Monday, 12 August 2019

Under our own fig tree

Mum came with me to Woodside on Saturday cos I told her we could harvest spinach.

I left her to it and then she started actually doing some gardening there. I didn't even have to ask her. It was a bit of a miracle.

Then on Sunday she said to me that the fig tree which I had planted behind the fence (remember? the one Dad nearly destroyed) wasn't doing very well and suggested we move it to a sunnier spot.

We walked around the garden and I was saying 'here, or here...or maybe' Nothing was suitable. By the maple she suggested but we couldn't just get rid of the maple tree its roots were too entrenched. Not in the middle of the lawn...water and drainage pipes. Not by the path, too much pruning. How about we give the fig tree to the next door neighbours? I said. I looked at their bare expanse of grass and weeds. They only had three trees, a bottlebrush, a lemon, and a feijoa.

Oh no said Mum, if its by the driveway always have to sweep up leaves and cut back. The berm?

I thought poor fig, nowhere to go.

I had cleared some orchids and repotted them in baskets, so there was a spare pot. Maybe it could go in the big pot.

Anyway I just wanted to write this down, for its a miracle that Mum wants to plant a fruit tree. Hallelujah.

Since I am no longer going to St Giles, I can't ask to plant one there, for the answer from the church board after a few months deliberation will probably be NO. But if by another miracle they said YES, maybe I will return, and mum will have a reason to go to church!!!!

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Weather permitting

August has me like the windshield wipers, or intermittent gardening. I garden, pause a bit between showers, then carry on. I manage to ...

-Scatter village green seeds from Yates, according to the packet this Vintage Border Mix contains 43 flower varieties.

- fork my garden beds, then scatter granulated gypsum over them to break up the clay

- transplant two potted eggplants to the sunny bed by the garage, in hopes they will fruit better rather than be eaten by bugs.

- plant peppermint

- transplant two rhubarbs at Woodside Garden

-win a potted parlour palm thanks to Fabulous Garden Mama, now in the library

-plant growing potatoes in the bottom of the sack

-transplant two potted capiscums, also in danger of being eaten by bugs

Basically I am tidying up loose ends here and there. It's rather like housework only outside, but strange thing is I don't keep a household diary or describe my interior decoration endeavours to the extent I do this garden. I wonder why. Is it because we've had the same carpet for 40 years in the lounge, and my parents don't want to change it because it would mean moving all their stuff?

Is my furniture placement that inconsequential?
I guess thats what drives people to own their own homes because they can then do extreme makeovers, the same as I am attempting to do at my garden and library. However my way is a little bit here and there, because if you totally gutted the place and built a new one I think there would be an outcry.

The one thing I don't like that I can't get rid of is those buxus hedges my brothers put in now because they look square and ungainly and kikuyu is growing right through them. Sometimes I read articles in the NZ Gardener magazine, about some garden that's been designed, and it will say 'the owner wanted this and that' but it will never say their name. It will show photos of the garden but never show their faces. Inevitably it will say 'the owners only visit on weekends' and 'require it to be low maintenance' and then it will name some prominent designer who shows off their skill designing gardens for people that don't live there half the time because they have four other homes they own. Like you need at least four homes since people divorce and remarry and then divorce again I guess. The owners then pay someone else to maintain the garden for them. It's called climbing the property ladder or playing Monopoly. You know you've reached the top when you can rent out your place as a hotel.

I thought about how the other half live and wonder what they do if they don't garden. Spend the rest of the time doing housework in their gigantic homes? Bake cookies? Go on $2000 holidays?  I don't know. Maybe it's best I don't...

Am excited to report I saw my first - freesia, and gladioli of the season.
Flowers blooming now include hellebores, hardenbergia, magnolia, calendula, polyanthus, bergenia, diosma.
To come - lavender and echium.

It's blowing a wild wind out there. I have finished reading Tom's Midnight Garden. It is a classic children's book by Phillipa Pearce, but I confess that I still prefer the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  My formative years I don't remember doing anything exciting on the children's playground, with its noise, shouting and bullrush games. After you've hung upside down like a monkey a couple of times over some bars sitting on some bark chips it just gets real boring real fast.   But the enchantment and miracle of a garden...that will never grow old.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Garden Planet Focus Group

It's on Sunday 18th August 1:30pm at the Planet FM studios in Mt Albert. I've booked the meeting room and I need six participants. Please contact me if you would like to participate. We will spend about an hour discussing all things Garden Planet, and maybe check out the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua Garden afterwards, to see what's growing in their patch.

Refreshments are provided! Please come...

I'll just be noting down what people say but won't be influencing your opinions in any way. Just moderating. It won't be broadcast. This is a requirement for my CSBM course.

Some questions I will be asking -

How often do you get to listen to podcasts/radio?
What topics would you like to hear discussed on Garden Planet?
What ways do you learn about gardening?

It will be like the survey but you are free to elaborate more. Please RSVP by 11 August.
That's me and Karyn outside Planet FM. We're waiting for you...if you live on this planet, and love gardening then we want to hear about it. We are all 👂👂👂👂

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Miss Asher blooms

My Cleopatra Magnolia, what can I say she's a stunner right now. I planted her five years ago in memory of my friend Iraena Asher, who's birthday was July 17. Gosh she looks just like her.

It looks like I may not go to Taranaki Garden Festival this year. I think there are too many things about it that are too expensive and hard to do on your own. Plus, I remember going to Taranaki once and the people weren't the friendliest. I asked the visitors centre about going to visit, asking maybe they have accomodations by gardeners hosting as well, so you could stay at a place that actually had a garden, but no, they only have hotels which you pay for that don't have gardens. And they don't want to take you anywhere, there are no garden buses running from town, you basically have to organise everything yourself cos everyone is too busy to care about visitors from Auckland. But one thing they did ask me right of the bat was 'how much do you want to spend?'.

I am not a cash cow.

So sorry Taranaki, I wasn't impressed. They then said oh we've been running this for over 30 years and we not going to change. Okay then.

I've decided to check out the Waiheke Garden Festival instead, which might be more hospitable to visitors. And less of an outlay. I am not sure if my Dad's friend still lives there or if he's now moved to a retirement village (yes they have one on the island, but it's weird how people still need to retire from retirement, cos he moved there in the first place to retire). If so I can go visit I won't check out his own place didn't have much of a garden, his tenant kept plants in pots on the deck and he just had banks of nasturtiums up the back but I could take him along.

Otherwise, I am thinking of holding my own Garden Festival. Having gone to a few, all I need to do is tell everyone that has a garden that one weekend you will open it to visitors, provide maps and how to get there, someone to collect gold coin donations, and give all the money to a charity of my choice. Possibly schools because they need more gardens.  I will also make sure I provide a special van/bus tours for people that can't drive or don't have cars. If you see three or more gardens (you will get your map stamped at each garden) you can enter the draw to win a raffle.  Also there will be a plant ID game where you have to take a photo of the different plants and find them in each garden, if you find them all you also win something.
I will also ask my school if they can plant their field in sweetcorn for summer to make an amaizing maze.
When people ask why. I just ask why not?

Friday, 19 July 2019

Taranaki Garden Festival, got to go!!

Well, two weeks of school holidays are over and I stay home and not do anything. Perfect. I just had no energy. I think I saved some money too by ignoring everyone that tried to ask me out.

I now need to save heaps of money because I'm planning on going to the Taranaki Garden Festival this year. Now that I don't have a boss that talks all about it all year and says we going to go and then at the last moment says we are not.

I'll just tell my new boss, I am going on the Garden Festival to visit my garden family and get back to my roots. Surely she won't object to that, I'll just take two days off school. Possibly I will chuck in a visit to the Puke Ariki library, but really, there's no point going to a library if you can't borrow any of the books.

So it's going to cost about $2000 for five nights including accomodation, breakfast and dinner. It will be on a big coach with about 20-30 other people who are keen gardeners. Its not going to be with the Floral Club because they are going somewhere else this year - Te Awamutu. But thing is, they only have rose gardens there and I'm just not that interested in roses. I want to see the entire  mountains and forest, fringed with rhododendrons.

To drive down it takes about 5 hours to get there from Auckland.
I'm sure its probably much quicker by plane, but I don't think I'm in too much of hurry.

They also have Sustainable Backyards and Fringe Garden Festival going on all at the same time. The whole region  is garden-mad I tell you. They don't put on a big flower show in a sports stadium and pretend its a garden. They just have gardens there all the time and show off the whole town when  the rhododendrons are in bloom. Apparently because of the volcanic rich soil, maritime climate and countryside remoteness conditions are just perfect for gardens and anything that you would see in a traditional English garden will thrive there. But thing is, its not just English gardens and flowers and such, they plant the flowers in with the pongas in the bush. And they've been doing this for 32 years. They not closing the festival like they've done in Auckland because they run out of cash, exhibitors, designers or founding fathers. It just carries on year after year after year.

So I've just got to see it for myself.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

In from the cold

Check that, it's winter and its time to stay away from humanity in bed because I have a cold.
Now people say there are remedies for this but I am convinced that the proper remedy is not to work for the entire three months of June, July and August, and to go somewhere warmer, like Fiji.

You don't see birds that have wings and not use them to fly north, instead stuffing their beaks with lemon and ginger and garlic and hunkering down in their nests. They have the good sense to just not be around where there's no sunshine.

Having said that Jo suggested Garden Planet do a show on cold remedies. This was after much coughing and spluttering and several retakes in the studio, which probably needed to be disinfected afterwards. Thank God we not on television. So I've been doing a little research.

According to NZ Gardener magazine three herbs are useful to fight colds. Echinacea, Astralagus and Holy Basil.  I don't have any of these in my garden. I tried echinacea, but it just didn't want to grow for me. The slugs demolished it. I don't know what Astralagus is, (some sort of root? The picture wasn't clear)  and my basil isn't the holy one. If you do have echinacea, you need to dig up the roots and make a tincture, and drink it 4-5 weeks BEFORE you have a cold. Far too much trouble for me. Besides a bit late now.

The other remedy aside from a flu jab and doctors visit that can cost up to $45 is manuka honey, but even that's expensive with some jars can set you back $100 depending on how much UMF is present. Actually it's not even a scientific thing, Unique Manuka Factor they call it, it just a fancy marketing term. Regular honey could work just as well. I have two jars left so am working my way through them by spreading them on crumpets.

There's hot toddy lemon drink, which can work but just be aware too much lemon juice is bad for your teeth. And those lozenges? Well they are mostly sugar. You might get over your cold, but your teeth are not going to thank you unless you brush them every time you suck them.

Now ginger and garlic could work but if you eating the chinese diet everyday which always adds a bit of ginger and garlic to stirfries I'm wondering with so much garlic and ginger consumption, how is it that I'm still getting colds?

Then there's chicken soup. Martha, come here and help me keep warm. Your sacrifice would mean so much to me.

Somehow I don't think my folk remedy advice will be of much help to many people. It will be just telling them stuff they already know. It's just a fact of life that in winter, we get cold. Besides, I shouldn't really be going into Planet FM when I have a  cold cos that means I have to get out of my warm bed, change out of my pyjamas, drive all the way to Pt Chev and try not to cough all over the microphones.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Sims 4 Gardening

It's winter and time to play around with garden ideas and planning and design.
My next endeavour is to shape the entrance to the backyard with some plantings between the garage and the house with a low groundcovers and maybe lavender.  There's a paved walkway between the house and garage and as you enter the backyard. I reckon lambs ears would do well there, and there would be less for Dad to mow. There's also a Japanese maple beside the verandah and I've put some pots of succulents beside the path. Maybe it could be Japanese theme with low mounds of scleranthus and mondo again? It will have to be soft planting not anything spiky or too big.

Margaret invited me over to her place for a cuppa and I came away with a hydrangea and some succulents. So here I go back to the garden to find places to plant them again. She's now got a table and shelves full of succulents to play with and has become a sunshine and succulent fan.

Succulents are perfect for those sunny dry, hard to plant places under the eaves of the house and they do especially well in pots. I was thinking of Margarets' garden spaces and if I were to put my designer hat on  I would have an espalier fruit tree against her brick wall, or perhaps a grapevine, and at it's feet alyssum and thyme, or perhaps a chamomile lawn, which she wouldn't have to mow. Because the rest of her section is completely flat, if she invested in one of those robo mowers it could do the job for her and she wouldn't have to bend or push anything.
Over her defunct clothesline I would plant that wisteria and have it trailing down like laundry. I would remove the dying griselinas and plant South African bulbs and carnations in her sunny raised garden instead. On the fence I would put wires up and have star jasmine covering that wall or ivy geranium. On her bottlebrush tree I would place hanging baskets and put orchids or broms there.

Of course I don't have a magic wand to wave that this would all happen, nor am I the type of person who goes into a house and starts rearranging the furniture uninvited, but..the possibilities! (Actually, maybe I am the type of person itching to have a home of my own to decorate, but alas, I am not wealthy enough for that, maybe it's the nesting instinct, or some librarian gene that requires me to put books in the right order when confronted with a pile). But all I really am doing is placing plants in their right spaces. Which is what a gardener does to create a garden.

There is actually  a video game  called Sims 4 Garden. You  have all these plants and presented with a plot of land to place them all in. But you must do it before they die on you or get eaten by bugs. And if you place them in the wrong place, they will die but in the right place they will thrive. You must also arm yourself with secateurs and pruners before they get out of hand and take over. Oh and weeds will pop up now and again so you have to vigilant at pulling them out.

However I wonder if people that play this game actually garden in real life, just as the people that play Grand Theft Auto go round racing and stealing cars, and the people that play Halo go round with a semi automatics shooting anyone's heads off that they suspect are  aliens.

Well to all you gamers out there I AM playing the real life version. Level one might start off with herbs  in pots and then you graduate to annuals and veges, then trees and shrubs and grander estates. The champion level would be official caretaker or Kaitaiki to an  entire garden community.  You are nominated  Master Gardener to his or her Majesty and awarded an OBE.

I do know that Pu Yi the  Emperor of China abdicated and became a gardener, so the top job must have not been a bed of roses compared to actually looking after a bed of roses. I was never very good at Farmville or those games that were about cooking were you pretended you were cooking by pushing and clicking all these buttons but never got to eat the food you created afterward, because it was all on the screen and you'd spent all your time and money playing a video game with no reward other than it took hours and hours of your free time. Much like writing a gardening blog.....