Surprise Plant

Milly Molly Mandy
When we need a little comfort-reading we always turn to Milly Molly Mandy. We chat about what it would be like to live in a little white cottage with a thatched roof with a brook at the bottom of the nearest meadow. It’s a very nice fantasy, and quite different from our current “eat your breakfast!”…”Hurry up! We’re late! We’re leaving in five minutes!”…”Can someone wipe Lily’s nose/hands?!” reality. At the beginning of last Spring we read the story “Milly Molly Mandy and the Surprise Plant”. MMM is given a little mystery seedling as a gift and plants it in her garden. As the Summer goes by the plant grows and grows; “It spread out branches along the earth, with tendrils which curled round any stalk or twig they met and held fast.” After much theorising It turns out to be a prolific pumpkin. After giving away the largest pumpkin for Harvest Festival they cook up the rest and everyone gets a little bread and butter with pumpkin and ginger jam spread on it.

So of course we decided we should plant a pumpkin to fill the new garden bed which we had put in when the deck was taken away (hooray!). True to the story the crawling creeper has grown and grown and is slowly but surely spreading it’s long tentacle, triffid-like arms around the garden. Amelia keeps talking about growing a prize winning pumpkin. “Ooh, this sunshine will be good for our Prize Winning Pumpkin!” etc. Despite the enthusiasm we have only just seen a few male flowers popping up their heads in the last couple of weeks and nothing in the way of female flowers let alone any signs of a pumpkin. Perhaps it’s been the lack of rain or maybe our new topsoil is lacking in goodies, but I may have to wait until next year and another attempt to try my hand and pumpkin and ginger jam. Perhaps Jane will have a recipe in her book!


30 Responses to “Surprise Plant”

  1. glorydaze

    I never read MMM but she looks a lot like the little girl in my fav childhood book which I coincidentally just blogged about called The Best Teddy Bear in the World.

  2. Emma

    It’s nice to see you back again! We have a pumpkin vine that seems to have sprouted out of our untended compost heap and is slowly spreading across the lawn. At least it looks like there might be one pumpkin on it. If only our lemon tree was as easy to look after…

  3. Kuky

    I’ve never read Milly Molly Mandy. I really like the illustration though and will put it on my wish list.

  4. zoesquid

    Your courtyard looks so sweet. I havent tried MMM but Im always on the look out for a good book to read to the girls. Thanks for the tip. It was nice to meet you last night.Libby

  5. Tan

    oooh i loved reading milly molly mandy when I was little! my favourite one was when she did up the attic with the sloped roof…with the new curtains…and was always curious about what bread and dripping would taste like…aah the memories 🙂

  6. Frogdancer

    Maybe this isn’t the year for pumpkins. Mine did nothing, but the tomatoes ans zucchini were another story. I read MMM as a kid; my mum passed down her books. Such gentle, happy stories!

  7. Krista

    Oooh, that vine is impressive! Wait, you never know you may just end up with a pumpkin or two. The ladies may just be fashionably late is all. That pumpkin and ginger jam sounds worth holding out hope for….So nice to see you back blogging, too!

  8. Elizabeth

    I’ll never forget the year that my parents decided to spread their compost all over their beautiful, 1/4 acre garden, only to discover that the pumpkin seeds in their compost hadn’t broken down sufficiently.A few weeks later, they found that they were involuntary pumpkin farmers! It was very amusing, especially since their gardens have always been beautifully landscaped.

    (By the way, it’s so nice to see you back in my RSS reader – you were missed!)

  9. Stacie.Make.Do.

    Pumpkins won’t flower if they don’t have enough water or sunlight, or if they are growing too close to an inhibiting plant like iris or sunflowers.Love MMM and SSS. Oh, and can’t wait for that new cookbook of Jane’s!

    Good to have you back blogging so I can lurk around again…

  10. Cara

    Wow – I loved MMM when I was a little girl, and I recognised the image as soon as I saw it, I hadn’t realised how ingrained it was in my mind.

  11. Lindsey

    Hi Claire,So glad your site is back up, I have been reading yours for a few years. Just a random fact, when you last stopped blogging I was living in the states (where I am from) and since August I’ve been living in Melbourne going to grad school. Melbourne, AUS is absolutely the best place to live. Keep up the great stories.


  12. Amy

    We always plant pumpkins, and we’ve never gotten a prize-winner. But that’s okay, because we plant them for the blossoms. If you go out and collect the pumpkin blossoms early in the morning, wash them, and put them in a bowl of water in your fridge until you’re ready to cook them… then you can dip them in egg and crushed cracker crumbs, sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, and fry them up in a skillet. We use butter-flavored shortening to fry them, although plain butter or olive oil would probably work too, just give it a different flavor. They’re so good.

  13. pip

    Yes, yes, yes to Milly Molly Mandy! Such lovely drawings and smashing good times – and was such a button eyed girl too!Our pumpkins are midgets still – only about 1 inch tall! I’m guessing we are a little late on the pumpkin front, but Ari and I are sure trying anyway!

    Happy day, Miss Claire!

  14. Steph

    I reread Milly Molly Mandy recently and I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed it just as much as I did 20 yrs ago.

  15. Rachel

    Hi Claire,So lovely to see you back – I have checked every few months or so to see if you’ve posted and you’ve made my day. Hope you’ve enjoyed the time out and looking forward to seeing what you are up to.Rachel

  16. Lightening

    I think I had a deprived childhood. I’ve never read a Milly Molly Mandy book. 🙁 Having said that, I did buy DD a copy a month or so back and popped it away in the cupboard. Perhaps I need to get it out and read it myself first. :)Ooh….we have a pumpkin taking over our backyard. The kids swing set is about to be engulfed!!!

  17. Ulla

    I was a huge fan of Milly Molly Mandy too, and just a few years ago my daughter Kaija (paperiaarre) repaired those little books when she was studying to become a bookbinder.

  18. Starashan

    we’ve had those grow out of the compost- I am pretty sure yours is the same- a canteloupe.-Sherrin

  19. Crystal

    I am so happy you have returned!You pumpkin plant looks might fine even if no female flowers. Sometimes they surprise you and you wake up to tiny baby pumpkins. I hope it surprises you. 🙂

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