1) March 19, 2010: The simple purity of Lapageria alba and praise for the Chilean climbers which are almost never without a flower for us.
2) March 19, 2010: Outdoor Classroom on lifting and limbing – aka: a little bit of judicious pruning can make a significant difference.
3) March 19, 2010: In the Taranaki garden this week : With autumn approaching rapidly, we offer advice on garden tasks for the week ahead, including our usual plug for green crops and compost, along with advice on using animal manures.
The growing collection of birds's nests
We have recently started a little collection of birds’ nests here and Mark is regretting that he did not start recording his observations years ago so he could chart the changing materials our feathered garden inhabitants have used over the years. While we try and minimise litter here, it is frankly alarming to see the number of Tuflok labels, plastic ties and budding strips that the birds find to line their nests. They are also stripping the threads of fibreglass from a clear roof here. I was particularly taken by the little chaffinch nest constructed from dried grass and lichen and lined in what looks like dog fur (I did trim our long haired sheltie for summer) but which Mark disappointed me by telling me was in fact the fibrous thread from our tree ferns (pongas). We have been bringing in the abandoned nests we find in good condition and arraying them under cover up the vinous stems of Tecomanthe venusta.
The perfect white waxy bells of Lapageria alba
The lapageria is commonly known as the Chilean bellflower and is the national flower for that country where it is called copihue. In the wild, reddish pink is the dominant colour though there are pure white forms, pretty pale pink forms and apparently even picotees in cultivation. The white form, Lapageria alba, is particularly prized in this country, but rare because it does not set seed to itself. You need two different clones to get viable seed. In fact all lapagerias are fairly hard to source these days because they are not an easy nursery crop. Young plants can sulk and do nothing at all for several years. They will then send out a strong fresh tendril and some wayward snail will choose that very time to pass by and eat off the long awaited fresh growth. If you see plants offered for sale, don’t set your heart on a particular colour – just take what is available.
They are evergreen climbers which, like most climbers, appreciate a cool position for their roots and their heads into the light. Being forest dwellers, they will take colder temperatures but not frost. Once established, they are enormously satisfying because they are almost never without flowers. And the flowers are beautifully simple waxy bells, reasonably long lived and apparently good for floral art. We have some huge granddaddy vines in red, white and soft pink which have been growing in the cold, narrow back border of our house for several decades where they gently flower on and on and on.
February 26, 2010 Monarch caterpillars and butterflies – a safer mid-life obsession than buying a Harley-Davidson.
February 26, 2010 Flowering this week: Justicia carnea (the candlewick bedspread of the plant world).
February 26, 2010 In the Taranaki garden – garden tasks and hints for the coming week.
There are good reasons why we are always green in Taranaki. In this case it was summer rain yesterday morning – around 10cm in a very short space of time. The water disappears nearly as quickly as it arrives and within ninety minutes of taking this photo, the sun was shining again and the flood waters had receded entirely.