January 2015

Hello Everyone

January 2015

January in our garden has so far been a month of watering, holiday times spent with family and friends, garden visitors (mainly from the UK at this time of the year) and much food preparation. Choosing vegetables from our garden for a meal is so satisfying, with a choice of butter beans, pak choi, sugar snap peas, shallots, parsley, coriander, spinach, courgettes and several types of lettuces. Having had some very hot sunny days means that the tomatoes will ripen within the next month and we will be digging our Agria potatoes as we want them.

On the evening of one of our very hot days when the temperature reached 30® or more, I had been sitting outside for a much needed pause in the home’s proceedings, when I cast my eye on the non-fruiting passion flower, Passiflora caerula, and tried to recall the story about the flower which had been told to me by a visitor. About two weeks later, I overheard a garden visitor telling her friends the story of the flower. It was the same lady who had told the story the previous year. Here it is, from Jean Griffin, who lives in the UK and has contributed to our newsletter before.

“The Passion Flower, Passiflora caerulea.
The Roman Catholic priests of the late 1500s named the passion flower after the Crucifixion and the suffering of Christ on the Cross, using the symbolised features of the flower. The five sepals and five petals represent the ten Apostles who remained faithful to Christ. Peter and Judas were the other two Apostles.
Traditionally there are 72 rays which are likened to the number of thorns on the Crown which was put onto the head of Christ. There are five anthers which represent the five wounds inflicted on Christ on the Cross. There are three stigmas which represent the nails used on the Cross. The leaf shape suggests the spear used to pierce the side of Christ.
Tendrils on the plant suggest the scourges that flayed His flesh.”

Photo 1: Passiflora caerulea taken at Frensham by Jean Griffen.

Photo 2: Passiflora edulis taken by Jean Griffen in a friend’s garden.

There is something rather mysterious and wonderful about a flower that lasts for one day only, its brief lifespan making it seem just that much more precious. Many of us probably think of the Hemerocallis, or the Day Lily, but I am going to talk about the Tigridia and in particular T. pavonia, also known as the Jockey Cap or Tiger Flower. Whilst a single flower lasts only one day, the flower spikes produce a succession of blooms for about six weeks. Native to Mexico and South America, Tigridia hybrids come in a wide range of bright colours with intricately speckled throats. I love the ribbed strappy leaves.

Tigridia bulbs are planted in spring, flower in midsummer and go dormant in winter. With very little care, tigridias are long-lived plants and like being watered every four to five days while in growth. Ours don’t get that much watering but still do very well. A dry autumn is good for the bulbs.

Tigridias don’t get attacked by pests or diseases and as long as they are in soil that drains easily they will increase and flower for many years. This sounds like the perfect plant!

Photo 3: Tigridia pavonia, taken at Frensham by M. Long.

At the entrance to our garden we had a two metre high paling fence replaced with the brick wall as shown in Photo 4. Whereas before the paling fence was all that people saw, now we have a more welcoming curved wall, low enough in parts to give glimpses of the garden shed and surrounding plants.

Photo 4: M. Long.

I saw this recipe in our local newspaper recently and decided to try it. We all enjoyed it with rice.


  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs,
  • 6 tablespoons marmalade,
  • 6 tablespoons oyster sauce,
  • 3 cloves garlic finely sliced,
  • and a good grating of fresh ginger

Line a roasting dish big enough to hold the chicken in a single layer, with two layers of foil. This is crucial for saving on washing up later. Put the chicken thighs in the dish, leaving a little space between each piece.

Mix all other ingredients and pour over chicken. Turn the pieces so that they are well coated in the mixture.

Cover the dish with foil and bake at 200°C for 15 minutes. Take the foil off, turn chicken pieces over and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.

Serve with rice and steamed vegetables, spooning the cooking juices over the meat.

The chicken is also good tossed through cooked egg noodles, or stuffed into flatbreads with crunchy salad leaves.



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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