Winter is the time when most gardeners plant deciduous shrubs and trees. If the shrubs or trees are planted at this time, there is less stress on them when there are no leaves attached. Although the plant is dormant there will be noticeable root growth. For this reason alone it is essential to keep the roots moist in the first season.
It is important to stake trees correctly. Using a short stake is better as it allows the trunk to move, and in this way the tree develops its own strength instead of being dependent on the stake. In very windy places rocks could be used for support instead of stakes.
If you are having large trees felled, put enough sticks on the stump to make a fire. By burning off in this way you won’t have to deal with suckers later. Ashes from the fireplace are invaluable for heavily water logged soil, or they can be put on the compost heap.
I am writing this newsletter from Normandy, where we are spending time again in our northern hemisphere home. It has been a very hot and dry summer so far; last evening a gentle rain fell.
We have just returned from a visit to friends, Elizabeth and Carol Gurney who live in idyllic Suffolk countryside. They, too, are having a very dry summer. We met the Gurneys ten years ago when they came to New Zealand for the International Conference of the International Dendrology Society. Elizabeth has a most attractive flower and vegetable garden, and Carol has an extensive arboretum. I walked in Carol’s extensive arboretum with him, my pen made lots of notes of trees which I have never heard of. Carol’s main interest are the Magnolia and Oak families.
Nearby, their daughter and son-in-law have a most interesting collection of trees and shrubs in their garden/arboretum. This is on the same site as their plant nursery called The Place for Plants. www.placeforplants.co.uk For UK readers, or visitors to Suffolk, this is well worth the visit, and a guided tour of the garden can be arranged with Rupert Eley, the son-in-law. The Gurneys and Eleys properties are very close to Flatford Mill, Constable country, and the charming villages of Lavenham and Dedham.
As my camera has decided not to work despite my best efforts, there are no photos from this visit, but I am determined that I will have the problem solved before I embark on a four day Garden Tour to Somerset next week. This tour is being led by Jimi Blake, who has the renowned garden near Blessington, south of Dublin in Ireland.
I have noticed that the June temperatures in Christchurch have been rather warm. I can imagine many gardeners perusing catalogues and placing orders for the coming Spring, Summer and Autumn.
Very little progress has been made on rejuvenating our garden in Normandy as it has been too hot. I am hoping to come over in Spring next year and get some plants established. Meanwhile further clearing of the site is continuing. There will be “before” and “after” photos. Last year I planted some small slips of buxus plants in a stone rill and they are doing well.
(Click the images to enlarge or view the gallery)
While I am writing about summer, and it is winter in New Zealand, I thought that Marilyn’s recipe would be ideal for any season.
Use half the butter and half the oil to 'sizzle' half the mushrooms and shallots/spring onions over high heat in a heavy-based frying pan.
Tip into a bowl and use the remaining butter and oil to cook the remaining mushrooms and shallots. Season well. Cool Whisk the cream cheese and 2 eggs in a small bowl until combined and stir into the mushroom mix with the parmesan and parsley Place the pastry sheets on two lined trays and place half the mushroom mix in the centre of each sheet.
Spread the mix to within 4 cm of the border. Brush the border with the whisked egg and fold the edges in to form a rough circle.
Brush the folded rim with a little more of the egg. Scatter the ricotta and thyme sprigs over the filling Bake the tarts for 15 mins or until the pastry is puffed and golden
Feta can be used in place of ricotta and you could try a different flavoured cream cheese.
Serve the tart with extra chopped parsley