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Saturday 20th February, 2021
Got to love harvest time
I have managed to save only some of my plums from the possums and have spied a nectarine tree that has lots of fruit happening so I think it's time that I haul out the large pot, and a few preserving jars, and have a bash again at the preserving thing, especially since I already bought the sugar! The thing is the tree has too many fruit all at once to just eat and there is nothing quite like the fresh flavour of home preserves on your porridge or muesli in the winter.
Bottling is not as hard as you think... it just takes a bit of time and effort at this time of the year. Nectarine are pretty damn easy as you don't even have to peel them, just halve and get rid of the stone... Have some syrup water rolling on the boil, throw in the fruit and cook until just cooked and bingo into sterilized jars, screw down the seals and wait until they go down... use whenever.
Usually a syrup consists of a cup of water to a cup of sugar but I find this a bit sweet and prefer a lighter syrup so maybe 2 cups water to one sugar but experiment, yourself, to suit your taste.
If you have a small orchard then don't stop at nectarines, get a whole selection going. I see that next on the ripening list here at home are Quinces and hopefully figs if I can keep the possums at bay.. though I must say that they tend to leave the quince and figs until last but they do love apples, plums and stone fruit... and the little blighters got every peaches we had!
I never quite understand why Agapanthus get such a bad rap
I guess that here in NZ we mostly know Agapanthus by there genus name, of the same, though they do have the common names of African Lily or Lily of the Nile, which indicates that they are native to South Africa and surrounds. Now our African lilies, which are not lilies at all, belong to the family of Amaryllidaceae and have their own special subfamily called, not so originally, Agapanthoideae. (I said this one out loud and Cathie just laughed!!)
The Amaryllis family include Amaryllis which are that strappy leaved plant that has gorgeous trumpet flowers. Bella Donna or Naked Ladies as some will know them which flower before they leaf up in the Summer. The rain lily, autumn crocus or more correctly Zephyranthes candida and I'm sure many more common garden plants.
Now I guess that the large, old fashioned Agapanthus is the one that most know so well here as it has been used extensively in road islands and along the motorways and so on... which may be why people don't like them. These ones, if you don't dead head after flowering can make a bit of a nuisance by seeding quite readily but remember a weed is only a plant that's in the wrong place.
Now this is the bit that I like... and it's that Agapanthus will grow and tolerate many extreme positions and cope well with excessive heat, dry and sandy soils and of course do extra well in good soils too. The foliage nearly always looks amazing and isn't eaten by snails or bugs. Form is great too for borders, mass plantings and will do well and look fab in positions where other plants just don't cut the mustard.. you can even spray between them with roundup and they won't even notice.
Just note that these do come from warmer origins and so that it stands to reason that they may be a bit frost sensitive or their leaves may get marked in the winter by the cold. This may depend on environment... some are even dormant in the winter and come again just as you would expect a Hosta to.
There are quite a few new dwarf forms of note and some of these have really pretty foliage.
An oldie but a goodie would have to be Snowball. White flowers as you will guess... good decent leaves that are a tad more upright that some of the cultivars. Cold tolerant here in Gordonton. We planted these around a fountain which is really hot and north facing on total sand, because of the foundation for a house pad, surrounded by buxus, which steals all the nutrients and they look ab fab where we have failed with other plants.... Once they mass out, or clump a bit more, it will be just stunning!
Streamline... mid blue flowers and I just rave about this one. It's Aggie of choice for me... we have mass planted this one on the exposed banks in the nursery for the practical purpose of holding all the clay and the bank together. Mass planting ensures that all the ground is covered, light is excluded and no weeds grow... well very few anyways. The effect is a grassy like bankwith a few trees that grow from it... very cool and the only maintenance is dead heading the flowers once they are done... do them while they are still green and it's a quick flick with the hand and off they come.
Agapanthus Peter Pan is a lot like Streamline with similar foliage and pretty, pale, sky blue flowers.
Finn and Silver Baby both have similar foliage to my fav streamline and reach around 30 to 40 cm in dimensions. Finn has pure while flowers and Silver Baby has stunning, silvery, white blue that's edged in more blue.
Pavlova is one we haven't had for years, another of the new era of Agapanthus and there is no prizes for guessing stunning white flowers carried above handsome strappy leaves.
Looking for something tiny for hot spots where mondo wont do?
Agapetite is a real tiny one with only 10 cm foliage, cute green leaves and pure white flowers, carried just above the leaves. Then there is another new one called Mini me.. with the finest foliage that I have ever seen on an aggie. This sweetie has blue flowers.
We also have a couple, in stock right now, that have variegated foliage. Tinkerbell is a classic that has been around for years... silver grey leaves edged in creamy white, blue flowers when they appear. A, reasonably new, newbie is Thunderstorm, more yellowish cream and green leaves, than Tinkerbell, and again with blue flowers.
Spied on my way to work this morning
Tulbaghia Violacea Alba, commonly know as society garlic because of its garlic like smell of the foliage. A tough and hardy plant with slender, strappy foliage that just loves the sun. This one has pretty white flowers held above the leaves... While on this one we also have the variegated form with white and green leaves and pretty violet flowers called Tulbaghia Violacea.
Autumn crocus or rain lily, which I mentioned before, have all started to flower, must be that 20 mls of rain the other day that has got them all excited and set them off. These are pretty tough, have chive like leaves and pretty, white, crocus like flowers.
Hypercium gracilisadds a little sunshine to the garden, this dwarf form, that is not so high, and nicely spreading with the brightest yellow flowers.
Caryopteris Dark Knight.. a must have shrub with stunning dark blue flowers... could resist this shot with the bumble bee give full sun and be rewarded with a shrub around 1.2 high and wide.
Trachelium Lake Louise white. If you are into white flowers then this is a very pretty perennial with white pin cushion flowers. Flowers throughout summer and into autumn.
It's another weekend already... gosh they come around fast. I'm sitting here thinking I need to get home and bottle those nectarines as I don't want to risk the temptation that they will offer the possums. Here's to enjoying the harvest, hopefully you will be making good use of yours as well. 20 mls of rain the other night and there is definitely a green hue on the paddocks as I drive into town so the planting season is certainly coming closer.