Belladonna Bess

An edible garden in Wellington, NZ

An optimist’s garden July 31, 2009

Filed under: Garden,Photos — belladonnabess @ 11:19 pm

Eating: silverbeet, celery (with peanut butter, yum. When I first heard of that combination I was dubious, but it’s just so good, especially with my rather strongly-flavoured celery rather than the watery stuff you can buy)

Flowering: Muscari (grape hyacinth). A childhood favourite, my grandmother always had lots of them.

Finishing: the edge of the garden against my south fence.

Moving: my Miho mandarin. I planted it 7 months ago but it never looked happy. It’s now in the back corner of the garden, nice winter sun, no frost and also one of the most sheltered areas. Hopefully it won’t be too annoyed at being dug up and moved.

Planting: a Silverhill mandarin. I’ve planted it next to Miho in the warm corner. Both varieties are cold-tolerant satsuma types, but I think I need to give them every chance, as Wellington isn’t what you would call a natural citrus-growing area.

Also planting: the Passiflora antioquiensis that I’ve had in a pot for 2 1/2 years. I’m not entirely sure it is still alive, as it is really frost sensitive and has died back completely. But anyone who tries to grow citrus and passionfruit in Wellington must be an eternal optimist, so I’ve planted it between the mandarins and am hoping for the best. I also planted a couple of forget-me-nots that sprouted in a pot, and some swan plants that got completely munched but looked like they might be hanging in there.

Bagging: lots of weeds. I’m not quite sure what to do with the weeds like buttercup that I am digging up. I know that mulching for months won’t kill it. If I put it in the compost I’m sure it will just keep growing. So I’m experimenting with solarisation. I’m putting it in old compost bags and hoping that a few months in the sun will kill it. I know it is an effective technique, but most of those recommending it come from Australia. It might not work in Wellington.

I’ve got dark-coloured bags – I don’t like buying bagged compost much, but I have little choice due to not having enough homemade and not having the access to buy a trailerload easily. But there is one brand that comes in a dark green bag, and dark bags should heat up more. So the plastic bags will get a second life as weed control.

If it actually works.

Acquiring: I got given some more raspberries – another variety so I can continue my collection (and it is getting to be a collection now) – and a hazelnut, which looks to be in need of a prune. Not sure what to do with it as the spot isn’t ready and probably won’t be for another 6 months or more, but you know – free plants.

Flaming: the skies to the west.

I think that’s about it really. I pinned down the old cocoa sacks on the bank near where I planted the mandarins. Hopefully they will supress the weeds a bit. I did a little tidying. The weather was reasonably good, with a northerly not strong enough to cause any problems, and the occasional moment of sun. I was working in the garden until 5.45pm.

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2 Responses to “An optimist’s garden”

  1. riroriro Says:

    Gosh, you have done a lot since I last saw it, which was only 2-3 weeks back. Saw H off at the airport this morning and then put the washing out, optimistically given the grey skies, but thought I should take advantage of the Northerly wind. Of course, being outdoors meant a bit of a wander around the garden I haven’t seen in daylight for 6 days….and I was delighted to see my mini-daff’, ‘Tete-a-tete’ flowering…also yellow crocuses, white crocuses, and a Narcissus cyclamineus.. a bit sensitive so it will remain potted. The daphne is beautiful. The oxalis are slower this year because I didn’t feed any of the bulbs when I should have…however O. versicolor is out, a few O. namaquana….the others are leafy, but flowerless so far. The rhodie I planted 2 weeks ago has burst its buds, so I have ‘Christmas Cheer’!…much later than I used to get it flowering in the Manawatu. The earliest red rhodie is also out. Now I have to work out where the two 10yr old potted kumquats I brought back from PN last night will go!!! They came from a special friend so I want to keep them alive in case she returns to NZ and wants them back. She used to make kumquat marmalade each year from them, they have a few fruit on them now….though I suspect I should see Hari about a light pruning.

  2. belladonnabess Says:

    I’m guessing that Christmas Cheer must be a northern hemisphere culitvar originally? Or is the name just designed to confuse us?

    I’ve always like Narcissus cyclamineus, it’s that rather odd look it has, like was in a strong wind and got its petals blown back.

    I have to say that my garden still looks pretty sparse, there are lots of things in there but it mostly looks like I’ve planted a lot of sticks, no leaves, no flowers. I know that once the spring gets going it will be a bit more exciting, but it would be nice to have a few more things flowering right now. If I’m really lucky, I might be able to spend next winter working on my other garden area, the one that runs up the side of the house. Since it really isn’t suitable for many edible plants anyway, I’ll be able to have some pretty and scented things. I’m wondering if I might be able to have a daphne there, as it is such a joy when nothing much else is flowering. I had one in Christchurch and it was in a spot with very little sun, and it seemed to do ok.

    I’ve got one of the yellow Oxalis species flowering, I’ll have to check the lablel because I’m not sure what it is, plus O. versicolor and a few flowers on various selections of O. purpurea.


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