Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Kiwi Gardener vs NZ Gardener

I was given two subscriptions to garden magazines this year.
I like them both but if you can only afford one how do you choose?

I would say if you a bloke ie. male the Kiwi Gardener might be more up your alley. The magazine used to be called Weekend Gardener and always had more DIY and information about veges with regional tips than NZ Gardener.

NZ Gardener features more large gardens with lush photo spreads and I would say is for the more artistically inclined. One column has Xanthe White talking to plants. It also has a column by Joe Bennett who, by his own admission is a whinging Pom and hardly has any useful gardening tips but wry observations about himself like how slack a gardener he is. Maybe they put that in there to try and attract the non-gardeners to the magazine!

You can win another shed if you enter the NZ Gardener competition with pictures of your own shed (if you already got one why would you really need to win another one? don't ask me) and if you write them a letter and it gets published you win extra copies of the magazine special editions - that you probably already have.

Kiwi Gardener gives you a $40 bulb voucher if you write in to them and their giveaways include tickets to the Heroic Garden Festival, special edition magazines, basic Gardena hose set, and $30 go gardening gift cards.

There's a Young Horticulturalist of the Year 2017 competition for people under 30 employed in the horticulture industry. I'm intrigued with this competition as it seems to have a lot of sponsors is it like Masterchef and why isn't it showing on TV? Do these young horticulturalists have to prune trees in one hour or given a challenge like plant a bed in a day and impress the judges with their planting prowess? Or maybe its they give out prizes for the best compost heap, most giant pumpkin, biggest potato yield, or most ingenious way to climb a tree?

Looking at the ad in the magazine gives me no clue.. just shows a bunch of people in suits standing in front of logos of corporate sponsors. Is it like Miss Universe where you have to make a speech on how you believe you  would change the world?

How I would change the world, horticulturally speaking, I believe plants are the most important things we can grow...if we don't grow them, we would run out of oxygen and die, and um, dying is not a very good way to live.


I tell you am no good at public speaking. Oh the shame. However Karyn and I have been having good chats about herbs on Book Chooks. Grow rosemary! Listen to us here

Saturday, 28 January 2017

No photography, its just words

Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to start the fernery, since the neighbours cut down their camellia bush and privet tree, the south side of the house hasn't been getting all day shade anymore and now has the harshest afternoon sun.

But determined to have a garden, I battled on. Now the area is mulched with river stones on top of shredded library papers. I have installed a soaker hose and double tap for irrigation. Margaret gave me three ferns that had sprung up on the side of her house. I am considering mulching the bed again with charcoal left over from the barbeque, that now has a fine array of plants in their early stages of growth. Beth's donations are also doing well. They survived the chicken siege.

Such botanic diversity! In a 1 metre by 5 metre area I have the following plants -

Wandering Willie
Fruit Salad Plant
Jade Plant
Granny's Bonnet
Dumb cane
Cabbage Tree
Spider Plant
Bird's nest fern
Hen and chickens fern
Boston fern
Ponga fern
Silver Fern
Mirror plant
Maidenhair Fern

And several others. All I need is a climber to complete the picture and thinking of a native clematis although probably a ficus primula would be better but I got that one growing by the steps instead. I see you can espalier camellia but ours is in the wrong spot. Mum hacked it back and it responded by growing even more bushy. I  suppose I will need to take some photos later to record my progress. I guess its hard for people to like you on Facebook when you've got no photos to show anyone and can't say 'look at moi' "look at moi' all the time, people have got to take time to read. But I think to myself, well, if they wanna see my garden for real they will just have to make the effort to come and see it for themselves, and that's how I know people are genuine readers who care about plants rather than rubbernecking Facebook busybodies.

I'm too busy gardening to take pictures of the bunny that look like Socks.  (If Socks was a bunny). I'm sure if I did post a picture and labelled it THIS IS THE BUNNY THAT LOOKS LIKE SOCKS THE CAT REINCARNATED. It would get many likes, especially if I posted a picture of Socks right next to it. But it's Dad who takes the photos, not me. I will be in the middle of doing something and Dad would have spent all day on the computer organising his photos with captions and everything, and he's not even on Facebook. He will say 'Come look at this' and all it will be is  a photo of Martha when Martha is sitting right there where I can see her in the flesh. I think five months working 8 hours a day at a photo library computer keywording is enough to put anyone off taking photos and captioning them for life. The world already has enough photos. I am not going to add to the pile and demand everyone see them.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Save the gardens!

Its mid summer although, I read in the NZ Herald a recent proposal to move the summer holidays forward to February/March. What a brilliant idea, as I had long ago given up trying to plan a summer holiday in December/January. Everything competes with Christmas and New Years, when it's not necessary to take all your leave over that period. If you are fortunate enough to be paid working that is. Half the workforce still work anyway because retail and tourism industry are at their busiest.

February is when the Heroic Garden Festival in Auckland is happening. As previously mentioned, all these heroic gardens are in the Mt Eden or Coatesville area, which seems to grow a good crop of gardens, Henderson, not even rating a mention. Despite Henderson being famed for its vineyards and historic Kauri gum and timber mill, its twin streams and the Waitakere ranges at the foothills, the bush at it's doorstep. It was Henderson where the first trees for babies were planted, and Henderson where all the orchards were. It had a Tui Glen and you could paddle and swim up the creek. Maurice Gee fictionalised it as the country town of Loomis, peopled with rough characters in his novels. It was Auckland's fruitbowl.  Just up Great North Road was the location of the very first Palmers Garden Centre and opposite the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere, which hosts rare native orchids amongst the graveyards. Yet Henderson is far too working class for the likes of NZ Garden magazine, which is more of a Grey Lynn affair.

Henderson sits nestled in the valley by the Henderson creek and was once lush with fruit, New Lynn next to it had clay, which was where they made bricks. It was not especially rich so was no good for dairying but those that bought land after clearing it from Kauri could make a decent living growing fruit. It is hard to imagine it now, but Lincoln Road used to be all vineyards.

Anyway I'm thinking of how the land has changed since then after the suburbs have started to encroach. I'm sad that Myra's garden is going to be destroyed if it gets sold to the highest bidder and ugly apartment blocks built on her corner section. I don't have the heart to garden at her place anymore knowing that is what may happen. She has a beautiful plum tree that is so fruitful the birds try and empty it before she does.  She also has a gorgeous Australian Frangipani tree, rambling roses, and happy geraniums.
I could will it to life but it takes more than a part time gardener to look after a place.

I don't know what to do, if I start gardening I could not just leave it to be demolished. Better not start in the first place? Louise tried to dissuade me from bringing plants that 'were only going to die anyway' and tried to convince me that there was no point as it would all be cleared and property buyers do not want to look after gardens. But like Myra I was going to battle on and hug the plum tree and dig in my heels. I am not going to throw out the old plastic plant labels cos I'm still going to be gardening right up till I die! At least thats what see, she doesn't need to say anything. We both know she doesn't want to give up, even when her body is quitting.

And so it goes. I'm going to tell Louise well, these rich foreign buyers are going to give up their day jobs one day and they are going to want to relax in their own gardens rather than stare at four walls of their concrete block jail cells I mean apartments, so wouldn't a home with a garden be a more attractive prospect? Plus I've already been called by one new home owner to help her start gardening after she had no clue what to do with the place she bought. It had plants!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Auckland Permaculture Workshop

I've managed to obtain a scholarship or a SPENDS course fee reduction in return for some work on projects related to permaculture (only hope its nothing TOO taxing) for the APW 1 year course.
Hooray! The first workshop will be held Saturday 11 February somewhere in Parnell.

I'm sure it will be very interesting and practical. Perhaps it might even have a field trip to a garden. I'm all for field trips. Today I had an interesting field trip to Parrs Park. Not a garden per se but it did have some nice planting by the playground, if only I could identify the flowers there. I am thinking of my nearest park which is pitiful with its sad swing set and slide. Nobody goes there since the playground equipment is so mediocre, there are no picnic tables or anywhere to sit, there's just a couple of trees, a path to cycle or walk dogs on, and that's it. Focal points people! I am thinking of writing to the Supercity amalgamation conglomeration of parks and reserves and complaining that something needs to be done with Riverpark Reserve as even I as an adult am dying of boredom there. I know many council folk can't be bothered even mowing 'berms' anymore but come on make the effort. If you actually had something nice there to play on or look at maybe more people would take ownership and look after the place. I see that with churches too, a sort of 'can I be bovvered' mentality that has church yards look like the pit of hell thats been over run by goats instead of the peaceful prayer sanctuary where you can lay down beside still waters as in Psalm 23.
Or maybe I am the only one who cares?

Finished reading Xanthe White's book who has advised if your soil is terrible you can always garden in pots. But I did learn something - biochar or charcoal makes a good soil amendment, dolomite lime is good for clay, and DO NOT spread barrels of compost on your soil and plant in it. Which is what I had mistakenly been doing. No it has to be spread thinly and actually mixed into the soil. Because I am into no dig I am not going to dig in the compost as that will disturb all the existing plants, so I have learned to scatter it all around and let the rain wash it in like it does in nature. Or the earthworms or Martha to scratch it in. After all nature doesn't make a compost in a huge heap does it?  Soils come in layers and plants and earthworms appreciate that.

Still haven't found any worms yet, Kings said they have run out and will get more in. I wagged Myra's place today as had a better offer. Poor Louise then had to fend for herself, making the omelet, but I promised next week would come. She said I wasn't obligated, but I did think that I would give her own daughter a chance to tidy up the place first cos if we did it all, when we didn't really have to, that wouldn't be good for her children not to have the opportunity learn how to love and care for their mother's garden would it? After all, they are the ones who might inherit it, not us.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Xanthe White never replied to my email

However I don't hold it against her she was probably busy writing her book which I am reading now called 'The Good Dirt: Improving soil health for more successful gardening'. According to the expert landscape designer, what goes on beneath the surface is the secret to successful gardening. Thank goodness she has some tips on how to improve the soil as, it will be much better than some airy fairy 'The Secret' book in which you are told to visualise success and think yourself rich, then tell the Universe what you want, so you can attract good gardens into your life.

The book is fully illustrated with gorgeous photographs of soil and plants, I even spotted Ayrlies garden in there. Now Ayrlies is a wonderful garden and the special thing about it is it's not flat. This makes for wonderful display of plants and interesting ponds and waterfalls following the contours of the land, however, for my garden, there can be no such extravagance as its more of a slightly sloping pancake in it's terrain. And while Ayrlies has no straight lines, well, my garden is basically a rectangle with wedgy shaped beds by the house, a semi circular weed zone, and an L-shaped border.
My brothers put in the box hedges which win no prizes for natural selection and they are clipped very sharply with machines that are so noisy you need to wear earmuffs. Nothing natural about them.

So I may have to get creative so that my garden is in harmony with nature but as far as I know nature was stripped when the house was built on former orchard land, which was possibly lowland forest margin in the olden days when moas roamed freely and ate cabbage trees.

This morning I returned a cabbage tree that started growing by the side of the house to centre stage after the ignominious wilting/death of my third ponga tree fern which I have discretely tucked away underneath ponga tree fern number one, in hopes of a revival. So that makes two cabbage trees, one pink and one green, in my attempt to return my garden back to nature. Although I am not sure they had pink cabbage trees in the olden days. Looking at it you might think it had a dye job but I swear to you that is it's natural colour.

After this I may take some photographs, send them into NZ Gardener and beg Xanthe White to do something with my garden. Help! It's boringingly rectangular and suburbanly drear. It has a wonderful vista of next door's driveways. How can I make it a forest margin again?! This morning I found a black and white bunny squatting in the hidey hole under my jade plant. Is my garden supposed to attract this kind of wildlife?  It doesn't seem to be 'in harmony with nature' although I did observe it eating some weeds. Where are the kiwis? If I introduce worms, will more kiwis make themselves at home? I expect Xanthe White to wave her magic wand, talk to my plants, and write exasperatingly in NZ Gardener magazine that trying to garden in Henderson is absolutely hopeless. This lady needs to sell up and move to either Mt Eden or Coatesville, that's where the good soil is.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Faith Like 197 Potatoes

Our bed of agria potatoes amounted to 197 potatoes. This made into two lots of potato salad, hot baked potatoes, and even enough left over for potato chips. Which I was just eating before. I am seriously thinking of going into the potato chip business!

As promised, had the harvest BBQ. Those who were not there, sadly you missed out (and became squares) while we feasted on the below menu, plus Olga's kebabs and  ice cream, Jacqui's beetroot salad, Jennifer's tomato and feta salad, Mike's sausages and steak, Shar's strawberries,  Gilles' chicken drumsticks which I swear I saw him surreptitiously feeding to Martha...the rain held off while we were eating thank goodness. Then Karyn herb lady turned up just as we were starting to eat. Last one does the dishes...

We are going to plant beans where the potatoes were - I think, unless we just let the fresh earth lie fallow for a bit although...it was really windy last night and Jacqui reported the sunflowers were falling over.  Gilles came to the rescue with a stake to the heart..

New helper Louise came to Woodside and did some weeding which she wryly observed was payback for being roped into clearing out Myra's plot. Well..at least I sneakily got to plant some things at Myra's by accidentally tipping out all her freesia bulbs all over the lawn. And if she asks what this pumpkin is doing in her raised bed come autumn and doesn't remember putting one in there..I will say what would you rather eat, pumpkin or tradescantia? I hope she picks pumpkin. I also sequestered an aloe in a pot which does not require much water, but she didn't question this and instead asked who put all the stones in the bird bath it's supposed to have water in it! My birdbath has stones and water in it, but I suppose she doesn't like her bird bath visitors having a foot massage.

Myra's friend Janet observed you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. But maybe Myra doesn't want an omelet. She wants a hardboiled egg she can crack open herself. Woe betide anyone who tries to make her an omelet!

Today is a whirlwind of a day. I did some tidy up and am mourning the loss of my ponga fern which I am sure Martha killed by scratching near the roots. I have retaliated by piling on twigs all over the fernery. Have also put in cuttings of jade plant on the sunny rock bed, and cuttings of ice plants originally from Myra's garden. One day I'm sure when she's well enough I will invite her over or she may have to be content with looking at pictures of my garden on the ipad. Mum wasn't too happy when I took some tomatoes we harvested over to Myra, but you see I don't have grandmothers anymore so she's the next best thing.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Hot Potatoes!

After the final Woodside potato harvest there will be---

BBQ from 4pm this Saturday 21 January chez Rambling Garden -my place.
Kettle Charcoal BBQ
Be there or be square.

Proposed Menu..

Hot jacket potatoes
Potato salad
Rosemary lamb kebabs
Portobello Mushrooms
Toasted Marshmallows
Corn on the Cob
Vege Kebabs
Chicken wings

Whatever you want to bring!
All Gardeners welcome.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Worms and wormwood

Mum reckons I have worms. Inside me. Eating all my food that's why I'm so skinny. This is a scary thought. I eat the same as everyone else but for some strange reason I'm as thin as a rake. Last night had two lamb chops while my parents just had one each.

As for my womery for the garden aside from ME being the wormery - I'm not sure how I can remove these worms. I am trying wormwood tea, which by the way, is an ingredient for the hallucinogenic  French liquor absinthe - but I don't think these are the kinds of worms needed for the garden. Or maybe everyone trying to lose weight and be thin should have a worm inside them to aid digestion. I don't know. I am now confused, should lie down, have a cup of tea, and call the doctor. It turns out doctors no longer make house calls.

So I have to drag my skinny butt off to the doctors office, burning more calories in the process.

If that is not bad enough I am suffering dehydration, in which I keep being advised to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, but problem is if I do that on top of the tea, it will go straight through me and I'll never leave the house because there aren't any toilets nearby that I can just duck into (or pee into the bushes like a man) but they do say urine makes excellent fertiliser.

If this sounds neurotic please don't look at my ankles which are swollen even though normal people cannot tell because my swollen ankles are normal size to normal size people. I have concluded I am a freak. Mum said don't blame me you were the heaviest baby out of the four of you. Obviously I must not have fed myself correctly as a child to grow so thin. In plants this is called etiolation. It is caused by lack of sunlight. Perhaps I was kept in the dark? Honestly I do not remember. Maybe those blue lights shining on me at childbirth since I suffered jaundice really did something to me - some kind of radiation that fried my bones. I did find the cause was...my blood attacked my mothers blood. Thank you Rhesus monkeys.

Yes that's right I, as a baby, tried to kill my own mother. Just by being born.

Similarly, the plants are suffering from drought as I am, not man drought but drought all the same, and do not have the water reserves needed to survive. Which is why I'm thinking instead of lawn must cultivate rice paddies. My taros I have rescued from sunburn and are now in a clay amphora of water. At Woodside the tomatoes are suffering blossom end rot, since we forgot to put sink pipes in and they are drying out.

I am a terrible nurse and think of all my baby plants I may have inadvertently killed when I can't even take care of myself, obviously not doing a great job of it since everyone tells me 'take care' and walks away muttering 'she really should eat more hamburgers'. I got told to do weight training (even when I cannot lift much) at the prison library and they weren't looking for delicate flowers. OK. Right. Did I say I was a delicate flower?

Maybe find work in a florist then. That's enough for today I have to finish my wormwood tea.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Eh hello, I like your plants, can I have some?

Today went with Cenny to Kings as she needed more plants for her garden, and I needed potting mix.  I had a trough free as my festuca glauca had flowered and was looking dry and folorn so I cleared it out and now have capiscums.
Another rosemary is going in the corner and I have moved the bougainvillea to another location on the border since even though it won't require much water it was absolutely parched where I hadn't reached it in the far corner behind the jacaranda.

Muehlenbeckia complexa now has a spot in the border as well, to climb up the chain link fence which is the cheapest fence there is...my choko isn't doing that well as Cenny's - hers has covered a lot of fence whereas mine has only one tentacle.

I have to admit I am not the best at watering and would prefer it if my plants put their roots down and survived on the rain God gives them. My thymes that I got cheap did not survive and look like they are dying. I should wait till autumn instead of thinking it was a good idea to plant in a dry bed even if it was 25% off. You win some, you lose some.

 I have put in six sweetcorns even though it might be too late amongst the pumpkin and melon since it may give them more shade and something to climb up.

The sun has been relentless and dad mowed the lawn so close that its turning brown and bare, I remember one time I was feeling ambitious and wanted to dig up the entire lawn and put plants instead that would grow taller than my ankles but then my dad would be out of a job. I don't fancy living in a desert but sometimes you just can't tell men what to do as they are going deaf. I am considering erecting a sign to put on the lawn saying 'Keep off the dust'.  I put up a tent in the backyard so am going there later to read Trees of New Zealand.

Martha also dug up half my fernery again, I will have to get giant pebbles in. I calculate how much money I am spending on this garden and think back in the days when there was no garden centres people would surreptitiously snip cuttings from the bigger gardens on their visits or do some kind of exchange but I'm finding now everything comes with a price even worms. In Victorian times I read of ladies of comfortable means travelling all around the world making paintings of rare and exotic plant life because thats just what you did if you never married. Captain James Cook would have a botanist on board the Endeavour and dispatch plant hunters for the aristocracy back in merry olde Englande. In that fashion the garden mad English made contact with people from all over the world. But I find it a all little mercenary, it wasn't actually the people of other countries the English were interested in, it was their plants?!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Downsizing Abbey

Mucking in and clearing out as round three of  Operation clear up Myra's garden continued. The last of my pumpkins is now in her raised bed which hopefully will either grow up the fence or trail along where it will stop weeds from growing. I have removed screeds of tradescantia which apparently her chickens did not eat. Now the chickens are gone but it was rather like kikuyu you pull it up like a tangle of christmas lights, it can spreads for metres.

The only sad thing is we are clearing up the garden so it can then be sold as Myra plans to move to a retirement village although she was not keen on me discarding anything that can be used again..I got a right telling off for potentially discarding faded plant labels, old soda bottles used as cloches, and cracked pots. She let me recycle the cracked pots. 

How all this gardening paraphenalia will be used when she moves to the retirement village I am not sure. I don't think there will be much space for it but then..how can someone move to a smaller place when they never throw anything out? Is it physically possible to take everything with you? I am trying to do some quantum physics here but my brain will not compute, the equations do not balance. 

Weeds are not the only things to be rid of, and we filled about three garden sacks of them.  

I was thinking if I ever did have a family and we had a normal size home and all my children moved away and my husband died, I'd just invite the grandchildren back and they can have the rooms when they are sick of living with their parents. Perhaps. I would not want to move into a small shoebox myself and become one of those grumpy old people who talk about their ailments with other old people. Then the grandchildren can play in the garden and I can teach them. 

Or maybe... I would hang on to my children and forbid them from leaving home. Granny can move into the flat with her own space and then they can have the run and maintainance of the house. That way they won't need to buy another house far far away and only come visit me on weekends. They would just be a few metres away and can visit me everyday if they liked or just wave hello from the verandah. The car can just be parked outside and the space it takes up for a garage could house one person. Couldn't it? I know several people who've lived in garages, made it their home and kicked out the car. 

Then all my plants could have a permanent home and wouldn't need to live out their days in pots like squatters or renters going from place to place. And my home wouldn't be busted to build a block of ugly high rise flats rented out to people who have no idea how to garden. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Working bee #4

Not sure why it is, but we are having working bees every week this summer, this time we were harvesting garlic although it was a disappointment, the bulbs were not much thicker than the stems! Nicole reckoned it was because of the mild winter we had.

My pumpkins and melon seedlings found new homes with the lads down at Woodside and we now have English lavender in the herb plots. Everything is growing lush and even picked a few juicy strawberries.

At home, work is continuing on my 'foundation planting' as its called in America. This is your garden beds surrounding the house. I wish sometimes I could remove everything my brothers planted except for the box hedging as it just doesn't really work. For example, we have a camellia bush that needs pruning right underneath one of the windows and it really does nothing but sit there, when it does decide to bud the flowers fall off an leave a brown mush, and is basically not really a plant that enhances the space at all. It could be a hedge but a hedge is pretty useless right next to the house and not actually hedging anything.

Another is the aformentioned Canadian red maple tree and the misplaced wisteria. I am dealing with these. The north facing wall has a triangular wedge bed that I have just pulled a lot of black plastic polythene from underneath rocks. It is in a terrible state and nothing will grow there, which is why it looks such a mess, I have removed most of the ginger lilies and put in English lavender, ivy geranium, nestling amongst breath of heaven and a dying ceanothus. I am going to have to invest in some top soil, sand and compost just to get things growing again and it will be a bit harder than the south facing fernery because its so dry there.

My colour scheme has gone out the window as the gazanias, one lot are bright yellow, and there are pink sweet williams as well. I was going to have a glaucous theme (lambs ears, snow in summer, echeverias)  but then the gardenia and frangipani in the corner were crying out 'sub-tropics' while the lavender and echium were shouting 'mediterranean' and then near the end somehow the creeping violets wanted to also be in on it and were humming 'woodland'. So I am not sure what theme this garden wants to be. I am going to call it 'fusion wonderland'.

It can't be any worse than the kitsch garden which is gracing the cover of this January's NZ Gardener which has pink flamingos and artificial turf.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Going to the garden to eat worms...

I vaguely recall a childhood rhyme that started with 'Nobody likes me, everybody hates me' and ended in a sulk when the with the words..'I'm going to the garden to eat worms'. I'd like to update or amend that a little to present day child/adult 'woe is me, I'm a lone gardener' to 'I'm going to the garden to feed the worms'.

Because I now have the perfect worm bin - our old toilet, which with one or two pots inside the basin can be transformed into a worm farm extraordinaire...once I find my worms.
If I buy them from Mitre 10, which you can, they come in a box, they cost about $30 for a thousand or so. I don't know how they count them but surely they must do at the worm factory to make sure customers aren't disappointed to stop people saying I bought this box and there were only 999.
Or maybe it goes by weight. I have bought worms before and put them in my compost bin and they escaped into the garden so who knows where they live now. I don't think its a good idea to go hunting for them again and trying to convince them to live in a new fangled toilet building, which is why I am going the import route and getting new migrant worker worms in.

Come live in my worm hotel! I will entice them with shredded old penpal letters and delicious chinese food scraps that Martha won't eat. Fed and housed, they can then get on with the job of providing vermicast - worm tea which is rich liquid fertiliser for my garden. Who says I cannot be the CEO of my very own worm tea factory?

Mum said I might want to grow plants in the old toilet but I will have to tell her of my other plans, besides, no plants want the indignity of having an old toilet bowl for their container. Even if from very far away and you are not wearing your glasses it could pass off as a classical urn.

As for our new toilet well you'll be pleased to know if you do ever come to visit, that we have got a new one that flushes normally, doesn't leak and you won't have to go in a bucket. It is connected up to the wonderful Auckland sewage system, which we pay rates for. We are not hippies!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

More thyme

I caught the last of the Kings Plant barn sale today and decided 25% of plants would mean lots of cheap thyme plants for my thyme walk so managed to snag about ten of them and pop them in. I must say its so satisfying digging out weeds and replacing them with proper plants.

After much research I did find what to plant under the red maple tree. My brothers planted it, so has proven to be a bane of our lives, firstly, because it grows too big and Mum has to coppice it, and secondly it has thirsty roots where nothing much can grow. And then it drops its leaves everywhere. Aside from the display in autumn, am not sure I would have chosen to plant a tree meant for a park or forest in a suburban garden.

I googled 'what to plant under maple tree' and got horror stories of gardeners who said nothing would grow under it and they've been trying for 15 years. Some plants came up but I tried them and they just died. Vinca. Strawberries. Bulbs. Cyclamen. Lupins. Geraniums. Catmint. Alyssum. Carnations.  Spider plants. Ferns. I don't want those thorny flower carpet roses coming back! Lord help me.

Then I heard about epidemiums, however, Kings Plant Barn don't stock those. However, one plant that dares survive although it is some distance from the roots is licorice plant (helichyrsum petiolare) which is ensconced next to an avon lavender. They like it dry and shady? And licorice plants spread...and the good thing is they are furry, not thorny. So I found myself another cultivar that calls itself 'silver mist' and put it in the hole where the vinca used to be. I believe it could have a chance as we only have one chicken now and less chance of being dug out and ripped to shreds.

Fingers crossed.

Another plant that died that I'm now replacing is oregano in the manger with sedum that is gracefully trailing over the edges. Mum repotted all her zygocactus (using my potting mix, I might add) and the admonished me for never sweeping in the alcove garden. Well they were HER zygocactus. What is she on about?

I have placed more melons in the tyres where the marguerite daisies were they are getting old and scraggly. After that I'm sure I won't need to go to Kings Plant Barn again for a very long time....

Note to self- bright pink flowered bush is not boronia, it is cuphea.
Borage would be a good addition to my border if can find some seeds.
Ditto muehlenbeckia complexa to clamber the chain link fence, that only Mitre 10 stock.
And..my brothers meant well but wisteria looks a bit pathetic against the chain link fence it needs a pergola or giant arch walkway, or even a gazebo. It's sending out streamers all over the place, in winter I will have to dig it out and plant it somewhere more suitable. Arrgh.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Need water...

My uncle has a water feature and pond in his garden! It's so cool (literally)  you can hear the water gushing over rocks, there are goldfish, and lily pads, and pebbles, and...hanging planters..and..

Ok, before I get carried away, practical first things first. Where am I going to site this must-have water feature for my garden? It will need to be quite shallow as I don't want the chicken to accidentally drown in it.
I have thought about, and if you've been reading the previous past two years, the idea of making a pond for ducks down the bottom of the garden,  or turning the lawn into rice paddy fields (swales) or having a river run through it like it was back in the days of Eden. For what is a garden without water? Cool fountains and rushing streams? Without water, most gardens would just be an ad for masport lawn mowers. I could have a rill, or a canal, or a lazy brook just running down the edge of my borders, and plant irises and bog plants at the water's edge. Then I could have somewhere cool to dip my toes, and also wash my hands after getting them all soiled gardening.

One of my birdbaths was literally smashed to pieces as I suspect a rather heavy bird or the neighbours cat tried to jump on it, so that was the end of that. I have two others, and the other day I saw a bird actually use one. Hooray!

In other news Jacqui was all business yesterday as we planted two passionfruit (one black, one golden) to clamber over the arch. I am so looking forward to a successful passionfruit vine when all the previous attemtps at trying to grow them have come to naught.  We did go into Kings where I just bought a hose connector as my other one broke. Don't use gardena! Try hozelock. Also potting mix to pot up my melons and pumpkin, which we are going to place into more tyres in the orchard. I don't think Jacqui has given up on  the prospect of winning giant pumpkin prize just yet. Last time it was stolen and she was pretty ticked off! Giant pumpkins are just too tempting to resist I suppose. I have seen one literally carved into a Cinderella's coach up for auction on Trade Me.

There are still Agria potatoes to harvest, and I have sown runner beans (expiry date, 2000) and something from Annabel Langbein's brand of seed packets that was a mexican garden of butter beans, corn, and squash. My eggplants are coming along. So thats all good. It has been sunny days and am making the most of relaxing in my deck chair and sun lounger with copies of NZ Gardener magazine. BBQ TBA.  Maybe after the harvest and then we can have potato salad or hot potatoes with butter in my kettle bbq.  I will let you know.