In my family, Queen’s Birthday weekend has always been put aside for gardening. No holiday for us – because as children holidays were linked to the family yacht and the first day of winter is not the best one for a cruise – instead it was hard labour in the fields.
In Peter’s family Queen’s Birthday weekend is put aside for building numerous small household shrines to Her Majesty and cooking celebratory dinners – or so it seems from the evidence presented.
So you can guess how this weekend has evolved.
I’ve have been working for some time on a complete rebuild of my ‘side’ garden. This is on a municipal scale where they remove everything and start again. It’s not that I’m going for bedding plants – a la Victorian parks – but rather that with a couple of plant reaching the end of their life and others grown too large – it was time to start again.
Not an exciting process – therefore part of the excuse for not blogging – I have been busy digging up and preserving plants I want to reuse and disposing of others. Also a lot of time has been spent simply gazing at the spaces in question and think about what it is I want to achieve.
There is a problem in the middle of this garden in the form of an old mandarin tree. It is enormous and although the fruit are good they are too high and too plentiful (this is Hawke’s Bay after all). We all pretend we like mandarins but on this scale one simply can’t keep up and the tree ends up with fruit from two or three seasons ago – most of which frankly go into the compost.
I consulted with experts ALL of whom advised that with citrus you could cut back as harshly as you like – and they’ll come away again – good idea. Enter a half-witted professional arborist – you refused to the job – as too brutal – thanks mate!
So – it became my job to reshape the mandarin and if it doesn’t respond it’ll come out completely next year – but you have to give the old girl the chance.
Reshaping citrus become the theme of the weekend and the large overgrown (and thorny) grapefruit (above) was next. Now cut into a severe architectural form – we’re happy. Both trees were sprayed (organically) for black soot fungus and the overgrown mass under the grapefruit had it first thorough going over since the alterations began more than a year ago.
Meanwhile inside, shrine building was a full tilt.
First there was the long-term hallway shrine with open book and iconic image and then the casual shrine made of the newspaper supplements on the Thonet chair. Between constructions there is much to worry about – will boats collide in the Thames armada, which coaches will be used and most pressing of all what jewels will be worn. Then there’s the special jubilee church service to attend and whom do we know with UK TV on Sky?
Dinner, with a nice table setting of our current favorites, (including more crystal than previous days) centered on roast pork. My job (after a day in the field) is dessert. Luckily I have a big bunch of rhubarb from a friend in the Waikato – and a recipe. It’s called Golden Pudding and is a staple around here but will scrub up for a celebration at short notice.
It comes from a wonderful book called Farmhouse Fare: Recipes from the country housewives collected by the Farmer’s Weekly (1946) and is the brainchild of Mrs. G Wood of Gloucestershire. and is dead simple and gorgeous (though not necessarily pretty) So here goes –
Smear a dish with treacle (golden syrup will do and at the moment I’m using maple syrup). Then place on layers of white bread spread with butter. Fill centre with partially cooked and sweetened rhubarb. Place more bread and butter on the top (or go topless like the one illustrated) Put in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a dish (or not) and serve with custard or ice cream.
This is divine – and a perfect jubilee desert.