Ewen's garden

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

Friday, July 01, 2005


Last Saturday served to remind us exactly what season we are now in, winter, heralded by thunder and lightning. It was certainly a spectacular display, if only for a short spell. Though there was ample rain on Friday to help quench the still rather dry soil. It is times like this I enjoy most watching for buds on plants and seeing them swell.

At the moment the buds on my kowhai, Sophora microphylla are swelling with the anticipation of fat golden blooms. For me these are the best parts of gardening, as the anticipation of a long awaited trip is sometimes more potent than the actual event. These buds will have been formed months ago, complete with all their petals and component parts. All that happens as the buds fatten is the cells fill with water, being pumped up, the pressure unfurling the flower.

I have recently acquired seed of a plant I had years ago, moonflower, Calonyction aculeatum a small vine with the most spectacular blooms. The buds, during the course of a few days grow quite large, and then at dusk they finally make their final push, bursting open before your very eyes! These blooms are white and about 15cm across and highly scented, by morning the show is over and they collapse as if exhausted by the effort. What a show though, the perfect one-night stand, I can’t wait to have them in containers around my deck.

Another plant to perform this act is the evening primrose, Oenothera fruticosa Fat buds swelling and then bursting open literally as the sun goes down and the air cools. These were one of my favourite summer plants, entertainment for me as a boy, while we waited for the BBQ to be ready.

Whilst I am thinking of seeds and possible summer scenarios, a small idea is starting to germinate, a small area set aside for those plants that perform their best in the evening, whether they be showy cactus blooms of luminous white or flowers with a perfume only apparent after the sun has set. Warm summer evenings, beautiful perfume on the air, pale blooms luminescent in the moonlight and the gentle croak of the frogs in the bog garden.

Yes I promised more about my bog garden, but the fact is I have stalled; I need to buy a bag of sand to add to the soil before I start collecting the plants. I have in mind particularly insectivorous plants, if anyone has access to these I would love to here from you!

So it is off into the watery winter to sun to fatten more ideas like the buds on the kowhai and plot for the summer.


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