Many years ago, we were both lulled and maddened by some unaccustomed good weather. I packed a picnic, stuffed the family into a car and dragged them to Evesham, fresh produce capital of the country. Under my guidance and for measly pennies, we accidentally picked over one hundred pounds (45 kilos) of plums. Upon returning home, I attended to the insect bites, harvesting injuries, scratches, scrapes and loose bowels occasioned by over consumption of sun warmed bounty. Thereafter, I got busy in the kitchen. I made and froze plum pies, plum tarts, plum cakes and plum pudding. I bottled plums, pickled plums and cooked plum jam and plum chutney. I mashed that which remained and set plum champagne to start fermenting in a colossal plastic barrel. When the domestic crisis had receded, I served a delicious fruity flan for tea. No-one would eat any because, as they said, they never wanted to look at, smell or taste, another plum.
Caryopteris (blue spirea)
The tree in my garden blooms early in spring but has been reduced to biennial fruiting, due to the irregular supply of water on sandy soil. This year, the crop has been munificent. The branches have been laden with sweet gifts of wholesome alfresco snacks for nearby gardeners and buzzing heaps lie on the ground, sending the wasps dizzy with honeyed drunkenness. In my opinion, enough time has passed for my kin to forget the trauma, so I made several batches of clafoutis. The custard is made from cream, eggs, milk and sugar, poured over caramelised plums and baked. Mere words cannot do justice to the juicy, fragrant, calorie filled extravaganza that came out of the oven. They ate it, asked for second helpings and licked their plates, so it looks as if I’m forgiven.
Persicaria capitata (pink knotweed)
The other Prunus tree doesn’t flower and therefore produces no crop. It has a pretty mahogany bark but is otherwise a waste of space. The foliage is unremarkable, apart from the areas pocked with leaf curl, a fungal malady which is difficult to cure. I’m thinking of giving it the chop and replacing it with something more generous, perhaps a greengage. Since I don’t like killing anything that’s not a weed, this is going to require further consideration before I unpack the chainsaw.
Echinops ritro (globe thistle)
The raspberries have been and gone, but you can’t have too many of those. The blackberries are still small, green and nutty but will ripen later in the autumn. The globe artichokes are my magnificent purple wigged babies and are there only for looking at, so I trust that nobody dares to eat them. I grow courgettes in a frame full of compost. I don’t care for them myself but I just like telling people that I have a hot box. The yield has been exceptional, with five or six potent and dangerous looking vegetables making their appearance every week. It turns out that relatives, friends, neighbours and passing strangers have a limited capacity for consumption and I’m facing a glut. Anyone for zucchini ice cream?