1) 28 May, 2010: The banana crop of 2010 revealed but really about our recommended tasks in the garden this week.
2) 28 May, 2010: The wonderful lemon fragrance of Backhousia citriodora.
3) 28 May, 2010: More about bananas – our Outdoor Classroom on thinning to get better crops.
4) 28 May 2010: The burgundy coloured loropetalums, China Pink in our case, are a splendid additon to our gardens here.
5) 26 May, 2010: The story of Cordyline Red Fountain.
The persimmon in autumn is more about looks than taste, for us at least
As autumn morphs into winter here (to paraphrase our inimitable television weather presenter), we seem to be doing the Squirrel Nutkin impersonation and following a food theme. We aim to be self sufficient in vegetables and most fruit – I say aim, some years we get closer than others. But with only two of us left at home these days, I don’t have to resort to buying much fresh produce at all.
One of the edible crops we grow which we rarely eat ourselves is the highly ornamental persimmon which looks fantastically decorative in the autumn. This is an elderly astringent variety which means one needs to wait until it so ripe it is nearly rotting before it becomes palatable. Even at that stage, I only like the jelly-like segments at the very centre and find the outer flesh rather clarty and sticky. I am sure it would make an excellent gelato, icecream or granita but none of these appeal in the chill of late autumn. It is possible to buy non-astringent fruit and plants which can apparently be eaten crisp, like an apple, but I have yet to bring myself to buy one when we have all these going to waste at home. Except that they are not really going to waste because they bring us a great deal of pleasure over many weeks just adorning the bare branches of the tree.
1) Dear oh dear, Penguin Books (NZ). Did nobody even bother to double check the content of the new Tui New Zealand Fruit Garden book released this week? Not only are there rather too many errors, but there seems to be a certain amount of what might be called plagiarism going on – a bit too much cutting and pasting from easily traced overseas websites (even Wikipedia – who cuts and pastes from Wikipedia for a book?) and none of it seems to be attributed.
2) A woodland plant supreme – now Farfugium japonicum argenteum but still often referred to as a ligularia.
3) Autumn is well and truly here and we advise taking full advantage of the continuing fine, calm and dry weather – garden tasks for this week.
Some fruits of a Tikorangi autumn
It is feijoa season here. This is a fruit from South America which we have almost made our own in mild areas of New Zealand. The plant grows to a large evergreen shrub which is amazingly forgiving, tolerating even salt winds so it is sometimes used as hedging. Good forms will fruit prolifically. When our children were little, we had a row of four old plants along a roadside boundary and they would routinely head outside with a teaspoon to sit under the trees and eat their fill. Now that they have all left home and live in places where the humble feijoa is virtually unknown, they get very nostalgic when I tell them the fruit is falling. For those who have never encountered a feijoa (and they don’t transport well so while they are sold dirt cheap in fruiterers and on roadside stalls locally, they are not generally shipped elsewhere), the common method of eating them is either to scoop out the centre with a teaspoon or to peel it and eat the whole centre. There are no bothersome pips or stones.
And just to show how mild we are, the physalis (referred to here as Cape Gooseberries even though they too are South American) seed down and pop up around the place and we even grow macadamia nuts successfully. We are right on the margins of suitability for growing macadamia trees and we get occasional years when fruit set is aborted, but in the main they crop consistently for us. It is just a shame they are so difficult to get out of their shells because they are a Rolls Royce nut of choice.