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?



Monday, October 18, 2010

Blogger's Bloom Day October 16th

I missed the Blogger's Bloom Day post last month and am a little late this time too. But here is what is flowering in our southern hemisphere garden this 16th October 2010. Why I make the hemispherical distinction I don't know because we don't have a northern hemisphere garden!
The first images just has to be of the new puppy "Ergo" in the Forget-Me-Nots. Ergo is 10 weeks old and clearly loves gardening. his name came from the fact that we needed a box for his bed and the most suitable box we found had the name "Ergo" branded on it - therefore we called the dog Ergo.

We have the first Sugar Snap peas. Hurray!!!!! Janice and I love all the fresh veges we harvest from our garden (I sowed more radish today) and l love cooking too.

And the last tulip

Blueberries in flower. I just can't wait until the summer. These plants are at teh top of the orchard in heavy clay soil and exposed to a fair amount of wind. They do surprisingly well. As with all fruit however we have to be sure to beat the birds to them.

Then there are the native trees that love to flower at this time of the year. This one is a Pittosporum specie of which there are many.

And this is a tiny Sophera microphilla which is sporting late flowers no larger then my fingernails. It's the first time this plant has flowered since planted some 6 years ago.

The dogs also like gardening among the bluebells. The damage you see on the leaves of these was because our older dog, Kaz, made her bed on top of them until they became too uncomfortable.

The fish and the delphinium are being threatened by the rose and the honesty. Never let honesty threaten you. It's always the best policy.

Ask Johnny-Jump-Up! This one is tiny growing in front of the what's its name?

This Wisteria Amethyst just loves the garage.

And I'll finish as I started, on a blue note, with the first aquilegia flowering in front of the forget-me-nots.

No, no I won't, Heres the view down from the top of the orchard. Getting rather colourful it is but just wait until next month, the colours will all be changed.

There's lots more happening in the garden although its mostly backbreaking weeding and mulching work and the planting of seeds and plants. There's heaps more to be done.

Cheers for now


Sunday, October 10, 2010

And after the tulips

This weekend was a good one. On Saturday I spent time with a community organisation planting trees around a large sports park and then today managed to divide time between work in the nursery (just a little) and work in the garden. The garden may seem a more attractive proposition and at the moment you may be right.
Heres a lonely bunch of wisteria racimens below the garage soffit.

The main task was to sow more seed, mostly in cell trays or straight into 4inch pots. The seed included gazanias, echinacea, cardoon, euphorbia marginata which are mostly for planting in and around the orchard on the hill. I still have to direct sow some buckwheat for attracting insects and plant marigolds for discouraging them. Gardeners sure do queer things.

Unfortunately I haven't mown the lawn for a couple of weeks. The daisies do look nice though:

The three small azaleas we have are  really doing their thing now. This one almost the same colour as the apple blossom on the nearby tree - see below:

For the vege garden I sowed zucchini, carrot, onion (four types). Here's the first sowing of onions that were weeded last week:

I also sowed radish (3 types) dwarf beans, runner beans, broccoli, two types of tomato, celery, chilli, capsicum, cucumber and I'm sure, some other veges too.

Here's the first sowing of runner beans from three weeks ago:

It was a cool day but sunny so I was pleased to get a few images of what's happening in the garden.

I love the bronze phormium (New Zealand Flax) hybrids. Above one seems to be looming like a giant spider ready to pounce on the red azalea while below it looks far more benign:

And here's a flax leaf:

All for now. Have fun in the garden.


Terry D

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Misty Morning

Just a quicky to show you the faint ball of mist behind the apple (just starting to flower) in the orchard the other day.

The Azaleas are almost in full bloom and the real easy, almost year round forget-me-nots are perfect beneath the weeping cherry. Next job weeding and planting more interesting stuff. I'll be taking cuttings (probably with roots on) of Lamium sp for beneath the trees too.



Monday, October 4, 2010

Fine weather

At last, the garden is sufficiently dry to walk in without sinking up to my armpits. There is no sucking "thwup" noise when I turn over a sod. There's a large, round, yellow apparition floating across the sky and my back warms when I'm facing away from it. OOoooh tis lovely, and warm enough to suggest I wear a long sleeved shirt. No, not to protect from the cold but to keep my tender, youthful (Ha!) skin from burning. What a joyful day in the garden. Don't Gazanias and lettuce look good together in the sun? Oh yes they do!

The major task yesterday was to weed a couple of vegetable beds that I've been unable to attend to for a few weeks due to the wet. Boy, were they weedy and unruly! The job took longer than anticipated because when I planted the peas I didn't also plant the netting although I did plant carrots and radish. Here's a before and after:

And when I planted the onions I didn't leave enough room to get a hoe between the rows - really dumb! Here's another before and after only this time the before is looking in one direction and the after is looking the other - just to test you.

 I was trying to save space and cram them in. We have shallots, spring onions, red bunching onions, Ishikura (a white bunching spring onion) some small, round fella's who's name escapes me and red onions. Yes, we love onions. We love herbs and spices and plenty of green vegetables too and this year I aim to grow heaps of them for use in cooking and salads. Oh yes, I picked the first radish today too, two actually, long red ones. and that means it's time to sow a whole new lot of veges...tomorrow. Evening. If I'm not working.
Then again I might weed the orchard seen here above the azalias:

Last week I showed an image of our granddaughters preparing to pull up some stocks. here's what they planted in the freed up space:

One of the delights of owning a dog is that if you fence your vege garden off they will find a space to lie in the flower beds. I haven't seen her there but I sure saw the result.

The bad weather of the previous few weeks held most growth back but just a few days of warmth and sun has kick-started the garden big time. Now that the vege garden is weeded I have to tackle the orchard and with luck I'll find a few hours in the evenings during the week. Nursery work is full on because, like in the garden, the cold and fierce winds held growth in check and now that the breaks are off everything has to be done at once - so I might be pushing it to crib time in the orchard I guess.

If you ever wondered what a large hedge of trees looks like when exposed to westerly gales in the spring wonder no longer. Note the battered left side and the rampant right hand side:

Have a nice week.