Citrus are so beautiful with their deep green glossy evergreen leaves, white waxy scented flowers and glowing edible fruits; they make perfect and very special Christmas gifts. A gift that is going to last for years, be handsome and useful too – it’s got to be better than a pair of smelly socks! So here are twelve of the best for you to choose from:
1. Sweet Orange: The classic and, perhaps, the most versatile. There are many good varieties, but some of the best are Washington, Valencia Late, Newhall, Navel and Salustiana.
2. Lemon: Look for the ‘gin and tonic’ lemon to get your Christmas off to a good start. Instead of producing one large crop of lemons, the flowering and fruiting is spread almost throughout the year. It’s more correctly known as a lunar type and look for varieties Eureka and Verna.
3. Mandarin: Encompasses tangerines/clementines and satsumas. These were first introduced into Western markets around the beginnings of the 1800’s and were then known as the ‘kid-glove orange’ because of their often baggy and easy-peel skin. Consumer acceptance has been rapid and they are now one of our most popular citrus fruits. Good clementines are Clemenules and Dancy; and for satsumas go for Hashimoto or Clausellina.
4. Grapefruit: Pink grapefruits are stealing the market of the yellow ones. Slightly sweeter and, arguably, prettier than the yellow varieties, try Ruby Red and, if you can find it, Burgundy with an intensely coloured skin. Juicy and sweeter than most, it is not such a prolific cropper and, therefore, not used commercially. Good yellow skins are Duncan or Marsh.
5. Lime: A small-sized tree and disliking cold winds, the lime is ideal for pot work. The fruits are expensive to buy, so growing your own is a great idea. Bearss is the variety that you’ll commonly find.
6. Bitter orange: also known as the Seville orange, because so many are produced in that area. This is the best for marmalade and a tough and tolerant tree which makes an elegant addition to street side plantings. Sevillano is the variety you’ll easily find.
7. Kumquat: The little ‘sweet and sour fruit’ – a perfect snack food full of vitamins – and the hardiest of the citrus. Staying quite small, it is ideal for pots and is immensely decorative. Nagami and Marumi are two of the best. Try limequats too; Eustis is a good one.
8. Calamondin: Very ornamental with flowering and fruiting throughout the year makes the calamondin very popular for pots. The fruits are very sour and used more in pickles and chutneys or bottled. The variegated Peter is extremely decorative.
9. Red lemon: A lemon with a difference! With a red deeply-dimpled skin and pink tinted flesh this one will cause a stir with your G&T or try serving it with fish and seafood. It’s as easy to grow as a yellow lemon but much more attractive.
10. Kaffir lime: The entire plant is highly aromatic and the leaves, as well as the fruit, are used in Indonesian cooking. The fruits are very bumpy and lumpy but with a great flavour. Grow as a smooth lime.
11. Bergamot orange: The bergamot is a hybrid, believed to be a cross between a bitter orange and a lemon. It is principally grown for its essential oils which are used in many perfumes and in the cosmetic trade in general. It is also used in Earl Grey tea and some tobaccos. Its high pectin levels are useful in many preserves whilst the juice is used to flavour citrus drinks and cakes and sweets. The tree, liking a warm and sheltered position, is the most aromatic of all the citrus family.
12. Buddha’s hand: Definitely wins the prize for the Christmas scary monster with its finger like appendages. The fruit bears no pulp, being entirely composed of skin and pith. It is used in stir fry dishes in the Far East and is a part of every Christmas cake and Christmas pud in the form of dried cut peel.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmastime from all at Viveros Florena.
We will be closed 25th and 26th December 2012 and 1st January 2013.
Lorraine Cavanagh has lived in Spain for 26 years. A landscape gardener and writer, she’s always happy to give advice. Call and see her at Viveros Florena, 2km from Cómpeta, (Malaga), down the Sayalonga Road, or 15km up from the coastal motorway – have a free coffee or herbal tea in their tea-rooms.
Her book Lorraine Cavanagh’s Mediterranean Garden Plants has been nicknamed ‘the bible’. The new edition at €24.90 is now generally available throughout Spain.
Viveros Florena Discount Scheme: Every month for 1 week, always 13th to 19th inclusive, a class of plants will carry a 20% discount.
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June, July, September, 9 – 2, closed for August.
October to May 10 – 4
Always closed Sundays and Mondays.
Web page: www.viverosflorena.com
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