After a ‘good’ month of beating around the bush, Spring is definitely upon us up here in Auckland, with blossoms a-plenty, birds singing saucily and bees buzzing about the place in that knowing way. Oh, and it’s raining. A lot.
It’s funny how we spend every winter longing for spring, and then act all surprised when it finally arrives in the company of a solid month’s worth of rain. Rather like the pain of childbirth (apparently) our memory of it is mysteriously erased.
But rest assured – it’s supposed to rain in Spring. Warmer days and copious precipitation kick-start the growing season, forcing fruit trees into bloom and bedraggled winter herbs and salad greens into their crisp, new season’s attire. It’s a time to walk around the garden – preferably in gumboots – surreptitiously sampling the those first peppery rocket leaves , heartbreakingly tender neonatal broad beans, and imagining the luscious rewards that will follow the frothy, fleeting displays put on by the prunus and malus clan. It may be sodden but it’s all on in the garden right now.
Judging by the excited buzzing coming from my plum tree (Dans Early – a luscious, red-fleshed plum from Koanga), my investment in a honey bee hive last summer is starting to pay off. The tree put on an incredible display of snowy white blossom this year and the dense, honey-like fragrance drew the considerable interest of my girls very quickly. I’m anticipating a bumper crop and am already planning plum wine, jam, sauce and paste…not to mention the ensuing honey.
My early peach (Orion – another winner from Koanga) has now finished flowering, and is once again awash with fuzzy peachlets. It always delivers the goods, bees or no bees. Ripening round early December these, succulent white-fleshed peaches have been and gone long before the disease-laden humidity and heat of high-summer arrives. A tough, reliable tree, and most importantly a delicious peach. Next up will be my River peach – a late-season and somewhat disease-prone tree in my region, but I can’t imagine a summer without these obscenely juicy, headily perfumed fruit. After that, in a steady procession of flowering and later fruiting will be the apples, damsons, pears, capulin cherry, boysenberries, raspberries and tayberries. Always something to look forward to, sniff and sample out there.
The bees have done good work in my broad bean patch too, cheerfully pollinating during even the cooler, months and now delivering me a super early crop. Without honey bees in the vicinity broad beans can be a bit of a non event. Although bumble bees love the flowers, they’re stuff-all use when it comes to broad beans. They bite holes in the base (with an audible ‘pop’) to gain easy access to the rich nectar supply within, thus bypassing the pollen and much hope of pollination. Thieving little bastards.
With so much going on outdoor right now, after what seemed like and endlessly drenched (as per normal) and frigid winter, I’m finding it very hard to stay at my desk. I wonder if my WiFi works in the garden…