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Friday 22nd March, 2019
What do you do when you go out to water all your newly planted brassicas and leeks ( and we are going to be living on cabbage, brussels and leeks all winter lol ) and spy a whole heap of figs looking voluptuous and delicious. Well you make a decent gin, grab that little step ladder and go picking. I ended up with too many just to eat and so it was out with the jars, seals and screw bands, as you do, and into Agee jars they went. Well, there were too many not to do and I just adore figs in any shape or form.
I am no expert in the bottling domain but made a syrup of 4 cups of water to one of sugar and they turned out delicious... with home made muesli and Greek yogurt for brekkie you can't want for a better way to start the day. I was fascinated because as we all know, (and you can't know it all,) that unless you grow something first hand, well you just have to generalise about all of the cultivars with what you do know.
Petes cottage has the Fig, White Adriatic growing there ( which I must check out for more figs) and these are large like the Brown Turkey that I have in my home orchard. Brown Turkey has a brownish blush when ripe and just down in the row of trees I have, is a Brunoro Black fig. These are much smaller by comparison and with a more leathery skin in fig terms with the inside, is well almost reddish in colour by comparison.. The difference after they were bottled was noticeable and the Brunoro black ended up in quite a red syrup compared to the other variety of Brown Turkey.
I was on a roll last night and there was this massive bowl of passion fruit to do something with and another gin later, saw these all scooped out and into a pot with what seems a massive amount a sugar.. I checked out what proportions I had used last time on "Whats cooking" finding it handy to keep my recipes and it was cup for cup but I did cut this back a bit to 1.5 litres of pulp to 1 litre of sugar, boil rapidly for 5 mins and then bottle in little jars with self sealing screw caps.
All done while cooking dinner even if it was only sausages and vege out of the garden
I like the idea of some preserves from the garden for the winter months and there is nothing quite like the flavours from home grown stuff.. so I have managed to bottle some peaches, pears and figs this year from our home orchard which is really only in its second year..
No sex for our Figs and when I told the team they go.... Boring !!!
Some fun stuff about the sex life of a fig tree that you may or may not want to know, but I'm saying anyways.
Figs have separate male and female trees and the word that used to describe that in horticultural speak is dioecious. But what is even more interesting, is that the female tree can produce fruit with out any male involved... which is called parthenocarpic so that means all the fig trees that we sell are girls..
It only gets better, because you don't see any flowers and that is because they are on the inside of the developing fruit and is what is called an inside out inflorescence known as a syconium. So really what you eat is a whole bunch of tiny flowers on the inside of a fleshy bud. Now to fertilise these flowers, the fleshy buds has a small opening at the end through which a tiny wasp enters to do the deed and carry pollen from a male tree.
Luckily for us we only have female trees and no wasp in New Zealand that may get stuck in our teeth.... all so interesting
Its been a big week, must be Autumn as all the new seasons stock is beginning to arrive and this week it was Peonies first followed by the beginning of the new seasons Camellias.
Are Peonies the up and coming Queens of Perennials?
It has to be said but Peonies are gorgeous in the garden and in the vase and well worth growing for these stunning blooms. I will say that they typically like a cool root run and so the coldest spot in you garden if you are in a warmer region. I know that our friends in Rotorua manage to have a fabulous display of these in their garden and so are worth giving a go. If you struggle to get flowers then try a trick of putting ice cubes over the position in the winter time.
This year we have dry packed tubers of five different cultivars for sale which which you can either plant in the garden or into pots. For those that pre ordered these, then you should have had some notification that these are now in for you to collect or get couriered and for those that didn't pre order I suggested to Cathie that she get some extras. So if you have a hankering to grow your own Queen of the perennials then get shopping or of course come out for a drive.
Peony Kansas. Kansas is a bushy peony with huge, absolutely show-stopping fuscia-pink fragrant flowers. This variety has a good bud count, and even the golf-ball sized buds are worth noting. Flowers are double in form, and maintain their density and fullness throughout their bloom time. Deciduous
Red Sarah Bernhardt This is a red version of the well-known 'Sarah Bernhardt,' large bowl shaped fragrant double blooms, dark green shiny foliage with an upright habit, blooms spring to early summer. Plant in full sun where the frosts are thickest and you will be delighted year after year with it's stunning display. Deciduous
Sarah BernhardtPeonies are old favorites for late spring display, prized for their large, colourful and fragrant blooms. Plants form an upright bush of dark green leaves, remaining attractive all season. This popular double selection features soft apple blossom pink petals. Late blooming. Exceptional fragrance. Deciduous
Dr Alexander FlemingFully double flowers loaded with deep pink petals. Highly fragrant flowers that are mid to late season. Likes full sun and a good frost or two as peonies do like the cold in the winter. Plants form an upright bush of dark green leaves, remaining attractive all season. Deciduous.
Duchesse de NemoursA century-and-a-half after its introduction, this fragrant double remains a standard by which all other white Peonies are judged. Strong stems give the blossoms an aristocratic bearing; a touch of yellow at the base of the dense, ruffled inner petals lights them up with a warm glow. Likes full sun and a good frost or two as peonies do like the cold in the winter. Deciduous.
It may still feel pretty warm out there and still not a lot of rain but its what the plants are doing that tell you its Autumn.. The leaves are worn out and tired and have almost finished their task for the year. As I look out Cathie's office window and look at the row of Awanui flowering cherries, well they no longer look green but rather a green with a orange hue, which they will slowly grow more orangish until they fall. and that goes for all the deciduous trees here including the trees that we have in the nursery. Other signs of Autumn are the sasanquas Camellia have started to flower...
Just to throw it out there that sasanquas are a species of Camellia that typically flower in the Autumn, have smaller leaves and flowers than say the species ofJaponicasand Reticulatas... just have that sorted and there are a few lesser known species like Brevistylaand the tea Camellia sinensis that also flower now. These other species just so happen to be favs of mine.. Brevistyla has the most beautiful single simple flower that is fragrant. Sinensisdoes too but just a different form.
The Sasanquas have the reputation of being the hardiest of the Camellias but I reckon that most Camellias are all pretty tough. Sasanquas also have the tradition of the species that are often used as hedging plants and of course trainable into standards, cones and espaliers... whatever you want.
In my opinion Camellias are one of the best choice that you could use for a hedge as they are so robust, have a long life span, clip well and will usually recover from some of the hardest pruning that a plant could tolerate, more so than say Pittosporums or Griselinias, however all plants have their advantages.
Something a bit different for those that like quirky
A Native climbing passioinfruit with glossy green leaves. The flowers are white to yellow, highly scented and put on a show from Spring through out Summer. Followed by orange fruit in passion fruit shape or style that the birds love but are inedible to humans.
I have included Applesinto our 30% off sale this week so if there is an apple of your eye then check these out too.
We need the space so these stay on sale.
I am missing Cathie who is having a well earned break but usually makes sure that what I write at least makes sense and ensures that plenty of pics and links are included. Its those typing and keyboard skills that I lack... LOL I mean I have to still look at the keys as well as the screen when I type but then I am a pretty dab hand when it comes to tubing or potting and not so many can keep up with me.
These weekends seem to keep rocking on around and I feel like that I struggle to keep up... and the older I get the faster they seem to come around. The weekends are quite different from the weeks in the garden centre as usually there are more clients round. The week days are quite plant focused with the emphasis on weeding, feeding, spacing, displaying and of course new arrivals of stock, all in all, it's all great fun and I could not imagine myself doing anything different.
If you are not gardening then maybe get bottling or may just have a lazy weekend enjoying yourself doing not much.