UPDATE from last week:
Fifteen jars of sweet pickles have taken up residence in my refrigerator, and two large jars of cherry liquor are now lounging in the kitchen window.
Now for a bit of verse. The free giveaway on today's tour is The Island by Vita Sackville West, a gardener herself.
She walks among the loveliness she made.
Between the apple-blossom and the water —
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter.
This is an island all with flowers inlaid,
A square of grassy pavement tessellated:
Flowers in their order blowing as she bade,
And in their company by her created.
The waving grasses freckle sun with the shade.
The wind-blown waters round the kingcups ripple.
Colour on colour chequered and arrayed,
Shadow on light in variable stipple.
Her regiments at her command parade,
Foot-soldier primrose in his rank comes trooping,
Then wind-flowers in a scarlet loose brigade,
Fritillary with the dusky orchis grouping.
They are the Cosacks, dim in ambuscade,
Scarfed in their purple like a foreign stranger,
Piratical, and apt for stealthy raid,
Wherever’s mystery or doubtful danger.
Iris salutes her with his broad green blade,
And marches by with proud imperial pennant,
And tulips in a flying cavalcade
Follow valerian for their lieutenant.
The Lords-and-Ladies dressed for masquerade
In green silk domino discreetly hooded,
Hurry towards the nut-trees’ colonnade,
Philandering where privacy’s well wooded;
They’re the civilians of this camp by blossom tented,
With woodbine clambering the balustrade,
And all by briar roses battlemented.
There, in the sunlit grasses green as jade,
She walks; she sees her squadrons at attention,
And, laughing at her flowery escapade,
Stretches her hands towards her dear invention.
Our property used to be bordered on the west by a line of mature trees. They were a motley mixture of nothing spectacular, but they gave us wonderful shade and protected our house from the harsh California sun. (They also made our swamp cooler work better - and cheaper.) A combination of factors led to their loss a few years ago, and with them went our shade. Swamp coolers don't work very well at all in the relentless sun.
After a couple fallow years, we were finally ready to replant. But what to plant? Much discussion and many discarded ideas later, we decided on fruit trees. Hubby always wanted a navel orange tree, so that was a no-brainer. From there we just decided to grow the fruits we liked to eat. Some trees are self-pollinating and others need a buddy to fruit, but we were on our way.
Two plums, two nectarines, a pomegranate, a kumquat, and an Asian pear came next. Our final two fruit trees were inspired by a trip to the local farmer's market. We tasted a fruit that we hadn't even heard of - pluots, and that set off a mad scramble to find two trees (at a price we could afford). Ten fruit trees made up my little orchard, and the new project was underway.
A half century of eating and loving plums in no way prepared me for plucking one off of my own tree and biting into it.
. . . The tender flesh, yielding to slight pressure from my teeth, bursting into a shower on my tongue, with sweet juices running in rivulets down my chin . . .
Excuse me. . . . I need a moment alone. . . .
Okay . . . I'm back.
Sorry about that. I got a little carried away, but I'll try not to let it happen again.
When I was watering yesterday, I noticed that the kumquat tree was covered in tiny white flowers. If everything goes well, kumquats will join the pomegranates and oranges this winter.
My orchard is still just ten scrawny trees spread out over the yard, five in front and five in back, but they seem to be happy little trees.
This isn't a very good picture, but it includes four of them. On the right, just barely visible, is the Damson plum I rescued half dead from a clearance sale. It's only two feet tall, but it has lots of new, green growth. To the left of that is my Santa Rosa plum, the one responsible for the beautiful fruit above. Next, comes the pomegranate, and after that, the kumquat. The trees in the back have not fruited yet, but if this year is any indication, . . .
I'll need to find some good recipes soon!