Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The sixth day of Christmas

We harvested the agria potatoes at Woodside today, from 27 potatoes planted we hauled in 260!
I am going to make potato salad with the baby ones and bake the big ones. Yum!

More things have been happening, red busy lizzies or impatiens are now under the wheki fern tree. I had another visitor to my garden, who to my dismay asked if most of my plants were weeds. I concurred that in Auckland, every plant is a weed.
He quickly changed the subject and asked where are the carnations? Over there, I said,  and pointed. Also  I have sweet williams, also known as pinks, or cloves, and they do faintly smell. So I picked one and gave it to him. I wonder if its proper to give a man flowers.

After looking at my garden and pronouncing it 'good' he asked why I didn't have any quotes from Shakespeare. Well I don't know, should a garden have quotes from Shakespeare? I suppose I could put some by Sweet William. 'The quality of mercy is not strained' he suggested, but I thought it would be more appropriate to have 'the rain it raineth every day.'
Then, after saying everything that was missing, like a fountain, I said, if he would like to dig a well or  build a viaduct from the creek he was welcome.

Nevermind. You can't win them all.

I planted my kowhai today, after removing the everlasting spinach that was just a thick stump with no leaves in hopes that it will grow into a tall tree so that tuis can come and feed off the sweet nectar and we wouldn't have to stare at our back neighbours' motorbikes parked in their driveway. Everybody needs good neighbours, but we also need good boundaries, and its much nicer to listen to birdsong in the morning than roaring motorbikes. Our neighbours are somewhat Westies. Actually they are not too bad, so much better than the one we had before who complained if a leaf so much as dropped on his side of the fence. But now thankfully that grumpy neighbour has moved to another galaxy far, far away.

Monday, 28 December 2015

The fourth day of Christmas

Yesterday I went with mum to the West Lynn Gardens and had a wander through the Butterfly House. It was packed with Monarch butterflies and was delightful. They were giving away swan plant seeds so I managed to snag a whole lot. I am going to sow them all along the border.

I took down my licorice plant from the hanging basket where it had grown in a mass and planted it near the driveway under the coprosma as it would make a good furry groundcover, it even has flowers. I think it's too much of a hassle watering hanging baskets from up high, so I may hang something else there instead.

I still plan to buy or snag some red busy lizzies and put them in pots to brighten up the foundations of the house as its a bit bare. I pulled up the vietnamese mint in  the L shaped border and scattered sunflower seeds there, not sure if they will grow big enough there as its shaded in the morning, but I think they would look good there.

For my dad's weather station I was thinking wouldn't it be nice to make a herbal parterre there in a square or diamond star shape. I could have chamomile and thyme growing there.

More plans and ideas - when bluebells and snowflake bulbs are on sale I plan to buy masses to put under the maple tree. More daffodils may be nice too but they may go in the L shaped border as they grow long and scented and would be nice by the pathway.

Our bbq went well, but, I have to say there's some things I need which would be ideal for our bbq, and that would be another bench or table, to sit at, and also, tip - if you barbecuing chicken, do not buy the nibbles!! They are too small, buy the whole wings instead and you must marinate them before you cook them, otherwise they end up being burnt to a cinder. I try telling my family the art of bbq but they don't listen, they just think they can burn any old thing. Grr.

Oh well. At least I had the baked  spuds from Woodside. Delicious.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

The first day of Christmas

Seasons Greetings!

I went to a Boxing Day sale and managed to find a weather vane with a rooster on top and solar light. I have put it in Dad's weather centre, all I need is a sun dial and it may be complete. There are now coloured lights on the verandah rail. I'm a big fan of solar lights.

At Kings, it was 25% of all plants and I found another wheki tree fern, this time a bigger size and that's going in the rocky bed behind the bathroom, to complement the chatham island forget me not and hen and chicken ferns. I've underplanted with spider plants. I put an owl there and some tree stumps. Mum threatened to dig it up, but I hope she doesn't. Tree ferns don't need pruning as they just grow straight up. I just need to remember to keep it well watered, but the gardening books and the tag said it could cope in all sorts of situations. I even read after a bush fire these whekis regenerate quickly. They are very hardy, just need to be shaded and sheltered.

Well everything is set for some summer entertaining and I will be having a bbq tomorrow, so please come along if you so inclined, starts at 6pm.

Bring food and salads and plants.

Or you could just bring a fruit salad plant.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Pukeko in a ponga tree

Well it's technically a wheki tree fern but I now have a nz christmas tree that isn't a pohutakawa.
I planted this little cutie in amongst the terrarium money trees on the shady side of the house. There was a little gap that was the perfect spot for it's graceful umbrella fronds so I put plenty of compost in and now I have another real kiwi corner of the garden.

Sorry no nikau palms, do you know how huge they can get???
I was contemplating that for a while as West Auckland is their natural habitat but..they really need a shady gully and I think they would be a bit out of place on our flat section. Even though I would really like at least two so I can hang a hammock.

Also good news or maybe annunciation - my christmas lilies have bloomed. Their white trumpets are practically announcing Christmas is here. It is the longest day and the summer solstice. Christmas Eve is tomorrow. I haven't hung any stockings up yet.

T'is the season.

Next door is putting up some kind of pergola. Their home improvement is coming along and soon I don't think I'll recognise the place. Maybe my prayers have been answered? I wonder if I can seed bomb their new garden bed with sunflowers...

Another idea I had was to buy one of those push mowers and just mow a garden path and leave the rest of the lawn to grow wild and flower as a meadow. This is because I don't really like noisy lawn mowers. When dad retires and can't mow the lawn anymore I will just abandon the lawn to the elements. I wonder if I will get in trouble with the council for letting the grass grow. I better not say too much as I applied for a city parks job as a gardener and they might think twice about employing me if I express my views.  But then again, they're the ones that abandoned mowing peoples 'berms' and then charged people a horrendous tax for growing anything bearing fruit on them. Which doesn't make sense as we already have olive trees growing on all the 'berms' in our street, that the council provided!

Ok, my cognitive dissonance is going into overdrive. I can just use another by-law to fight the other one they created, by saying lawn mowing is damaging people's hearing and that noise pollution is just as real a nuisance as grass verge or sorry, 'berm' neglect.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Cool Bananas

We planted four banana palms at Woodside yesterday. Jacqui had grown them from seed and they had reached a good size to be planted out. So, in the future we shall add bananas to our harvest!

I am thinking it would be nice to have at least two palms in my garden so I can hang a hammock in between. Bananas may be nice but I'm thinking nikau as its native.

I also put in three bitter melons at Woodside where the peas were, and two busy lizzie cuttings that I don't know if they will take. They are red and christmassy looking. My sister has showed me her 'christmas tree' which is a poinsettia. I have chosen to give the honor to the olive tree that I planted earlier this year, and it now has a sheep and a duck gracing it. I will have to ask the planet Venus to be  my star of Bethlehem and to please shine brighter than all the stars in the sky directly over my tree.

Next door has lit up their deck with lights AND put in some plants and soil to make a raised bed next to the house. I see they have basket ferns and busy lizzies too. I may have to get some busy lizzies as I quite like the hot pink coloured ones, although red or orange would stand out against the house. Or I could try begonias.

I am thinking also of some kind of water feature in my garden. Perhaps just a pond with irises or lillies. I do have a birdbath and various pools of water dotted around for the chickens but it would be nice to have a fountain or bit of running water. Or a wishing well?

My friend Beth has offered me to have a selection of tree ferns or pungas growing wild at her place. So my dream of a fernery may be realised after all!

Went to the New Lynn $1 book sale. I bought three books, one of which is Readers Digest Good Ideas for Your Garden. So be warned the next few rambling garden diary entries may be full of those ideas.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Planning a BBQ

I think it's time to have another BBQ.
I sat down on my lawn and thought. Weather is right. Warm with cool breeze. Daylight saving. Flowers in bloom.

I also thought what if Dad didn't mow the lawn and just left it, save for a few pathways. Then I could have a meadow instead. It will be hard to convince him to not leave our yard looking like a cricket pitch but, why not? So what if nobody else lets their grass run wild. We can be the first. It will save gas.

Then the chickens can lay their eggs amongst the grass and the dogs wouldn't be able to find them so easily if they somehow jumped the fence.

But Dad is so ingrained in his lawn mowing habits. But at least he is composting the clippings. I just think that lawns are really only good if you have the appropriate garden surrounding them. They don't need to be huge and extend all the way around if they are not being used. And that would mean more room for plantings and wildlife and bees.

Anyway. I went for a drive around Auckland the other day over to the North Shore. Its only in places like St Mary's Bay and Freemans Bay, the rich areas that have lots of canopy of trees and hedges. Pt Chevalier is sunny and seems bare. Going over the bridge to Takapuna, are motley collections of 70's houses with a sunny aspect. Then Devonport has some old villas.

Where are the hidden gardens? When I read NZ Gardener they often feature private gardens and its usually a farmer's housewife who transforms a paddock into something wonderful. When they have the 'Heroic Garden Festival' they usually feature suburban gardens from Mt Eden and Remuera. These are the moneyed middle class folk. They also have rich volcanic soil to work with. I don't recall any gardens from Henderson making the grade.

If you go down Lincoln Road what was former vineyards is now Texas Chicken. They have put up more shopping developments where they used to make wine. Chicken seems very popular here. We have Southern fried chicken, Nandos, KFC, Oporto, Indian places serving Butter Chicken, Thai places serving Thai Green Curry Chicken, Chinese places serving Chicken Chow Mein, and Japanese places serving Teriyaki Chicken, Italians places serving Chicken Carbonara.  There's even a Filipino restaurant called Chikos.

Not sure what to think of this sudden chicken invasion along Lincoln Road. But I am thinking BBQ chicken wings for my BBQ served with potato salad.

Christmas Lights and Vita

Just down the road from me, are two houses lit up like Las Vegas. It's Margaret's daughter and her neighbours homes, and they have really gone to town.

I'm sure Santa knows our street now and where to land his sleigh. I have only got measly twinkling solar lights that I have all year round, but they have lights hanging from their spouting, all over their fence, on the lawn, in the bushes, in the trees, hanging out the window, over the driveway....

Mum is so bedazzled that she wants to go have a look. She thinks its much better than a church christmas drive-thru. I'm dismayed. She likes all this razzle dazzle even better than my own garden. Yet if I spend what amounts to a small fortune on mine, she ridicules it.

I find myself buying christmas ornaments, I have three red french hens and a sheep. I hang the sheep off the olive tree and the red hens off the peach tree. Thank you, Salvation Army.

I'm thinking, well, with my haybales I COULD make a manger scene. Just need some sheep, and a holy family in miniature. After all, Margaret's daughter has blow up Santa Claus on their lawn. I could have blow up sheep.

It rains slightly and I don't need to go water the garden. Instead I'm watching the National Trust DVD give tours their gardens, the first episode is a look at the famed Sissinghurt, and an expose of the creator, Vita Sackville-West's life. Did you know she was a lesbian and her husband was gay? No I did not. And they had three children? I don't know how that works...? But they loved each other and the garden.

And when I look at the garden I can't tell if its gay or not.

Anyway. I was thinking maybe it was an English thing. Have same-sex lovers, shock society, but leave behind a lovely garden. Or commit adultery, but still have your grand organic garden like Prince Charles. Or bump off your first wife, but still have your garden like Manderley in the novel Rebecca. It doesn't matter what sins you commit. You are redeemed in the garden.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Training a rose in the way to go

I finally figured out a way to deal with the thorny carpet rose.  Whoever heard of carpets having thorns anyhow?? No matter what I do, they will keep growing back. So  I have trained them up one of those inverted obelisks, I bought two from Mitre 10 and now the thorny scramblers are growing up and won't bother all the other plants in the bed and take over. Hooray!

I will then have a rose tube/pillar thing that will be covered in roses and so anybody stepping in my bed will not be thorned.

We have now put up the arch at Woodside and have cleared a patch to grow gourds. It was not too hard after all, we harvested the swift potatoes, and, I have some more tomatoes to take home to plant. I plan to let them grow as a vine where the sweet peas were.

It did decide to rain yesterday which was welcome.
And actually the last post I meant  'Screens and Boundaries' as the book not 'Beds and Borders' which is also another gardening book I have. They are both by a chap called Richard Bird. They have both got great ideas for gardens.

I put in another Kaka Beak, or clianthus, this time a white heron one as all the red ones were sold out. I think they are pretty shrubs even without the flowers, as the leaves are pea like and glossy similar to Kowhai but more lush. It is now in the corner as it likes sheltered from wind and a sunny spot.

That is all for now, I think I can relax a bit and even sit outside on my deck chairs underneath the umbrella and have dinner as its much cooler outside than in, and I bought two cushions for my chairs as I don't like to sit on hard chairs with my skinny butt. Well, I don't wear a bustle like women did in the olden days.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Beds and Borders

I got the idea from a gardening book called 'Beds and Borders' to make a screen of sunflowers and nasturtiums for my summer border. So I've been taking down my sweet peas which have gone to seed and using them as mulch, and been sowing seeds of said plants amongst the mulch. These nasturtiums can also climb up the fence. I bought 2kg of sunflower seeds from the pet shop so I have plenty to scatter.

I have taken down the netting and now put it around the back border as I have a mass planting of renga renga lily on the bank now, which will also be a summer display. Some melons have started sprouting and it's possible there will be a pumpkin patch. I have also sown some cherry red nasturtiums here as well.

The only annoying thing is my hayfever which I have to run inside at various intervals to blow my nose.

We are having a dry spell and it has not rained for several days. The weather has been cloudy but still holding back on the rain. It annoys me when it's like this and can't make up it's mind.

I don't have anywhere to grow my gourds so maybe next working bee if the arch is put up at woodside I may grow them there.

I have put in my request to Santa Claus so I will see what the first day of Christmas will bring....

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Good morning, glory

I put four morning glories beside the arch so they can grow up the sides. I had grown them from seed in pots and really looking forward to their flowers.

Of course, mum wasn't pleased with the arch and muttered something ...but I didn't hear. She obviously has issues with me spending my own money, but it didn't even cost that much. And then she bought some more junk from the flea market, a food processor which she has nowhere to put in the kitchen, because she ALREADY has one.

Well, she can complain all she wants but as far as I know she hasn't pulled out any of my plants, unlike the chickens. I tell you it's a battleground. I planted three gypsophilias and everytime I put them in the ground, the chickens dig them up. What is it you don't like, chickens? Would you prefer to live in a desert? I can send you to Australia and then you can live in the biggest dustbowl there is.


In other news, I thought, maybe I could take a leaf out of the Grapevine magazine's magazine and solicit people for money. Everytime I glance at one of their magazines they always asking people for money to pay for the cost of you reading it. I mean they don't want to do anything dirty like actually SELL their magazine in the shops like a normal magazine would be sold. Instead it is distributed, like junk mail, and you can pay for the cost of distributing it to your neighbours and keep the editors employed.

As I am writing this for free and you have the privelige of reading it online, I think maybe you could just forward it onto all your interested gardening friends and then...I don't know, I could become gardening guru of the blogosphere/worldwide web/internet/cyberspace/email list, and then one day it may be published in a book of some kind and make someone, i.e. me, very rich indeed.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

I am the vine, you are the branches

The tomatoes have grown unruly so I am cutting off any branches that aren't bearing fruit, to allow the fruitful ones to grow, and the leaves hanging down. I then staked them upright.

I have put up the garden arch. After all that, it wasn't too difficult. It now stands at the entrance of our front garden and I have put two pots at either side, which will have gourds or pumpkins or melons. Some sort of curcubit anyway.

I have repotted the capsicums. At church someone was giving away gladioli, so I took them, they are red ones. The note said 'not genetically engineered' so, bonus, I got pure bred red ones! I put them down the back.

I also took out the big weed that was growing, which I thought at first might turn out to be a hollyhock or some tall flower, turns out, it's just a weed. Some sort of dandelion or yellow flowered looking thing. I was just thinking why are the majority of weeds yellow? You have dandelions, nipplewort, hensbane, groundsel, gorse, hawkbit, catsears, creeping buttercup...all yellow flowered.

And then there's other yellow, non-weed flowers like daffodils, calendula, nasturtiums, kowhai, daisies, evening primrose and sunflowers. I could ask a gardening expert, but not sure what they will answer. I might try the gardening experts at Mitre 10. They might know.

On Saturday, yesterday, we had another working bee at Woodside and I planted two swan plants, an egg plant, and sunflowers. Everyone else was distributing tomatoes all over the show. And we didn't put up the arch. I'm not sure why...when I looked at it I thought, we need a man to do this as it's got screws and looks too big. I was saying to Karyn, where are all the men? Why are all the ladies doing the work? Are we scaring the men away? After all, they make good diggers and mowers.

I thought of putting an ad in the Western Leader saying in big bold capital letters. MEN WANTED. FOR THE GARDEN. WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YA?

It is a possibility they are hiding naked and ashamed in the bushes.
Well too bad. Next time I am just going to put it up all by myself.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Around the garden arch

I saw a garden arch for sale only $15 at Kmart.
I am going to buy one. If mum doesn't like it, too bad. You can't please everyone. I am going to have it over the entrance and attempt to grow gourds off it.
Also Kings are having a special 5 bags of compost for $20.

Then I'll grab some bromeliads from my brother's house, and fill up the water barrels and we are away. Hydrangea is starting to bloom, I have a blue and a pink one.

Dad cut down one of the dying lemon trees so I can't use it to hang my bird feeder off anymore (I found those plastic and metal birdfeeders to be pretty useless anyway). nor my christmas socks.

I put in some scarlet runner beans round the obelisk, and my sunflowers and melons have now sprouted. I have been picking more sweet peas, and my canna lily is blooming red. I have also removed the metrosideros Tahiti to a discreet spot for it to recover and replaced it with a cistus Rock rose. Which looks pretty happy and lush there - it thrives in infertile soil.

My friend Ellen is now working at New Lynn Mitre 10 doing her dream badly paid gardening job. She compensates for the bad pay by sitting 8 hours in front of a computer in her other job which pays twice as much. She says everyone looks to her as the gardening expert now and she told some clueless customers that they don't need to fertilise their plants EVERY week. Also, when a plant is dying, maybe you forgot to water it. I don't know, some people just assume a plant can grow without water. Of course, she confides in me, which I'm now confiding in you dear reader, she doesn't know EVERYTHING but I'm sure she can tell you a lot more than what she knew a year ago.

That tree of knowledge of good and evil did come in handy after all. In fact, I think it pretty much looked like a fake christmas tree that you see people put up this time of the year. THEY don't need watering. Just don't eat the fruit because it's fake.