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.