Saturday, 23 March 2019

On (bio)diversity

My Permaculture buddies are banding together to plant marigolds at the New Lynn Mosque after the tragic shootings on Friday.
I am shocked and appalled that this mass shooting could happen in my country. My prayers (to the Lord God Almighty, not Allah) are for healing for this land and the people, for light in the darkness and comfort for the slain victim's families. And for justice to prevail and judgment for the gunman, who, having shown no mercy, won't be given any mercy for the lives he took, unless he repents. But I'm not sure he will, how can you just kill 50 people you don't even know and live with yourself?

Marigolds and salvia had been recently ripped out of the roundabouts by council contractors to make way for winter floral bedding (most likely, pansies or polyanthus) even though they will come up again if pruned back. I sometimes think clearing a bed of floral annuals is a bit like a massacre of the innocents, when used to do it with Bark I would protest, as the flowers wouldn't even be composted, they all went into a giant bin and got taken away to landfill. Well this time the contractors offered them to the community gardens, even though they all looked a bit ravaged, some were still alive, so I managed to salvage a few for Woodside.

I went back a few days later and took some for my own garden, trimming them back, planting in the beds dad had recently helped me edge and hoping they would take. There were at least a hundred plants in that roundabout display and I saved about 20 of them. The thing is, council just see annuals as throwaway plants to be changed every season, so spend huge amounts of money on colour, make wonderful displays, and then rip them all out again. It's very labour intensive. My gardening bootcamp training involved getting all these plants in line and planting them before the rains came. Then my boss would come and yell at us workers if we did leave a muddy footprint behind. It had to be perfect.

Unfortunately he was not to happy one day to find I had planted pink flax in the roundabout to fill the gaps left after the cineraria had been destroyed by one zealous resident in an attempt to cut them back. My justification was this pink flax was perennial and the foliage would always be pink so the residents would have something colourful to look at all year round. And the pink flax was just wanting to be divided and spread around. Well he got me to rip them all out again and we ended up putting hundreds of primulas in for a season, until they all died away and replaced them with petunias. After that I don't know what his plans are as I left that job, but it might be begonias, or possibly pansies and polyanthus, then  impatiens, in a never ending cycle (I think they have a contract with a nursery supplier) but the deal is you always had to rip them out and put new ones in.

Most of the residents, loved the splashes of colour every season but there was always the ones that quietly complained that we were wasting so much money and couldn't we have permanent plants. I think maybe they had a point or were being sensible but what could I say I was just the gardener what did I know. I mean if I piped up and said, then we could spend money on new indoor plants because the ones we have are pest ridden with mealy bug. Oh no. So we just did what we always did and removed hundreds of plants and put new ones in the roundabout while leaving pest ridden plants indoors for me to water three times a week.

Huh. Anyway I did secretly introduce spider plants into that indoor plant display even though my boss sniffed at them and called them common. But they are tough plants and didn't get eaten by mealy bugs. And even if they might get a few caterpillars, can always dust them with pepper instead of having to fumigate them with Mortein. And so that is how I introduced diversity into the indoor garden.

I think they are still there...