March marches on?

 And the Big Gum tree.
Sunny Lawn

Ha! Can I say that March marches on? The mornings are starting to feel autumnal - the sun is lower, the air seems fresher and edgy. And my lawns are returning to that lush green colour again. Yippee! Well - that's a tick for the lawns, at least.

Monday 8th March

Then I'll give maybe half a tick for the general flower gardens, and a big weedy cross for the vegetable garden. The new garden behind the Shrubbery gets ten super-sized ticks! I've never laid out a plantless garden before - creating the border shapes, laying mulch, and putting down the paths before adding any shrubs and plants. I do have some mature evergreens to work my design around - Olearias and Pittosporums - and of course there are those towering gum trees above. Love or hate? Today there's no wind, so I love them.

 My own seed-grown annuals.
Pretty Blue Petunias

I'm contemplating one of those terribly busy weeks that retired folk talk about (and nobody else believes them). Tomorrow I'm out all day with the Garden Club visiting a high country farm and garden. Hee hee - I've been asked to take my guitar for a singalong on the bus on the way home. Then on Wednesday I'm going walking all day, followed immediately by choir practice. On Thursday I visit my seaside gardening friend. Goodness me - when will I find time to do my own garden?


It's quiet, warm, peaceful, the sort of moment I'd like to bottle and bring out to sip whenever I feel grumpy. I've arrived back with just a few bargain plants - two Phormiums, an Escallonia, a free Pittosporum, and a Gaura with reddish foliage for my perennial garden - what perennial garden?

No, no - I do have a perennial garden, filled at the moment with daylily foliage, wispy bits of Nepeta Six Hills Giant, a few struggling roses, the final flowers of Phlox, and a huge sprawling cerise Dahlia. It's a bit of a shambles, actually. In spring the Aquilegias and Forget-Me-Nots take over completely. Several clumpy brown tussocks have taken up residence - nice for winter, but a bit like stout brown leather brogues amongst the ballet slippers in spring. Now it's early autumn - the Bengal Tiger Canna lilies should be roaring by now and showing off their stripes. Hmm...

 I grow this for the foliage.
Canna Bengal Tiger

Bach is burbling away on the stereo, thanks to Murray Perahia, pianist extraordinaire, my absolute hero, he who can make Bach sound romantic without taking the slightest liberty - how does he do that? And what a lovely, lovely, time of day - and time of year! I'm going to have a coffee on the patio in the shade of the leafy green Wisteria. I'll be reading 'Dream Plants for the Natural Garden', last century's de rigueur gardening book for the enlightened and fashionable gardener. Ten years too late, but hey! I don't need these famous blokes (Henk Gerritsen and Piet Oudolf) to remind me - I've always grown and loved grasses and tall plants with purple foliage.

Only Three Hours Later...

Hmm... It's only three hours later, but I've been pottering quietly. I've fixed another path in the new garden, shifted two red flaxes over and out of the way, and found some huge logs for the edge. The Pittosporums are trimmed, and I've transplanted in some dwarf Agapanthus (found struggling underneath a Viburnum in the Frisbee Border). I've even managed to stretch a hose in to do some watering. I've also raked all the leaves off the pond garden and paths - it didn't take long, and now the whole area looks good again. A freshly raked path covers a multitude of gardening sins, I guess.

Robinson Gnome :
My pipe smoking garden gnome was named after Smokey Robinson the singer...

The pond gnomes with their cute little red hats are hard at work fishing, smoking pipes, reading, or just watching the water. Gnomes are so much easier to take photographs of than frogs. My frog has sixth, seventh, eighth sense and more, knowing exactly when I'm sneaking up with my camera. Plop! One day, frog, one day.

And thinking about cameras, Son of Moosey said I should 'borrow' his new camera to take some shots of sunny things with shadows - basically to improve my photographic offerings, introduce depth, and so on. 'It's really easy to use', apparently.

 I grew these from seed.

Right. Some of my Gazanias are flowering, so I take the camera (I even wash and dry my hands first). There are a squillion buttons and clicky things to press, but I can't for the life of me find the one which takes the photograph. Blast. Back to old faithful, I guess...

 Growing on one of the terraces.
Sunny Crocosmia

Tuesday 9th March

Hmm... About that easy-to-use camera - it was simply a case of flat batteries. Easy! Anyway, I'm taking my own camera on the Garden Club visit today as well some shop-bought sushi for the bring-a-lunch-plate competition (I will declare myself ineligible).

I hope I enjoy this little outing today. It's really important for stay-at-home gardeners to get out and look at other genuine garden creations.

Ellerslie Flower Show

I use this phrase because the Ellerslie Flower Show is on in my city this week. To this well-managed event I am definitely not going. I'll be much happier staying home and continuing my new garden expansions!

The emphasis seems to be on entertainment and international designers. A famous British gardener with gold medals from Chelsea is exhibiting an English-style garden. I'd much rather dream about English gardens (or visit them in person in England) than see an artificial replica put together with plants in pots.

 A wonderful view of the Rakaia River valley.
Glenariffe Front Garden


Oh boy. I'm back from visiting Glenariffe, and I'm inspired. Not by what I've seen ornamentally, but by the fact that one woman gardener can clear pieces of land by herself, with her own hands. I think it takes three simple things - time, energy, and just a little touch of madness (some might prefer the word 'passion').

Think Big!

Our hostess had terraces above her house, mixing up hostas and perennials with New Zealand natives. She'd been busy building tracks into a scruffy patch of native bush, with a waterfall and stream. She had a lot of nerve - gesturing to a stony, messy bit of hillside and saying 'lawn and trees here, I think'.

I liked her attitude very much - her garden was just beginning, she offered no apologies, and she was thinking big. I can learn from this!