April 2021

Hello Everyone

April 2021

We’ve had a lot of visitors to the garden this autumn and it is encouraging to see more people coming at a different time of the year; not just when the roses and perennials are in flower. There are, of course, many roses still flowering and I do think that they are at their best in autumn. They have more fragrance when not diluted by the sun’s heat, the colours are clearer, and the roses themselves look more relaxed.

Much of the autumn colour is well underway now and hosta leaves have nearly all died off. As you walk through our woodland area a gentle perfume from the shrub Osmanthus burkwoodii wafts in the air. The tiny white flowers are barely visible.

Marilyn, who writes nearly all of the recipes, is someone whom many of our visitors meet when they come to the garden. Another of Marilyn’s talents, apart from cooking and gardening, is flower and foliage arranging. A friend had a dinner party last week and the first two photos show the modest, low arrangement that Marilyn created for the table centre. Pickings include chrysanthemums, astrantias, hydrangeas and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light.’ The latter looks stunning at this time of the year with its shrimpy pink colours on the end of its grassy spears.

A new dahlia that we planted last year is Dahlia ‘Café au Lait.’ This dahlia proved to have dinnerplate-sized flowers and we have a few plants of it in the garden behind the summerhouse where cream, white and smoky-mauve roses grow alongside the green bells of Nicotiana sylvestris.

Photo 3: Dahlia ‘Café au Lait.’ Photo by S. Smith

Photo 4: The summerhouse garden where we planted the dahlias ‘Café au Lait.’ Photo by J. Nicholas.

There have been bluebells growing in the side garden behind the pond for many years and these have naturally increased. I also have other spring bulbs there. Looking at a photo of a sweeping bluebell woodland in another garden a while ago, I realised that I didn’t think the bluebells looked right in our garden, and I would like to focus more on other spring flowers. Soon we will be planting a few ‘Romanus’ and ‘Malvern City’ daffodils. The former are creamy-white, early flowering and highly fragrant whilst ‘Malvern City’ have large lemony-yellow flowers. The bluebells will be removed gradually.

There is always something to do…

Beetroot Pesto: Marilyn McRae

This is great to have on hand to spread on Bruschetta, serve with smoked fish, dollop on a salad (especially a roast veg one) or stir through pasta or gnocchi.

250g beetroot, scrubbed and halved or quartered if larger
1-2 cloves garlic
1/4 c nuts or seeds of choice – I used walnuts
1/4 c grated Parmesan – use nutritional yeast for a vegan option
2 tbsps lemon juice
small tsp fresh marjoram or oreganum        
olive oil – 1/4 to 1/2 c depending on the consistency you want and what nuts/seeds you use.

Place prepared beetroot on a sheet of foil, drizzle with a little oil, add the unpeeled garlic clove/s and fold the foil into a parcel. Place on a tray and bake at 180 degrees celsius until tender when  pierced with a sharp knife. Cool, remove roots and tops and place in a blender or whizz.

Place the nuts or seeds in a baking tin and toast for about 10 mins until just browning. These burn quickly so keep and eye on them.

Add these to the blender along with the peeled garlic cloves and whizz briefly. Add the Parmesan, herbs and juice and whizz again until smooth but still textured.

Add olive oil tbsp by tbsp and whizz after each addition until you are happy with the consistency of the pesto.

Taste and season with salt, pepper and/or more lemon juice.

Store in the ‘fridge in a sterilized jar with a little extra oil poured on top to keep the air from the surface of the pesto.


*** 1/4 c of basil, mint or a mix of both can be used instead of the marjoram but the pesto won’t be that wonderful beetroot, claret colour.



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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