I don´t make New Year´s Resolutions but I do like to leave some resonance of our footsteps through the years and there is no better way to do that than by planting a tree – or several. This year, at the Garden Centre, we are planning a citrus walk along the pathway to our beehive. We are going to love it – I find citrus very calming; so deeply green and beautiful with that heavenly scent and vibrant fruits, but the bees will be deliriously happy; end result, lots of ‘orange-blossom’ honey.
But we won´t only be planting oranges; we´re taking the opportunity to plant more unusual varieties of citrus as slowly they become more available to us. Here are some of our planting musts and we´ll leave a few spaces for rare additions, wishes for the future, as we can get hold of them.
Oranges: Blood oranges; the one that is fairly easily available is Sanguinelli, Spanish bred and a late-season, prolific cropper. The tree is small and almost spineless and the fruits are glowing red in pith with red streaks in the flesh. They have a good sweet taste. I´d also like to source Moro which is earlier cropping and has a deeper red overall flush to the pulp with a hint of raspberry in the flavour. Bergamot orange I want to include simply because it has the best perfume in the citrus world. The fruits are orange/lemon-coloured and bumpy with a bitter, sour flavour and touch of floral. They are edible, slightly sweeter than a regular lemon but they are mainly used to make the classic Earl Grey tea. It makes the most delicious marmalade.
Strange Fruits, Part 1 - Citrus
Lemons: Apart from the immensely useful gin and tonic lemon (lunar lemon, Eureka) we´ve got to make space for a Meyer´s lemon, that sweeter lemon/mandarin cross. It has a darker skin colour and a mandarin note in the flavour. It´s also a very prolific fruiter. A must-locate is the Yuzu lemon, the most popular citrus fruit in Japan. It is still difficult to find in Europe, but we are working on it! Posh chefs use the juice and rind in all their trendiest dishes. The fruits are about tangerine sized and sour with many seeds; doesn´t sound the most promising but it´s unique flavour makes it stand out. Hailed as the new sexy fruit – don´t ask me, I´m at a loss to explain it – but it sounds like we have to have it!
Limes: Many people shy away from limes thinking they are too tender, too tropical but, even with us at 600m, clients have reported great success with them. Just give them as sheltered a spot as you can. Bearss or Persian lime is an absolute must on our walkway but I also want to plant Kaffir limes and Finger limes, both of which we have been selling for some time now – just not had time to plant any! Kaffir limes are, of course, that classic of Thai cooking prized more for its aromatic leaves than the lumpy bumpy fruits. But all parts are useful and highly aromatic. The Finger lime is a rarity; it´s spiny, tiny-leaved and tough. It grows in its native Australia under the tree canopy so is happy with dappled shade. Under these conditions it will grow shrub like, spreading wide. The fruits are like small warty cucumbers hiding clear caviar-like pearls of flavour inside. They explode in the mouth, drenching you in their fabulous juiciness.
Buddha´s Hand: And finally, in our fabulous fantastical walkway, we have to have a Buddha´s Hand with its tentacled fingers reaching out to caress us as we stroll along. We shall use its pithy fingers in our stir-fries but mainly relish it for its other-worldly alien looks!
I have a suspicion that we shall have to extend our citrus walk over the years – it´s sure to be popular with visitors, bees and the Viveros Florena Team alike! It´s also great to think that in New Year´s to come, we will be picking all these great and ‘strange’ fruit. And we hope to welcome many of you to walk our citrus pathway with us into a peaceful and happy future.