Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Your allotment in life

The first jonquils are coming into bloom, the magnolia is budding, and it is wet, wet, wet.
For two weeks I rested from cold to wake up and find all the leaves gone and bare trees.
In the garden, I have moved the Chatham Island Forget-me-not to a new home in the back border, as it was being forgotten and eaten by caterpillars underneath the red Busy Lizzie.
Some maidenhairs are now nestled in the rock garden.
Basalm is being trialled in Sock's Bed.
Swan plant had been bashed by the rain and leaning at a dangerous angle. I have placed a rock there to stabilise it. My sweet peas are coming up and finding their way, I suppose I shall have them forever, as one of my most favourite flowers.

I read 'Minding my Peas and Cucumbers' Quirky Tales of Allotment Life.  I am glad I do not have an allotment, we don't really have those in NZ, but a real backyard. In the UK, people get put on years long waiting lists to have one, and the minute they hit the jackpot they have to start cultivating it so they don't get pulled over by the allotment police, who check if weeds are growing. If the plot is all weedy, they can say "Sorry old chap, looks like you not growing anythink, we will give it to the next person who needs an allotment."
This makes for some interesting subterfuges and skulduggery and even sabotage. If you can't get your own plot you can offer to be a co-worker for someone else, but then they get all the credit and possibly most of the produce. Hmm.

If you are working full time, you have to fit in your allotment around weekends and evenings, so the pathetic sight of someone desperately working their garden at night is not far from reality. If their allotment is not worked, well, they gonna lose it aren't they? Some tips are handed down, like, if you have weeds and can't be fagged pulling them out, (or whatever the Brit term is) just cut the tops of them so at least they don't go to seed, and then your plot may be passed by the allotment Police. Then bring in reinforcements, like strawberries and cabbages, so it least LOOKS like you have a garden.

The piece de resistance is to have the most giant cabbage and win the blue ribbon in the Allotment  vegetable contest.  Also you must never tell anyone your garden secrets, lest they steal your glory. You aim is to have the plot that everyone will envy. Then you can smugly say, while talking to your office co-workers as they ask you what exciting plans you have for the weekend, 'Oh working in my garden' and they will go "Cor, you work full time AND do a garden, I don't know how you do it, you model worker you." And then you can smile your smug little smile and pass around the kale chips. Nobody else brings kale chips to office parties, everyone else has store bought pastries and diabetes inducing cakes.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Under the Weather

I have been under the weather lately which means, low cloud, depression, cold, hibernation.
Plant nerds might call this 'stratification'  but I just call it being bloody cold.

From the heated environs of my bedroom I look out the window at my seashell birdbath arrangement. Pretty,  yet incongruous as I haven't ever managed to see a single bird having a dip in it yet. I guess it's too cold. But then why are Mary and Martha losing their feathers in the midst of winter? You'd think they would moult in summer, but then, I suppose if you think about it why don't trees moult in summer and keep their leaves in winter?

Echium has perked up and I think it will live! Yea! Who knows, it may flower this summer. I have high hopes for my flowering plants that I haven't seen in bloom yet, like Kowhai, and Kaka beak and Chatham Island forget-me-not. Maybe these fussy natives are just not obliging me like the exotics because they know they are better than those other common plants that just flower indiscriminately. Maybe they are saving the best for last.

One of my manukas now has white flowers. They are dainty, like confetti. I'm hoping for more and, maybe if I get bees, manuka honey. But we will see. NZ Gardener were giving away Plan Bee seed packets at one time and I don't recall any of the seeds sprouting. I've learned my lesson. I'm a hopeless seed sower. Quite possibly, as soon as I sowed them and they sprouted, Mary and Martha just scratched them out. Chickens and bare soil do not mix.

My friend Nicole alerted me to a plant sale at her church so naturally I got up early on a saturday to snag the best plants. I managed to find a large birds nest fern, a canna lily with striking red foliage, a ground cover with purply flowers and lacy foliage I don't know the name of, and...a boston fern.

When I got home Mum had already decided to dig out my Nikau Palms and banning them from the property. They will grow too big, she says. So now I have two nikau palms free to a good home. Come pick them up. If you are reading this. They make good hammock holders.

I have moved the Kowhai along the border so that maybe I will have height to my border and mum won't notice those creeping buttercups so much. She just thinks its a mess and that I can't even garden. Well. I haven't seen her do anything much except cut things down. She's good at that. I'm like her tall poppy. I can learn a thing or two about creeping buttercups. They still flower anyway, and nobody can cut them down.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

East of Eden

Our garden ramble was enjoyable seeing the autumn colour and to be amongst the tuis and other birds at Eden Garden. Its a very woodland garden set in an old quarry. I love the bromeliad display although Jacqui was disappointed they weren't edible. However they had a cafe there and they do very tasty kumara chips!

My garden has had more tidyup and musical plants, the echium is now in the sunny rock garden as it was being crowded underneath the Chinese Lantern, although looking a bit wilted due to transplant shock I hope it revives. I also shifted an aloe next to it and placed my chinese stool which is now doubling as a bird bath or bird beach because it has a tray with shells on top.

I have rescued the old recycling bin after we harvested the melon that was growing over the neighbors fence which mum made into melon soup.

I have some ideas for further beautification and that is to put more lillies in the corner bed, and more blue coloured succulents to edge the sunny rock garden as I have made it a glaucous theme.  Glacous is the blue-green colour of plants that just looks fantastic in the sun. Also more cuttings  of the Chinese lantern to spread around the border. I checked one cutting and its seems it has taken, so I am pleased about that.

Begonias are now amongst the strawberries in a pot and spider plants are now in the ground. Last night we had a near frost but thankfully nothing looks too affected yet. My uncle just bought a huge load of pebbles for $20 off trademe as he is doing his front yard so I may be able to snag some pebbles off him. He also complimented me on all the work done on my garden so I'm glad someone noticed!

I haven't been reading many gardening books lately as still have a big list and been quite busy with other things but its on my things to do when I can't go outside.

Next on my bucket list of gardens to visit is Mincher, up near Albany/Coatsville. I have heard there's a book called 1001 Gardens to Visit Before You Die. I don't know why they just don't publish one called 1001 Cemeteries You Can Visit While You Are Still Alive.

Friday, 3 June 2016


I can't believe it's June already..no frost yet but its fairly chilly.
My Woodside Gardening Gang are going on a field trip this Sunday to Eden Gardens in Mt Eden. I have been there a few years ago so it would be interesting to see it again in it's autumn glory.

I have pruned one of my feijoas, taking off the lower branches after it fruited as it was a hassle crawling down to pick up the fruit with all the growth! So now it looks more like a tree instead of a shrub.

Beth gave me more plants including a marvelous maidenhair, must take a photo to show you. I have a few more jobs to do at the moment, I'd like sweet peas climbing over my arch this time after my morning glories have died off - or could they all grow together?  And I now have some tulip bulbs to put in spare pots. I also have snowflake bulbs to plant, and have just buried a whole lot of dutch iris under leaves and feijoa prunings. Unfortunately, my bargain $1 kale, silverbeet, spinach, caulis and broccolis which I planted got decimated by the chickens again. Grr. I do have spare chicken wire and netting but it looks so ugly in my formal box beds. I've planted violas there too but no flowers. It's really a random bed that I throw anything in hoping it will grow and survive. Kumara seems to be doing well as it's got tenacious roots.

More snowflakes are going under the olive tree. And I'm planting basalm behind the renga renga lillies. Generally tidying up. I better go as its good weather for gardening. Tulips are now in a pot.