January – February 2020
Happy New Year and very best wishes for enjoyable gardening, garden visiting and garden reading this year. Talking of garden visiting, I’d like to talk about visiting our garden. We’ve had thousands of people here over the course of 25 years, and many have visited more than once. Some regular visitors become friends. I know from much feedback that our visitors enjoy the experience as much as we do. It’s not just the garden that makes the visit good for everyone. It’s our cats Sam and Malfi, but most of all it’s out lovely group of people who work at Frensham. This group has become known to many of you in a very happy way. Our companionship in the garden with this compatible group makes a huge difference to the atmosphere experienced by visitors. So a big than you to Marilyn, Warren, Dale and Sasha.
Our four part-time gardeners work hours which are equivalent to one full time gardener. Husband Ron is often kept busy with many fix-it things, lawn mowing, compost making and sometimes greeting the garden visitors.
Over twenty years ago I visited the Hampton Court Flower Show in London and I have vivid memories of the sweet pea marquee, which was quite large. The fragrance, the variety of sweet peas, and just the general atmosphere were overwhelming.
For many years I have grown the sweet pea ‘Matucana’, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’ and I know that it now grows in many gardens as the seed has been shared widely over the years. For a change this year, I decided that we would grow one of the more modern varieties, and the one that I chose was ‘Blue Butterflies’ from the Hammett collection. A bamboo support frame was erected, the flowers have appeared in abundance, and the overall effect is of a very attractive sweet pea fence line at the end of the potager.
Franciscus Cupani, a Sicilian monk, is said to be the person who sent the first sweet peas to England in 1699.
Photo 1: Our sweet peas. M. Long.
Photo 2: Our sweet pea fence. M. Long
A border plant which we are growing for the first time this year is Agastache aurantiaca ‘Tango’. It has excellent form, the orange flower against the bluey grey foliage is refreshing, and I will be adding more of this plant to the front of our apricot-orange-lemon-yellow border next year. Ours grows in full sun in a fairly dryish spot; it likes being watered. A.a. ‘Tango’ was bought from Parva Plants.
Photo 3: Agastache aurantiaca ‘Tango’. M. Long
A great plant which still is unknown to most of our visitors is Cornus pumila. I wrote about it in March 2013. A dwarf cornus, growing to about 90cm, it is easily propagated from division, and we have many domes of it growing in the garden. With attractive ribbing in its foliage, this deciduous plant makes a great accompaniment to other plants, and also looks good planted in groups.
Photo 4: A long distance view. M. Long.
Photo 5: Salvia ‘So Cool Violet’. This salvia is planted in our mauve, pink and blue garden and has become a firm favourite of mine. It holds its form really well. M.Long
Cool Aid: Marilyn McRae
As the temperature rises, a Granita in the freezer is a delicious, cooling treat! It is easily made with simple ingredients and equipment….some fruit or juice, sweetener and a little acidity; a blender, a shallow metal tray, a fork and a freezer.
To make granita from squeezed juice such as unsweetened pomegranate, blood orange, ruby grapefruit etc. or from fresh melon use 2 cups of juice or melon, 1/4 cup of sweetener of choice (castor sugar, honey, agave or maple syrup) and a tbsp or two of lemon or lime juice if your chosen fruit juice needs some extra sharpness.
Blend together, pour into your metal tray and freeze, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes until almost frozen.
Rake the tines of a fork through the mix to break it up and refreeze. Do this twice more.
The granita will then keep in the freezer, covered, for a week or so.
To make granita from fresh fruit such as strawberries, raspberries (or any other berry), peaches etc. you will need 2 cups of fruit and 1 cup of liquid… coconut milk, water, a light white or rose wine… and 1/4 c of sweetener Blend with a tbsp or two of lemon or lime juice, pour into your tray (strain if using raspberries) and follow the above instructions.
Try mixing the fruit….raspberry or strawberry and melon; strawberry and peach…
If you choose to use some watermelon you won’t need to add any liquid; for a mix of berries, peaches etc you will need the extra liquid
To serve: Fluff the granita up with a fork and serve in small servings in espresso cups or small bowls; top a small bowl of plain yoghurt with a spoonful or two. Try the yoghurt and granita as a topping for a light granola or a bowl of fresh fruit. Endless cooling possibilities!!
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.
139 Old Tai Tapu Rd, Christchurch 8025, New Zealand
+64 3 3228 061