Back in the garden

Posted by Cameron on 07.18.07 11:22 PM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedWelcome to part two of our garden tour! A little over a year ago, we landscaped the dirt-and-weed festival behind our house, using edible (or fruit-producing) plants wherever possible. This summer, our patch is coming to life, and we’re giving you a virtual look around.

During our last visit, we met Unruly Lavender and Lazarus the Lemon Verbena. Today, we venture into the Northside Fruit Preserve.

Just past Lazarus, at the corner of the deck (which marks the northwest corner of the garden) is our Santa Rosa plum tree. We have been advised by wise people that fruit production won’t really kick in until next year, but we’re getting a few this year, and they’re really tasty.

As we step away from the deck, we meet the next member of the Northside Preserve: a makrut (kaffir) lime tree that is far happier in our dry, cool Mediterranean climate than I would have thought possible. We know of at least one other person with a successful makrut lime who lives not far from us, but I am still bemused by this enthusiastic little refugee from the tropics. We will never lack for leaves in our Thai culinary adventures and it’s starting to look as if we may see some limes this year. They’re not much as fruit, but the zest is useful.

Tucked far too close to the fence in the northeastern corner is our bergamot tree. It seems to be doing well, although it hasn’t decided to go all lush with the fruit yet. I’m torn between a desire to prune it and the feeling that I should just let it do its thing. I’ll probably nip it a bit to give it some shape the next time I’m wandering around with the appropriate implements.

Around the base of our mini-orchard, we have two rosemary plants that are doing their best to imitate kudzu. I can’t say that I’m surprised, as rosemary grows absolutely everywhere in San Francisco. These specimens have contributed spears and leaves to everything from the Rosemary Five and Gin-gin Cooler to steak fiorentina.

Along much of the eastern wall of the garden, there is really nothing to eat, although that will change if the fennel that I just planted takes hold. In the meantime, a line of lilies and the magnolia tree are the lone survivors from the yard’s previous incarnation. The magnolia turned out to be beautiful once it got a haircut, with a main trunk sporting white blooms next to a cluster of volunteer shafts that produce purple flowers. They all seem like they’re from the same root structure down underneath the ground, but I’m not entirely sure how that’s possible, given the combination of blossom colors.

In the southeastern corner (again, too close to the wall), a Meyer lemon tree is holding its own against the magnolia. This tough trooper started delivering fruit practically as soon as it was planted and bids fair to give a repeat performance this year. I can’t wait. For a boy raised on New England summers and snows, there are few things as satisfying as nipping out to the garden for a fresh lemon.

Next: Dog-eating vines? Thyme will tell!

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved

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2 Comments

Comment by Diane

Is your kaffir lime tree in the ground? I had one that was happy as a clam in a pot, but I killed it last fall (monstrous scale). I am starting over again with a sad, lopsided specimen and am still mourning the lovely old one I had hand-picked at the nursery. I don’t think I can plant it in the ground here in the east bay as it just isn’t warm enough. What is your experience?

Posted on 07.22.07 at 11:32AM

Comment by Anita

Hi, Diane –

Yes, all of our trees are in the ground. The kaffir lime is thriving here in somewhat-sunny San Francisco, so I assume your East Bay climate will be even more to its liking. My Thai cooking teacher has one in her East Bay yard that’s very large and quite happy.

My mom, who lives in the desert, covers some of her more fragile plants with mini christmas lights around the holidays for a touch of warmth. When its forecast to dip below freezing, you can cover the plant with a sheet at night to keep the frost off and the twinkle-light’s heat in. We intended to that last year but forgot, and everything survived just fine anyway.

Posted on 07.22.07 at 12:31PM

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