Autumn Leaves

April 7th, 2011

The season is shifting from summer to winter.  The days are cooler and a midday walk in the garden, before or after lunch, is now much more pleasant than a month ago.  Some mornings the garden is wrapped in mist and wet with dew.  Last week we measured 8mm of rain and therefore I am slowly starting to reduce the irrigation.  In the soft autumn light the ripe fruit on the olive and guava trees are glowing with colour, purple-black and deep yellow.  We had our first harvest of Frantoio olives and is very happy with the pressed oil we bottled for the restaurant.  The Mission olives will be picked and pickled for eating.
The indigenous wild olives or olienhout (Olea europaea subsp. africana), that occur naturally on  Babylonstoren, are also full of  fruit .  I love walking along the river where many of these beautiful old trees grow, to pick and eat the berries fresh –  sampling tree by tree as they all taste different.   These small, black fruits are sweet and not  bitter like the traditional European olive.

Another tree with characterful stems and good fruit is the guava.  Twenty four trees were planted as an avenue to frame the view from the garden entrance to Babylonstoren koppie.  Most of these trees are more than 50 years old and were transplanted from a farm in Dal Josafat, near Paarl.  This year the gnarled old trees with their short cropped canopies are bearing their first and abundant crop at Babylonstoren.  The first variety to ripen is the Madeira with a rougher skin and more orange flesh compare to the variety Faan Retief with deep pink flesh that ripens later.  We have been watching carefully for fruit fly damage, but so far we have been lucky with perfect fruit on the organically grown trees,  ripe and ready to eat  as you enter the garden.  Groete – Liesl

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