Dandelion Dilemma

Climate Crisis could be diminished if we all stop mowing our lawns.  Yes, it’s true!  The use of petrol-powered mowers creates carbon.  A study in New South Wales found that lawn mowing accounted for 5% of carbon dioxide emissions on a single summer weekend.  Even using an electric mower, or a hand mower as I do, can contribute to air pollution.  That fresh cut grass smell comes from organic chemicals which oxidise and contribute to air pollution.  If we leave our grass to grow long the number of bugs living there increases, and they provide food for birds and lizards.  So it all helps the planet.

My small lawn hasn’t been mowed for several months, and I’m wondering whether I might just leave it alone, but I’m uncertain what to do about the dandelions.  Previously I’ve dug out those that were noticeable, and picked the flowers off others before they had time to seed.  If I want to leave the lawn alone should I let the dandelions provide a splash of colour?  I know that dandelion leaves and flowers are highly nutritious, but I’ve never harvested them.

A friend tells me her chooks keep her grass at a low level, but much as I’d love them we don’t have room for chooks.  I plan to experiment with not mowing and see what happens.  I’ve bought a packet of bee-friendly cornflower seeds and will try sowing them in patches in the lawn, hoping a flowery meadow will emerge.  That means I’ll have to water the l;awn until they grow, something I’ve not done before.

I do wonder how I’ll get on with walking across the meadow/lawn when the grass is high and wet (not that we get much rain these days).  Maybe I’ll need gumboots.  We shall see.

I plan to try a no-mow lawn
and wait to see just what may spawn

Floral Friday

This is the view today from the window beside my computer desk.  The Stella cherry tree is covered in blossom, and in another three months it should be covered in cherries, provided that there are sufficient bees to do the necessary pollination.

By the Bridge of Remembrance there’s a new bed of giant tulips.  I suspect they may be lit up at night.  Has anyone seen this?  It all adds to the image of the Garden City.

The cherry blossom looks just great
the fruit requires a three month wait

Petite Plants

Little Gardens are again being given away by New World Supermarkets.  For every $40 you spend you are given a kit to help you grow a particular plant.  They are labelled as suitable for children five years and over, and I bet there are a lot of adults like me who appreciate them too.

Each kit contains a small peat pot, seeds, a soil tablet, a label, and a sticker.  You moisten the soil tablet with water, put most of this mixture into the pot, place the seed mat on top, cover with the rest of the soil, and water sparingly.  After seven days I was pleased to discover two tiny kale plants.  Four days later there were eleven, and I decided it was best to remove five of them so the others had more room.

In the photo you can see the kale in the centre, two spinach plants coming through on the right, and a tiny pansy peeking through on the left.  I give them all a little bit of water each morning and am delighted to start my summer vegetable garden in this way.  It remains to be seen how many will make it through to harvest.

I’m so pleased with my seedlings small
and hope they will grow strong and tall

Equinox Entreaty

Today is the Spring Equinox.  It was at 1.30am this morning to be precise, and I like precision.

Lately I’ve been feeling weary and old.  Things very close to home are good, but wider considerations are not.  Today I’ve decided to go back to making a daily list of five things I can be grateful for, which always tends to put me in a positive frame of mind.  I’m aware that my lists can be repetitive, and my hope for the increasing light is that I will find new things to be grateful for.  Lately I’ve had little inspiration for creative writing, so today I’m recycling a rhyme I wrote five years ago, with updates.


September twenty-three’s the date
when balance will predominate
that is the special day when light
is strictly equal with the night.

In Aotearoa we can see
the signs of nature breaking free
the trees are full of blossoms and
sweet smells of spring pervade the land.

But on the planet’s other side
in England where my daughters bide
they’re heading for a winter drear
while we get summer over here.

At equinox I like to think
the distances between us shrink
like us they’re poised around halfway
at that mid point twixt night and day.

This deadly virus on the prowl
means that so much of life is foul
here we’ve gone down to Level One
elsewhere strict lockdown means no fun

At this date all the world might share
a perfect balance everywhere
We pray for peace that it may come
as we seek equilibrium.


©Ruth Gardner

Freedom Regained

To celebrate the move to Level One we had morning tea at Under the Red Verandah.  They were busy but we found a shady seat in their attractive garden where birds twittered and bees buzzed.

The large fluffy dog in the centre of the photo is a friendly Leonberger who enjoyed snuffling Stephen’s leg for traces of Ziggy.

I had a smoothie and a ginormous cheese scone which means I don’t need any lunch.  As we left we admired a decorative fluffy being served in an elegant cup to a small girl.

It’s wonderful that we no longer need to worry about social distancing,  I haven’t been on public transport, so haven’t yet needed to wear my mask.

Restrictions have all gone once more.
What else does this year have in store?


New Neighbours

Three days ago we were surprised to learn a developer is planning to build multiple townhouses at 14 Nova Place, just a few doors east of our cottage.  We were perturbed when we discovered that the developer is Williams Corp, who are ubiquitous within the central city, and not known for their consideration of neighbours.

14 Nova Place

I contacted the City Council  who told me no consents have been applied for but they had had an inquiry about water supply capacity for the relevant sections.  The planned 26 units are being sold off the plans before any consents are obtained, but consents will be needed before they begin construction.

Prices for the one and two bedroom units start at $425,000, and they are marketed as having on street parking, i.e. no off street parking. This is of particular concern as local on street parking is already in high demand for commuters during the day and Bridge Club patrons at night.  Plus it is often used by PIKO customers.  We are lucky enough to have a resident’s parking space (long may it continue!), and at a recent Christchurch City Council meeting to discuss inner city parking it was suggested that areas like ours should be time limited to deter commuter parking.  There is concern that with 26 new units, and potentially 26 additional residents seeking parks there will be no space available for tradespeople, health workers, etc.  It’s all very well for the Council to promote inner city living without car parking, but I don’t think many citizens have yet made the transition to a car-free lifestyle.

We have been warned by others with experience of Williams Corp that we will need to be aware of potential transgressions such as unsafe worksite practices, breaching District Plan rules, and illegally parked contractor vehicles.

According to the Williams Corp website there are only 19 units left, i.e. seven have already been sold.  I hope the buyers will be owner-occupiers, or offer long term leases rather than AirBnB investments.  I have heard that sometimes when Williams advertise a development as being fully sold some sales have been to an associated company.

We would be delighted to have 26 additional households in our community.  This is an attractive area to live in, and more residents will make nearby retail more viable.  We might even see the return of a local dairy.  Any disruption during construction will be worthwhile if we gain new friends nearby.

An influx of neighbours is coming our way
I hope they’ll be walkers and cyclists who stay




Suffrage Sensitivity

Today I attended a Suffrage Day celebration at the national Kate Sheppard Memorial.  There were about fifty people, little need for social distancing, and no masks in sight.  I’ve been to similar events almost every year since 1993, and I wonder how long the same faithful feminists will continue to attend.

I understand Covid 19 made it uncertain whether any public event would go ahead, and there was little promotion of it.  No acknowledgement of the special date  in this morning’s Press.

Rosemary du Plessis introducing the speakers

The M.C. for the celebration was Rosemary du Plessis, representing the National Council of Women, and several speakers urged us to use our vote in the forthcoming General Election.  I’m sure they were speaking to the converted.  There was mention of a project to raise funds for seating near the memorial, which I would certainly appreciate.  One speaker pushed the case for suffrage to be extended to 16 and 17 year olds something I agree with.  She pointed out that young people have demonstrated their abilities by organising the School Strike 4 Climate, and deserve to have a say in the political process.

Our voting privilege exists
thanks to the work of suffragists

Brooklands and Birds

Years have passed since I last went to Spencer Park.  This is the area at the northern end of Bottle Lake Forest, beside the Brooklands Lagoon.

Ruth at Brooklands Lagoon

We were pleasantly surprised to discover the Seafield Wildlife Park there.  Established thirty years ago to preserve rare breeds of animals it has since been downsized but is still a very attractive and free place to visit, especially for families.  There were giant rabbits in cages, birds in aviaries, a sleepy pig, and various kinds of fowl.

Giant rabbit

Sleepy pig


We were particularly delighted to meet a black hen with eight baby chicks:


Hen and chicks

Further along the Seafield Walk is the Adrenalin Forest.  I’d heard of this before but never quite knew what it was.  Today there were dozens of Rangi Ruru students enjoying the adventurous trails, some climbing very high into the trees and zipping down lines.

Students in Adrenalin Forest

The caretaker explained to us that there are trails of varying difficulties so people can choose one they’re comfortable with and work their way up if they wish.

We walked on to the Bird Hide and observed pukeko and oyster catchers.  The godwits have recently returned but we didn’t see any of these,  It would be a good idea to take binoculars.

We saw things we had not expected
like ladders in tall trees erected

Turanga Trip

There were new things to see on this morning’s trip to Turanga.

New mural

A new mural on the fence beside the Cathedral seems almost to invoke Julian of Norwich.

In Armagh Street the endangered black-billed gulls are nesting again.

Gulls on nests

The site owners weren’t quick enough to deter them so they’ll have to be left alone until breeding is finished.  I feel sorry for the people in quarantine in the Crowne Plaza opposite who can’t quite see the nests, unless some guests on the upper floors have strong binoculars.

A fine waka is moored on the river near the Manchester Street bridge.


Commercial waka rides are due to start soon, and will be an unusual experience.  I’ve been on the Otākaro in a canoe and in a punt, but a waka will be a novel experience.

A mural, birds, and waka too
each day we can see something new

In 1918 Dublin was in the midst of a flu pandemic.  This meant extra sanitation, cancelled concerts, and firms on the verge of closing for lack of custom, all of which seem so familiar as our world now adjusts to the Covid 19 pandemic.

This book totally gripped me, although I found the lack of speech marks around any dialogue a little disconcerting.  The main character is Julia Power who is a nurse in a makeshift quarantined maternity ward at a hospital in the central city.  As well as the flu pandemic citizens are dealing with the aftermath of the first world war.  Vital equipment was often unavailable because it was made in Germany and couldn’t be procured in wartime.  The shortage of nurses seemed to parallel the status of our own Canterbury District Health Board, and the book makes clear the strain on health workers during a pandemic.

There are harrowing descriptions of childbirth, in a country where a woman’s worth was measured by the number of children she produced, and where those women who failed to meet society’s standards were incarcerated in institutions run by religious bigots, e.g. the Magdalene Laundries.  Yet through all this, there are moments of beauty and hope.

Among the fictional characters is one historical figure, Dr Kathleen Lynn, who was a Sinn Fein activist and worked tirelessly for the welfare of the less advantaged.

This book is well written (apart from the missing speech marks), with enthralling historical detail, and thoroughly recommended.

Just three days in a fever ward
provide a story deep and broad