Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Friday, May 06, 2005


This year autumn has been more than usually dry. My rain gauge shows since the end of the first week of January we have had barely 30 mls of rain, most of which fell during the spectacular thunderstorm the Thursday before Easter, 19ml! It is at times like these we really get to notice the star performers in the garden, those which possess the ability to perform despite the elements. It is now we can find where exactly those slightly more damp areas are, like where the septic irrigation field really is, pronouncing itself by the lush green plants which have sent their roots down to the nutrient rich noisture.

On our property this is evidenced by the rapid and luxuriant growth of our Illawarra flame tree Brachychiton acerifolius. This tree has put on an astounding three metres or more in barely three years and is what found me up the tree with the loppers the other day. I good prune was in order I thought, lest we become overwhelmed by the ever spreading branches. Irony worked against me this day, just as I was patting myself on my back, for the ease with which I could climb and prune the branches (the wood is particularly soft) I slipped and nearly fell from the tree. Warning, be very careful and ware non slip shoes! The tree is now pruned and we shall have light
on the deck for the winter. This is the second time this particular tree has been pruned and so I anticipate another pruning session in a year or so, to try and keep it under control.

Another tree to come under the pruners scrutiny, was the pride of Bolivia Tipuana tipu a rather small tree producing long water shoots every season. The name of this tree has eluded me for some years, but I have finally tracked down its name, I don’t like having nameless plants in my garden. It is helpful not only to impress people, but also to know more of what sort of conditions and treatment it is likely to require. Tipuana tipu has small pea like flowers in early summer followed by winged seeds, similar to a maple, Acer sp. This is all followed by rapid growth of water shoots bearing pinnate leaves. It is these shoots I have lopped off; hopefully leaving enough new seasons growth for next springs flowers.

Other plants finally looking not too bad are the bananas Musa sp., recovered from the wild spring gales and surviving on the moisture from the septic field. It is in this part of the garden I will concentrate my moisture loving subtropicals. To other parts of the garden plants such as Agave attenuate relish the dry, although these are now some what of a cliché, there are others in the succulent family which perform just as well. Many of these will provide not only some colourful flowers but also rather striking foliage. One such plant is Doryanthes sp. a genus of three lilies from eastern Australia. These lilies produce large flax like upright leaves and tall spires of red flowers. Along with these might go yuccas, sedums and other xerophytes, (plants of dry places) more of which next time.


At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Discount Hydro!


Post a Comment

<< Home