Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The full Monty Don

I have my first immigrant, I call 'Ladybird' who has made her nest in the hardenbergia arch in New Gardenland. Mum says to let her settle in and not to disturb her. Mum doesn't say anything about not wanting an arch anymore, and it seems like I'm not about to move away to Dunedin anytime soon either. The loquat tree has had it's firstfruits, and now they are ripening delicious and sweet, along with the acidic tangelos. I might have to neem the tree again, to guard against whitefly, but otherwise the fruit has been so abundant we have surplus to give away.

Returning to work was not easy after being in holiday mode for a week. However everything at Waitakere is just blooming great. At home I have planted some rhubarb in the Princess Diana bed and moved the diosma there too. I am in despair of any annual flower seedlings coming up because of Martha digging and scratching them out before they have a chance.

I found a book in the library called 'Down to Earth' by Monty Don, who seems a rather likeable Englishman. For some reason he reminds me of Michael Palin, or maybe its the 'Monty' name, except he's not a TV comedian, but a  TV gardener. He even went around the world in 80 gardens, like Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 days. Monty did visit two New Zealand gardens, Ayrlies, and Te Kainga Marire. This was how I came to know about Ayrlies, otherwise I would have had absolutely no idea it existed.  Monty had high praise for Ayrlies, but even higher praise for Te Kainga Marire. I have not been to Te Kainga Marire, which is in Taranaki, now world renowned for being purely native and having plants Monty was invited to jump on like a trampoline. Monty was after the exotic and so was excited to come across a garden that had NZ plants, because if you can imagine, he did not come halfway across the world to see an English garden, he already had one at home!

Well he can come and see my garden if he wants, that does not attempt to be English, even though the front half is clipped buxus I thought I had ripped out all the roses. I blame my brothers, they also need to come and give the hedges a trim as they threaten to blocking the path.  With horror now I see two flower carpets roses creeping back. I don't know how they escaped, but they are there. Anyway, the book was not about his Grand Tour but about his 50 years experience gardening and giving us readers tips. Two thing stood out for me.

Page 157 Trust yourself
'Western horticulture has tended to elevate the specialist above the generalist. This is often unhelpful and inappropriate. Plantsmen and women are geeks. Like all geeks, they cannot imagine anyone not being as interested as they are by their own obsession. They are often charming and one can always learn from them but they are not typical gardeners, so do not be overly influenced or confused by them.'

hmm ok then. I'm wondering who he could be referring to. Botanists? Or Botanic gardeners?  People that have to collect every plant at the garden centre and then end up being an expert on yuccas?  I don't know. Do I bore you to tears with my gardening blog?

And another  thing that my boss might be horrified to hear is Monty writing  on page 95 Wildlife gardening 1.'Avoid tidiness: leave leaves, patches of weeds, overgrown shrubs and climbers, and dead stems on plants. All this provides essential cover and shelter for insects, birds and small mammals like bats'

It could be that people that are always neat and tidy are afraid of bats. Or birds nesting in their trees. Or small animals in general.  Hey we are bigger than them, it's not as if we are hiding tigers, lions and bears in our gardens.

So next thing I must to is write to Mr Don and see if he wants to visit NZ again, he can come over in Summer to see New Gardenland with Ladybird, taste homecooked Chinese food  in exchange for me pottering around at his place in Winter with indoor plants (he hasn't mentioned what he grows inside)  watching him on the telly. I could also write a book as well (working title, 'Stuck in the mud')  about my years of gardening experience. All four of them.