Ewen's garden

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

Friday, August 12, 2005


What a wonderful bout of fine weather we have just had. It is tempting to consider winter over, but a glance at the situation map shows a very deep depression to the southwest of the country, and so maybe one more Antarctic blast before the sun shines again. My wee self sewn dwarf beans are still flowering; I haven’t the heart to pull them up, just in case we manage maybe one feed off them before anyone else! I am though hesitating before starting anything like runner beans yet as the average temperatures need to be a little higher I think.

With runner beans in mind, I have nailed up some posts in the corners of one of my pathways, the idea to grow the beans up the posts, and then have the beans growing across fishnet (which I have as yet to locate). In this way the beans will be easily picked from beneath the draped net, while providing shade for the rest of the vegetable garden. Poles have also been placed to take cucumber plants which will hopefully grow across a rope over a seat, behind which will drape the bird net over the strawberries.

Other areas to get the fishnet will be in the far corner of the top terrace, where I have establishing a tropical passion vine Passiflora ligularis. This vigorous vine has large heart shaped leaves and edible fruit produced in the spring. The idea of the fishnet is to create the effect of fabric being draped across these corners to provide shade and also a climbing support for the vine. The same will be provided in the kiwi fruit vine. Now all I need is some fishnet…….

My other major project is still at a standstill, the bog garden. My fourth attempt to repair the hole in the plastic has failed, and so now in desperation I am on the look out for a water tight container to place inside what is supposed to a small pond. The area around this will then be filled with soil into which the container will over flow. Planted with such things that relish wet feet, mondo grass Ophiopogon japonicus and maybe the native Gunnera prorepens. G. prorepens is a tiny ground hugging plant related to the giant South American species Gunnera manicata. The New Zealand species won’t present a problem with leaves of up to one and half metres in diameter! I have read recently of the South American species becoming a pest on some west coast areas of both islands. It appears it establishes itself very well to these precipitous places and spreads along stream banks. So much a problem in some areas that it is now listed as a noxious weed, where by it is now illegal to grow and sell the plant. Not much chance of the wee native being a threat with leaves only a few centimetres in size, you are lucky to even spot it and keep it alive in our dry conditions. An added bonus with the native species are small drupes of raspberry like fruits.

The sun is shining again, and I should be out there with my spade making ready more ground for a box of plants which has arrived from my Mother!


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