Since January, my Food & Wine editor Karen Hardy has been asking me to visit her new garden in Watson and write about it. I procrastinated because we worked together.
In the Sunday Canberra Times of August 8, Karen said she had been in a huff because I had written about former editor, now reviewer Kirsten Lawson's produce which was true (Kitchen Garden, February 11) but at that point Kirsten was no longer editor and I did not visit her garden - I just wrote about her winning a Sydney competition for making rhubarb relish.
During Karen's current leave she generously invited me to lunch at her still newish townhouse and to see the garden. For decades, the jaunt up Northbourne Avenue to Watson was to view Peter Batey's Bald Archies. On my visit in November an extra drawcard was visiting the Canberra Potters Society set in beautiful surroundings with mature trees, lots of parking and a lowline building which houses studios and the shop. Potters were bringing in their work for the members' exhibition.
Then on to Karen's home. The front gate opens onto two courtyards divided by a path to the front door which is lined with Japanese box and dwarf Korean box hedging. Plants chosen for colour, form and texture are Heuchera Amethyst Mist coral bells, four sago palms, dwarf white agapanthus and variegated Japanese rush. Three white flowering crepe myrtles are the accent trees.
We were joined by Kirsten Lawson who said how lovely it was to catch up and that she misses our old food team. Kirsten was impressed with the plantings by Foxy's Landscaping and said it shows how a small patch of garden can produce so much growth from little bits of soil. Kirsten said what a difference it makes to amenity to grow as much as you can, crowd things in, have different heights in planting. She found the place inspirational and said planting is a lovely grounding activity.
An espaliered lemon tree will grow against a wall near the fold-down clothes line.
The highlights for both Kirsten and me were the large FormBoss Corten steel raised veggie beds.
Karen had planted these herself including huge plants of silverbeet which Karen finds very versatile. The seedlings were purchased at Bunnings.
Edibles from Dimity May at Reid Tiny Farm (Kitchen Garden, August 10) include lettuce and radishes from the spring box and celery, tomatoes and spinach from the summer box. There is garlic planted from where Karen stuck some cloves in the ground, spring onions from Bunnings which she snips as needed. Among the herbs are rosemary, coriander, parsley, thyme from Bunnings, basil from Dimity's summer box.
We were invited to see the well-filled but immaculate pantry and dined in the main room, backed by the kitchen section. Lunch was a treat. We ate spinach and feta quiche with homegrown salad followed by Karen's delicious lemon and coconut cake which she found on taste.com.au. I was given a generous slice to take home - photographed then eaten.
In Costa's World (Kitchen Garden, December 7) his go-to "grow almost anywhere veggies to keep you in greens for most of the year" were cherry tomatoes, flat-leaf parsley, lettuce, radish, salad rocket, silverbeet, snow peas and sunflower microgreens. Our book winners are Jenny Andrews of Aranda and Cathryn Curtis of Hackett.
The winner of Three by Selin Kiazim (Kitchen Garden, December 14) is Lorraine Rogers of Royalla who nominated Tasmanian Pepper Berry - we look forward to meeting her in Kitchen Garden in the New Year.
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 6cm deep, 9cmx19cm (base) loaf pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang at both ends.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon rind and half the egg. Beat well. Add remaining egg and beat until well combined.
3. Using a large metal spoon, gently stir flour, milk and coconut into butter mixture (do not over-mix). Spoon mixture into prepared loaf pan. Smooth surface. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in pan. Lift onto a wire rack to cool completely.
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