The time in the garden seems to have been spent mainly with moving hoses around, and cutting back the luxuriant growth which has resulted from two periods of good rain during the hot weather. Often it has been possible to work in a shady area of the garden on the very hot days, and often there has been a slight breeze which has helped. It will be interesting to see how February temperatures fare.
It is a particularly good season for roses with the warm temperatures interspersed with rain. Rose ‘Alister Stella Gray’, planted in our garden when we arrived twenty six years ago, and growing in its present position for over twenty years, has done well every year. It does put out long branches, but these are easily controlled, and it flowers superbly in a position which receives mid to late afternoon sun only. The centre of the flowery is a very creamy lemon, moreso than it appears in the photo.Photo 1: Rose ‘Alister Stella Gray’. M .Long
The very hot days provide a good opportunity to browse catalogues; a thing which is usually done in winter. A shrub which we planted in our garden last year is Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Beauty’ which I bought from Blue Mountain Nursery in Tapanui. I know that it is available elsewhere. This is a good evergreen plant with glossy foliage which is particularly nice on winter days with its shiny leaves and white flowers later in the season. It will eventually spread to 1.5 metres.
I’d like to mention a nursery which has a mail order catalogue. Based near Thames, Kate Jury has had a lifelong interest in plants.www.seaflowersnursery.co.nz
Marilyn has come up with some good ideas for using the bountiful supply of ‘Golden Lady’ peaches which we had this year.Photo 2: The potager with two of the three dwarf peach trees ‘Golden Lady’ towards the back. The dark red rose is ‘Francis Dubreuil’. M. Long
(Click the images to enlarge or view the gallery)
Peel the peaches (pouring boiling water over them and then plunging into cold water if the skins don't come off easily) and take thick slices off the stones into a pot.
For a medium pot full of about 10 peaches add a tablespoon or two of water * (or see below) and about 1/3 cup of sugar. Add 3 - 5 cardamom pods (or half a teaspoon of seeds). Put the pot over a low heat, covered, and leave to warm and make their own juices for 10 - 15 minutes. Raise the heat a little, bring to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes. If the peaches are ripe this is all the cooking they will need.
Take off the heat and add 1/2 - 1 tsp of vanilla and leave, covered, to cool.
Margaret's peaches cooked this way were golden slices of summer in an almost raspberry coloured juice.
The mix can be whizzed (first removing the cardamom pods but leaving seeds in if that's what you used) with a stick blender if you'd like to serve as a sauce. This is delicious over with pancakes, over ice cream, with a plain cake etc... or left in slices for serving on any of the above or mixed into Greek yoghurt or mascarpone, served over winter porridge, thickened and used to fill a sweet tart shell, or used drained in a fruit tart recipe.Imminently freezable.
* If you would enjoy a more caramelly, butterscotchy peach mix, instead of adding water to the pan, add a tablespoon or two of butter with perhaps soft brown or muscavdo sugar in place of the un-refined caster sugar.
The taste of summer!