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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The plastic bag sea

Last permaculture workshop was called 'Resources and redefining waste'. Which basically means don't throw anything away. Reuse it, fix it, or recycle it. Or better yet don't buy it in the first place if you just going to use it once.

Or maybe it should have been called 'Waste Not, Want Not'. One thing I have learned is there is a plastic bag sea in the North Pacific Ocean. It consists of a huge area the size of Texas of plastic bags, floating...well no fish can swim in it because fish cannot swim in plastic. Where did they all come from...well, I suspect America, but plastic bags have blown all the way across the world to land there.  Ships cannot sail there because their propellers and keels would get stuck in plastic bags and it's very hard to float your boat on plastic. You can try but you won't be going anywhere. Check it out here

I am horrified and have dispensed with using plastic bags forthwith. Except our dear Auckland Council says we Westies still have to use bright orange ones or they won't collect our rubbish (for now). I can imagine they are bright orange so that if they do float out to sea they can readily be collected again. All other bags I am refusing and have stowed my trusty calico library bag in my handbag in case I do any shopping in which I need to carry things in.

Because I don't fancy eating plastic fish and you cannot compost plastic bags.
Another thing I have learned is, we really should go back to using potties again and emptying it into the garden because...and this is the thing - our sewage system is no good. And we are wasting precious rainwater flushing out toilets.  We didn't learn about septic tanks or sewerage systems but an awful lot about composting toilets.

My thoughts are further investigation is needed. Where does our poo go? I have no idea. I hope it doesn't end up in Mission Bay.


Other gardening news. Woodside have funding for getting a fence hooray we can grow climbers on,  and new additions to Camellia bed include rain lilies, more parsley, a cyclamen. Mum cut some bok choy for dinner..and but when she saw me eat a walnut commented that I didn't crack them myself, whereas I never commented that she didn't grow the bok choy herself so why should she eat it? Why do mums always do the stuff they accuse other people of? Is it a mum thing to make a big deal over nothing? I don't know but it's really starting to annoy me. But I am not allowed to talk back and do the same thing like point out when she does the exact same thing, because then Dad hears this argument and then starts yelling at Mum telling her to not say anything...because what am I supposed to do, just never eat any walnuts that Mum has cracked already? Give me a break! The walnuts do not care who cracks them! They just want to be eaten!!!

This is why I garden so I don't have to stay inside the house and hear angry contentious wives nagging all the time. Living alone in a retirement village apartment rooftop is suddenly becoming very appealing. It's only 2 kilometres away but completely off the bus route (you now have to take two separate buses to get there and walk up a hill) so Mum can't just visit, and I will not have a phone so she can't call me. Yes. When I win lotto.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Plans A, B and C

The rain it raineth everyday. Good for nap days, not so good for gardening. I saw one of my roses I had transplanted drowning in a puddle. Hmm maybe not such a good idea to plant anything in clay right now. But clematis are in - two clematis 'Sweet Hart' and one clematis montana my workmate gave me (thanks Richard!). Also a nice hellebore for under the maple tree, and in the Lady of the Camellias bed, another hen and chickens fern, plus a Chatham Island Forget-me-not. This one quickly got chomped by slugs and snails. Out came the bran.

The wet weather is a time to stay indoors and plan and dream, so I have been day dreaming about my garden and what I will do next with it.

Plan A is to not do anything and leave it all as is. Mum is very happy if I do Plan A.
But Plan B which is the real Plan is to do more gardening along the north facing side of the house and lose the thin strip of lawn that doesn't do anything, and have a real garden border there. I am considering rows of lavender by the path - dwarf Hidcote - even though it's clay, surely I can have a mediterranean garden since there's already an olive tree? Even if Cathy Angell seems convinced it will hit clay and die...?  After all, I did not say anything about all her frost prone plants she had planted in her garden that she has to work extra hard to protect.

If I was being eco-concious and grew what was there before it would be Kauri trees, cabbage trees, manuka, flax and toe toe. And nikau palms. But I am not allowed Kauri trees and Nikau palms.
I do not plan to do any mowing ever in my garden as I have enough of that at work. So I am not going to grow grass.

My plant list -

Chinese snowball tree (viburnum)
Chinese toon
Parsley - can never have too much
Rows of dwarf lavender
Japanese windflower

I plan to have a purply/white  theme to go with the wisteria. But shall see. Am very happy with my hardenbergia or coral pea it's growing great over the arch with sprays of white and magnolia is now blooming with crimsony red cup shaped flowers. The grape muscari didn't really transplant so great underneath but I might leave it in for another year and see if it spreads.

One bulb that does great in Auckland is onion weed. It looks like a bluebell but white and everyone hates it and tries to get rid of it, but I know you can eat it and it's just like garlic chives. However I  think I will be shot by the garden establishment if I try and make a case for swathes of onion weed naturalised on banks. Also, it keeps away pests with it's onion smell.  It will save me mowing, my back, and my ears, but maybe if we don't do enough mowing, they won't need to pay us gardeners to run the lawn mower anymore. So it's a catch 22. My Plan C is to keep the onion weed and sell it at the market as a wonder herb that can cure cancer and give you long life at the retirement village.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The neglected churchyard

I'm sorry church garden have been neglecting you. I went round to the Baptist church last night and pulled out a bucketful of weeds from the begonia bed. The polys are doing great though. I'm hoping St Giles has survived the frost but I'm not so sure about those ginger lilies, attempting to grow through the weedmat, whether anyone's used the garden as an ashtray, or taken all the pots.

But maybe I'm not the only one gardening there? There could be anonymous garden angels going round all the church yards planting and snipping here and there. I want to grow climbing roses over st Giles. I've decided. It will have to be a highly perfumed coloured rose, but I'm not sure how roses clamber over walls with no support or tying in. All the gardening books say you need to install little hooks and wires so they will stick to the wall. Hmm.

Last week was a week of pruning roses and I am done for. I also learned the names of many varieties of roses. Like - Iceberg, Graham Thomas, Remember Me, Blackberry Nip, Elina, Love Me Do, Margaret Merril. There are dozens of roses at Waitakere Gardens, people donate roses to their rose garden and they each have a little plaque from the donor. We planted 'Remember Me' for a widow last Thursday.

My supervisor had to go to two funerals in the past two weeks, so I said to him NO MORE FUNERALS. We talk about death a lot. Well he talks about death, I just listen. I am really glad nobody is tipping their ashes in the rose garden, cos that would be a bit creepy. I am fine with burial, just not cremation. It is because it reminds me of powdery blood and bone that we use to feed the roses, one puff of wind and your loved one will just literally blow away as dust. I never want to go to another funeral where they've decided they'd rather burn the body. I just find it very disturbing. How can they rest in peace when they are ground to a million pieces?

You may or may not believe, but if you had the hope of heaven you would not even consider it. I think some people treat their pets better than humans, they bury them, but humans get incinerated in an oven. That's just wrong!

So I am attempting to right some of this wrong by burying lots of seeds in the ground to demonstrate to anyone that all of creation groans for a new birth and even though we die, we shall live because that's what Jesus did.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Frosty reception

The frost hit last night and wilted the impatiens, taro, nasturtiums and some of the spider plants. But the potato bed is done for now! I know it's cold but I did put a few kitchen sack potatoes in that were budding just for an experiment. Some I had left in the ground that were growing in the raised bed I lifted to put in the new bed succumbed and their leaves are dead as doornails.

I've found another garden centre - Jack's in Henderson Valley. The guy at Central Landscaping Swanson directed me there as they didn't have any straw and only 25kg sacks of gypsum. I dumped my dead plants in the compost yard for $5.  I found gypsum at Jacks which is like a little boutique garden centre, a $2 sack of pony poo from the horses across the road, and then was directed to the Bird Barn for straw. I found straw for $9.95 a sack and bought two, and then was stuck in traffic so walked to Mitre 10 up the road and bought $2 sausage while waiting for traffic to clear.

I had to get home quick because the pony poo was starting to stink out my car. I am taking Funcargo to the car wash tomorrow. The pony poo is dumped on a pile of newspapers and covered in straw, which is my new potato patch. I also moved a rose, I believe it is Margaret Merril, from the back yard to the front along with a rosemary bush, and moved a flax and gotu kola in the back.

My washing was drying on the line and mum and dad had gone off to my brothers so spent the whole day doing homework. I watched a gardening video about Newby Hall (giant herbaceous borders, taking cuttings, and compartmentalised garden rooms) made a macaroni cheese, had dinner, folded all the clothes (including my fresh, clean garden uniform) then went to bed. The next day I woke to ice in the birdbath and my giant impatiens looking like a horror shop plant.

Clematis was on my mind and I don't think God will let me rest until I cover the wire fence with it. I found a few at Mitre 10 on special but will have to go there tomorrow to get them. Mum later wanted me to drive her to Pak n'Save to get groceries and food for dinner and I said well I will drop you off while I go to Mitre 10. I need some gardening tools. Mum said, no more garden plants. I countered, if you trying to stop me from buying plants I won't take you to Pak n'Save. So we ended up having leftovers.

I should not have said anything. If I don't get this clematis in  tomorrow, it will be too late to plant them in spring later because the soil is nice and cool now and they will be settled in growing roots ready for spring.

I'm not sure why I am planting all these flowers. Maybe it's a waste of time.  It's not as if am planning a wedding or anything. But since we can't really have a proper garden at church - it's just pebbles and weedmat which is not really my idea of a real flower garden - even raised beds were no go.  I think too bad - will just need to plant my own.

I saw this poem carved in stone at one of the retirement villages I worked in last week.

Kiss of the sun for pardon
 Song of the birds for mirth 
One is nearer to God's heart in a garden 
Than anywhere else on earth.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Secret Gardening and dirty laundry

I am hungry for potatoes. Here is my plan. Lay down all these chinese newspapers I can't read. Go to Buffie's and haul in buckets of horse manure. Go to central landscaping and buy a bale of straw, while dropping off some green waste for their compost (dead lemon tree, dead grevillea, camellia hedge prunings). Scrounge some potatoes that are sprouting in the sack in the kitchen. Make a potato bed. Wait for Christmas.

I will site this little potato patch on the corner bed next to the yacons and broad beans, and mum won't notice it's there because it's disguised as part of the border. I am just extending it a little outwards.

I have learned that growing potatoes in tyres is not a great idea. Whoever advocated that was a bit nuts, or just had too many tyres they didn't know what to do with them. I would suggest upcycling them into rubber shoe soles.

My other plants I snuck in while mum wasn't looking was a punnet of strawberries in amongst the pak choi, and sweet violas or is it pansies? Pansies are just giant violas aren't they? A dozen violas for my symphony orchestra garden. The soil there is basically stone chips and clay so I can't even dig a hole to put them in I placed them sideways. I am hoping to attract some birds to my symphony orchestra garden as I have all the background music but no choir. I have put in some limelights or rather liriope, and there's a few strings which is fuschia procumbens, but since I moved the heavenly bamboo I might need some other kind of bamboo for flutists. Camellia is the fat lady who sings.

Well I better get going. Mum has just said I have to do all my washing by hand as my muddy gardening uniform will dirty the washing machine. I am turning up to work grubbier and grubbier each day. One of the gardening club group asked me if my company washed our uniforms for us. I wish!  Where do they do that? We have to wash our own.  It's just bad luck if it's raining on the weekend which is the only time I can do my washing.

Bring on the mud baths.

Monday, 24 July 2017

The Artist's Garden

If you like Claude Monet, then you may like this movie about his influence on American impressionist painters who were inspired by his lifestyle of painting his garden at Giverny, France. There was a whole colony of them in Boston and they would go on garden retreats and hang round and just paint the garden. This was in the days before colour photography was readily available.

Although it's a lot of talking and looking at gallery paintings and not enough describing the plants and gardening and how you too can have an artist's garden if you have the vision I would say aside from all the history and analysis, the paintings themselves are absolutely beautiful. This one is called Crimson Rambler by Philip Leslie Hale.

This has inspired me to paint my manuka and kowhai that is climbing up the verandah with the muehlenbeckia. I will have to ask the lady of the house (Mummy Cat) to pose for that one. I did paint one earlier but did not include any rambler as back then I wasn't a gardener. I just call this one 'Fluffy'.

Isn't she beautiful? Wrow!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Tree dahlias and gardening movies

They looked like green sticks for sale at the Te Atatu Garden Club and Floral Circle but the ladies said these sticks would grow into tree dahlias, higher than the doorway, over 20 feet, towering above the house. They have to be seen to be believed. So I bought three and planted them down the back fence, next to our neighbour's cabbage tree, because I figured it would like another tree companion.
The cabbage tree isn't really a tree it's just a giant lily apparently. The tree dahlia is a giant dahlia and so now I will have some height to my garden. I just won't tell mum I have planted a tree because if she knew how tall they get she would have it immediately removed, but since its flowers and they will need to be cut down anyway this could be the exception.

My other spot of gardening was edging my camellia woodland bed with liriope or turf lily. I had a big clump of it to divide so put in a curved edge and hopefully it will grow in 5 cms of soil. Well maybe not but it was growing on top of the stones quite happily not dying for a few months so I think it will survive where I've put them. It's just I haven't quite been able to make enough of my own soil yet to cover all this clay, and I don't have a dump truck that can truck it from somewhere else. But at least it's not growing on weedmat.

Am going to the movies tomorrow and seeing another gardening based movie. The other week it was 'This Beautiful Fantastic' which was highly unrealistic movie about a librarian who writes stories and attempts to make a garden. I say unrealistic because its very stererotypical about librarians, writers and gardeners. Of course, what would I know having been all three, but the thing is she hooks up with a cute guy who is an identical triplet inventor she meets at the library, and they start talking, and then he gets chucked out and she gets fired for talking in the library??!

I was very annoyed at this movie because this is not how libraries are in the real world. I got told I was too quiet, and never once did I meet cute identical triplet inventor - all I met were drug addicts and homeless people and nobody ever spoke to me except to ask where the toilets were. And the garden part was a let down because she only dug out a pond yet didn't plant any plants, didn't make any compost, and didn't even have her mother on her back because she was an orphan and raised by nuns. I just think it's easier for fictional characters to be orphans because being a mother is too hard to portray in a movie and no actress really wants to be a mother. It's more drama and fun to be young, attractive and beautifully eccentric than to act out being a mother and your lines full of nags like.... 'How many times have I told you??' and another thing is,  being told off by your mother does not really attract movie-goers. She just had a grumpy neighbour instead. He was into gardening, but in my experience its the people who aren't gardeners that are the grumpy ones.

So I hope 'The Artist Garden' is more realistic. I actually have been painted in a garden and you can see this painting at the Korero Cafe I am in it. One day at the Ranui Community Garden an artist asked us horticulture students  if she could paint us in the garden so she set up her easel and we just went about our business and next thing I know we are immortalised on impressionist canvas amongst the tomatoes, silverbeet and fennel.