Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Rotoroa Island

I have been investigating and doing recces on other New Gardenlands and have found one called Rotoroa Island just east of Waiheke and next to Pakatoa Island.

Rotoroa Island is owned by the Salvation Army and was formerly a place where addicts and drunkards (these days, called alcoholics) went to dry out and hopefully find God. They would get dropped off in the island where grog was banned and learn how to live without it, growing fruit and veges and fishing whilst getting their lives back together. The rehab centre is now closed and moved to the mainland.  These days since 2012 the island is leased out for 100 years and has become a sanctuary for wildlife in partnership with Auckland Zoo.

Nowadays with biosecurity in place it's open to the public. To get there you need to take a 75 minute ferry ride (or row/sail your own boat) . Pets such as dogs and cats are banned as still is alcohol, but you can stay overnight in the accomodations bringing your own food.

I was interested to check out the plantings on this island that has become a native wildlife sanctuary for takahe, weka, brown teal, skinks, gannets, fantails saddlebacks and kiwis. It used to be pine forest and pasture but now they have planted over 40,000 native shrubs and trees so there is plenty of habitat for our native creatures.

Plants of the regenerating forest and wetlands include species such as coprosmas, hebes, kowhais, flax, cabbage trees, muhlenbeckia, oioi, puriri, karo, pseudopanax, manuka, kanuka, pohutakawa.
Some pics below...

Don't sit on me I am growing!
Rare takahe only 300 left in NZ
Takahe family by museum (and phoenix palms!)

Looking South over the new plantings at Rotoroa
Regenerating native bush habitat
Yep - its kikuyu. Perfect groundcover for native skinks!

All the native pioneer plants came by boat and planted by Treescape. A big job!

Friday, 26 January 2018


It's 27.9 degrees and I am wilting. Of course it's my day off but funny that there seems to be always working bees on my day off. By the time I got to Woodside Garden everyone was having morning tea. Good afternoon they said.
I tipped my hat. I don't think they have forgiven me for going off to get a job gardening for another garden.  It's as if I committed adultery or something.  My lack of enthusiasm for another morning's gardening when I'd spent 5 days waking up at 4:30 am working outside all day and mowing lawns kind of showed.

However that wasn't so bad as another person who rang me, who shall remain nameless, early one Saturday morning, and asked me what I was doing. I said I was hanging out the washing, what are you doing? This caller then proceeded to demand my gardening services and said I was to do her garden for $15 an hour. What, below minimum wage, on my day off as well?
I kindly demurred. Well what I said was, I'm kind of busy (hanging out the washing). I did not suggest that she go do it herself, but as I was about to say something more like perhaps and how are you? She hung up without saying goodbye.

Very odd. This is beside all the people asking me for money now that I have a job. As if I am now a bank with reasonable terms. They are not aware that the cafe has put up the prices of sausage rolls. I  am working so that I can earn enough for my lunch. If I was not working I would be living on potato chips and ice cream, such is the 'food' my Dad used to provide me.

So I have decided it's my week off and I am going to act like an unemployed person and when people ask me what I am doing I will say absolutely nothing. Hooray!  Literally I will just smile at them and wave while they fume and wonder why I am not doing any work. Isn't it wonderful to not be busy?

I am reading 'A sense of humus, A bedside book of Garden Humour' by Diana Anthony. Apparently, in Merry Olde Englande such was the class divide that ladies were not actually allowed to garden. All they had to do was direct other people to do it. Heaven forbid if you got your hands dirty that meant you were a 'working woman' and that was just below the pale. So that is why it was suddenly very shocking that a lady dared to do gardening as that was men's work. I have to wonder what ladies actually did back then if they weren't allowed to garden. Maybe they expired from writing too many novels fantasising about what they could do instead. They weren't allowed to be mothers either cos they would pay a nanny to do that, and they would also have a cook, and a chauffeur, and a maid. However I have given up feeling sorry for upper class aristocrats who are barred from working with their hands, so that all their creative input is just about  buying stuff to fill up their grand houses until they run out of money and room, whichever came first. It's just they were the only ones that were actually writing lavish gardening books, because us ordinary mortals were of course illiterate yokels who hadn't a hope of a publishing deal. Thank you internet that the field has levelled and anyone can write and share whatever gardening wisdom they have learned! Such as stop watering potatoes once they've flowered and gone yellow or they will rot.

In New Gardenland I've put in bedding begonias, divided a cat tail that wasn't doing well in it's hanging basket pot so put in the ground, and tidied up the border. I've noticed sweet peas started germinating from last season. This week I am just going to sit back, relax and watch it all grow. Did I tell you it's 27 degrees. Well it's just turned 28.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The New Arch

Mum didn't say anything....
P.S. The box said it's an Edwardian Arch. I don't know what an Elizabethan one looks like, but the one from Kmart was not very royal.

Thanks to everyone who turned up at my BBQ yesterday, you know who you are, also you know if you missed out on my garlic bread and rhubarb crumble!

I will have another one when it's harvest time for the potatoes.

Friday, 19 January 2018

New Gardenland

I didn't want to see another sausage ever again but looked in the fridge yesterday and Dad had bought another packet. So it might be I will have to fire up the bbq this weekend. My own one - not the Mitre 10 one. I am sure we made a profit and now can spend it all on the garden - hooray!

After another windy rainstorm Dad helped me dismantle my rusty arch and now the hardenbergia is flopping all over the buxus hedge. I want to put my new, trade-tested arch up but mum insists that I don't. What do I do? I need supports or spikes to put it in the ground but the thing is its not the right size for that gap in the hedge. That means I can't put up this more solid arch up unless I cut out some of the hedge...arrgh. And I can't transplant the hardenbergia somewhere else it was doing so well there, but if I leave it there it will just tangle itself into a mess.

Now the most obvious solution the one mum has been insisting all along is to get my own house/place. But where, Dunedin? You cant grow much in Dunedin. Its not like next door is vacant so I can just move next door and just bust the fence down and extend the garden. So I'm thinking mum is either being unreasonable or joking or she just doesn't like me living here.

It's very disconcerting to think your own mother just doesn't like you and wants all your plants dead. But that can't be true because I have seen her watering my capsicums. Last week we found a mother in laws tongue in a pot chucked out in one of the gardens at work and we were going to bin it BUT I rescued it because Mum thought I had chucked away her one. I did not, but there is no reasoning with mum. So I offered it to Mum and said do you want to keep this plant otherwise it will be chucked away. It is now sitting under the tangelo tree in its pot along with a succulent from the South African Garden at work that mum asked me to take a cutting. The ladies at the Waitakere Garden said it was ok to take a cutting and offered me one. So that is there too.

Perhaps the solution is to divide up the land into separate countries, one can be called Selina's land and the other can be called Mum's land and Dad can have the lawn. I thought that we might be able to share it but perhaps we can make a subdivision without telling the council. I will have to have my own letterbox, cooking facilites (bbq) and toilet (composting). If we do tell the council I they need to supply my own recycle bin and rubbish bin (except I attempt to make zero waste, so probably won't need it) and pay rates which probably won't be a third of the current land but just as much as everyone else is paying. I will then become an official landowner and can tell others to get lost as they are trespassing on MY property. There probably needs to be a wall or boundary erected and some flags waving and a new anthem to say my land is separate from the rest. I will then christen it 'New Gardenland' which sounds a bit like 'Gondwanaland' which the whole world used to be before the land was divided. My original name for this continent was Iranasea but now that I am reclaiming the lawn (the grassy sea) and making new island beds I think New Gardenland is a more apt name.

It currently has a population of one human and one cat. To attract more inhabitants to this land I am considering opening it up to immigrants, but at present birds and butterflies are free to visit and they don't need a passport.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Dizzy Lizzies and sizzling sausages

One of the ladies at the retirement village calls 'Busy Lizzies' 'Dizzy Lizzies' which I find quite amusing. I don't know if she thinks that is what they are called or whether she invented a new name for them. Names for plants are easily mixed up. For example my workmate always confuses lobelia with libertia, and ajuga with gaura. I remember being told off by one of the Bunnings sales assistants that I didn't know the latin name for Snow-in-Summer. Oh you mean Cerastium?

Even my boss said after giving me a long list of tasks to do that I could mess around with pots after you planted the ageratums. What ageratums, we don't have those. I thought we were planting alyssum! (He doesn't like to be corrected).

Some people are exceptionally well versed in latin names, especially the Oratia Native Plant Nursery man. He knew the latin name of each and every native plant and it like were were was talking another language. Or an encyclopaedia.  Every time I would say a common name, he would counter with the latin. Spleenwort. Asplenium obfastatum. Kowhai. Sophora tetraperta. Kauri. Agathis Australis. Nikau. Rhopalstylis Sapida. Cabbage Tree. Cordyline. Flax. Phormium.
  I was walking by all his plants when I saw a groundcover. Its that violet? He said yes, that's a native violet. But it's white, not violet. He said yes well they still call it a violet even though it's not violet.

I am considering having latin names for everything. So instead of a calling a spade a spade I will call it a pala nutrum. We are not going to have a sausage sizzle we are going to have a farciminis sizzle.
And nobody is going to be confused how anyone says tomato or tomahto because I will call it a solanum lycopersecum. Anyone who asks for tomato sauce will immediately be corrected. Oh you mean solanum lycopersicum sauce?

If this catches on Daffodil day will be renamed Narcissus Day. Instead of poppies for Anzac day we will be wearing papaver.
We won't call weeds just weeds anymore we need to be specific and call them by their real names like taraxacum officinale and cannabis sativa.

By the way if anyone is reading this today the Woodside Gardeners are  having a farciminis sizzle on at the Lincoln Road Mitre 10. If you are hungry will be selling them for $2. You get bonus extra sauce if you can give me the latin name. We will start at 10 and catch the lunch shoppers crowd. Don't be impatien or will start calling you a 'dizzy lizzy'.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Through the storm

The rainstorm on Friday wrecked havoc on the peach tree, Dad said it will need to be cut down, it is over 40 years old and rotting at the base. He may need a chainsaw. This year it looked like it has some fruit but it is probably past it's best. Last year was fruitless.

Another victim was my hardenbergia arch, the Kmart arch did not stand up and many of the struts have snapped and rusted away, so I will have to figure how to remove it and put my new Edwardian arch up. Without mum knowing its been replaced of course. I will have to untwine the climber without damaging any of the shoots.

However good news the ground is damp and it seems like new seedlings are emerging. I wandered round Kings today just window shopping because all the prices are back up except for roses which are 50% off. But its not likely I will plant anything yet, according to NZ Gardener's moon calendar, it's a barren period all week. So I really should not go into work tomorrow....

I have red pom pom dahlias one of my permaculture classmates gave me now blooming. Mum actually said she liked these flowers so, am thinking I should plant more red flowers to keep her happy. Helen kindly gave me more busy lizzies which I have planted in the edible patch, I have hot pink, apricot and red.

I have lots to do in my own garden and wonder if I will have the energy to plan and plant the church garden this year, as well as working full time. I could scale down my commitment to the other contracts I suppose, until the gardens are relatively self sustaining. Its always a big thing to plan and start a garden from scratch.

Some gardens you fall in love with and are a breeze but others, usually planted by someone else who doesn't like change, you feel like its a never ending battle of wills. I still remember  people throwing fits and swearing and cursing because someone chopped their lavender that was growing all over the path, and definite mistrust when a pile of junk is moved, and then there's mum who says I must 'get my own place' if I am ever to put up an arch. I had one lady after we planted up the area around her apartment give me a hug and then whisper in my ear 'wouldn't it be nice if all this was grass', while another would say one day we are doing a great job and the next complain loudly in front of everyone that the roses are looking the worst they've ever looked and we never look after them.

What to do, well I'm feeling rather tired so perhaps will sleep on it and see if I've still got the energy to go to work tomorrow. I suppose things could be worse, I could be working in the Mt Eden Prison library with no budget and sorting out books behind bars.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Beth Beth Beth

My friend Beth came over on New Years holiday and gave me more bromeliads, and two other baby houseplants. I showed her this blog and she was very disappointed I did not feature her especially in it so this post is all about BETH.

Then she can google it and her name will come up and can tell everyone she went to my Rambling Garden and contributed many of the plants there.
Beth's donated plants include three manukas,  a maidenhair fern, several tree ferns, balsam, fruit salad plant, mother of millions, potted geraniums, spider plants, begonia, flaming katies, various succulents and a peace lily. I am richly blessed to have so much plants for free (although I have given her cups of tea and lunch for her trouble). I almost thought she was going to move in as well since half the contents of her house and garden is here too with shelves and pots, hanging basket, greeenhouse and a rug but it seems like she has other plans.

When Beth came over she noticed a hedgehog under the picnic table looking like it was thirsty and so she gave it some water to drink. Then she had a tour of the garden which has grown so much since she first came here. Mummy Cat is always pleased to see Beth as she talks to her in cat language.

Beth is one of those original 'Tiny Home' people who will be moving her entire house again later this year when some land up in Kumeu is freed up. She says she is going to have a bigger porch so she can fit all her plants on it. I had called it the log box because it looks like one long box. Originally it was in the bush in Swanson which is why she could give me so many ferns.

Left you can see the picture of her deck and plants which all had to be moved! So I am babysitting some of them, mostly the geraniums in pots. (Which aren't in these photos)

They did get a bit of lashing from yesterday's rainstorm but seems to have survived, a branch off the peach tree looks like it has broken off and a pot was smashed, but otherwise the rain was really good for the garden. Hooray no outdoor watering to do and no lawns (for now).

I have potted up a whole lot of spider plants for the Waitakere Gardens hanging garden, ended up with about 30 of them, so that kept me busy and out of the rain. Beth had loaned me several plant books including 'The Conservatory Gardener' which has a section all about trailing plants for indoors so am getting quite good tips from that. I had an idea, if we do have the budget or maybe even just take cuttings (since many of these places actually have no budget for new plants) that of the three levels of hanging basket/troughs the top level could have geraniums and succulents, the middle busy lizzies and the bottom in the shade could have spider plants and tradescantia.

Orchids and begonias would also be wonderful too as there needs to be a mixture of foliage and flowers and they need to also be tough, withstanding mealy bug which took out a lot of syngoniums (or arrow plants) because watering three times a week can take at least an hour! So Beth if you reading this thanks for all your plants and inspiration and encouraging my green fingers. I hope your new home will be settled soon and you can get your garden growing again.