The garden in November was pretty, but brimming with weeds! The weather was all over the place having us in short sleaves one day and reaching for the winter woollies the next!
On the 12th it began raining, there were weather warnings for a rain band that was going to produce unusual amounts of rain. The rains continued through the next day, it just rained and rained and rained with our first reading of 60ml! Flood warnings kept flashing up on the phone, but we are up high, so were lucky. We’ve had more rain than ever this year, that is compared to what we’ve had in the past five years (that’s how long we’ve been here). Probably not strange, really, because of the drought we’ve experienced since arriving. Clearly the drought is over.
Running late, again with my plantings, I finally managed to plant up a few punnets of seeds. I repurpose cherry tomato punnets when planting seeds, they make a nice little hot house to help the seeds germinate, then I just pop open the lids to allow the seedling to gain size. The punnets are placed in trays to which I add a little water now and then, to keep the soil moist.
The star of the show in the Woodland Forest Garden was a red fuschia that I picked up at an Easter Market earlier this year. It is clearly very happy with its new home and providing a beautiful burst of red amongst all of the green. Sadly it wasn’t named, but that really doesn’t matter, as it reminds me of the wonderful morning out with our family. Another little gem that I love is a tiny geranium given to me by my friend Shirley. Shirley is always handing out cuttings to those she knows, she is such a kind hearted soul.
The passionfruit vine, located on the edge of the garden has been in place for 2 or 3 years now, remaining small and fruitless. Under threat of becoming compost, it has taken off. I was so excited to see buds form, and watched with great anticipation as the buds turned into flowers, and finally fruit. Admittedly I did throw a bag of sheep manure around the base of the plant after reading that they are heavy feeders! I chose to plant a non-grafted Nellie Kelly black passionfruit which should produce up to 100 fruit over Summer and Autumn. I’ve just read that it only has a 3 year lifespan, so I think I should look at planting another alongside next year. I have avoided the grafted passionfruit as they are notorious for sending up unwanted growth from the rootstock used, and it is such a pain to get rid of!
Just on from the Woodland Forest Garden is my Spring Bulb Bed, where I planted a few iris’s, retrieved from my late mother’s garden, earlier this year. I just love tall bearded iris, but sadly mine have been very much neglected over the past couple of years, so was very happy to see two of mum’s throw up spikes.
Continuing on through the garden, the standard apricot roses at the front entrance are the best that they have ever been! Well, almost… We did loose one, which needs replacing, and because we don’t know the name of this rose, I have decided to replace it with another, a David Austin rose called ‘Grace’. Grace is a family name, with my maternal great grandmother, paternal grandmother, mother, and now my great niece all given the name Grace. This rose may be a little different, but it just seems right to me. I love walking around our garden and being taken on a journey by the plants, shrubs and trees.
Those who know me know that I love to give old things a new life. We had two pod chairs that had passed their use by date, becoming quite shabby, and to be quite frank, unused. The plan was to throw the pods out at hard rubbish and use the bases to hold large hanging baskets. One day as I looked out on the bramble rootstock of old roses left in place by the previous owners, I had an idea. I quietly went outside and moved one of the chairs around to the old rose on the edge of the heavily shaded garden, manhandling it into position, trying to make sure that it would be able to accommodate the sprawling rose. Then I went into the garage and found where Gary keeps the electrical ties, and I was set. I spent an hour or so attaching the long canes to the chair in the hope that they would bloom and continue growing. The end result, as you can see, is quite pretty. There will be more training and some underplanting to do, but I love it. The second chair has since been located to a space adjacent to this, but facing into a different garden, and I have planted a climbing rose beneath it.
Walking through the archway that takes you from the shaded garden, the beautiful climbing rose, Pierre de Ronsard (also known as Rosa ‘Eden’, ‘MEIviolin’, and ‘Eden Rose 85’ ) is finally feeling at home and putting on a lovely display of blooms that catch my eye whenever I walk by. Named to mark the 400th anniversary of the French poet, Pierre de Ronsard’s (1524 – 1585) death, this stunning rose was the creation of Marie-Louise Meilland and released by Meilland International in 1985 as a part of their Renaissance® Collection. The rose has since been inducted into the Rose Hall of Fame
The inspiration for the rose’s creator was the poem, Ode à Cassandre, written by Ronsard about Cassandre Salviati, the daughter of a Florentine banker, whom he met at a ball in the Château de Blois in the 1545. I had no idea that wanting to show you pics of a rose from our garden, would take me on such a journey of learning! I have included the French version of the poem, but chosen not to include the translation, probably a bit of the romantic in me!
Now back to the garden…
The overgrown, unruly vegetable garden has, surprisingly, provided us with some little treats… garlic scapes, broad beans, chamomile flowers, lemons, our first ever oranges, and asparagus.
Of course, fresh asparagus from the garden means Asparagus and Tarragon Soup, and a favourite of mine, Asparagus, Ham & Cheese Gratin, or Gratin d’asperges, jambon et fromage.
I love this dish, it is a great way to showcase fresh, seasonal asparagus, and is perfect for brunch or served as an entree.
- 12 thickish green asparagus spears
- 4 slices leg ham
- 20 g bButter
- 150 ml milk
- 25 g flour
- 100 g pure cream
- 100 g grated cheese Comte, Gruyère or cheddar
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- coarse ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 180 ° C.
Snap off the woody part at the base of the asparagus and discard.
Lay out the slices of ham and place 3 asparagus spears on each slice of ham.
Roll the ham to enclose the asparagus spears.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Remove from heat, stir in the flour and then return the pan to the heat and cook slowly for 1 minute.
Again, remove the pan from the heat and add the milk and cream, stirring until smooth.
Return the pan to the heat and stir until the sauce comes to the boil and thickens.
Reduce the heat and, stirring, continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Add the grated cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir until the cheese has melted through.
Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Lay the asparagus and ham rolls in a lightly greased gratin dish.
Cover them with bechamel sauce.
Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbling and golden.
- Serve with a lightly dressed green salad.
- For brunch, you might like to poach two small quail eggs, or a small hen’s egg and serve on a lightly toasted crostini.
Now I’m thinking that I may have planted too many tomato seeds this year, fearing that germination may be less than satisfactory, I planted twelve seeds of approximately 18 heritage varieties. Germination was very successful, and I eventually decided to transplant the little seedlings into water well pots to encourage some strong growth – it worked. Now have way too many tomato plants. Not to worry though, the excess will be gifted to family and friends over the upcoming festive period
Yet another rose, stopped me in my tracks! A Delbard known as Belle Parfume… Isn’t the colour sensational, and the size was amazing, the size of a soup bowl!
Finally, on a trip to a local hardware, I just couldn’t go past the red flowering strawberries. I think, in this case, the flowers far out do the fruit with their beauty. They have been planted among other strawberries along the edge of the citrus garden.
That’s it for November 2021, the end of the year will be here before we know it!
- Poesie Française
- The Morgan Library & Museum
- French Moments
- The World Federation of Rose Societies
- Wikipedia Rosa ‘Eden’