Ha! I knew I loved writing, but I didn’t realise quite how much until I stopped the weekly routine. So herewith the first of a new series. Instead of casting around each week to dispense advice on what readers should be doing in their garden, I thought instead I would record what we have actually done.
Mark has been playing with a new toy which belongs to Lloyd’s wife (Lloyd being our neighbour, friend and one remaining staff member). I don’t think his wife knows they are over here but despite initial scepticism, these battery powered clippers by Bosch have proven to be so useful that I can see Mark needs a set for his birthday. He has spent hours cutting back the long grass from the bulbs he has naturalised in the park (dwarf cyclamen, dwarf narcissi, snowdrops – galanthus – lachenalias and more). The clippers are much faster to use than snips and have saved a major flare-up of his RSI. He is besotted with them and loves to demonstrate how easily they cut back spent perennials and seed heads as well. To me, they resemble hairdresser’s clippers. Not that I have anything against hairdressers.
In the edible garden, which is entirely Mark’s domain here, he has been continuing his nightly rat and mouse bait round to combat the growing population. He gathered the maize which he grows to feed his pigeons (I call him the Jack Duckworth of Tikorangi) and has it spread out to dry. He continues to eat fresh sweet corn every day for lunch. The walnut harvest is being dried, the last of the tree-ripened apples were gathered this week but there is a major failure in the vegetable garden. He did not follow the advice we dispensed weekly a couple of months ago and there is a dearth of green vegetables. I have had to buy some – the first vegetables we have bought for close to a year.
Lloyd has spent much of the week weed-eating areas which we can not mow. If he times this autumn round well, grass growth slows so much that it does not need to be done again until we open the garden at magnolia time. An amazingly mild autumn may upset this routine. Grass growth continues unabated.
Our most reliable Friend of the Garden, Colin, has been up for the week. He likes to escape his retirement village (widely known in this country as a Home for the Bewildered) and spend an intensive four days in the garden at least once every six weeks. As a retired horticulturist, he is one of the few people we trust with areas full of treasures so he has done a major clean up of Mark’s cold border in the park – just in time as the trilliums are pushing through.
I am continuing my major revamp of the Avenue Gardens – this week a badly overgrown area of choking and choked perennials which has involved some pretty heavy digging. I have taken out the lot, divided them and discarded large quantities which are surplus to requirements before replanting in freshly dug ground. I have also been dividing and potting Soloman Seal (polygonatum multiflorum) to sell during our annual garden festival at the end of October and digging and dividing some large clumps of a particularly good variegated form of Crinum moorei. We know only too well that one of the drawcards here is our ability to offer plants for sale that can’t be found elsewhere.
For any local readers who noticed the article that replaced me in the Taranaki Daily News on Friday:
1) The unnamed vireya photographed was Golden Charm (one of ours, bred by Felix Jury).
2) The advice given to cut your luculia back to half a metre high after flowering only applies to Luculia gratissima (Early Dawn is the common sugar pink one in flower now). If you do that to Luculia pinceana types (Fragrant Cloud is the spectacular, heavily scented almond pink one most commonly available), you will kill them. We prefer to let Early Dawn grow. It forms a graceful under-storey large shrub.