Summer thoughts

“I thought I saw you bent over, working in the garden,” Mark said. “And then I realised I was talking to a pink bucket.”

I went looking for the pink jacket made from Nana’s old bedspread and I found a whole lot of pink  clothes that the elder daughter does not wish to part with so has left here. Most i sewed for her 20 to 25 years ago and most are recycled from fabric Nana had used or stored, although I can not take credit for the pink prom dress on the right!

In self-defence, he would like it known that he was some distance away at the time. And I would like it known that I would not be seen dead wearing skirts, shorts or trousers in that shade we refer to as highlighter pink – on account of highlighter pens. Mark’s late mother had a penchant for that hue in both clothing and, occasionally, soft furnishings. When we moved in to the homestead, we found one such relic – a nylon quilted and frilled bedspread in bright pink. Our elder daughter was 16 at the time and took a liking to the colour so I made it into a quilted jacket for her, to be worn with a rather small pink brocade skirt also made from some repurposed fabric left behind by her Nana. Amusingly, she has kept onto it and it hangs in the wardrobe of her old bedroom here with other favoured clothes from her youth. It is like a trip down memory lane every time I look in there.

Vireya rhododendron Pink Jazz

It was this passion for pink – bright pink – that led Mark to name a bright pink and yellow vireya rhododendron for her. He prefers descriptive names for his plant selections and rarely names them for people (the notable exception being the magnolia he named for his father, Felix Jury). When he does, it is by allusion. So, our JJ’s vireya was named ‘Pink Jazz’ – Jazz being the name her friends called her. Each time it flowers in the garden, I smile at the memories. (And, to pre-empt enquiries, we have no idea if it is still in commercial production. It is not one we kept any control over so other nurseries can produce it – or not- as they choose.)

I had been admiring the crop of figs that was coming along nicely. Our fig tree carries two crops – the first ripens in mid-summer and the later crop only ripens in autumn if we get a good season. But when I thought the first ones may be ripe, I looked closely and the crop was greatly reduced. The birds are not as fussy as we humans when it comes to savouring the delights of a fully tree-ripened crop.

Bagging figs so they can ripen on the tree before the birds get them

Now I am bagging the individual fruits. In a nod to growing concerns, I have shunned the white plastic bags with the bottom cut off and freezer ties we have used in the past. This year, the fruit are individually bagged in paper (no need to cut the bottoms off with paper, Mark told me after I had done the first few) and jute string so fully degradable if any land on the ground. It takes a bit of effort but the rewards of tree-ripened fruit warmed by the sun make it worthwhile. I must put some good camembert or brie on the shopping list. Is there anything more delicious than a platter of ripe figs, soft brie, my fresh grapefruit jelly made this week, walnuts and homemade oat crackers?

It is high summer here and Lloyd has started to mow the meadow. We have learned from our experience that in our verdant conditions, we must mow twice a year – once in high summer and then again in late autumn. The grass loading is just too great to deal with if we only cut it down once a year, as is recommended practice from places where conditions are harder and grass growth is a great deal less.

Fennel, not a ‘yellow lace-cap hydrangea’

The roadsides in our area are full of flowers at this time of the year – crocosmia, hydrangeas, agapanthus and fennel in particular. Whether you see these as weeds or wildflowers is entirely a matter of personal opinion – it is a bit like the glass half-full or half-empty scenario. I stopped to photograph the wild fennel and agapanthus because it reminded me of the English summer visitors that arrived one year. I have told this story before so apologies to long-term readers who may have read it earlier. These visitors wanted to know what the ‘yellow lace-cap hydrangeas’ and ‘giant bluebells’ were that they were seeing everywhere. I managed to identify the former as fennel but could not for the life of me think what the giant bluebells were – until I drove out our gateway and it dawned on me that they were the lowly agapanthus that is so happy in local conditions that it has naturalised itself. Agapanthus is not generally favoured as a garden plant in most of NZ – too common, more often seen as a weed. But in midsummer, our roadsides are glorious when they bloom.

The maligned roadside agapanthus


10 thoughts on “Summer thoughts

  1. Susan Oliver

    haha. Loved the pink bucket conversation. My son and his girlfriend had their photo taken at the tarns up the Mountain – I peered at the photo (without my glasses on) and said “shame about that funny looking bush at the side of the scene’ – “Thats us” they exclaimed. We have your vireya Pink Jazz – and very lovely it is too. A recent drive up to Waikato recently had me admiring the very many beautiful roadside plantings of the agapanthas. In my view they have their place and, if deadheaded, don’t seem to be a problem. Certainly better than dead sprayed grass. In fact I imagine many are not deadheaded and there certainly didn’t seem to be fresh clumps sprouting in paddocks nearby.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      “That’s us!” Hahaha! The thing about agapanthus seed is that it is heavy seed and just stays where it drops. And rarely, if ever, spread by birds, as far as I know. Water is the issue so avoiding planting it by drains and streams of areas where flooding happens is generally sufficient to restrict its spread.

      1. Judy

        Hi Abbie
        I laughed so much when I read this column !
        Love your writings -thank you ☺️.
        I would love to know if you have any hints about getting rid of arum lillies , they are popping up everywhere in my garden . Thanks so much

      2. Abbie Jury Post author

        So glad to bring a laugh to your morning. I kept digging out our final infestation of Arum and putting the corms in the rubbish. Persistence is required. Mark says sodium chlorate works if you can get it. Pull the top off and put the sodium chlorate down the hole. A strong brew of glyphosate with penetrant added will shock them. Escort will kill them, and anything else by.

  2. robynkiltygardensnz

    I don’t know Abbie – I think your bottom could look quite fetching encased in marker pen pink!!
    I always defend pink, as it get’s such a bad rap in the colour stakes, because it is thought of as ‘pretty’ – a nasty word in the art world!
    My garden would look naked at this time of year with it’s bronze Fennel and other weeds!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I have used both fennel and agapanthus in the new summer gardens. I am not at all opposed to pink – just prefer to keep very bright pink to flowers in the garden rather than on my body or in soft furnishings! Lovely to hear from you, Robyn.

  3. susurrus

    The idea of you being mistaken for a bucket made me smile. I once saw a duck asleep under a waste bin and cried out ‘oh!’ because it looked so sweet, but when I got in closer it was a plastic bag.

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