August 2013

Hello Everyone

August 2013

August has just slipped past me with its warm sunny days, lack of frost, and many beautiful spring flowers. This is the first Spring in twenty years that I remember when we haven’t had a frost which always turns the magnolia flowers a mushy brown. Not only in my garden, but throughout the city, the magnolias are stunning, and there are so many varieties.

The first to flower here is Magnolia ‘Vulcan’, followed by M. ‘Iolanthe’, M. ‘Charles Raffils’, M. Heaven Scent, M. ‘Atlas’, M. ‘Elizabeth’, M. ‘Denudata’, M. ‘Soulangeana’, M. ‘Virginiana’. M. ‘Lennei Alba’ and M. brooklynensis ‘Yellow Bird’; the latter group not flowering in that order.

Opening into white star-shaped flowers now are three Amelanchier lamarckii, the shrub or small tree being named after Jean Baptiste Antoine Monet de Lamarck, an 18th century naturalist. These shrubs we have limbed up and they give form and flower in the Rose ‘Mutabilis’ garden, before the group of Mutabilis roses and the perennial under plantings come into flower. When the latter do, the amelanchiers are still giving structure.

One of the most enjoyable early Spring sights for me is the flowering of the tree Acer negundo ‘Violaceum’. One of the box elders, this tree’s flowers look like long, shrimp pink tassles, and you can imagine how graceful this looks when there is a soft breeze. I have three of these trees planted in a triangular formation with generous spacing on a lawn, the idea being that when they are tall enough (and they are now) we can place a table between the trees and enjoy summer meals. Good bread, wine, cheese and salad is what I have in mind.

In the far corner garden where I only have greens, whites and creams, Exochorda x Macrantha ‘The Bride’ is showing a few delicate white flowers. Liking a well-drained soil, this plant grows well for us in an area that tends to be a bit dry in the summer. Naturally of a dense habit with arching branches as its name suggests, ours has been thinned so that there are just a few arching branches. With the space created between these branches, the form is more graceful and is certainly symbolic of a bridal veil.

Another small tree opening into flower now is the white flowering Judas tree, Cercis silaquastrum ‘Alba’. A member of the pea family, the flowers are typically shaped like a small pea flower, and they distinguish themselves by flowering directly on the branches before and while the leaves are appearing.

Earlier in August I had a live willow hedge planted in three places in the garden. One area is to define the way to the car parking area behind the new garage, one short hedge is to screen our weed piles, which are situated at the end of a view down the vegetable garden paths, and the third area forms a backdrop to the area behind the veg garden. The willow is starting to sprout now and I will show you photos when it has more foliage. In the meantime Photos 1 & 2, taken by me, shows the original stages of the willow hedge planting.

A camellia which I have been picking for the kitchen bench throughout August was given to me as a cutting years ago, and I’m not sure of the name of it. From my photographs, can anyone help?

I have been interested in Heritage Roses for many years, and been rather an inactive member, having attended a few events, but always reading the quarterly Heritage Roses New Zealand Journal when it arrives. In October the Canterbury members are taking over from the Otago members as the National Executive. Talking to Heather Knowles, one of our Canterbury members, I asked her what is a heritage rose? I used to think that it was a rose that preceded about 1920, and there has been much written about this. Heather’s reply was:

“Opinions vary as to what a ‘heritage’, ‘old’, ‘classic’, ‘vintage’ etc rose is. Some say pre-1867, the date the supposedy first Hybrid Tea ‘La France” was introduced; some say pre-twentieth century, or pre-Pemberton’s Hybrid Musks (early C20th); some include the Hybrid Musks. To me, assigning a date is too fraught; I number the 1948 HT ‘Peace’ and the 1958 Floribunda ‘Iceberg’ among “heritage” roses, but that is probably considered a rather extreme view. Generally speaking, a heritage rose will not be of Hybrid Tea style – it may have single or double blooms, will flower once in a season, will be softly hued (no oranges or bright blues), have “old world” rose fragrance and be utterly enchanting. It may have a story behind its name and this will further entrance you. Which of course leaves the door open to the roses passed down through families, HT or not… Perhaps I should just say a heritage rose brings out the romantic in the beholder.”

A further message from Heather about Heritage Roses New Zealand:

“Heritage Roses New Zealand exists to foster an appreciation of heritage roses, and to encourage their cultivation and conservation. To that end, HRNZI has embarked on compiling a register of all old, or as they are now known “heritage”, roses brought into New Zealand. From comparing this register with inventories of public plantings and major private collections, it is possible to discover which roses are still extant in New Zealand but no longer in commerce, i.e. in danger of extinction in this country. With permission, budwood has been taken from such roses for the last couple of years and resulting plants have been made available to HRNZI members to ensure their survival.

There are four public plantings of heritage roses in Christchurch, at the Botanic Gardens, Mona Vale, Beverley Park and Ferrymead Heritage Park. Christchurch HRNZI members are involved with helping with the maintenance of all these plantings, which is also an excellent way for new members to learn about the roses and their families. In the next issue of ‘Writings from Frensham’, I will tell you about the Ferrymead planting.

Throughout the country, branches of HRNZI have similar relationships with public plantings, one of the most notable being the Northern Cemetery in Dunedin, a magnificent Victorian cemetery. This is being faithfully replanted according to Victorian standards; the language of flowers was very much alive in those days, and the colour and style of the rose often reflected the life and/or status of the person. For instance, white was the second colour of mourning and a white rose, such as ‘Felicite et Perpetue’, often in association with an evergreen tree such as yew or holly, from which it would tumble, was considered appropriate for a child or unmarried woman. The juxtaposition of tree, climbing rose, headstone and grave provides a further dimension to the story of the individual.

But I wish to introduce you to a most alluring but little known heritage rose – R. x micrugosa – and let the photos speak.
Photos by H.Knowles. Inquiries about HRNZI may be made to:
Heritage Roses New Zealand,
P.O. Box 722,
Rangiora 7440.
or phone: 03-313-6809
or visit the website:

If readers in Canterbury are interested in attending the next meeting of the local branch, on Saturday 21st September at Avonside Girls High School Staffroom at 1.30pm Georgina Campbell, creator of the McGredy Rose Collection and Garden, will describe her recent visit to Sangerhausen Rosarium, one of the greatest collections of “heritage” roses in the world. All welcome. It would be appreciated if non members could donate a gold coin.

And now for our recipes:

Orange and Date Muffins: Marilyn McRae

  • 1 orange, washed,
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice,
  • 1/2 c chopped dates
  • 1 egg,
  • 1/2 cup cold butter chopped in chunks,
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder,
  • 3/4 cup sugar,
  • 1 tsp salt

Cut orange into chunks over bowl of food processor to catch juice, removing pips as you go. Process until finely ground.

Add the orange juice, dates, egg and butter and process until finely chopped.

Add sifted dry ingredients and process until they just mix. Don’t over work or your muffns will be tough.

Spoon the mix into prepared muffin tins. Makes 12 large, but they are really nice made into small muffins.

Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes, less for the mini muffins. Cool and dust with icing sugar prior to serving if you wish. Wicked when served warm!

Avocado and Coriander Toast Serves 4

  • 2 avocados, halved and stones removed,
  • 1 lime, juiced, plus extra for serving
  • 2 tbsp virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 – 8 slices good ciabatta or gluten free bread
  • plenty of fresh coriander, washed, drained and stems removed.

Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl. Add lime juice, olive oil, Tabasco and seasoning. Mash with a fork to desired texture or do this whole process in a ‘whizz’. Toast or chargrill the bread and sprinkle with a little olive oil.

Spread the avocado thickly over the toast , sprinkle with a little more olive oil, a little more lime juice, sea salt and cracked pepper. Pile coriander leaves on top and serve immediately.



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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