Monday, September 27, 2010

Grandchildren in the garden

On Saturday, Sarah and Chris and our two granddaughters drove up from Wellington, arriving for lunch. This was a birthday lunch, Chris's 38th. He also had a birthday dinner, also his 38th and a birthday breakfast yesterday, Sunday morning. Yes, his 38th. I tell you this simply to introduce the fact that Aimee and Jessica, our granddaughters are staying with us this week. We've had almost constant rain this past week so no gardening was done until my helpers came. Normally I'd be able to tell you that Jessica was enthusiastically helping in the garden but, alas, I can't.

Jessica (5) and Aimee (7)
Jessica always helps in the garden - normally. Aimee never helps in the garden - normally. This week-end Aimee was the gardener and Jessica...sort of helped for a while. Here they can be seen acting the fool before pulling up all those stocks to make way for an herb garden which I'm not going to show you yet.

Tulips, hollyhock leaves, a flowering cherry and the two apples of my eye
Neither of them were off their face gob-smacked  hot on gardening, something to do with the new puppy that arrived on Thursday I think, but they did spend quite some time wandering around and enjoying the garden.

I tried to get some good posed images but that idea fell as flat as a cow pat. After a while, left to wander, they did offer a few opportunities.

Although it has been wet and cold the garden is still moving along.

The azaleas are under way:

And here's a little Helichrysum petiolare Limelight poking through a local Metrosideros:

But there's sure to be much more next week when the weather improves.



Monday, September 20, 2010

In which we find a Storm, a Power Cut and some Sun

This week-end was always going to be stormy, that's why I decided to forget the garden and stay inside to catch up on all those things that are neglected when I'm enjoying myself in the garden. Blogging is one of those. It was a chance to explore web sites through Blotanical too. But....

A survivor

Yes, it was stormy, very stormy. No, I didn't explore blotanical and no, I didn't blog. Unfortunately you can't blog with no power. High winds on Saturday morning broke (yes really) a 33,000 volt power cable that supplies our district. As if that wasn't enough a tree blew over onto another cable just along the road from us that evening and we ended up with no power for most of the week-end. So much for using the computer. Don't worry about the dark images, there's brighter ones to come!

Storm passed
Fortunately, when it did stop raining on Sunday and after a few hours work dealing with storm induced problems in the nursery, I was able to do a little gardening and snatch the odd image like that of these tulips still flowering despite the wind and hail.

And this is a Kowhai (Sophora hybrid) tree almost in full flower. The artwork behind is a representation of a geological fault:

A flowering cherry in need of remedial pruning, something I overlooked when savaging the fruit trees this winter:

Fantails (Rhipidura fulginosa) feed on small insects which they catch on the wing. This one seems more interested in the wisteria buds:

Honestly, what on earth is this flowering beside a metal delphinium leaf?

Elm trees are one of those plants that have insignificant flowers but beautiful seed husks. Here are the insignificant flowers. The seed husks will follow in a week or three:

More tulips, this time framed by out of focus myosotis (forget-me-nots):

But most of the week end we were inside, looking out:

And down:

And across the valley at a cabbage tree (Cordyline australis) in front of a wet willow, in front of a dark hill:

The beauty about New Zealand weather is that it generally just can't stomach being wet and cloudy for too long. NZ weather just doesn't do boring so between bouts of rain we usually are blessed with the sun. Let's face it, we're blessed!



Monday, September 13, 2010

It rains, plants grow. It rains again....ain..ain.

Gardening in the rain can be fun. I've no idea how that can be so but I'm forever optimistic.True, it didn't rain all weekend and the sun did shine and I managed some work in the garden, but I have to be mighty pleased I have waterproof boots.

Delphiniums emerging among the tulips
New Zealand weather is notoriously difficult to predict but as I'm observant, watch my rabbits foot closely, talk to the birds, consider local influences and follow two excellent New Zealand weather web sites and I can generally pick it. In fact I'm almost invariably right - almost. Last weekend I was wrong, consistently.

On Saturday I bought a few organically grown vege plugs and herb pots from our local outdoor market - coriander, a few types of beet, rocket etc, came home and left them in the rain to await planting. They did this patiently all day. Of course all this rain makes plants grow. Ok, pay attention. This is spot the difference time. Here is a shot from last week:

And now this week.

On Sunday the rain cleared and I set about tackling a patch of gorse (Ulex europaeus) plants that had set up camp in the valley below the house. They are coming into flower and ruining the view. I should first tell you that gorse is a noxious weed in New Zealand. Brought to this country by well meaning British immigrants in the 19th century who simply had to have their favourite hedging plant in the new country.

Gorse found paradise. Gorse has large, sharp prickles. It grew amazingly quickly and spread like the plague. it still does, infesting our pasture at will.

Left to its own devices it would choke the country before eventually being choked itself by resurgent native bush....but that would take a lifetime and be somewhat annoying in the meantime. Ok, so Sunday was spent with chainsaw and roundup gun..............and an umbrella.

On the odd occasion when the sun shone and the ground was only a little soggy I planted the veges, sowed some climbing beans and took a few photos. The images of the pukeko under the elm - looking west (second and third images on the blog) and ones below are all from the same spot looking in different directions.

To the north and part of the vege garden:

To the East: through the grape vine:

And to the south east:

I'll be taking these same shots from time to time to show the progression of our garden throughout the year.

Gotta go.



Saturday, September 4, 2010

In which we come Face to Face with an Orange Trumpet

I had some fun in the garden over the week-end so I'll share it with you. This embankment is mostly wet, sticky clay which is gradually being furnished with a layer of garden soil by way of mulch, even rotting pine logs will do!

Would you believe the last leaves are still falling off the pin oak while the ajuga is pushing up flower spikes? Yes, I know it's a primula veris, the ajuga "Catlin's Giant" is poking through the leaves. One of the down sides of winter here is that it doesn't really happen. We kind of go straight from autumn to spring.

 Saturday was generally fine but with the occasional opportunity to get wet, which I avoided,. There has been no such opportunity today so as the lawns were dry I gave them a hair cut. In New Zealand the grass grows year round and is especially rampant for the next few months.

What I love about gardening is that it is just simply the best occupation I know for pottering. Pottering in the garden offers such tremendous rewards.

You don't need to plan your day, simply walk out the door and start - anything. It might be pulling up a weed (active pottering), admiring a flower (passive pottering), taking a photograph or simply thinking about the garden plan (procrasterpottering) but whatever it is that one does, one thing always leads to another and by the end of the potter you've done masses of work in the garden and forgotten all about lunch!

NZ Tree fern (no idea which) with flowering acacia behind
I started my pottering yesterday morning by noticing a delphinium shoot in the tulip patch. This lead to wondering where the rest of them were, digging in the leafy mulch, finding shoots eaten by slugs, laying slug pellets, deciding I needed more delphiniums planted, doing that, slug pelleting them, noticing some red leafed geraniums needed weeding (everything always does) and getting carried away and weeding for ages.

A New Millennium Delphinium showing the way

After stopping to allow myself time for another sentence I then found some night scented stock (matthiola bicornis) seedlings that needed planting and so on and so on and it got dark.

Today I paced myself, after all it is Father's Day, and the main activities were mowing lawns and tidying and then allowing myself to be drawn to the nursery and into some of tomorrows work - fool!

I returned, took some photos and checked on the vege garden, having a close look at the peas.

Lastly I took down the dead hanging baskets and fed the dog.

Right now I'm finishing this blog and getting ready for our usual Sunday dinner with friends.