumes. Records show the Greeks were using distillation about 100 BC, so it is likely rose was as a scent since Roman times. Which might explain the following…

Damask Rose (By Kurt Stüber)

The crimson velvet-petalled Damask rose, so beloved of perfumers for its heady musk fragrance, was believed to have been brought back to France from Damascus, during the Crusades. Genetic analysis showed it was a melange of a Mediterranean rose, growing from France to Turkey, another from the Western Himalayas and a third from the Central Asian steppes that grows all the way to China. Its parentage makes it likely it was first cultivated in the Ancient Persian Empire and perhaps even brought to Britain by the Romans.
Given all that is there any wonder, there is nothing like the rose?

Well actually…

Today we think of roses as large blousy blooms. But modern roses largely originated in the late 18th century, thanks to Napoleon’s first wife the Empress Josephine. After Napoleon crowned himself emperor he divorced Josephine ‘a commoner’ to marry into the ancient royal family of the Holy Roman Emperors. Josephine retired to her beloved Chateau of Malmaison outside Paris, which she filled with exotic animals and flowers, the rose being chief among them. A mere 20 years later over 2,000 new varieties had been produced by her gardeners.

Botanical wild Rose (essential

To see any family resemblance we have ignore modern roses in favour of the wild rose, growing in hedgerows. A wild rose has 5 single petals surrounding a central boss of anthers and stamen, and a hard teardrop-shaped berry called a hip; a fleshy calix surrounding plump seeds. Looking at this it becomes easy to spot its cousins the prunus and the rubus.

Against a Cheery blossom background are peach, bramble apple & rose (various)

The most unlikely relative to the rose and yet probably the best starting point is the Hawthorn. Sacred to the old white goddess of old Europe the hawthorn was known as the May Tree because it bloomed at the traditional start of summer. Its flowering gave rise to the old verse: ‘Ne’re cast a clout ‘til may is out’, meaning don’t discard your heavy winter clothes until the May tree blooms for that’s a sure sign summer’s coming. The Hawthorn is related to the blackthorn, or Sloe. Between them their respective fruits point to all the rose’s most delicious relations.

Hawthorn fruit (unknown)

The Haw of the Hawthorn is an unremarkable small waxy red berry. Yet imagine the fleshy seed coating expand and juicy and the hard waxy skin thinner. Suddenly you have apples, pears and quinces – the original golden apple of Greek mythology.

For those not familiar with the quince it is like a large woody pear that can only be eaten after bletting, similar to the crab apple and the medlar. Bletting it the lovely process of letting the fruit ripen until rotten. The more brown and squidgy, the sweeter it tastes.

Medler Unripe & bletted by Takkk

And they wonder why some fruits fell out of flavour.

Originally marmalade got its name from quince jam ( Easy to make it becomes a luminous stained-glass rose colour and tastes of Turkish delight, but is not sickly.

Eating and cooking apples were developed from the crab by increasing their size and sweetness and it was the same story for the savagely thorny wild pear with its two inch long fruits. Incidentally the word pear means fruit.

Sloe by-SA 3.0

The sloe or wild plum is another deeply thorny plant. Its inedible blue-black fruits are usually steeped in gin to impart flavour. The sloe represents the other side of the rose family having reduced the number of seeds to one per fruit.

Another close cousin is the bramble or blackberry and raspberry. Here each individual seed is held is a tiny soft-skinned juicy parcel. The seeds are designed to pass through the animal’s digestive system and be delivered safe and sound in a starter-kit of manure.
The bramble berry represents an intermediate strategy between the apple’s many seeds in one fruit and the plum’s one seed per fruit. It has one seed per individual fruit but clusters multiple fruits into berries for easy eating.

On the sloe side of the family tree (pardon the pun) is not only the plum, but the cherry, almond, apricot and peach. Nectarines are merely a version of smooth skinned peach.

Hanami Festival by-SA 3.0

Cherries are split into two types, those with spectacular blossom and those with edible fruits. The Japanese Hanami festival, or the viewing the cherry blossom dates back to the 700s and is meant to remind the Japanese that the beauty of life is fleeting and something to be treasured in the moment.

Peaches were first cultivated in China. According to legend a froth whisked from their flesh was believed the food of the celestials, or the gods to prols like you and me… (or at least, me anyway).

Its cousin the apricot comes from a harsher climate around the Black Sea. It was first cultivated in the ancient kingdom of Armenia in Northern Turkey, which a millennia before was the home of King Midas, whose touch, in legend, turned everything into gold. Almonds found in the same area range eastward through Persia, now modern Iran.

People do not realise that almonds are the seeds of a thin green fleshed apricot like fruit. Almonds are the nut kernel of the fruit and look very similar to its cousin the apricot’s seeds. To distinguish them almonds are called Sweet Almonds while apricot kernels due to their high cyanide content are the Bitter Almonds so beloved of crime thriller writers.

Recently apricot kernels have been touted as containing a substance that fights cancer. However excessive consumption can cause cyanide poisoning. It is claimed you should not exceed a daily intake of 10 to 12 kernels a day. But for heaven’s sake DON’T take my word for it!

Almond orchards were badly hit in California due to the decade long drought and the ensuing world shortage forced up the price. This made marzipan, a luxurious confectioner’s paste of ground almond and sugar increasingly expensive. But take heart all ye with a sweet tooth, a Dutch scientist has now perfected away to remove the cyanide from ground apricot kernels, meaning they can be used to make cheap marzipan. And best of all: it shouldn’t kill you!

©Paul Andruss

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Cathaoireacha, Cats, More Cats, Irises and Beans!

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts you might have missed this week. As always my thanks to those who are regular contributors and guest writers. Some wonderful posts on family, music, food and life in general.

Guest writers.

I began this blog magazine to share content with as wide a range of interest as possible. That includes showcasing other writers and if you would like a guest writing spot you can share posts that you have already written and would like to showcase again to a new audience here on Smorgasbord. It can be on any topic but I do have some younger readership so it does need to be family friendly.. Get in touch on with four links to your posts and I will come back to you with any further information that I need to create your post.

If you would like to see previous posts then just type in Guest Writer in the search box to the right of the blog title at the top of the page and it will bring them all up for you.

Posts from Your Archives

There will be details on a new series of Posts from Your Archives with a different theme after Easter. The family posts have been wonderful and thanks to all those who have shared their posts. These posts are different from the guest posts as they have a specific theme.

Both of these series offer you the chance to showcase your writing but also your books with any recent reviews..

Tribute to a writing companion…my office chair and Cathaoireacha…

I have been using the same chair that we bought in Carrefour supermarket in Spain for 15 years. It is leather with stainless steel arms and trim and was the most comfortable chair I have ever used for writing. I would swivel it around to watch television as well in our office and when we first arrived in Ireland three years ago, I was parted from it for six months. I noticed the difference.

Last week as I swivelled to pick up a file at the end of my desk, the chair tossed me unceremoniously onto the floor where I lay in a bemused heap. The handyman (in house) inspected the chair from every angle and we realised that one of the five stainless steel feet on the pedestal was being held up in pain and was an inch above the floor. Further investigations revealed a stress fracture and it was not reparable.

Going online to look for a similar style of chair, in leather was  a bit of a shocker. Looked like it was going to be 400 Euro which is good value if I could get another 15 years out of it but still worth checking around.

When we first moved here David had bought some second hand office furniture from a warehouse in Wicklow and following a phone call we headed up there yesterday to inspect the stock. What a great guy… and it was a treasure trove in his warehouse with furniture stacked to the rafters including leather office swivel chairs. We spend 15 minutes moving things about and of course I spotted just the chair I wanted right at the back under a bunch of other ones.. David dug it out and I sat in it.. more fancy than my old one with more padding and leather arms, deep seat and back and perfect. Easily a 500 euro chair..

We called the owner over and prepared to negotiate..especially when he said it was from a bank office clearance and was the CEO’s chair… can imagine our surprise when he offered it to us for 70 Euro… wow.. no negotiating needed.

And as a bonus. We mentioned the demise of my stalwart writing companion… and lo and behold he had a five leg pedestal that fits all the models and he gave that to us for free.

David has now repaired the old chair and he is going to use from now on to replace the wooden one currently doing the job. I love my new chair as it has a bit more padding which is a bonus for my butt… and very happy that an old friend is not going to end up on the scrap heap. Here they are together… family.

I am married to a man who thankfully believes in buying second hand… I was too…. and whilst it is lovely to have shiny new stuff….at the end of the day a little bit of wear and tear and a fantastic bargain is as satisfying as spending six time more on a new item.

Recycling is so important and as the landfills continue to grow into mountains of household goods that have been usurped by new items, it is well worth donating them to charity shops or passed on to people like this guy who provides a wonderful service. Thanks to Pat Harvey who also sells a multitude of other products for the home.. Wicklow Hygiene Products if you live in the area.. he’s your man!

On the subject of family and cathaoireacha…chairs

When David and I came over to Ireland in early November 1980 to meet his family (we met and married in 6 weeks) I was given a warm welcome. When presented with a glass of wine.. which was often.. I would wish everyone ‘cheers’. Eventually I asked what the Irish was for ‘cheers’ as as one they announced that it was ‘Kaheeraka’ (phonetically). For many years afterwards when in Ireland or in the company of Irish acquaintances, I would raise my glass and say ‘Kaheeraka’..  only discover that I had been hazed.. and what I was really saying was Cathaoireacha..’Chairs’. Gotta love family…. all in good fun….No wonder himself is laughing in this photograph taken that weekend…..

On with the posts from the week…

This week the beautiful Iris..

Recipes for beans to include in your family’s menus.. full of energy and nutrients. Homemade without all the additives.

Annette Rochelle Aben shares the universal energy of April and how it might impact us as individuals.. bring it on..

My guest today, Julia Benally shares what she did grab when she had two minutes to get out of her house, why it would be wise not to cross her freshly mopped floors, a very disconcerting Christmas holiday, her favourite children’s song and a rather bouncy mis-purchase…

One of life’s certainties is that at some point you are going to be rejected personally or professionally. It can happen at any age and because it is a certainty, it does pay to prepare for it, or if unexpected have some strategies to cope with it.

Trash can punch by the pool and a trip to San Diego and Sea World in April 1986

With any project plan you need to have a start point and and end point…measurement is the key to identify progress and also to create significant events that warrant celebration.

How much do you weigh now?

And how much should you weigh to be healthy?

This week for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills The prompt is the word ‘Eminence’ in all its glory…

This week’s response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 129

This week a one hit wonder… Rockin’ Robin by Bobby Day.. that was his only major chart hit, but led to a career as a successful songwriter.


My review of More Glimpses by Hugh W. Roberts – short stories across several genres with something for everyone.

Delighted to welcome Donna W. Hill to the blog with a series of posts from her archives. A wonderful story of a rescue cat.

Goofus, a male, Strawberry-blonde tabby, hangs upside-down in the family room: photo by Rich Hill

Please welcome Jen Moore who has been blogging about life with chickens, cats and children for five years.

This is the second post from the archives of  educator and storyteller Norah Colvin and this week Norah shares her own experiences of telling real stories about family to young children, not just their immediate family but passing on living history about those relatives we have met but the younger generation may not have.

Nor and Bec reading

Miriam Hurdle shares two post in one with a letter that she wrote to her daughter and then she shares a very special post where Mercy shares the words that she associates with her mother, and the strengths she has inherited from her.


Welcome to the third of the guest posts from author L.T. Garvin and this week a short story of the difficult transitional years between child and adulthood, commonly called the ‘Teens’. The story is infused with its author’s personal experiences.

New on the shelves

Author Updates Reviews

Thank you for dropping in today and for your support throughout the week. If you would like to be part of Smorgasbord Blog Magazine as a guest then please get in touch… either with posts from your archives on the subject of family… or as a guest writer on a variety of subjects.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss- Taste the Rainbow with #Irises

This week Paul shares some of the most beautiful Irises to adorn your garden. Don’t forget that Paul is only too delighted to ask your gardening questions…. please leave in the comments.

Parkers Bulbs

Iris was not a goddess but one of the titans- giants that ruled before the gods. According to Homer’s Illiad she was the gods’ messenger, flying between Mount Olympus and earth on the rainbow.

Iris by Yorkshire Victorian artist John Atkinson Grimshaw

You would think someone using the rainbow for transport would have bright iridescent wings to catch the sunlight and cast it back in a myriad of colours. But Iris’ wings were golden. The glorious rainbow wings you would expect to be hers by right belonged to her sister Arke – the second faint arc of the double rainbow.

During the war in heaven when the titans and gods fought for supremacy, Iris chose to become the gods’ messenger while Arke remained loyal to her kin, the titans. When the gods defeated the titans, Zeus cast her into Tartarus with the rest of her kin and deprived of her beautiful wings.

In later stories Iris wears a coat of many colours that forms the rainbow as she travels. The goddess Iris lent her name to the flower because it came in some many varieties of colour.

The Iris was sacred to Juno, the mother of the gods. The French Royal symbol the golden fleur de lis (lily of the field) is an iris.

Originally irises were not simply grown for their beauty but for the medicinal properties of Orris Root, (the fleshy tuber of the common European Flag Irises such as Florentina and Gerrmanica and Pallidia). Orris root was used as an anti-inflammatory and a purgative.
If any of you remember Rosemary’s Baby, while poor Rosemary was pregnant with the devil’s spawn, her friendly neighbourly Satanist, Minnie, gave her a silver pomander containing orris root. Rosemary found the smell earthy and unpleasant and threw it away.

In fact the smell of orris root is reminiscent of violets. The longer the root is left to mature the more fragrant it becomes. Since Roman times, orris root was used as perfume fixative, to make the scent last longer. In this, it is like ambergris: sperm whale vomit of the undigested parts of squid that has matured in the ocean. Lumps found washed up on beaches are worth more than gold.

Orris root is used in cosmetics such as face powders but can cause an allergic reaction. It is also a flavour in gin, which is essentially a specialist vodka tasting of a secret proprietary combination of 25 different herbal extracts including orris root and juniper berries. Orris root is said to taste of raspberries.

The most common irises, and the ones bred in a variety of colours, are the flag, or bearded, irises. The beard is a ridged yellow double frill in the centre of the petals that act as runways for bees. These European irises grow from swollen stems that run along the ground. The roots grow underneath that tuber.

Irises are sun lovers. To flower, the ground hugging tuber needs to be baked by the sun and so should be left proud of the soil. When the plants clump the old central tubers become unproductive. Therefore every couple of years divide the clump. Discard the old dead central tubers and plant the new tubers on top of the soil in late summer. To help the roots form, you need to stop the plant rocking about in the wind, therefore cut the leaves in half on an angle.
Irises are a large family, and while some like to be baked some like wet feet. The native British Yellow flag is one. Yellow Flag grows in water and is used to purify water by absorbing pollutants like agricultural chemical run off. In some American States it is considered an invasive weed.

Japanese Irises (RHS)

Japanese irises (unbearded) also like wet feet so if you like irises but have a boggy area these are the ones for you.

Iris Confusa (Flickr)

A favourite which I have grown for 3 years, and withstands the wet Welsh winters, is Iris Confusa. This is a tough plant that will grow in semi-shade and damp areas and adds a splash of exotica to the garden as it looks like something belonging to a jungle with its bamboo stems and lush palm-frond like leaves bejewelled with a profusion of small pale blue or white iris flowers. Be careful cutting back the manky leaves after winter as the new leaves grow inside the old ones.

Irises are a huge family of 300 species, so before we go here are a few exotics to mention:

(Dutch Bulbs & American Meadows)

Ixia and Sparaxis are two South African reasonably tough early summer bulbs (although check them out for your area). Ixia (Corn Lily) and Saparxis (Harlequin flower) spread quickly and easily and you can pick up bags of them cheaply. Watch it, as they are from South Africa they don’t like waterlogged soils.

The late summer bulbs Acidanthera (The Abyssinian Gladioli or Peacock Flower) and Tigridia (The Tiger Flower) are also easily available and like a hot position.

Like many bulbs plant them where they are well drained, perhaps on a slope or even lay them on an inch of gravel and mix gravel with the soil so they do not rot.

A bit more specialist are Watsonia and Chasmanthe. Also from South Africa they too like it hot and dry. I have found these difficult to grow and they need protection from frost and winter rains.

Both the magical and delicate Dierama or (Angels Fishing Rods) and Gladiolus Byzantium are definitely on my want list

Happy planting!

©Paul Andruss

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – Social Media, Jazz, Tulips, Cookery, Guests, short stories, poetry and guests.

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts that you may have missed.

The social media shenanigans continued this week with Facebook failing to respond and telling those kind enough to share or tag me in comments that I had been reported for abusive content. I had received no response after four weeks of appeals and emails so decided to pull the plug on my account completely late last week. I cannot have other people being embroiled in this, and also I felt that my reputation as an individual and an author was under attack and was potentially damaging. Without recourse to prove my innocence, I feel that it is becoming an issue for Facebook in general. I know that I am not the only person to have been treated in this manner, and I doubt the situation will improve.

I was on Facebook for ten years and had made many friends who have been incredibly supportive. If I was reported for alleged abuse, it would seem that 4000 other contacts did not feel the same way, as they would I am sure simply unfriended me.

Thankfully I can connected to most of those on other platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and now the developing MeWe. Because of that there has been no impact on the traffic to the blog, which I am pleased about because of the author promotions that run each week. The plus side is that I notice considerably less junk in my email spam folders which is interesting…..

If you are not already connected to me on those platforms then here are the links to my main sites.

LinkedIn: (a growing number of authors who after all are in business for themselves)
MeWe Personal:   (no ads, similar interface to Facebook, guarantee that they will not sell data)
MeWe – Authors Group with Debby Gies, Colleen Chesebro and other familiar names:
MeWe – Authors/Bloggers Circle:

Anyway.. onwards and upwards and here are the posts on Smorgasbord this last week. Enjoy….thanks Sally.

Yusef Abdul Lateef (born William Emanuel Huddleston; October 9, 1920 – December 23, 2013) was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer, and prominent figure among the Ahmadiyya Community in America.

Paul Andruss wanted to make sure that tulips in all their glory, received a showcase and so has written an extra column this month to do just that.

In her second guest post, L.T. Garvin shares a poem about an event in history that is forever etched in the memories of people around the world… It is one of those events that people ask “Where were you when….?”

This week Joy Lennick shares some shenanigans from her visits to an old people’s home where life was celebrated as much as possible, and sometimes romance overcame the sensibilities…

In this week’s R’s of Life, I explore our right to Freedom of Speech and Religion and our obligations with regard to them.

This week getting a project plan in place with some easy to follow rules to keep you on the straight and narrow as you embark on this healthy weight loss programme.

Last Sunday I was the guest of educator and storyteller Norah Colvin as part of her new series School Day Reminiscences Norah asked me about my education and schooling and I had to delve back over 60 years to access those memories…

My response to the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills offers us the prompt of a ‘bucket of water’. Following Elephants.

It is the time of the week when I attempt to get my syllables in a row to participate in Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 128

This week we find a lost puppy… and decided to swap are rented furniture for second hand at a great price.

This week we share the possible symptoms resulting from a vitamin B2 deficiency, the best food sources and Carol Taylor shares some amazing recipes with those food as ingredients.

My guest today is American poet and author Lynda Lambert who shares what is in her briefcase and purse, her fashion sense, a book close to her heart and dreams.

Balroop Singh shares her experiences and views on the traditional Indian Wedding and the enormous burden of the expense of the lead up and event.

This week Darlene Foster shares the sad loss of a family farm due to wildfires in 2017. Buildings that had weathered many a storm, and sadly the fires also brought tragedy to the community.


In her first post from 2015, Norah Colvin who is a dedicated participant in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge, was reminded about a family mystery. And she shares a way to share family relationships with young children.

This week Robbie Cheadle share a heartwarming poem about her son Michael.

Welcome to the last of the posts from Sharon Marchisello’s archives.This week the very important issue of keeping our elderly relatives safe with regard to their money should they become forgetful or worse develop dementia.

New Book on the Shelves

Author Update #Reviews

Thank you again for dropping by and your amazing support.. Have a wonderful week.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss – Tulipmania

Paul Andruss wanted to make sure that tulips in all their glory, received a showcase and so has written an extra column this month to do just that.

Tulipmania by Paul Andruss


Everyone knows tulips so there is not much to say about them. However would a little bit of their history make you appreciate them a bit more?

Tulips are native to the southern steppes bordering the Black and Caspian Seas from South Russia to Northern Iran and Afghanistan, then east to Turkmenistan and the Hindu Kush until their habitat of blistering dry summers and deeply cold winters is disrupted by Himalayan Plateau and the desert beyond. These steppes were the home of the Turkic nomads, who were not the same, but very similar to the horsemen of Mongolia. One such tribe were the Seljuk Turks.

A thousand years ago the Seljuks migrated into the inhospitable Anatolian high plateau now modern Turkey. The Byzantine Emperor welcomed them. He used the warlike tribe as allies to provide a buffer against the Persian Empire to the east, Rome’s traditional enemy. He was quite happy to let the Seljuks settle on the almost deserted plateau because it was deemed so inhospitable, due to its extremes of blistering cold winters and baking hot summers. The Seljuks, being from the equally harsh Steppes, found it a home from home and thrived.

The plateau became their Sultanate of Rum (Greek for Roman). Due to political upheavals the Seljuk rulers were ousted by the Ottoman Turks who conquered the Persia Empire, their Muslim neighbours, and in 1450 the biggest prize of all, the city of Constantinople. By this time Constantinople was also called Istanpolis, simply meaning The City – for there was no other like her. The name later became Istanbul. The Ottoman Empire lasted from 1300 to the end of World War 1 (1918) when Turkey became a secular Republic under Attaturk.

Tulips were first cultivated in Persia. Paradise is the Persian word for garden. The Seljuks introduced tulips to Turkey from newly conquered Persia. Islamic historians say in the 1570s the sultan ordered 350,000 bulbs imported from the provinces to beautify his palace gardens in Istanbul. In the 1600s the tulip became an iconic design on Iznik Ceramic Tiles decorating the new imperial pleasure palace called the Top-Kapi (Ball-Gate) after its ornate circular-arched doorways.

Tulip Design on Iznik tile (Yurdan)

It is claimed the Holy Roman Emperor’s ambassador first brought tulips to Europe in the 1550s but other sources claim seeing them all over Europe shortly after this period so they were probably introduced before. In 1590 the first book on tulips was produced in the Netherlands by a botanist who had introduced them from Vienna, the closest city to the Ottoman border. Tulips quickly became highly desirable luxury items.

A tulip, known as “the Viceroy” (viseroij), displayed in the 1637 Dutch catalog Verzameling van een Meenigte Tulipaanen. Its bulb was offered for sale between 3,000 and 4,200 guilders (florins) depending on size. A skilled crafts-worker at the time earned about 300 guilders a year. (Wikipedia)

Tulips were split into groups: those of single colours (red, yellow, or white) and multicolours with white streaks on a red or pink purple or lilac flower. The most coveted and expensive were ‘Bizarres’ with yellow or white streaks on a red, brown or purple background.

(Dutch Bulbs)

Tulips grown from seed take between 7 and 12 years to flower. Until they do (due to genetic variation) you don’t know what you are getting. After a tulip flowers the main bulb dies, leaving a rosette of bulblets, clones of the original parent plant, which then take years to mature.

It was noted tulips grown from seed did not always produce these highly desirable streaks, but those cultivated from the bulblets of those with streaks did. The problem was these bulblets often died before they matured.

In those days gardeners knew nothing about viruses. Today we know the tulip mosaic virus causes the streaks… and a virus is not a good thing to be running rampant through your very expensive tulip collection.

Because of the long years waiting for seeds develop or bulblets to mature, there was a speculative frenzy in the 1600s called Tulip Mania. People bought immature bulbs knowing it they developed a spectacular flower they could sell the side bulblets for extraordinary prices as breeding stock to nurserymen.

We have the same thing today. In the modern financial world it is called ‘futures’… For example you buy next year’s wheat harvest at a reduced price hoping by the time next year’s harvest comes the price will have gone up and you will make a profit. However what you have bought currently does not exist, so if the harvest fails…

People bought the tiny new bulblets of marvellously streaked tulips, knowing as each year passed, and they got more mature, they could sell them on profitably. But if the bulb died or was not infected by the virus then the gamble failed.

Semper Augustus Tulip (Wikipedia)

In 1630 one Semper Augustus Tulip bulb sold for the modern equivalent of €28,750, or £25,500 or $34,500. A sale of 40 bulbs came in at €1,150,000, £1,022,000 or $1,200,000.
In 1637 when dealers did not show up at a bulb auction the madness was over. The bubble burst and tulips lost around 99.99% of their value. Investors were ruined.

Today breeding streaked tulips remains the holy grail of growers. It has been painstaking achieved by managing selection and cross breeding from the seeds of non-infected bulbs.
Parks and gardens dig up tulip bulbs after flowering and throw them away, because they don’t flower as well in following years. But I confess until writing this article I have never knew why. It is because, as I said, the main bulb dies and you have to wait for the new bulblets to mature.

Gardeners say dig up your tulip bulbs after they flower and dry them out. Last year I neither threw them away of dug them up, but left them in pots over summer under cover in the dry. So far the results have been a mixed bag. The tulips have survived but some have not flowered, these are obviously the immature ones. Oh well, there is always next year!

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – Social Media Shenanigans, Spring Flowers, Mexican Getaways, Italian Food, music, humour and Fabulous Guests

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts that you might have missed.

Firstly, an update on the Facebook debacle which only gets worse I am afraid. I know that several of you have been hit by blocked posts that contain links and are still having issues. I can comment, and share posts internally on Facebook but post links are still being blocked.

Disturbingly today that included the link to Debby Gies Sunday Interview which I sent to her in a Direct Message… supposedly private! It was blocked and in bold red told me that it did not meet community standards. I have appealed of course but it does have a warning for us all. Do not disclose private information in a direct message. For example if as they say Facebook is selling our data to health insurance companies, and we mention in a private message about a health issue we have to a friend, and then apply for insurance! Does that sound paranoid? Probably. What about your email address that you send in a message, or your postal address and the dates you will be away on vacation.

I had no illusions about Facebook but they have now embarked on a wholesale censorship programme that is unacceptable. They want you to have a page where they can bombard you with messages to boost your post to thousands of others at a cost. And they want to encourage you to buy from one of their advertisers and when you do, by all accounts you never hear the last of them.

I have friends and family on Facebook and I can at least for the time being share your posts from there. But over the next few weeks as MeWe grows and develops and the author’s group which now has nearly 50 members – I will be only using Facebook sparingly to stay in touch and to share others work internally. Eventually, I will be closing my account as I won’t be blackmailed or have any more of my private messages intercepted.

On a brighter note.. I have done the sums and the statistics show that the referrals to the blog is approximately 10%…thankfully most of those who share from Facebook are also contacts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or other sites that I am a member of such as MeWe. My main concern was for the book promotions that I post for other authors but after two weeks there has been no change to the response which is a relief.

Thank you for all your support and I appreciate all the shares to FB from here in the past, but I have now permanently removed the share button, as I don’t want you to be faced with messages from FB telling you that it is not allowed. They are intimidating and offer not recourse so I am done.

And as an aside.. new users are asked for a photograph before they are allowed to sign up for an account. It can take several days to get back to you. But in the meantime with facial recognition they can have mined a great deal of information about who you are and your history online. Whilst this does mean that the fake generals and other trolls will not be accepted, it also means that they can pick and choose who they admit to the site and if you do not fit their profile as a potential buyer of the advertising that they send your way… who knows where it will lead!

It is now affecting millions of users and you might find this post interesting sourced by Carol Taylor:

On with the posts from the week, and as always I am very grateful to the contributors who spend time and a great deal of effort to write columns and guest articles.

Welcome to Debby Gies March edition of her Travel Column where she shares the first part of her trip and two month vacation in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.. and the flight did not go as planned!

This week Paul Andruss shares the bulbs that will make your late spring garden abundant with colour.

This week my guest is regular contributor non-fiction author D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies who reveals her contents of her purse, fashion sense, strangest dream and her love (hate) of the vacuum!

This week Silvia Todesco shares a fabulous recipe for oven baked, bacon wrapped cod which has to be a family favourite..

This week we look at the health benefits of honey… and Carol Taylor uses this as an ingredient in some stunning dishes.

A new series looking at ‘One Hit Wonders‘ from the 1950s onwards….this week ‘Lollipop’ by Ronald and Ruby…who were they, were are they now?

My response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 127 and this week the prompt words are ‘Follow and Lead’…. I have chosen ‘Succeed and Hint’ as my synonyms.

A further look at the rights as laid down by the United Nation that we should all be entitled to, but have an obligation to protect.

It is March 1986 and we drive back from Atlanta in one day.. and attend a BBQ cookout in Conroe Texas, this is my letter home to my parents in the UK.

This week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills involves a chisel…as a noun or a verb… you will also enjoy Charli’s description of the thaw that is occurring on her finger (or thumb) that reaches out in to Lake Superior- here is my response – The Dancer.

Before you Get Started on your weight loss programme– Managing People, Environment and your expectations

This week Balroop Singh shares her experience of arranged marriages and her own happy relationship.

This week Darlene Foster finds and visits the grave of her great-great-grandmother.


In this post Jennie Fitzkee shares the connections that she was able to make between reading Little House on the Prairie and her own grandfather from a similar era and his experiences of mining.


This week Robbie Cheadle shares a wonderful poem that she wrote on 9th of February 2017 which was her sixteenth Wedding Anniversary…


Sharon Marchisello shares the strategies that her mother employed to make the most of every penny.

Bette Stevens shares a moving poem in tribute to her mother.

New book on the shelves

Author Updates – Reviews

Thank you very much for all your support and I would love to hear from you about any of the posts or if you would like some book promotion. .Have a great week.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss – Light up your life with brilliant late spring bulbs

Light up your life with brilliant late spring bulbs

From March onwards bulb flowers get bigger and more spectacular.

Trillium (American Meadows)

Shade and damp loving Trilliums grow in woodland from North American to East Asia. They come in shades of red and white three-petal flowers. They are expensive to buy as they grow slowly. You are better buying a couple of adult plants rather than seeds. In fact I recommend that for all bulbs and tubers as they take years to get going.

(Parker bulbs)

Snakehead Lilies or Fritilleria like damp places too. These elegant nodding bells have Checker-board patterns in brown and maroon reminiscent of snake skin and are sometimes pure white. The good news is once they like a place they will grow like weeds and they are cheap to buy.


A relative, which is well worth growing, is Fritilleria Imperialis. They can grow over 3 feet high. The two varieties have either a ring of 3 inch long orange or yellow bells under a green leaf rosette cap. The bulbs are large and so expensive to buy. Plant them on their side on an inch thick bed of gravel to stop them rotting. If water gets into the crown they will rot. They like a lot of water and feeding when growing and will die back down to nothing by mid-summer, when they need to be kept as dry as possible.

(Parkers bulbs)

Pagoda lilies or Dog tooth Violet are so called because the bulb looks like a dog’s canine tooth. Although they look delicate they are pretty trouble free. Depending on species the flowers come in yellow, white or pink. Like all bulbs they die back in summer to nothing.
The small pink flower in the picture is called Corydalis. Its feathery fern-like foliage comes up in early spring followed by profuse spires of small trumpet like flowers in bright yellow, pink, sky blue or mauve (depending on the plant). These small bulbs love damp, are trouble free, spread easily and will die back in summer. They are stars in their own right but certainly set off other spring plants.

Anemone De Cean with Anemone Blanda inset (American Meadows)

Anemone or the wind flower come in two main types. De Cean (named after the French town) and Coronaria are colourful open buttercup type flowers (anemones are part of the buttercup family). In damp Wales they can be a bit difficult. Blanda is one of my favourites and easy to grow. They look like blue or white daisies- they are tough and will carpet any area under trees over the years.


Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is a relative to the anemone and very beautiful. I remember falling in love with it after seeing it growing along the roadsides in Turkey. It is called the Pasque Flower because it comes up around Easter and has a purple colour, which is traditionally the colour associated with Christ’s passion and crucifixion.

Camassia (American Meadows)

Camassia are a tough family of bulbs, easy to grow, gorgeous to look at. They take any amount of wet and cold coming up year after year. They grow in moist meadows in North America and naturalise very easily. They come in a variety of sizes and colours, as long as you like blue (Which fortunately I do). I have a dwarf pale-blue about 8 inches high and deep violet and mid-blue forms both almost 2 foot high. They also come in white, but I am not keen as white flowers tend to get hammered by the spring rains here and go mushy.


Peruvian Squill are large bulbs that are tough as old boots and have spectacular large blue flowers. They are also called Portuguese Squill.

One legend has it that the bulbs flowered on the Scilly Isles after being washed up after a ship from Peru was shipwrecked. The truth is not quite so exotic. The first ship to bring the bulbs to England in 1773 was from Portugal and called The Peru. The plants scientific name was a mistake of the ship’s name for the country. It’s mistaken but popular place of origin (South America) also led it to be called the Cuban Lily or the Peruvian Hyacinth.

I bought 2 bulbs last year ready to flower for £5.00 in late April. Unfortunately transplanting caused the flower shoots to wilt and the plants died back. This year in mid-January they were about 6 inches high and had been coming up since December with no protection in the garden. Unfortunately the tender leaves got blasted by severe cold weather blast in March. The leaves of one bulb wilted but is now recovering and the other is doing fine.

Alliums and Nectarscordium (Parkers Bulbs)

Allium & Nectarscordium are related to onions, they produce huge balls of individual small bell flowers in early summer. They come in shades of purple, white and blue and some of the more spectacular ones look like firework explosions in the garden. In early spring they produce a large amount of strappy green limp leaves. Late spring they begin to flower. By this point the leaves are dying and unlike daffodils the leaves can be cut off without injuring the plant to leave the naked flower stems.

Nectarscordium, or Bulgarian Allium, have delicate hanging umbels of pale yellow flowers with deep maroon throats. They are very tough, but dislike wet feet in summer when they are resting.

Happy planting!

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round up – Social Media Woes, Jazz, Gardening, Italian Recipes, Nutritional cooking, Flash Fiction and Books Galore

Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week… especially if you normally pick them up on Facebook!

I won’t go into detail as I covered it in a post early in the week, but suffice to say that I was in Facebook quarantine for two days with my posts removed as not meeting the community standards and I also received notification that someone has reported my posts as offensive.  I also got this message when I tried to share other blogger’s posts.

Those clicking the Facebook share button were also getting a blocked message and rather than cause them upset, I removed the button until Friday after I had sent numerous appeals to the governing body and emails (still no response) and I was able to finally share from other blogs and those sharing from here got through.

I have not posted any links to the blog posts themselves until today.. and hopefully you are reading this because it has gone onto my timeline.

I am not the only person to be affected this week including Debby Gies who you know as a regular contributor here. It is allegedly down to the new policies on fake news and too many external URLS being posted.

Clearly though someone thought that book promotions and health posts were offensive and rather than hit the unfriend button, decided to report me.

That’s life… Going forward I am restricting my own links to other blogger’s posts and once week my round up and hopefully we can maintain the status quo.

In the meantime several of us have also joined MeWe with is a similar interface as Facebook but is more user friendly. They also guarantee that none of our data will be sold. It is early days, but if you are an author you might like to check it out, as Colleen Chesebro, Debby Gies and myself are part of a Literary Diva’s Library on the new site to help you promote your books, reviews and interviews. Just click the image and it will take you there.. my personal profile is

Anyway.. no more drama…… and on with the week’s posts…

This week William Price King introduces us to the unique talents of jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding.

This week Paul Andruss introduces us to the Hellebores… and some of the poisonous beauties much loved in ancient times as instruments of death…including deadly nightshade.

The next in the series to prevent nutritional deficiency by creating dishes containing the nutrient for the whole family… Carol Taylor has produced some wonderful recipes using ingredients rich in Vitamin B1.

In the second of this series, Silvia Todesco shares a traditional ricotta and beef meatballs in tomato sauce….


My personal stuff – Short stories and poetry

My response to Diana Wallace Peach’s monthly speculative fiction photo prompt..a story titled A Moment of Alignment.

Colleen Chesbro’s weekly poetry challenge is an escape from my WIP that I look forward to…. this week my poem was an etheree… March Hares

This week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction was to create a story about a mouse.. in 99 words, no more, no less….

This week a look at how our childhood can influence both our willpower and how we regard the food that we eat. Understanding your relationship to food is important for health and also for weight loss.

This week a look at more of the official human rights as laid down by the United Nations, and our obligation to protect that right and to abide by the law… and when you look at the mortality rates of car accidents vs. murder rates and the high percentage of fatalities associated with texting and drink driving, you will find it hard to separate the two.

An unexpected gift of a turkey causes untold mayhem in the farmyard which as always creates an entertaining episode from the family archives of Linda Bethea

There are a number of flash fiction challenges on WordPress that are really fun to take part in and certainly do hone our skill at brevity.. Here is a post from Joy Lennick’s archives on the subject and an example of her own flash fiction.

I am delighted to welcome author L.T. Garvin (Lana Broussard) to Smorgasbord with a series of guest posts, and her first is a heartrending poem about the past, her family and the devastating loss of a mother in wartime. Lana will be joining us every two weeks until April 8th.

My guest this week is author Ann Barnes who shares the animal she would like to have a conversation with, her weirdest dream, what is in her handbag, and what she would have done differently.

This series offers you a chance to share posts from your own archives that you would like seen by a new audience. Perhaps a post your wrote a year or so ago. If you are interested you can click on the link in any of the posts below to get the details. It is another opportunity to promote your books or other creative work as well.

Can you remember your first flight in a plane? Poet and author Balroop Singh shares hers which was a magical experience… she would love to hear about yours.

Childrens/YA author Darlene Foster, shares more of her extended family that emigrated to Canada in the 1900s… this time her father’s relatives.

Jennie Fitzkee who has over 30 years experience as a pre-school teacher, and loves sharing stories with her class, shares her childhood in relations to fairy stories and how many have an element of violence. She explores the need for a reality check for children from an early age about life in general, but there need to be guidelines on how they are introduced.

Robbie Cheadle spends a great deal of time tempting us to eat scrumptious baked delights, and this is no exception as she shares the family recipe of Granny Una’s apple pie…bibs on…

Sharon Marchisello learnt some valuable financial lessons from her parents, and this week the advice given to her by her father.

Children’s author Bette A. Stevens shares her poem in tribute to her grandmother.

New Book on the Shelves book on the shelves

Author Updates – Reviews

Thank you very much for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed the posts. Thank to those who have shared to Facebook, sometimes using alternative methods!  I appreciate the support.

Hopefully all is more or less back to normal!!!!!!


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss – Heavenly Hellebores

Welcome to the Gardening Column with Paul Andruss… deft of word and an expert in the plant department, he is sharing bringing glorious colour to our gardens.

Heavenly Hellebores.

Hellebores (Yours Magazine)

Despite flowering early in the year, when there is hardly anything in the garden, hellebores were often ignored. They were considered dull and rather bashfully hung their heads. So much so some gardeners put mirrors under the plants so they could see the flowers.

Hellebores came in two types. There was a white variety (ironically Black Hellebore) optimistically called the Christmas Rose, which never flowers at Christmas, and a pink called the Lenten Rose; blooming from Lent through Spring. In actual fact both varieties bloom during much the same time.

Hellebores are not roses, but part of the buttercup family. The name is because the flowers are a similar shape to dog roses. Flowers are made from tough coloured bud-coatings, called sepals, not flimsy petals. This means they flower for weeks rather than days and can stand anything winter throws at them. I have seen Hellebores frozen to the ground perk up once the weather thaws and look none the worse for wear. Hellebores survive in temperatures low as -26 C (-15F).

Hel, a Norse Death Goddess and daughter of Loki the mischievous wild-fire god, appropriately lived in a frozen realm named after her. Unfortunately she does not lend her name to Hellebores.

The name originates with the Ancient Greeks and means Helle (to injure) and Bora (food) as many species are poisonous. In one Greek legend, attackers used hellebores to poison the water supply of a besieged city; leaving the defenders so weak from diarrhoea they no longer had the strength to man the walls.

Any gardening column will sooner or later talk about poisonous plants: something that will no doubt cheer up all you Jane Marples, or perhaps, more macabrely, Lucrecia Borgias. Unfortunately this is not that column. Not today. But here’s something to be going on with:

Aconite (Gardenaggo)

The shade loving aconite (Monkshood) with its spikes of blue bells is called the witch flower and queen of poisons. The plant, sacred to the witch goddess Hecate, is poisonous in all its parts: stem leaves and root.

It is also called wolf’s bane as the ancient Greeks dipped their wolf hunting arrows in a toxin made from it. Symptoms of aconite poisoning are supposed to resemble rabies: frothing at the mouth and impaired vision leading to coma. Legend has it Wolf’s bane is a cure for werewolves. Hence the poem in the 1941 Universal film The Wolfman: Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms and the autumn moon is bright

Deadly Nightshade (botanakaiygeia.blogspot)

Another is Belladonna, which comes from the deadly nightshade family that gives us eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, chili and capsicums. It was called belladonna because in medieval times women used a potion made from its sap to paralyse the pupils, leaving their eyes dilated: a biological sign of sexual arousal.

But enough of sex and murder, let’s get back to Hellebores, shall we?

Over the past decade, breeders have introduced plants with perky upright flowers, fringed, speckled and doubles in a variety of colours ranging from a maroon so deep it appears black to sunshine yellow.

New Variety Hellebores (Savvy Gardening)

As with any new varieties, especially ones that involve a 5 year-long investment from a grower, they are expensive. They can be up over £15, probably translating to about $25 for a reasonable size plant.

I would never pay top dollar buy a hellebore unless it is in flower. I have seen plants bearing no relation to the picture on the label. An alternative is to spend a quarter of the price for smaller plants and be patient. I bought small plants and 3 years later they have filled the pots.

Be warned Hellebore might not look reasonably sized when you buy them in early spring because most of the plant is underground in the pot. What counts is a large healthy root.
Hellebores flower before they get new leaves. Established plants will still have old leaves when they flower. Many gardeners cut back the old leaves, which are looking quite manky, to be frank, to expose the coming flowers. It does no damage to the plant, which will leaf up in late spring.

Hellebores are trouble free. Partial-shade lovers, they do best sheltered from the summer sun. I grow mine in pots; moving them to the back of the garden in summer.

Hellebores are promiscuous, producing seed of different colours. They are easy to grow from seed, but the vast majority of new plants are muddy colours. This is why they are expensive. Growers need to cultivate hundreds of seedlings to flowering size, keeping the best, discarding the rest, then propagating the specular ones through root cuttings.

As you know I am economical gardener. Let’s face it I’m as a tight as a duck’s arse… and that’s water- tight! Now is a great time to buy hellebores from the cheap-seats in the garden centre: better than half-price. If you can, pick those with faded flowers to confirm the colour. Otherwise take pot luck, they might not be exact but then you might not be as fussy as me.

If you want a robust exotic looking summer plant for a semi-shaded place in the garden I recommend Corsican and Stinking Hellebores – it don’t stink!) These sub-shrubs have exotic deeply cut foliage, although their towers of green bell like flowers are not unattractive, if unsecular. They will get winter damage and even die back to the ground but they do return!

Corsican Hellebore (Gardinesta)

Happy poisoning…
Sorry meant to write gardening!

©Paul Andruss 2018

Thank you again to the Paul for sharing his expertise in relation to plants and in this case the murderous history of the Hellebores…. perfect for thriller and murder writers..

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

My thanks again to Paul for another informative post to help us fill our gardens with colour. If you have any questions for Paul on gardening, please put in the comments.. thanks Sally

You can find Paul’s posts and the Gardening Column in this directory

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Estate Agent Code, Gardening, Roast Dinners, Numerology, Italian Cookery, Editing, music and Books galore..

Welcome to the round up of posts on Smorgasbord this week that you might have missed.

It has been a varied week weather wise as we had a false spring for two days and then were plunged back into frosts and rain. I sat out for an hour in the garden those two days and it was wonderful. I was tempted to come out of hibernation but I am now back in the cave waiting for the real deal.

We need good weather for the next phase of the garden renovation at the back of the house which will have the current tarmac extended and the creation of an outside eating area to take advantage of the summer late evenings. With the addition of some benches in various places and some more tubs of flowers the garden will be complete.

We have a few jobs left inside and the plan is to put the house on the market, probably spring of 2020 and then downsize. We have been here for three years in June and it was always intended as a ‘doerupper’ as far too big for just two of us. It has gone from a wreck to a lovely family home and deserves to have children running around it to bring it to life.

We have no idea where we will go next, but at least with the Internet, google maps and satellite views, you can explore everywhere these days and see every detail of a property in relation to towns and facilities to the neighbours. Estate agents rarely (never) provide any downsides to a property, using a creative approach to descriptions, as you will see from this info graphic courtesy of House Simple

As always my thanks to the contributors who create some amazing posts to share here. And to everyone who has visited this week and like, commented and shared the posts.

This week Paul shares the beauty of primulas..

How to get fluffy Yorkshire puddings crisp on the outside, and produce the perfect pork crackling…

Annette Rochelle Aben shares the universal energy for the month of March and what it means for us as individuals.

Sarah Calfee is an editor who specializes in romance, and all the sub-genres. In this first post, she shares the various roles involved in editing.

This week’s guest is childrens/YA author Audrey Driscoll. Sharing her love of Tofino, dislike of swimming and the contents of her purse.

A new guest writer Silvia Todesco, and her first post is an appetizer and in the coming weeks she will be sharing a full Italian menu for us to enjoy.


I was very honoured to be nominated for the Sunshine Blogger award by Mary Smith of Mary Smith’s Place to whom I am most grateful….if you want to find out about my first attempts at forgery at age 7……

I was the guest of Sue Vincent this week with a story about Sam, our Shaggy Dog and Henry the feral cat… Henry shares his story

Guest author: Sally Cronin ~ Henry’s Story from Sam, a Shaggy Dog Story

Another post in the series The R’s of Life, and this week part one of a look at the basic human rights as laid out by the United Nations.. and our obligations to respect and protect those rights.

The second part of the romantic ballad requests from Valentines day by Brigid Gallagher, Mary Smith, Jennie Fitzkee, Darlene Foster and a special performance by William Price King..

Our first trip to Atlanta in 1986, Gone with the Wind and home of Coco-Cola

My response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 125. From Cave to Stars – Double Etheree

In this post, I share how to starve the overgrowth of Candida Albicans, at the same time as nourishing the body.

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge -‘Buried in the Snow.

Poet Balroop Singh shares memories of her family home and how we become attached to them throughout our lives.

Children’s author Darlene Foster shares some of her family’s history and their arrival in Canada from southern Russia.

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Jennie Fitzkee shares her memories of living in her log house and listening to the trains at night.

A lovely tribute to Robbie Cheadle’s mother

Sharon Marchisello shares her mother’s very wise advice when it comes to money.

New book on the shelves

Author Updates and Reviews

Thank you for dropping in and I hope to see you again next week.. thanks Sally