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?



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