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Friday, 21 April 2017

Nooo! Not ANOTHER garden!

Says Max, Karyn's son as we drive past the Hamilton Gardens on our Rotorua roadtrip and I suggest we go in for another look. The day before we had spent a good amount of time there amongst the different gardens, my favourites are - the Italian Renaissance Garden, the Backyard Permaculture Garden, the Chinese Scholars Garden and the Bonsai Japanese Garden.

The others had their beauty in different ways although Rita wasn't that impressed with the Tropical Garden - where are all the flowers, like hibiscus and frangipani? She was expecting something out of Raro which I recall had coconut palms, fruit salad plants and more...sand. While a good attempt Hamilton, you just aren't tropical. Bromeliads and cannas aren't really cutting it.

The 'modern' American Garden was also a bit strange. So last century - Karyn wasn't impressed. But she loved the Herb garden apart from Max being a bit wary of being stung by lavender loving bees. I told him there's a fantasy garden with beasts and mazes and he was keen to go there. It even had a castle. But after a while he just wanted to go to the playground and laze on the swing. I don't blame him. I want an swing and adventure playground in my garden too. There's only so much looking around you can do.

Unfortunately I did not manage to fit another garden on my itinerary even though we parked right next to one in Rotorua but I'm sure next time the Government Gardens have my name on it. When you are road tripping with gardeners, we regret not going in to have a look. Not to steal cuttings, mind you, but perhaps ideas. Instead of a water feature, how about a boiling hot mud pool? The sandpits were impressive, because when you dug, the water was hot. That does not really happen in Henderson. I noticed Martha eschewed the sandpit mum had made and busied herself scratching under the maple tree again. Martha!

Martha ignores me she's having such a good time flinging bluebell bulbs.
However, I have managed to complete the pebbles on the end of my fernery and even placed more lambs ears there as edging so no more loose stones all over the driveway. Dad thought it was a good idea and dropped into Kings to purchase another bag, which was really heavy but we managed.  So hooray that garden is near complete.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Martha you are worried about many things

Yesterday was a beautiful day to celebrate the Resurrection, the sun was shining and the birds were singing. I noticed Martha wanted to get comfortable by the front door in the sun, she kept trying to sit down on the doormat but each time she sat down, she rose up again. When she did this for the 20th time I said to mum, well, better start making her sandpit.

Mum has now made a sandpit next to the pumpkins/melons. She managed to scrounge some wood from my brother's house, possibly it's rimu or kauri even. The next thing is to make a little swing set and slide for her. I think maybe she's having a second childhood and doesn't want to lay eggs anymore. I heard my cousins report that Porcupine, their chicken, died last week and now they only have Hazel. I am not sure if these lonely hens would seek each others company, but there could be something in setting up a retirement village for chickens.

I am going to raise up some seedlings for our winter vege beds - have spinach, coriander and pak choi to sow. Other gardening bits and pieces I have done is added to Mt Asher with some alyssum and daisy, as I think Magnolia Cleopatra needs some companion plants. I have noticed her leaves are turning brown and crispy at the edges and am worried she's not getting enough water with the heavy clay soil. Usually when deciduous leaves turn brown they go a nice colour all over they don't look mottled and burnt.  hmm.

I have planted more lambs ears under the maple tree as groundcovers and hoping Martha doesn't keep digging them up as she did my ajugas. Chicken wire netting is covering them in the mean time but I just would like something to grow there! There was a patch of liriope or it it mondo I have moved to the rock bed as it was kind of in the middle of nowhere just randomly.

I may head up to Kings today if they are still having their Easter Garage sale to see what's there, and find some pebbles to complete the rest of the bed so that Martha does not dig under the rosemary again and scatter all the loose stones over the driveway. Why can't she sit still??!

In other news I am not working today and was told by the landscaping company in a Very Important Email to NOT work today (or Good Friday) I'm thinking they are taking very seriously any violators of this rule because if us working gardeners don't have a day off to enjoy ourselves our own gardens will never get done.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Garden of Gesthemane

JoAnne lent a helping hand as we potted up spider plants in the hanging baskets at church, they now have new liners and the beds are now full of dianthus, whilst another bed near the entrance has begonias and polyanthus. Darcy our pastor prayed the new flowers wouldn't get stolen as they were last time he suspects the people at the carboot sale took our poppies. Hmm.

Well...maybe they went to good homes? People are always stealing from our church. One time a lady came from another church and got up in our sharing time and said 'now I don't want to steal your sheep' and then proceeded to lead some of us astray. LOL. Well she desperately needed people for Bibles In Schools so decided to try our church. Guess what I do now.

Sometimes I think there's a fine line between stealing and borrowing. Hey if you want to have flowers can you please CUT them not take the whole plant roots and all, that way it can grow again.

As we finished clearing up the garden beds round the front I noticed an entire bed I hadn't seen before that could be planted up. Ok it is a neverending task, but that one was full of weeds too. There are also some ugly gas bottles that could use a vine as a screen. I had suggested we plant olives and grapes seeing we are West Auckland and grapevines are our heritage, and olives, because, well that's biblical, but I was told no because of the monkeys. I mean the kids.

I thought why are there kids at our church? I thought our church was for lambs. Kids should go where  kids go which is hanging out at the scrapyard eating junk food with their nanny goats. I'm trying to make a pastoral safe place for our sheep and can't have kids eating everything and butting heads with the lambs! Where is our Good Shepherd when you need Him, keeping the wolves from the door and the foxes out of the vines, now we can't have vines cos obviously people have just given up and let the church garden go to wrack and ruin.

Well..all I can think of was if people are too lazy and fall asleep praying Jesus just went into the garden sweating drops of blood. It was the only place he could go, having been kicked out of His own Father's House. And then he was buried there. I'm sure some people mistook him for a gardener about three days later.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Earthsong eco-neighbourhood

Last Saturday the APW held its workshop in my neighbourhood! Or the next suburb over, Ranui. I just need to walk up Universal Drive and further to Swanson Road to arrive at number 457.

At number 457 there is hidden amongst the trees and bushes and directly behind Fresh Choice supermarket is Earthsong,  New Zealand's very first co-housing  eco village made to permaculture principles. It was established in 1999 and has 32 dwellings or titles with rammed earth walls, passive solar design, tank water, shared common land, kitchen and laundry spaces, public and private gardens, car parking around the outside and mobility friendly paths on the inside.

The people that live there do form what is known as a body corporate like any apartment block dweller, but the difference is they are members of one another and govern by consensus - there are regular meetings and social groups. Its sort of like living in a permanent holiday park (without having to share a bathroom and toilet) or maybe a bunch of houses surrounding a church like in the olden days. Except these days, there's no church cos its all very human centred and you can have any belief you want (no required Green Party pledge of allegiance, apparently) as long as you cook a dinner for everyone one night a week. Also, if you want a cat, theres a limit to 7 cats on the grounds, and woe betide you if you want a rabbit and one person is allergic. I have seen bees and chickens in the orchard down the back however.

The landscaping is designed with swales to catch the storm and rain water and there are kitchen gardens by the common house, with working bees where everyone pitches in. It's all very idyllic and I suppose conforms to Pemaculture Principle 10. Use and value diversity. Don't put all your eggs in one basket

The planting around the houses are wonderfully diverse except they DO use a petrol driven noisy lawnmower when they could have used a flock of sheep to keep the grass down and their manure as fertiliser, and maybe made sweaters from their wool, but then perhaps I am being picky.

Go visit one day! If I had a permanent job at the Ranui Library I could live there and could walk to work! (I still could from my place, but I could be super eco conscious green living freak more than I am now, and not even have to breathe the carbon monoxide fumes coming from the cars on Universal Drive) and boast to everyone I am the greenest of green, not just my thumbs but all over. But sorry Socks bunny, you may not be welcome unless I make a campaign to allow rabbits and other animals at Earthsong, making a case for it that you keep the weeds down, and who needs surplus carrots anyway?

Monday, 10 April 2017

The Expensive Gardener

You can pay up to $120 an hour for good gardeners around Auckland I've found. This is because a truck comes to your house and takes away all your hedge trimmings, mows your lawns, prunes everything, composts and mulches and does nasty jobs like clear up Queen Palms (they have spikes) or clears space around your swimming pool so your don't get tangled up in the bushes while having your swim.

A truck costs a lot of money to operate not to mention taking away all your green waste to the tip, and all the tools involved, like strimmers and blowers, and of course, hard labour on hands and knees and ladders. And the plants get sourced from nurseries all over Auckland.

$120 an hour doesn't seem like very much to pay at all. You can just put it towards home maintenance costs and get a tax rebate if you had an investment property, which many Aucklanders seem to have these days. Us lowly garden workers are paid 6.6% of this.

I came back home after a hard days work with nothing to show for it but cash to buy food. Perhaps if I'd been working in a vege garden I might have bought home dinner but its the world these days that I come home, tired and pass the KFC which promises instant food. However my car needs petrol otherwise it can't get to work so money needs to be spent on that, and by the time I've done all my errands I have forgotten to eat and so end up buying something that can be microwaved, go watch tv and then go to bed to get up the next day sitting in an hours traffic to do someone else's garden.

I can't take any calls on the job sorry as I'm busy working so to arrange a holiday is too hard. I am just going to stay at home and maybe have some richer friends come visit me instead. However I count my blessings I am not sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours being paid a measly $15 an hour. (The most horrible job, ever, because of radio nazis and the people who read Woman's Day magazines)  I may get a cut of $3 more than what I was earning for that job but hey its money that goes into Kiwisaver I have to wait 30 more years for, and by that time maybe I can buy my own house OR live in a kennel. I have seen some for sale at first I thought they were dogs' homes but no people actually live in them. They are on wheels so if you on a slope you could slide down a hill but otherwise they are a perfect solution if you don't want to end up in jail, for sleeping on the streets. They are called 'Tiny Homes'.

I plan to park mine in the Auckland Botanic Garden and have other people maintain it for me.

Oh second miracle, Karyn and I don't need to go digging sand from the beach by night for our chickens. Louise kindly donated some sand for Martha's sandpit. I better start making it soon cos she has already dug over the maple bed garden again which I had painstakingly planted with ajugas and spider plants. The packet said 'Sand for sandpit' contains no shells. Louise said that it had been sitting under the house for about 20 years but her children are too old to play in the sand now.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

More ramblings

Dear Garden Diary

You have been a faithful friend to listen to all my ramblings and I just want to thank you that I can take all my garden worries to you. Sometimes when people persecute me for making gardens I just count it all joy, knowing all this hard work and suffering brings a greater reward.

Well yesterday was a complete random surprise when a bird turned up on the neighbours driveway and thought it was my cousins' cockatiel bird Melody escaping from her house. So I called the bird and it climbed on my arm and I took it across the road. I knocked at the door. My cousins opened it looking at me and the bird on my shoulder with shock and surprise. Here's Melody I said.

That's not Melody, Melody is here!

I looked at the bird. What?! This isn't Melody?

No it was a completely different bird. Melody was sitting as usual in her pen looking in the mirror.
Oh but its so pretty, said Patrina. Natalie said Can I pat it? Let's give it some food.


Ok well I left the bird with them because if I took it home, we don't have any bird seed and Mummy Cat might think it's her dinner.

Melody and the new bird seemed to be getting along fine.


Well anyway, that's what happened yesterday.
The day before last, was gardening at Mt Eden not far from my granddad's old place. Now this place, a Second Nature designed garden, had a purple themed front formal garden but when you went down the back, it was like an oasis complete with two water features. I was like wooah, lush!

After that I came  home and did some more of my own garden. I have put more spider plants and ajuga under the maple tree and we had all that rain, even put some purple tradescantia in, hoping it would spread, and the bog garden I had put down the back absorbed all the rain so we didn't even have any puddles the way it used to flood before I put plants in to drink the water.

I have  a new plan to do the church hanging baskets with spider plants. They will be free from my garden won't even have to buy them, I'm also sourcing free hydrangeas, and can even go past Kings Plant Barn announcing a garage sale and not even go in.

Except maybe today when I need to find some more pebbles for the rest of my rock garden but Karyn and I are going to find some sand at the beach for Martha's (and her NEW trio of chickens) sandpit.

That is all for now.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Back to (Mt) Eden

The time is now 6:48am and I'm debating whether to leave now before the traffic to get to Mt Eden by 8:30am or wing it and wait till 7:30 and sit in an rush hour traffic.

I am called to garden somewhere off Dominion Road so not to far from my grandparents old place and thinking maybe I should leave now? Buy my lunch from a bakery and sit and read my book before I start.

Such is the logistics of Auckland traffic that it's such a mission even getting started to go to work.
I wonder what gardening surprises await me there today. It's looking cloudy and may rain so I've got my wet weather gear, secateurs, even a handy belt pouch to put them in. It's bright pink I bought from Mitre 10.

We had a great time at the Woodside bbq thank you to all that made it! Louise says she will come and help out on Saturdays (to get out of the house she says). Mum came and harvested some chillis which she made into hot sauce. I made ginger ale and we all had 5 different kinds of sausages.

Sarah the Gardener has been telling me all about her new book Growing Vegetables. She even has a blog to rival my own. But as far as I know she never has to battle with Auckland traffic so I will sign off for now and get going...