It is that time of year when many of you will be shifting hoses, realising that Christmas is not far away, and some of you will be packing bags to travel.
Realising that we have to consider warmer temperatures and drier spells as a distinct possibility, it is necessary to think more carefully about what we plant, which will survive these conditions..
I have two areas of the garden which have been most successful for years, and will continue to do well in our hot dry spells.
One is planted in Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’, Oenothera odorata, Sisyrinchium striatum, eryngiums, gypsophila, Linaria dalmatica and Lavender ‘Gray Lady.’
The plantings have been there for many years, they are never fed, occasionally watered, although they thrive well without watering, and require an annual cutback. The misty combination of these plantings is somewhat ethereal.Photo 1. M. Long. A somewhat faded version of the colour combinations, but I know that readers can imagine these plants together. Good photos are available on Google.
Philadelphus virginal. This double white very fragrant philadelphus, or mock orange, is ideal for planting near a pathway where its delicate fragrance can be fully enjoyed. Ours is planted either side of the stone piece from where the water drops gently into the front pond. As our courtyard here is at a lower level to the philadelphus and the origin of the falling water, the fragrance can be captured at head height level. Needing full sun to flower at its best, this philadelphus flowers abundantly from the end of November for about three weeks. Over the years the philadelphus, which is pruned after its summer flowering, has been allowed to gradually increase in height, but that has been checked, and we don’t have to water it. An added bonus is that the leaves colour to yellow in the autumn.Photo 2. M.Long. Philadelphus virginale by the front pond
(Click the images to enlarge or view the gallery)
Christmas Gift Ideas from the Kitchen
* Homemade (or store bought) Gingerbread, baked in (or cut to fit into) a small disposable loaf tin (cardboard or waxed paper) with a small roll of Lewis Road butter (or other best quality butter) or a wedge of blue cheese and perhaps some preserved ginger or jar of ginger in syrup. The whole of it can be placed onto a large piece of cellophane, the ends drawn up to enclose everything and then tied with ribbon. Add a Christmas decoration and/or a small bunch of fresh greenery such as yew, buxus, fir or bay..
* Someone's favourite biscuits or homemade sweets presented in a small tin or box lined with a paper serviette (or a cotton/linen one) tied with ribbon and a decoration and tag added. Or a few biscuits in a cellophane/plastic bag tucked into a coffee mug or tea cup enclosed in cellophane. Perhaps tuck in a few nice individually wrapped tea bags or some coffee sugar cubes (from good food suppliers) and an antique coffee or tea spoon.
* An ice cream sundae kit. These can be aimed at children or adults by adding or subtracting from the following....homemade berry sauce and/or chocolate sauce (or bought sauce of choice); sprinkles; wafer biscuits; homemade chocolate shortbread biscuits, cut square or round with instructions to cut ice cream to the same size and make 'sandwiches'; homemade or bought salted or plain thick caramel (delicious spread in the sandwich before adding ice cream!); small dishes or $2 shop ice cream tubs or sundae dishes; spoons (disposable/plastic or vintage); cherries or other fruit/s preserved in alcohol; mini marshmallows; caramelized nuts; ginger in syrup; etc. Pack everything into a box or small basket.
* A bottle of your favourite homemade marinade for chicken, beef, venison or lamb; there are some great recipes online if necessary. Tie a basting brush around the neck of the bottle and some instructions for what to use it with and how. Maybe add a sprig of a herb used in the marinade or a whole fresh chilli if you've made a chilli marinade.
* A gingerbread man kit: layer the dry ingredients of your favourite spicy gingerbread dough into a glass jar. Add instructions for what to add and how to bake on a nice tag along with a cookie cutter or two. Perhaps add a ready-to-go icing kit from the supermarket to decorate the cookies when baked.
* A hot chocolate kit: A nice mug, a couple of long, thin Whitakers chocolate bars or some of the specially made chocolate spoons or chocolate cubes on lollipop sticks, a small shaker of finely grated chocolate and some marshmallows (Kapiti make some delicious ones for adults!)
* Your own version of My Food Bag!....if you have a favourite BBQ or summer salad dish, an Asian meal or a dessert then assemble the ingredients (or partially prepare them as in patties for hamburgers if that's appropriate) in either a small chilly bag or in a nice box (cover a small one from the supermarket or bottle store with nice paper), add a tag with instructions and an apron or BBQ tool, chop sticks or bowl and spoon etc if you want to.
* Make someone some IOU tickets for meals/baking etc....write your offered dishes/cakes etc on a series of tags either bought or made in whatever shapes you like from thin card; punch a hole in each, thread on nice string or ribbon and tie in a bow adding a Christmas decoration, a small bunch of Christmas greenery or some wrapped chocolates or sweets.
* A small wooden or bamboo chopping board or serving board (or a vintage or new plate) with some homemade cheese or oat crackers, a cheese or two (or a voucher for a local cheesemonger) some fruit paste, a small cheese knife, fresh dates, dried figs etc....relish, some olives packed into a small jar with some orange peel, fennel seeds and olive oil, some fresh cherries... present in cellophane as above or pack in a box. Or you could enclose in a nice new tea towel and tie at the top etc
* A chocolate crackle making kit for the young ones (whatever age)....pack in a box or large paper bag with some nice paper cases and small Smarties etc to add in or on top.
* Anything else your imagination comes up with!! There are endless options.
Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and a Wonderful 2018