1) April 1, 2010 Garden tasks for the week, from buying bargain woody trees and shrubs from last season to autumn harvests.
2) April 1, 2010 Trimming and clipping formal hedges, our latest Outdoor Classroom. There is no doubt if you are going to have the sharp definition of a formal hedge, it might as well be done properly. We can’t do the traditional English yew in our climate – we have too high a rainfall and they get phytophthora and tend to die young.
Easter has been and gone. Alas, few Easter eggs here as Spike ate the Easter bunny. Buffa the cat has probably eaten a fair number of the Easter bunny’s brothers and sisters too. We are dealing with a rabbit explosion and would have preferred the early settlers from Britain to have left the rabbits back in their homeland rather than introducing them to this country back in the 1800s. We would have been better off had they also left the possum in Australia. While on the subject, one wishes they had spent the long voyage at sea ridding the plants of the slugs and snails that hitched a ride.
Our autumns tend to be long and mild here, drifting slowly from summer to winter, which makes for brilliant gardening conditions.
The latest project is redeveloping an area of woodland. Most large gardens have messy patches – the areas one walks through quickly with eyes averted but I could no longer ignore this particular area. Lots of lifting and limbing and the removal of surplus plants have allowed more light in, the rediscovery of lines long blurred by too much growth and a feeling of open space again. The piles for the mulcher (chipper) have been prodigious and even the occasional nikau palm (Rhopalostylis sapida) has been sacrificed. This may seem too much for those who treasure the world’s southernmost palm, but they self seed freely here and while very beautiful, there is a limit to how many we need in the garden. Similarly the tree ferns, known here as pongas, seed all round the place and are often removed with the chainsaw. Having seen these greatly prized in Italian and English gardens, we are always a little amused that they are taken completely for granted in this country.