March – April 2015

Hello Everyone

March – April 2015

One of the things that we have been working on in the garden is removing violets from the woodland areas. This little plant has seeded itself very well over the years. Already the garden areas where it has been removed look so good; something like “clarity at last”. In the larger spaces I am going to plant choice, low growing plants such as epimediums, specially selected hostas, perhaps some dwarf lilacs and dwarf rhododendrons.

For many years I have grown a variety of Philadelphus or Mock Orange. These plants are usually only noticeable when they are in flower during the late Spring and Summer months. Deciduous, hardy to –5° Celsius, they do well in any type of soil, full sun or light shade. They sound like the ideal plant, and they are for many reasons. Philadelphus grow to varying heights depending on the variety. Some grow to around 50cm, some are medium growers and some such as P. ’Virginal’ are vigorous growers.

Some of the varieties that I grow are:

Manteau d’Hermine: With a creamy white flower and rich scent, this dwarf shrub is a treasure in any garden. It was bred over one hundred years ago by the French nursery firm Lemoine.

Beauclerk: White with a pink flush in middle, ‘Beauclerk’ has a very strong fragrance and is a medium sized shrub.

Belle Etoile: Growing up to two metres, with arching stems and a lovely fragrance, this variety was also bred at the Lemoine nursery in France.

Virginal: Growing up to three metres, Philadelphus ‘Virginal’ has been said by the renowned horticulturist Hillier, to be one of the best doubles. Its fragrance in midsummer envelopes our front courtyard.

Prune Philadelphus immediately after flowering and cut the flowered wood as they flower on the previous season’s wood. The pruning can be done in winter if time ran out earlier in the year. It is a good idea to leave a fairly open centre at the base so that air can circulate. If the shrub has been left unpruned for some time you can prune drastically, cutting back as far as possible to the ground. If the shrub becomes congested the flowering performance declines.

Our quince trees are laden with fruit this year. I am going to make chutney with some of the quinces. This chutney has a variety of uses, one being that it makes a pork casserole dish even better if half a jar of chutney is added to the meat dish towards the end of cooking.

Photo 1: The autumn garden at Frensham by S. Dromgoole

Continuing with some photos from my Tours Days:

Photo 2: Main railway station in Madrid, Spain by M. Long

Photo 3: Water feature in a public garden on the hill in Barcelona. Light blue plumbago frames the picture. M. Long

Photo 4: The Botanic Garden Mar i Murtra north of Barcelona. M. Long

Photo 5: Wall garden in Madrid. M. Long

In the coming winter months gardeners who are interested in roses will be reading catalogues and placing orders. I would like to suggest that you consider the rose ‘Frensham’. I very seldom see it in gardens and would like to think that it gets more consideration. The rose ‘Frensham’ is a Floribunda seedling crossed with ‘Crimson Glory’ and was introduced in 1946. It became very popular after the second World War as a bedding rose all over the world. I saw a bedding planting of ‘Frensham’ in a private garden in Scotland nearly twenty years ago. Flowering continuously throughout the summer and autumn, ‘Frensham’ is a very good picker and is ideal for floral arrangements, holding its petals well.

Our five ‘Frensham’ plants are intermingled with other red roses such as ‘Loving Memory’, ‘Hans Christian Andersen’, a collection of dark plum berberis, both low growing and the taller varieties, and smatterings of the old Alstroemeria pulchella from Brazil, which is considered a weed by many gardeners, but I like to have time spent on controlling its spreading habit as I think it is a stunning plant in this collection.

So often when choosing roses for the garden a rose is chosen which one particularly likes and then the decision has to be made “where to plant it”. As an alternative can I suggest that a garden area is considered and a rose is then chosen for that area, so that the rose looks right in its immediate surroundings, both in height and colour. This is best done of course if a photo has been taken of the existing garden in the summer. Or if you see a rose that you like when visiting a friend’s garden, ask for a flower to take home, walk around your own garden with it in hand, and decide where your new rose will be planted in winter. Remember to write it down!

I would like to finish with a quote from a book that I have, “Practical Gardener” by C. McIntosh published in 1843.

“Planting and Blanching Dandelion:
The leaves of this common plant, when blanched like endive, are much esteemed by many, as a salad. Plants of it, which are not difficult to procure, may be collected and planted in a bed of rich ground, when they will soon begin to develop their leaves, which should be covered over as they advance with rotten tan, leaves, or blanching pots. When the crop of leaves is gathered, the roots should then be dug up and thrown away, to prevent their spreading in the garden. A permanent bed of this plant may be admitted into any garden if care be taken to pick off the flowers, thereby preventing its seeding.”

Quince Chutney: Margaret Long

  • 2 kg quinces, unpeeled cored and quartered (up to four extra quinces can be added).
  • 500g stoneless dates finely chopped,
  • 500g seedless raisins or sultanas,
  • 4 apples,
  • tart flavour,
  • rind and juice of one lemon and one orange
  • 5 cups malt vinegar,
  • 50g ground ginger,
  • 500g brown sugar,
  • 3 tsp mustard powder

Bring fruit to boil with half the vinegar and simmer until thick. Add ginger, orange and lemon flavours. Remove from heat and cool. Heat rest of vinegar with sugar until dissolved, boil then cool. Combine with mustard and stir into quinces. Sterilised jars and seal. Leave at least three weeks before using.Another quince recipe from Irene Blair:

Quince Conserve

  • 3 lb fruit,
  • 3 pints water,
  • 4 lbs sugar

Core but do not peel the fruit. Dice.add water. Simmer half an hour hour . (I boil mine a lot longer to get it to the ‘jelly’ stage which also makes it much darker in colour). Bottle and seal. Delicious served with chicken, pork, lamb, cold or hot. Also delicious with crackers and blue cheese.As autumn is the squirrelling season, here is another recipe which uses basil or parsley in the pesto.

Autumn Tarts: Marilyn McRae

An light and easy lunch, quickly made and looking impressive!

  • A sheet of good flaky pastry
  • homemade or good quality store-bought pesto
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil
  • herbs
  • black olives (optional)
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • Fresh autumn tomatoes and/or courgette

Place the pastry on a tray and divide into two or four, depending on the size you would like. With a sharp-pointed knife, score a line (do not go right through the pastry) 1.5 cm in from the edge and then cut a criss-cross pattern on the border you’ve made. This will puff up when baked and make the ‘edge’ of the tart.
Spread your pesto on the base, being careful not to get any on the border…it will stop it from rising. Slice the tomatoes reasonable thickly or the courgette fairly thinly and layer on the pesto.
Whisk the egg and a tsp of water with a fork and brush the borders with the egg mix.
Drizzle a little oil over the veg and season well.
Bake at 190 degrees until the pastry is puffed and golden. Garnish with fresh herbs of your choice and the olives if using and serve with a salad.
Sun-dried tomato pesto or Margaret’s Walnut and Parsley Pesto are both lovely with courgette. Basil pesto is wonderful with tangy tomato.

Apple and Almond Batter Pudding: Marilyn McRae

This is a delicious and easy dessert or coffee accompaniment. It’s equally delicious made with pears or quince.

  • Sift 120g of flour,
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • and 125g castor sugar into a bowl
  • and add 100g ground almonds*

In a separate bowl, whisk 2 eggs, a few drops of almond essence and 250g sour cream. Add this to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Peel, core and slice 3 apples or pears. If using quince, poach the slices first.
Spread half the batter in a buttered 28cm x 25 cm baking dish and scatter with half the fruit. Add the rest of the batter and then the remaining fruit.
Scatter with a small handful of sliced almonds* and a tablespoon or two of extra sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes in a preheated 180 degree oven or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Cool for 10 minutes before serving with whipped cream, custard or yoghurt.
* Both sliced and ground almonds are available from the bulk bins at supermarkets.
If desired, the grated rind of a lemon is a nice addition



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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