Tikorangi Notes: Flowers great and small. With added lemons.

Doryanthes palmeri or giant spear lily. Certainly shaping up to be giant

Behold Doryanthes palmeri! The giant spear lily from eastern Australia. It has never flowered for us before so the three metre, sturdy flower spike is a thrill even though it has yet to open. This particular plant is a nursery relic, by which I mean that it was not planted in this position. More, cast aside from nursery crops (we once produced a few to sell) and left to its own devices. Now the grass garden is planted beside it and it looks quite at home. This is just as well; each pleated leaf is about one and a half metres long and I don’t fancy moving it. I am hoping the flowers will open in the next week or so.

Snowdrop season! Galanthus S. Arnott

From the massive to the tiny, it is snowdrop season here. We are not really-o truly-o good snowdrop territory and Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ and G. elwesii are the two main varieties that perform consistently well and multiply for us. Mark would dearly love some later flowering ones to extend the rather short season but while he went through a stage of gathering various different varieties, none of the later ones have thrived. Undeterred, he is trying some hybridising to see if he can get some variety but these projects, you understand, never yield instant results. It is more like a ten or twenty year plan, all to get the extended snowdrop season.

Luculia Fragrant Cloud keeps on flowering this season

It was a full month ago that I wrote about luculias. The bright pink ‘Early Dawn’ is well finished, white ‘Fragrant Pearl’ still has a few blooms but the main specimen plant needs some attention (a bit more judicious pruning and more light – it has flowered better in the past). But ‘Fragrant Cloud’ has been in full flight ever since and still looks good. This is the very best I have ever seen it and the scent is divine.

Daphne Perfume Princess

Equally fragrant are the daphnes in full bloom. We grow a number of different daphnes but a fair amount of them are our own ‘Perfume Princess’. Mark has bred other plants that are showier and more spectacular (especially the magnolias), but this obliging daphne represents a breeding breakthrough in some aspects and may well end up as the one he is best known for internationally. It is certainly the one that enabled us to retire early. Given that, we are deeply relieved as each year it proves itself again as a garden plant and a superior daphne which will stand the test of time.

I admit that as this post goes live, we are far from Tikorangi. Well, not that far. Just ‘across the ditch’, as we say, in Australia. While we need passports to travel to Australia it never feels overseas as further, oft more exotic, destinations do. It is just that all three of our children live in Australia these days and we are all joining the celebration of the second birthday of our only grandchild. So not a garden or plants-focused visit but I am sure we will find matters botanical of interest on the way. While I love the place we live, I have been missing the stimulus of travel this year. I need to find somewhere interesting and new for a trip next winter. By the time we arrive home, we should have the first colour showing on Magnolia Vulcan and M. campbellii should be in full bloom in the park. Winter will feel as though it is on the wane.

Preserved lemons – the liquid is opaque because some of the salt has yet to fully dissolve

Before we left, I made another jar of salted lemons, having noticed a heavy crop and smaller fruit on our main tree. Smaller fruit fit in the jar better. I prefer to make salted limes but the lime tree is having a year (or two) off fruiting. They are dead easy to do, store for many months in the fridge and are very tasty as a flavour addition. They can make couscous flavourful (though I have gone off couscous since I realised how highly processed this product is), add taste to rice and all manner of stuffings or savoury dishes. I resorted to buying lemons one year, in the absence of a good lemon crop at home, but if you are buying fruit, pour boiling water over them and stand them for a few minutes first. Some are, I read, coated (in wax?) to help their storage life and you need to get rid of any coating or spray residues before preserving them.

Just looking at the jar is like looking at a ray of Italian sunshine on a winter’s day in Tikorangi.



9 thoughts on “Tikorangi Notes: Flowers great and small. With added lemons.

  1. tonytomeo

    Oh, the nursery relics. Most of ours were put out in the landscape as stock plants to provide cuttings. A few really are plants that we liked, but never bothered to grow, and a few that I do not even like.

  2. Mark Hubbard

    I’ve been listening to a lot of the archived BBC Desert Island Discs lately, so following that theme, if I could have only one plant – that didn’t need to provide me food – on my desert island that would be a daphne. I love them, or rather the scent. Every place we’ve ever had, as well as a Mediterranean red geranium I’ve planted daphnes, but they’ve only really thrived in one place (Banks Peninsula); I’ve always struggled in Geraldine – the frosts I think.

    We’re pretty much exclusively natives in Sounds, but after a year here permanently I’m still spotting for a place for a daphne … I like them close to doorways, etc, so you get the scent constantly when going past.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      This is the reason we are gently flanking our driveway (which we walk along many many times more than we drive) with daphne. Though it would not be my choice for the single best plant.

      1. Mark Hubbard

        What a good idea; never thought of it. Our drive would probably be the best place as sheltered in amongst the flax and manukas up it, plus dappled sunlight year round (but shade in summer). And I walk it every day for the mail :)

  3. Tim Dutton

    A well-timed post this time Abbie, I must say. On Thursday we were in a garden centre and whilst browsing along the aisles I spotted Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’ and paused a moment by it thinking “That sounds interesting, I wonder if I should buy one for the Winter Garden?”. Next day up pops your post and answers my question for me: yes, I should! So we’ve just returned from a shopping trip with one today and just need the wind and rain to ease off before planting it.

    Incidentally our young hedge of Camellia ‘Fairy Blush’ is starting to show what a nice garden feature it is going to be in a few years time when it has thickened up and got a bit taller: smothered in flowers right now.

  4. Maria Fairburn

    I wonder how long your Doriathes palmeri took to flower? Here, at Mara Manu on a south facing slope in Featherson, it did so after 25 years!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      We were just counting up. Our plant had a really tough, neglected life but it is probably getting on for 25 years now.

  5. Pingback: Tikorangi notes: a week of pests and petals | Tikorangi The Jury Garden

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