Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Floral Friday

This lupin is flowering outside our front fence, just behind the green box that holds the connections for the local fibre cables. It’s a brave volunteer, self-sewn from plants inside the fence, and has occasionally been nurtured with worm pee. It demonstrates the kind of tenacity that has enabled its relations to colonise the McKenzie Country.

I actually took the photo on Tuesday, and wondered whether some passer-by might abduct the flower, but it’s still there.

It’s grown up through a footpath crack
where recent sealing has been slack

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Floral Friday

Sunflower with bee

Yellow flowers don’t fit my garden colour scheme, so I’m not inclined to ,plant them. These sunflowers were a gift so I had to find a spot for them, and they are flourishing outside the fence in my ground level window boxes.

The last time I grew sunflowers was four years ago, and those were small ones from New World’s Little Garden. This year’s ones are much bigger and, as you can see, the bees are enjoying them.

It’s only the buds and leaves of the sunflower that turn towards the sun. Once the head of the plant comes into bloom it remains facing the east where the sun rises.

Sunflowers have been cultivated for over 4,500 years. Because the whole of the plant, including leaves, stalks, and roots is edible, they were grown as food in North America before other crops such as corn became common.

Each flower head is actually made up of about 2,000 florets. These tiny flowers are packed full of nectar which makes them attractive to bees.

Sunflowers have a remarkable ability to absorb toxins, including radiation, which is why they were planted at Chernobyl and Fukushima after nuclear disasters.

A useful plant the bright sunflower
where bees good nectar can devour

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Sexy Snails?

No snails have been seen in my garden for months. We used to hear the sound of thrushes dropping snails on the brick steps to break their shells open, but not in recent years. Actually we haven’t seen many thrushes either. The shortage of snails may be because there’s less moisture in the garden these days. They need moisture to survive, and water is the main constituent of the mucus trails they leave behind. Our common garden snails are immigrants. In 1869 snail eggs were found among a shipment of salmon eggs from Britain, and were lovingly released by Cantabrian settlers as a reminder of home.

This morning I was surprised to find two snails cuddled together on the brick path, and I wondered whether they might be mating?

Snails on the path

Snails are hermaphrodites and they link up by each shooting a small stony dart into the other. This sperm can be stored for a long time – literally saved for a rainy day. They fertilise their eggs only on wetter days more suited to egg laying.

I thought I would remove the snails rather than leave them on the path where someone might tread on them. When I went back to scoop them up one had disappeared. The other is now securely ensconced among the clippings in the green wheelie bin – not much moisture there for her/him/them.

I wonder if the second snail
is wet enough to leave a trail

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Toadstool Token

Every garden needs a lemon tree. That was the tradition in Auckland, but it’s not so simple here in Christchurch. One of the first trees I planted was a Meyer Lemon, but sadly it succumbed to frost. Its replacement was given a more sheltered spot, but a harsh winter did for that one too. We then placed a large metal barrel on the front porch and planted a tree there, which produced lemons over many years. I fed it regularly with citrus food and worm pee, and topped up the soil with compost.

However, in recent years it declined, did not respond to extra care, and last year I considered throwing it all out and starting again. In spring it produced a few green leaves and I was hopeful. I scraped out some of the top layer of soil, replaced it with potting mix, and bought a few pansies to keep it company. After flowering for a while the leaves of these became mouldy. I replaced them with hardier home-grown pansies which are doing okay, but today I found a toadstool growing beside them.

I’m confident this is a sign of sick soil, and I need to admit defeat, empty the whole barrel, and start again. The old soil will need to go in the red wheelie bin and something new will eventually be planted. Luckily we now have a substitute lemon tree growing in the back garden. This was a cutting taken from a neighbour’s tree before their house was demolished post-quake, which has survived and produced fruit.

The toadstool shows the time is here
this lemon tree will disappear

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Floral Friday

Today’s flower is a gladiolus, with many tomato flowers behind it. I planted four heirloom tomatoes, with names like Bloody Butcher and Cocktail True Red. They are probably too close together, but are flourishing and all have flowers and small tomatoes on them.

The glad counts as an heirloom too, because I’m not sure where it came from, but these pale orange ones have appeared in our garden each year. Maybe they’ve been here longer than we have?

I’m happy to have flowers and veges in the same bed. The only place I keep them separated is in the raised bed, which is limited to veges and herbs only, although the occasional volunteer flower sneaks in.

My plants all nestle in together
support each other through bad weather

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Glad-napper foiled

I noticed someone loitering just outside our side fence, so I walked up the path and peered over, to see a women about to break off one of the gladioli flowering there. I said “Excuse me” and she jumped! She said confusedly “I wasn’t going to grab it. I was just grabbing it for a friend.” and she hurriedly scuttled across the road and away.

If she’d stayed a little longer I would have asked her why she wanted the flower for her friend, and quite possibly have cut it for her. I’ve done this previously when I’ve found people trying to break off roses. I’m happy to share my flowers, but I like people to ask first.

I scared the would-be flower thief
and so our interchange was brief

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Floral Friday

“What happened to our gypsophila?” Stephen asked me. We used to have a lovely bush of white gypsophila which was very useful for making posies. Sadly it disappeared a few years ago.

This morning I was at Portstone Garden Centre, actually in the café for an end-of-year meeting, and afterwards I went to seek gypsophila. They didn’t have any white, but I was pleased to buy four plants of Gypsy Pink.

Gypsy Pink Gypsophila

I managed to find four spots in the garden to plant them, and was surprised that the label said they were “designer flowers”, as that phrase has quite another meaning for me. Some years ago I wanted to buy artificial flowers (I now wonder why!) and asked at a shop for false flowers that didn’t pretend to look like real flowers. “Oh, you mean designer flowers” said the woman, and ever since that’s what designer flowers have meant to me. I shall just have to ignore the label on the gypsophila.

I’m looking forward to evening showers
to nurture my new-planted flowers

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Over the weekend the temperature reached 30° and it was a pleasure to sit on our patio in the shade of the walnut tree and enjoy balmy breezes.

Today the forecast is for 13° and cloudy with rain. These contrasts may be related to the climate emergency, but Canterbury has long been notorious for having four seasons in one day. The rain is good for the garden with everything growing apace.

Hollyhocks in the gutter

There are hollyhocks flourishing in the gutter outside, along with the ubiquitous alyssums. I try to keep the bottom of the gutter clear, and the Council sweepers haven’t been around lately, so the hollyhocks have been left to enjoy the sun and rain.

Fluctuations in the weather remind me of a poem my mother used to quote. Google tells me it’s by someone who’s anonymous and British – not surprising as Britons have a traditional interest in the weather. According to research in 2015, 94% of British respondents admitted to having conversed about the weather in the past six hours, while 38% said they had in the past 60 minutes.

Whether the weather be cold
or whether the weather be hot
we’ll weather the weather whatever the weather
whether we like it or not

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Floral Friday

The feijoa tree always flowers at this time of year, and its red and green blooms seem to typify Christmas decorations

Apparently the flowers are edible – succulent and sweet like marshmallows, and they’re attractive to birds, bees, and butterflies.

I read on Facebook yesterday that each time someone puts up Christmas decorations in November Santa kills an elf. Of course I know better than to believe anything I read on Facebook, and this could hardly apply to decorations supplied by Mother Nature. However I was slightly concerned when I saw this giant Santa peeping over a balcony at Merivale Mews.

It’s much too soon for festive frills
despite the ringing of the tills

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Floral Friday

Cecile Brunner are the perfect miniature roses, and it’s a sign that summer’s almost here when they start to flower. I was delighted this week when there were enough for me to be able to pick a bunch and bring them inside.

Cecile Brunner bunch
Cecile Brunner bush

A friend who died had her birthday at Beltane, the beginning of November, and I always gave her a bunch of these roses, because that’s what her mother used to do.

When my brother died his former wife brought a bunch of these tiny roses to the funeral for me, because she remembered that they had grown at our childhood home. I have no memory of them there, but I love having them in our garden today. Ours were planted in 1995 and have flowered profusely ever since. With Covid now detected in Christchurch such signs of hope are even more precious.

These roses hold a memory
and promises of what will be

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