December 2021

Hello Everyone

December 2021

It’s a delightful time of the year with so many changes each day. This week two of our giant Himalayan lilies, Cardiocrinum giganteum, came into flower, and there are other well-developed lily plants in the woodland. As some readers will know, these lilies take seven years to flower from seed. Dwarf red dahlias are in flower, the wine-coloured penstemons are nearly in flower in the potager, and the dieramas, also known as Angel’s Fishing rods, are putting on a splendid performance this year, with their arching rods rising up and over the large-stone edge.

We grow many varieties of salvia in the garden and they all grow very well. There is an abundant choice in nurseries and they are ideal for our hot, dry summers.

Around our formal pond at the front of the house, fragrances have been ongoing since spring when the Wisteria ‘Snow Showers’, which is draped along the front roofline, came into flower for about three weeks. I see this variety quite a lot in other gardens. I wrote about this wisteria in the newsletter of Ocober 2014. Rosa ‘Lamarque’, which is planted on the front corner of the house near the pond area, has been giving its fresh lemony fragrance. In between its seasonal flowering, Philadelphus ‘Virginal’ is now in full flower. With its double-white flowers, which have the most exquisite perfume, it is much admired and enjoyed. When RLamarque’ comes into flower again, it continues flowering well into autumn, so there are fragrances to be enjoyed for many months around our front pond.

Christchurch gardener Jane Mahoney has recently launched Secret Gardens, which enables passionate gardeners to run a micro-tourism. Visitors can use the website to book a guided visit or workshop, and 10% of the booking is donated to a gardening-based charity. Gardens waiting to be explored include urban food forests, boutique sustainable flower farms, and established country gardens. All the gardeners have different skills, passions and specialisations and are keen to share their gardening knowledge with others.

This venture has grown out of Jane’s own love of gardening, and her vision to create a connected community, where lifetimes of gardening knowledge can be passed on to the next generation of gardeners.

What a great idea, Jane. We will be running workshops at Frensham under the Secret Gardens system.

Photo 1: This photo was taken inside the summerhouse, looking towards the red garden. The rose towards the right is ‘Colourbreak’.  Photo by Margaret Long

Photo 2: The rose ‘Cup Fever’ is a strong grower, and its colours work well with the smoky mauves behind the summerhouse. Lime-green Nicotiana langsdoorfii, with its little bell-shaped flowers, is in the centre. This annual self-seeds readily. Photo by Juliet Nicholas

Photo 3: A lovely mid-summer mix of the rose ‘Narrow Water’, which is not seen very often, and Filipendula rubra. Photo by Juliet Nicholas

Photo 4: Many children visiting our garden enjoy this swing, made by Ron, including our own grandchildren. Private collection.

Duck, Raspberry and Coriander Salad with Tamari Dressing: Marilyn McRae

This is a great Christmas-time dish. The tamari dressing can be made ahead and the duck is quickly cooked on the day. Some crusty bread or grilled ciabatta, a chilled glass of something nice and a sunny day is all that’s needed to accompany!

2 large duck breasts   
100g baby leaf salad, including some baby beetroot leaves or red cos   
1/4 c roasted cashews, roughly chopped    
1/2 c loosely packed coriander
125 g raspberries    

Tamari dressing:
1/4 c fresh lime juice    
1 1/2 tsp honey
3 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Heat oven to 200°C.

Pat the duck breasts dry with a paper towel. Lightly score the skin in a lattice pattern with a sharp knife. Season the skin with salt and place the duck, skin-side down, in a cold ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Once the duck has begun to sizzle, cook for five minutes or until the skin is golden. Turn and cook for a further minute.

Transfer the pan to the oven and roast, uncovered, for a further six minutes or until cooked to your liking. (Duck breast is best served slightly rare in the centre.)

Remove from the pan and rest, covered, for five minutes. Slice the duck breasts diagonally.

While the duck is roasting, make the tamari dressing if you haven’t done so already.

Arrange the duck on a platter with the salad leaves, scatter with the roasted cashews, coriander and raspberries. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately

* If you don’t have an oven-proof frying pan, transfer the duck to a heated baking dish before placing in the oven.

Best wishes


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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