Millie FleurScrumptious red November

It is the most glorious time of the year in Melbourne (Australia). Our garden is yielding its scrumptious early bounty of red-coloured treats. Delectable alpine strawberries, loganberries, raspberries, mulberries and early cherries – all in mid-November!

Over the past three years the alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) have colonised under our fruit trees, growing over a mulch of pine needles. We can hardly eat them as fast as they ripen. These tiny strawberries taste quite different to the larger varieties, with a rich strawberry-ish, almost bubble-gum like flavour. It is like having a sweet shop in the garden.

1 Berries

Early berries

The raspberries (Rubus idaeus) and loganberries (Rubus x laganobaccus) are early this year and happily plump, possibly due to good winter rains. Interestingly, the loganberries were not pruned last winter and have fruited extraordinarily well; and the raspberries that were pruned to remove the old canes, have also fruited very well. I’m not sure how to explain that both approaches (to prune or not to prune – that is the question) seem to have been equally successful this year.

The small weeping mulberry tree (Morus nigra) has produced tiny, dark baby mulberries with a rich, earthy flavour. A second, much larger mulberry tree nearby is only now forming its fruit which are still hard and green, and will not be ready until Christmas. Those of you who enjoy mulberries will know that the mulberry has a flavour unlike any other berry, and red-stained fingers and dribbles are part and parcel of the experience. The rich red pulp and juice can be used to colour preserves (white-flesh peach and mulberry jam is delicious) and added to baking (think muffins, cakes, mousse and sauces) for a dash of red pizazz. I am yet to experiment with making a mulberry ‘paste’ but imagine it would be as equally delicious as quince paste, and pair beautifully with a smelly, ripe cheese.

Ripening cherries

Ripening cherries

The cherries (Prunus avium ‘Royal Rainier’ and ‘Starkrimson’), although only half red, are already delicious to eat, and will continue to sweeten. I always think of cherries as a risky crop because they can be ruined within a few days by either too much rain (splitting the cherries), not enough rain (shrivel and drop), marauding wildlife (possums and birds) or even stealthy neighbours! However, I think they are most definitely worth the effort because in a good year, standing next to a cherry tree and nonchalantly munching away while the sun filters through the leaves, is a true delight.

Although we have many birds in the garden – ranging from smaller scrub wrens to larger birds, they have not yet decided to help themselves to the berry and cherry bounty. I’m not sure why – perhaps because the garden is lush with spring growth and there are plenty of other dining options. Certainly the visiting family of gang-gang cockatoos have been enjoying the yellow berries of the White Cedar (Melia azedarach). Their tell-tale squeaky door talking seems to get increasingly raucous the more berries they consume.

4 Bird 02

Gang-gang cockatoos feasting on yellow Melia berries

3 Bird 01 When walking around the garden it is impossible not to pick a handful of red delights and munch away. Forget garden to plate – garden to mouth is even better! However, when these red fruits of November actually make it to the kitchen they are perfect for a mouth-watering desert. Combined with low-fat passionfruit yoghurt and placed in a meringue nest, what more could you wish for?

Red November dessert

Red November dessert

Definitely one of the best times of the year in a Melbourne garden – if only November could last for a few more months!

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Millie Fleur

About Millie Fleur

As a self-taught, non-professional gardener in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Millie beats her own garden drum. She combines a mix of exotic, indigenous and edible plants in a large Victorian look-a-like garden. She describes her passion for gardening as a mix of artistic creativity, garden-gym, food production, challenges and never-ending surprises. Millie enjoys her garden playground throughout the ever-changing Melbourne seasons. Her motto is to apply a generous dose of common sense, time and optimism – necessary characteristics for all good gardeners!

One thought on “Scrumptious red November

  1. Fantastic post, Millie. The only problem is that I do my reading over lunch and yet those photos made me so hungry, my sandwich just didn’t fill the hole. If only my garden was full of such yummy delights!

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