Tikorangi notes 5/3/2010

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March 5, 2010: In the Taranaki garden this week – from growing buckwheat as a green crop to constructing individual hammocks for metamorphosing monarch caterpillars.

March 5, 2010: Angelica gigas – feeding the bees this week and if they would make some space, it would also feed the butterflies.

March 5, 2010: A step by step pictorial guide to chip budding – the horticultural equivalent of micro surgery.

One country's treasured plants are another country's roadside plants, even weeds

One country’s prized garden plants are another’s roadside wildflowers and weeds. The South African agapanthus grows so easily here that it is regarded as a low value roadside plant bordering on a weed though it must be said it is a real feature up and down the roads of our area in summer. I was completely confused by some English garden visitors one summer who asked what was the giant bluebell which grew everywhere in our area. It wasn’t until I next went out our gate that the penny dropped and I realized they were referring to agapanthus. Mind you, as they also asked about the yellow lacecap hydrangea on our roadsides (which I worked out was wild fennel), I don’t think plant identification was their strong point.

Wind anemones and agapanthus on our road verge

Wind anemones and agapanthus on our road verge

This is a particularly good dark blue agapanthus which grows beside the little row of rustic letterboxes serving the houses here. Being on rural delivery, the flag up on the letterbox is a message to the postman that there is also mail to be collected – yes, in this country, the rural mail service picks up as well as delivers mail to individual properties.

Agapanthus are on the banned list in more northern areas of New Zealand because of their invasive and seeding habits. In our area the giant gunnera (Chilean rhubarb), so prized in cold climates overseas, is on the pest plant list banned from sale and scheduled for eradication – both tinctoria and manicata.

The Japanese anemones (hupehensis var. japonica) make a great roadside planting but are rather too strong and invasive as a garden plant in our conditions. I have a sentimental attachment to these flowers which we know as wind anemones. On the night before our wedding a few decades ago, Mark turned up to see me with an armful of white wind anemones he had gathered on the roadside. How romantic is that?