Saturday, 26 August 2017

Plumbago, orchids and blackberry

Last week was such fine weather for gardening but now the weather has turned to drizzle so time to update Rambling Garden Diary. I have now found a perfect climber for my little alcove to grow on the north facing side, I had tried various plants there and each time they never seemed to fare well - star jasmine (too slow, and the sap is sticky like chewing gum when pruned), hibiscus (gets frost), dwarf apple (my stick doesn't espalier) choko vine (who knows, perhaps, it's still there). I can't put wisteria there as it will grow too vigorous and hardenbergia needs to twine, muhlenbeckia does not flower so I have come up with Plumbago, a shrubby semi climber with beautiful blue flowers that look like phlox in spring. I have put three in and managed to find them for $9.95 each from Mitre 10  as opposed to $25.99 from Kings Plant Barn. It is Royal Cape variety said to be hardy.

On Saturday I popped round to the Orchid Show held at Kelston Community Centre and came away with two baby cattelya orchids one is called 'Cherry Sundae' and the other is a 'Love Angel x Purpuratea'. Orchids are stunning plants when in bloom and to see them all massed together is something. I have got some books about them so must read up on them. Surprisingly they don't require much water as they grow in bark and in the tropical rainforests in the nooks of trees so would be perfect for hanging baskets indoors or trailing down stairwells.

We also had working bee on Saturday down at Woodside where Monique, Nicole and I attacked the blackberry bush.  We hacked it back halfway and filled three sacks full of brambles. We will have to come back for another round as the fence has to go there and this time we are going to train it properly.

I mulched my raised bed with bran and straw after finding my winter greens starting to get attacked by slugs and snails. It's looking much better although once I think I've finished one bed I look around and the other one beckons as it looks terrible. This is the long border at the back and it's not going to be easy to plant in but I have attempted some semblance of order, shifting some astelias under the loquat, making room for tree dahlia, and am thinking perhaps a climbing rose will be good there if I can get to dig the soil. Perhaps I will just cover the back fence with chokos but at the moment because I've cut back all the dietes and peppermints it kind of looks like a dumping ground for dying plants, especially with the tatty looking rengas (note to self - my garden gets frost, so I cannot grow everything! especially taros, nasturtiums, cannas and any fleshy, bendy leafy plant) so will definitely have to rethink my options there.

I'm looking for a dwarf apple tree or two that does not cost $50. Anyone know where I can find them?  I think Crimson Spire needs some friends, but I was remiss and was not buying plants in threes and fives last year, something I now know to do.

Well I have rambled enough so have to prune this entry short I could go on all afternoon. I do not really want to end up like Christopher Lloyd who spent every week writing about his garden that people thought he was quite mad but in the end he didn't care what anyone thought and just grew anything and everything even naming his dogs Canna, Dahlia and Yucca. But then he was English and the English are quite a mad lot. I saw a tv program about his garden at Great Dixter and he would invite people over for dinner parties at his place and then lambast them for not carrying notebooks and noting down everything he said, because he loved to give his opinions and styled himself as this great garden guru. Well I'm not like that! Fancy naming your dog Yucca.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The plastic bag sea

Last permaculture workshop was called 'Resources and redefining waste'. Which basically means don't throw anything away. Reuse it, fix it, or recycle it. Or better yet don't buy it in the first place if you just going to use it once.

Or maybe it should have been called 'Waste Not, Want Not'. One thing I have learned is there is a plastic bag sea in the North Pacific Ocean. It consists of a huge area the size of Texas of plastic bags, floating...well no fish can swim in it because fish cannot swim in plastic. Where did they all come from...well, I suspect America, but plastic bags have blown all the way across the world to land there.  Ships cannot sail there because their propellers and keels would get stuck in plastic bags and it's very hard to float your boat on plastic. You can try but you won't be going anywhere. Check it out here

I am horrified and have dispensed with using plastic bags forthwith. Except our dear Auckland Council says we Westies still have to use bright orange ones or they won't collect our rubbish (for now). I can imagine they are bright orange so that if they do float out to sea they can readily be collected again. All other bags I am refusing and have stowed my trusty calico library bag in my handbag in case I do any shopping in which I need to carry things in.

Because I don't fancy eating plastic fish and you cannot compost plastic bags.
Another thing I have learned is, we really should go back to using potties again and emptying it into the garden because...and this is the thing - our sewage system is no good. And we are wasting precious rainwater flushing out toilets.  We didn't learn about septic tanks or sewerage systems but an awful lot about composting toilets.

My thoughts are further investigation is needed. Where does our poo go? I have no idea. I hope it doesn't end up in Mission Bay.


Other gardening news. Woodside have funding for getting a fence hooray we can grow climbers on,  and new additions to Camellia bed include rain lilies, more parsley, a cyclamen. Mum cut some bok choy for dinner..and but when she saw me eat a walnut commented that I didn't crack them myself, whereas I never commented that she didn't grow the bok choy herself so why should she eat it? Why do mums always do the stuff they accuse other people of? Is it a mum thing to make a big deal over nothing? I don't know but it's really starting to annoy me. But I am not allowed to talk back and do the same thing like point out when she does the exact same thing, because then Dad hears this argument and then starts yelling at Mum telling her to not say anything...because what am I supposed to do, just never eat any walnuts that Mum has cracked already? Give me a break! The walnuts do not care who cracks them! They just want to be eaten!!!

This is why I garden so I don't have to stay inside the house and hear angry contentious wives nagging all the time. Living alone in a retirement village apartment rooftop is suddenly becoming very appealing. It's only 2 kilometres away but completely off the bus route (you now have to take two separate buses to get there and walk up a hill) so Mum can't just visit, and I will not have a phone so she can't call me. Yes. When I win lotto.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Plans A, B and C

The rain it raineth everyday. Good for nap days, not so good for gardening. I saw one of my roses I had transplanted drowning in a puddle. Hmm maybe not such a good idea to plant anything in clay right now. But clematis are in - two clematis 'Sweet Hart' and one clematis montana my workmate gave me (thanks Richard!). Also a nice hellebore for under the maple tree, and in the Lady of the Camellias bed, another hen and chickens fern, plus a Chatham Island Forget-me-not. This one quickly got chomped by slugs and snails. Out came the bran.

The wet weather is a time to stay indoors and plan and dream, so I have been day dreaming about my garden and what I will do next with it.

Plan A is to not do anything and leave it all as is. Mum is very happy if I do Plan A.
But Plan B which is the real Plan is to do more gardening along the north facing side of the house and lose the thin strip of lawn that doesn't do anything, and have a real garden border there. I am considering rows of lavender by the path - dwarf Hidcote - even though it's clay, surely I can have a mediterranean garden since there's already an olive tree? Even if Cathy Angell seems convinced it will hit clay and die...?  After all, I did not say anything about all her frost prone plants she had planted in her garden that she has to work extra hard to protect.

If I was being eco-concious and grew what was there before it would be Kauri trees, cabbage trees, manuka, flax and toe toe. And nikau palms. But I am not allowed Kauri trees and Nikau palms.
I do not plan to do any mowing ever in my garden as I have enough of that at work. So I am not going to grow grass.

My plant list -

Chinese snowball tree (viburnum)
Chinese toon
Parsley - can never have too much
Rows of dwarf lavender
Japanese windflower

I plan to have a purply/white  theme to go with the wisteria. But shall see. Am very happy with my hardenbergia or coral pea it's growing great over the arch with sprays of white and magnolia is now blooming with crimsony red cup shaped flowers. The grape muscari didn't really transplant so great underneath but I might leave it in for another year and see if it spreads.

One bulb that does great in Auckland is onion weed. It looks like a bluebell but white and everyone hates it and tries to get rid of it, but I know you can eat it and it's just like garlic chives. However I  think I will be shot by the garden establishment if I try and make a case for swathes of onion weed naturalised on banks. Also, it keeps away pests with it's onion smell.  It will save me mowing, my back, and my ears, but maybe if we don't do enough mowing, they won't need to pay us gardeners to run the lawn mower anymore. So it's a catch 22. My Plan C is to keep the onion weed and sell it at the market as a wonder herb that can cure cancer and give you long life at the retirement village.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The neglected churchyard

I'm sorry church garden have been neglecting you. I went round to the Baptist church last night and pulled out a bucketful of weeds from the begonia bed. The polys are doing great though. I'm hoping St Giles has survived the frost but I'm not so sure about those ginger lilies, attempting to grow through the weedmat, whether anyone's used the garden as an ashtray, or taken all the pots.

But maybe I'm not the only one gardening there? There could be anonymous garden angels going round all the church yards planting and snipping here and there. I want to grow climbing roses over st Giles. I've decided. It will have to be a highly perfumed coloured rose, but I'm not sure how roses clamber over walls with no support or tying in. All the gardening books say you need to install little hooks and wires so they will stick to the wall. Hmm.

Last week was a week of pruning roses and I am done for. I also learned the names of many varieties of roses. Like - Iceberg, Graham Thomas, Remember Me, Blackberry Nip, Elina, Love Me Do, Margaret Merril. There are dozens of roses at Waitakere Gardens, people donate roses to their rose garden and they each have a little plaque from the donor. We planted 'Remember Me' for a widow last Thursday.

My supervisor had to go to two funerals in the past two weeks, so I said to him NO MORE FUNERALS. We talk about death a lot. Well he talks about death, I just listen. I am really glad nobody is tipping their ashes in the rose garden, cos that would be a bit creepy. I am fine with burial, just not cremation. It is because it reminds me of powdery blood and bone that we use to feed the roses, one puff of wind and your loved one will just literally blow away as dust. I never want to go to another funeral where they've decided they'd rather burn the body. I just find it very disturbing. How can they rest in peace when they are ground to a million pieces?

You may or may not believe, but if you had the hope of heaven you would not even consider it. I think some people treat their pets better than humans, they bury them, but humans get incinerated in an oven. That's just wrong!

So I am attempting to right some of this wrong by burying lots of seeds in the ground to demonstrate to anyone that all of creation groans for a new birth and even though we die, we shall live because that's what Jesus did.