I had some correspondence from one of our readers, lamenting the loss of so many plants in a garden which she had developed over 25 years. The reader said how it “doesn’t pay to look back but 25 years of collecting and treasuring can all disappear in a couple of hours with an enthusiastic digger driver.”
I wrote to my friend Marilyn MacRae, and asked “Is it worth doing what we do?”
Marilyn’s immediate response:
“Oh yes it is! 200%!!
Every plant that is given a home, that thrives and is given loving attention and care … that is one happy plant. It gives back a hundred-fold with ‘good energy’ to us and to the planet. Bees make honey from it perhaps; its colours and form give pleasure to many. And then, for whatever reason, it doesn’t exist anymore and maybe we can’t replace it. But it is worth it.
I bemoan the loss of so many plants that used to be in this country. I think of the garden I planted just outside Timaru where there were plants that are quite probably not available now and the garden was destroyed. I can feel the reader’s grieving for her old garden and plants and there will be many who know a similar grief. But if we love what we do when we garden, if we make ourselves knowledgeable, share the plants and the knowledge and celebrate the plants that we do have, then maybe we can stem the losses of other familiar plants, or not … but we will have the immense pleasure of creating a garden!”
Wise words from Marilyn I think.
I wonder how many readers grow Angelica gigas? A short lived perennial, with tall purple branching stems, A. gigas flowers in late summer. It’s flowerhead, which resembles the format of broccoli, attracts many bees. After flowering there is seed in abundance, and this planted on will take two years to germinate, if you are not lucky enough to have a self-seeding plant in your garden. This is an excellent plant for floral arrangements.
At this time of the year it is nice to sit in a warm room looking at garden books and plant catalogues, and to think about plant purchases. Three plants I would like to mention are Rosa ‘Blairii No 2’, Allium sphaeracephalum and Clematis ‘Niobe’.
Photo 1: Rosa ‘Blairii No. 2. This beautiful rose is once flowering and therefore should be pruned immediately after flowering. I saw this rose growing superbly in a tree at Tintinhull Gardens in England, when they were gardened by Penelope Hobhouse. I was happy to know that where I had planted mine the previous summer, was just the right spot. M.Long
Photo 2: Allium sphaeracephalum. I have grown this much admired allium for many years. It flowers in December – January. M.Long
Photo 3: Clematis ‘Niobe’. This clematis flowers for many weeks through the summer, and looks particularly good in our garden when it is sitting alongside a fruiting blackberry. M.Long
As the days are much colder, it is time to think about winter foods.
“This slow-cooked leg of lamb does make quite an expensive cut of meat go further. The meat is shredded or roughly cut in chunks and served over a mash or with polenta. It can also be used shredded and mixed with the sauce that forms in the bag perhaps as a layer in a moussaka (with oil-sprayed slices of eggplant, and a parmesan-flavoured bechamel sauce…crumbs on top with some lemon rind) or stirred through pasta and again, this could be baked off with a sprinkling of crumbs, a little cheese and a brighter herb such as rosemary or thyme. It can also be used in sliders or sandwiches or as a filling for soft tacos etc.
Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb
- approximately 3 kg leg of lamb
- 1 wedge of preserved lemon or a couple of strips of fresh rind
- 1-2 onions or a leek, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- large can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1/4 c currants
- 1/4 c red wine
- 1 tsp each ground coriander, cumin and ginger
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- large oven bag
Heat oven to 160 degrees.
Trim any excess fat from the lamb if desired.
Into a bowl put the preserved lemon (rind only) or the fresh lemon, sliced finely, the onion, garlic, tomatoes, paste, bay leaves, currants and wine. Combine.
Place the oven bag in a roasting dish and tip the contents of the bowl into the bag.
Combine the spices in a small bowl. Rub the oil over the lamb, then rub with spices.
Place the lamb into the oven bag, seal with the tie and then pierce several holes near the top of the bag.
Roast the lamb for 5 hours (or until very tender).
Place prepared polenta or mash onto plates, top with chunks or shreds of meat and the sauce.
Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds, chopped coriander or Italian parsley and some crumbled feta.
A lovely meal to share… all the preparation and cooking is done well before guests arrive, leaving very little to do in the kitchen before serving up a delicious meal.”
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