Friday, November 26, 2010

When life hands you lemon trees

The veg garden is starting to look like it might produce something edible – the broccoli is lush and leafy, the beans are starting to wind their way up the frame and the tomatoes are recovering from being transplanted and starting to branch out.

We have a few seedlings still to plant out when they are big enough – the cucumbers are almost ready, the cherry tomatoes have just popped up and I am expecting to see the leaves of the first capsicum by the weekend.

The patch of weeds at the back of the house where the garage will eventually stand is now planted with pumpkin, kamo kamo and watermelon, so I hope it will not be long before it is covered in sprawling tendrils, bursting with flowers and swelling into luscious fruit.

Our fruit trees are either blossoming, or starting to produce fruit, and even the little camellia I planted in a bid to grow something pretty is gamely sprouting shiny new leaves.

The only tree that has failed to thrive is the lemon tree.  Now this lemon tree used to stand in Great Grandma’s garden, and produced a few juicy offerings every year.  I love the fact that just about every NZ garden has a lemon tree, when in England they were such a luxury item, so I always asked Grandma if I could have a few to make some lemon curd once in a while.

  One year Great Grandma decided she had had enough of my demands, and told me that I had stripped her tree bare and it would never fruit again.  Knowing that Great Grandma was the Matriarch of my husband’s family, and also knowing her quick temper and barbed remarks were not something I ever took personally, I bowed to her wishes and never touched the tree again.

Great Grandma passed away a year and a half ago, having lived very well til the age of 95.  It was a sad day when she passed, but she was ready to see her Fred again.  Her estate was left for a year while arrangements were made, but in due course it was sold, and her children (including my father-in-law) sorted out what to do with all her belongings.

Along with some furniture, we gained some treasures from the garden, namely the dwarf apple tree, and yes, the lemon tree.  We saw these as nice memorials to an important woman in my husband’s life, but I had a sneaking suspicion that Great Grandma would have harumpfed had she known.

When we planted the apple tree it took almost straight away, and even gave us sharp, crisp fruit the first autumn it was in, but the lemon tree just sat in the ground, listlessly trailing its few remaining leaves and looking forlorn.

It’s not looking too good now, but we are determined not to give up on it just yet.  We had a Pomegranate tree in a previous house that looked utterly dead, so I pruned it back to almost nothing in a bid to tidy the garden, and it burst forth with new leaves the following spring.

I have plans to give lemon curd for Christmas presents next year.

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