Posted on 24 February, 2019Comments (0)

Garden Notes – New Ideas

Garden Notes – New Ideas

Why don’t I follow my own advice! The voles have been eating my hellebore flowers because I was late cutting the leaves back.

Last year I grew some new vegetables, spurred on by an article in the Telegraph that extolled them. The first was crosnes, pronounced crones, a type of salvia. This produces lots of small, little finger sized, michelin men shaped tubers. Fiddly to scrub clean. They will give you the crisp texture of water chestnuts in your stir fries. Sadly they taste of nothing and I shall not grow them again. The other was oca, or New Zealand Yam. This looks like a bushy, succulent clover and produces new potato sized tubers in red or yellow. They have a lemony taste and I enjoyed them roasted with garlic. They do not start producing tubers until late summer so cannot be harvested before December when the tops are frosted to a mush. I then covered mine with a blanket of leaves to protect from further frosts. I shall grow this again, though there are so many tiny tubers left in the soil I probably have no option.

I was tempted to grow agretti, a substitute for samphire, but having tasted it from someone’s garden I agree with a grower who produces it for restaurants, that it was only suitable for his brother’s cows. The one new item I would love to grow is the papple. A cross between an Asian and European pear that has then been crossed with an apple. The result is a fruit that looks and tastes like an apple but has the texture and juiciness of a delicious pear. My daughter in Kent is friendly with a farmer who let us try some. Sadly it only seems to be available to the fruit growers as yet.

A new grass worth trying is a small miscanthus. Usually these grow huge and dominate the border but this is a short one, under a metre, called miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Miss’. In early May the colouring begins to get purple and reddish-pink tones, becoming deeper as the season goes on. Also, from July onwards, red plumes emerge maturing into creamy biscuit beige and lasting into October.

Stella Strachan

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