Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Cold Comfort

Late autumn rain greets us on our arrival. The oak-leaf carpeted lawn looks wet and cold beneath the bare branches of the oak trees. Under the oak in the parking terrace, more Narcissus have pushed up through the wet soil. They join the growing number of stark asparagus-like spears that will soon turn into leaves and clumps of scented flowers.

The wall of  Hereboontjie
In the orchard, the trees have all put on their autumn coats. These are now dragging over the orchard floor by way of their strewn leaves of different hues. The vegetable garden seems mostly empty. Only the Hereboontjie plant grows happily on into winter. This special bean seems to be special in more ways than one. I am curious to see if it might turn out to be a perennial.

Looking closer, I observe the onion seedlings growing in stature but still small enough so as not to reveal which will be brown and which, red. The coriander seeds, left in the chaff of the previous seed harvest and sown in one corner of a vegetable bed, are all sprouting.

The pea bed is looking promising, while the Sicilian Violet Cauliflower seeds will hopefully germinate during the week to start pushing up through the cold soil.

The sun has moved further north and now spends most of the day behind the tall Blue-gum trees across the road. At this time of the year, the garden spends most of the day in the shadow of the Blue-gums, creating a perfect micro-climate loved by the roses. The rosarium enjoys a colder winter. Their own micro-climate is enhanced by their position next to the Zanddrift irrigation canal and the shade of the Blue-gums. 

We have moved the lunch table from its usual position under the oak, to a corner of the lawn near the kitchen, in search of the mild autumn sun. Here the sun puts in a brief appearance in the late afternoon, when it reaches the end of the row of Blue-gums.

The garden flowers are in concert in hues of colder blues and violets. The lavenders, rosemary, chives and violets in blossom, add a cooler feel to an already colder garden. The garden seems to be slowing down and taking on another rhythm. The last of the quince, pomegranate and pink guavas remind us of a fading autumn harvest before we get started with the citrus flavours of winter.

In the herb garden, we still enjoy sage, chives, thyme, oregano, basil, tarragon and borage with the two chilli plants producing big red chillies to add warmth to stews. The cold comfort with which the house greets us lately, soon turns into the warm luxury of thick stews, soups and baked bread. They fill the kitchen and dining room with their rich spicy warm aromas while nature spreads the promise of rain over a thirsty valley.

The wet, scented geraniums, rosemary and lavender, seem to have a stronger fragrance. But it is as though the aroma is more closely contained around the plants. As if each plant has its own fragrant hug. Gone are the balmy summer days, with fragrant air wafting through the garden on light breezes. Now the fragrance of the plants hangs suspended in cold comfort pockets around the garden. Bending over in the herb garden to pick a bunch of coriander to serve with a hot curry, the cool mist on one’s skin leaves more than cold comfort in its fragrant hints of rose, lemon and citronella.

1 comment:

  1. Poetic and beautiful. An inspiration to garden, even in winter. Thanks.


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