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  • Writer's picturekaydee777

Piquant and fruity with floral notes

Updated: Jun 11

With apricot harvest over for another year, the pantry is once again stocked with piquant and fruity apricot chutney.

Move over Mrs Balls, the secret ingredients in my improv recipe, which was pulled, not from a shipwreck off the Cape of Storms but from the Chihuahuan desert air around me, might just be apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger and cardamom. Not to mention fresh harvested, sun warmed apricots, chile and garlic. And some other stuff.

Though chutney is best left to mature three weeks, I couldn’t resist taste testing this batch on bean cakes this morning, before sun put the shade to route on my brunch patio.

I am really enjoying the garden early in the day at the moment. It’s getting too hot to spend much time outdoors by noon while evening temperatures are staying unusually high as well. Such is life under the impossibly blue dome.

The trashy silver plastic twirlers have been moved to the weeping Santa Rosa plum where I can watch them not scaring off the birds through the kitchen window.

Occasionally I even get to see monsoon clouds build up through that same window. So far it’s been only empty promises and not a drop of rain .

Regular watering is keeping the pollinators in flowers though, and not just sunflowers (though there are those in abundance).

One of my favourite summer flowers is the quirky bloom of the southwest native Rathibida columnifera (Mexican Hat/Prairie coneflower) which I introduced from seed collected in Lincoln National Forest in autumn of 2018.

In this section of the garden, where a semi waterwise rockery is slowly evolving, Mexican Hat are currently complementing a silvery blue Sea Holly (Eryngium) and yellow Drakensberg bulbine (Bulbine abyssinica).

Gladiolus, also having origins on the southern tip of the oldest continent, are really only at their best for a day in this heat, but those spectacular spears are worth it.

Hopi Red dye amaranth currently contribute beautiful deep magenta sprays above yellow yarrow to the colourscape in front of the apricot tree

Speaking of yellow and magenta, purple Drumstick alliums (Allium sphaerocephalon) are now in full bloom alongside yellow buttons of Santolina (Lavender cotton), heavenly scented yellow and burgundy chocolate flowers (Berlandiera lyrata) and white yarrow.

I really do like alliums for the length of time they provide interest in the garden.

These purple Drumstick alliums do not disappoint.

Compared to the brevity of so many blooms, alliums provide me weeks, if not months, of visual enjoyment from their pixie cap sheathed buds to full bloom to seed head. Unfortunately the robust native Maximillian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani), enjoying the supplemental watering, are threatening to dominate and smother this planting rather than keeping to their place in the background as was my original plan.

Some rearranging of this garden bed might be necessary this autumn to rescue the foreground from a robust Maximillian sunflower invasion.

Such as it is, this is my life right now.

There’s an immanence of grape and figs to tide me over while the heat builds and the rains don’t come.

Briefly, everything is exactly as it should be in the Garden of Earthly Delights: colour, light, shape, form, promise.


Recommended Reading/TV Series


Recipes for Love and Murder. This visually exquisite murder mystery TV series set in the rugged, arid, semi desert Karoo region, was filmed mostly in Prince Albert, South Africa. Season 1 came out in 2022. Season 2 began filming in South Africa in April 2024.


The tv series is based on the Tannie Maria Murder Mysteries books by Sally Andrew. In this case (unusually for me)I have not read the books.


I was absolutely mesmerized by the cinematography in this tv series which I stumbled upon (on Acorn) during some recent downtime after a medical procedure which involved a federally approved toxin being injected in my veins and which left me sick to my marrow for a bit. I’m okay now. Recipes for Love and Murder with its array of accents, languages and characters so typical of South Africa, stunning scenery and sensuous cookery shots, plus of course the engaging plot twists proved to be the perfect prescription for recovery.


The South African film industry has come a long way.



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