Ewen's garden

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

Monday, April 09, 2007

Of magical places

Today I finally dispensed with my dwarf kowhai, Sophora microphyla ‘Dragon’s Gold’. It has, for the last two years, been plagued with kowhai moth and after last year’s attack, survived, but didn’t flower. A second attack this year has led me to believe it is time for change. I am not much fond of spraying, so in its stead goes a cactus. I fine spiky specimen with a green trunk and evil spines. I have, naturally enough, planted it away from the proximity of prying hands! This is sum-what how my garden philosophy runs, plant it if it works with vigour and no extra effort on my part then it stays.
Thinking about this, brought to mind the way Mum planted ‘The Gully’ next to our house on the farm. Our driveway run up a deep gully, at the head of which was an iron stone cliff. Here at the head of the gully were two waterfalls, an enchanting place for a child, the cliff clothed with bright green moss, native maiden hair ferns and liverworts. On the scree below the falls was large old whitey-wood, mahoe, Melicytus ramniflorus and all around were tree fuchsia, kotukutuku, Fuchsia excorticate. There was an old titoki tree, Alectryon excelsus, a victim of a wind storm, forming a magical archway to the bottom of the falls. Further down the gully were less natives, apart from cutty-grass, a native sedge, in the floor of the valley. To enhance the existing trees and shrubs Mum planted trees, often transplants from elsewhere, seedlings that could be spared and shifted from within the same environment. Every now-and-then we would go and pull the weeds away and then watch as the plants overcame the battle with grasses and other opponents to their establishment. Slowly the area became filled with trees and shrubs, surviving with little help from us. This is how I work in my garden, survival of the fittest, if it fits it stays if not, out it goes. This naturally allows a more genteel approach and the added bonus of enjoying your garden. Less work and more pleasure in my spare time, not a bad thing to aim for!
I would have to admit though I am now trying to catch up with a lot of weeding I should have done over the summer. Not least of all are the young seedlings of the moth plant! So in underlining this, please go and visit. Here you can register and receive a free pack of information on what funding is available to assist in weed eradication, weed identification and methods of weed elimination and disposal. This months target weed is moth plant, see the website for pictures of this weed.
Having said all that now is the time I will see seedlings, coming up from desirable plants, left to go to seed. It would also be good time to start spreading seeds of those biennials, such as the Flanders poppy, for flowers in the spring.
I am thinking of these pure red flowers with their dark centres, as I will be in the fields of Flanders on ANZAC day, and will attend the commemorations at Messines/Mesen (French and Flemish spelling). My Grandfather fought here and wrote very graphic reports back to my Grandmother. It is ninety years since the big battle here at Messines/Mesen, and so another plant to go with the wreath will be rosemary for remembrance.
With this in mind my next column will be from Hong Kong on our journey to Europe.

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