Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Summer Daze

I have just changed all the calendars to December. How time flies!

NZ Gardener magazine has offered me three free issues subscription. They gave me the November issue but now it's December so perhaps that will turn up in the post soon.
I am thinking next year I would like to do the Auckland Permaculture Workshops course or design certificate. The only thing is I have no money to do it, so am hoping to have a scholarship or a job soon that would pay for it. I was offered the caregiving role but when found out the pay, well you don't want to know. For the hours and the getting to and from work, that kind of pay would hardly cover the cost of petrol to even do the job. And from what I heard can be quite demanding, although at the interview I wasn't really given much information about the role. Seriously what they offered was a joke and I was like no thanks.

So it's back to the drawing board. The SIT landscape design course by distance I am no longer interested in. Funnily enough I did go down to Invercargill were SIT is situated and where they (unhelpfully) suggested I get a job down at Diacks nursery, but we were only there for a day passing through and spent most of the time in glorious Queens Park. They even have tuataras.

This morning since I'm barred from planting new plants (or is it only trees?) there isn't much to do, but I was thinking about the snow in summer if it would grow near the groundcover plants or would it look out of place. I have seen pictures of it where it spreads for what seems like metres carpeting the ground with silvery leaves and snowy blossoms, but I already have a native pratia (which is also called snow in summer) that seems to have done well.

My attempt at sowing scarlet runner beans like Jack and the beanstalk seems to have failed. I heard they don't taste very nice anyway and are more of an ornamental bean. Nevermind the Coral Pea seems vigorous enough and when the sweet peas die down I may take it out of its pot and plant it permanently near the arch.

I'm thinking of having sweet peas in clear bowls and little posies for the church and pots of cyclamen. Or maybe even gerberas.  Just for something different.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Flower Power

Yesterday it rained, I had sown phacelia, and scattered pumpkin and citrus seed around. There was a working bee at Woodside on Saturday, got a lot done weeding and mulching the asparagus patch, putting pumpkins in tyres, moving the eggplants and capsicums to a new sunnier bed and deciding what to grow over the arch (passionfruit, maybe??)

This week I really need to get started with my flower arrangements for church on Sunday. The church I currently go to does not have a flower ministry, it seems they get artificial ones in, but as you know artificial flowers are no substitute for the real, fragrant thing. So the other local church which has always had real flowers have kind of lured me away. Besides I have already put real flowers in their hanging baskets outside and in garden beds the artificial flower church so I hope I have done enough. They had eschewed a garden bench so there is literally nowhere to sit, so I figured maybe my efforts were being wasted.

I am thinking of joining the Te Atatu Floral Circle, which has always urged me to come but it's been on Tuesdays and I always had class on Tuesdays. However now I am free perhaps I will go. Last week was out shopping and came across a wall hanging that said 'God cares for the flowers, how much more will he care for you?'. I had not thought how flowers were an important ministry before but without flowers, how does anyone get fruit?

Friday, 25 November 2016

Flowers blooming now

Peace lily, geranium, love-in-the-mist, lobelia, rose, feijoa, chinese lantern, sweet pea, dietes, thyme, daisy, calendula, lavender, dutch iris, buttercup, canna lily, cyclamen, swan plant, manuka, jasmine, grevillea, cabbage tree, rock rose, nasturtium, alyssum..

Just to name a few. Photos may come.
I was sitting on my picnic table bench the other day and removed my glasses as I was upset about something mum said and was crying. As you might know I am short sighted so without them everything was a blur. Then I really saw my border and it was beautiful. The fragrance, the bees buzzing, the colours, the birds and the butterflies. The colours all fused together to become like one of those fuzzy impressionist paintings by Monet.

I couldn't believe my eyes. Had I created that? Well no, I just arranged them so. God created these plants, I just planted them.

I put my glasses back on and saw what mum saw. Too many different plants and certainly some of them must be weeds in a jumble. But I don't care, its beautiful.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Looking up

Since I posted last I've been called for interview and may have a bit of paid work in the future. No its not gardening but caregiving, which I suppose is similar to gardening in a way. Helping people in the autism spectrum to grow.

I don't know if any of the clients would be into gardening, but will find out when I get there I suppose. Since my plans are all up in the air at the moment and have just finished in school, maybe its time to just take stock and sit back and enjoy the garden.

We are in for some hot weather as yesterday I was really feeling the heat, and desperately needing the cool shade of a tree. I appreciate nothing more on a hot summers day withe the blazing sun overhead. Mum and Dad had a big tussle over the fig tree I tried to plant by the garage and its now been decided to plant it just outside the back fence so we can still have figs but not inside our property.

I hope the fig survives because it was doing quite well in its pot in my alcove but I can't keep it in its pot forever, I saw it looking a bit droopy plus anything in pots over summer require lots and watering.  Mum said figs can grow really big and she didn't want it by the garage. I suppose I do have plenty of trees on the boundary although none of them are big enough to provide decent shade yet. The tangelo tree does provide some respite except for the whitefly. I'm hoping the neem powder will do its work. With our ozone hole and UV rays especially strong over summer I do value any shade/canopy but mum is the  opposite, she seems to be of the minimalist concrete block/rectangular lawn/ordered rows/clipped hedges style of gardening. Anything that looks curved or wavy or just sort of out of control gives her nightmares. That I was able to get away with the mix of shrubs and trees I now have in the borders is a miracle. If she had her way it would be just nothing above knee height.

I have some more gardening books to look at.
Here are some of the titles -

The ornamental Edible Garden by Diana Anthony
1001 Plants to Dream of Growing (the title changed from 1001 plants to grow before you die)
Plot by Meredith Kirton
Sepp Holzer's Permaculture
Flower Arranging by Judith Blacklock

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

waste of time

I am not allowed to plant any more trees.
I have to get a paid job soon otherwise, I will just keep gardening. But where to find these jobs that pay? I keep having the dentist call me wondering why I haven't seen them in 18 months, and the doctor shall I just tell them I can't afford to see them right now?
My car is due in for a service, and I need to pay off some debts for a holiday that cost more than I thought it would due to some expensive dining out. Could have bought a whole crayfish dinner for that amount of money...but at this fancy restaurant we were dining off rocks, I kid you not. They weren't even rock plates just rocks!

Today am going to beeswax my picnic table to stop it from rotting, as I got it from the dump as can't afford a  brand new one, or a proper raised garden bed which is why I tried to make a huglekultur one. That didn't go down well with mum.  Thankfully my deck chair arrived and its even better than the ones I saw that were more expensive at the Warehouse.

When the working day is done, girls just wanna have fun. I think maybe I will apply to pick strawberries, I'll risk getting cancer later for the prestige of saying I have found paid work. Hey its a job. I have even had some wiseguys once suggested to me I try prostitution. It's legal, and there are more ads for that in the paper than there are genuine jobs.

hmm. What should I write in my ad. Hot petite asian with green fingers. 18+ $60/hour. Call me.

Monday, 21 November 2016


I have decided to make a hugelkultur mound down the corner so I can grow chillies and maybe kumara.
I have a whole lot of logs and twigs to make the mound with, just need to dig a bit to bury it all, have a whole compost heap to turn in, and then some soil and straw mulch on top. I won't need to buy any raised bed edging, I hope. I have kinda made  the beginnings of one on Mt Asher but hadn't really completed it. That one is edged with volcanic rocks a friend gave me.

Now we only have one chicken there will be less chance of damage. I hope to make it today as got most all the materials.

I have vetoed the idea of the bbq for now as last night Mum just said something that made me think, if I have it she'll just be nagging me all the time, plus there is no wheelchair access except outside. I cannot even serve dinner without her telling me what I didn't do, even if I was going to do it immediately after. I wonder if its just a mum gene that makes mothers want to henpeck all the time. Plus because she doesn't know how to bbq she will be put out if I have one, last time we had one and invited my friends she just sulked because she wasn't the star of the show. Then she complained about all the food, even when she was devouring it. I can only explain this to friends who have similar mothers. Others will try and reassure me, oh but I'm sure your mum really loves you, but they don't have to live with their mothers!  Let's just face the truth, and not have this silly idea that all mothers automatically love all their children and know how to show it or that children have a choice in where they live, because, if I actually had a place to go I wouldn't be here. Besides, this is MY home too I'm native NZer and I cant be kicked out like some tenant, overstaying immigrant or bastard child.

Thankfully someone else is offering to have a summer bbq so I will not miss out,  but I would really like to use my kettle one soon as have got the rosemary, charcoal and nut husks for it. This is real bbq not gas, and you can taste the difference and I have three bbq recipe books I want to try.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Pot Luck

My task for today was to find Hardenbergia Violocea or Coral Pea climber for my arch. So far I have grown both annual vines morning glory and sweet pea and in Woodside it was ornamental gourd, but I would like something permanent and a friend suggested 'Happy Wanderer' which is a cultivar name of  type of vine/climber. She didn't know what it really was so I looked it up and now you know.

I didn't want more annual vines as the arch looks bare over winter, and already have jasmine growing over my alcove am really pleased to find two vigorous climbing coral peas at Kings. The plant is an Australian native and flowers over winter, bringing bees and butterflies. Bonus! This cultivar is called 'free and easy'. They are still in their pots for now until I decide to dig a hole for them but it seems they like rocky soil.

Mitre 10 also had two spanish lavenders, quite sizable for $3.  Originally they sell for $12 each! I picked them up and now they are in my sunny backyard border filling gaps, along with ivy geranium and festuca glauca liberated from their pot. The dying sweet peas filled another tyre.

I think am happy with my garden now and just waiting on my deck chair  to be delivered so can sit back and relax with my copy of  NZ Gardener Fresh from the Garden. I could also lie on my sun lounger and had a lovely nap yesterday and it's as good as a hammock.

BBQ time, still deciding on whether to have it this month or later in January. I suppose it doesn't matter usually its just you decide on the day because of the weather and whoever turns up will turn up. I have given up trying to coordinate parties and making sure people attend because people are just notorious for saying 'oh I'll come' and then don't show. Or 'I'll listen to your show' and then don't.

You can listen to some Book Chooks opine about gardening books here.

Friday, 18 November 2016

In the Zone

I suppose you could say I was 'in the zone' for gardening as yesterday I continued rearranging plants and now have removed all the ginger lilies except for a few in the corner in the rock bed so they are not crowding the other plants. They have now been moved to more suitable spots in the garden, a large clump by Sock's clivia and more in the flaming canna bed. I pulled up sheets of plastic 'mulch' from underneath and thought it was horrible stuff and never did a good job of suppressing weeds anyway, plus another disadvantage of black or plastic mulch you can only lay it down on an empty bed and then plant things through it, by cutting slits in plastic, it won't work if you already have a garden. I've tried thick cardboard mulch but the creeping buttercup now just grows right through it.  Where there is plastic mulch the beds are as dry as a bone and the soil, compacted and unable to breathe beneath it.  Where there is no mulch creeping violet (but white) has taken over, which looks quite lovely and no longer think of as a weed. It works sort of  like ivy although non climbing and when all knitted together makes a good ground cover.

I have learned to live with a few buttercups which, if my shrubs continue to grow to shade the area they will eventually die out, hopefully. En masse in flower they look quite pretty but I suppose it would never do for a garden magazine! Ceanothus 'blue sapphire' has room to spread its joy, I have liberated the echeverias from their pot and put them in more prominent places in the bed, as sort of have a glaucous blue theme in my garden, slash sub tropical. Not sure how this works but the trio of gardenia, ginger lily, frangipani are going to work together and may become a quartet if hibiscus wants to shoot up as well.

The blue/purple trio is lavender, ceanothus and echium. Then I have pinks scattered around, like sweet william, lambs ears, and thyme.

Beth's geraniums are now gracing the terrace/porch and I now have a sun lounger thanks to Trade-me it was only $5! My deck chair is coming soon too for the deck. I moved the circular cafe table and red chairs to one part of the deck and the picnic table is now under the shade of the tangelo tree. So now with that sorted I think I'm  nearly ready for the bbq season and parties. Bring on summer!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Gardening month

Looks like its gardening month for me as this is my tenth post and it's only halfway through November. Loretta invited me over for a tour of her garden where her geranium cuttings are doing well, and she has filled her front path with pansies, larkspur, petunia and marigolds.  By the side of the house she has made a vege garden and there is an island perennial bed.

Not to be outdone, I decided I better get cracking on my weed bed (now 1/3 weeded) near the drive. I had been contemplating last night of moving my hydrangea that is beside the garage to the side of the house where it can be seen, but also shaded from the sun to be next to the red camellia. Well now camellia has a friend, and she also has more companion plants I have moved and they include  two Nandina heavenly dwarf bamboo 'Firepower', one red edged hebe, a nasturtium, two red impatiens, one red spider flower grevillea, a crassula, and a diosma breath of heaven. It's a bit of a red theme.

On the other side of the house, I have taken the frangipani out of her pot and planted next to the gardenia. So she is directly under my bedroom window, and any fragrant flowers I will be able to reach down and pick from my window. The two star jasmines I have planted to climb up the alcove on the northern side.

I have also tided up ferndale and moved the birds nest fern to centre stage, created a corner next to the steps for bromeliad, succulents and gastria.

I am now tired and think I'm ready for a long soak in the bath and an early night. I cut a rosebud for mum, she's still getting over the loss of Mary. Now that we are one less chook, Martha is getting extra attention. She has been hanging out under the rosemary, go figure. Rosemary for remembrance. Poor Mary.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Its raining, hallelujah!

Its not raining men, though, so sorry for all those who read this and  think the man drought has ended. Although having said that, a few men have decided to join us at Woodside so its not all on the ladies. Thank you Giles, Pierre and (sometimes) Mike.

I bought two more  star jasmines as was thinking of having them for a ground cover but then thought maybe they can go by my alcove as they really are sunlovers for a flower screen and my grapevine hasn't taken off yet. I can't seem to find a good climber or ground cover for the rest of the back rock garden that would cover the area and mum doesn't like ivy. Perhaps snow-in-summer? The native pratia took but the other pratia didn't, maybe I will just have more lithospermum. Becauses snow in summer has silver foliage and it might look out of place. I would love virginia creeper to clothe the wall but I can't seem to find it anywhere, and same for climbing hydrangea.

I also considered rugosa rose as I pulled out a sickly rose on the weekend by the chain link fence, being a bush, it wouldn't scramble along and as you know I'm not keen on the thorns. But Kings didn't seem to have any old-fashioned ones althought there was one called Blackberry Nip that came as a climber with a wonderful fragrance although that will set me back $40 and not sure if I'm prepared to pay that much for one plant that may or may not live.

More musical plants - pink manuka Wiri Kerry is now where the gardenia used to be in the corner, and the gardenia is now next to the dragons gold kowhai. Maidenhair fern in a pot that died down is now with fruit salad plant, and I have cut down the twiggy azaleas in Socks (and now Mary's) bed.

Here are my top plants for this year and my flop plants

Muelhenbeckia Complexa 
This native vine has taken off and become a lovely screen for the back of Fluffy's butterfly garden
Star Jasmine
Has also put in lots of growth, now with flowers!
'Pink Perfection' Cabbage Tree
This one is a stunner, I hope it continues to be pink and grow tall, thanks Loretta for choosing this one
Canna Lily
Gorgeous red has multiplied and the leaves are great too, thanks Nicole's mum!
Fruit Salad Plant
Love the leaves, thanks Beth for this cutting

Pratia 'Country Park'
I suppose my garden isn't really a country park so it didn't want to grow for me.
Iresine 'Beefsteak'
Loretta gave me cuttings, they grew for a bit but then died. I should have grown them in pots, maybe the chickens got them, shame as they a glorious hot pink colour
Passionfruit 'Black Beauty' 
I had about four but they never did well, even when coddled
Boston fern
I tried planting these out but they don't do well out of their pots
Everlasting Daisy 'Paper Cascade'
Succumbed to mites and didn't last long!

Also yesterday I won a copy of NZ Gardeners latest Organic Gardening publication! Apparently one of my tips is in there so I received a complimentary copy. I forget what tip it was as I gave them many so when I've read it all will find out!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

How does Mary's garden grow?

Socks is now sharing his bed with Mary. This morning I planted the pink cabbage tree where Mary is buried. I have also divided the pink chinese lantern and moved it there along with a hen and chickens fern.

Martha is coping on her own but looking a bit lost now her sister is gone. Mum went to work today although yesterday she was pretty sad. It's too soon for another hen and Martha won't like any replacement. I have to go check on her soon, she lays soft eggs and refuses to eat any laying pellets. Martha, being slimmer and perhaps faster, managed to escape the dog's jaws but Mary, being plump and not so fast, could not get away. I have seen her trying to jump the fence, Martha can but Mary just couldn't jump high enough.  Mum also rigged the gate with an extra wire so it can't swing free. Dad is going to be more careful with closing the gate, as it was left open and the dog saw the opportunity.

Now I am feeling rather bewildered and lost. I didn't mean to make my garden a cemetery but there are memorials for Fluffy, Socks, Snowy, Mary, not to mention cats past, Sparky next door who loved rosemary, Meo the original cat, Pepper the crazy cat, Book, Camilla, Henry and Georgina the previous chickens..and Mt Asher is for Iraena.

Went to the Parnell Rose Garden festival yesterday and smelled the roses. Nancy Steens' Garden was looking lovely. It was blooming with cottage favourites, roses, leading into a white garden circle with a fountain in the centre. I am going to bone up on flowers and flower arranging for the church in December. I was also asked to help a church lady tidy up her garden, Myra who gave me the daisy cuttings.

I have several plants I want to search for at Kings and not sure if they have any but I am after
Climbing Hydrangea
Virginia Creeper
Rugosa rose
Chamomile for a carpet

My renga renga lillies are in bloom and the back border is coming away with new growth. I haven't decided on a date for my summer BBQ Garden party yet, but I did see a check table cloth and matching umbrella at the craft show that is just what I'm after for my picnic table.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

RIP Mary

Sad news,  the Midian neighbours dog has killed poor Mary. It got in the gate as their's had swung open and Dad left ours open. We didn't hear anything as Mum was making fish balls with the mincer and Dad was playing his radio loud. Martha escaped but Mum found feathers all over the yard and Mary in the dog's mouth, she died soon after.

We have buried her in Sock's bed, and I may plant the pink cabbage tree there in memory of her.
Mum is heartbroken.

She was a good hen and gave us many eggs. *sob* if you reading this please say a prayer for Mum she's devastated.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Finding Neem

 I don't know if this works, but I will give it a go anyway. I have just sprinkled Neem Tree powder all underneath the tangelo tree along with vermicast to combat whitefly. Neem tree oil is also available to spray, along with granules, but I thought my best bet would be a powder sprinkled from the trunk to the drip line, so it can be absorbed through the roots. It does have a strong but not unpleasant smell, that will hopefully repel these insects which seem to have taken a great liking to my tree.  The neem tree has all these pest repelling wonderful properties that is just as good as Yates spray just like the soapnut tree washes my laundry and I don't have to use Persil automatic.

I have also learned that commercial citrus tree fertiliser is not good, maybe you can have too much of a good thing. The tree will grow, but maybe too well and thus be susceptible to attack, like how good looking, attractive people always seem to attract trouble in their lives. Well its true, look at all those Hollywood actor types. They always getting high on drugs cos they can't handle the fame.  But it's all surface, inside, they are weak. Commercial fertilisers are like plant steroids. They give terrific yields but at what cost? Apparently you can gain the world and lose your soul.

I hope the same  thing won't happen to my meyer lemon tree. I bought this lemon tree on whim from Pak n'Save before I seriously started gardening. Unlike my yucca which I regretted buying the meyer lemon is proving to be a good investment.  Nothing will kill it, and it has been moved several times. It's even flowering now and may set fruit this year. Meyer lemon is residing in Fluffy's butterfly patch surrounded by manuka,  muhlenbeckia, chinese lantern, kowhai and jasmine. So I have a yellow and white theme going on here. I have mulched them with pea straw and feijoa prunings. Mary and Martha even lay a clutch of eggs in the corner which weren't discovered for a few days, how my parents missed the eggs I don't know,  but they found out and are now back to laying in the cage.

Meyer lemon is replacing the sad old lemon tree next to the tangelo that was on it's last branches. We had several other lemon trees in pots that never did well, they all succumbed to borer or scale or some other sap sucking insect. Ruud Kleinpaaste the bugman would know. Lemon trees are New Zealand's iconic backyard tree, every home has one. It has to be Meyer because they are the most frost hardy.

Lemons can be used for all sorts of household recipes, as both dessert, drink, and cleaner. How is that for versatile? Much as landscape designers seem to love yuccas and other architectural plants that are really, quite useless, I am in praise of the lemon tree. Because when life gives you lemons, you can always make lemonade.


I forgot to mention the author of the book I mentioned - Terry Hershey. The title is 'Soul Gardening'.
I have just put in some new plants for our church hanging baskets - they now have cascading lobelia in blue, petunia in white and nasturtiums. I've planted up the little playhouse windowsill with pansies and more nasturtium, and the garden bed now has a rosemary.

My groundcover bed now has oregano as well. Its slowly being carpeted. I had a visitor to my garden today, and was given a tip to get rid of whitefly thats buzzing around my tangelo, use neem oil. I'm not keen on spraying so am using neem powder instead to get to the roots, and heard worm castings will also help build up the tree's immunity.

This weekend all things are happening in the gardening world, there's the Parnell Rose Festival which is on every November, rain or shine, and NZ Gardener editor Lynda Hallinan is opening up her garden to the public this weekend. I'm not sure if I can make it since its all the way east in Hunua.  Foggydale Farm she calls it. I don't really have a cutesy name for my garden but I call this land of mine Iranasea. Its been called that ever since I remember. I'm not sure where the name came from but it stuck.
It's kind of like 'Gondawanaland' that mysterious landmass which happened to break up when the land got divided in the days of Peleg (look in the Bible for that bit of history) after Noah's Ark. Or was it before? I'm not sure.

Iranasea is divided up into several states, there's Pussycatland, Jemima Land, Glenpurple, Washington (the laundry) and Anywhere Land. There's also Kitchen Land and Columbus (a vassal land). The enemy territory down the back is known as Midian.  Next door to us is Newaland.  We also have a Hen and Chickens Island and an Easter Island.  There used to be a Pinecone Land but that got swept away. Recently there was a volcanic eruption and Mt Asher appeared out of nowhere.

Tolkien and CS Lewis may have their Narnias and their Hobbitons/Middle Earth, but Iranasea was first on the map in my book. I can tell you all about the history of Iranasea, but that's another story and another post....

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Gardening for the soul

I read this book in which a preacher kid learned to let go and have a garden. This strait laced competitive American control freak lands in the English countryside and learns the beauty of an bearded iris and the wonders of a cottage garden where there's not a straight line to be seen, no lawnmower, and things just you know, GROW.

After 20 different quotations from published authors as if uncertain that his point of view was even valid (if you got it from a book, it must be!) he finally learns to just sit still and smell the roses instead of spraying them into submission.

I have thought about this as I walked around the garden today and saw my plantings establishing themselves, the lemon balm's scented leaves, the parsley, the feathery fennel, the delicately scented sweet peas and nasturtiums twining their way along the border. The narrow strip of land between our lawn and the neighbours driveway has been reclaimed. That bit is mine but it sits adjacent to the large expanse of lawn cut to an inch of its life, and where dad hadn't mowed, I barely noticed until he pointed out to me that he neglected to cut that bit of grass where the lawn mower had run out of petrol.

I have never once said to Dad that he must mow the lawns ever, but I imagine it is pre-programmed into his brain that he must do it or risk...what exactly? Butterflies and bees? Daisies? Hundreds and  thousands of yellow creeping buttercups strewn like confetti over the backyard? A meadow?

It's a bit hard to romp in this garden if there's nothing really to romp about in. I've considered we just roll up the turf and install fake grass which may look just as good. People do it all the time at silly season, fake trees, fake snow, fake reindeer, coming after the fake ghosts and fake blood and bone of Halloween. My garden could conceivably become one of those fake landscaping design projects in which everything is all lines on a page and no soul.

Anyway, just my thoughts. Hurry up global warming, can't wait for the day petrol is going to run out and then all the lawnmowers and cars are silenced and we can just get back to real gardening again.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Covering new ground

Progress report -

I planted three more thymes, one emerald carpet and two woollies, plus another pratia which has little blue flowers, and a leptinella, which is like a native ferny groundcover that I saw at Mincher.  Also I have edged the path to the house with more lamb's ears, scrounged from the bed that is now smothered in mugwort. The chickens like to use that plant as a hidey hole to lay eggs in.
I have moved the ficus primula - creeping fig - to the side of the steps hoping it might decide to clamber up the wall there as the last two spots I had it in did nothing but sulk. Then I have ripped up some hydrocotyl which I know is now deemed a weed but it creeps and looks spectacularly green so I'm hoping that will take as well.

My weedmat is now covered with weeds and it's only really one third weeded. Another plant I found at Mitre 10 is nz fuschia procumbens, which is a creeping kind of fuschia and I've put that in with the ponga fern. I had my eye on star jasmine as a ground cover and you can buy small ones for $8 so I was thinking I might buy two to cover the ground where it's sunny. I have seen star jasmine used to great effect as a groundcover outside of all places McDonalds in Pt Chevalier. Fluffy's butterfly garden has one star jasmine which is now climbing the fence but as it would take a long time to get established and cuttings I think maybe I better buy two plants.

I also need to buy some more potting mix to pot up aloes as they don't really like shallow rock beds even though its warm and I will put them on the deck side of the house which currently doesn't have any plants, except for muehlenbeckia now twining its way through the railing. There is a sign that now says 'Beware of the Cat' in brass.

I may also move the tea tree (camellia) next to the other camellia so it can have a friend as its really not doing that well next to the hydrangeas down the bottom of the garden, the leaves are very pale and don't seem to be growing much.

And another task I need to get busy with is growing sunflowers, which I will plant directly at Woodside although I now have seed raising mix, which I am going to use to sow beans where I had tomatoes last year. These are scarlet runner beans and perennials so that means I don't need to plant them again every year just cut them down and they will resprout again. I have no tomatoes as yet since last time they didn't do that well (and they are very heavy feeders) but I may have them in pots on the deck with the aloes this time if I can find big enough buckets. Or maybe by the fence However I have learned they are actually perennial vines too so I actually don't need to dig them out again if I just leave them they will grow again.

Anyway, busy busy must get cracking since its November and not long before the summer bbqs season.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Thyme to get rid of weeds

My side front back garden (our house is back to front) has a bed that needs TLC or rather that needs to be completely replanted because its full of weeds!
Well it always has been ever since the conifers were taken out and become part of the driveway but I had some inspiration from Prince Charles' thyme walk and have decided to turn this bed of red gravel rocks into a thyme walk/drive as well.

So at first I thought maybe I can just weedmat it and plant in holes and I even bought some weedmat (ugly black stuff that supermarket bags are made out of) and pinned it to the ground with rivets. But then I realised that wouldn't really work and weedmat is so ugly, and then you have to put soil or mulch ON TOP and where would I get that from? So I am doing the old-fashioned route and weeding out each horrible weed by hand (and trowel). And underneath all those weeds and rocks is black plastic anyway which I can just pull up.

I have so far planted four emerald carpet thymes which I hope WILL spread to make a lovely green carpet, one native pratia and one native seriella. The natives are meant to do well if the thymes don't take but as they are in full sun for most of the day in poor soil I'm hoping they will take like a duck to water. (Or duckweed). The pratias and seriellas are groundcovers meant for no-mow lawns, forming dense mats, and even have nice white flowers, one is even called 'snow in summer'.  Seriella is touted as wonderful and salt resistant, so if you need to get rid of weeds just sprinkle salt around and all the  surrounding weeds will die except for the seriella.  However I might hold off for now because I don't want to kill the thymes as well.

The weeds infesting this part of the garden include plaintain, dandelion, oxalis, clover (which I may just leave, it's pretty) and some other unidentifiables that routinely get squashed by my car tyres.

So here's hoping this experiment will work and I will have a nice fragrant lawn which never needs mowing just steamrolling (or rubberrolling) every now and again by my car.  I hope to find some roman chamomile for the sunnier patch as heard that does well too. Unfortunately its not that cheap to buy these herbs that sell at Kings for $3.49 a pot and groundcovers are $9.99 so I will just need to do as my budget allows (which means, find some more paid work!) and I have a lot of ground to cover so as well as praying for it not to rain for my garden party I also have to pray that whatever I plant will thrive and spread quickly so people won't exclaim over my patchy no-mow lawn and say - you missed a spot. Mum was very suspicious that I put weedmat down and quickly reminded me that the rivets and nails I banged in place will probably puncture my car tyres.

I haven't told her those sharp mother-in-law tongues sell for $20 at the Warehouse but then I think she already knows. She already knows everything. That's the annoying thing.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

101 Gardening Ideas

 No I don't have 101 Gardening Ideas but I have two books that say the same so actually I have 202 Gardening Ideas. (One is NZ Gardener and one is Australian Women's Weekly).

Yesterday I bought some more solar lights, this time a longer one to thread on the deck and put the shorter one in the hedge since some of the bulbs are blown. I also bought one that has butterflies on it to put in my butterfly garden. I moved a ponga log to the corner as a kind of retaining edge since chickens kept digging up the mulch and took the broken chairs and umbrella to the dump (it cost $12 to get rid of them). I have a blue checked table cloth for my round outdoor table and hoping to find a similar or red checked one for the other picnic table.

It will be Guy Fawkes night soon and BBQ season should start up again so am thinking what to do for my next garden party. Karyn has invited all us gardeners to celebrate her partner's 40th at her place and the theme is Arabian Nights. I'm imagining her place is going to be rugged up and exotic looking. Very sheik.

I have thought one day when my brother has done up his 1930's Packard we could hold an Art Deco party perhaps.  Or maybe... a Southern Style bbq with roast suckling pig. Or..a seafood extravaganza, if anyone wants to bring whitebait fritters and mussels.

Are not gardens meant to hold parties in?
I am taking some royal tips from Prince Charles' book the Garden at Highgrove as well. His garden is fantastic any way you look at it and I'm sure he holds lots of parties there to rival the Queen's petits fours.

I will just have to wait for the weather to clear after all this wind, rain and hail we've been having lately. It is now sunny outside but there's dark clouds on the horizon and who knows what it will be next hour. If I fix a day and time I will just need to pray like Elijah for it not to rain.