Monday, 12 September 2011


After humming and hawing all weekend about whether my first fig was fully ripe or not, I came home from work today to find that the perfect golden-yellow skin was starting to develop a few superficial brown spots, so there was no more waiting to be done.  The result was absolutely delicious......juicy,  softly melting, gloriously pink inside and with a honeyed sweetness that was outstanding!  Quite a result given that the poor plant has to live down in my cold, dank basement for the best part of half a year, when it's minus twenty outside!  I do hope that a few of the more recent baby figs have time to ripen before it gets too chilly.  At least there is plenty of sunshine in the forecast for the rest of this week.  I'm not entirely sure of the variety unfortunately.  It was just marked "Italian fig" when I bought it, but I do wonder from some website searches, given the really delicious honey flavour, if it could be an Italian honey fig, or Lattarula?  If anyone is an expert out there, and can identify from the photo, I'd be glad to hear from you!

Not quite sure of the variety (it was only marked "Italian fig" when I bought the little plant 2 years ago), but the results are delicious!

Friday, 9 September 2011

A little mellow fruitfulness

Of course, it's still summer, so we certainly haven't quite yet reached the season of mists, but I think it is quite safe to say that mellow fruitfulness is having it's heyday for 2011.  Last weekend we were in Sarnia, which is pretty much as far south and west as you can go and still be in Ontario rather than Michigan, and went to the fantastic farmer's market there.  We loaded up on peaches, tomatoes, corn, melons and delicious wee filets of lake perch, and a nice big and cheerful bunch of gorgeous glads for mine hostess.  Other than the fish, it felt like we barely broke a fiver! (ok, I'm exaggerating, but compared to farmer's markets in Toronto, it was exceptionally good value for money).  Now, we did buy two very large baskets of peaches, with the intention of taking one home for some form of preservation, but they were so perfectly ripe and delicious, that it was a sheer impossibility not to eat the whole lot "out of hand".  On our return to Toronto, the weather took a nose-dive and temperatures dropped about 15 degrees from one day to the next.  However, I was delighted to find that the blast of heat had suited my fig admirably.  You may recall that I was very excited back in early July to find a burgeoning fruit bud swelling on my fig tree.  It grew quite quickly at first, but then seemed to stop growing just as quickly.  Whilst I was away for 3 weeks I think it pined for me and when I returned, it looked drawn and anxious, as though it might prematurely shuffle off it's mortal coil at any point.  Nothing much happened all through August, although it kept on hanging there, quiet-like, not attracting attention from me, or passing birds or bugs.  But when we got back after just 3 days away, the fig had decided it better finally do something, and swelled up like a water balloon, and started to shift in colour from dark green, to a yellowish hue, although the skin was still quite hard and unripe feeling.  But today, I think it is truly on the brink.  The skin is distinctly yellow and has softened, and the slightest hint of some cracking is appearing at the base.  If I was of a twittering disposition, I could promise hourly updates until the gestation was finished, but I'll spare you that pleasure. I am quite sure you have better things to do with your time.  But just in case you are interested, here are some photos of where we are at, and where we have come from.

My first fig, back in the first trimester in early July, clearly emerging from last year's growth, as the single member of my  breba crop.

By the end of July it had come along nicely, but then it just stopped growing and decided to hang out for a while.

As of September 9th, it has swollen considerably, taken on a delightful yellowish cast, and the skin has become softened and mellow.  I hope it actually tastes good!

There are a number of other little figs appearing on this year's new wood

I'm not quite sure if these will have time to mature & ripen before the fig goes dormant, which usually happens around early November, at which time all the leaves will have dropped, and I'll take it to a cold spot in the basement until next spring. 
Having grown up in Scotland, figs seem highly exotic, so to have grown one in my Canadian backyard has been quite exciting!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Winter Gardens, Duthie Park, Aberdeen, Scotland

My home town of Aberdeen has long been famous for its beautiful municipal gardens.  Duthie Park is the real jewel in the crown of these municipal spaces, and is a classic example of Victorian philanthropy, having been gifted to the city by Lady Elizabeth Duthie, for the general enjoyment of the populace.  When I was a child, the highlights for me were the paddle boats that could be rented, the pond which was always full of model boats and yachts, but as an adult, the Winter Gardens are a real asset, and when we arrived in Aberdeen in the middle of July, with torrential rain all around, a Saturday afternoon at the Winter Gardens was the perfect tourist activity.  The collection of cacti and succulents is the second largest in the UK, after the Eden Project in Cornwall.  Here's a slideshow from our trip.