In The Garden – July, Part 1
Well it’s been a while since I have spent this much luxurious time head down and bottom up in my garden. And I can’t remember when I last enjoyed it so much. It’s been a while too since I last updated what’s been happening in the garden but that is also due to the fact that we’ve moved locations and basically had to start again. Luckily that is nothing new so it wasn’t as daunting as some may find it.
It’s the middle of winter, not quite a time one would associate with gardening especially in the deep south but like I said a new location can make all the difference. I’m a little more south than most, and at first I thought gardening at 46° (in Bluff) would merely involve a few hardy native trees and nothing more. How wrong could I have been! Being this close to the sea has major benefits, and yes off course its own set of challenges too but it’s not the end of turning the small piece of land into a proper working garden. Far from it. The biggest difference so far I’ve noticed is the lack of frost in my garden. I’m a fair way up the hill, plenty of wind and no ocean spray (so not too much salt actually splashing onto plants) and so far this winter I’ve had no frost anywhere in the garden just yet. Could still happen off course but considering we’re half way through winter I think it’s safe to say the heavy frosts experienced more inland are no longer a threat to my plants (or fingers).
For the first few months I didn’t do anything with the garden apart from mow the grass before deciding to not do that again either (more on that later). I sat back and just observed what was growing, where the wind was coming from, what else grew in the area and drew many garden plans in my head before committing to one on paper. In the past I’ve never drawn the map that every single book, magazine and expert tells you to do – I wasn’t patient enough, I just wanted to get on with it, but I’m a convert! I drew a map, yes a rough one, but it’s a map/plan or blue print of my garden. It gives me a quick overview of where I want what and what is already there, it keeps the pictures and plans in my head in true comparison with the land I’ve actually got to work with – gone is the ‘I would love a walnut tree’ thought, there just isn’t room. The blueprint is a reminder to not dream too big for once, go smaller but that doesn’t mean ‘less’. It looks as though I could be calling Diacks’ Nurseries my second home during spring time with weekly trips already begun. (Diack’s Nurseries are off course at 628 Tweed Street, Newfield and 849 North Road, Invercargill).
With only three skinny allocated ‘garden beds’ and three rectangle shaped ‘lawns’ to play with, I’ve had to get creative – hence the months of sitting, thinking and dreaming. Along the top of the ‘land’ (haha), on the hill, are two blocks of native plantings which I’ve been adding to over the last few months. I’ve been watching the native birds fly through their corridor, or highway in the sky, and I noticed they all stop off in the trees and shrubs at the top of our garden. I’ve added numerous flax, Hebes, Coprosma, Griselinea (Broadleaf) and Pittosporum to what was already planted there. I sourced the seedlings locally so they would be hardy and used to the conditions and most I’ve found growing in the most bizarre places around the house obviously self-seeded by the passing birds (pooped out!). Once everything starts growing in earnest, my ‘native patch’ should look great and provide a perfect stop over for the birds while on their ‘highway’. I’ve also planted the kiwi icon – the Cabbage Tree, four little ones, along the side of the driveway (don’t worry; there are no power lines overhead). Because I love wild-flowers and bees I have always grown Foxglove and thankfully I have a steady supply of hardy seedlings whose parents I planted many generations ago in my very first garden in Southland. I think I planted close to 20 young seedlings on the outer edges of my native patch from which I’m sure a few will provide the bees with food over the summer months. Chrysanthemum seedlings also seem happy planted out in the same area as the Foxglove. It’s a small start, but it’s a start and I’ve enjoyed every second of being outside getting my hands dirty while listening to the song of the resident Tui.