Thursday, December 9, 2010

In which A Puppy Rules my Life - Part Two

Ergo laughed at the gate to the nursery and slipped right under and through it.

Ok, so I covered it with fine mesh chicken wire. Cool it worked! For a whole hour. Ergo simply found a gap in another fence a way off from the gate and sneaked through. Right, so I blocked that and extended chicken wire mesh about 10 metres from the two gates (one to the road and the other to the nursery) that were causing problems. A day passed and no puppy visited.

Delphinium "James" and rose "Sweet Perfume"
Two days passed. Yay! But on the third day a little wet nose rubbed against my arm while working in the greenhouse. I put him back. He came to visit. I put him back. He came to visit. I put him back. This was becoming boring but I persisted. I was not going to be beaten. Ergo is strong willed. He wasn't going to be beaten either.

There always has to be a crunch time. Crunch time in this instance came when a passing cyclist returned Ergo from where she found him, wandering on the busy main road playing "chickin" with the logging trucks. Well, I tried folks, but in the end had to resort to the same solution that finally deterred Kaz some years ago. New Zealand is the home of the most efficient electric fence units for use with stock and dogs do not like electric shocks. Farm dogs all over the country quickly get used to the white electric fence signifying a no-go area. I really wasn't wanting to use this option but to fence the whole house area off with conventional wire fencing (either sheep netting or chicken wire) would cost serious money and be quite a chore. Sorry Ergo. Let's have some rheas under the elm.

Well, it was the dry for the last half of October and it's been the driest November on record in Wanganui. Furthermore we've had no rain in December yet either. Ergo obviously knows something about electricity. He knows that without a good earth electricity will not flow to ground. He also knows that dry soil does not provide a good earth. He must have been talking to Robert, my electrical engineer friend who is passionate about animals. "Ergo" Robert must have said, "don't use your nose, push under the wire with your hairy back and you'll be all right, the ground's dry".

The elder dog Kaz is no saint either though. Here she is pinching unripe apples.

The result was that by and large the fence simply made him frown and wonder what the neat little tingle was that was happening every time he visited me. This morning I even saw him roll under the electric fence wire, stand up and scratch his back along it.

Three days ago I lined the existing seven strand wire fence along the road frontage (all 200 metres of it) with what we call sheep netting.

This is wire mesh designed to keep sheep contained, and should be a tight enough weave to keep Ergo in. I have an electric fence in front of that. So far Ergo has not been on the road, that I know of, nor has he visited me in the nursery. I wonder what will happen tomorrow?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In which a Puppy Rules My Life

This post is tangentially connected to my garden and will eventually lead there.

Things are happening at the moment. For a start, there is that rather nebulous affair called "life' which is in full swing wherever I look That's ok, I love it. I'd love it even more though if it would wait for me! I'm over Janice's fabulous significant birthday dinner, anything that is happening at Janice's Quilt Club or the Rotary Club to which I belong but would not belong if it were an arch-typical Rotary Club. I'm over my mother not being able to remember where she put her teeth or left her fag. I'm over dad not having any memory at all except for the occasional, unforgettable smile when he just might, just for a split second, remember me. I'm over a back that wore out 20 years ago and despises me for ignoring that fact and I'm over a garden that has grown 6 month's worth in the last 30 days, which have been far too busy to even get the next crop of radish seed sown. I'm over the delphinium seed crop plants that are in full flower - and will be so for a few months as we have a staggered crop this season and I'm over last weekend's once a year open days, but, what I'm not over is Ergo.

I love intelligence, weather it be in people, electronics, omnipotent entities or dogs. Ergo is very intelligent, probably more so that any omnipotent entity come to think of it, and I'm lazy. That's the crux of the problem.

Our garden is large. The road frontage is over 200 metres long. Fast cars patrol the road. Don't worry, Ergo is fine! We have a fence, that is good. The fence was erected in the days when our garden was part of a farm. It was made to keep large animals in. That is bad. Ergo is not a large animal. Yet. That creates some tension between fence, road, Ergo and me.

Initially we could leave little Ergo with big Kaz in the small courtyard, as even a small yard is big to a tiny puppy and an old, lazy dog (sorry, no quick brown foxes here). As Ergo grew however this situation became untenable because although Kaz could retain food until we took her for a walk, Ergo could not, or at least did not feel so motivated. Then there is terrorism exacted on the garden. The solution? Well perhaps the fence on the boundary would not be challenged until Ergo grew a little and the gate to the delphinium nursery would have sufficiently small spacings to prevent Ergo from coming to visit me at work. "Yeah Right" (Well known New Zealand saying that means "never  in a million years!).

Right now I'm going to bed and will leave you hanging mid story. Stay tuned folks!

Monday, November 29, 2010

That Time of Year

Janice has had a very significant birthday this week (tomorrow actually) and you're not getting to know how significant either. Last Sunday we had a great  seven course degustation dinner in our house cooked by a leading New Zealand Chef and enjoyed by our immediate family and two good friends. It was wonderful. I hope to blog about it this week. Below are the hors d'oeuvre:

On garden matters -  the only downside of being involved with growing plants for a business is that when summer comes, it comes and ordinary busy becomes frantic. Gardening gets left behind.

This year summer has arrived a month early. November, normally a cool, windy month has been decidedly hot and dry. The soil, initially still moist with the left over excess rainfall from September is now beginning to dry out, but not before fueling a massive growth spurt from all the plants in the garden. I have no intention of listing them all but this is "Diamonds Forever" flowering again

In the delphinium business we've been busy planting the last of the flower trials and viewing older ones

but in the home garden I've been sowing more vege seeds and harvesting a whole raft of mature crops.The image below is not a vege, it's a Yucca, a campanula and a sedum (I think) growing happily together

 It's wonderful to have a large range of salad plants and herbs once again; the fresh, sweet, new season peas are particularly nice. But I must get more salad veges!

The flower garden has been left to its own devices but doing well none the less. The horizontal elm is enjoying shading the house.

 I have been very lax in reading and commenting on blogs I like to loosely follow so if any of you are reading this please excuse this lapse.

I love our rustic fence



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day 15th November 2010

Sunny days and warm weather have brought the first of the summer flowers out so our "Down-Under" garden is filling with colour. For the purpose of the Bloggers Bloom Day I've decided to include some flowers from the nursery too and the first of these is the Wisteria, now in its full glory:

Meanwhile, back in the house garden some late apple blossom hangs on. You can just make out the  young apples, set from the main flowering, behind these flowers:

Up at the nursery again one of out cream delphiniums known only as Y0102 is showing off:

The nursery is separated from the house by about 200 metres of medium incline so I think we'll stay for one more delphinium before going back to the house again. This one is part of trials to produce delphiniums compact enough for sale as pot plants. It is a little too tall at 55cm but that makes it ideal for a low border plant:

On the way back to the house I notice the first sunflower opening up. The seeds were planted under cover in early August:

The first day-lily is flowering. Our day-lilies are raised from seed we bought from Nan Riply of the American Hemerocallis Society

And now, looking towards the house the Cecil Brunner rose is putting on a show too. This rose blooms for most of the summer:

You probably all know this common papaver specie. I don't.:

Nor do I recall the name of the white flowering plants behind the campanula glomerata:

Still not to the bottom of the hill pansies are happy among the forget-me-nots:

And the pink hollyhock that has been flowering all winter is still on the go:

And a geranium specie:

And a white campanula percicifolia:

And so to the house garden where Westerland is all over the garage:

Wedding Day is about to dawn. This is my favourite rose, prickly and flowering only once a year its something to really look forward too. She is early this year.A bit of a shot gun affair no doubt.

Something you may not see too often in the northers hemisphere, a Manuka hybrid. This is one of our native, endemic I believe, New Zealand plants. We have many, many plants endemic to this country.

This carpet rose has also flowered right through the winter but is doing so a little more enthusiastically now.

Ok, I'll walk back up the hill, past a nasturtium that does a great job of covering the ground later in the season

And back to the delphiniums. This one is Double Innocence, which we bred and sell from seed

These are more trials for short, border type delphiniums

Well, that's 20 images. There are many more but the above should give you a taste of "What's Happening - Down Under"

If you want to know more about our delphiniums please check out our web site, here:

If you'd like to be part of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day visit Carol's blog here:



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Match Stick

This is going to be more of a matchstick than a post but I missed putting something up on Monday so must make amends.

It's amazing what a difference 10 days can make. I've never closely watched the progression of the sycamore tree from flower to fruit before and am astounded at the pace and beauty of it. The elm is fairly nippy about producing seed pods and it's true, they mature and fall more quickly, but as you see from the image below, the sycamore has almost mature pods while flowers on the same panacle are still blooming.

And just for fun:

I told you it was just a match-stick

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Earthquakes, Earthworks and a Good Feed

Some keen gardeners and those with earthquake phobias might like to skip the first few paragraphs - just jump straight to the first images and you'll be safe.

This week's blog will have to do for the past two. After a hectic week attending to work, garden and other things that come under the general heading of "life" and finally sitting before the pc on Tuesday evening, the wheel fell off. Blogger was down and as Janice and I flew to Christchurch on Wednesday morning for a few days rest I simply enjoyed a break from blogging too.

Since the Magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Sept 3rd, and because there have been so many sizable aftershocks (including a Mag 5 a few days ago) Christchurch has earned the reputation in NZ of Earthquake City . It was interesting therefore to see how the city is handling the quake and its aftermath. The first thing we noticed was the lack of disruption and damage. Quakes of this magnitude in places where building codes are less stringent would have caused the city to be flattened -witness Haiti for example, where a quarter of a million people died. In Christchurch there was no loss of life and damage was limited to the oldest brick buildings, some of which have simply been strengthened, some pulled down to be replaced.

Wanganui and most of New Zealand is either on, or very close to, active fault lines, so we regularly experience small quakes here too and are used to a little rocking every now and again. However, as we were "upgraded" to a 26th floor apartment in the hotel we stayed at we were pleased there was no significant shake while we were there. Never-the-less, the fact is that had there been another quake we would have been perfectly safe.

So why am I telling you all this? I have no idea. Perhaps I'm highlighting our good fortune in living in a society that values life enough to take steps to prevent its loss. Perhaps I'm telling prospective visitors to Christchurch and NZ not to worry about earthquakes.Either way I'm digressing from things horticultural.

Spring is well and truly here and heading full tilt towards summer. The vege garden is flourishing, more trees are in flower and perennials are waking up to the fact that they have to get on with another growth cycle..... again. I too must wake up to the fact there is an awful lot of work to do in the garden, not the least of which is making more terraces (more earthworks with a spade) to extend the vege garden into - because i'm RUNNING OUT OF ROOM.!!!!

I love trees and so the blooming cherry which flowered outside my office window (upstairs at home) a few weeks ago and the sycamore and manuka now in flower and also seen from the office are great friends to me.

The wisteria loves to climb the sycamore and rewards me with this sight of them both in flower. I love  the sycamore seed pods seen developing mid left in the image below. They will bring "helicopter" excitement for our granddaughters later in the summer.

The manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is beginning to flower now and will be a mass of blooms in a week or two.

And the clematis climbing up the tortured willow is a great sight in late spring

The willow has also allowed us to hang a swing from one of its branches and this has given much pleasure. Here my cousins James and Jasmine enjoy a ride in the autumn a few years ago

But back to today

The orchard is changing again as the azalea finishes flowering, the lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina) reach upwards and granny's bonnets flower in front of the myosotis

And the first flower appears on a new rugosa rose 

The Rhododendron comes into bloom

The vege garden already alluded to as rapidly becoming too small is flourishing. The plant poking through the bird netting protecting the radish seedlings is a cabbage palm Brassica oleracea and the bare ground will be planted up with another crop of onions, beet lettuce seeds etc in a few days. We are harvesting sugar snap peas, carrots, radish, lettuce, beet, spring onions, spinach, broccoli and looking forward to much more

Vegetables and herbs are my favourite plants because not only do they look good but they also feed you. Janice and I love cooking and I'm looking forward to having a garden full of many different species for use in flavouring our meals. Last week I made some delicious vegetable pastes and sauces for garnishing. So delicious they were! Try parsley and spring onion, shredded and then blended with olive oil and lemon juice using a mortar and pestle. Or oregano and thyme likewise treated. Get the combination right and you have a wonderful garnish that's so easy to make....fresh

Just one more thing. This spotted lettuce (below right) has a great flavour and does not go bitter as the plant ages. Fantastic!!

Sorry I can't give you the name as I bought them as a plug. I'll get it later. Anyone know?