Ewen's garden

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Two weeks ago, my garden looked like a true wilderness, hardly a garden worthy of showing off to others. Now, exhausted, after a frenetic effort to try and whip the place into something people might be interested in. The rain is lashing at the windows and the garden safari has yet again passed off with great success. How lucky we were with the weather, both days as if by command the rain held off until 4.30, just as the last guests were leaving and now today there are regularly passing squalls. I like the way these things go sometimes, these showers have meant I didn’t have to bother with the watering routine, not an unpleasant task, but a task none-the-less.

During the course of events I discovered the opportunity to get my clutches into some pea straw! This will be a timely addition to the vegetable plot which from now on suffers an almost daily water deficit. Nothing is more gratifying to me than knowing I may be able to capture some of this rain by the addition of this pea straw as a mulch. But wait, there’s more!! Not only does it help retain moisture, it keeps the soil temperature from reaching degrees seemingly high enough to slow cook the vegetables and that’s not all! As the mulch rots away it adds to the soil structure and provides extra nutrients particularly nitrogen. Who needs a money back guarantee? Not me, I know have a good investment.

Pea straw was just one example of the good things to come out of having people through the garden. It is always a pleasure for me to chat away about plants and gardens, ideas and experiences. A garden should be more than just a vegetable patch, it should be a place for rest, contemplation and ideas, a place to invigorate the mind, an escape. The Garden Safari is good opportunity to see gardeners’ responses not only to their physical environment but also their cultural needs. No two gardens, obviously, will ever be the same and to all those other gardeners in this year’s safari I congratulate them on their efforts. There is no avoiding the fact there is a lot of hard graft goes into creating these places. To all the organisers and sponsors I say thank you and also congratulations on a brilliant event, lastly to the visitors for their generosity and support. I have to admit to great trepidations about having a bunch of strangers tramping around my garden (tramp being the operative word in our case as we have a very steep site). I needn’t have worried everyone was most accommodating and free with compliments, thank you.

I believe this year’s safari has raised more money for the very good cause of the Jassy Dean trust, raising money to support those families with ill children. So I now look forward to next year’s event with relish!


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