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First Frost

November 22, 2013

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Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is in flower and a delicious scent pervades the air. Although this shrub is deciduous and will shed its leaves the  pale pink flowers keep going through Winter and seem to be oblivious to frost and snow.

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I’ve resisted even putting a fork in and looking till now knowing I should wait for the frost to enhances the flavour of my Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) above. There was a ground frost earlier in the week so I lifted my first crop and was rather pleased with the quantity although from the look of them they’ll need an interesting recipe. This is my first year of growing Jerusalem artichokes and they really couldn’t be easier. I planted four tubers of ‘Fuseau’ in a row 50cm apart in Autumn last year and the first signs of life were in Spring as  clumps of green leaves emerged through the soil. These rapidly grew to 3m  -they are as the Latin suggests -from the sunflower family. In September pretty yellow daisies emerged on the plants and waved around in the breeze.

After peeling I chopped the tubers into chunks and cooked them for 20 minutes in hot olive oil and melted butter to which I added crushed garlic and chopped sage. They pan-cook faster than potatoes, which is in their favour if time is short, and the flavour was subtle. No image I’m afraid- they looked rather poorly in the artificial flash of my camera- worse than they looked when forked from the ground. But I liked that they tasted of field mushrooms and I’ll try other recipes over the next few months.

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I love these Kaffir lilies- Schizostylus coccinea-and the next time I see plants at the garden centre I am buying. They’re a stunning hot coral pink  and have flowered in a friend’s garden for the whole of October until about ten days ago.  It’s a native of Southern Africa and is a clump-forming perennial that spreads by rhizomes. It will do well planted next to a wall in full sun and is frost-hardy.

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