Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Champion Chives

Chives are one of my favourite forms of onion.  The garden clumps are flourishing just now, with plenty available for a breakfast omelette.

Omelette with lots of chives

Chives are a nutrient-dense food, low in calories but high in vitamin C and iron.  They are reputed to have number of health benefits, including prevention of cancer and mood enhancement, and must be eaten fresh to receive the maximum benefit.

Chives were originally brought to the West from China by Marco Polo.   They became popular in Europe not only for their subtle onion flavor, but because of the widespread belief that their leaves chase away evil spirits and disease.

“I relish chives at any meal
for me they have immense appeal.”


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Red Red Rose

Dublin Bay Rose

The first rose is fully out – summer must be on its way.  This Dublin Bay climber was the first rose we planted when we moved in thirty years ago.  It peeks through the front fence and gives pleasure to passers by.

Dublin Bay is one of three roses named after the bays of Ireland by Sam McGredy and is the most well known around the world.  It has been rated as the No 1 climber by members of the New Zealand Rose Society since 1987 and shows no signs of being replaced.  Usually, it has double the number of votes of the next best rose.  I wonder how many of my readers have Dublin Bay in their gardens?

“It seems this rose is just the best
more popular than all the rest.”

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Spring Surprise

Our bay or laurel tree was planted in October 2011.  It has special significance because Stephen’s original heart valve was buried beneath it.  It provides plenty of bay leaves for cooking, and this year, for the very first time, it has flowers.  Apparently these will later turn into black berries which can be dried and used as ‘robust’ spices.  They contain up to 30% fatty oils and about 1% essential oils.

Bay/Laurel flowers

In the classical legend Daphne was saved from rape by Apollo by being transformed into a laurel tree in the nick of time.   Laurel, which is a narcotic and stimulant, was the plant of prophecy chewed by the oracle at Delphi.  It’s a symbol of wisdom, both acquired and intuitive.  Laurel crowns were given to the best poets who were then called ‘laureate’.  Baccalaureate is from the Latin for laurel berries, which were given to Greek students of the classical period.  Placing bay leaves beneath pillows has been thought to bring prophetic dreams.

“This is the first time that our laurel
has shown to us a part that’s floral.”



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Various Violets

Every spring we seem to have more and more violets in the garden.  There are white ones

and pink ones

and purple ones

There is a story about Napoleon Bonaparte and the violet.  While in exile on the island of Elba, he supposedly confided to his friends that he would return to France with the appearance of the violets in the spring.  (Such flowers may have had a special significance for the deposed Emperor, as he had once used them as an amorous emblem of his love for Josephine.)  His partisans rallied around the symbol of his triumphant return and secretly referred to him as Corporal Violet.  To determine a loyal supporter, the question was asked of a stranger:  “Do you like violets?”  If the reply to the query was “Oui” or “Non”, it revealed one who did not know of the plot.  If the answer was “Eh bien”, the loyalty of the person to Napoleon was confirmed.

“With violets blooming everywhere
perhaps he may just re-appear.”


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Peek-a-boo Petals

I’ve encouraged my Naked Ladies/Amaryllis to peep through the fence so passers-by can enjoy their beauty.

There are some inside the fence as well, which we can see from our bedroom window.

“There’s absolutely nothing shady
about this bright pink snazzy lady.”

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Myrtle rust has invaded the North Island, threatening native species such as pohutukawa, rata, and manuka.   I’m concerned about that, of course, but my more immediate worry is that the rust also attacks feijoa trees.  I can appreciate their relationship to pohutukawa, because in our garden we enjoy our feijoa’s Christmas display, similar to pohutukawa in the North Island.

Feijoa tree at Christmas 2009

I always thought feijoa might be related to citrus, because it’s recommended to give them citrus food.  Because of this I haven’t put feijoa skins in my worm farm, but I’ve learned today that worms are happy to eat feijoas, so that’s a habit I will change.  This year we’ve had the best harvest ever from our “Unique” feijoa which we planted in 2000.

Today I’ve baked a Feijoa Loaf – yum!  I just hope Myrtle may be contained in the North Island and keep away from the Avon Loop.

“I hope rust spores will cease to hurtle
down here I would not welcome Myrtle.”

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Gratifying Gladioli

The gladioli are in flower.  I have them planted outside the fence where they make a good show.

There are white ones

There are white ones


and red ones

and red ones


I picked this lovely peach one to bring inside

I picked this lovely peach one to bring inside

The name gladiolus comes from the Latin gladius meaning sword, because the stem is similar to a sword blade.  They are considered to be symbol of friendship, loyalty, memory, and nobility, because of a legend where Thracian soldiers refused to become gladiators and kill each other.  Instead they stuck their swords in the ground and rushed to hug each other.

Gladioli are thought to be the ‘lilies of the field’ that Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount, because they grew wild and abundantly in the Holy Land

“This is a  tall and stately flower
which could complement any bower.”

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