Six on Saturday – Summer’s Swansong

31/08/2019

We are in that time of abundance in the year where there’s still plenty to harvest, pick and admire, but there are also overtones of completion and change. As a former astronomer I hold with summer stretching on till the autumnal equinox (23 Sept this year) when night and day lengths are about equal. However, I can see signs of its grip slackening already. But let’s stay positive here and talk about the season’s riches for Jon, the Propagator’s Six on Saturday. Click through to his post for a burgeoning selection of Sixes!

Here are my six:

1) A New World Feast

On Friday I decided to harvest some of the slipper gourds (Cyclanthera pedata) to see how developed their seeds were. The largest had seeds that were colouring and toughening up, so I need to start cooking with them in earnest. Once the seeds are too tough I will strip them out and stuff the gourds. Achocha ‘Fat Baby’ (the smaller, spiky ones) are at a similar state of maturity. So I roasted this haul with garlic for a family meal and the reaction was ‘meh’. Yes, amazingly there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Ah well, better than ‘yuck’ I suppose, but it’s a good job that I like them!

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A harvest of New World goodies: Achochas, cucamelons, tomatoes and chillies

2) Starry Wood Asters

After a trip to Hyde Hall last summer I was enthusing at work about how brilliantly the white, starry wood asters worked in lighting up the shady bits of their shrub borders. I thought they might work well in my shady front garden. Luckily, a colleague offered to dig some up for me when she carried out some divisions in the autumn. So happily I can show you this photo of Eurybia divaricata, where it is doing exactly the same transformative job in my garden just now. The hoverflies seem to love it too.

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Wood Aster, Eurybia divaricata

3) Blushing Pink Lavatera

You’ve got to love lavatera for its unstinting efforts to bloom all summer long. I grew tree mallow, L. ‘Barnsley’  for years, but it fell out of favour and mine eventually didn’t make it through a winter. Then I tended to stick to the annual white lavatera ‘Mont Blanc’. But this year I have tried L. trimestris ‘Dwarf Pink Blush’ and I am loving it. It manages to look continuously fresh and lush and lovely. It has certainly brighten a previously dull spot in the border.

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Lavatera trimestris, ‘Dwarf Pink Blush’ from Chiltern Seeds

4) Meadow Mix – A classic

I’ve planted Pictorial Meadows ‘Classic’ annual mix in a couple of awkward spots under a pair of tree with shallow roots. The seeds took a long time while to germinate with all the dry weather we’ve had, but since the beginning of August they’ve been a joy, twinkling like jewels in dappled sunlight.

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Annual meadow mix – ‘Classic’. Seeds from Pictorial Meadows

5) Fluff and sparkle – Grasses and raindrops

As the ornamental grass season hots up, I have to say that there is nothing to beat walking about the garden in the sunshine after a shower and seeing the fluffy flower heads glistening with raindrops. They all do it to an extent, but annual grasses like Panicum ‘Frosted Explosions’ and perennials like Pennisetum villosum do it magnificently.

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Pennisetum villosum

6) We don’t give a Fig!

Our ‘Brown Turkey’ fig tree begrudgingly successfully ripens only a handful of its numerous fruits each year. This year it has done a little better and I’ve managed to pick some beautiful figs before something else has nibbled them (usually the case). So once again it is a little disappointing to discover that I can’t persuade anyone else in the family to eat them. Admittedly they do have an image problem to overcome (see photo below if in doubt) and I know that we tend to eat with our eyes, but when cut into wedges, I can’t see the problem.

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Fig ‘Brown Turkey’

What do you think?

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in Food, Six on Saturday, Vegetables and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Six on Saturday – Summer’s Swansong

  1. March Picker says:

    Your plate full of yummy harvests is quite beautiful! I tried lavateras the first couple of years here but gave up when they died each winter. I’m sticking with hollyhocks, but your lavatera is especially pretty.

    • I love hollyhocks, even more than lavatera, but they get appalling rust here (including the ‘rust-resistant’ ones I’ve tried), so I’ve rather given up on them. Have you posted pictures?

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Well, I love figs so they wouldn’t last long here without being eaten. I have a no ID fig tree which fruits quite prolifically, enough to make both jam and sun dried figs as long as I net the tree against the birds and bats.
    The photo of the sparkling grass makes me nostalgic for a shower of rain…we haven’t seen one for a while here!

    • Well, we’ve had only a little rain here in the east of England, so we’ve had the sparkling kind. They’ve not been so lucky elsewhere of course! Does that mean you have fruit bats?? How wonderful.

      • janesmudgeegarden says:

        Yes we have fruit bats. They’re not very popular with some people, especially when the roost in their thousands near houses. A bit noisy and smelly!

  3. shoreacres says:

    I’m with you on the equinox as the start of fall, even though we don’t get a change in the weather until the end of September/early October here. Hurricane season goes until November 1, so we have a while yet.

    I’m not fond of the brown turkey figs, but I have access to a farm with sugar figs, and I adore those. There’s nothing like being in a fig orchard, fighting off the mockingbirds and eating warm fruit right off the tree.

    • Sugar figs sound intriguing and the whole farm situation delightful. I couldn’t find a description of sugar figs though. Is there one I can look up? Thanks

      • shoreacres says:

        I found that ‘sugar fig’ is our common name. The variety is Celeste. Here’s a bit of info:

        “Varieties recommended for this area include (do not need a pollenizer to set fruit): ‘Celeste’ (Celestial, Blue Celeste, Honey Fig, Malta, Violette,Sugar Fig) is a small, dark and sweet high quality fig which ripens in mid-June. Celeste fruit have a distinctive closed eye that prevents entry of the dried fruit beetle and on the tree spoilage. One of the most cold hardy of figs, it can be grown across much of eastern and northern Texas, as well as South Texas if it is watered well during the long, hot summer months The fruits are rather small with a bronzy, purplish skin and a pink-amber flesh. The tree is moderately vigorous and very productive. It is a good fresh eating fig and is also excellent for preserving purposes.”

  4. Cath Moore says:

    lovely photos for your SoS…I love the water beads on the grass heads 🙂 Cath@Home

  5. Rachel says:

    Oh Lavatera, that’s a good idea, I’ve been put off because they say it needs full sun, is yours growing in full sun or would a little west facing shade be ok?

  6. Christina says:

    I adore figs, ours are really now too; not a great harvest this year but enough to enjoy. Have you tried growing tomatillos? You get a huge crop from just a couple of plants, my carry on fruiting right into autumn so I think they’d grow for you.

    • Well done on your figs! Yes, I have a couple of tomatillo plants covered in flowers right now. However, they were self-seeds from previous years debris and didn’t get going early enough for me to expect much from them. A few are starting to fill their husks, but I am hoping for more. Do you make anything specific with them other than salsa?

      • Christina says:

        I make a salsa that I put in jars like tomato sauce and I did make a curry with them. I wish I knew more recipes because they are so prolific for me. Mine self seed all around the garden in the oddest places, obviously from my compost.

  7. fredgardener says:

    I love figs! The fruits of mine also arrive at this time and compared to you I have less fruit this year. There was not enough rain.
    You vegetable plate looks tasty ! I would like to taste achochas….

  8. I love your figs and would eat the lot given a chance. I’m trying to talk myself out of planting one because I know it won’t fruit much, but perhaps I can just enjoy looking at the leaves.

  9. Chloris says:

    What a fascinating harvest. You do grow interesting food. How can any one not like yummy figs? I love them. The lavatera is so pretty.

  10. kundo says:

    Great post. The Asters looks magical!

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