April 2017

Hello Everyone

April 2017

We are well into our autumn season, the last quinces were picked off the trees last week, the autumn colours are glowing amongst the green freshness brought about by recent abundant rains. Yesterday I saw an elderly man and a young man, perhaps grandfather and grandson, hand raking large leaves in a churchyard. The swish swish of the rake on the still day added a further dimension to this nostalgic scene.

I do enjoy the dahlias, chrysanthemums and gladioli which flower at this time of the year in our garden.

Photo 1: Warm autumn tones of chrysanthemums in the side garden. M. Long
Photo 2: Cooler tones in autumn. M. Long
Photo 3: Autumn tones of this dahlia replace the mid to dark reds of the rose ‘Frensham’ garden. M. Long
Photo 4: A striking colour contrast. M. Long
Photo 5: The ornamental grape ‘Amurensis.’ M. Long

For over twenty years I have tried to have roses arching over the wooden archways that my husband built along the pathway that leads to the far corner. The possums have beaten me to it every year. So a year or two ago I decided that we could try growing the ornamental grape over the archways. Cuttings were taken off the ornamental grape that grows on the eastern wall of the house. This is its first season in the ground and it has grown well as can be seen from the photo. I am hoping that next year it will be up and over the archway. The autumn foliage matches the colour below of the Trachelospernum jasminoides and the red coral Schizostylis coccinea. I know that I have a photo somewhere to illustrate this combination, but as I can’t find it, the autumn photos of these plants can be found on Google.

In April 2013 I wrote about the Acer griseum. I am repeating the text here for the many readers who have subscribed since then.

“One of my favourite trees at this time of the year is the Acer griseum, or paper bark maple, from China. They were two of the first trees that I planted in this garden twenty years ago. I was so enthusiastic to have them, that two were planted each side of a pathway. The ground gets quite waterlogged on one side, and as these acers prefer dryish soil, they grew unevenly. Now, with other plantings of trees and shrubs taking up the moisture, and a trench being dug by my husband to move the water away, we have two Acer griseum that are evenly displaying vivacious copper, burnt copper, and rich green colours, particularly when the sun shines. The added bonus is that A. griseum has rich brown bark which curls and peels throughout the year, giving it the name of the paper bark maple, AND it is wind tolerant. Being a small tree, why not try it if you don’t already have one? It doesn’t have dense foliage so doesn’t give heavy shade for under planting. Ours is limbed up quite a bit so that we can enjoy the peeling bark trunk and limbs.”

Photo 6: Acer griseum with its autumn colour. M. Long

Last month I wrote about Stenocarpus sinuatus. Stan Smith, a reader from Lancefield, near Melbourne, wrote: “I love Stenocarpus; a beautiful tree. I cannot grow it in Lancefield due to winter frosts. We have some good ones in Melbourne. Google the artist Margaret Preston and Stenocarpus and you will find some beautiful woodcut prints.”

Many of you will remember John Nelson, the man who, along with Tim Smit, lead the restoration of the Lost Gardens of Heligan. I arranged a ten lecture tour of New Zealand, with John as guest speaker in 2000. John was presented with the Veitch Memorial medal in 2008 for his outstanding practical work over many years in the restoration of the Lost Gardens of Heligan. John passed away in January 2014 and his ashes have been placed, by his wife Lyn, in the top of the wall between the Italian Garden and The Melon Garden at the Heligan gardens.

Plum and Amaretti Bake: Marilyn McRae

This is a recipe I’ve made with dark-fleshed plums, but also with roasted quince. I think any tart fruit would be delicious. It is light and flavoursome; scrumptious as a dessert or with coffee. I imagine it would also be a happy thing with an autumnal glass of rose or chilled late harvest wine!
The amaretti are always in the supermarkets at Christmas time and I buy some then…they keep for ages. They are also available from Ballantynes ‘food hall’ and quite often throughout the year in some supermarkets.
It would be possible to make the ‘bake’ without the amaretti, but they do give a deep almond flavour. Try adding some pure almond essence and maybe scattering flaked almonds over the plums before baking.

  • 4-5 tart plums
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g very soft butter (but not melted)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 7 amaretti biscuits, crumbled

Heat oven to 180 degrees (fan bake 160 degrees). Grease and line a 30cm x 23cm traybake tin or a 23 cm round flan dish. I haven’t baked it as a cake, but a 20cm round tin could be use and the cake baked for about 10 mins longer. Halve the plums, de-stone and cut halves into four. Set aside.

Put all the ingredients except the fruit and the amaretti into a medium-sized bowl and beat with an electric hand beater or wooden spoon for a minute or two until it’s light and fluffy. Stir through the crumbled amaretti and scrape into the prepared tin. Level the surface with the spoon or spatula. Arrange the plum pieces, wedges of roasted quince, slices of tart apple etc.

Bake 30 – 40 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre of the bake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 – 15 mins and then lift onto a cooling rack. Cut into squares and dredge with icing sugar. If serving as a dessert, serve immediately or warm and dredge with the icing sugar just before plating.



About Frensham

Our relaxed country garden started twenty nine years ago. In the early days I had very little gardening experience and no vision for the site, but an interest in plants was quickly developing. Over the years, with much trial and error, a garden has emerged which we and our visitors do enjoy.

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139 Old Tai Tapu Rd, Christchurch 8025, New Zealand
+64 3 3228 061

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