Summer with its many garden visitors is well underway, and many fascinating pieces of information are exchanged. Standing beside a planting of Papaver ‘Patty’s Plum’ last week with a group of ladies from Auckland, I was told that one of these poppies had sold on Trade Me recently for $80.00. Patty’s Plumomania is rife. Mine has been watched carefully by us and it is now in flower. I think it is one of the best plants to ever be rescued from a rubbish heap; the colour is indescribable. I forgot to record where I bought these poppies. Can any reader tell us who is selling them?
Today we are having a visit from a group of Southland people. There is a good website for reference if you are travelling to Southland: www.southlandgardens.co.nz
Last week one of our visiting groups had our Frensham Boxed Lunch, and this is what they enjoyed:
Frensham Boxed lunch:
- Asparagus and Spinach Danish
- Telegraph Hill Oregano and Lemon Olives
- Locally-grown Cocktail Tomatoes
- Mini Pistachio and Freeze-dried Strawberry Pavlova with Pomegranate Molasses Clotted Cream
- Fresh Strawberry
- Whittakers Cranberry and Almond Mini Chocolate Bar
In my last newsletter I talked about Ilex ataclerensis ‘Hendersonii’. An interesting reply came from Seamus O’Brien, Curator at the Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens south Of Dublin. “As a matter of interest Ilex ataclerensis ‘Hendersonii’ was bred 4 miles from Kilmacurragh by the famous Hodgson nursery. They also bred the cultivars ‘Hodgsonii’ & ‘Lawsoniana’.
I also talked about the Handkerchief Tree, Davidia involucrata, and a friend sent me a photo of hers which is planted by the gatehouse to Mona Vale in Christchurch, which is where my friend lived before the earthquakes struck.
Photo 1: of Handkerchief Tree at Mona Vale: Photo 1 by Elizabeth Jenkins
Another tree which I have talked about in a previous newsletter, Cornus controversa variagata, is shown growing superbly in a friend’s garden in Hawkes Bay.
Photo 2: Cornus controversa variagata. In the August newsletter I wrote about the newly planted live willow hedge. It is providing a green screen for the new garage.
Photo 3: M Long. An advertisement for lawn care comes from Martin Poore, a talented and highly skilled lawn man who lives in our area.
Do you have a lawn and no time to look after it?
Express Mowing offers a fast, reliable & professional lawn mowing service to the Selwyn and greater South Christchurch area.
We specialise in medium to large lawns, lifestyle blocks, reserves, schools, orchards & domains.
We also offer a winter service of hedge, small tree & shrub trimming.
If any of these services are of interest to you please feel free to give me a call.
“If all the other resolutions are to do with our garden at home, my final one is public. I resolve to take up the fight with more vigour than ever against the pompous dullards who deny gardening the grace, laughter and enthusiastic clumsiness that makes it a joy.
I mean the arid pendants who know much about the minutiae of plant nomenclature and diseases but nothing of everyday human life. Gardens are for people of all ages, backgrounds and attitudes, and no one involved in gardening has any right to assume that their audience is hanging on every word. So I promise to do my utmost to entertain and inform, to expose pomposity and dreariness without any allegiance to the horticultural status quo, and to share my love of gardening as enthusiastically and intelligently as I know.”
This quote, from Monty Don in his book The Ivington Diaries stood out , as I identify with these thoughts. Having visited a wide variety of gardens in New Zealand and the Western world and having met many garden owners, as you will have, having dealt with various horticultural groups, and having had many conversations with the thousands of visitors to Frensham over the years, I want to “share my love of gardening as enthusiastically and intelligently as I know” not only with our visitors, but also with the talented people who work alongside me at Frensham.
Marilyn McRae has offered two recipes which could be fun to make for the Christmas season.
- 400g walnuts, roasted until lightly coloured (watch carefully as they burn quickly)
- 350g caster sugar
- 200g butter
- 2 large eggs,
- lightly beaten 500g flour
- Pinch of cinnamon and pinch of salt
- zest of 1/2 a lemon
Roughly chop the walnuts
Beat sugar and butter until combined then add egg in two or three stages. Beat until well combined.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix quickly to combine.
Divide the dough into four and shape into logs on baking paper or waxed paper. You can shape the logs to be rounded or to have flat sides, whichever you fancy.
Wrap the logs and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Unwrap the dough and cut into 5mm-wide slices….you should get about 40.
Place on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for about 10 – 12 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on a rack.
“Here’s a Christmas Cake recipe that can be made as a special gift or to have on hand to serve with a Christmas or New Years drink. It’s a recipe I’ve made every year since I was given it in the 80’s and it is endlessly versatile.
Try different fruits and flavourings; leave the cake plain to serve; or decorate with whole dried fruits and nuts and glaze with warmed, sieved apricot jam; or make fruits from marzipan and use to decorate.”
Very Special Christmas Cakes
- 250g dessert dates
- 125g each dried apricots,
- halved prunes and raisins (muscatel type if possible)
- 375g nuts (use whole almonds, brazils, macadamias, hazels)
- 375g other dried fruits (use about 3 of the following….cherries, cranberries figs, papaya, pineapple etc)
Mix all together in a large baking bo,wl and reserve about a cup full for decoration.
In a smaller bowl: beat 2 eggs lightly.
Add: 1/2 c brown sugar 1 tsp vanilla 2 tbsp brandy (or whisky, rum etc) 90g soft butter
Beat until blended.
Add: 1/2 c flour 1/2 tsp baking powder pinch salt and mix thoroughly
Pour over the fruit and stir to combine thoroughly.
Grease and line the base of a ring tin or fully line several smaller tins eg small loaf tins or small round tins available from speciality kitchen shops.
Spoon the mixture into the tins, pressing down lightly as you go and smoothing the top to finish.
Place reserved fruit/nut mix on top and press in lightly.
Bake in preheated oven, 160 degrees (not fan bake), for 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of your tin.
Test with a skewer.
Leave to cool in tins on a rack. When cold, remove from tin and wrap in clean baking paper and then tinfoil until you require them.Variations: I have used the more tropical fruits (papaya and pineapple with perhaps raisins, dates and apricots for example) with macadamias and almonds and used rum as the alcohol. Or try a more traditional mix of fruits (raisins, figs, dates, cherries etc) with almonds and hazels and brandy or whisky. Keep the fruits in large pieces (halve the dried apricots only for example), the nuts whole and aim to have about 1 1/2 kg of combined fruits and nuts.
I must go and do some more outside as we have our Southland visitors arriving today.
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