One of my favourite vegetables is the choko, or chayote, from the gourd family and native to Mexico. Though the flavour is quite bland, the taste is greatly improved with the addition of butter and pepper. My parents would use it as a side dish whenever they cooked their ‘famous’ corned beef dinners. When I was a child they taught me how to grow my own choko plant by first sprouting the fruit in a dark cupboard. My recent attempt at this nature experiment is progressing well – and I hope before long I will be able to share photos of a vine laden with this edible delight.
My favourite type of yard is ‘small cottage’ or ‘secret garden’, a style not easy to achieve on acreage and requiring much effort and maintenance in our climate. But once in a while nature steps in to surprise me with something special……like filling this abandoned birdcage with greenery. Effortless on my part although I’m planning to make a ‘do not disturb’ sign for this magical place – surely the perfect miniature jungle for a variety of tiny six and eight legged creatures.
“Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence?” Today it is definitely green on our side. For a summer’s day the weather is unusually cool with a light sprinkling of rain. The dogs are asleep high and dry on their mattress, the cats are in their hiding places avoiding wet feet, the chooks are braving the elements in search of worms – and the guinea pigs are waiting comfortably and patiently for me to take out the scissors and trim a few blades of this lush new growth as a treat.
My namesake plant ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ (Thunbergia alata)
As a child I loved to see this plant growing along our backyard fence in Sydney. I’m delighted that this same species is now the main feature of a small ‘once a puppy yard’ area behind our house – covering a gate, creeping along the wire fence and making its way across the ground.