As Autumn drew to a close, work was underway to recover the veggie patch and get a few plantings done. Beds were prepared, root veg seeds planted along with broad beans and garlic. Self sown lettuce were moved into a neat little row and rocket and silverbeet seedlings, raised from seed sown in recycled cherry tomato and strawberry punnets, were added. The garlic was up in no time. The broad beans finally poked through the mulch, but as for the root veg, they were mown down overnight by snails and/or slugs! I was left feeling very despondent… But it wasn’t the end of the world and I just decided to leave the bed to rest through the winter so it will be ready for planting in the spring.
The glorious wam hues of Autumn continued with the beautiful red leaves on the Japanese maple and the falling golden leaves of the golden ash.
Raspberries continued to delight me, providing an occasional handful of fresh berries to be used to create little sweet treats in the kitchen. They are packed with so much flavour, so it is very easy to make a little go a long way.
Work continued, and the plan for the woodland garden began to come together. Logs and branches were used to create the outline of the beds, creating distinct walkways throughout. Plants gradually made their way into the ground, including arisarum vulare (friar’s cowl) from my late mother’s garden planted around the based of a birdbath, an elkhorn fern gifted to me by my friend Ann, mounted on a log that had had a wire basket nailed to the top and planted with the ever hardy spider plant and the elkhorns that were already flourishing in the Chinese Elm gifted to me by another beautiful friend, Beth, gave the area a kind of established feel. The agapanthus were already in place, and I had to free two massive clumps of aspidistra (originally from my late grandmothers home) from the pots that they have lived in for years, so that they could be planted out, both into the garden and into two new pots ready to be placed inside our front entrance. Still a great deal more work to be done, but it is coming together and giving me a great deal of pleasure in its creation.
One of Gran’s nerines never made it into the ground, but it wasn’t phased and provided a little pop of colour against my blue garden chair, and the rose that I use to make my rhubarb and rose petal jam, continued to bloom.
Earlier in the year, I had been talking to a local citrus grower about a double grafted citrus tree that I had (it was here when we moved in), telling him how much I disliked the fact that the lemonade seemed to dominate the tree, when all that I really wanted were true lemons. His advice was to remove the lemonade graft. That has now been done and I am hoping that the, now, lemon tree will flourish! Thank you Lynton.
Finally, I have Snow Drops in the garden, well I it appears that I will have… It is really difficult to get the bulbs here in Australia, but planted my first purchase of galanthus Sylvan Vale this year, and they are starting to come through. One in particular has already sent up a bud, and I am eagerly (not patiently) waiting for it to bloom! I have them planted both in the old tub and in the ground surrounding it, in the new woodland garden.
I share with you, once again, the recipe for my very popular Rhubarb and Rose Petal jam, mentioned above.
I was wandering around the garden looking for new colour, when I started thinking about using the then abundance of rhubarb in the vegie patch, and pairing it up with some of the beautiful crimson roses covering one of the arbors as it was providing a lovely show with a very heady scent.
- 500 g rhubarb stalks only
- 500 g sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 cups of loosely packed rose petals preferably red and strongly perfumed
- Rose water to taste optional
Wash the rhubarb and trim the ends before cutting it into 1 cm (1/2 inch) pieces.
Rinse the rose petals in cold water and drain.
Put the rhubarb into a medium, non-reactive pan, sprinkle over the sugar and drizzle with the lemon juice. Cover with the lid and place on a very low heat until the juices start running. Gradually increase the heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, and bring to the boil.
Add the rose petals and stir to evenly distribute them throughout the rhubarb mixture. Boil rapidly, until the jam reaches setting point. Once setting point is reached, remove the pan from the heat and skim off any scum and discard it.
If the jam does not have a lovely strong rose flavour, add a little rose water to taste.
Pour into warm sterilised jars, and seal. Once cooled, lable and store in a cool, dark place.
Lable and store in a cool, dark place.
- Use freshly picked, unsprayed rose petals from the garden. Do not buy them from a florist, as it is likely that they have been sprayed with pesticides, etc.
- If using roses with large petals, it is best to remove the heel of the petal (the white bit at the bottom).
- Delicious on freshly baked brioche, with scones and cream, or paired with cream to fill a vanilla sponge.
Until next time…