With another winter almost over and spring just around the corner, the gardens and roadsides are coming to life with blossom-covered trees. The tuis adore the nectar they provide at this time of year. Nick took these photos of a tui drinking from the blossom flowers where he is working at the moment.
The bright yellow flowers of the wattle trees have been adding a splash of sunshine to the winter days. I wish we had room for one in our garden. I love the Golden Wattles with their clusters of small pompom flowers that we see when we go for walks.
The weather is warming up and new growth is emerging, with flowers appearing that have been dormant over the winter months. I’ve been planning what to plant in my garden this year, drawing diagrams, making sure to rotate the crops where I have room, and reading through my companion planting book to make sure not to plant things next to each other which don’t get on. I’ve started a few seeds off inside to get a head start. A little glasshouse is on my wish list, the trouble is finding somewhere in the garden to put one!
I have been keeping a garden journal for a year now. I started last September, at the beginning of spring. It’s interesting to look back over a complete cycle of the seasons and see how the garden changes.
Our broccoli are finally ready for harvesting. I cut the main heads off and and let the plants continue to grow so that they form side-shoots.
Broccoli and Mushroom Gratin
1 large head broccoli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon butter or non-dairy spread
2 tablespoons flour
1½ cups milk (or soya milk or oat milk)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1½ cups grated cheese
2 tablespoons butter or non-dairy spread, melted
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 180º C.
Cut the broccoli into florets and steam until bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes. Place in lightly greased baking dish.
Heat the oil and saute the onion and mushrooms until the onion begins to soften and the mushrooms are lightly browned. Spread mixture over broccoli.
Heat the butter or non-dairy spread in a saucepan. Stir in the flour until smooth, then gradually add the milk, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened. Add the parsley, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Pour the sauce over the broccoli mixture in the dish.
Stir together the melted butter, breadcrumbs and remaining cheese, and sprinkle over the gratin.
Bake about 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.