Sunday, 29 December 2019

5 Minute Gardener

I've turned into a lazy five minute gardener. The heavens are now opening up and that drizzle like rain is coming down, just right for some wildflower seeds I have just sown in my newly mulched bed. Sometimes I open packets of seed and find there is hardly any in the packet. I feel a bit gypped King Seed. Will I be successful in growing field poppies? Watch this space.

A miracle has happened next door. The neighbours have planted a gardenia in the space where the camellia used to be. The gardenia doesn't look like anything much but, it's a start. Of course, it's really the wrong time to be planting anything like a shrub but I will watch and see how it goes. Sometimes you can't give advice if people haven't asked for it. That brings the total number of plants at their place to four. One bottlebrush, one feijoa and one lemon. Now one gardenia. Everything else is weeds and kikuyu.

I'm pleased with my butter bean crop so far, have had two meals out of it.
I'm planning to head to the beach one day and gather seaweed and sand for the garden. Just needs the right time. Otherwise I'm just chilling out at home.

Roll on summer!
Mum gave me my Christmas pay packet and I'm trying to resist the urge to spend it on plants. I'm going to save it for the ferry ticket to Tiritiri Matangi.

My tamarillo and watermelons down at Woodside are coming away. It looks like we may need to fix the arch as Jacqui found it pulled out and snapped in two. Monkeys! I wanted to grow beans on it but they didn't really have a chance, and the passionfruits decided they didn't want to grow there but in the beds somewhere else. I've decided we need to grow more parsley at Woodside. But it doesn't do any good to plant anything now cos then I get irate texts saying who planted this here? Now they need watering! It seems its ok for others to plant whatever they see fit without telling me or asking my permission but when I try to do it it goes down like a tonne of bricks.

Sometimes plants just want to grow - who am I to stop them? I sometimes wonder if the types of people that don't want too many plants and not fussed about using weedkiller are also pro-abortion and have no qualms about it. Family planning right?

As one unwanted extra child to another, I declare for my right to grow.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Celebrating trees

It has been quite a week. I am absolutely exhausted.
Unfortunately, I have left behind the snake plant and hoya at school and wondering if I am able to sneak in and rescue them or would that be breaking and entering the school? I had zero energy after the big end of year party and plain forgot to go get them. Going back to school after coming home just seemed too hard.

I have harvested my beans and got a quite a bit of chamomile, lavender, yarrow and dusty miller for dried flower arrangements. Statice and lamb's ears too. Yesterday I decided Sock's bed was looking rather bare so I mulched with mint and planted some lavender and sage that were languishing in another spot. The thing is my lemon tree appears to be dying, not sure from what, transplant shock or drought, I don't now, but nothing seems to revive it. So I thought I would plant some other plants around it that will hide it while it's recovering. It looks pretty skeletal at the moment.

I still haven't got round to organising my own garden party yet but I promise I would have at least one barbecue this summer. Which will be announced on the day due to the famed fickle Auckland weather. So if you happen to be in town, come on over. Too bad if you are in London, New York Melbourne or Bali!

My other thing to do is to get to Tiritiri Matangi Island over the summer, to birdwatch and plantwatch. Now I know some rongoa, I can go pointing out this and that plant in the bush and say confidently, if you make a tincture of this, it will get rid of all your mucus and give you super powers!
Everyone needs a good mucus reducing plant, considering all the snot and slime I've had to deal with in school this year. On second to last day, one boy threw up in the rubbish bin, luckily I got him there in time, otherwise, the library would have smelled very bad.

Karyn has invited me to stay at Albemarle Manor with three chickens and two cats. So I will be moving up in the world, or rather, going up Don Buck Road to Massey, where I can look down on the Ranuians and Hendersonites. Who knows I may get used to living the high life and become feverish with the altitude and not want to come back down again. Life amongst the mangroves can sometimes be a drag. We're forever being inundated with supermarket trolleys, a problem I'm sure Karyn does not have up in Massey.

Tomorrow I'm not sure what is happening, all I know is there is going to be big feast, my contribution will be to make a potato salad out of our garden potatoes, as symbolic of faith being like potatoes, hidden until harvest and to pick the Christmas Lilies, that did not toil or spin, provided they open just right on time. And Garden Planet does appear to be broadcasting tomorrow, so we have a special message just for you. I will give you the link in case you are googly challenged: click on Garden Planet. You will then find out why you MUST have a second Christmas Tree.

Monday, 16 December 2019


I took my spider plants home from the  school library for the holidays, and the parlour palm. Tomorrow I'm taking the snake plant and the hoya, even though they are succulents and would possibly survive the 6 weeks break, but I'm not taking any chances.

I know people want plant sitters and house sitters and pet sitters when they take THEIR holidays, but I'm not going to be paid a cent so I can't afford to be looking after their ones as well. Maybe if they leave out icecream and jelly and chocolate for me, but honestly that's not enough to live on.

And so ends my school year. I survived. I will graduate next year. I graduate every year, and I'm still stuck in Primary School. It is like an eternal childhood for me, when I even get children asking me how old I am, just to make sure I'm not the overgrown child who somehow got kept back every year,  to work in the library as my punishment for reading too much. Some children think I even SLEEP in the library. They can be forgiven for thinking I stay overnight as I had set up pillows and blankets, just in case I somehow get kicked out of home and have nowhere to go. There's gardens at school, with veges, so, I probably won't starve.

Maybe I missed my calling to a  boarding school. I can just imagine, living at school forever, writing my seven part series of school yarns featuring snarky children who talk back to you and swear in another language, thinking it's funny, children who's parents split them up between aunty, uncle, grandma, stepmum, step dad, cousin, and the women's refuge, children who's parents don't let them go to the library and stop them from reading books, children who are unvaccinated,  children's who's daddies are burglars and mummies are drinkers, and children who don't  even know where they are going to live next year. It's enough to make me want to play a mindless video game all day too.

Sometimes I walk home and the children see me and wonder why I don't have a car. But I just like to use my legs. One child asked me how much I got paid, was it $200? I said, I don't know, I will have to check my payslip. Why did she want to know? As of next week, I won't be earning anything so, it will be a grand total of zero, and not much help over Christmas.

I tell some of my Bible study ladies that I'm looking forward to the break, but don't quite know how I will survive over the summer. One suggested I do some gardening work, but I am not going to touch another lawnmower. (See previous entries over dramas with lawnmowers and paid gardening jobs) The others said why not be casual at the public library. But they don't know the Auckland Council cut staff already. The last thing they want is an out of work school librarian trying to take over their summer reading program.

I'm just going to stay home and eat as little as possible, and not go out because every time you go out,  it costs $$. My plants though, will love all attention I am going to give them now, and I could possibly go dumpster diving if worse comes to worse. I can get creative with scraps. I'm a gardener, just give me fish heads, potato peelings, old newspaper, vaccum bag dust, lawn clippings and chicken poo.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Season's greetings

 The beans have now climbed over the wall since this last photo was taken and I'm not really sure where they can go next unless we string them from the roof, but they have taken off.

I also have tomato and watermelon, which I have planted at Woodside and given some to school as there is not much room at home.

I bought some thyme and a lemongrass to maybe plant behind the strawberries by the frangipani but I'm not certain the soil is good enough to sustain life there, as I suspect there's still old plastic underneath all the mulch I've added, that's killing anything that might grow there.

The days are getting warmer and soon it will be time to have bbq or garden party, not to mention Christmas celebrations. Although I do remember one year mum banned me from Christmas as she thought I had gone overboard with decorating the house. Apparently you only meant to decorate INSIDE not outdoors and not put 'Merry Christmas' on the fence.

I'm on watering duty at Woodside on Fridays and have planted my tamarillo amongst the citrus too. Again there's no room at the inn..and no beds available at home so it's bedded down in a manger of car tyre and mulch.

I have just been admonished for not being on egg watch while I was trying to sort out library homework and now am not allowed to eat any of Martha's eggs which she kicks and pecks as soon as she lays them. I don't think it's a big loss though as she clearly doesn't like anybody else except for her own sweet self eating them. After mum's tirade of being the daughter who never does anything I just about ran away from home again. Tonight I may be lucky to have dinner on sufferance or I will just drive up to KFC or Nandos and get my revenge on Martha by tucking in to a finger-lickin good meal ALL BY MYSELF.

Ah the joys of living at home. Peace everyone.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Beanie Babies

Dad took some photos of my beans, after helping me string them up. He painted the planter, which mum got from Leyton, so it's a family affair.

I'm hoping to have a good crop this year. They are climbing butter beans. The packet said they are
Gourmet Range' and  'Melt in your mouth taste'. So I have high hopes.

I found out in my companion book that beans don't like onions or garlic, and I've put shallots and chives in my planter. Oops. I hope they don't fight each other. The mint is also trying to come through. I put applemint in the bottom as a drainage layer. Of course its trying to take over the garden but I figured if its in planter it can't really go anywhere. However coriander might not be too happy with it close by.

Manuka is awash with flowers at the moment. I am loving this season so far. Only took about 5 years to get most of my home planted up but I think I can say I have a real garden now...!

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

From caterpillars to butterflies...

Corinna my business tutor said that was what she pictured us students the beginning, hungry little grubs that ate and ate and ate... scared and afraid of everything, but...eventually we would cocoon ourselves and be totally transformed into amazingly beautiful butterflies free to spread our wings when we graduated from our course.

I am so relieved that I had my final presentation and am already thinking of when the next GARDEN PARTY will be. I had been so busy that all my sweet peas flowered and died and I only picked about three bunches. This weekend is the Flower Show featuring sweet peas and I have no sweet peas to show for it. Alas! There are other categories but perhaps I won't be in the running this year. If I could just remove Christmas from the calendar and move it to June I could have a more relaxing summer, but no, now everybody's asking for secret santa gifts and I just don't know if I can continue playing pass the parcel for another year.

I've already missed several birthdays, but I suppose thats why there's Christmas so that everyone who was too busy to have a birthday gets to have one on the 25th. Which brings me to topic of Christmas Trees. I did once ask, if I could please have a pukeko in a ponga tree for Christmas, but only got one pukeko and no ponga. However, later on in the year, my prayer request was answered when Margaret dug one out for me from her garden, which is only just now starting to show some fronds. I thought it had died from transplant shock but no, it's still alive. So, Santa does not always run on schedule.

How to fit in the garden party with all the other parties scheduled? Am not sure, but I'm sure that's another Garden Planet episode in itself (How to throw a garden party). Must do some research. How does the Queen do it? And who am I going to invite?

This weekend I am finally going to be free, and my to do list isn't that long now the big stuff is out of the way. Now its just small stuff like

Transplant watermelons
Water community garden
Look after Beth's plants (not sure if she will drop them off, but the ongoing saga of her tiny house hasn't quite ended yet)
Get 15% off anything at Kings Plant Barn (thanks Floral Circle)
Sow bees and butterflies mix

Because I am simply going to ignore big stuff like

Organise Eco West Festival garden ramble
Move the pop up fridge library and make a raised garden bed out of the old fridge
Save the entire planet by gardening

Just for the time being. I need some time relaxing in hammock I have yet to acquire with cucumber slices on my eyes from cucumbers I have yet to grow. Next year, instead of a business course, I am going to do a laziness course. Certificate in Laziness and Procrastination Management. After six years of continuous study

1. proofreading
2. english second language
3. horticulture
4. permaculture
5. money management
6. small business

I think I really need to enrol in this. I don't want to fail it by doing too much study and homework.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Bless you!

I had a wonderful time with the Floral Circle in Te Awamutu but came back with sneezes and a cold?! So I wonder if I'm just not used to all these flowers as everyone else did not need hankies seeemed quite alright. We saw many gardens and I am designated official journalist/reporter for club next club night for those who couldn't make it.
Karyn, who hails from Rosetown herself, declined coming along to visit her hometown but I think she missed out on some fabulous gardens. If you like colour and kitsch, Te Awamutu is your kind of place. Gnomes are not an embarassment, and the more colourful the garden, the better. One lady in her 80s gardened her whole berm and has filled every inch with flowers. Another took over a weedy hillside and gardened the entire bank. Once you start, you can't stop. There must be something in the water? Everywhere we looked there were irises and the town's pride and joy, roses. The Te Awamutu Rose Garden was started by a husband and wife team who were mad on roses and just kept going and going. I have to say they were the biggest roses I've ever seen, really healthy and lush. Not like my spindly looking lot.

Te Awamutu gardeners aren't dictated by the whims of landscape designers they just plant what they like. And if they want to plant a tree church they will - nobody has to commission anyone else to do it. And so on Sunday we stopped by, it was the first church I'd been to that had an actual bell and as it rung we were called to worship. Silence fell over the congregation as we sat in awe, and the birds started singing for us. The cats were lying in the pews and seemed content. There were roses clambering up the walls. Oh St Giles, you don't need to build a bigger church, you could have just grown one! We exited by the birches that are especially scrubbed each week and explored the surrounds, which included a labyrinth, avenues and rounds of maples, and a colourful perennial garden of irises, granny bonnets, and lady's mantle.

On way home I started plotting my own sanctuary. I picked up brachycombe and scabiosa at Payless plants (only $6) and Cenny bought a rose for Jennifer. I think I need to watch out for Cenny. She left her phone at Tall Poppies, she bought her wallet but it had no money in it, and she nearly left behind her wonder weeder. Thankfully her friend Stephanie was there to chaperone too. She's thinking of joining the club.

The sheep are friendly down in Te Awamutu although the cars drive a bit fast. I don't know if they can really handle a busload of Aucklanders in their main street we were kind of standing out like sore thumbs but now I know where Karyn gets her gardening obssesion from. It's not a paddock it's a potential garden!

Kia Ora Te Awamutu!

Floral Art

Sheep eyeing my cardigan
The Tree Church

Let's colour in the garden

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Labour weekend nearly upon us

Which means...a whole 3 days of uninterrupted gardening! Hooray!

Hold on, aren't we meant to have a day OFF labour? Isn't gardening hard work and labour intensive?
Well I suppose that's the difference between gardeners and non-gardeners. We are gluttons for punishment. We're the PD workers that are happy to be there. Community service is actually a great day out for us.

You can have your movies and your shopping and whatever else you do that's not gardening on your days off. I wouldn't know, I'll be outside enjoying the sunshine (or the rainclouds).

So as with anything I have a list of things To Do.

1. Plant up planter   actually, already done, I did it this evening, its full of chives now

2. Sow seeds..I've got packets ready, and seed trays waiting

3. Check on church gardens. Jennifer was mighty cross with me for going AWOL on her, but she never rang me to check if I was still alive. I'm still not sure I want to set foot on St Giles soil or if I will be allowed, so, unless they call me I don't know if I should go. The only thing they contacted me was to remove the fridge library, so I thought OK I will do that. Not a word about the garden. I think they are hoping it will just die and then they can have concrete and weeds back again.
However...that doesn't mean I can't go to Henderson Baptist and do theirs. Just the spider plants and the front section, which is now full of weeds. Not sure what to plant there yet but I will think of something. The heaven's breath is going great guns. I knew it would outlast them all.

4. Read  up on the history of gardening. Karyn has prepared a 2 part lecture series that I'm sure will have me heading to the books wondering where the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are now.

5. Harvest lavender

6. Make a start on mosaics by smashing up china, and collecting pebbles.

7. Work on getting sponsors for Garden Planet. If we want to go for another year, I might have to do this otherwise we may have to wrap it up (sob!) because I won't have any money to fund it. Or I could win lotto, but, the chances are less than zero since I don't buy lotto tickets.

8. Lay back and look at the clouds. Unless its raining, then I will have to bring all the washing in.

9. Snails are eating the books at the Woodside Fridge library. It's terrible, they are faster readers than I am. I am considering relocating that fridge to more stable ground. Of course, I wasn't allowed to put it IN the community garden. It would have been an effective snail decoy if, again, I was actually allowed to do anything there, like sit and read a book. Maybe at the new Riverpark playground, by the bench.

10. Have fun in my garden. Because life is too short to wait around for someone else to have fun. By the time they get to you, half the day is gone. And there's no way I'm driving in that Auckland traffic or waiting hours for the bus, which, on arrival, doesn't go anywere, you can't open the windows and start to slowly suffocate in the noisy air con. The fun thing  to do at the moment is to stay at home and  chase the neighbourhood cats away. I know you want to come in kitty, but Mummy Cat lives here. Ask your owners to make you their own garden.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Rainbow colours and miracles

Dad took a liking to my watsonia, I know a flower is spectacular when my Dad, who usually takes photographs of trains and buses, and occasionally the moon, thinks its worthy enough to photograph.

He doesn't take photos of me now. I'm not cute anymore! Besides, when gardening you don't always look your best. Jo wanted to take a photo of me and Karyn for Garden Planet and we were like no way, I'm wearing my worst clothes, haven't even brushed my hair, and I've got dirt under my fingernails.

Take ones of the flowers we bring you instead.

So anyway watsonia, which can become a weed in places simply because it grows so well, likes to be noticed. It grows taller than the magnolia tree beside it.  Well Iraena was quite tall. Now she has family beside her. I heard her mum recently passed away. I hope she's at peace now.

I have been thinking of missing children lately, having read a memoir of Madeleine McCann that was in the fridge library. Her case reminds me a little of Ainsley the little girl who drowned in the creek not far from here. Her parents were not watching for a minute and that's all that it takes. I think parents need to make sure that they can be reached by their children at all times. Ok Iraena was 25 years old and supposedly adult but she wasn't ringing her mum or dad who would have immediately calmed her down. Poor Madeleine, whatever happened to her is unknown but even if she was yelling and screaming her parents would have been too far away to hear her. Children just want to be loved that's all it is, they want you around and they want to see you and just know you are there for them. If they cry and act up its because they need you.

Plants are much the same way they all want to grow and they do much better given care and attention otherwise they can run a bit wild. Plants are very forgiving though if you do accidentally kill a few, its not the end of the world.

I'm doing much better this season with plants and don't have quite so many casualties now I've learned how to look after them better. Have been watching the Eden Project which is a place in  Cornwall, England which used to be a china clay pit they have transformed into a garden and huge greenhouse that looks like a geodesic dome of bubble wrap.  The original founder had made a fortune in the music industry and had this idea to create a garden, much like the Eden Garden in Mt Eden, out of an old quarry site. Now there are so many plants of all kinds there and they use the venue for concerts and as an educational charity, and its gets millions of visitors each year. Quite inspiring.

Am looking forward to my Floral Circle trip to Te Awamutu in 2 weeks time. There are rainbow colours everywhere in my garden. Have just added two passionfruits between the plumbagos on the wooden fence, and Dad has just painted up a box planter that mum is going to grow coriander and chives in. Mum is actually going to do some gardening and grow things! Miracle. I just knew if I kept giving her flowers and taking her to gardens and stuff that maybe she would catch on. Only the other week I took her to the library and amazingly she wanted to borrow a book. They have books in Chinese at the library. In all my years of being a librarian she had never expressed any interest in using the library and actually borrowing books. She's borrowed 3 books on my card so far. Well if she keeps on like this she might need to join up and have her own library card! Hallelujah!

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Round Rotorua

Spring Bedding display outside the Library and Visitors Centre
Pongas amongst the Redwoods
Went down to Rotorua for the weekend for my getaway. The town was in it's spring glory and there were so many tulips in the Government gardens that they made your eyes water. My main aim was to check out the Redwood forest which has a really cool treewalk you can do suspended above the ground but Mum wasn't keen (or to pay $30 for the privelige) so we stayed on the ground but it was still an awesome experience amongst the tallest kinds of trees in the world. Ponga ferns make their home amongst the redwood trees and they make a wonderful combination.

No chance of growing any redwoods at home though, some lifestyle blocks out west do have them. The tallest in Rotorua was about 75m and still growing. I love Rotorua there is so much interesting things to see there as well as hot pools, mud and geysers. Too bad the mud out our way isn't bubbling or a worthy tourist attraction but I'm working on it...

I'm meant to be doing some seed sowing soon but just preparing the ground first, have dug a whole lot of narcissus out - earlicheer and not sure where to put them for the moment as I am rearranging everything. I have created a spider plant bed in Fluffy's garden corner under the Kowhai and Manuka, clearing the undergrowth, and put a few clivia in the driest, shadiest spots. Martha was digging some holes for me so that was handy.

I pruned the tangelo tree, letting more light and air into the tree and removing some of the leaves that were infested with whitefly and aphids, as well as dead branches, so now more birds can get in and eat any remaining bugs. The neem I sprinkled last season seemed to be doing it's job building up resilience.

Now that I've tidied up most all areas of my garden I only have the sugar cane left to plant somewhere, too bad it's banned from the community garden, I'm always wanting to grow plants there  like choko or asian herbs except I'm not allowed to as nobody else eats them or they grow too wild. I eat them, do I not count?? I have given so many plants and time there to have it thrown back in my face isn't really my thing. I dealt with enough bureaucracy at church and local govt. :-(

I was thinking maybe I could join another community garden that didn't have so much restrictions about what you can or cannot do but they would be too far away, and Ranui is probably full as it's one a rent a plot basis. I suppose dreams are free!

Friday, 4 October 2019

Spring Fever

Was so busy spring cleaning the past few days that holidays are now upon me and I don't want to leave home. But since hotel is booked, I actually have to make myself go.
Rotorua, here I come. I may get to see your gardens this time!

Ellen kindly dug up some banana pups for me and they are now going to be planted with the other bananas at Woodside. She also gave me a sugar cane which I am thinking would make a nice hedge at home. Ellen's recommended 'Compost Queen' Bex to have a chat on Garden Planet so, we're going to have a super composting session next week. Bex showed me the Pt Chev community garden's snazzy new compost bins, which retail for over $2000 but...will last 10 years longer than their homemade ones out of pallets.

Speaking of home made. I have created a new corner bed by digging out some buxus and putting in all my non leafy ferns in hopes they will sprout again in the furtherest corner from the house. That meant I had to reshuffle my plants again, so it was like dominos, once I move one, all the rest need to follow suit.

The buxus I placed in a pot and topiaried it to a lollipop shape. Plants had to come out of that pot so I rearranged all the pots. Nandina and geraniums are now in new pots. Nerines are hidden away out of sight now their leaves are yellowing. Spider plants all came out of Sock's bed,  as they were getting too much sun into the flaming bed. They were replaced by renga lilies, which were getting munched by snails but now they are in a drier spot I expect them to not be so devastated.

Boronias all went in to the bed by my bedroom and out came all the aloes which were getting fried in direct sun. I've potted a few up but have way too many.

To do - find another hessian coffee sack for my wall planters, find more pots for my spider plants or create some kind of hanging web arrangement, or maybe make a spider plant border by the deck. 
I wonder if Rose the school gardener would like more spider plants or if I can get away with more in the library...I can't get rid of them any other way, nobody at the Floral Circle were the slightest bit interested when I bought them in for the trade table. That's the thing, if you've got too much of one thing, everyone else seems to have it as well. Both church gardens have them...and they aren't edible so Woodside don't want them. I'm eyeing up Planet FM studios. Maybe Terri could do with some??

Won't hurt to ask.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Auckland Botanic Gardens

The tour.. yesterday dawned bright and rainbowy, after several ums and ahs Mum finally decided she would come with me as Bev invited us to head to the gardens to brush up on my flower ID. It turns out we knew the names of most things but the annoying thing is those we didn't know the name of, didn't have name tags and what labels there were, were always in latin, leaving us none the wiser.

I know it's a prunus whatever, but what do normal people call it?!

The cherry blossoms were still not quite there yet, we predict next week they will be out in full glory, when the Chinese have decided to put on their festival, but I did  manage to see some glorious specimen trees in frothy pink bloom. There's daffodils at their feet, but Bev, ever the artist, preferred that they be yellow and not the white and orangey ones for full effect. Even so carloads of Asian families were strolling through the grounds, all having the same idea - taking selfies.

Half the gardens were fenced off undergoing renovations, so we did not get to see the subtropicals, or the perennial beds, or the walled vege garden, but other parts that we did not see last time were open, like the herb garden and the new landscaped carpark, which was just a paddock/gravel last year.

I recommend you take picnic or snack foods with you and a thermos because you can't just buy a latte and expect to have it without waiting twenty minutes or more...Mum. The cafe staff were rushed off their feet.

This time of year, the standout blooms on display were Red Waratahs, Purple Babiana, Florescent Orange Ice plants, Purple Granny Bonnets, and Bright Pink Daisies.

Some ideas worth borrowing include - a roof garden (I'm eyeing the garage roof)
Hardenbergia tunnel (could I scrap my arch and have a tunnel instead??)
Bricked up herb garden (if we bust down this house could make a herb garden out of the bricks, but we would need to have somewhere else to live, possibly in a container)
Red waxy begonias for year round colour
Purple Kale border with parsley
Banksia rose arcs
Fields of purple babianas.

Bev agreed with me she was not really a fan of camellias, rhodos, hellebores and azaleas. I was going to add hydrangeas and thorny roses to that list of old fashioned plants I just don't like. (Sorry hydrangea and rose lovers, but half the time they look like sticks)  So maybe it's best I don't set foot in Taranaki, because those are the star plants there. I have planned to go down to Te Awamutu after all with the Floral Circle, and good news Cenny is going to come with me too. We are going to visit 7 gardens and it will all be full of floral surprises.

Mum made the comment that one garden the threatened natives garden was messy and it did look a bit neglected, and then of course she turned on me and said like my garden...however Bev valiantly defended my honor and said I didn't have the time and anyway did mum ever help out? No? Well then just let it be. And there is nothing really wrong with a wild garden.

I felt like giving her a hug but Bev wasn't that type of person so she was content to have a feijoa icecream instead. Thanks Bev for a grand day out.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Spring into Action

I scored some seeds from the Ranui Community garden  they are

Sweet Pea Bijou Semi Dwarf
Marigold Crackerjack
Cleome Pink
Radish Diakon Japanese
Dwarf Peas W.F. Massey

Not sure what the deal is with all the dwarf seeds it makes me feel a bit like Snow White. But those are the seeds I have to play with now spring is here. I've uncovered my chamomile lawn and hoping they will just romp away this summer. I am tempted to fill every gap with plants and cram cram cram, as I can't leave bare soil for Martha to dig away..but I know things take time to grow and fill out.

I caught Martha eating some daisies this afternoon and didn't know she had a penchant for those. Aunty has given me some furry begonia cuttings so they went in the remaining bare patch in the Fat Lady Sings garden -- (I can't remember why I call it that, something to do with the camellia bush?)

Anyway. Bev the Floral Circle lady has offered to take me on a Botanical Garden tour this weekend and hopefully the weather fines up and we'll see cherry blossoms all over.

It's our working bee to down at the community garden again and we're going to enlarge the banana circle. I've been pruning the dead leaves and hoping for more banana pups so we can get a Banana Republic going.

Hooray for school holidays! Spring is out in force and there's lots to do. So am going to be busy as the bees are, so that by summer I can be in my lounger lazily flicking through garden magazines and sipping lemonade. Note to self must install garden hammock.

I must also grab some arum lilies from Aunty, yes I know they are kinda weeds, but I won't let them get out of hand. Last time I tried to plant them they all died but now I know to plant them in the wettest spot in the garden.

There's also the Henderson Baptist Church garden, which could do with a spruce up, but I will need to do that on the sly because I learned if you try to tell anything to a church board they will just say don't bloody bother us with your garden. Well they won't say 'bloody' because they are Christians but you know what I mean. It's a bit too late to plant Christmas lilies but I'm sure I can find something to go in the beer can strewn front entrance way. Not poppies because they will get stolen. I'm sure I can find something, otherwise they will need to be content with dandelions.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Secret Diary of rambling gardener

number of potatoes planted 17
new plants 2 (furry begonias)
weight - still 50 kgs
cigarettes smoked - none, breathed fresh air

Dear Diary

Am still singleton. Asked out mates to movie but no dreamy architect with big garden to look after on horizon. Mr Darcy still ignoring me. Went for cherry tree walk with mum in Cornwall Park but wasn't romantic as blossoms aren't out yet. Looked at all the couples holding hands and running round with dogs. I have no dog and can't run round with Mummy Cat. God it was noisy and annoying.

Big Sis birthday and got the brag she was in Palermo, Sicily, having Italian breakfast with her lovers. Sigh. Mr M still annoying me so I blocked his phone. He kept txting me at 9 in the evening to say goodnight but I don't like being woken up by my phone. 

Am having miserable week. Everyone got drunk at quiz night but had terrible fizzy coke and a dental appointment today. Lord I don't want root canal. Save me from distress. No I don't want to marry a dentist as I have crooked teeth that refuse to be fixed, as I still have no money, my $5 Lotto win didn't go far.  Handsome Gardener man at Woodside just told us he was married the other month, and nobody even knew. We weren't invited to the wedding. 

Bridget Jones eat your heart out. Am ALL BY MYSELF. Sob! On plus side, echium is blooming. 

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Dear Diary

As promised some pics. Spring is here...
Yesterday I caught up with Joanne from Ranui Community Garden and her Rongoa group. We had a working bee and I scored some mint, parsely and mint, vege seeds, and a whole lot of geranium and osteospermum cuttings. 
I did some weeding at the entrance with a Garden Planet listener who I met at Kings Plant Barn. I suspect she's following me around? 
Today the garden wanted me to start Chamomile Lawn number 2. So that's what's going by the Wisteria. 

I was thinking how popular diaries are with the 8-12 year old set. Dork Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Puppy Diaries. Ella Diaries. The Diary of Anne Frank. I'm wondering if Rambling Garden Diary will join the heights of literary famedom, but I suspect not. Besides, it's no secret, it's a blog, and while it contains some overtones of 'my parents don't understand me' it doesn't have the cartoony pictures or drama of man-eating plants. Perhaps if I wrote a crossover spinoff like The Secret Garden Diaries. But then I wouldn't have time to be a librarian/gardener would I? Follow the thrill of the seasons as winter turns into spring. Oh no are Selina's plants going to die in the summer drought? Will her dad cut down her tree again? On Valentines Day, Selina doesn't receive any roses or chocolates. Will Selina stay single forever??

Bees and Butterflies

Echium in bloom

Upgraded Riverpark playground at last...with carex and pratia planting

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Adopt an orchid

Spectacular Orchids were on show at the annual Orchid Show held at Kelston Community Centre.
Fab Garden Mama Brigita came along and adopted one, while my own Mum persuaded me not to adopt any as we already had quite a few under the citrus trees. No pink ones though just yellow cymbidiums and those tiny 'poor man orchids'.

You can join an orchid club and get really into it, the showiest ones win cups and trophies. Some tips - you can grow them in tree forks or ponga logs, and they look spectacular in hanging baskets. Grow them in bark, not potting mix and make sure they are well drained and in indirect sunlight, in a sheltered spot.

We bought posies for $5 each and now I have one sitting in the living room that will last months. I think orchids are like the plant equivalent of ladies shoes. Shoe aficianodos can't stop at one they have to all kinds. You have your Nike airs and ones with racing stripes, your peekaboo toes, and your slippers. Once you start with one you can't stop...

I didn't find any plants on my shopping list but did come across big pouches of flower seed at Mitre 10 going for $5 with mulch and fert included. They say Gro-sure' but whenever anyone mispells a word like 'grow' I'm rather sceptical. However they come with a 100% personal guarantee so, if they don't 'gro' I will write to Kiwicare and complain.

Still on the lookout for an architect to date. Hmm no takers. You would think they would be cruising round the garden centres looking for gardeners to help them set off their designer houses. Or maybe you have to call them. I don't know I've kinda given up on dating. I think it only works if you just date your friends, then you don't need to worry who calls first. If a man can't set up a proper date (movies are not dates! Movies are boring, go to sleep affairs, like going out to watch TV basically) then sorry I'm just not interested.

My next blog posts are going to be all pictures because...spring has sprung! Hooray. Once I figure out how to do it. I'm supposed to be all tech-savvy, but actually I still read books. I'm just used to cutting out pictures and pasting them on pieces of paper, with glue. I still do that sometimes. I can't press flowers online. It just doesn't work.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

The Garden Bible and other stories

First thing's first...
My plant shopping list for this season -

Lachenalia bulbs. Not sure where to get them from but Myra really wants them. She claims they were all dug out and disappeared and now she's moved house and she doesn't have any.

White Ice Protea. Els requests some seeds. I have no idea where to find the seeds, if they have any right now. I reminded her that the church lawn mower man did mow over our proteas and I didn't replace them.

Honeysuckle. I want to trial this one over our chicken wire fence.

Herbs - my cabbage bed I might plant up with more herbs if my village green seeds don't sprout. I think I may have sowed them too early. Herbs such as parsely and peppermint, and hyssop, maybe borage.

I think that's all.
I've been reading Gordon Collier's gardening memoir called Anacapri. No he didn't move to the Riviera this is this the plantsman's new garden on a 1/4 acre section in Taupo. Got lots of photos of interesting plants. I never met the guy but apparently he's like the top gardener in horticultural circles. He mentored my former boss. He doesn't have a lawn in his section its all crammed with plants. I think when the time comes when our lawnmower conks out and Dad doesn't want to mow it anymore then I will either garden the entire section or get some sheep  or rabbits in to eat the grass.

Another book I found in the library is called 'The Garden Bible'. No it doesn't have the story of Adam and Eve in the garden its more about 'Designing your perfect outdoor space' that is..if you have tonnes of money and live in the USA. I think they just have bigger houses in America from what I've seen, and larger sections when Americans come here and see our houses they probably think what cute little shacks we have, our houses are like garden sheds to them. They think nothing of having an outdoor kitchen and swimming pool, and firepit and they want to entertain guests at these pool parties on the 4th of July. I think its a bit weird to see a fireplace just smack bang in the middle of a yard with seating all around, cos its not even heating up a room or any practical's just 'to add drama and a focal point to the landscape'.

It says 'Most homeowners are familiar with many of the main architectural styles - Mediterranean, English Tudor, French Country, Contemporary/Modern to cite a few.'. Oh really. I wonder if there's a book for non home-owners that don't have a choice, and our main styles are - State House, Kitset, Prefab and Container. There's also Rotting Villa, Leaky Building, Pole House A frame, Bungalow and Art Deco. The Bungalow sounds like the most fun while you can't do much with an Art Deco house except put in a few succulents and yuccas here and there for you will ruin the architectural lines of your shoebox house.

FYI the house I live in is Kitset. Kitset shotgun to be precise but the good thing about it is it's made from bricks, so the Big Bad Wolf can't blow it down, no matter how hard he huffs and puffs. I have the added precaution of a buxus hedge but strange thing is my brothers left gaps in the hedging that's why I'm thinking of adding the honeysuckle, to grow over the chicken wire. All my neighbours across the road have white picket fences even though none of them have small children, but one does now have chickens and I suppose that keeps them in.

Should gardeners marry architects? I don't know but they are the ones writing all these Garden Bibles because most people can't afford them. I don't know if there are actually many homeowners in my street and most of them I don't want to copy their garden. Maybe if I lived in Remuera and was envious of someone elses and coveted their garden, I would say well how did you do it and they would say well I didn't my designer did it, here's their number call them.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Wintergarden visit

The Auckland Domain Wintergarden was looking candy-coloured on Sunday when I dragged Mum along for a gardening stroll. The Te Atatu Floral Circle had suggested a field trip, but there weren't many keen to venture outdoors this weekend. So I thought, well, I have the car and I will travel.

There were delphiniums, cineraria, lachenalia in baskets, cyclamen, violets, and garish tulips. It was blue, red, purple, yellow, orange and green. Yep the whole rainbow. Auckland Wintergardeners you've done us proud. In the tropical house, there was my favourite Chenille Plant with the furry red catkins, the chocolate cacao plant, the pitcher plants, the giant heliconia, ginger and banana, psychedelic coleus, snaky snake plants, and eyepopping hypoestes. And it was nice and warm. I thought I saw some chairs set out for a wedding ceremony, but no sign of bride or groom.

We ordered hot chocolates at the kiosk, while sparrows flew in and out. Then we made the trek up to the Auckland Musuem. Unfortunately, the Musuem wasn't so exciting or wondrous, or maybe I'm a bit jaded? They had an exhibit on bags called Carried Away, and not being a fan of bags I wasn't so impressed. There were handbags and shopping bags, I guess some people would be absolutely fascinating but to me it was very boring. They had also taken away the vintage Auckland street display and the old childhood toys, which is the highlight of the museum in my opinion and hidden it away in some other part not open to the public.

I don't remember much else having seen dried up skeletons and stuffed animals and rocks all before with Darwinist type pronouncements of how millions of years old they were. Now I reckon if they actually had some living plants in the Auckland Museum it wouldn't be so exhausting visiting.  Why not a few indoor plants, and you could even say they were millions of years old if you wanted to, why because they tell white lies about the age of everything else. But thing is, they wouldn't be consigned to history because these plants are still ALIVE and you could even attach little labels next to them and say for example, PONGA FERN.  Cyathea Medullaris. First discovered in 1842. But actually about a million or so years old. Around at the time of the Moa. Named after so and so. Native to NZ. Still alive today in our Musuem. A toanga and symbol of our nation.

Just an idea.

After having strolled about and of course looking in the museum gift shop (bought a Maori dictionary as I need to learn more rongoa names) we left the Museum and the parking lot for greener pastures.

Today I did about half an hour of gardening which involved shifting and separating some plants, more rearranging. Frangipani and hibiscus have swapped places. Fig tree is now by the steps. Nerines are now in a pot. Aloes are separated, and succulents, and nasturtium. I'd weeded the new winter cabage bed in preparation for spring. And Mum had removed all the mugwort from one bed, which I'd seeded with left over green manure mix. This time, all the mustard and lupins are sprouting, so why does the packet say to sow in autumn when the lupins don't sprout? I reckon I've been a bit gypped to buy the green manure mix that doesn't germinate half the time when it says to sow it.

Dutch Iris are have just come up. Penstemons are showing, as are gladioli. It's going to be a glorious spring...

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Gardening magazines and recent reads

Does anyone read or subscribe to magazines anymore? Apparently not...according to my Garden Planet focus group results. Thanks so much for coming everyone who participated, Louise for the yummy lemon cake and sandwiches and everyone elses' input. Everyone goes online. I forgot to ask...exactly WHERE online do people look for gardening help but I suppose like everyone else they just all go to Google.

Well good news you can just type in Garden Planet FM into Google and it will come up. We don't have quite the world-wide-web reach of the entire solar system/universe yet, but..we are just gardening ONE planet at a time here.

Funny thing is Kiwi Gardener magazine arrived at my place yesterday, I ripped open the plastic for September's issue, which had Rhododendrons on it (which I don't grow, unless you count azaleas as rhododendrons) flicked through, and thought, I don't really need this. I mean it's nice, got pretty pictures, and articles, but then I have tonnes of magazines already, many past September issues, and the ads are all the same just telling you to buy more plants and sometimes, shock horror, weedkillers.

Ok so I must be over the whole magazine thing. That's why a whole lot of them ended up in the library fridge. You could win a trip to Great Barrier Island, but for Aucklanders that's like winning a trip to the Sky tower. Granted there may be some gardens there but not anything much different to what we can grow on the mainland. Anyway I'm rethinking my strategy and decide its not really worth it write into these magazines because by the time I've told them stuff publication deadlines have passed or I will end up writing myself to death and start spouting 300 words of drivel like Joe Bennett in the fancier rival publication NZ Gardener. Sorry Joe Bennett. I know you try every month to come up with something amusing, but let's be brutally are of no practical garden help. I am not sure why he gets a separate column from all the other plant loving gurus in that magazine.

Now Soil and Health magazine Organic NZ is very quite interesting but it does suffer from the whole organic ethos of unless you own a huge tract of arable land off grid and do everything yourself by recycling your own toilet paper to eating rabbits,  you can't really do anything about all the horrible stuff thats happening everywhere else. And sometimes its a victim of it's own success. Ok you've managed to produce a world class organic product so what do you do...ship it overseas and contribute to more global warming? Cos the only people that can afford to buy your product are overseas? And if you don't can you afford to make a living off your own land? See...doesn't work does it?

Anyhow magazines aren't really where its at anymore (my school library doesn't even have them...I weeded them all out, and they are an absolute pain to shelve and cover and label) but I still have lots of respect for gardening books that aren't disguised as advertisments for a landscaping company. Although they still can turn into Joe Bennett like polemics. Like the one I read recently 'Gardens in the sun' by Trevor Nottle who wrote an entire book about how he lived in South Australia and just couldn't create an English style garden in the desert. It just doesn't work. Well I could have told you that. But then he advocated planting lots of agaves and yuccas. Noooo. Come on you can do a bit better, if its warm and dry and somewhat Mediterranean, you don't have to resort to prickly pear and yuccas. How about a few phoenix palms for shade. Yes they are a pest in Auckland but in Australia they could be very welcome and you can have your possums back too. And gum trees and wattles. You have all your lovely red coloured rocks and didgeree do dreaming patterns and noisy birds too so appreciate what you've got.

Another recent read was also funnily enough Australian -Inga Simpson wrote a memoir about a life amongst trees in the hinterlands of Brisbane called 'Understory'. She wrote a lot about gum trees and koalas and complained about gecko poo in her cottage which I imagined she lived in the bush like writers do in Titrangi when they don't want anyone bothering them. But she didn't write a word about possums. I think it's time for those possums to head back, the greedy overstayers and leave our cabbage trees and pohutakawas alone. I was expecting a whole Enid Blyton adventure like Folk in the Faraway Tree but no it was all about how the Global Financial Crisis ruined her writers retreat venture because she borrowed too much money to live in the bush and couldn't pay it back. She was also paying someone else to cut down firewood to heat her cottage even though she had trees all around her, and I was hoping she would be growing mushrooms or making treehouse swings or something but no all she wanted to do was write. Ok I don't get that I really need is a piece of paper, maybe a lap top and no interruptions (tip, do it in the night or morning before anyone else is up) you don't really need to run away and live in the bush. Great book cover though.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Under our own fig tree

Mum came with me to Woodside on Saturday cos I told her we could harvest spinach.

I left her to it and then she started actually doing some gardening there. I didn't even have to ask her. It was a bit of a miracle.

Then on Sunday she said to me that the fig tree which I had planted behind the fence (remember? the one Dad nearly destroyed) wasn't doing very well and suggested we move it to a sunnier spot.

We walked around the garden and I was saying 'here, or here...or maybe' Nothing was suitable. By the maple she suggested but we couldn't just get rid of the maple tree its roots were too entrenched. Not in the middle of the lawn...water and drainage pipes. Not by the path, too much pruning. How about we give the fig tree to the next door neighbours? I said. I looked at their bare expanse of grass and weeds. They only had three trees, a bottlebrush, a lemon, and a feijoa.

Oh no said Mum, if its by the driveway always have to sweep up leaves and cut back. The berm?

I thought poor fig, nowhere to go.

I had cleared some orchids and repotted them in baskets, so there was a spare pot. Maybe it could go in the big pot.

Anyway I just wanted to write this down, for its a miracle that Mum wants to plant a fruit tree. Hallelujah.

Since I am no longer going to St Giles, I can't ask to plant one there, for the answer from the church board after a few months deliberation will probably be NO. But if by another miracle they said YES, maybe I will return, and mum will have a reason to go to church!!!!

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Weather permitting

August has me like the windshield wipers, or intermittent gardening. I garden, pause a bit between showers, then carry on. I manage to ...

-Scatter village green seeds from Yates, according to the packet this Vintage Border Mix contains 43 flower varieties.

- fork my garden beds, then scatter granulated gypsum over them to break up the clay

- transplant two potted eggplants to the sunny bed by the garage, in hopes they will fruit better rather than be eaten by bugs.

- plant peppermint

- transplant two rhubarbs at Woodside Garden

-win a potted parlour palm thanks to Fabulous Garden Mama, now in the library

-plant growing potatoes in the bottom of the sack

-transplant two potted capiscums, also in danger of being eaten by bugs

Basically I am tidying up loose ends here and there. It's rather like housework only outside, but strange thing is I don't keep a household diary or describe my interior decoration endeavours to the extent I do this garden. I wonder why. Is it because we've had the same carpet for 40 years in the lounge, and my parents don't want to change it because it would mean moving all their stuff?

Is my furniture placement that inconsequential?
I guess thats what drives people to own their own homes because they can then do extreme makeovers, the same as I am attempting to do at my garden and library. However my way is a little bit here and there, because if you totally gutted the place and built a new one I think there would be an outcry.

The one thing I don't like that I can't get rid of is those buxus hedges my brothers put in now because they look square and ungainly and kikuyu is growing right through them. Sometimes I read articles in the NZ Gardener magazine, about some garden that's been designed, and it will say 'the owner wanted this and that' but it will never say their name. It will show photos of the garden but never show their faces. Inevitably it will say 'the owners only visit on weekends' and 'require it to be low maintenance' and then it will name some prominent designer who shows off their skill designing gardens for people that don't live there half the time because they have four other homes they own. Like you need at least four homes since people divorce and remarry and then divorce again I guess. The owners then pay someone else to maintain the garden for them. It's called climbing the property ladder or playing Monopoly. You know you've reached the top when you can rent out your place as a hotel.

I thought about how the other half live and wonder what they do if they don't garden. Spend the rest of the time doing housework in their gigantic homes? Bake cookies? Go on $2000 holidays?  I don't know. Maybe it's best I don't...

Am excited to report I saw my first - freesia, and gladioli of the season.
Flowers blooming now include hellebores, hardenbergia, magnolia, calendula, polyanthus, bergenia, diosma.
To come - lavender and echium.

It's blowing a wild wind out there. I have finished reading Tom's Midnight Garden. It is a classic children's book by Phillipa Pearce, but I confess that I still prefer the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  My formative years I don't remember doing anything exciting on the children's playground, with its noise, shouting and bullrush games. After you've hung upside down like a monkey a couple of times over some bars sitting on some bark chips it just gets real boring real fast.   But the enchantment and miracle of a garden...that will never grow old.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Garden Planet Focus Group

It's on Sunday 18th August 1:30pm at the Planet FM studios in Mt Albert. I've booked the meeting room and I need six participants. Please contact me if you would like to participate. We will spend about an hour discussing all things Garden Planet, and maybe check out the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua Garden afterwards, to see what's growing in their patch.

Refreshments are provided! Please come...

I'll just be noting down what people say but won't be influencing your opinions in any way. Just moderating. It won't be broadcast. This is a requirement for my CSBM course.

Some questions I will be asking -

How often do you get to listen to podcasts/radio?
What topics would you like to hear discussed on Garden Planet?
What ways do you learn about gardening?

It will be like the survey but you are free to elaborate more. Please RSVP by 11 August.
That's me and Karyn outside Planet FM. We're waiting for you...if you live on this planet, and love gardening then we want to hear about it. We are all 👂👂👂👂

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Miss Asher blooms

My Cleopatra Magnolia, what can I say she's a stunner right now. I planted her five years ago in memory of my friend Iraena Asher, who's birthday was July 17. Gosh she looks just like her.

It looks like I may not go to Taranaki Garden Festival this year. I think there are too many things about it that are too expensive and hard to do on your own. Plus, I remember going to Taranaki once and the people weren't the friendliest. I asked the visitors centre about going to visit, asking maybe they have accomodations by gardeners hosting as well, so you could stay at a place that actually had a garden, but no, they only have hotels which you pay for that don't have gardens. And they don't want to take you anywhere, there are no garden buses running from town, you basically have to organise everything yourself cos everyone is too busy to care about visitors from Auckland. But one thing they did ask me right of the bat was 'how much do you want to spend?'.

I am not a cash cow.

So sorry Taranaki, I wasn't impressed. They then said oh we've been running this for over 30 years and we not going to change. Okay then.

I've decided to check out the Waiheke Garden Festival instead, which might be more hospitable to visitors. And less of an outlay. I am not sure if my Dad's friend still lives there or if he's now moved to a retirement village (yes they have one on the island, but it's weird how people still need to retire from retirement, cos he moved there in the first place to retire). If so I can go visit I won't check out his own place didn't have much of a garden, his tenant kept plants in pots on the deck and he just had banks of nasturtiums up the back but I could take him along.

Otherwise, I am thinking of holding my own Garden Festival. Having gone to a few, all I need to do is tell everyone that has a garden that one weekend you will open it to visitors, provide maps and how to get there, someone to collect gold coin donations, and give all the money to a charity of my choice. Possibly schools because they need more gardens.  I will also make sure I provide a special van/bus tours for people that can't drive or don't have cars. If you see three or more gardens (you will get your map stamped at each garden) you can enter the draw to win a raffle.  Also there will be a plant ID game where you have to take a photo of the different plants and find them in each garden, if you find them all you also win something.
I will also ask my school if they can plant their field in sweetcorn for summer to make an amaizing maze.
When people ask why. I just ask why not?

Friday, 19 July 2019

Taranaki Garden Festival, got to go!!

Well, two weeks of school holidays are over and I stay home and not do anything. Perfect. I just had no energy. I think I saved some money too by ignoring everyone that tried to ask me out.

I now need to save heaps of money because I'm planning on going to the Taranaki Garden Festival this year. Now that I don't have a boss that talks all about it all year and says we going to go and then at the last moment says we are not.

I'll just tell my new boss, I am going on the Garden Festival to visit my garden family and get back to my roots. Surely she won't object to that, I'll just take two days off school. Possibly I will chuck in a visit to the Puke Ariki library, but really, there's no point going to a library if you can't borrow any of the books.

So it's going to cost about $2000 for five nights including accomodation, breakfast and dinner. It will be on a big coach with about 20-30 other people who are keen gardeners. Its not going to be with the Floral Club because they are going somewhere else this year - Te Awamutu. But thing is, they only have rose gardens there and I'm just not that interested in roses. I want to see the entire  mountains and forest, fringed with rhododendrons.

To drive down it takes about 5 hours to get there from Auckland.
I'm sure its probably much quicker by plane, but I don't think I'm in too much of hurry.

They also have Sustainable Backyards and Fringe Garden Festival going on all at the same time. The whole region  is garden-mad I tell you. They don't put on a big flower show in a sports stadium and pretend its a garden. They just have gardens there all the time and show off the whole town when  the rhododendrons are in bloom. Apparently because of the volcanic rich soil, maritime climate and countryside remoteness conditions are just perfect for gardens and anything that you would see in a traditional English garden will thrive there. But thing is, its not just English gardens and flowers and such, they plant the flowers in with the pongas in the bush. And they've been doing this for 32 years. They not closing the festival like they've done in Auckland because they run out of cash, exhibitors, designers or founding fathers. It just carries on year after year after year.

So I've just got to see it for myself.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

In from the cold

Check that, it's winter and its time to stay away from humanity in bed because I have a cold.
Now people say there are remedies for this but I am convinced that the proper remedy is not to work for the entire three months of June, July and August, and to go somewhere warmer, like Fiji.

You don't see birds that have wings and not use them to fly north, instead stuffing their beaks with lemon and ginger and garlic and hunkering down in their nests. They have the good sense to just not be around where there's no sunshine.

Having said that Jo suggested Garden Planet do a show on cold remedies. This was after much coughing and spluttering and several retakes in the studio, which probably needed to be disinfected afterwards. Thank God we not on television. So I've been doing a little research.

According to NZ Gardener magazine three herbs are useful to fight colds. Echinacea, Astralagus and Holy Basil.  I don't have any of these in my garden. I tried echinacea, but it just didn't want to grow for me. The slugs demolished it. I don't know what Astralagus is, (some sort of root? The picture wasn't clear)  and my basil isn't the holy one. If you do have echinacea, you need to dig up the roots and make a tincture, and drink it 4-5 weeks BEFORE you have a cold. Far too much trouble for me. Besides a bit late now.

The other remedy aside from a flu jab and doctors visit that can cost up to $45 is manuka honey, but even that's expensive with some jars can set you back $100 depending on how much UMF is present. Actually it's not even a scientific thing, Unique Manuka Factor they call it, it just a fancy marketing term. Regular honey could work just as well. I have two jars left so am working my way through them by spreading them on crumpets.

There's hot toddy lemon drink, which can work but just be aware too much lemon juice is bad for your teeth. And those lozenges? Well they are mostly sugar. You might get over your cold, but your teeth are not going to thank you unless you brush them every time you suck them.

Now ginger and garlic could work but if you eating the chinese diet everyday which always adds a bit of ginger and garlic to stirfries I'm wondering with so much garlic and ginger consumption, how is it that I'm still getting colds?

Then there's chicken soup. Martha, come here and help me keep warm. Your sacrifice would mean so much to me.

Somehow I don't think my folk remedy advice will be of much help to many people. It will be just telling them stuff they already know. It's just a fact of life that in winter, we get cold. Besides, I shouldn't really be going into Planet FM when I have a  cold cos that means I have to get out of my warm bed, change out of my pyjamas, drive all the way to Pt Chev and try not to cough all over the microphones.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Sims 4 Gardening

It's winter and time to play around with garden ideas and planning and design.
My next endeavour is to shape the entrance to the backyard with some plantings between the garage and the house with a low groundcovers and maybe lavender.  There's a paved walkway between the house and garage and as you enter the backyard. I reckon lambs ears would do well there, and there would be less for Dad to mow. There's also a Japanese maple beside the verandah and I've put some pots of succulents beside the path. Maybe it could be Japanese theme with low mounds of scleranthus and mondo again? It will have to be soft planting not anything spiky or too big.

Margaret invited me over to her place for a cuppa and I came away with a hydrangea and some succulents. So here I go back to the garden to find places to plant them again. She's now got a table and shelves full of succulents to play with and has become a sunshine and succulent fan.

Succulents are perfect for those sunny dry, hard to plant places under the eaves of the house and they do especially well in pots. I was thinking of Margarets' garden spaces and if I were to put my designer hat on  I would have an espalier fruit tree against her brick wall, or perhaps a grapevine, and at it's feet alyssum and thyme, or perhaps a chamomile lawn, which she wouldn't have to mow. Because the rest of her section is completely flat, if she invested in one of those robo mowers it could do the job for her and she wouldn't have to bend or push anything.
Over her defunct clothesline I would plant that wisteria and have it trailing down like laundry. I would remove the dying griselinas and plant South African bulbs and carnations in her sunny raised garden instead. On the fence I would put wires up and have star jasmine covering that wall or ivy geranium. On her bottlebrush tree I would place hanging baskets and put orchids or broms there.

Of course I don't have a magic wand to wave that this would all happen, nor am I the type of person who goes into a house and starts rearranging the furniture uninvited, but..the possibilities! (Actually, maybe I am the type of person itching to have a home of my own to decorate, but alas, I am not wealthy enough for that, maybe it's the nesting instinct, or some librarian gene that requires me to put books in the right order when confronted with a pile). But all I really am doing is placing plants in their right spaces. Which is what a gardener does to create a garden.

There is actually  a video game  called Sims 4 Garden. You  have all these plants and presented with a plot of land to place them all in. But you must do it before they die on you or get eaten by bugs. And if you place them in the wrong place, they will die but in the right place they will thrive. You must also arm yourself with secateurs and pruners before they get out of hand and take over. Oh and weeds will pop up now and again so you have to vigilant at pulling them out.

However I wonder if people that play this game actually garden in real life, just as the people that play Grand Theft Auto go round racing and stealing cars, and the people that play Halo go round with a semi automatics shooting anyone's heads off that they suspect are  aliens.

Well to all you gamers out there I AM playing the real life version. Level one might start off with herbs  in pots and then you graduate to annuals and veges, then trees and shrubs and grander estates. The champion level would be official caretaker or Kaitaiki to an  entire garden community.  You are nominated  Master Gardener to his or her Majesty and awarded an OBE.

I do know that Pu Yi the  Emperor of China abdicated and became a gardener, so the top job must have not been a bed of roses compared to actually looking after a bed of roses. I was never very good at Farmville or those games that were about cooking were you pretended you were cooking by pushing and clicking all these buttons but never got to eat the food you created afterward, because it was all on the screen and you'd spent all your time and money playing a video game with no reward other than it took hours and hours of your free time. Much like writing a gardening blog.....

Sunday, 7 July 2019

South of the garden border

Dad helped me fix Archie (my garden arch) yesterday from its teetering position, we banged in the Mitre 10 rebars I'd fashioned and I retied the stakes with panti-hose.  All  that's left to do is find some universal screws to replace the one that's missing.

Louise came over offering half a bag of shredded pine-bark mulch, which I gladly strew under the kowhai trees. Dragon's Gold is flowering now,  its seems like wearing a hundred earrings of golden yellow. Thanks Louise.

I am celebrating school holidays, which theoretically ought to mean more garden time, but has now translated into more study hours to catch up on. Some things I never had thought about before in running/owning a business. Do I need insurance? What legislation do I need to comply with? What CRM system to use? And other abstract things that have nothing to do with getting one hands dirty. And then there's risk. Thankfully I don't really intend to run a business per se. I'm busy enough as it is. But if for some strange reason I'm called to do so, I'll know exactly what's involved. And I can add even more letters after my name, like Selina CEO.

My sister, never one for getting hands dirty, has sent me a pair of fancy garden gloves that look too good to use. They are floral patterned blue with leather accents. She's given me posh Cath Kidston floral pyjamas too, so that I can look like a chic gardener at work outside AND in bed. Mum and Dad had gone to Kew Gardens, and said they saw giant amazonian water lilies from underneath. Dad took photos and there's an array of perfect looking roses, foxgloves, catmint and...photogenic cats lounging around the parks and gardens of London. Kew Gardens has the famous palm house in which tropical plants of all kind flourish. Kind of like the Auckland Domain's Wintergardens, but on a much grander scale.

I had said to my former workmates that I was planning a garden trip after I left when the broken promise of a Taranaki Flower Festival trip never eventuated. My big plans were perhaps to see Japan, or China in gardens, but that plan was quashed when sister said she was going to run a marathon in Chicago instead, clashing with the dates, as she was going to meet with me. But now with the school holidays and my studies, I won't be able to get away anyway. However, the Floral Circle have announced their annual trip is to Te Awamutu, which is famous for its Rose gardens and that might just have to do. So I've earmarked dates at the start of November, right after I finish my course. Must tell Karyn as that's where she's from.

The other garden update is - purple salvia is now liberated and planted in my wisteria bed, Christmas lily bulbs now moved to the front, and overcrowded aloe vera pups divided and placed in a tyre. The weather has turned colder, and wetter. I've started reading Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming. I'm now up to the part where she decides to rip up the White House Lawn and put a vege garden there. She notes that the staff at first were resistant, but then they came round. But then who can say no to the First Lady of the United States? Somebody has to care and slim down those obese American kids.
She writes that from $200 worth of mulch and seeds in their first season they had more than 90 pounds worth of produce. They had honey from the bees, salads for the White House kitchen, and fresh veges enough to feed the homeless. Also it meant she could wear casual clothes in the garden and not be constantly scrutinised over every outfit. She also had child labourers from elementary school come to help her dig, because obesity was threatening to turn them into couch potatoes.

Ah Michelle Obama, my heroine. You had a brief moment in the sun, and you planted many seeds that reaped a harvest.  Now the USA has someone in power intending to build a great wall, but didn't he learn anything from history? There's already a Great Wall of China, and it clearly didn't work. I have an idea for Mr Trump, he could create a garden border that would be just as effective. On the Mexican side, he can have a hedge of Mexican sage, tithonia and agave. The spiky agaves would create an effective barrier and the mexican sage would generate enough food for bees so the Mexicans can harvest honey, and then they wouldn't need to sneak their way into the US. And the tithonia? Would be there because bright orange Mexican sunflowers would make everyone happy.  Yes, just plant them all along, using eager child diggers and watch international relations improve.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

er...what is codswallop?

I can't believe it's halfway through the year and now into July. We finally had rain after several days of frosty mornings and Mum and Dad have returned from the other side of the world. Dad is now pleased he can mow less lawn and Mum just looked at my new garden bed, I didn't hear much comment but at least she didn't call my companion planting 'Codswallop' which was what someone said on a Facebook gardening group. I don't really know what 'codswallop' is but I don't think it's anything nice..or respectful.
If they had listened to the broadcast they might have learned that companion planting has scientific basis and it's not just hearsay.

Now when someone just offers their not very respectful opinion on something they don't even bother to hear out or listen to I have to stop automatically thinking I have to rush and defend myself or the entire Garden Planet. Karyn says I just need to respect their opinion but how can I when they are not being respectful themselves? Or ignore it...or just not post anything on Facebook anymore.

I learned the hard way that when people don't want to listen they will say rude things and try to drown you out in an attempt to shut you up. When you try to reason with them they don't listen and think that what they say is more important and they will say it louder and treat you with contempt.
Even church people do this which I think is totally unacceptable that when you have something to say it is dismissed because people just don't want to hear you out. But then I have to think well it is their loss and to shake the dust off my feet and move on as a sign against them.

It is a waste of energy and time to rail against anything you don't like, because what is the point? You say you don't like X. Well yes ok maybe YOU don't like X what has that got to do with anything? How does your saying you don't like X make a difference, when all you have to do is just politely ignore X and let the people who like X enjoy what X has to offer.
If I commented on every single thing I didn't like on Facebook I would have no life because all I would be doing is scrolling on Facebook making negative comments all the time. Anyway...

Maybe some people just don't have manners. I spent a whole term teaching children how to have manners in the library. It's a bit exhausting. I think they are finally learning that its good to be quiet in the library and to read a book. I can't believe that some children complain to me they are bored when there's over 13, 399 books to read. Including such titles as 'Why is Snot Green?' and 'I Need a New Bum'.

Hooray for school holidays. I haven't got that much to do in the garden now I've done the prep and planted my cabbages, purple sage, kale and catmint but now I need to catch up on all the study I've missed. Oh and all the books I have to read, including gardening ones. I've got the Meaning of Trees by Peter Vennell to read. So if I'm not being very social (please stop inviting me to midwinter things..!) it's because I need my hibernation time. Also, I need to find out why is snot green. Does it contain chlorophyll?

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Morning report

I was a busy weekend gardener. I did so much work that I'm hoping it will last me through the next few months of July and August while waiting for spring. Earlicheer jonquils are already out and my magnolia is budding.

I put in two new strawberry patches, one by the garage and one by the front door. Thank you Woodside Garden for the extra strawberries. Also added a whole lot of comfrey leaves as mulch. Apparently pine needles make really good mulch for strawberries, but I was using straw and lavender cuttings.

Also planted - more catmint, purple sage, and iceland poppies (which were promptly dug out by Martha as the poppies didn't have much protection. Ah well)

I also pruned the tangelo tree for some deadwood, which I may burn and make biochar. I dumped neem granules all around the citrus. I pruned some of the kowhai, which is gloriously flowering right now. It's divaricating habit makes it sprawl over the ground, so I can't get past. I'm training it to behave.

I planted some oriental lillies in the front side bed, scented. I had two packets so ten bulbs in total.

After that I swept the paths.

Someone has generously donated a whole lot of garden magazines in the pop up library so I've taken them out to go through them and read. Some copies I already have though. I sometimes find it annoying that people donate me garden magazines because I already have loads of the exact same copies. You not doing me any favours by giving me magazines I already have read. I think people can't just bear to biff them because they contain good information. Some magazines are totally throw away, like yesterday's newspaper, but in gardening world next season will come round again and you'll be looking at that month's issue even if it's from ten years ago wondering well what do I do now?

Just don't answer any of the  advertisements because some of those businesses have gone out of business, and the garden events and festivals have all passed, and fads and fashions change - who knew in the last decade that designer gardens would come crashing down because of the GFC (global financial crisis) so people couldn't spend money they actually didn't have on investing in their gardens to raise their property value to sell later. Well thank goodness for that because it's tiring looking at all the fancy garden gear and accoutrements they kept wanting you to buy to tart up your garden.

Now people have come to their senses and gone back to their first love, which is to grow yummy food to eat in their gardens and not just cos it's fashionable but because its necessary! Far be it from me to look down on anyone who thinks gardening is just a hobby to keep up appearances with the neighbours and that people do it just cos they have nothing better to do. Actually it's actually the only thing worth doing. You don't garden, you don't eat, and you won't have food for your soul.

I'm thinking of donating some of these extra magazines to the doctors waiting rooms. I don't know about you but doctor's waiting rooms seem to have the most trashy magazines. You could be waiting for the doctor for an eternity and all you have to look at is celebrity porn. How about a good garden magazine, that way, if you get into gardening, you might not even have to see the doctor next time.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

A spot of gardening

Kings Plant Barn is having a stocktake sale..with 30% off all plants. I swooped in and bought red cabbages, curly leaf red kale, ornamental purple kale, red begonias and purple primroses. If I'd had more money I would have snagged some more neem tree granules, and oriental lilies (scented) but I had to stick with my budget. I ran into a Garden Planet listener...Gui-Jae, who I don't know from a bar of soap, but apparently she knows who I am (are you Selina?) why yes I am..but rather embarassingly, I was not recording today because of my croaky cold which I am still getting over. Which is why I was looking at room diffusers in the gift section, to put in the library. Maybe the scent of mandarin and basil will dispel all the germs...? My Garden Planet listener had in her trolley a kaffir lime, a blueberry bush, and a persimmon. We chatted about this and that and then I went on my way, time was ticking.

I raced home to plant my haul, digging little holes around my azalea, and in front of the wisteria, and mulching with wormwood leaves. Mum and Dad must have something to come home to...they are going to cricket matches, and hanging out at transport museums, riding trains and having yum cha (or is it high tea?)  in Merry Olde Englande. I'm catching up with housework and hungry cats, and more laundry. Not to mention homework.

I found some potatoes at the bottom of my potato pile, looking like they are going to sprout. I know it may be a bit early, but I put them in my prepared potato pile of cabbage tree leaves and other prunings. hoping if they take I'll have potatoes for Christmas. They are agria potatoes, the best kind.

I've also decided the spider plants are ready to go in the ground in my flaming bed area, as a border. Terri suggested they were good border plants for night time because their white variegation illuminates a path. Now that I've gardenised my section (is that a word?) I'm having a cup of tea and a lie down because there are only four more days before my folks come home and Lord knows I won't get anything done or my peace and quiet back when they return.

Jolly good.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Magic mushroom compost

I recruited another older sister Louise to help me pile some mushroom compost into our gardens. A mushroom wholesaler was giving away free old mushroom compost/spawn on TradeMe, so even though we had to go all the way to Stanmore Bay in Whangaparoa, we pitched in and secured a car load of magical mushroom compost, so good for our garden beds. The bonus was there were pine needles there too so we piled in bags of pine needle for mulch.

What the mushroom compost does is not just good compost and bulk for the soil but contains a substance called mychorhizzal fungi that attaches to plants roots and works in symbiosis with the plant to form a vast network, kind of like a plant's facebook or social media network to exchange water,  food and nutrients that the roots can't access just on their own. They also bind heavy metals in the soil and decontaminate polluted areas, bringing barren areas to life.

A book called Mycelium Running, by Paul Stamets is  famous in Permaculture circles. It explains just how essential fungi is to life on this planet. Mycelium, or what we know and see as mushrooms, could literally save the planet. And it all happens underground. Some mycelium networks  or fungi can be four miles wide, making it largest single living organism one earth.

I've always liked mushrooms, the grower said he was growing Shitake mushrooms, which I know as Chinese Dried Mushrooms but other people call them by their Japanese name. They are delicious in soups and stir-fries, a boon for vegetarians - they are actually neither plant not animal. And they grow on rotting wood, in the wild they are found in forests. A gourmet food that every chef worth their salt ought to be familiar with.

I got home and piled the mushroom compost on my new garden bed, which is now marked out, with another edging of mondo grass. I've covered it with some plastic trellis to prevent Martha from digging it up all over the path, and will let it sit over winter to settle and rot down for planting in spring. Although I might not be able to resist planting at least a few plants..but I'm thinking I might need some cloches if I want to put any cabbages in. Old light shade fittings from the Op shop might do, or empty hanging baskets placed upside down.

Louise offered me a spare bag of sheep pellets which I sprinkled liberally and I used up the last of my dolomite lime. Its kind of fun like making a lasagna or layer cake to build a garden bed. I'm much better at gardening than baking. My baking makes the kitchen a complete mess so I don't do it much, although I have freedom while mum is away to cook whatever I like....

Some seeds I sowed today by the fence line were packets of Keith Hammett's sweet peas, 'Solstice Rose Pink' and 'Sweet Pea Blue Shift'. Hoping they will be in glorious bloom by November.
The Te Atatu Floral Circle held its 55th Anniversary celebration on Saturday, which was a fancy high tea. It was gorgeous, and I'm thinking I might visit the Chapel one Sunday because they always hold their meetings there, so surely they won't be averse to gardens and gardeners like St Giles were. They even have a community garden in their churchyard growing veges and a fruit and vege stand to swap produce. It's a shame I don't live on the Peninsula though, I need to find a church closer to home that will welcome gardeners. Or I could just carry on at the Baptist which I sadly have been neglecting. I have my eye on an empty garden bed just crying out for flowers. If nobody steals the flowers this time (won't plant poppies) I might just secretly do it.

I learned if you tell someone you want to do something or ask they just say you can't do it. The other alternative is they just rip out what you did or tell you to remove it, but maybe they can't if they don't even know you did it. Guerilla's like grafitti. But with plants.