Garden lore: Friday 16 January, 2015

062 - Copy - CopyIf it were of any use, every day the gardener would fall on his knees and pray somehow like this: “O Lord, grant that in some way it may rain every day, say from about midnight until three o’clock in the morning, but, you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in; grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthemum, lavender, and the others which you in your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants – I will write their names on a bit of paper if you like – and grant that the sun my shine the whole day long, but not everywhere (not, for instance, on spiraea, or on gentian, plantain lily, and rhododendron), and not too much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant-lice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano may fall from heaven. Amen.”
Karel Capek, The Gardener’s Year (1929)
Garden Lore: trees and power lines
Despite the intense and not always good natured rivalry between New Zealand and our closest neighbours across the ditch, there are some things they do better in Australia . Mandatory country of origin labelling on food is one. Though it was with wry amusement we noted a bin of avocados on sale in Canberra proudly bearing the placard “Produce of Australia”, while each fruit bore an irritating little sticker telling us they were in fact New Zealand avocados.

What also caught our attention were the efforts the lines company was willing to make to keep large trees in Sydney. I took this photo on the street where our daughter lives in Bellevue Hill. It would be a baking hot concrete and tarmac environment without the trees. A window has been cut through the canopy where necessary to accommodate the lines and there are spacers and insulation on the lines to guard against storm damage. Of course it must cost more money but it is a very different mind-set from this country where lines companies rule supreme and want a clearway free of trees around every set of power lines up and down the country. I have yet to see an example here where power lines and large trees are allowed to coexist so it was interesting to see that it is possible. Large trees are not replaceable in the short to middle term and play an increasingly important role both in urban settings and in producing the oxygen we breathe.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.