Posts Tagged ‘citrus’

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The garden, mid-August

August 30, 2010

This post may be late but the photos were taken around the middle of the month.

This August, our fourth on the island, has been a record breaker.  The intense high summer heat has been higher than usual and more troubling has lasted much longer than it normally does.  Cypriot tradition states that the weather starts to ease after the big holiday on August 15, the Assumption of the Virgin.  This year that simply hasn’t happened.  Now, in the last days of August, the temperatures are as high as they were as the start of the month.  The forecast suggests that by the middle of next week we might see a drop of one or two degrees.

Meanwhile the Government continues to issue severe weather warnings and the Fire and Forestry departments battle to deal with local wildfires, many of them believed to have been started deliberately.  The blog is still receiving a fair number of visitors who are searching for information about Cyprus heatwaves.

The garden has gone into a strange summer hibernation; apart from the citrus and the bougainvillea nothing is growing.  Regular watering is preventing things dying but the plants seem to have slipped into a stasis mode.  Once the temperatures drops they should start showing signs of life once more but for now they are in a deep sleep, and not looking particularly photogenic as a result.

The citrus trees are taking things in their stride though; tiny green fruit are slowly growing and swelling.  The new season lemons are some way off being ripe and for now the only yellow lemons in the supermarkets are imported.  It is the time of the lemon drought in Cyprus.  Happily we’ve still got supplies of both frozen juice and sliced lemons to see us through.

New season green lemons

The mandarin tree is still giving some cause for concern.  Last year we had hundreds of fruit, this year we feared that we had none.  Blossom was very sparse and no blossom means no fruit.  We’ve now spotted a few clusters of tiny mandarins, and they look to be progressing well, but it is a very poor crop compared to last year.  It looks like we might get 30 or 40 mandarins as opposed to the thousand or so we had last year.  Clearly we missed a vital part of the annual maintenance but what?

Tiny mandarins

Our old friend, the yucca plant, produced another set of offsets before the temperature got too high.  We missed the chance to remove them when they were very small so a hacksaw may be needed to separate them from the main tree now.  They are incredibly resilient; remove them from the tree and put them straight into a pot and they will start to grow.  They will even cope with being put straight into the ground with no other care.  They will grow in the poorest soil with no additional feeding and only minimal watering.  In Aradippou a friend gifted us half a dozen offsets; within two years they’d grown to over four feet tall and were producing offsets of their own.  To be honest, anyone with a yucca here is always looking for someone with a new garden who needs fast growing plants.

More yucca offsets

And finally while the bougainvillea continues to grow it is also starting to drop its coloured bracts.  And a plant as large as ours has an awful lot of them.  This carpet below would fill five or six dustbins … if only the heat would ease so that we had the energy to shovel them up.

Bougainvillea carpet

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Tried & Tested: Frozen Lemons

July 1, 2010

Having two mature lemon trees means that we have masses of fresh lemons for much of the year.  However, even when our lemons were sourced from UK supermarkets we went out of our way to get every last bit of use from them.

To make sure that they were ready to hand whenever needed, and had no chance of going off, we do the following:

  • Slice, overlap on a freezer-proof tray and freeze.  The slices behave best if they aren’t flat on the tray so use the ends to provide a support at one end of the run of slices
  • Once fully frozen separate the slices, bag and keep on hand until the next time a gin and tonic, vodka and tonic or glass of coke is poured
  • Because the lemon is frozen it’s possible to dispense with, or at least reduce the amount of, any ice needed

Frozen lemon slices

To squeeze the very last use out of the lemons:

  • Retain the end slices
  • Once frozen bag up separately to the slices and keep until kitchen-cleaning day
  • Boil the kettle, put two or three frozen lemon ends into a microwave-proof dish and add cold water
  • Make a cup of coffee
  • Place the lemon bowl in the microwave for two or three minutes on hot, go away and drink the coffee
  • Once it’s drunk return the kitchen, remove the bowl from the microwave and wipe down all the inside walls and surfaces with a cloth.  The lemon-scented steam generated by the bowl of water will have loosened any baked-on food, the lemon oil and juice will have fragranced and disinfected the microwave

Feel cheerful at the lack of effort involved in cleaning the microwave and the economy of using nothing but lemon ends which would have been discarded otherwise.

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Plenty of lemons

June 1, 2010

The house smells of lemons.  We smell of lemons.  Right now it seems as if the entire world may well be lemon scented.

Today seemed the perfect opportunity to deal with the stockpile of windfall lemons from the trees.  It being our very first full year of lemon tree ownership we’re still getting to grips with managing the trees including when to harvest lemons to get the maximum amount of juice.  As a result of that, and combined with some high winds, we had a fair number fall from the trees.  About 50 or so.

The plan was to wash them, halve them, juice them and then freeze the juice in handy sized volumes.  Because the lemons had fallen we decided to forgo the zest this time.

It seem, having never juiced that number of lemons, we may have slightly underestimated the amount of time it takes to process that many lemons.  Several hours after starting we have a freezer full to the brim with lemon juice – a little over 4 pints (English pints so 80 fl oz all told) frozen in differing quantities.

There are lots of containers holding 4 fl oz for marinading meat for fajitas.  A good supply of 2 fl oz lollipops for lemon cakes and muffins and a dozen or so half ounce ice cubes for salad dressing and recipes which just need a small amount of juice.

The first third

The final two-thirds

A pint or two of lemon juice

As all this work was going on we could hear from the garden the sound of yet more lemons falling from the trees.  It seems unlike that we’ll run out this year.

Gin and tonic anyone?

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The garden, mid-May

May 22, 2010

Another month, another round-up of the garden.

The main lemon crop needs picking.  Strong winds over recent days have dislodged a good number of ripe fruit; happily there are dozens more on the tree still.

Dropped Lemons

Our biggest challenge is finding homes for them.  There’s no question that we can use sliced lemons, zest and juice throughout the year and within a few months there won’t be ripe lemons left on the trees.  The only issue is just how much we can squeeze into the freezer.

The arum lilies have decided that they’ve had enough for this year.  The last of the flowers have gone and the foliage is dying back.  Once it has gone completely we’ll be able to have another attempt at lifting the remaining rhizomes and relocating them to elsewhere in the garden.  The narcissi have already had similar treatment; they were scattered in and around the area containing the monster yucca.  Having tied them up some months ago and allowed the foliage to die back we spent the good part of an afternoon searching them out and lifting them.  The plan, such as there is one, is to plant them in a series of containers which can then take centre-stage when they are in flower.

Elsewhere the pomegranate trees are in full bloom.  The flowers are absolutely fantastic and as the fruits set the petals fall from the tree creating a delicate red carpet across the donkey track.  Were it not for the minor rodent issue we would be absolutely over the moon with the amount of fruit we might expect.

Pomegranate flowers

An abundance of blossom

Pomegranate in full bloom

A carpet of petals

The pomegranate isn’t the only one bursting into life.  Last month we mentioned that the bougainvillea was putting on a massive amount of growth and the first colour had recently appeared.  In less than a month it has gone from a tiny amount of coloured bracts to being absolutely stunning.  As an added advantage, when the plant had this much growth it provides good and solid shade underneath which, as the days heat up, is very welcome.

Bougie, from above

Coloured bracts

More next month.

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The garden, mid-April

April 26, 2010

Yes, yes, mid-April is long gone.  That’s what swimming with icebergs will do … it freezes the brain and results in days passing without you realising.  Beware of icy cold water!


Good grief, will this lot never stop growing?  When we bought them we had no idea how much use the garden loppers would get.  Considering they cost less than 20€ they have proved invaluable.

The citrus trees are, pretty much, pruned for this season.  Far too late we know but at least they are done.  The poor old orange tree ended up having a haircut of epic proportions.  One of the branches was making a break for the sky and was easily as high as the second floor.  Some of the tree was in poor condition, and the break-for-the-sky branch was alive with bugs.  So we, reluctantly, took the decision to prune it drastically in the hope that it would solve a multitude of problems.

Top two-thirds of the orange tree gone

Should the tree make it through the year then it is a prime candidate for our own fruit cocktail tree experiment.  Imagine being able to graft a branch of our tiny lime tree onto the mature orange and kick-start our lime production.  At the moment we get about 3 a year so any increase on that would be appreciated; we can buy limes in the fruitaria but they are usually imported from South America.

The bougainvillea is also attempting to set world records for the fastest growth possible in an improbably short space of time.  How, exactly, did we manage to forget that it did this?  We’ve fallen into a weekly routine of lopping back the worst overhanging branches just so we have a chance to make it to the front door.

Note the re-appearance of the painting kit

Underneath bougie

This week the first colour started to appear.  The plant’s flowers are tiny, white and unremarkable; the fantastic display of colour is provided by bracts, a type of modified leaf.  Poinsettias, the plant so often seen in deepest winter is the same, the deep scarlet comes from a coloured leaf, not a flower.

Meanwhile the pomegranates are flowering.  This is both good and bad news: the flowers are absolutely gorgeous but the local wildlife enjoy them too much.

Did you spot the euphemism there?  Doesn’t local wildlife sound better than pack of rats who we can’t get rid of despite many attempts and significant amounts of angst?  Regular readers will have seen the occasional reference to a rodent problem.  Lets be clear; both the derelict house next door to us and the empty plots behind have rats.  This is deeply, deeply troubling.  Apparently these rats adore the seeds from unripe pomegranates and next door’s tree abuts our wall.  Our tree, as named on our deeds, abuts our bedroom window.  No prizes for guessing which window never, ever gets opened!

We’d discussed stripping both trees (yes, including the one on next door’s land – these are rats!) of their blossom in the assumption that no blossom would mean no fruit which would mean no rats.  Sadly this plan came crashing to the ground as one of those creatures was seen romping up the tree which doesn’t even have any fruit on it yet.  Plan B, possibly involving a gallon of petrol and a box of matches, is under discussion now.  Really we can’t endure another year of sitting in the garden eating a pleasant meal with friends whilst watching those things run up and down the tree trunk.

Anyway, let’s concentrate on the positive.  The flowers?  They are really, really lovely.  And when you consider how desolate the trees looked over winter it is amazing what a show they put on just a few months later.

Pomegranates, if they don't all get eaten

Some of the roses have decided that there’s no point in having one flower when you could have a dozen or more.  They have an incredibly short lifespan though lasting just a day or two.  Since there are another few dozen rosebuds to follow it’s hard to object though.

Pink roses

In other news we finally found time to plant up some large containers that we brought with us from the UK.  Either side of the front door was now have a matched pair of guards comprising of some white geraniums and ivy.

Guarding the front door

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Tried & Tested: Citrus Body Scrub

April 1, 2010

Sometimes for a little effort, and perhaps some mess, it is possible to make a product that is superior, cheaper, bespoke and more natural than similar items in the shops.  Citrus body scrub is a fantastic example.

If you know people who don’t follow this blog (Really, you do?  How is this possible?!) then you may even be able to take said item, pop it in a pretty jar, wrap some ribbon around it and gift it as a Christmas present or similar.

Think of the eco-kudos.

No darling, it’s just a little organic/natural/customised thing I made for you myself!

If truth be told this Tried & Tested came about from a glut of useless oranges.  To backtrack … when we first looked at the house MadAlex declared that the oranges on the tree in the garden were the best he’d ever tasted.  “They are fantastic, dahhhhhling!”  He was as designer with a fairly relaxed grasp on reality.  Perhaps you may have gathered that from previous posts?  Anyway, he picked two oranges from the tree and presented them to us.  As we drove home the car was filled with the most fantastic citrus smell.  With great anticipation we tried the oranges.

Imagine, a house with a whole tree of the very best oranges in our garden; we’d have to buy the house!  Suffice to say the oranges were absolutely rubbish.  They look great, they smell wonderful … they taste of water.  We tried palming them off on folks but got nowhere.

There’s an outside chance that the lack of taste is due to lack  of watering on MadAlex’s part, only time will tell.  Until then we needed a use for a tree’s worth of un-orangelike oranges and so the citrus body scrub was born.

So;

  • Take a pile of oranges, or lemons/limes/grapefruit or any other citrus fruit you have handy
  • Into a large bowl add about a kilo of salt.  Cheap and cheerful is fine; regular sea salt is perfect
  • Using a medium kitchen grater remove as much of the zest of your fruit as possible.  Do this directly over the bowl so that you don’t loose any zest or oil
  • Once you’ve zested the first fruit use a spoon to work the zest through the salt.
  • The amount of zest you’ve been able to remove and how much oil is in that zest will depend entirely on your fruit.  With our oranges fresh from the tree three or four of them will colour, frangrance and oil a kilo or so of salt.  Shop-bought fruit will yield less but once you’ve removed the zest the fruit can be used for juicing or eating
  • Work the zest through the salt until it’s even distributed.  Feel the salt between your fingers to see if you can feel any oiliness.  If not zest another orange or two or, for a heavier scrub, add a spoonful or two of almond oil or similar
  • When the consistency seems right, decant into jars

Such promise from just oranges and salt

Lashings of zest

Distributing the zest

Finished orange salt scrub

Ready for the shower

To use;

  • Apply to damp skin and work in a circular motion.
  • Rinse to remove the salt but do not then use shower gel or body wash on the skin.  If you do you’ll lose both the benefit of the fragrance of the citrus oil and its moisturising properties
  • This is best used in the shower but it will leave residual oil so the shower tray needs to be washed out with some detergent (diluted shower gel is fine) so it isn’t slippery
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The garden, mid-March

March 20, 2010

Days are a little longer, the air is a little sweeter; Spring has come at last.  There are still cool and wet days and the evenings are a little chilly but we are getting a good run of day time temperatures.

Out of the wind it can be gloriously warm, but by early evening a fire is still tempting.  Sadly we’ve run out of firewood and all the local suppliers seem to have decided to stop selling for the year now that it’s a little warmer.  After a couple of failed sorties we plan to try once more next week; the thought of no evening fires between now and November is just a little too much to bear.

In the garden things continue to grow like there is no tomorrow.  For a number of reasons we were a little late in pruning the citrus trees and the cost is a heavy one; instead of making rational decisions about where to cut we are traumatised by the idea of having to lose fresh blossom.  Each beautiful flower is stunning in its own right but also a potential fruit and the idea of our own tiny orchard is still so fantastic that the loss of even a single, future, fruit is a heavy burden.  Had we pruned at the right time, before the fresh blossom, then we could have avoided such angst.  Yet another lesson for next year.

Lemon blossom

When we did prune we kept in mind the tourists who walk past the house on their exploration of the village.  The gate lemon overhangs the wall on two sides and is a tourist-magnet.  Many times we’ve heard, from inside the garden, discussions about whether it’s ok to take just one lemon.  After all they are hanging into the street, they say.  Once a married couple was heard discussing whether they actually were lemons or whether they were just too big.  The husband was adamant that they couldn’t be, the wife wasn’t so sure.  Ian took great delight in popping his head out of the gate to settle the argument and provide them with a single lemon for their evening gin & tonic.

Clearly, if we wish our entertainment to continue then the tree has to be allowed some overhang into the street.

Tourist lemons

Next to the overhanging gate lemon is the yellow trumpet tree.  After a quiet winter period it has started to come back to life.  It’s fascinating to see the difference between the tree now and when it was in full bloom.

Yellow Bells

Also outside the courtyard walls the wild fennel shows no signs of slowing down; the speed at which it grows is staggering.  To give some context to photo below the green plastic waste bin is about 4 feet tall, the fennel is at least twice that height already.  As the temperature increases it will die back and rest over the summer months only to re-appear in late autumn.

Wild fennel

Within the garden the new lavender is finding its feet.  With hindsight it might have been prudent to include fewer plants but the confines of the pithari should limit the growth.

Lavandula pinnata

The mystery plant is gaining in height; from memory it flowered in early Summer last year.  This time round we hope to have a chance to establish just what it is, as well as to move one of the two clumps to a more suitable spot.  The section under the yucca tree seems to get insufficient light to be able to flower so a relocation is on the cards if we are able to lift it; an early attempt proved fruitless.

Mystery plant I

Any finally, it appears to be snowing just along the donkey path.  Clearly that would be madness, instead we have a gentle carpet of blossom from a large drupe tree in an neighbour’s garden.  We have no idea what it is other than stunningly beautiful at this time of year.

Neighbouring fruit tree

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The garden, mid-February

February 21, 2010

We’ve been so busy enjoying the sun and the garden that the monthly garden update is a few days later than usual.

Finally, after a long and wet winter, the weather has started to improve.  The tipping point seems to have been Green Monday and the start of Orthodox Lent.  The day is a public holiday and it is traditional for families to get together and have their first proper outside meal of the year.  It is meant to be the first day of spring, and this year it was.  Since then days have been warm and dry; in our little walled garden we have seen temperatures as high as 24ºC, or mid 70s F.

This is not due to last sadly; the forecast for the second part of this week is for heavy rain and thunderstorms.  Back to going to bed in the rain for a little longer then.

The plants and fruit trees have been flourishing with the warmer temperatures.  The lemon trees are in competition with each other to see which can produce the most growth as well as the greatest number of growth phases at once.

We have a healthy crop of large ripe lemons.  We have a decent second crop of small unripe green lemons.  We have a crop of tiny just-pollinated green lemons, less than a centimeter wide.  We have a small outbreak of early blossom.  We have a large outbreak of main blossom.  Oh, and the trees are putting on new leaf at a prodigious rate.

Our builder stopped by last week and snorted in disgust at the sheer number of lemons we have.  He, apparently, has six lemons on his entire tree.  He waters his, prunes it, sprays it, tends to it and is currently debating when he’ll need to use his own patented potassium feed on it.

We, on the other hand, turn a hose on ours when we remember.  Which, frankly, isn’t that often.  We bought some citrus tree food and some stuff for dealing with leaf curl but didn’t actually get around to using them last year.  The packages were last seen under a pile of boxes in the garage; maybe it works by osmosis?

Glossy new growth

Green lemons

Tiny new lemons, nestled next to a monster ripe lemon

Fresh citrus blossom

As gorgeous as they are the lemons aren’t the only garden inhabitants.  The peach has just started to set fruit; all being well we’re expecting a bumper crop of 7 fruit this year.

Peaches on the way

With the weather a little better we finally braved the pithari.  From what we have been able to establish MadAlex never actually planted anything in it, apart from broken house bricks.  Things had fallen into it and rotted, including some of our clementines, and going on the number of cobwebs and the like it was home to a range of insects and bugs.

We bought some plants to fill it but for the last month they sat forlornly to one side until we could summon the energy to dig into this four-foot high pot full of all sorts of nastiness.

Last week we could avoid it no longer.  To avoid any squeamishness lets just say we’re glad that the job is done and won’t need to be repeated.

The pithari is now filled with lavender [Lavandula pinnata] which is currently clashing garishly with the bright yellow of the winter-flowering jasmine and the shocking orange of the clementines.  Ian’s mother, Lucy, always loved fresh flowers and for her the stronger the colour, the better.  There is no doubt she would have adored the fantastic, if unorthodox, combination of electric yellow, shocking orange and purple.  Due to the growth cycle of each it is likely that we’ll only see all three together for a month or two each year.

Newly planted lavender

Some of the arum lilies that we removed from the base of the pithari were re-planted in one of the large containers we brought from England.  They continue to grow well but so far are showing no signs of flowering yet.

Arum lilies

And finally, two mystery plants.  One is a enigma we brought on ourselves; we were in a garden centre buying the lavender and spotted the plant.  It looked interesting so we bought it.  However we have absolutely no idea what it is.  Before it gets a permanent home it would be helpful to know something about it so if anyone has any insights they would be much appreciated.

Mystery plant

The other mystery plant is one we inherited when we bought the house.  During his 90 second explanation of the garden MadAlex waved in its general direction and claimed it was a yellow lily.  It isn’t, we know that much.

Last year we watched in fascination as it grew, and grew, and grew.  This thing puts on so much growth we joked that it was possible to see it increasing in height and volume during the course of a day.  A plea for identification to an online gardening community produced mixed responses.  One gardener was insistent that it was a pineapple lily, another that it was an agapanthus.

During early summer last year we spotted that it had produced a dozen or more slender flower shoots.  They opened out to delicate white flowerheads with a sweet but subtle fragrance.  Certainly not a pineapple lily then and although the flowers had a agapanthus-like flower the foliage seems far, far too significant in size.  The plant is already about four feet high; based on what we saw last year we expect at least another foot or more of growth yet.

So, another mystery plant.  We’d like to transfer some of it to another part of the garden but, once more, some identification would make that easier.

Lilies, agapanthus or something else?

So, from the early spring of Cyprus we wish you all well.  More from the garden next month.

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A birthday ramble

January 24, 2010

There was a birthday in the house yesterday.  All told it was a quiet-ish day; a small pile of presents, nice food, birthday phone calls.  In the afternoon the skies cleared for a while so we took a wander through the village.  For once we had the foresight to take the camera with us.  There’s no particular theme to these, just things we passed on our travels.

Just along the road from us is a bank of wild fennel.  Actually, that is understating the case; we are surrounded by wild fennel – it is everywhere.  But, just up the road there is a handily-photographable bank of wild fennel.  The plants in the photo are a little over four feet tall and still growing.  It is one of the first plants to make an appearance once the summer heat has gone, poking its tiny head through the soil and then growing and growing and growing as if it’ll never stop.

Wild fennel [Foeniculum vulgare] doesn’t have an edible bulb like the ones you can buy in the supermarket.  A little research suggests that is Florence Fennel.  Instead this has invasive, determined roots.  There’s a few plants growing within the stone walls in the donkey track.  When it gets too hot the plant dies back and waits quietly for the temperature to drop again.  Then, it can start its growth cycle all over again.

Wild fennel

A little further along we stumbled across some winter cyclamen growing in a neighbour’s garden.  Growing, not in containers or pots, but between the paving stones of the patio.  These are, to all intents, weeds.  But aren’t they just gorgeous?

Winter cyclamen

Earlier this month we mentioned we’d stumbled across a citrus tree producing both oranges and lemons.  The photo that we had wasn’t great so we took the opportunity to take a couple more.  In the first photo it is possible to see the run of lemons down the middle of the tree and the oranges on the left and the right; the second has a closer shot showing the fruits side by side.

Fruit cocktail tree

Cocktail tree, close up

Looking at these photos it is hard to believe just how wet it has been.  Not long after we got home the heavens opened again and it rained and rained and rained and rained.  Today has been a day of sporadic showers.  Tomorrow there is a rumour we might see the sun for a while.

That would be very, very nice :-)

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The garden, mid-January

January 16, 2010

The weather here continues to be variable.  After a week or more of clear and sunny days we’ve now got a forecast of rain and storms for a week or so.  The fire, our only heating, continues to be a feature of our evening schedule.  In the garden the plants and trees seem to be split into two broad groups: they’re either growing like crazy or in hibernation mode.

The winter flowering jasmine [Jasminum nudiflorum] has recently burst into a mass of flower.  During the warmer months it grows, slowly and steadily, in and around the bougainvillea.  As January comes round it starts to burst into ropes of bright yellow flowers.  Unlike most other jasmines it has no fragrance but the flashes of colour are welcome at this time of year.

Winter flowering jasmine

Jasmine flowers up close

While the jasmine is un-fragranced we are hoping to introduce a highly fragranced plant to the garden.  This week we potted several dozen stephanotis [Stephanotis floribunda] seeds.  A friend had lovely plant trained across a garden trellis.  It had started in a small pot on a balcony and then been transferred into the ground when she moved house.  Three summers ago it produced a huge seed pod; two summers ago it produced another dozen or more one of which was gifted to us.  The seed pod, which is similar in size and shape to an avocado, has been allowed to dry and split to release the seeds.  Should they germinate they may join the other climbers on the pergola.  Whilst stephanotis is normally grown as a small house plant in the UK, here it will grown 10 feet or more tall.

The trusty bougainvillea has been taking a well earned rest.  It has dropped pretty much all of its leaves and coloured bracts and looks distinctly uninspiring at this time of year.  The previous owner declined to prune it at all so we are still, a year on, playing catch up.  Dried leaves, flowers and bracts from multiple previous years remain trapped inside a network of old dead wood.  Last year we spent hours trimming, pruning and lopping the old wood to try and release them.  We managed to remove much of it, hopefully this year’s pruning will deal with the rest.  And it became clear this week that the bougainvillea pruning needs to happen soon; the new growth is just starting to appear.  This year though we won’t be keeping the old wood for the fire, lesson learnt there!

Each of the fruit trees is continuing along its seasonal path: the lemons have a mix of ripe and immature fruit, the clementines are ready for picking, the oranges are ripening, the peaches are blossoming.

No shortage of Vitamin C

We have high hopes for the peach this year; it is only a small potted tree but in its first year it produced half a dozen wonderful fruit.  Last year it was unsettled by the move here, either by the physical transportation or the difference in temperature and altitude.  It produced not a single fruit.  This week it has started showing signs of life once more with new shoots and four blossoms.  There are few things prettier than blossom on a peach tree and despite knowing that our maximum crop this year will be just four peaches we are absurdly happy to see it back with us.

Peach blossom

Of the fruit trees only the pomegranate looks desolate; it is hard to imagine a sorrier looking tree than a pomegranate in its rest phase.  It is difficult to reconcile its current state with just how lovely it looks when it is in leaf and setting fruit.  Even before it gets to the fruit stage, when it is still in flower, it is one of the highlights of the garden; the splashes of scarlet flower are so dramatic and full of promise.  Apparently they, as well as flowers, are still placed on the tomb of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife.  Her family coat of arms included the pomegranate, a symbol the of Granada region of Spain.

Resting pomegranate

Finally, a follow-up from last year.  In October we mentioned that the unidentified yellow tree was inundated with huge bees collecting pollen.  A friend from Ireland subsequently suggested that it might be an Esperanza [Tecoma stans], otherwise known as Yellow Bells or Yellow Elder.  Online images seem to indicate that she is spot on in her identification.