Sunday, 30 September 2018

Sunshine on a cloudy day

Mum and I sojourned in Waiheke Island for the weekend. The weather was gorgeous, but now we are back on the mainland and the clouds have come in. We visited Dad's retired workmate who lives in Onetangi, but is on the verge of selling up to go move into the new retirement village near Ostend. Apparently his bach is going for crazy money, it's worth about $3 million dollars! He says next door is now owned by the CEO of Air New Zealand and just about every bach on the street has been done up and sold except for his. He has a lemon tree and a bank of nasturtiums to look after, and side planting of agapanthus, and plants in pots which his tenant looks after, but otherwise, I don't believe it's that hard work except for the fact that the bach could do with an extreme makeover to look like all the other multi-millionaire holiday homes on the Strand.

We went for walks around the island taking in the sea air and popped into Mudbrick winery, the scene of many weddings. I wanted to see the garden, which is set amongst vineyards with topiaries, a potager or kitchen garden, lavender and rosemary. It has an amazing view, but I was a bit chagrined to learn that the couple who owned the place have now separated, running the place literally broke them up.  We visited just as they were setting up for another wedding, and I wondered what it would be like to work there, if only accommodation came with the job. Live in gardener? It looked like the cottage was rented out for weddings, and the original restaurant, which was their house, would require a lot of staff, but again, where would the workers live? I didn't think they would pay enough to make it worthwhile, if the wages weren't enough to rent a place on the island. Gardeners are notoriously low-paid, it seems I just switched one low-paid career for another (librarian, teacher,'s all a case of diminishing monetary returns for me).

Another thing that concerned me was it didn't seem organic as it's made out. It looked a bit too neat, as if the vineyards had been sprayed with Roundup, the tell tale browned off grass along the rows of budding grapes making me wary of tasting what was on offer. Also there were no animals like chooks or sheep grazing the fields, so what would they use for fertiliser? If they had no manure, they would have had to get commercial fertiliser in, I actually didn't see any compost heaps or evidence of mulching. The soil looked hard clay. Mum was impressed with the rows of lavender, but to me I wondered if they were actually using the lavender or if it was just for show. It wasn't the Grosso kind and it looked like it had been trimmed with hedge trimmers, and half of it seemed to be planted in the shade of tall pine trees. So I was  a little disappointed I was kind of expecting a real garden not just a show garden. However having said that I'm sure the potager and topiaries look absolutely wonderful in wedding photos. And you just cannot beat the view out to the harbour.

Waiheke has a new library I'm pleased to report I was impressed with the upgrade since I was there last, making great use of the space. I browsed the gardening section and checked out a book called 'Head Gardeners' which interviewed about a dozen English Head Gardeners about their jobs. Some were the quintessentially grumpy type, others were ex-hippies, still others were paper-pushing ideas managers. I wondered if I would ever fit in with the Head Gardener crowd, as if my current aspirations weren't enough (keeping a roof over my head, for the times when I'm not gardening). I am Head Gardener, all you lowly earthworm workers must submit to me. Hmm. It sounds stressful.

 If I hadn't already planned to go to Whangamata with the Floral Circle I would go to their Jassy Dean Waiheke Garden Festival held on November 10-11, which visits 9 private Waiheke gardens to raise funds for sick island children. You can self drive/cycle or you can book a bus that takes you around. I don't know if it visits 'Sacred Blessing Sanctuary' Garden that charges $180 a visit, but, if it does you might snag a bargain because the tickets are only $30 if you get in earlybird.

I'm wondering what to do tomorrow, as it's my week off. Absolutely nothing could be a contender.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Garden leave

Have been so busy with spring that I had neglected to ramble in my diary about all that's going on!

Spring flowers blooming now include echium, which yielded six purple fat candle sticks flowers for church display, abutilon, in red and yellow, geranium, dutch iris, wisteria coming into bud, pink asters, tiny purple orchids, lavenders abuzz with bees...

And bright pink chinese toon. I found an empty birds nest hidden in my hardenbergia arch last week. Dad is chipping away at the red maple and it's now just a trunk and soon it will be gone with a few more saws. I am not sure if I can plant anything there or if the roots will still suck away the moisture but am hoping something will grow within the buxus.

Dad has retired which now means he can spend more time mowing lawns. Although I have tried to shrink that job down by planting more plants so when it comes to my turn to take over, I will have hardly any to do. He's very keen on photographing my spring flowers and took about a dozen of the echiums, in close ups, wideshot and different lighting, so, I think possibly I could employ him to take pictures for this blog? Are daughters meant to employ their Dads?

Buffie my garden tutor has also retired, I mean, left the Ranui Community Garden to do her own thing which is 'funk up my junk' making wooden planters, holding workshops, catering and other cool sustainable things. She's also entering the NZ Garden and Flower show this year with a food basket theme.

Today we had a parks consultation, for the Riverpark playground, I was brim bursting with ideas which included daffodils under the trees, more colourful flowers, a bbq, a shelter and seats, a water fountain, walking trail maps and milestones, a bike rack, a souped-upped playground with spinning wheels, climbing frames, flying fox, slides, mini skate ramps, giant swings, outdoor movie theatre, lantern festival, moving fitness gym set, kayaks for hire, animal mozaics, an arch,  the works!

Here's hoping that something will happen soon, that everything will be signed off and work go ahead to completion so that by the time I have a family, my children can play in this playground! At this rate, am not going to be having any until well past the biological expiry date, simply because someone in power decided they were just not going to upgrade the Riverpark playground.

And I have garden leave next week so am excited, of all the things I am going to do on holiday. Am seriously thinking of extending this garden leave to the rest of the year.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Spring to life

Spring...calls for new list of things to do.

Such as sow and plant more veges - beans and silverbeet, potatoes, eggplants, capsicums

Sow coromandel lilies

Check out Taranaki Garden Festival programme, coming next month

Consider shrubs for hedging my garden - lorapetalum is a contender

Plan my Waiheke weekend - I found out that you can visit  'Sacred Blessing Sanctuary Garden' for just $180. I'm like what, does that include accomodation and food, or just to visit the garden? Apparently high tea and  nibbles is included and you can go there for two hours, while the head gardener gives you a guided tour. I don't know if a massage is thrown in or you can swim in the pond or something. And here I was thinking Ayrlies was expensive. Maybe it includes the ferry ride?

Continue on with my Primary ITO homework, including taking press cuttings and identifying over 30 different amenity plants.

Follow up church garden, now the old tree is removed

Clip and shape buxus hedges

Look for a pot for Best Begonia in a pot competition

Enjoy the sunshine, forget me nots and bluebells.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Teething troubles

My supervisor is still being picky. And its starting to be a real pain.

I thought about finding another job today.
I don't know why, but got the distinct feeling that, maybe I shouldn't be in the current job I am in. Well actually it wasn't just a feeling, it was because my supervisor said so.

I am not sure what to do about this. I don't really care if the CEO owner of all the retirement villages  whom I have never met thinks the garden is wonderful. I only care if the people living there appreciate what I do. Apparently this is wrong.

Another thing I do wrong is I just garden instead of working to contract. But this is because I am not even privy to the contract so have absolutely no idea how much it costs the company for my time, which they have bought off me. I have never seen nor signed any garden contract and thus have no clue of what they have expected or required of me, since, the 'client' is not even someone I have dealings with. I am just the worker. I am not meant to make any decisions, I am just supposed do exactly what I am told. I can't even do that. I can't be a clone. I have a mind of my own. For some strange reason, my mind  just resists company brainwashing. Instead of 'Bark bark bark' my mind goes 'Meow meow meow'. It's like we are speaking two totally different languages, and will never get anything accomplished, because its just like the tower of Babel. So we might as well part company.

So I racked my brains trying to think of what I could do instead. I came up with another harebrained scheme, and this was to go permanently permacultural, all by myself.
The only thing is, to do that requires land, and I don't have any. I thought of the wide-eyed permaculture students in my class, many of whom were wealthy enough to afford the course fee and had their own plans for land when they inherited or bought their first property. I thought maybe, after I've paid my dentist bill, I could up Cathy Angel and ask if I can plant another swale of daylilies at Earthsong. That I can handle. In exchange for an hours labour she can feng shui the Church garden. The old tree has been felled.

Dad has retired. I thought I had missed my chance at running away from home. I cannot afford to run away now because my parents are going to need me. This is the plight of children who don't marry or run away. Our parents become our own children. Where would I run to? I once caught a ship that went all the way to Melbourne, but then it sailed all the way back to Auckland. I could have gotten off the ship in Australia and lived as a vagabond beachcomber refugee. Now mum has heard my plans of going to Waiheke Island and invited herself along. She gets the free ferry ride, I need to pay. I came home thinking I need a plan, otherwise I don't know if I can stand another day at work where I walk straight past the garden that's crying 'garden me' and strap on earplugs and numb myself with the weedeater. I saw next door neighbours have cut down their pine tree today. Mum is jumping for joy as she now gets sun in her bedroom. I try to be pleased for her amidst all the chainsaw grinding noise that has given me a headache.

I told my supervisor when I didn't have a job I couldn't even afford to go to the dentist. They would keep ringing me insisting on booking appointments so instead of saying 'Actually I can't afford to pay your bill' I just didn't answer the phone. But now with my bad teeth that haven't been checked for two years, I can make an appointment but it has to be outside of work time. Do dentists work at night? I don't know, I am in too much tooth pain to think about that.