A Mediterranean Moment4th July 2009 • In The Garden • Stephanie Donaldson
When I walked into the Courtyard this morning the air was filled with the scent of lemon blossom floating up from the small potted tree on the table. In the still air, the fragrance of just three flowers was enough to stop me in my tracks and transport me, in an instant, to Italy. This ‘Eureka’ variety of lemon tree came from Mr Fothergills.
Scent is a vital ingredient in the garden; no matter how glorious a flower may be, it is diminished by a lack of fragrance. But it’s not just the flowers that get me excited – walking from the Courtyard through the door to the garden, there’s a lemon verbena happily growing in dust-dry soil next to the path. Brushing against it releases its intensely lemony aroma – half a dozen leaves make the most refreshing summer tea I know. Every year I pick an armful of branches, hang them in a cool shady spot to dry and have lemon verbena tea all winter too. Although the leaves will dry to grey green and become brittle, the moment water is added they reconstitute in the most extraordinary way.
In the greenhouse: I suddenly realised that the potted peach tree was looking VERY sad and close inspection revealed the dastardly red spider mite. I immediately removed the fruit to reduce strees and the tree is now outdoors, being sprayed daily with an organic pesticide. In the meantime I’ve ordered some SB Plant Invigorator to give the tomato plants a boost and the natural red spider mite predator Phytoseiulus which should gobble up the mites.
In the coldframe: The carrots are growing well in the Rootrainers and I will leave them a little longer before I attempt to transplant them. It remains to be seen whether this experiment works!
In the garden: The first picking of dwarf French beans is nearly ready.