The Barricades

The remaining stump doesn’t look very large in the photo but the poor abies was between 60 and 70 years old.

I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when the last of the Cyclone Dovi major damage was cleared and repaired. The abies that fell over the high bridge in the park has been cleared; Lloyd has reinstated the stopbank which had been ripped apart by the tree roots and the he has repaired the bridge.  

The bridge was beneath the tree

The challenge with the abies was what to do with it. Mark had no interest in the timber for firewood. We have plenty already and abies is a lighter wood that does burns quickly so was not desirable. Had it been somewhere with vehicle access, we would have given it away but it was too much of a challenge to try and get it back up the hill when the only access was by our baby tractor or Lloyd’s quad bike and trailer.

Installations, maybe.

The job of cutting it up fell to Zach. Given it had fallen right across the stream, we are lucky that we have had a dry late summer and autumn with low water flow because he spent a few days working around the water with gumboots that are no longer waterproof. He burned the foliage on site as he went. The wood was cut to manageable lengths. A few were used nearby as ‘installations’, we might say. Most of it, he carted halfway back up the hill to build what we have come to call The Barricades.

The Barricades

For readers not into musicals, this is a reference to ‘Les Miserables’. Of course it is. Zach is a fan of musicals and we have been been a Les Mis household ever since our second daughter played Little Cosette in the stage show at the tender age of 10.

That is a Bardo Rose dendrobium freshly planted in the wood

Meet our barricades. Essentially, they are a way of dealing with surplus wood while giving some structure and height in a casual woodland area. Over the years, they will rot down but, in the meantime, they give all sorts of cavities in which to grow plants as well as being not so much a trendy hotel for insects, as an entire insect resort. Or condominium. Zach started with planting a few orchids in it and we will continue to add more plants as suitable candidates become available.

Early March after the initial clean up in the Avenue Gardens

Meanwhile, the rate of recovery in the Avenue Gardens has been rewarding. When Dovi hit, this area was completely covered by fallen pine and the lower canopy of jacaranda, camellia and cordyline. After it had been cleared, it was a bare wasteland with everything tramped into the ground by heavy boots dragging out the debris. We covered it in the woodchip mulch – of which we had small mountains heaped around the area and this was how it looked on March 5.

Early May. The poor jacaranda is unlikely to rally again but the rest is recovering.

Two months on, in autumn, it has already recovered to this point. We are still missing the middle canopy layer, but it looks as if the perennial groundcover will return afresh.

Further along the damage zone, the plants are already softening the length of trunk we decided to leave where it fell. In a few years’ time, Cyclone Dovi will just be a memory.

I wrote about Mark’s hippeastrum hybrids back in 2019. Another one has opened and is positively glowing in the Rimu Avenue. Everyone that has bloomed so far is red. It would have been nice to have had more variety, given that one parent is H. papilio. But what is more interesting is their random blooming. H. aulicum flowers like clockwork for us in September, H. papilio in October. These hybrids are popping up the odd flower any time of the year. It will take a few more years to see if they settle down to a predictable seasonal pattern but, in the meantime, it is quite delightful to come across unexpected, over the top blooms glowing in the woodland gardens.

13 thoughts on “The Barricades

  1. Fiona Macdonald

    Abbie,I ,once again, want to thank you for your posts it’s such a privilege to follow the ongoing history of your wonderful property-it must be + 20 yrs since I’ve visited but it’s still very clear in my minds eye .Also very inspirational as ,now that my son and daughter have inherited it , another retiree friend and I have just undertaken to renovate my original Four Winds garden ,it’s sooo exciting to go back after 22years there’s approximately 3 acres of quite badly neglected planting however the bones are still there along with many treasures (Edgworthia,Vireya and lots of Camellias) so ,being of a similar vintage to you and Mark ,I gain much from your posts Thank you ! The plan is for me move back once the youngsters have built which may be a couple of years but I’m only 10 mins away so it’s easy to be there -will keep my bulb collection with me until we can lower the bunny population! Apologies for the long missive -hopefully one of these years I get down to my favourite Taranaki and your garden in the meantime I’ll continue to appreciate your news .Thanks again Fiona

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      That is uplifting news, Fiona. How wonderful that life has turned full circle for you and you are finding yourself picking up your gardening threads from over 20 years ago. It would be interesting to hear which vireyas have survived such a long period of neglect. They are not generally a plant family that survives that regime. All the best, Abbie.

  2. Jean McArthur

    Hi Abbie
    I love this story about the barricades. Where I grew up in South Wairarapa the drive up to our house was lined with old pinus radiata. We’d climb the trees and there was a dense carpet of pine needles trapped in the lower branches so we’d build forts in the pine needles and even walk from one tree to another. Lots of the trees came down in the Wahine Storm and dad left the trunks where they were and put compost and soil in all the nooks and crannies and planted flowers. I expect they’re well and truly rotted away by now but it was a lovely way to use the old trees.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      It is looking at what makes a garden with a different set of eyes. And with what we know now about ecosystems and the environment, an approach that sits more easily with us than the obsession with ‘tidying up’. It is always encouraging to hear from other people who understand that approach. We like a garden filled with detail so we are always looking at creating new environments so we can extend that detail rather than worrying so much about immaculate presentation.

  3. Paddy Tobin

    Goodness, there is such a volume of material to dispose of/use creatively after storm damage! We visit Mount Usher Gardens, in Co. Wicklow, and they had some trees down over the last winter also and it is noticeable that many of their pathways are now very pleasantly surfaced with chipped timber – the smell of chipped eucalyptus underfoot is very pleasing!

    1. Dale Lethbridge

      I have been only once to Ireland and my lovely hostess in County Wicklow showed me the best of its gardens in early Autumn. I love returning to the photos of my magical week.

      1. Abbie Jury Post author

        I, on the other hand, have never been to southern Ireland though I did have one trip to Northern Ireland as a guest of the British Foreign Office in 1992 and that intense experience has been part of my life story ever since. I even have a photo of myself outside the Sinn Fein headquarters on Falls Road (not that the Foreign Office took us there…). It was generally traumatic at the time and to this day, it is a mystery to me as to why the Foreign Office ever thought a week in Belfast and Derry in those troubled times was a good idea for an eclectic group of youngish journos, adult educators and trade unionists from around the Commonwealth.

      2. Paddy Tobin

        It wasn’t until after the Good Friday Agreement was signed that we ventured to the North – around 2000 and even then it was a nervous experience at times. Our southern registered car drew attention and abuse was not uncommon. Fortunately, we went to visit gardens and gardeners and in that society there was nothing but the warmest of welcomes.

      3. Abbie Jury Post author

        Yes. We had official briefings from all political parties, business leaders and a fair number of key people there (but not Sinn Fein – we took ourselves off to meet them). I could not see how there would ever be a peaceful path through so I think I can understand a bit at least, how precious is the Good Friday Agreement.

      4. Paddy Tobin

        There has been enormous change for the better but another generation or two or more before it will be regarded as something simply in the past.

  4. Tim Dutton

    We’re so glad the clearing up work from the storm is now largely behind you. I’ve used big tree rings as retainers to create raised beds on sloping sites in several parts of the garden. They’ll slowly decay, and plant growth around the beds softens the outlines. It looks much nicer to our eyes than conventional retaining materials and it is, of course, free, which is an important consideration when you have a large garden to landscape. I hollowed out the top of a big pine stump recently to make a ‘pot’ in which I’ve planted an ivy. It hasn’t died, so hopefully it will, in time, trail down to envelop the stump.


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