May – June 2017

Hello Everyone

May – June 2017

As autumn draws to a finish and winter approaches, it is a good time to walk around the garden, reflecting on the summer’s activities, and making plans for the next growing season whilst being in the midst of nature’s autumn palette. We have had an exceptionally colourful autumn here. The bright red berries on the four Ilex ‘Hendersonii’ in the centre of the potager are ablaze, the Cotinus (smoke bush) have held brilliant bright coral colour for several weeks, while the snouts of the trilliums have been pushing through the ground for some time, announcing the approaching spring. Today we made plans for planting some new roses which will arrive bare rooted in winter.

We are adding five more ‘Lavender Pinocchio’ roses and a ‘Cafḗ’ to the rose garden behind the summerhouse, two more ‘Agnes’ roses are being added to the existing one in the yellow – apricot summer garden, and another climbing rose ‘Adam’ is being planted on the western side wall, to add balance to the existing one. Speaking of roses, the old, once flowering ‘Veilchenbleu’ falls into the category of those roses which should be pruned immediately after flowering. This will be the third year that we haven’t pruned it until the general pruning is done in July – August. I must say that the arching branches of autumnal yellow are most attractive, set off by the dark green of the macrocarpa hedging in the background.

This summer we noticed a chance seedling lily flowering in February. It had been potted up and gave the most intense fragrance; quite unusual at this time of flowering and a unique perfume.

Photo 1: Lily, chance seedling taken in the gravel garden. M. Long
Photo 2: Our Gladiolus ‘Velvet Eyes’ in a floral arrangement, amongst other pickings from the garden. I am aware that the colours are a little washed out. I am learning to use a new laptop. M. Long
Photo 3: Rosa Tea Clipper. M. Long

Earlier this year I saw the rose Tea Clipper in a friend’s garden. I was drawn to a bloom which was nodding gently over the front fence. I agree entirely with the description given in Tasman Bay’s Rose catalogue that it is “fully double, richly scented, with informal rosettes of apricot fading to a creamy golden- parchment. Healthy, almost thornless.” Some people have found its growth habit not so good, whilst my friend says that it is good once it settles in.

Autumn musings:

I was reading about Daniele Mazet-Delpeuch, the well-known chef from the Dordogne region in France, who was once the personal chef to President Mitterand, sole chef to the sixty all male staff at the Antarctice research station for fourteen months, and after whose the film “Haute Cuisine” was based. Daniele had mentioned in an interview that she couldn’t understand why there would be competition among chefs, who should be each other’s friends as they share the same passion. How true this should be of the garden world, I thought.

A gardening friend of mine, Warren Tooth, and nephew of the late well known rose breeder and rose collector Trevor Griffiths, said that one of his uncle’s favourite sayings was “No matter what is going on in your life, or how you feel, a garden will grow in spite of you, not because of you.” A wise thought to keep in mind.

We leave for our home in Normandy in six days’ time. I am hoping there will be no heatwave as we have had for the past two summers, as we are there for the summer months and I am wanting to put plants in the garden. The entire garden has been cleared of plants, which had been trimmed on top, neglected otherwise, and were in need of replacement. Two trees and a clump of bamboo remain, along with stone terracing and rills on three sides. This would be best explained by photographs, which I hope to send in the future. I have located two nurseries which aren’t far from us.

The first, Jardin Plume, is a garden which many of you will have visited. They have a nursery of perennials and grasses, and are about one and a quarter hour’s drive away, travelling in a north westerly direction. Travelling a similar distance in a north easterly direction, I will go to the nursery of Vallonchene which has an extensive catalogue, including trees and shrubs. You can see both catalogues on the nurseries’ websites.

Many of the plants that I have chosen are grown in my garden here, so it will be interesting to observe any variations in growth forms and habit.

I hope to write from Normandy this year and tell you more about my plans.

Tuna Sauce for Pasta: Marilyn McRae

This is an easy sauce to make and uses some of the season’s fresh walnuts and burgeoning parsley. It is equally delicious on a bake potato for a light meal.

  • Put a 185g tin of tuna-in-oil, drained, into a whizz or blender.
  • Add 1/2c of shelled walnuts, grated rind of a lemon,
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce, 4 generous tbsp parsley,
  • 4 basil leaves if you have them or try fresh fennel/thyme etc

Process until blended but still has some texture, gradually adding about 180 ml of good olive oil until you have the consistency you like. Season well.

If not pouring through hot pasta, warm gently before using.

Pumpkin Scones: Marilyn McRae

These are scrumptious either with a simple soup or served with a salad. I’m enjoying having new-season’s pumpkins and butternuts to cook just now…they’re so versatile.

  • 3c self-raising flour or 3c ‘normal’ and 3 good tsps baking powder
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1c grated fresh pumpkin
  • 250g chopped bacon (I like to cook this in a dry pan first to give some extra flavour)
  • reserve 2 tbsp of the bacon for topping
  • 1/2c grated Parmesan
  • plus 2 tbsp extra for topping
  • 2 tbsp chopped rosemary leaflets
  • 1 2/3c buttermilk (or same amount of milk with some lemon juice left to sit for 10 mins) few small sprigs of rosemary for topping

Heat oven to 200degrees Celsius. Grease and line 21 x 10cm loaf tin.
Sift the flour salt and sugar into a largish bowl. Stir in the pumpkin, bacon, Parmesan and rosemary to combine ingredients. Add buttermilk and mix to a soft dough…don’t overmix!
Knead lightly and shape into a 20cm long log. Cut into 8 pieces.
Using floured hands, shape the pieces into balls and arrange in the tin.
Sprinkle with extra Parmesan and bacon and scatter a few small sprigs of rosemary over. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes and then uncover.
Bake a further 15 mins or until golden brown and cooked through.
Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then, using paper, lift onto a rack to cool or onto a board to serve. The scones pull apart with soft sides and middles and crispy tops and bottoms…yummy!
Optional garlic butter for serving (quite delicious!

While the scones are baking, wrap a head of garlic in foil and bake alongside the scones for 20 minutes or until soft and squidgy. Cool a little, unwrap and slice the head in half around the ‘equator’. Squeeze the garlic into a small bowl with 125g butter, softened and mix well.



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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