Ewen's garden

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

Monday, April 17, 2006


Since the recent rains, many plants have roared into life. Not least of these are the dahlias, one in particular a red one in the corner of the vegetable garden has started to flower suddenly. From what were rather withered and sad looking leaves has sprouted forth new growth and flowers! This seems to happen with many plants at this time of year, the basil finally looks healthy and flush, even the sad old tomatoes are putting in a winning effort at the tail end of the season. Even so their time is limited, the basil soon to made into pesto for winter dishes and the tomatoes and runner beans into the compost.

The strawberries are down for lifting, dividing and new runners planting out into soil refreshed with compost. For the rest of the vegetable garden goes a new round of brassicas and other plants for the kitchen.

Else where in a pot on the deck the Lachenalia aloides, a small spring flowering bulb, has pushed up its new leaves. These South African bulbs have striking green sword shaped leaves splotched with purple spots, followed by small spires of largely yellow and red tubular flowers. I enjoy these small bulbs, given to me by a friend, they require no attention from me, being dormant over the summer, they reappear every autumn when I bring them out from hiding. Now placed prominently on the deck we can enjoy their progress.

Another plant I received from a friend up north, a great ground cover, I recently discovered the name of. Initially the name I found was “Aptenia coridifloia, but on cross referencing I discovered this to a synonym of Mesmbryanthemum cordifolia! There’s a mouthful for you! The botanical name comes from; mesos, middle, embryon, fruit, anthemum flower. This great plant comes from the Cape Province of South Africa and is very easily propagated by cuttings planted in situ, that is, right into their final position. It forms a bright green sward of small green fleshy leaves; this is punctuated by small crimson flowers at all times of the year. I have noticed it is much slower growing where the soil is harder clay, but this would only seem understandable. More of this plant will be destined to take place of kikuyu grass around the garden I hope!


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