All I have to offer are flowers

Or the promise of flowers. The morning sun is shining on magnolia buds (or sleeping bags for mice, as our children used to call the bud casings)

All I have to offer this week are flowers.

Just another unnamed seedling – one of the series that saw that only ‘Felix Jury’ named and released

It has been a difficult week in New Zealand. After more than 100 days of a return to Covid-free ‘normal life’, where the only major change has been closed borders and an absence of international travel in or out of the country, we are now on high alert with a fresh outbreak. Auckland is back in level 3 lockdown, the rest of us in level 2. It is a case of déjà vu.

Fallen cherry blossom petals on a pond in the wild North Garden

For overseas readers, our highest level of lockdown, level 4, was one of the tightest lockdowns in the world. Level 3 sits at what most other countries called their lockdown so still stringent. We are in level 2 here which means practicing physical distancing, signing or scanning in and out of shops, adjusting to the thought of wearing masks – and a high level of personal anxiety. So pretty much the state of most of the world. It is tough when only a few days ago, we thought we had left all that behind us.

Floral skypaper

It is still early days in the pandemic. There is so much we do not know. My tolerance for the strident voices calling for opening the border, ‘learning to live with the virus’, returning to the old normality for the sake of businesses and The Economy (caps deliberate) is less than zero. There is no ‘old normality’ anywhere in the world and we had better get used to that for the next year or two at least. It is not locking down that is damaging business; it is Covid19. Business can not thrive in a situation with rampant Covid just as most can not thrive under lockdown. The choice is of an open business environment with uncontrolled community transmission, sickness, death and a very high level of anxiety and fear in the population or going for a safe but limited environment that is Covid-free most of the time. It is a stark choice but we have seen how that latter option works and I am happy to back that as the lesser of two evils.

I wish I could share the scent of Rhododendron cubittii in flower

So, we have battened down the hatches again. Like many around the rest of the country, I am grateful to the people of greater Auckland who are cooperating with efforts to stamp out this latest cluster. As I write this, it does appear to be just a single cluster, all connected to one source.

Just an unnamed seedling in the wilder reaches of the garden

But the seasons and the plants are Covid free. It is wonderfully reassuring that the environment continues on its normal cycle even as the human inhabitants can not.
I brought home samples of three options for laying the paths in our new summer garden. The palest option is crushed limestone. While it is not as starkly white as some I have seen, I think we have decided it will be too bright, given we are going to have large areas of it. I am okay with the darker option which is largely crushed shell, though it is a little darker than I wanted. The middle one is a mix of the two and I think we will try for that one. All will compact down to give a fairly smooth surface. They are used widely on farm tracks and cattle races because they compact and don’t have sharp pieces to damage the hooves of livestock.

Self-sown nikau palm to the left of the vireya rhododendron

I retrieved this vireya rhododendron from a neglected area at the back of Mark’s vegetable garden and moved it into the Avenue Garden, where I was redoing all the underplanting two months ago. Working in our woodland areas, it occurred to me that if this garden is ever abandoned and left to its own devices, it would revert to a forest of nikau palms, puriri, kawakawa (pepper tree), tree ferns (ponga), karaka and seedling prunus, I pull out seedling nikau palms by the score and remove every seedling prunus that I come across.

Pretty calanthe orchids in abundance in the woodland areas

In times of uncertainty, there are still flowers and gardens. Kia kaha, readers. Stay safe and stay sane.

Magnolia Burgundy Star opening its red starry blloms.


11 thoughts on “All I have to offer are flowers

  1. Michael Ruth

    Do you worry about the crushed limestone in the mix having a significant effect on your soil pH?

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Yes. But as it is surrounding areas of perennials, we think it should be okay. We wouldn’t be using it around acid loving plants.

  2. Paddy Tobin

    We are all in a state of concern and worry with this pandemic, Abbie. We have reports of the situation in New Zealand and understand it is very alarming for you. For comparison, we had 200 new cases here in Ireland TODAY! There has been a surge in the last week, associated with workers in meat processing factories. It frightens us into continuing to be very careful. All those precautions you describe are part of life here with us though Mary and I seldom need to practice them as we stay at home almost entirely. We don’t go to the shops and only go out for an occasional walk and that to very quiet areas. I wish you well and hope you stay safe and healthy.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Paddy, Auckland went into lockdown with just FOUR new cases! Now up to 19, I think but as our PM has said from the start, going hard and going early is the way to control the spread and so far, that has proven correct. Melbourne is the example of what happens if there is hesitation and delays. Hopefully, we will be back to our relaxed Covid-free status again in a few weeks. After tasting freedom and some normality, I don’t think too many NZers would want to continue with masks, physical distancing, group limits, no functions or sports matches and many just staying at home well into the future with no end in sight. Fortunately, we still appear to have the choices open to us in NZ.
      May you and Mary stay safe and well. Blessed are those of us who live in situations where we are happy to stay at home in the company of someone we are fine to spend 24/7 with!

      1. Paddy Tobin

        Your Prime Minister is admired around the world – good decisions made early, decisive action and the welfare of the population at heart above everything else. Best wishes.

  3. dinahmow

    So far, friends and family, spread around the world, are safe. But there are strident voices howling for businesses to re-open.
    I am grateful for such “simple” things as gardens, birdsong, the sound of the ocean at night…

    PS…I wish I could take some of your nikau! I’d happily swap a barrowload of Foxtails! :-)

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      You are in Queensland? Your premier is keeping you pretty safe, as far as I can see. The voices here calling to open the border, to lift restrictions and to ‘learn to live with the virus’ are really strident. So loud that whenever opinion polls come out showing how small that percentage is, it is a surprise to the majority who are committed to the path of elimination! It seems that key countries in Asia (China, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan at least) are also pursuing the goal of elimination and even your governments, both state and federal, are leaning that way now.

  4. Pam Barraclough

    Looking forward to seeing your garden during the garden festival. For a place to stay for a few days, what do you know of Waitara’s Room by the Sea bnb?
    Pam B

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I can’t advise on local AirBnBs, sorry. Not something I have had anything to do with. You may just have to trust to the reviews! Glad to hear you are planning a visit, though.

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