May 2021

Hello Everyone

May 2021

Many years ago I bought a book, A Countrywoman’s Notes, by Rosemary Verey, which was first published in 1989. Recently a friend gave me the miniature edition which fits perfectly in my bag when I am out and have some moments to fill in. For those readers who don’t know of Rosemary Verey, she created a garden called  Barnsley House in the Cotswolds, which became famous throughout the world. Rosemary passed away twenty years ago. To this day I enjoy reading her many writings, and this miniature version of the book, which has the same content as the larger book, takes the reader into the English countryside for a year.

The garden is at its height for autumn colour just now. The overall scene is gorgeous, from the moment you enter the drive and come through a carpet of autumn leaves, to the many autumn delights once you get to the garden. There is plenty of food for the birds just now, but I am starting to think about bird food for the winter.

We have been moving a few more plants. This week two Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’ were moved from a spot where it was too hot for them and their yellowy-green foliage clashed with the green foliage of other plants in that garden. They are now in very happy places in the drive woodland garden, and will be quite at home with their neighbouring rhododendrons, magnolias and associated woodland plants. More trimming of box shapes was completed last week and this week we will be trimming the large Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Waimea’ domes which sit near the front door. Then it will be time to stop trimming as the frosts may set in (I hope).

We had a frost about a week ago and although we are forecast to have a warmer-than-usual winter, I do hope that we have some frosts as they are so good for cleansing.

Photo 1: An early autumnal arrangement done by Marilyn. Plants in this arrangement are Eucomis, or the pineapple plat, Vitis amurensis, or the ornamental grape, Hydrangea, hebes and olive tree foliage. Photo by M. Long

Photo 2: The berries on the viburnum are striking in autumn. This plant grows in a very dry spot. Photo by J. Nicholas

Photo 3: The fruits of the Cornus capitata which grows at the end of the pond. Photo by J. Nicholas

Photo 4: In our woodland with autumn colours of Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’ on the left and Cornus pumila domes on the right. Photo by J. Nicholas

Copies of my publication, The Gardener’s Journal are selling well in bookshops, as well as from me, and on The Gardener’s Journal page of the Frensham website there is a link to an interview I had with Kathryn Ryan on the Nine to Noon programme two weeks ago.

Broccoli Walnut Rarebit: Marilyn McRae

This is an easy and delicious light supper or lunch with a chunk of crusty bread. It’s also a nice side dish to grilled or baked chicken etc. The cider in the recipe can be swapped out with chicken stock if preferred.

1 head of broccoli           
2 tbsp butter          
2 tbsp flour           
300ml cider
150g cheese, grated (I like a tastier cheese)         
2 tsp Dijon or whole-grain mustard
2 tbsp chopped, toasted walnuts         
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven on grill or if preferred heat oven to 200 degrees C.
Trim stalk of broccoli and peel the tough skin if necessary. Leave whole or divide.
Drop into a pot of boiling, salted water and cook for 3-5 minutes if whole, 2-3 minutes if divided; you want the broccoli to be barely tender when tested with a sharp knife.
Drain the broccoli and plunge into cold water. Drain again. Put into a dish.
Put the pot back on the element and melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute.
Whisk in the cider or stock and stir while it comes to the boil. Cook a minute or two.
Add cheese and stir to melt. Fold in the mustard and season well to taste.
Pour the sauce over the broccoli.
Cook under the grill or on the top shelf of the hot oven until brown and bubbling.
Serve scattered with the toasted walnuts.



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
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