The theme for this week is fruit. Fruit as a plant part as opposed to fruits such as strawberries and bananas, although you’ll notice some of those, too. It seems that fruit — some edible and some not — is forming in every corner of the garden. Flower diversity is still high, it’s just that many of the flowers are there in the service of forming fruit and are not there to be pretty in their own right.
The Scorched Earth. This is also the first week that marked significant loss and suffering as a result of the intense heat and drought we are experiencing. There are going to be some significant holes in the garden by the time the summer is out. I don’t think I am going to have extra ‘Hahms Gelbe Topftomate’ seeds as a result. I inexplicably gave all of my seedlings away but one and that one was in a pot that was cooked during this week’s heat emergency. Drat. The plant went from green and lush to yellow within the span of a single day. It is holding on and could recover if things stay as cooled off as they are now. It’s amazing what one bad day can bring. It’s a good lesson and reminder in how much we should respect our farmers who are at the mercy of whatever insanity the season brings. Amazingly, all of my other tomatoes are perfectly fine.
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Happy composting! And happy weekend everyone!
I leave you with a few recent scenes from my garden.
Clematis ‘Empress.’ I mis-identified it as ‘Crystal Fountain’ a few weeks back.
Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale).
At this time last year I was just home from Thailand and dying (at least it felt like I was dying) from jetlag so severe, it still pains me to think about it. Back in Feb I posted a slideshow of dragon fruit images taken at a fruit farm in Rayong, with the promise of more photos from that particular trip. It took me a while to circle back, but here they are.
The first few images in this slideshow are of the tram waiting area where several types of fruit were on display. Once the tram arrived our tour of the farm began with the requisite giant novelty fruit, and a series of appropriately bad, lost in translation jokes made by our tour guide, Mafia Bangkok. That’s him in the bright blue golf shirt (9th photo below), cradling a durian freshly picked off of the tree.
Pitaya, or dragon fruit, is a strange edible that is commonly sold (at a premium) in Asian food markets. The fruit is hot pink on the outside with an edible, white interior flesh that is dotted throughout with tiny, black seeds. The taste is mildly sweet, ever-so-slightly sour, and if I’m being honest, rather bland. Its saving grace are the crunchy seeds as they create a textured sensation that is fun to eat, not unlike a kiwi, but more exotic. I like it fresh and chilled, spooned straight out of that intense fuchsia skin.
The thing that intrigues me most about this fruit is the fact that it is grown on a cactus, and an epiphytic (air plant) one no-less. Hylocereus undatus is a night-blooming, jungle cactus that originated somewhere in the tropics of South America and the Caribbean, but is now most closely associated with South East Asia, where the fruit is grown commercially. Hylocereus is remarkably easy to grow as as houseplant and takes off equally well from seeds or cuttings. I know several gardeners that have successfully grown the seeds harvested from store bought fruit with no special effort or preparation. The plant requires more moisture and nutrition than a typical cactus, but can withstand periods of drought. It takes a tropical climate or a heated greenhouse to grow a plant large enough to produce fruit, but in the right conditions it can be made to produce in cramped quarters or a large pot.
There is a special place in my heart for epiphytic plants, so I was naturally excited about our trip to Thailand last year and the possibility of not just tasting a dragon fruit fresh off of the plant in its local environs, but actually seeing how they are grown for commercial production. As luck would have it, our trip did take us on a fruit farm tour to Suphattra Land in Rayong. Photos of that trip are attached and I will post more this week of some of the other fruit we saw there. I took several film shots as well, but as usual, I am buried in film and haven’t made it that far into the pile.
I was supposed to post a follow up to my journey above the tree line today; however, we are experiencing a heatwave that has made my office uninhabitable. Instead, to give myself a reprieve from this heat, I am posting a few shots of this gorgeous lily that I took in my garden just before dark yesterday evening.
Lilium auratum ‘Leichtlinii’ is a wild and very cold hardy native of Japan. I bought a small pot containing two bulbs back in early May at the Parkdale Horticultural Society sale. Apparently, this is not an easy plant to find, and I am glad that my friend David managed to talk me into spending $10 on it. At the time I had over-indulged in plant purchases and was hesitant to spend that much on another pretty flower, especially since I didn’t yet have a garden to put it in.
The original inspiration for a smaller, wilder lily came from last summer’s visit to Brian Bixley’s gardens at Lilactree Farm. There I saw two woodland lilies, one white and the other pink, that grow on tall stalks lined with the smallest lily blooms I have ever seen. My blooms are not nearly as tiny, but they are a bit smaller than the typical Asiatic lilies that are popular in this neighbourhood’s front gardens.