August 2018

Hello Everyone

August 2018

I am writing this newsletter from our home in Normandy where the temperatures have been a consistent 30 degrees plus for a while, although this week is much cooler.
As we are returning to New Zealand in mid-September I have decided not to proceed with any planting, except for Calamagrostis ‘Brachytricha’ and Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, both of which are available in New Zealand. I also added Sanguisorba ‘Tanna’. These plants have been placed temporarily in a spot until they have their permanent place next year in the area which used to be a lawn.

I have decided that a lawn is not viable here, with us being away from the place for several months each year, and the summer temperatures are consistently indicating that I should consider other options. I plan to return in April next year and get some planting underway.
Being in England on two occasions in the past month, visiting gardens and nurseries, has reinforced my decision that I will grow plants here which will sustain the higher summer temperatures. There is so much to choose from, so it will be an enjoyable exercise.

Dare I confess that I am returning to England at the end of this month? Titled “Ecological Planting in the 21st Century”, The Beth Chatto Symposium is being held for gardeners, landscape designers and plantspeople from all over the world. When I received acknowledgement of my booking, I was told that over 500 people had registered. If you would like to read about the programme, go to

Beth passed away a few months ago and the Gardens and its Trust are continuing her outstanding work and the symposium is part of that. On more than one occasion Beth gave me her time most generously.

I know that the winter in Canterbury has been mild this year; rose pruning was hurried along as the roses were budding earlier than usual.
For reading, I am enjoying “Thoughtful Gardening” by Robin Lane Fox. It came out eight years ago and should be available in libraries.

Photo 1: A planting at Dan Pearson’s private garden near Bath in England. Photo M.Long
Photo 2: The Iford Manor gardens in Wiltshire, England, designed by the late Harold Peto. Photo M.Long

Now for something sweet…

Sweet and Tangy Citrus Slice: Marilyn McRae

My little citrus trees have been producing very well this season. Here’s a quick and simple recipe for a slice to use up some of the bounty! It’s lovely served as a dessert or served with a hot or cold drink.

  • 250g packet of shortbread biscuits (gf if preferred)
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 2 small or 1 large thin-skinned lemon/s, roughly chopped and seeds removed
  • 75g butter, softened
  • 1c caster sugar
  • 1/3c flour (gf if preferred)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3c lemon juice
  • 3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C and grease an 18cm x 28cm slice tin. Line with baking paper.
Put the biscuits in a whizz and process until fine crumbs. Add melted butter and whizz to combine.
Press over base of tin and bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden.
Put the chopped lemon in the whizz and process until pulpy. Add remaining ingredients and whizz to combine and pour over the base.
Bake for 35 minutes or until the topping is lightly golden around the edges and the centre is a little wobbly.
Cool in the tin.
Remove from tin, dust with icing sugar and slice into bars. Can be served slightly warm or cold.
Serve with whipped cream or Greek-style yoghurt and a sprinkle of finely grated rind.

You can use other biscuits, but the texture of the shortbread makes for a softer texture in the base.



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.

© Frensham. All rights reserved.

Quick Contact

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

%d bloggers like this: