The weeks that come may very well be worse than the week that was but there are always flowers

Our mounga is unchanged

I doubt that anybody really thought through how much our world could turn upside down in such a short space of time. It is different in every country. In New Zealand, at this stage it is an exercise in how long we can stave off widespread community transmission, how we can get travelling NZ residents home when air flights around the world are ceasing with little or no warning (up to 110 000 NZ travellers stranded around the world is the latest estimate I have seen) and how we can best protect the Pacific Island nations to whom we have a duty of care and who are extremely vulnerable to an outbreak.

Other countries are facing different challenges and the impact is more extreme at this stage. The message from our Prime Minister is clear – be kind, be considerate, be caring, be careful.

I am pleased to report that there is no shortage of toilet paper at the Waitara supermarket. The shelves were full on Friday with plenty out the back. Amusingly, most of it is manufactured in NZ so there are no supply chain issues.

The world as we know it has changed, if not overnight, then certainly in the last fortnight. Nobody has a crystal ball so there is no way of predicting what will happen into the future. All we can do is make our personal worlds smaller, to be the best person we can at an individual level and, for many of us, to take refuge in black humour.

Just a butterfly on a dahlia

But there is always the garden and the cycle of the seasons. There is a correlation between greater interest in gardening and hard times. At the moment it is panic buying vegetable seedlings but as most people adjust to a more confined life at home, their horizons are likely to expand beyond survival vegetables to the pleasures of ornamental plants and gardens as well. Food for the body and food for the soul.

If you are alarmed at not being able to buy vegetable seedlings at this time, here is a guide to raising plants from seed that I published earlier. Online seed catalogues will tell you what you can sow at this time of the year.

We drive a Corona!

We are feeling blessed to live in a situation where we have huge personal space, where maintaining physical distancing is no problem at all and where we can largely control our personal level of exposure to risk. But our children living in Australia have never felt so far away. We are resigned to the realisation that our trip to look at wildflowers in the Pindos Mountains of Greece and then looking at summer gardens in the UK will not happen and we can’t even console ourselves with a family meet-up in Australia. These limitations seem but minor disappointments in this new situation.

All I can offer readers are pretty flowers, a reminder that whatever else is going wrong in the lives of us all, the seasons will continue to change.

Amaranthus caudatus

The amaranthus has been a surprise volunteer in a garden I replanted earlier this year. It came in with the compost I spread and is perhaps a good example of what happens when I am not careful enough on what goes onto the compost heap. At this stage it makes me smile as I pass that garden bed but I will need to consider whether I want it established as an annual in that area.

Rhodophiala bifida

I posted this photo of rhodophiala to Facebook earlier this week – a lesser known bulb that is a fleeting seasonal delight. Whether you are willing to give garden space to a plant that is a 10 day wonder is entirely up to you but we like the variety and depth such plants give to our garden. The pink form does not appear to be as vigorous but is also very pretty.

Rhodophiala bifida pink

Colchicum autumnale

To be honest, the flowering season on the autumn flowering colchicum is also pretty brief but undeniably delightful. Their foliage comes quite a bit later and stays fresh all winter but does take rather a long time to die off – untidily – in spring.

Haemanthus coccineus

Haemanthus coccineus is even briefer in bloom – days not weeks – but justifies its place because of its rather remarkable foliage. The pair of huge leaves on each bulb resemble big, fleshy elephant ears. But in green, not grey.

Cyclamen hederifolium

The autumn cyclamen are a different kettle of fish altogether. They really are a well behaved plant, flowering for months from mid to late summer through til late autumn and then putting out charming, marbled foliage. They seed down gently without becoming a menace and just get better as the years go by.

The rockery has two peaks, in early to mid spring and again in autumn. We are just entering the autumn phase when the nerines (the first ones out are the red blobs in the upper right), cyclamen, colchicums and many other autumn bulbs bloom.

Interlopers on our driveway! The neighbours’ free range turkeys. Should the food supply chains fail in the face of Covid19, we will not starve here.

Batten down the hatches, one and all, and may you stay as safe as possible in these times.

19 thoughts on “The weeks that come may very well be worse than the week that was but there are always flowers

  1. Pat Webster

    I sympathize with your worries about family in Australia. Our son and his family live in Perth and the trip they had planned for May is cancelled, along with any realistic possibility of seeing them again for a year. Phone calls and live chats aren’t a replacement. But we live with what we have to live with. And now that spring is here, even with big patches of snow still on the ground, working in the garden will make up for much.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Oh Pat! Perth really is a very long way away now. At least we will keep a few flights running between NZ and the east coast of Australia. But Perth TO Canada is probably closed already? But lucky are those of us with large and demanding gardens at this time! May you stay safe.

      1. Pat Webster

        Canada closed itself off from all but citizens, permanent residents, and a few other specific categories. Living in the country outside a small village, we are fine — and as a bonus, two of our children and their families live here. I only hope this doesn’t continue for too many more months.

  2. perrie read

    thanks for your notes and photos.always enjoy them .on a bright note we have had some welcome showers in the manawatu.we are self isolating so the garden is getting a makeover,i have bought 5 of your lovely fairy blush camellias,now wandering aroundlooking for a home in a small garden,i spy a fence..!!. take care.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Thank you and you are a perfect example of turning self-isolation into a smaller, more localised life in the meantime when you will enjoy your garden and all that it has to offer.

  3. dinahmow

    Travel plans are , obviously , on hold. And, as I am recovering from shingles, so are the chores that were scheduled for this season.

  4. Maria Campbell

    I am not normally one to write but………I thought that there is no time like the present to let you know how much I have enjoyed, and still do enjoy, reading all your posts. To me they come from a “real gardener’ and I appreciate not only the photos but your descriptions, which always inspire and inform me. Please stay safe and keep the inspiration coming. Gardening is good for the soul and for me as a gardener I hope I never stop learning.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Oh Maria! How kind of you to say so. One of the things I see coming out of this crisis is that for many, it is encouraging people to reach out and, as our PM urges, to be kind. (Alas, in some, it is having the opposite effect and bringing out the worst, the most selfish and ugly sides but I can filter them out of my life.) We will be gardening as usual. I will be photographing and writing – maybe even more than usual. My site is one way I make my own world larger and that seems even more important now. You stay safe, too. There will be an end to all of this but it may not be soon.

  5. Judy Horton

    Abbie, here in east-coast Australia we have even more to fear if a turkey appears in the garden because he is almost certain to be the native brush turkey. This fascinating bird creates a huge mound of mulch that he loves to scrape up from your garden beds. He then invites the girls to inspect and, if they deem the temperature of the decomposing heap to be just right, they might deign to lay their eggs in it. As I said, fascinating but also extremely frustrating because he is very determined and often seems to choose the spot for his mound where he can cause greatest havoc to your garden.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      There are various animals and birds we are grateful were not introduced here. The Australian brush turkey sounds like one of them!

  6. tonytomeo

    I was not aware of turkeys there. Isn’t that a problem?! They arrived here a few years ago, and really multiplied. However, just as we were getting worried, their population suddenly declined. We don’t know what happened. The mountain lions may have realized that they are good eating. However, the suddenness of the decline suggest that it was more likely a change in behavior by the coyotes. I came at a good time. There are old building here. Turkeys get onto the roofs and tear the shingles off looking for grubs underneath.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      We lack mountain lions, coyotes or any natural predators here, bar the motor car. Turkeys aren’t widely established in the wild, as far as I know. It is just that our neighbours maintain a small flock of wild ones to eat and they free-range them. We don’t often see them on our side of boundary so we have no reason to complain.

      1. tonytomeo

        They must lack a natural source of food, or otherwise, lack a reason to proliferate. It is hard to imagine that though. They are rather omnivorous, and eat many exotic species. No one know if they are native here because they are so transient. I believe that their natural range fluctuates so much, that that it is not all that unnatural for them to be here now, even though, prior to moving in (or being introduced) to the area after about 2000, no one remembers them being native here. Some are wild, and some (which are grungy white) are feral.

      2. Abbie Jury Post author

        No, I just think not enough established in the wild to establish breeding colonies in general terms. No shortage of food for anything here!

  7. Cathy Trewby

    Just to say I am enjoying the peace of your postings and your beautiful garden. We are lucky to be able to look closeup at such a ‘real’ garden as someone said up the page. We had relations who had turkeys that had gone bush on thier property. Very wild, very scrawny and not good eating at all. Your neighbours ones sound like free range ones with a territory that the turkeys will determine!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Thank you for saying that. And indeed, that is a fair description of the neighbours’ turkeys – more free range than wild.

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