May 2018

Hello Everyone

May 2018

Now is the perfect time to be transplanting and planting in our gardens. As we had two days of good rain last week it makes it even better for us. A shrub, or small tree, which I would like to tell you about is Parrotiopsis jacquemontiana. Best in acid soil, ours is growing in the woodland area where it is accompanied by rhododendrons and other acid loving plants.

P. jacquemontiana is a large shrub with a fairly upright habit, which can also tolerate neutral or slightly-lime soils. It has yellow autumn foliage. I would be interested in hearing from any readers who grow this as I got mine from Peter Cave just before he closed his nursery, which must be at least ten years ago? The reason that I ask if any readers grow it, is that I think it is vitally important to keep these lesser known plants in our gardens, and therefore it is good to know where to get them.

Another plant which will be familiar to most of you is Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’. Discovered in Verdun in the north east of France in 1858, this anemone with its attractive white flowers makes a refreshing sight in late summer with its clear white flowers. Good in dry shady areas, it needs to be kept controlled, otherwise it will control your garden!

In last month’s newsletter I wrote about Clematis jouiniana ‘Praecox.’ I received a reply from Geoff Genge at Marshwood Gardens in Invercargill, saying that he had been growing his as a ground cover for years. What an excellent idea. We grow Clematis ‘Kiri Te Kanawa’, a double mauve, as a ground cover and we let her weave her way through a pink and mauve perennial garden.

Small projects are in place in our garden. The area that I call The Rockery, which is not actually a rock garden, but a garden where some large rocks were placed, is being revamped. All plants have been taken out except the structural plants such as small trees and taller growing grevilleas, and we are bringing in more larger rocks. These rocks are a river rock, and their greyish tones will be offset by mainly grey, green and silver foliaged plants.

We are developing the outer area of the Woodland Garden. Where this was originally covered in comfrey, which was an excellent idea in the earlier years when we were concentrating on other areas, the comfrey is being cleared, along with some rampant Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’. We are planting taller plants first such as Hydrangea ‘Kyushu’, Camellia ‘Transnokoensis’ and some kalmias. These provide the structure and the underplantings will include Solomon’s Seal, epimediums, Disporopsis pernyi and francoas.

Photo 1: The start of the new rock garden area. M.Long
Photo 2: Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’. S.Dromgoole
Photo 3: Autumn chrysanthemums. M Long

As late autumn is a time when we think of spending more time in our kitchens, preparing seasonal foods, Marilyn has provided two recipes this month.

Sweet Chestnuts: M McRae

This week I was gifted a large bag of freshly gathered Sweet Chestnuts. Chestnuts are one of the delights of late Autumn and a perfect food as we begin to leave behind the salads of summer and start looking for more robust and warming foods. I’ve spent part of a rainy Saturday peeling the Chestnuts, boiling them until just tender and cooling before bagging them for freezing. They can then be used, often straight from the freezer, in many Winter meals.

Chestnuts are one of those foods that are equally suitable for savoury or sweet dishes, being scrumptious when (for example) prepared chestnuts are crisped and heated through in a pan with bacon for a quick supper or are scattered around a roast with other winter vegetables; they also have a wonderful affinity with chocolate…heavenly in cakes, brownies or a mousse, perhaps (there are many recipes on-line). I also found a recipe in one of my mother’s books for wild duck, hung for 2-3 days, stuffed with a chestnut filling and roasted in butter as, apparently, it is an insult to a wild duck to cook it in dripping!
Following is a recipe for a soup combining chestnuts with two others of my favourite cold-weather vegetables….mushrooms and leeks.

Chestnut and Mushroom Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed, halved down it’s length, and sliced finely
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 300-400g Portobello mushrooms
  • about 400g prepared chestnuts
  • 5 cups of well-seasoned homemade chicken stock
  • cream or thick yoghurt to serve

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the leek and garlic and cook, stirring, until ileek is tender and ‘melting’. Don’t allow it to brown.
Add the mushrooms (and the thyme or rosemary if using) and cook, stirring until soft…about 5 minutes.
Stir in the chestnuts and stock, cover, and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat, uncover, and simmer for 30-35 minutes until chestnuts are soft. Remove from the heat.
Use a stick blender to blend the soup until its smooth-ish but still has some texture. Reheat, season well, and serve in bowls drizzled with cream or yoghurt and a sprig or two of thyme or rosemary tips. Or sizzle a couple of chestnuts in some oil in a pan and crumble them over.
Accompany with slices from a warmed, crusty loaf and, if possible, a seat beside a log fire!



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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