Ewen's garden

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

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Winter arrives

On arrival back from overseas, I was not surprisingly faced with a large jungle of weeds. My first imperative has been to uncover plants lost in the rampaging advance of weeds. Having done this I am pleased most things have survived, and with renewed enthusiasm, have started planting some things that have been waiting until autumn to get in the ground. I was very surprised at how dry the ground is, why I was surprised I’m not sure given we have just had the driest May on record! Still the ground is relatively warm still and the hibiscus and others I planted should do well. I have also transplanted some things, firstly a couple of gardenias. They growing in a spot that has now become overshadowed by a large brugmansia, they now inhabit a bed adjacent to a path in which I have for a long time now wondered what to plant. It is great how good a wee rest in the sun on a bench in the garden is for coming up with new ideas! Other plants shifted included a couple of cymbidium orchids, again struggling in an inappropriate place. It is a good time of year to be considering shifting plants, as the soil is still relatively warm and they should suffer less shock.
Three new tropical cordylines with red pink and lime green striped leaves have been planted together with the canna lily ‘Tropicana’, with its similarly coloured leaves, so as they can catch the late afternoon sun through their foliage. Planted as they are now, they announce the warmer more open part of this garden, as the path emerges from the shadowy undergrowth of bananas, brugmansia and gingers.
Further up in the garden, salad vegetables planted before we left on our trip, are now supplying the kitchen with greens, and soon the brassicas including, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower will also be providing us with vegetables. Spinach has already been used in a mushroom, spinach and cheese pasta dish. I like the idea of picking my own greens, fresh and I know they are pure and organic and so much nicer than shop bought food.
Other tasks ahead include giving the pride of Bolivia tree, Tipuana tipu a trim, cutting back the long growths put on during the summer, up to two metres in length. This will let the thin winter sun into the terrace with the citrus trees. These trees, or should I say shrubs as they are certainly not trees, have endured being shifted as well. They are now finally happy in their new location after some two years. I have been rather hard on them, only giving them some water when absolutely necessary during the summer and some mulch in the spring along with a little fertiliser. Despite this harsh treatment they are now looking very well and will certainly appreciate having a little more sunlight in winter. The pruning of this tree is not something I relish as it requires me to climb out on the limbs with pruning saw and loppers. Going out on a limb is not my favourite hobby but neither is weeding! Still once done I can reap the rewards of lemons, limes, grapefruit and Kaffir limes, well worth it I think.
All this and the weeding is still not complete, but there is always something still to do in the garden.

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