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?