Ewen's garden

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

Monday, April 03, 2006


I know for those in the wine industry, rain at this time of year is not the most welcome weather event, especially when accompanied by wind. For the rest of us the garden suddenly comes to life, looking less like a desert and more like what we want in a garden.

It is now a good time to start thinking about what new plants we wish to introduce to our schemes. I have just got some daffodils to go in pots at the front door, this year abandoning any hopes of successfully growing tulips. Daffodils are an easier subject in this climate and are more inclined to survive from season to season than tulips. In the past I have sent off my spent tulip bulbs to my mother in Masterton where the climate better suits them. These poor bulbs are usually split and will not be inclined to produce flowers the second season around but in the cooler climate down south they will by next season hopefully once again flower. Another crop of flowers I can’t resist are Anemone, or wind flower. Mum used to grow these in the southern Wairarapa for sale in the Wellington Market, being slightly earlier to flower than those grown on the west coast. Anemone grow from a small corm, planting at a depth of about 10cm, I plant them in rows in the vegetable garden or along the edges of the garden. While these plants will grow from season to season it is usually best to start with fresh corms each season.

Now is a good time also for sowing seeds both in trays and directly in the ground since the soil is still warm from the summer and now has a little moisture in it. A general rule of thumb for sowing seeds is to sow them to a depth of twice the thickness of the seed. For very fine seed sown in a tray, you can simply sow them directly on the surface, gently tamp sown and cover with glass and paper. The paper is to keep light off the seeds and is left on until the seeds have just started to germinate. The glass and paper are then both removed. Try to avoid watering the seedlings from above, I have a large shallow tray in which I soak the seed trays, this helps to prevent fungal disease. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle they can be pricked out into another tray giving them more space until they are ready to be planted out into the garden. This can be a cheap method of filling up the garden, putting in annual colour into those gaps that inevitably appear.

Now would be also a good time to revive the soil, digging the compost we have all diligently made over the summer with the excess foliage from the vegetable patch! Also a little bit of general fertiliser around trees and shrubs wouldn’t go amiss now either.

Well I see out the window my Pride of Bolivia tree is still in need of some pruning, so while the sun is shining I best get out there!


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