Ewen's garden

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


So, that was it, Christmas is over and done with for another year and it is time to go to the beach! Well this is the case for me; the carrots, unpulled, are all going to seed along with the celery from last season and the Italian parsley. I enjoy letting the odd lettuce , silver beet and flowers such as calendula and borage the same as I can’t afford the water to keep them going. The benefit for me is their seeds put themselves about the place so I don’t have to. What I do need to keep on top of though, are the weeds. If I can help it, I shall have them out before they set their seeds about the place! Well there’s a goal, if the beach doesn’t lure me too much.

At the moment I have a shell ginger Alpinia zerumbet flowering away for the first time this season. The flowers look like exotic lanterns. These plants require a rich soil and an ample supply of water to bring them into flower. A sunny site during the winter is also a plus. Mine are over the irrigation field for the septic, perfect.

Another favourite of mine just coming into flower at present is the Pride of Bolivia, Tipuana tipu, as the name suggest is a common tree from that country. The leaves are pinnate and display a distinctly willowy appearance, while the flowers are yellow and pea like in structure. The blooms appear on stems grown during the current season, so pruning should be effected after flowering. Pruning is almost essential if you don’t have the space for the long water shoots, (up to 3m) produced as the season goes on. I have seen specimens in Barcelona where the trees had been trained to grow tall and the water shoots allowed to weep down, creating a lovely weeping willow feel.

Speaking of trees and pruning, brings to mind the debate raging at present around the felling trees in down town Auckland. The first thing I would like to point out here, is the Herald’s mistake of printing a picture of bungalow palms Archontophoenix cunninghamana and inferring them to be nikaus! This sought of thing doesn’t help the debate at all, please get it correct! My opinion is they should retain the trees that have so gallantly grown over the last twenty years and add more to them, those being native. At least the exotics existing partially defoliate during the winter. Here’s hoping sense will prevail!


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