Sunday, 22 September 2019

Secret Diary of rambling gardener

number of potatoes planted 17
new plants 2 (furry begonias)
weight - still 50 kgs
cigarettes smoked - none, breathed fresh air

Dear Diary

Am still singleton. Asked out mates to movie but no dreamy architect with big garden to look after on horizon. Mr Darcy still ignoring me. Went for cherry tree walk with mum in Cornwall Park but wasn't romantic as blossoms aren't out yet. Looked at all the couples holding hands and running round with dogs. I have no dog and can't run round with Mummy Cat. God it was noisy and annoying.

Big Sis birthday and got the brag she was in Palermo, Sicily, having Italian breakfast with her lovers. Sigh. Mr M still annoying me so I blocked his phone. He kept txting me at 9 in the evening to say goodnight but I don't like being woken up by my phone. 

Am having miserable week. Everyone got drunk at quiz night but had terrible fizzy coke and a dental appointment today. Lord I don't want root canal. Save me from distress. No I don't want to marry a dentist as I have crooked teeth that refuse to be fixed, as I still have no money, my $5 Lotto win didn't go far.  Handsome Gardener man at Woodside just told us he was married the other month, and nobody even knew. We weren't invited to the wedding. 

Bridget Jones eat your heart out. Am ALL BY MYSELF. Sob! On plus side, echium is blooming. 

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Dear Diary

As promised some pics. Spring is here...
Yesterday I caught up with Joanne from Ranui Community Garden and her Rongoa group. We had a working bee and I scored some mint, parsely and mint, vege seeds, and a whole lot of geranium and osteospermum cuttings. 
I did some weeding at the entrance with a Garden Planet listener who I met at Kings Plant Barn. I suspect she's following me around? 
Today the garden wanted me to start Chamomile Lawn number 2. So that's what's going by the Wisteria. 

I was thinking how popular diaries are with the 8-12 year old set. Dork Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Puppy Diaries. Ella Diaries. The Diary of Anne Frank. I'm wondering if Rambling Garden Diary will join the heights of literary famedom, but I suspect not. Besides, it's no secret, it's a blog, and while it contains some overtones of 'my parents don't understand me' it doesn't have the cartoony pictures or drama of man-eating plants. Perhaps if I wrote a crossover spinoff like The Secret Garden Diaries. But then I wouldn't have time to be a librarian/gardener would I? Follow the thrill of the seasons as winter turns into spring. Oh no are Selina's plants going to die in the summer drought? Will her dad cut down her tree again? On Valentines Day, Selina doesn't receive any roses or chocolates. Will Selina stay single forever??

Bees and Butterflies

Echium in bloom

Upgraded Riverpark playground at last...with carex and pratia planting

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Adopt an orchid

Spectacular Orchids were on show at the annual Orchid Show held at Kelston Community Centre.
Fab Garden Mama Brigita came along and adopted one, while my own Mum persuaded me not to adopt any as we already had quite a few under the citrus trees. No pink ones though just yellow cymbidiums and those tiny 'poor man orchids'.

You can join an orchid club and get really into it, the showiest ones win cups and trophies. Some tips - you can grow them in tree forks or ponga logs, and they look spectacular in hanging baskets. Grow them in bark, not potting mix and make sure they are well drained and in indirect sunlight, in a sheltered spot.

We bought posies for $5 each and now I have one sitting in the living room that will last months. I think orchids are like the plant equivalent of ladies shoes. Shoe aficianodos can't stop at one they have to all kinds. You have your Nike airs and ones with racing stripes, your peekaboo toes, and your slippers. Once you start with one you can't stop...

I didn't find any plants on my shopping list but did come across big pouches of flower seed at Mitre 10 going for $5 with mulch and fert included. They say Gro-sure' but whenever anyone mispells a word like 'grow' I'm rather sceptical. However they come with a 100% personal guarantee so, if they don't 'gro' I will write to Kiwicare and complain.

Still on the lookout for an architect to date. Hmm no takers. You would think they would be cruising round the garden centres looking for gardeners to help them set off their designer houses. Or maybe you have to call them. I don't know I've kinda given up on dating. I think it only works if you just date your friends, then you don't need to worry who calls first. If a man can't set up a proper date (movies are not dates! Movies are boring, go to sleep affairs, like going out to watch TV basically) then sorry I'm just not interested.

My next blog posts are going to be all pictures because...spring has sprung! Hooray. Once I figure out how to do it. I'm supposed to be all tech-savvy, but actually I still read books. I'm just used to cutting out pictures and pasting them on pieces of paper, with glue. I still do that sometimes. I can't press flowers online. It just doesn't work.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

The Garden Bible and other stories

First thing's first...
My plant shopping list for this season -

Lachenalia bulbs. Not sure where to get them from but Myra really wants them. She claims they were all dug out and disappeared and now she's moved house and she doesn't have any.

White Ice Protea. Els requests some seeds. I have no idea where to find the seeds, if they have any right now. I reminded her that the church lawn mower man did mow over our proteas and I didn't replace them.

Honeysuckle. I want to trial this one over our chicken wire fence.

Herbs - my cabbage bed I might plant up with more herbs if my village green seeds don't sprout. I think I may have sowed them too early. Herbs such as parsely and peppermint, and hyssop, maybe borage.

I think that's all.
I've been reading Gordon Collier's gardening memoir called Anacapri. No he didn't move to the Riviera this is this the plantsman's new garden on a 1/4 acre section in Taupo. Got lots of photos of interesting plants. I never met the guy but apparently he's like the top gardener in horticultural circles. He mentored my former boss. He doesn't have a lawn in his section its all crammed with plants. I think when the time comes when our lawnmower conks out and Dad doesn't want to mow it anymore then I will either garden the entire section or get some sheep  or rabbits in to eat the grass.

Another book I found in the library is called 'The Garden Bible'. No it doesn't have the story of Adam and Eve in the garden its more about 'Designing your perfect outdoor space' that is..if you have tonnes of money and live in the USA. I think they just have bigger houses in America from what I've seen, and larger sections when Americans come here and see our houses they probably think what cute little shacks we have, our houses are like garden sheds to them. They think nothing of having an outdoor kitchen and swimming pool, and firepit and they want to entertain guests at these pool parties on the 4th of July. I think its a bit weird to see a fireplace just smack bang in the middle of a yard with seating all around, cos its not even heating up a room or any practical's just 'to add drama and a focal point to the landscape'.

It says 'Most homeowners are familiar with many of the main architectural styles - Mediterranean, English Tudor, French Country, Contemporary/Modern to cite a few.'. Oh really. I wonder if there's a book for non home-owners that don't have a choice, and our main styles are - State House, Kitset, Prefab and Container. There's also Rotting Villa, Leaky Building, Pole House A frame, Bungalow and Art Deco. The Bungalow sounds like the most fun while you can't do much with an Art Deco house except put in a few succulents and yuccas here and there for you will ruin the architectural lines of your shoebox house.

FYI the house I live in is Kitset. Kitset shotgun to be precise but the good thing about it is it's made from bricks, so the Big Bad Wolf can't blow it down, no matter how hard he huffs and puffs. I have the added precaution of a buxus hedge but strange thing is my brothers left gaps in the hedging that's why I'm thinking of adding the honeysuckle, to grow over the chicken wire. All my neighbours across the road have white picket fences even though none of them have small children, but one does now have chickens and I suppose that keeps them in.

Should gardeners marry architects? I don't know but they are the ones writing all these Garden Bibles because most people can't afford them. I don't know if there are actually many homeowners in my street and most of them I don't want to copy their garden. Maybe if I lived in Remuera and was envious of someone elses and coveted their garden, I would say well how did you do it and they would say well I didn't my designer did it, here's their number call them.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Wintergarden visit

The Auckland Domain Wintergarden was looking candy-coloured on Sunday when I dragged Mum along for a gardening stroll. The Te Atatu Floral Circle had suggested a field trip, but there weren't many keen to venture outdoors this weekend. So I thought, well, I have the car and I will travel.

There were delphiniums, cineraria, lachenalia in baskets, cyclamen, violets, and garish tulips. It was blue, red, purple, yellow, orange and green. Yep the whole rainbow. Auckland Wintergardeners you've done us proud. In the tropical house, there was my favourite Chenille Plant with the furry red catkins, the chocolate cacao plant, the pitcher plants, the giant heliconia, ginger and banana, psychedelic coleus, snaky snake plants, and eyepopping hypoestes. And it was nice and warm. I thought I saw some chairs set out for a wedding ceremony, but no sign of bride or groom.

We ordered hot chocolates at the kiosk, while sparrows flew in and out. Then we made the trek up to the Auckland Musuem. Unfortunately, the Musuem wasn't so exciting or wondrous, or maybe I'm a bit jaded? They had an exhibit on bags called Carried Away, and not being a fan of bags I wasn't so impressed. There were handbags and shopping bags, I guess some people would be absolutely fascinating but to me it was very boring. They had also taken away the vintage Auckland street display and the old childhood toys, which is the highlight of the museum in my opinion and hidden it away in some other part not open to the public.

I don't remember much else having seen dried up skeletons and stuffed animals and rocks all before with Darwinist type pronouncements of how millions of years old they were. Now I reckon if they actually had some living plants in the Auckland Museum it wouldn't be so exhausting visiting.  Why not a few indoor plants, and you could even say they were millions of years old if you wanted to, why because they tell white lies about the age of everything else. But thing is, they wouldn't be consigned to history because these plants are still ALIVE and you could even attach little labels next to them and say for example, PONGA FERN.  Cyathea Medullaris. First discovered in 1842. But actually about a million or so years old. Around at the time of the Moa. Named after so and so. Native to NZ. Still alive today in our Musuem. A toanga and symbol of our nation.

Just an idea.

After having strolled about and of course looking in the museum gift shop (bought a Maori dictionary as I need to learn more rongoa names) we left the Museum and the parking lot for greener pastures.

Today I did about half an hour of gardening which involved shifting and separating some plants, more rearranging. Frangipani and hibiscus have swapped places. Fig tree is now by the steps. Nerines are now in a pot. Aloes are separated, and succulents, and nasturtium. I'd weeded the new winter cabage bed in preparation for spring. And Mum had removed all the mugwort from one bed, which I'd seeded with left over green manure mix. This time, all the mustard and lupins are sprouting, so why does the packet say to sow in autumn when the lupins don't sprout? I reckon I've been a bit gypped to buy the green manure mix that doesn't germinate half the time when it says to sow it.

Dutch Iris are have just come up. Penstemons are showing, as are gladioli. It's going to be a glorious spring...

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Gardening magazines and recent reads

Does anyone read or subscribe to magazines anymore? Apparently not...according to my Garden Planet focus group results. Thanks so much for coming everyone who participated, Louise for the yummy lemon cake and sandwiches and everyone elses' input. Everyone goes online. I forgot to ask...exactly WHERE online do people look for gardening help but I suppose like everyone else they just all go to Google.

Well good news you can just type in Garden Planet FM into Google and it will come up. We don't have quite the world-wide-web reach of the entire solar system/universe yet, but..we are just gardening ONE planet at a time here.

Funny thing is Kiwi Gardener magazine arrived at my place yesterday, I ripped open the plastic for September's issue, which had Rhododendrons on it (which I don't grow, unless you count azaleas as rhododendrons) flicked through, and thought, I don't really need this. I mean it's nice, got pretty pictures, and articles, but then I have tonnes of magazines already, many past September issues, and the ads are all the same just telling you to buy more plants and sometimes, shock horror, weedkillers.

Ok so I must be over the whole magazine thing. That's why a whole lot of them ended up in the library fridge. You could win a trip to Great Barrier Island, but for Aucklanders that's like winning a trip to the Sky tower. Granted there may be some gardens there but not anything much different to what we can grow on the mainland. Anyway I'm rethinking my strategy and decide its not really worth it write into these magazines because by the time I've told them stuff publication deadlines have passed or I will end up writing myself to death and start spouting 300 words of drivel like Joe Bennett in the fancier rival publication NZ Gardener. Sorry Joe Bennett. I know you try every month to come up with something amusing, but let's be brutally are of no practical garden help. I am not sure why he gets a separate column from all the other plant loving gurus in that magazine.

Now Soil and Health magazine Organic NZ is very quite interesting but it does suffer from the whole organic ethos of unless you own a huge tract of arable land off grid and do everything yourself by recycling your own toilet paper to eating rabbits,  you can't really do anything about all the horrible stuff thats happening everywhere else. And sometimes its a victim of it's own success. Ok you've managed to produce a world class organic product so what do you do...ship it overseas and contribute to more global warming? Cos the only people that can afford to buy your product are overseas? And if you don't can you afford to make a living off your own land? See...doesn't work does it?

Anyhow magazines aren't really where its at anymore (my school library doesn't even have them...I weeded them all out, and they are an absolute pain to shelve and cover and label) but I still have lots of respect for gardening books that aren't disguised as advertisments for a landscaping company. Although they still can turn into Joe Bennett like polemics. Like the one I read recently 'Gardens in the sun' by Trevor Nottle who wrote an entire book about how he lived in South Australia and just couldn't create an English style garden in the desert. It just doesn't work. Well I could have told you that. But then he advocated planting lots of agaves and yuccas. Noooo. Come on you can do a bit better, if its warm and dry and somewhat Mediterranean, you don't have to resort to prickly pear and yuccas. How about a few phoenix palms for shade. Yes they are a pest in Auckland but in Australia they could be very welcome and you can have your possums back too. And gum trees and wattles. You have all your lovely red coloured rocks and didgeree do dreaming patterns and noisy birds too so appreciate what you've got.

Another recent read was also funnily enough Australian -Inga Simpson wrote a memoir about a life amongst trees in the hinterlands of Brisbane called 'Understory'. She wrote a lot about gum trees and koalas and complained about gecko poo in her cottage which I imagined she lived in the bush like writers do in Titrangi when they don't want anyone bothering them. But she didn't write a word about possums. I think it's time for those possums to head back, the greedy overstayers and leave our cabbage trees and pohutakawas alone. I was expecting a whole Enid Blyton adventure like Folk in the Faraway Tree but no it was all about how the Global Financial Crisis ruined her writers retreat venture because she borrowed too much money to live in the bush and couldn't pay it back. She was also paying someone else to cut down firewood to heat her cottage even though she had trees all around her, and I was hoping she would be growing mushrooms or making treehouse swings or something but no all she wanted to do was write. Ok I don't get that I really need is a piece of paper, maybe a lap top and no interruptions (tip, do it in the night or morning before anyone else is up) you don't really need to run away and live in the bush. Great book cover though.

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!!!!