Anthony was given a copy of the book for his most recent birthday by some very good friends ... Rowan Bishop with Relish..., such an amazing book and a copy should grace all foodies shelves. To cut to the chase Anthony has been keen to give some recipes a whirl choosing the recipe Roasted Red Capsicum and limemarmalata as his first effort. To say it was just delicious would be an understatement, the first batch of this Maramalata disappeared too quickly on crackers with cheese. Hence another double batch was organised, red peppers and ginger bought and oranges and leaves picked from our trees to get the cooking started.
I reckon that if you had a glut of red bell peppers in the summer then this would be one way of preserving them. Thankfully we have a large established Kaffir lime at the villa garden to raid and we also have plenty of bay hedges to snaffle leaves from. Orange juice was required with no added sugar and so we just used freshly squeezed from our tree in the garden (one advantage to making now as opposed to summer time.) Lemons for juice and rind we have a plenty. Click here to get the recipe but I do suggest a copy of the book is a must if you don't have it already. Also check out Rowan's blog, lots more awesome recipes there!
If you are hankering to plant for the summer flavour of capsicum, tomatoes, basil and the like, go ahead and get the garden ready but its still too early and cool for these to go in unless you have a cloche or small glass house. Usually Labour weekend is the time to get all those sort of plants in. Hopefully we will have a warm spring unlike last years that was still quite cool even after Labour weekend. On the other hand, now is the time to plant your potatoes.
In my experience those plants that go in now tend to grow weakly due to being too cool and wet and never really seem to get ahead of those that may be planted much later. If you have a glass house you could grow larger individual plants to go out later when the ground warms some more or you could try a cloche or a plastic cover over hoops in the garden that keeps the plants slightly warmer.
The munch of the molluscs
It's time to watch for those slippery sliding tongues of slugs and snails as one little licking can do a lot of damage. It's those plants that start appearing from the ground, like Hostas, with all their leaves furled into one shoot at they emerge and one rasp from those slippery molluscs will mark the whole series of leaves. Other plants like Liriopes are not immune and these ones are coming through right now with a whole years supply of leaves all tucked together like an asparagus spear. At this stage they must taste like Asparagus to slugs and snails but if they are allowed to get a feed then these leaves show that damage for the rest of the year.
To that end if your Liriopes look scruffy (which will be last years slug damage), you can remove all of last years foliage taking care not to cut the new growths coming through. Keep the slug bait out so that the new spears don't get eaten and when the new leaves open your Liriopes will look amazing for the coming year.
Delphiniums are up there for slugs and snails, they just adore these. Now Delphies are true perennials and they will have died down for the winter but will be waking up now. Its at this ground level stage that large delphinium clumps can just be devoured if you are not taking any notice.
The trick is to bait the areas that slugs and snails hang out in like hedges and areas of dense foliage like Agapanthus or daylilies as well as putting bait around your plants. I know that Harry tends to bait all of the garden, especially all the foliage areas where they will spend their daytime. He repeats the process every couple of days so as to reduce the slug and snail population and then we don't have to do it for ages.
Baiting prior to rain is also good as they tend to slide out of hiding with the wet ground. Some late evening fun could be that you go out on a wet night with a torch and go snail stomping.
I have heard that they like beer a bottle placed on its side with a little beer inside may act as a bait station. I am not sure how many bottles of beer you may need to leave around the garden but it could be someone ones pocket money task to empty and replace lol.
Interestingly though, I had heard that the Cast Iron Plant or Aspidistra has mauve coloured flowers at ground level that were pollinated by slugs and snails but a google search suggests that this is a myth but are pollinated by crustaceans. The flowers of this very hardy plant are certainly at the right place for this to happen LOL
Birches...Silver Birch/Betula pendula is the first one that springs to my mind, a tall and upright slender tree with very pendulous branches that cascade downwards. Now don't be fooled by the brown trunks that you will see on these in the nursery as these will mature into stunning white trunks. An easily grown tree that does look pretty cool as a mass planting. For those with just a small space then three will suffice as a group.
Then there is one called Albo sinensis that has quite special peeling bark of creams and coppery red which I would imagine would look really cool as a mass planting. Some of those trees with peeling barks or layers look amazing in the garden.
Betula utils White Spire has a much more upright growth habit and very white bark.
Betula pendula Black Prince Is a weeper that has darkish purple shades of leaves which look great against the white bark.
Betula Summer Cascade is a true weeping form in that the whole tree cascades similar in form to weeping maples, cherries and the like.
Betula Papyrifera has papery bark that looks amazing as it unfurls from the trunk and branches leaving a layered look with curls of bark adding interest.
Other trees with stunning stem shades at this time of year would be Acer Sango Kaku, aka Senkaki,with vibrant red stems which just seem to glow amongst the other trees that we have here.
There is a new Acer that the team found this year called Japenese Sunrise which has more orange red bark than the Sango Kaku.
Plants dine too....
Dont forgrt that its time to be feeding all of the garden and this wet weather is just perfect for washing the nurtients into the soil. Sheep pellets, compost, long term and slow release... it's all good at this point.
Lawns need feeding too with proper lawn ferts as these tend to be higher in N and iron. If you are using instant lawn food then broadcast when its raining to wash it through the lawn and thatch otherwise your lawn may scorch.
Feast your eyes!
Corylopsis Spicata flowers on bare stems with gorgeous yellow hop like flowers, great for flowering at the back of the border. Wonderful colour first thing in the spring followed by scrummy green heart shaped leaves.
Magnolia Iolanthe is just coming into bloom in the nursery and it looks amazing with all the gorgeous fat buds sitting erect on the branch tips. Gorgeous white blooms with a blush pink bottom.
Witch Hazel is an interesting shrub, to say the least, with it's shaggy, spider like flowers that seem to cling to the bare branches in late winter. The flowers are fragrant and colourful. Hamamelis Diane has Red flowers and Hamamelis Jelena has orange/red flowers. The shrubs are upright and spreading at the top as they mature and have small deep green leaves that have deeply etched veining.
Philadelphis stunning fragrant white flowers against fresh green foliage looks stunning. This classic and easy to grow hollow-branched shrub was used by the Turks to make pipes. Its Latin name means “brotherly love” and its orange-blossomlike fragrance has enhanced teas, perfumes, and almost certainly, many friends’ walks in the garden. Choose from 4 varieties currently in stock.
Wisteria are stunning when in flower with either short or long racemes that look spectacula when grown up a wall or trained as a tree or over a pergola. Ours have their buds fattening now so will be in bloom soon.
Hedging grade plants available now for planting
We have included a new link on the website's main menu for our pre order page. This is for plants that have too many varieties for us to stock. It is here that you can order the varieties you like and we will get them in for you. It is called Online Only and the plants on it will be subject to stock availibility. Currently displaying are large flowering Clematis and Bearded Iris's.
Fine dining for Fathers day
... hopefully you have a wonderful spread sorted for the fathers in your life, perhaps you can find inspiration in Rowan's recipes or have bookings at a nice venue to enjoy some fine cusine with each other. It is my first Fathers Day celebration without Pete and it is feeling very empty but of course there is always something to celebrate and I shall be thinking of him as we prepare for another celebration, more about that soon!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone and Happy Fathers Day to all the Dad's out there from
Lloyd, Harry and the Wairere Team
Make it a Wairere weekend where even GNOMES know that gardening's not a drag.