Tuesday 27 July 2010

Winter edibles

Whoops, I'm a couple of days late with this post. I spent the weekend cutting back the shrubbery along the front fence, digging out some bushes I didn't want and then chopping up the prunings and cramming them into our miniscule green recycling bin (I'll show you that some time... oh how you will laugh).

So I thought I'd show you how the edibles are doing at the end of July. Although the pumpkins above aren't exactly edible any more...

Would you believe I've still got blueberries? This is Blueberry Muffin, a self fertile variety.

Heaps of rhubarb is still poking through. Obviously this is a variety that doesn't die back in winter, yay!

Cauliflower Violet Sicilian. This photo makes it look a lot bigger than it actually is... in reality the head is only slightly bigger than a golf ball!

Leeks are leeking, but not very fast. I obviously sowed the seeds much too late. But once they start growing in spring they'll be great! I am still picking a few and having them as baby leeks.

But yay for pak choi... it continues to noticeably grow even on the cold days! I've put some crushed eggshells around mine to foil the slugs - it actually does work, and those little nibbles on the outer leaves have not been repeated.

Bright lights silver beet - another winter staple.

It's lovely and warm in the glasshouse and we often sit in here for afternoon tea and a snooze. Peas are doing fairly well in containers (a bit of black spot and mildew has just set in), and some rocket is slowly but surely getting bigger.

Last but not least - this is my new mandarin Clementine. When the weather warms up I'll plant her in a sheltered corner and cross my fingers that she manages some more fruit next year!

Oh - I got an apple tree - Baujade. I think I've even decided where to put it! Hopefully this weekend (or next) I'll get that and the feijoa finally put in place! Still debating about another apple variety to go with it.

Saturday 24 July 2010

Small signs

I went for a wander in the garden today and was amazed at the little signs of spring that are stirring. Granted, they are not moving particularly fast, but something is happening, and I have photographic evidence to prove it...

The first daffodil! This is Hoop Petticoats. I've had the bulbs planted in a bowl for a couple of years and never had anything to show but the grassy foliage. So it's good to see that the plant actually knows what to do with itself.

Sweet little violas. Where would I be in winter without them. I love the painted faces on this self seeded variety, they remind me of vintage crockery.

Delicate blooms on a tiny winter's cyclamen.

Hellebore - rose of winter. Very difficult to photograph as they hide their faces under leaves and face the walls!
But gorgeous when the sunlight hits them just so.

Even my strawberries are flowering! I thought about moving them into the glasshouse, but figured that they are probably more sheltered where they are, being in a north facing position under the eaves. I kind of doubt any berries will come from this yet, but you never know...

To be honest, I'm a bit mad at these pink hyacinths. They are lovely, but they came up too early to be part of my carefully planned pastel colour scheme alongside the driveway (along with pale yellow earlycheer daffodils and pale blue star flowers (not sure of the proper name of those!) Also, they are pale powder-pink and not the deep cerise that I imagined would give a dramatic shot of drama to the display. *Huge annoyed sigh*

The blue star flower opening in another part of the garden.

Grape hyacinths in a perfectly mossed bowl.

My favourite wintersweet still has lovely scented blossoms.

Check back tomorrow to see how my edibles are faring...

Saturday 17 July 2010


Today I went to the garden centre and ogled some apple trees. I've suddenly developed the urge to plant one somewhere in my garden - never mind that I already have 2 ballerinas in pots and a potted feijoa that I bought a couple of months ago and still need to find a home for. I'm sure I can squeeze in a couple more trees at least.

The dilemma is - which one to get? I've decided on the M26 rootstock, which is semi-dwarf. The trees only grow to 3 m tall (less if you prune them) which means you can fit more in, hooray! The three varieties I've managed to narrow it down to are:

Baujade - a new variety, like Granny Smith. It's got green apples which store well and is supposed to be resistant to diseases. I read somewhere that Granny Smith isn't good for growing in the south island, can't remember why though! But I haven't come across mention of that for Baujade.

Mother - an heirloom variety. It has red apples, late cropping, and is "highly recommended for every fruit connoisseur's garden! The flavor is excellent: sweet, perfumed and distinctive." It is a heavy cropper but doesn't crop every year apparently.

Monty's Surprise - the great cancer fighting apple. Large red apples, late cropping, good for eating and cooking.

Which one should I get though? I like the sound of Mother but I don't think I want a tree that doesn't crop reliably. Maybe I should get Monty's Surprise and see if I can graft Mother onto it. Hmm, decisions. What is everyone else growing in their back yards? Any recommendations?

The photo at the top of the post is of my ballerina apple "Waltz". It had a decent crop two years ago, but last year both my ballerinas blossomed, but didn't set any fruit. I thought perhaps a frost got them. I'll be lying in wait with a roll of frost cloth this spring!

Sunday 11 July 2010

Summer dreaming

Winter is here. Today the weather was beautiful, but freezing cold. We hardly ever get snow here in Christchurch but we get some hard frosts - this morning's was -3 degrees. That was followed by a sunny day, but it was a winter's sunny day - the kind where if you step from sun into shadow, the difference is about 15 degrees. There's not much else to do but curl up (in the sun, of course) with a cuppa and a seed catalogue.

Luckily the new Kings Seeds catalogue arrived yesterday. I quickly whipped through it and circled all my wants. Last year I was so excited to finally have a dedicated vege patch that almost all I ordered was vege seeds, and I still have plenty left for this year. However, I miss my flowers! I want a colourful beautiful cottage garden, as well as a lovely decorative and productive potager. That's not too much to ask is it?

My flowery wants include:
Calendula sunset tones
Dianthus clove pinks
Gilia birds eye
Godetia azalea beauties
Lavatera parade

Of course, there are some more veges and herbs to try:
Bush basil
Coriander indian summer
Bean yard long dwarf
Bean sunset runner (with beautiful pink flowers, this one counts as decorative too!)
Carrot mini sweet
Pumpkin baby bear
Squash delicata

As always I'll be trying one or two different tomatoes. This year I'm going to order from Bristol Seeds. I'm eyeing up Amazon Chocolate, Brown Berry and Sunset's Red Horizon.

In the meantime, I'm looking at my photos from seasons past, and reading blog after blog. Northern hemisphere gardens are looking lovely right now, and I'm getting plenty of ideas for when the days warm up again.

Here's a mini cross stitch I've started. I was given the kit by a clever thrifter who spied this in the Sallies and thought of me. It's a great way to while away a winter evening. Hopefully by the time I've finished it, it will be time to sow seeds again.


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