Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It May Be Winter Outside

But I have cumquats inside. I still don't have enough for marmalade, in October I had eight diminutive ripe orange balls, it's now January and I still have just the eight, I have many miniscule green balls but they are taking so long to ripen, marmalade's on hold. I'm not really a fan of 'indoor' plants, they always seem to require too much attention and get mold and mealy bugs etc, this has been my experience anyway.....the needy 'indoor' plant, maybe it's the memory of spider plants hanging in baskets, and the maudlin mother-in-laws tongue in hallways, and let's not forget the dreaded Ficus sitting glumly in a foyer.

I prefer to have my plants outside in the garden doing what comes naturally, and if they don't make it through a Montauk winter, well too bad, they probably shouldn't have been there in the first place. But such is the nature of a gardener (this one, at least) to desire plants that don't really belong. Euphorbia characias 'Wulfenii' grows abundantly in my riverside hometown in England, it is bold and majestic, big clumps of blue-green foliage and chartreuse blooms that look like hundreds of tiny trumpets. It has never made it through the winter here, I have given up planting it and try to be content with its more subdued relatives.

Then there's the lavender and the rosemary which always struggle, one year a sad sprig did survive on a rosemary plant that had been frozen and battered by frigid Montauk winds, it made it through to summer but we didn't dare take anything off the poor wretched plant. Last fall I dug up the two plants I had in the herb garden and potted them, they now have a comfy spot in the kitchen window, but are starting to look leggy. 

My friend Ms J in Wellington has a rosemary bush that is as brazenly tall as her house, when we are there we hack off large limbs to stuff the lamb, I have serious herb envy when I am in NZ, no, make that herb, fruit tree and vegetable envy, my friend Ms W has a lemon tree an orange tree and a fig tree. A fig tree in the garden would be my idea of paradise. 

There are other plants that need to be brought in from the cold; A Tasmanian tree fern which takes up residence in our bedroom for the winter, sometimes we forget that the giant hairy Dicksonia antartica is in the room with us.........there have been some interesting journeys made in the middle of the night. There's the two Feijoa trees, and the Rose Geranium and the Lemongrass. We seem to have accumulated quite a collection of needy potted friends.

I embrace our winters and I adore winter gardens, especially with a glittery blanket of snow, and luckily every winter we get heaps of it. There's a section of our garden that would be perfect with some large red-berried trees, and plush velvety evergreens, (yews grow well here but they are like fast food for deer) and dramatic winter barks. I have started planning for the spring, it's going to be a 'native' winter garden, everything will be at home out there braving the elements, only the robust and the hardy.

But those little orange cumquats on a cold January day, do bring a smile to a wind-chapped face.


Wendy said...

You have reminded me that I was going to plant a cumquat - we love to hoover up that marmalade.

I like great huge branches of rosemary to play with but I couldn't or wouldn't ever live anywhere now where I couldn't hack off limbs of fragrant bay or have sufficient pungent woody thyme to liberally stuff the butts of 20 chooks.

A Table of Contents said...

ha ha, i love the liberally stuffing of the butts of 20 chooks! wish we had enough to do that!

lemarmatt said...

I have in a little way adopted the same plan with my succulent patch. It is very dry on our slope and even some succulents well not survive the summer.

They do not get another try.

The winter is our lemonade time in SoCal. Still have lemons available from our tree.

Interesting posts.