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Friday 1st March, 2019
Vege stew, dark morns and flowering Sasanquas...must be autumn!
The mornings are dark and cool and the calendar has just rolled to March 1st so it must be Autumn or is it because I gather up all those oversized zucchinis, eggplants, peppers and whatever else I can find in the fridge or garden then cook them down into a massive vegetable stew adding masses of sweet basil, parsley and herbs then loosely call it ratatouille?
I start by sweating off a whole lot of chopped onions and then adding everything else I have chopped including some fennel that was looked as if it was going to go to seed soon. I didn't have enough tomatoes from the garden so added a few cans of diced tomatoes and lastly all the herbs and cooked it right down to a tasty brew. The last lot I made I froze into small containers and then shifted to bags for use in the winter but I'm wondering if this lot I should bottle instead. I'm sure you know the deal, but it makes for those nice easy dinners in the winter... add to mince, serve with pasta and grate some Parmesan over the top and voila great comfort food.
You probably know it as I have said it many times before but Autumn is my fav season, those beautiful warm clear days cool nights, the fruits of the harvest season, the colour and hues of all the berries. Let's not forget the hues that the leaves take on and if you look they have already started. Our Awanui cherry leaves, in the garden centre, have already started to change and they now have quite the Autumn look.
Then there are the cousins of the Amaryllis or Belladonna family of which Naked ladies are a classic and I have seen these pretty pick nerines flowering away, without their leaves of course... but its the Autumn crocus, rain lily or botanically Zephyrantes candida which is famous for heralding the Autumn in. These have awesome foliage that is chive like in form but its those pretty white flowers that really impress at this time of year. Nicknamed rain lily because they flower in response to rains that come in the Autumn.
The Sasanqua Camellias with soon be showing their flowers! I have already discussed with the team the imminent arrival of all the new season Camellias and the making of space to fit them into the garden centre. Speaking of which we still have some good deals on Camellias being that they are all mostly 30% off. If you want a good one to create a hedge then consider Transokonensis. We will do 30% off these as well. The new season camellias will start arriving at the end of March and through April, you can pre-order any that we don't have in stock.
My top pic plant for the week is Agapanthus Blue Ice. Now I know that many say 'I hate Agapanthus' but really they are such great plants. If you can just put out of your mind the pesky self seeding ones that grow along the motorways and open your mind to the possibility that there are actually some really cool ones and this new release from Proven winners is just stunning. The reason Aggies are so cool is that the plant is so hardy and the foliage is always so unblemished. In the case of Blue Ice, well the foliage is wider than many of the dwarf varieties and just generally has great form and would look stunning mass planted or as an edging. I always look at the flower as a bonus and this one doesn't disappoint, and sterile to boot according to our supplier. Regardless of that I always remove the spent flowers stems to return all of my Agapanthus to their best look of great foliage.
Not sure though if this is really cool but Bishops balls, Swan plant or if you can get your tongue around it Asclepias Fruticosa but most will be familiar with this plant not for its testicle like seed pods but rather those gorgeous striped caterpillars of the monarch butterflies. Ang grabbed some more of these that are well furnished with a good supply of leaves. My advice though is to limit the amount of eggs that hatch otherwise those over population rules will apply and there won't be enough food to go around.
The Zebra Grass Miscanthus just romped out last week so had to get more and were lucky enough to be able to. Miscanthus are typically a tall growing grass reaching approx 2 metres high and clumping out to a good metre. Zebrina looks fab in the garden with its yellow zebra stripes up a green leaf blade and then there is the varigata with green and white striped leaves again will look striking in a border planting.
Cotoneaster microphylla pillars... and you ask what are these? I think that they are quite cool and they are quite different... microphylla means small leaves but these slender trained pillars are covered in largish red berries that make them look pretty cool.. Keep them trimmed to maintain the pillar and I think that they would look particularly nice in pots.
Xeronema callistemon or Poor Knights Lily has tooth brush shaped red bristle flowers that look amazing. I think that the foliage is pretty awesome too being sword like in shape and a pretty attractive lime green shade. I am planning to plant a couple of these into a trendy pot and have them up at home where I can put them under the eaves of the house for the winter out of the frosts.
Banksia integrifolia for the Tui... we often get asked for this attractive tree with its yellow candlestick flowers that so appeal to our Tui... just letting you know that we have some more in stock.
Considering we are at the high point of summer and with the temperatures you would expect plants to be looking tired from this heat and dryness. I have to say our roses have done amazingly well looking good throughout and just walking round them I noticed that the standard Icebergs are looking superb with a new flush coming in from their trim. If you are after some Icebergstandards then now is the time to get some nice looking plants. Of course we still have a good range of other standards available too and don't forget that all our roses are currently discounted.
Selected fruit trees are all 30% off! Cherries off all remaining stock and this includes both ornamental and fruitingvarieties. Peaches, Plumsand Pears all varieties of these as well. Check out our pollination guides in the How To section to see if you need a pollination partner for your trees.
Euoynmushedging $9.99 or buy 10 or more for $9.00 each and there are bulk buy options on the $14.99 grade as well. Euonymus is a very good buxus replacement option if you are looking for a small evergreen hedge that looks great clipped.
My plan for the weekend is to pick the summer vege that are ready and keep turning them in to winter dinner options but the real plan is to tidy the vege garden up, add more compost and start planting now for winter harvest. I always leave this task too late and this year I want to be grabbing leeks, brussels and the like through those colder months... for dinner!
I have to say that I am also looking to renovate some garden areas and this means planting and so I am going to organise those areas and get them ready for planting. If you are looking to ideas then thats what you should be doing in the vege patch, well other than enjoying another gorgeous weekend.
Here's a thought, try making that Gin with slices of cucumber rather than a a squeeze of lemon and of course the better quality the gin the better it all tastes!