It’s been another busy month in the garden. Recently my husband Ron and a friend planted out sixteen holm oaks, Quercus ilex, near the northern boundary of the garden. These evergreen trees will, in time, give us a good framework though which to see our neighbouring hills and vineyards.
When grasses were being cleared at the back of the pond last month, an exciting discovery was made. Standing on strong stems were pink flowers of Darmera peltata, the umbrella plant. The leaves appear from now on and apparently have striking autumn colour, which I am looking forward to seeing. It had been covered up for some years.
Today we’ll be planting groupings of Echinops bannaticus ‘Star Frost’, Eryngium planum ‘White Glitter’ and Artemesia ‘Ludoviciana’ into the large-rock garden.
Photo 1: I spend a lot of time looking closely at the various irises in our garden. There are so many delicious varieties to be seen. This dwarf one sits at the front edge of one of our beds.
Photo 2: Clematis recta, native to Europe, is one of the many clematis in our garden that were planted about twenty-five years ago. Other years we have tied it discreetly to a nearby post, but this year the tying didn’t happen and I am enjoying seeing the clematis flowing naturally onto the path’s edge.
Photo 3: Stephanandra tanakae: I bought several of these arching shrubs from Blue Mountain Nurseries a few years ago. They are planted along the edge of the curved-driveway woodland garden which is on the south side. In the first year the rabbits munched them, but now the plants are thriving.
Photo 4: A typical early November mix of granny bonnets and aquilegias.
Photo 5: The reds of the rhododendron and two maples are drawn together, with tinges of red in the berberis. This month the ‘Frensham’ roses will start to flower here as the rhododendron finishes flowering.
All photos by M. Long
For beginner gardeners, I’d like to mention the podcast We Like to Garden by Libby Fulton and Greer Grenfell. It’s fun, lively and informative; an informal conversation between two friends.
Chicken ‘Steaks’ with White Bean Mash and Asparagus: Marilyn McRae
1 tbsp olive oil
4 small chicken breasts cut in half horizontally to make 8 ‘steaks’
2/3 c white wine
1/4 c water
1/4 c thickened cream
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
For White Bean Puree: 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 1/4 c lemon juice
1 clove garlic, chopped
To serve: 4-5 stems asparagus per person
Blend or process the bean mash ingredients until reasonably smooth (slightly textured). Transfer to a medium saucepan and heat until warmed through.
Season and keep warm.
Heat oil in a large pan over high heat and cook chicken, in batches, for 2 minutes each side or until nicely browned and cooked. Remove from pan to rest, covered, in a warm oven.
Add the white wine and water to the pan and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add cream and mustard and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until the mixture is reduced and thickened.
Season to taste.
Steam asparagus while the sauce is cooking.
Divide the bean mash between four warmed plates and top with chicken ‘steaks’ and drizzle with the sauce. Divide the asparagus between the plates, grind over some black pepper and serve. New season’s beans or broccolini could be used in place of the asparagus.
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