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 👂👂👂👂