Sunday, 25 February 2018

Saving $$$

I have started practicising the Art of Frugal Hedonism but I may be losing friends at the same time.
For example, one friend asks me to go to the movies with her. Movies cost money, and she is not offering to pay, so I say no. Watch a dvd borrowed from the library instead? She doesn't answer my text.
Another wants to go out to a cafe at the mall. I say no, and offer to have a cup of tea at home instead. My friend doesn't show up at my house.
If I keep cadging rides off my workmate I may end up walking home, which I did today. It was quite peaceful, having no friends.
At least they have kind of stopped telling me what they bought at the market, as I just say on Sunday, while you were at the market, I had a great day at church. It was free. The scones were delish.

And I still have Margaret, who is of like mind. She emails me tips on using urine as free weedkiller. Must tell my boss. Also she doesn't mind that I take all her libertia, ferns and hydrangeas and plant them in my garden, for free. I think of it as a garden division and multiplication service, because if I didn't take her plants, they would overwhelm her and possibly take over, till there was nothing left of house but garden. Oh my friend Margaret?  She doesn't live in a house anymore she lives in a garden. You can tell her place by the giant agave outside that towers above the roofs like an aerial.

Last week was another meeting of the Te Atatu Floral Circle. My favourite part is the flower ID talk, everyone brings different flowers, and Barbara identifies them and talks about them.
This month we have ...dahlia, amaranth, tweedia, naked lady, goldenrod, viola, rain lily, geranium, canna lily, plumbago...
There is a floral workshop being held on the 10th of March. We are planning a day trip to Twin Lakes in Coatesville. A man from Butterfly Creek spoke about spiders, wetas, and slugs. He claims there are no such things as pests. Just nature that is imbalanced. If your plants are being attacked by pests, that means they are either sick or really healthy, so spare a few. Don't eat cabbages, then you won't be bothered by cabbage white butterflies. Don't kill wasps because they kill other pests. As do earwigs. And spiders are good. He showed us a giant spider that could eat rats. So. Keep your spiders. Also their webs catch flies, so, that's another point for practising the Art of Frugal Hedonism, as you won't need to buy flyspray, just have cobwebs all over your house.

I think I like this idea of just not spending any money until the economy collapses. It will be exciting to see everything just crash, like the stockmarket did in 1987. All because everyone just stopped spending money. I have already saved my money trees and planted a few more in posts around both the front and back doors, to cover my bases. Besides, there is always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Happy new year!

Mum bless her had given me lai see or as she calls it fung bao, the red envelope with money inside. She then said I can have the money but just give her the red envelope back as she didn't have many. Ok mum. According to the chinese calendar, it's a brand new year of the dog.

I was excited to receive some money and said well lets go to the garden centre. Mum was buy plants? No mum, I need compost and lime for my new garden bed. Mum had no choice but to come along because I sweetened the deal by saying we could go to Massey Pak n Save on the way back, which she claims has a better butchery than Lincoln Rd. We then went to Palmers Planet, for the compost and lime because mum made a fuss about going directly to Kings. She must have known the plants are so much more expensive at Palmers and no chance I would buy any there.

The other things I needed were new bras and undies, to replace my holy ones. So we also made a trip to K Mart the next day. I must report that K mart has plant pots, but no real plants. They only have plastic plants. I think it defeats the purpose, because instead of removing noxious fumes and giving you oxygen the plastic plants remove the oxygen and breathe out noxious chemical plastic formaldehyde PVC. While they slowly fade and crack in the sun, and possibly give you cancer.

I wonder if anyone has called Kmart management and said to them, you know you tried to sell these indoor plants, well, they are fake! Who are you trying to fool?

But it's no use because merchants have no conscience, it's all caveat emptor. It's like dairy owners. They know what they sell is rubbish like cigarettes and lollies, but who are the stupid people buying them, it's their fault for parting with their cash. Or people who eat too much and then complain they eat too much. Well stop eating too much then, nobody else is putting food in your mouth except for you.

I have a neighbour who complains he has too many books, dvds and teddy bears. But everytime I hear from him, he tells me he went to the market and bought more books, dvds and teddybears. I'm trying to cut down, he says. He thinks cutting back is only buying 2 instead of 3. Um, how about not buying any. How about...going to the library and borrowing books and dvds?  For free! And then returning them? This despite my many years of being a librarian I never saw him once enter the library to borrow anything. I don't know about the teddy bear thing though. I am afraid that if I visit, he will want to show me his teddy bear room and then I can't escape.

I have this folder I found at the book exchange called 'Consumer' Home and Garden. It's from the 90s and is a collection of magazines basically telling people what to buy for their home and garden. Their whole agenda is to 'increase consumption of garden products' and has articles on what to spend your money on. Of course I am fascinated. Why don't they name it something more exciting though like Devourer Home and Garden or Gluttons Home and Garden, because surely nobody needs to do this much gardening...? I note that it does not say anything about plastic plants from Kmart.

I did not buy any new plants because my garden bed is seeded with coriander, and I have placed geranium cuttings, the plumbago, and lemon balm and mint cuttings by the fence. So basically I used what I already had. I also found a packet of stock a friend had given me so sowed that too.  I saw Martha trying to dig up my seeds, but I have an extra packet of silverbeet seeds Yates have given me as back up.

I have found a solution though for people who really don't want to buy any plants, you can just grow a free diverse weed collection of privet, (trees) tradescantia, (groundcover) moth plant (climber) and deadly nightshade (shrub) and anything else you can just kikuyu it. You will have the greenest home and garden of the lot, and you will save heaps of money. Must tell mum.

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Sculptureum

One of the books I requested from the library which needs a suitcase to carry it in is called 'The Gardener's Garden' (as opposed to...The Engineer's Garden? Where old car bombs go to die...) and it has gardens from all over the world to browse. Quite a few from New Zealand are featured although the majority are from the UK, which seems to be the Mecca of the gardening world. I suppose there's not much scope for gardening in Africa where lions are prowling about and elephants crushing your bedding. I can't pick a favourite as yet but have to say Ayrlies, even though I've only been there once, and did not take any pictures - takes your breath away.

My sister has announced she is visiting, and like the Queen of England she doesn't want to stay in any common accomodation like our own house but fancy digs up at Matakana. She is going to snub my wonderful garden for the likes of 'the Sculputureum' (that is what it is called, I did not think it was a word) and pay $39 a ticket. That is almost as much as the Flower Show.  I suggested why don't we just visit her namesake Fernglen for free? Or if we need to go up there why not stay at Omaio and see Liz Morrow's beautiful garden for $10? I don't know.

She could stay at home and see all the gardens I do for free, but then I can't compete with a sculptureum and beachfront designer baches that only foreigners can really afford :-( . So what if we don't have King beds and LED TV and a spa or a fancy restaurant. I'm sure it can't be that hard to climb on top of the garage roof and get a 360 degree view of the surrounding Huruhuru Creek and houses and partake in my gourmet barbecue fare.

I've counted the number of sculptures in my garden and wonder if I should put labels on them so they will look at least arty and installed.
1. Ceramic Pukeko
2. Brass Heron
3. Stone Tuatara
4. Brass Giraffe
5. Butterfly net sculpture complete with colourful bread tags and flashing butterfly lights
6. Copper Rooster Weather Vane
7. Marble Hippos
8. Stone and relief Cat in heart shape
9. Painted stone and relief Tui and flax
10. Stone Nurture tree
11. Giant ceramic sunflower

I have one brass sign that says 'Beware of the Cat' and the other, made of contemporary plastic, says 'No Junk Mail' and is on our very trendy wooden letterbox, that Dad has artistically painted which in ten years time will look very rustic, but not so rustic as the one underneath the deck that has rust. I could probably sell that one as an authentic piece for $1500. I mean sculptures can be anything these days as long as you put a label on it, I saw an old watershed at the Flower Show made of rusty currogated iron, and that was meant to be a cutting edge water feature and very on trend selling for $32,000.

I also have a one off piece watercolour of Socks painted by Margaret but that is inside my bedroom I mean gallery, which is also decorated with birds and other inspirational wall art and my sister is welcome to gasp in awe, take photos and put them on facebook and comment on my exclusive good taste.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Hot and sticky Auckland

After all that rain on the weekend there was fog this morning. It's so hot and sticky today that I need to peel myself off wherever my skin touches anything. Coming home from work it's mission to get out of my uniform. Time for a cool shower, I've been eating sorbet as my lunch and afternoon snacks. I had a cucumber for tea.

It's too bad our community garden isn't growing any watermelons, because could sure bite into one now. (Note to self - find out about how and when to grow watermelons for next season). My capsicums however are going great guns. That's because I put two in pots straight into potting mix and placed them on the terrace. They are cosseted, unlike the unfortunate others that were placed in the bed with all the other plants, and the soil there, if there's any, hasn't yet been formed on top of the clay, cardboard and kikuyu. I'm also using walnut shells as mulch in my pots.

Yesterday evening I did a bout of gardening until it got too dark to see. I made a new bed near the tangelo  that was infested with creeping buttercup and does sprout earlicheer bulbs come spring but nothing else and also has a pear stump there. The low fence/raised edge I made out of privet logs and branches and mugwort stems. Then I filled it with helichrysum, basically stamping the whole plant there as a base mulch. Goodbye creeping buttercup see if you can grow through that thick mass.

There is only yacon and a plumbago transplant there now. I attempted some geranium cuttings but I think I need to dump a load of compost there, except my homemade compost isn't ready yet. I may need to buy another sack from the plant barn.

I am trying to pace my trips to the garden centres as only went there on Sunday and didn't mean to buy - two punnets of purple alyssum and one punnet of penstemon. But I needed some more edging for my camellia bed since my angelica I have transplanted to under the loquat as it will grow too big, and the empty corner bed needs some more floral interest, and penstemons have now found favour with me as they are just the right height to flower above the buxus. I did not know you could buy purple alyssum but there it was and I don't know why I didn't think alyssum before. Thyme seems to sulk in that bed and not grow as well as I would like so here's hoping the alyssum takes off. So much for my Prince Charles style thyme walk.

The Saturday I had removed my greenhouse to place in the container at Woodside as extra shelving and so now there's an empty corner in my alcove garden and have placed a few pots there. One contains astelia silver spear but, don't know if it will like the container I'm hoping it will survive instead of rotting in my clay soil.

Gardening author Diana Anthony calls clay soil 'heartbreak clay' and her writing about how she used crowbars and pickaxes to break it up and make planting holes suggest she was very determined or maybe just a bit crazy. She gardened up Northland near Whangarei at a former gorse infested property called Valley Homestead, wrote another book called 'Seven Summers at Valley Homestead'. She describes making an Elizabethan Garden and planting something purely English with hundreds of roses. Another she tried was an Asian meditation garden complete with lotuses and Japanese maples. Then surrounding it with natives, she opened it up to the public and hosted weddings. But it sounds like she tossed it all in to live in Melbourne where the climate is more seasonal and the soil more forgiving, because I tried to look up this Valley Homestead and it's no longer there.....

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Two heroic gardens

I escaped West Auckland with gardening friend Louise today to visit two heroic gardens in this years festival. One was in One Tree Hill and the other in Mt Eden on Landscape Road. There were no Westie gardens this time around but maybe next year?

The rain had turned into drizzle yet Louise was not put off. I ummed and ahhed but then since I was driving put my A into G and we headed off down the motorway armed with umbrellas and donning parkas and boots. We arrived in Onehunga on the other side of One Tree Hill (that now has no tree) to spectacular hillside home that had a terrace garden all planted up, with succulents and perennials, and a front yard with dwarf peach trees (note to self- I can have fruit trees that are no taller than the house!) animal shaped buxus topiaries, and a small backyard productive vege garden. There were planters hanging from the walls with herbs and veges, a round garden with vanilla ice sunflowers edged in alyssum, and every square inch was taken up with herbaceous plants. The tiny backyard also fit in a glasshouse, worm farm, compost and rainwater harvester. There were veges right under the collapsible washing line.

We noticed some unusual plants - seaholly that has vibrant blue stems, scotch thistle, shoofly, a herb that repels whitefly, and colourful succulents. A real plantlovers garden with a view to the Manukau harbour. On a clear day! Mother and daughter team had devoted 12 years to this garden which when they first arrived had nothing but bare lawn, a bird of paradise and a camellia. It's impressive, lovely and interesting. Well done.

Our second garden was more of a curiosity than for gardening interest as it boasted a lava cave on the property. To enter this lava cave we wandered through a balinese style subtropical garden (mind the Buddha heads!) under chinese fan palms, fringed with aurelias and edged with vibrant bromeliads. Other plants of interest included parataniwha a purple leaved foliage plant, tree aloes, and purple tibouchinia. There were several water features, a large fish pond, mosaic bird baths, and a swimming pool and backyard entertaining area. The lava cave went right underneath the next door neighbours house and ran for several hundred metres, a dry subterranean cavern. No glow worms but there were maidenhair ferns at the entrance where they could find moisture. Am not sure how the owners managed to deal with having a huge hole in their property and gardening on volcanic rock but those bromeliads are pretty tough plants that can grow perched on trees- they don't need soil. And their fan palms were ginormous - towering over the home. It was like entering another world.

The festival is still on tomorrow so for a day out (maybe the sun will shine again?) check out some Heroic Gardens  it's all raising money for Mercy Hospice. There are so many unique gardens in Auckland all lovingly cared for and planted by their owners thank you for sharing them and allowing us to peek over the fence and thankfully, unlike real estate open homes you know have just been tarted up for a quick sale at auction these gardens are NOT for sale and will continue to be looked after by their owners for many years to come.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Ranting blogger

I had a run in with another blogger last week. I don't know why, but I wanted to address something she was sharing every single day on her blog on a forum and had no way of communicating as I didn't have her email address so I thought I would comment on her blog.

She basically ripped into me and said I was ranting and why don't I share my opinions and beliefs on my own blog. Well I replied I already have two blogs would you like to see them? No reply.

Huh. Well seems like her blog seemed just a way of getting peoples attention then. It had the title 'I married my Dad' for starters. I did not understand why someone would be foolish enough to do that, but there are these types of people in the world who aren't willing to face reality that maybe, just maybe it's not a good idea to marry the first person who asks you. And if they are abusive, not only to is it dangerous to have them around your children and not do anything about it,  like report their crimes to the Police you might have to face up to some responsibility in life rather than keep expecting your other half to change.

I thought maybe the people that would appear on Oprah and talk shows like Sally Jessy Raphael existed after all and weren't making these stories up. Perhaps I should have asked Judge Judy to get on to them for being stoopid?

My talk show title would be 'Mum drives me nuts' but then, I cannot do the shame and humiliation thing by confronting her on national television. But I can do the shame and humiliation thing by gardening. Because basically, since mum drives me nuts I have nowhere to go but outside in the garden where she can't yell or gaslight me lest the neighbours are disturbed and report me to CATT team again. What is the CATT team? I hear you ask. Well if you've never experienced mental illness than be blessed you will never have to know.

And if by chance you think you are going insane, well you heard it from this ranting bloggers mouth that I have found gardening  is a way to keep your sanity. Even when your Mum thinks the front yard ought to be turned into a carpark for the car she doesn't have and never driven. I was horrified and told her maybe she ought to go back to Hong Kong and live in an apartment. Where the buildings are taller than the non existing trees so nothing will ever drop on her roof as they have no roofs. Or Australia where it is desert. But of course you can't tell your own mother things like this unless she is really driving you nuts.

On Waitangi Day as nobody had invited me to a bbq (hint hint) I could not escape Mum again on the warpath, this time she ripped into the coprosma, the mugwort, and harangued me into removing one helichyrsum petiolare. The furry plant  had grown 2 metres high and spilled over the buxus threatening to engulf anyone passing by. She also said my garden was untidy and that she would rather have it all groundcover. But, on the good side she also got the back neighbours to remove their privet tree that hangs over the back of our fence with a chainsaw. (Mum, mercifully did not operate the chainsaw).

Thankfully I managed to get a reprieve by going back to work in other people's gardens the next day. See I can do something right, after all, except my boss thinks I should also weed at the same time as removing a green bin load of cineraria AND not get the concrete path dirty even when the ground is wet by the time he gets back to boss me around.  Like I have six arms or something and am petrol driven.

However all is forgiven because I  found a white abutilon chinese lantern and sedum 'Autumn Joy' at the Warehouse today and have planted them, and that makes me happy. And the empty buxus bed is now planted with extra swan plants, a sage, daisy, geranium and wormwood that I found around the garden.  And thanks to gardening I never ever have to see a psychiatrist again. Besides, all they will tell you is to 'get a boyfriend' so you can have someone else to blame for your woes, I suspect. Or marry your dad. The last boyfriend I had ended up in rehab, so that didn't work out too well. Thank God for the Sallies. And Rotoroa Island.

Selina does not suffer any mental illness. She just gardens.