Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Garden Flowers Flisk North Fife

Today, plenty of sunshine now Spring is under-way and a strong display of fruit flowers in our garden at Flisk North Fife.

An over wintered Peacock butterfly on Blackthorn flowers. Prunus spinosa (blackthorn or sloe) is a species of Prunus. It is a deciduous large shrub or small tree growing to 5 m tall, with blackish bark and dense, stiff, spiny branches. The leaves are oval, 2–4.5 cm long and 1.2–2 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The flowers are 1.5 cm diameter, with five slightly creamy-white petals; they are produced shortly before the leaves in early spring, and are hermaphroditic and insect-pollinated. The fruit, called a "sloe", is a drupe 10–12 mm in diameter, black with a pale purple-blue waxy bloom, ripening in autumn, and harvested — traditionally, at least in the UK, in October or November after the first frosts. Sloes are thin-fleshed, with a very strongly astringent flavour when fresh. This Blackthorn forms part of the hedge to my garden, over the years the plants have been prone to a virus and Pocket Plum gall which is found on the fruit, where it results in an elongated and flattened gall, devoid of a stone. Nevertheless enough survive to provide a good harvest. The fruit is similar to a small damson or plum, suitable for preserves, but rather tart and astringent for eating, unless deeply frozen, as is practised in eastern Europe. In rural Britain so-called sloe gin is made from them, though this is not a true gin but an infusion of vodka, gin, or neutral spirits with the fruit to produce a liqueur. In Navarre, Spain, a popular liqueur called patxaran is made with sloes. Sloes can also be made into jam and, if preserved in vinegar, are similar in taste to Japanese umeboshi.

/> Red currant flowers. The Red currant (Ribes rubrum)is a member of the genus Ribes in the gooseberry family Grossulariaceae, native to parts of western Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Northern Italy and Northern Spain). It is a deciduous shrub normally growing to 1-1.5 m tall, occasionally 2 m, with five-lobed leaves arranged spirally on the stems. The flowers are inconspicuous yellow-green, in pendulous 4–8 cm racemes, maturing into bright red translucent edible berries about 8–12 mm diameter, with 3-10 berries on each raceme. An established bush can produce 3-4 kilos of berries from mid to late summer. With maturity, the tart flavor of redcurrant fruit is slightly greater than its blackcurrant relative, but with approximate sweetness. The albino variant of redcurrant, often referred to as white currant, has the same tart flavor but with greater sweetness. Although frequently cultivated for jams and cooked preparations, much like the white currant, it is often served raw or as a simple accompaniment in salads, garnishes, or drinks when in season.
In the United Kingdom, redcurrant jelly is a condiment traditionally served with lamb in a sunday roast. It is essentially a jam and is made in the same way, by adding the redcurrants to sugar and boiling.
In France, the highly rarefied and hand-made Bar-le-duc or Lorraine jelly is a spreadable preparation traditionally made from white currants or alternatively red currants.
In Scandinavia and Schleswig Holstein, it is often used in fruit soups and summer puddings (Rødgrød, Rote Grütze or Rode Grütt); in Germany it is also used in combination with custard or meringue as a filling for tarts; in Linz, Austria, it is the most commonly used filling for the Linzer torte. Unlike the cranberry, it certainly can be enjoyed in its fresh state and without the addition of sugar.

Chaenomeles japonica, red japonica. The fruit are very hard and astringent and very unpleasant to eat raw, though they do soften and become less astringent after frost (when they are said to be "bletted"). They are, however, suitable for making liqueurs, as well as marmalade and preserves, as they contain more pectin than apples and true quinces. The fruit also contain more vitamin C than lemons (up to 150 mg/100 g).

Pink Japonica Quince.

Juneberry (Amelanchier)flowers.
The origin of the generic name Amelanchier is probably derived from the Provençal name of the European Amelanchier ovalis. The name serviceberry comes from the similarity of the fruit to the related European Sorbus. A widespread folk etymology states that the plant's flowering time signalled to early American pioneers that the ground had thawed enough in spring for the burial of the winter's dead. Juneberry refers to the fruits of certain species becoming ripe in June. The name Saskatoon originated from a Cree Indian noun misâskwatômina (misāskwatōmina, misaaskwatoomina) for Amelanchier alnifolia. The city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is named after this plant.
The fruit of several species are excellent to eat raw, tasting like a slightly nutty blueberry, though their popularity with birds makes harvesting difficult. Fruit is harvested locally for pies and jams. The saskatoon berry is harvested commercially. The Native American food pemmican was flavoured by shadbush fruits in combination with fat and dried meats, and the stems were made into arrow shafts.
Several species are very popular ornamental shrubs, grown for their flowers, bark, and fall color. All need similar conditions to grow well, requiring good drainage, air circulation (to discourage leaf diseases), watering during drought and acceptable soil. Note that species names are often used interchangeably in the nursery trade. Many A. arborea plants that are offered for sale are actually hybrids, or entirely different species. Jams and preserves from the real thing.

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