Tuesday, 29 January 2019


Heatwave has hit with temperatures reaching in their 30s yesterday.
I did a bit of gardening before it got too hot. Moved lavender 'grosso' from it's pot to beside the garage garden and mulched with cut lemon balm and salvia, which promptly shrivelled up. Chive clumps were divided in an attempt to create a chive border along the edge after clearing out some purple mint looking plant. I need to plant ID that, it has flowers that look like lavender but has leaves like mint or oregano..but it doesn't really smell, bees love it though.

I've got chilis in pots now from Kings the last punnet left. They had ones already fruiting that were $15-$35 a pot but I wasn't going to spend that much. My budget was more like $3. So I got six plants which are going to grow on, and they will love this warmer weather.
I have a begonia am keeping an eye on for its part of a begonia in a pot competition, the best looking one wins...a free lunch. One hasn't flowered yet though I had a red one  that did, I put it in a bicycle pot holder so it was cheery but am so bad at taking photos that I didn't capture it that well, and it did get a bit scorched by the sun. Note to self be more diligent about pot plants! Mum thinks I ought to be watering them everyday if they dry out in the slightest, and then harangues me when I miss a day.

What kind of gardener are you, have all these pots and just let them dry out and die! Nothing like a mother to not so subtly remind you that you are no good at anything.  I think I confirm her worst suspicions that I'm just not professional at anything. Complete amateur, moi. Washing dishes? I miss spots. I don't clean windows in my spare time. I cook but leave crumbs. Just existing I unfortunately breathe the same air and leave a shadow.   How do you solve a problem like Selina? She never does what you tell her to.

I honestly don't know. If I were to solve me completely I would be like those miraculously self-made men that somehow orchestrated their own births and fortunes. I'd be an adult coming out of the womb. I would never know failure and be absolutely perfect.  Possibly with 20/20 vision and it would be cool never to have to go to the dentist and have my teeth perfectly straight too. I would then go on to  win every beauty pageant. I would be living a completely different life....! But I'm sure that Lorrainne Downes does not really want to swap her life (or body) with mine.

Anyway I am not over watering them because I remember that if I do that they start rotting out. But I have been dousing my basil with pepper to stop caterpillars munching them. I thought herbs were meant to repel insects not attract them...

In other gardening news. There are works still in progress. Church garden coming along..watch this space. And radio coming along...watch this space. I am off to visit Pt Chevalier Community Garden today am quite excited and I''m hoping to be inspired. I've heard good things about a church garden in Mt Eden too. And possibly going on a rongona Maori herbal medicine course cos I want to learn all about making moisturiser out of mamaku and tea from kawa kawa.  I can do it this year! Also planning to do a project management course at the Wananga for small business. So it's all go just need to get stuck in.

Monday, 21 January 2019

On Monet and making gardens

There would be several gardens on my bucket list if I had the time and someone to go with to see. Although for all the global globetrotting there's something to be said about there being 'no place like home'. For one thing, no flying monkeys, evil witches and questionable wizards. But then... Dorothy's world was pretty bleak, she just went back to black and white and from what I gather about Kansas and the Midwest Dakota prairies the dust storms totally ruined people's lives and making a living was nigh impossible.

The thing is. I can't ask anyone else to make a garden for me. That's not my remit. I am a creator. I need to do things myself because nobody will teach me otherwise. Thats why its hard to garden for someone else, sure I can help, sure I can weed but at the end of the day, that's their garden not mine they are the ones who will need to tend it and live in it.

I've often gardened for people that don't have time or they broke a leg and can't bend down, or are ill. But the thing is their gardens need to be the kind where they can set it up for the amount of time they are willing to spend on it. This is great if they have planted it themselves because a garden becomes yours when YOU plant it. If someone can't bend down it's no use trying to make a huge garden from the ground the best thing is to install a raised garden or just do pots or even table top tiny gardens.
Don't make a rod for your own back is what I'm saying. I've seen people as they get older and can't do much anymore then complain they can't do their garden anymore. My personal opinion of that is if you need help, ask for helpers and use your garden as s teaching garden because so many of young people today are deprived of land and they cannot even dream of owning a piece of it, let alone caring for it.

One day you will no longer be here. You cannot ask someone else to carry on gardening and just expect them to do it according to how you want if you haven't taught them in the first place. Otherwise just let them have free reign.

I thought of Monet who was a gardener first before he was ever a painter. He created his colourful flower garden with shimmer effects and waterlily ponds just so he could paint them. He gardened in Giverny, France for the rest of his life. He employed gardeners yes and even had some gardeners live on his property so they could garden full time. When he died the garden fell into neglect and there were no funds to carry on and pay the gardeners, but wealthy american benefactors saved this garden from ruin and it is now restored to its former glory and open to the public, with people coming to paint and enjoy what Monet had created. Perhaps the original vision is not quite the same as plants grow and die and things change. But one has to allow for that. But the thing is he lived for his garden. Even when he couldn't see anymore. It wasn't just the visual aspects of it, it would be the sense of place, the peace, and the simple act of creating that was more than just the look of it.

I thought of this as I was creating this garden thinking why am I doing this..and then I thought why did God plant a garden and ask Adam and Eve to dress it and keep it, they did not plant it themselves.
I think God had planted this garden so He could hang out with Adam and Eve forever as the walked in the garden in the cool of the day with His presence amongst the trees.
Unfortunately,  they were just useless at plant ID thanks to the confusion and lies of the serpent. Oh this fruit is not poisonous sure we can eat it!  I think of this whenever someone tries to tell me Roundup is safe and nobody has ever died from exposure to it. Anyway they were both banished from the garden and thus sentenced to become child bearers and farmers, tilling the ground.  If there's one thing I know farming and growing crops is not the same thing as gardening which is why when I was asked to hoe a bed I looked blankly at my former boss as I had never used a hoe before. He was asking me to bash up the soil into crumbs so it would look good.  Needless to say I was useless at this task and wanted to pick flowers instead and make the plants pretty not bash up the soil. After picking through many thistles and thorns I thought well this wasn't fun at all and not my idea of gardening!


There's no place like home

I've taken some time out, though summer work still beckons.
Such as watering pots, and planting up chillies, and clearing weeds out from tomato plants, netting them and companion planting with marigolds. I've been to the beach to gather seaweed mulch and sand for the garden. I bought a packet of sunflower seeds and potted up basil.

My watermelon shrivelled up one day and I despaired - my transplants don't seem to take. I don't have a spare. I reckon I need knee deep raised beds to grow anything worthwhile harvesting in this clay soil of mine. It's just getting them past mum.

My dream is to heal this land after reading horrific stories of dustbowl America, and drought, and erosion, and also the prospect of having to go live in Australia.  I only say this because I know several people who got jobs and moved as its cheaper to live there and people can actually afford a home, even to rent. Michaela and her family are moving to Aussie and leaving behind the little backyard garden project that Brent installed for her and I haven't really asked who will look after it now.

But, as they say charity begins at home, if I'm able to grow anything here with what I've got then I won't need to move to someone else's patch. I heard Myra my rather difficult widow friend is now moving to her retirement village and her home is being bulldozed, to make way for three townhouses. For some reason only known to her all her household effects are somehow going to fit into a small 2 bedroom villa which I had estimated would take another year or so to sort out, except she only has three days.  I thought of the proverb about the camel going through the eye of the needle, but then there's the caveat - nothing is impossible for God. She's either going to squeeze everything in, or, just enter with nothing but the clothes on her back and God will replace everything on the other side.  A goat called Hans is eating all her kikuyu. Myra gifted me a sharpening stone and an old fork and spade for the community garden. And some bamboo stakes.

I was thinking maybe could borrow Hans for St Giles.  Things are all coming to a head for St Giles as theres going to be meetings and more meetings (one of which I myself am chairing or coordinating) but I will make sure these meetings will be really short, like the time it takes for us to walk around the church grounds so we won't have time to sit down and have cups of tea it will be all action. It could possibly even be recorded on my smartphone so nobody will even have to take down the minutes.

That's the problem with staying in one place forever. You kind of become attached and send down roots and don't want to be moved. Everyone else may move away but you're still there growing right where you've been planted.  I don't know whether it's because I don't really have a choice, or its because at one time I thought I did but it got taken away from me. Whatever it is, I'm still here and don't intend on moving, because I don't really have anywhere else to go.

If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again I won't look any further than my own backyard because if it isn't' there then I never really lost it to begin with, isn't that right Dorothy?

Friday, 11 January 2019

Killing Kikuyu

Biodiversity Advisor Chris offered to come and do a site recce of St Giles Church on Friday.
We walked around the church, the tree I thought was an Indian Bean Tree on the corner was not, it was a Titoki.
And the tree I thought was a Kauri growing out of a fence at the Daycare is not, it's a totara. The totara would make a splendid shade tree if we were able to move it to the right place. Well that solves that problem of thinking what to replace the felled cherry tree with. I am so mad at Bark for not even giving back the mulch that was our chipped up cherry tree. What they actually do with the chippings I don't know, more often than not they just pay to dump them elsewhere but it was actually our tree and it was requested they leave the chippings there. They also took forever to get back to Denis without even a courtesy call. I was rather ashamed to have worked for such cowboys. This is annoying me now because with that mulch we could have created an entire garden bed. 

There are all sorts of nasty weeds growing at church. The worst offender is kikuyu. I don't know if it was there originally or they introduced it, by deliberately sowing kikuyu grass as lawn, but all I know is...the mower is just spreading it around. I think it looks terrible and it chokes anything in its path. it climbs through trees and shrubs and just wants to dominate everything. Nobody even uses the berms as a lawn, I never see anyone barefoot running on the 'grass' there and nobody ever has a picnic on it.  I've seen dead birds though, killed by the mower or having eaten poison and dropped dead. It grows into the drain which gets choked with debris and then floods with runoff in a downpour. Perhaps it's serving it's purpose as holding the soil down, or we could be having dust storms and erosion, but other than that I think meh. Could do better church! We could have a garden instead of a job for a machine. Auckland Transport have said its now up to us to maintain it, but I don't see them giving us a lawnmower or plants. But if they've given us this land, we can do with it whatever we like. Surely. Like..grow plants, not weeds. 

The other weeds identified are near the back fence include moth plant, asparagus fern, cotoneaster, jasmine, montbretia, woolly nightshade, ladder fern, basalm, taiwanese cherry and privet. You name it we've got it. What a job. I'm thinking. What are we going to do. How can we achieve this vision when there's all these weeds here. Especially kikuyu. So I went online googling 'How to kill kikuyu'. 
Even glysophate won't work. Mulching won't work. Digging makes it worse. 

But then there's this...mow the kikuyu real short, cover it with thick clear plastic in the height of summer and burn it out. Yes. It will fry to a crisp and then one can use the dead kikuyu as compost. 
So now I'm wondering where we can get huge sheets of clear plastic from. Anyone got any ideas. A factory that does giant plastic tunnel greenhouses with offcut sheets? 

I had some ideas for planting. I'm still thinking we need trees. I am just cooking out there. And I'm sure even if birds don't want to stay as it's not ever going to be forest, we could have enough trees and shrubs so that they will at least visit. 

So thanks to Chris advice I have a list so far -

Corprosma Karamu
Mountain flax

for exotics
South African plants - protea and leucodendron

I'm thinking we do guilds of tree, shrubs and groundcovers in groups of three-five species each, to provide a polyculture habitat. They need to spaced enough apart to allow for growth, and quick growing filler plants can be grown in between. This will shade out any competing weeds. The filler plants can then be cut down and used as mulch and the garden will be self sustaining. The trees will capture water runoff from the slope with their deeper roots and any leaf litter will mulch the soil. The trees will attract birdlife which is also good for keeping insects in check and bring life to the area. 

For groundcovers under trees I'm thinking astelias and renga renga lilies. We could plant up the entire berm, ridding it of kikuyu forever and the satanic tyranny of the mowing treadmill. I'm sorry if I'm putting the mower man out of business, or reducing is mowing time but I'm sure there will be more work for him elsewhere, unless he wants to repent and convert and become a gardener like the rest of us born agains. 

Otherwise, with current landscape looking like the makings of a Sahara desert, with an odd dying tree here and there and bleached bones of dead birds anyone would think we were in the great plains just before the dust storms came. Little Church on the Prairie. I'm not sure it inspires anyone to come have their weddings here or be fruitful and multiply when it looks so barren. Oh Auckland Transport, what have you done??

Thursday, 10 January 2019

New Year Plans...

New Gardenland

Rainwater tank for our garage, estimated cost $600 for a slimline tank
Pebbles or tough ground cover for driveway...? Mondo grass moved..?
Another magnolia, perhaps star magnolia? And cercis forest pansy
Kowhai and lemon tree moved to north side
Extra border edging - still to decide what plants, must be low growing
Plant up garden entrance by garage

St Giles Church

Berm planting round edges with natives/coastal plants
Lobby pots/hanging baskets - peace lilies, ferns, spider plants
Planters with herbs and flowers
More compost bins and worm farm set up
Apply for more funding

Henderson Baptist

Raised Garden beds planted up near entrance
New indoor lobby plants welcome at the doors

Sid and Janes' Swanson Garden

Weed and tidy and deadhead and shape existing garden
Harvest flowers

Kimberley Daycare

Complete overhaul...or weed and mulch
Set up garden collection


A new arch plant maybe beans or peas
Plants to grow near shed perhaps climbing plants
More Gourds
Remembrance Chair

Riverpark Reserve

New Playground!
Shade trees and playground planting
Liaise with UMS and Auckland Council

Ranui Community Garden

Work with Joanne and learn all about Maori medicinal herbs

Primary ITO

Find another assessor to work through Amenity Horticulture modules

Permaculture Blitz

Learn more and apply permaculture principles...especially small and slow solutions.

Garden Road Trips

Taranaki Festival in November
Join Soil and Health and any excursions
Tiri Tiri Matangi Island check out bird life

quote - Galatians 6:9 Let us not be weary in well doing. For in due season we will reap, if we faint not.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Pick your own garden

My sister is over and she's been strawberry picking, blueberry picking, and lavender picking. I've been potato picking, garlic picking and chamomile picking. Well, the first two some other gardeners had harvested, but am still picking!

What else is good - gardenias are blooming, fennel is attracting bees, my eggplants are swelling up, as are my capsicums, and tomatoes. Summer is here!

We had our picnic...it seems like nobody has EVER been on a picnic in the park, let alone an actual picnic before. I thought you would bring food to a picnic, but, apparently this does not apply to men. They just bring themselves, and then say, we don't want any food. Also Mr Whippy tells me, he can't stay, he has to make money. I decide am not going to invite Mr Whippy back again if that's his attitude, plus his ice creams are way too sugary. Thankfully I met some other neighbours but they say we only renting. I must be the only one that doesn't rent in this neighbourhood who actually calls it home. Everyone else seems to be just visiting. Even my own dad doesn't go to this park which is forlorn and neglected.

I don't know about you but my dad just left me to garden on my own, I moved a potting table to beside the garage where nobody can see it. Mum was in horror that I actually moved things around in the garden. She said move it back, by the fence but then dad said it was fine where it was, until I pointed out the leaky gutter, which has massive holes in it. Which nobody is going to fix, just like the ripped up curtains and torn chairs. (thanks Mummy Cat) So we moved it to under where there were no holes. I am going to get stick whatever I do, if Mum had her way the house wouldn't even be here and I'd be dead, but unfortunately I survived childhood to grow into an adult who doesn't always immediately obey her mother.  Its such a trial living with me I tell you.

Dad leaves me to garden on my own otherwise he would have to do it and he doesn't want to bend down and lift things.  Mum just gardens by proxy. Is telling people what to do, actually gardening? You try to look after it, but then someone else comes along and tells you not to.

What am I meant to do then, go work as a secretary? I would be so bored. Or teach. Its hard to teach older people new things because they think they know everything already. I can't think what else I'm going to do this year. Maybe nothing. Have a rest. I have friends who seem to never do any work and don't intend to. I don't know how they survive, maybe on the dole, but I've given up on the dole because, it seems that people even when they've got the dole, are always broke because they always going to spend it at the movies as they got nothing better to do. I'm not really good at anything, although someone told me the gardens miss me and my magic touch there are weeds growing there now. But actually my former boss said I did not weed everything thoroughly so, maybe this person was either lying to make me feel better, or they just did not get anyone to replace me, being the stingy company they are...? Because apparently anybody living there can garden, there are over 400 residents and only one of me, but most people just don't want to bother. As they have better things to do, like watch movies. Anyway!! Enough of that.

My next mission is to go and find sand and seaweed for the garden, but sh it's secret squirrel again but I think I will be safe as nobody owns the seaweed that washes up on the beach. Am glad my sister is getting out in other peoples gardens, I heard that she went to Katharine Mansfield's garden in Hamilton as well, maybe I will make a gardener of her yet. Its nice that other famous people have gardens even after they are dead, even when they actually were not even gardeners but writers, but, I don't think I will, as I won't be here to garden it.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Neighbours Picnic Day

I thought I would announce this for Sunday 6 January from 12:30 in the Riverpark Reserve by the playground  we are having a picnic...!

And so far the weather looks warm enough, although yesterday was extremely windy, but it seems to have blown over fingers crossed. And I have asked Mr Whippy can he do a loop of our street and come park near where we having our picnic, which is beside the soon to be upgraded playground (March) and fitness equipment, not far from....the flying fox.

Yes the flying fox! Hooray.

And two shade trees. Which may be...Titoki, but I've requested Bottlebrush (Kings Park cultivar) or maybe Puriri for the birds. There will also be some planting by the playground, which will apparently be some fluffy carexs. Well at least that's better than tumbleweeds!

Now this picnic just needs some people to come and enjoy.

I have list of things to bring.

Picnic basket
Grapes... or strawberries?
Chips and dips
Picnic rug
Frisbee..need to find one
Ball (found a stray tennis ball on the deck)
Hula Hoop
Giant Bubble Maker ($2 shop?)
Skipping Rope.
Book to read...
Teddy Bears

My family have decided to AWOL on me so, I don't know if I can carry all these things myself or whether to just load the car and drive two minutes into Bittern Place. There is parking, well it's a park after all.

But if you in the neighbourhood, esp if you are a Riverpark Resident, please come join us, or Kevin and his family will just be picnicking by ourselves. Like Mr Bean.  And we don't want to disappoint Mr Whippy otherwise he won't come round our street anymore. It's just off Universal Drive the second no exit street down, and you can walk from Universal Drive, Bittern Place, Woodside Road or the back way from Riverpark Crescent. See you there!