The summer garden – there is perfume everywhere

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Here are some of my treasures.  Mostly roses with some lilies thrown in for good measure.  The garden does look rather good in selected spots.  As you walk down the path you have to avert your eyes a little over the ‘works in progress’ but it is certainly coming along as it matures and there are more areas which lure you in to grab a drink, sit down and enjoy a quiet moment in the sun or in the shade depending where you are.

White lilac, it’s white – and it’s lilac

Lilac (which looks weird when you type it) is lovely.  This is a double white one which was given to me.  They sucker madly all over the show so it is fairly easy to snaffle one from someone else.  Last year this one did not have a single solitary flower, this year however it is currently smothered in fluffy scented whiteness.  This is in stark contrast to the lilac lilac which is performing much as this one performed last year.  Maybe they are taking turns about?

I have strategically placed this one (in other words a happy accident) next to rosa Blackberry Nip which  is the most beautiful shade of purpley plummy goodness and smells fab too.  Their flowering times are just slightly off but I am hoping that the  buds on Blackberry Nip will burst forth while the lilac is still in its full flush of whiteness.

First harvest of the year

Mustard Greens.  Don’t they just look luscious!  This is my first leafy harvest of the season, and looking like they will provide plenty of delicious extra flavour to leafy salads all spring long.  I grew them last year but they went in too late and then bolted at the first hot spell, I think the trick will be to pick and pick and pick them.

I served them with a bunch of other leaves – not from my garden with some feta cheese over the top to accompany a baked potato and a half chicken breast pan fried with seasonings from the mystery collection in the drawer in my kitchen.  Delicious.  And you really can’t go past the “I grew them myself” moment.

Rhododendrons Rockin Dunedin

October is Rhododendron Festival time in Dunedin.  The botanic gardens here are one of the primo sites to go and see them, but all over town they are amazing right now.  So, with this understanding I went out and purchased one for my place.  Her name is Rubicon and she is a brilliant red.  I took her photo but it isn’t showing her in her best light, she has lovely little black dots in the throat of the flowers which look rather fetching.

Below is last years new rhodie.  She is Princess Alice and I bought her because she is scented and I had been so impressed with the smell of the one in my friend’s garden every time I walked past it.  She is white with a pink tinge when in bud.  Lovely stuff. Again the photo is a bit rubbish, will post a better one if I can get one while she is still enveloped in blooms.


I’m rather pleased with the trillium this year.  Especially because I have one that is in full bloom for the first time.  It is the white one.  It has lighter green leaves and the flowers are a creamy white.  The purple one is a stunner and is brilliant every year.  I’m going to divide it when it dies down in the hope of having more.  Trillium are so good, but only lovely for such a short time but so satisfying when they do their special thing.  I saw another one that I am lusting over now which has very pointy white petals and lighter green leaves.  Have added it to the wishlist.



Purple trillium and geum rivale

Purple trillium and geum rivale



Creamy white trillium

Creamy white trillium


Spring has sprung

Little tiny daffodils

I get a terrible hard time about the leaves on my garden which are actually mulch.  They were gathered in autumn and are spread all over the beds and the place where the soil was really ruined from being under a load of plastic and pebbles all along the side of the path.  Eventually, when all the mulch has rotted down – and it is happening fast now that the weather is warming up – there will be lovely rich soil there.  I have added lots of horse poo an potting mix and compost so I’m hoping that it will all turn out fabulously, and I will end up with deep rich soil and healthy plants.  In the meantime the nasty boychild and his friends don’t ‘get’ my leaves.

In other areas of the garden there are major signs of spring.  The tiny daffodils I always forget I have are giving a great show and matchheads are up, even the tiny little light blue I am so proud of.  Below is a photo of the only camellia which has decided to flower, it has had a finger wagged at it and been told to perform better next year or be removed.  The other ones have lots of lovely growth on them but not a single flower.  Again, warnings have been issued, in writing.  Lets hope next year is the year of the camellias.  Watch this space for more pics of the treasures as they emerge from winter.

One of my very few camelia blooms

Compassion struggles on despite the odds

My poor neglected garden – buried under a coat of leaves collected from school.  The kindly groundsman delivered me two brim full to the top of the cage, trailer loads of already partly decomposing leaves.  They have been spread on to the garden beds, I’m hoping they will do the job of peastraw.  They must be breaking down as the lovely Raisin cat is making beds in them all over the place seeking warmth, as indeed here in Dunedin everyone is this weekend.  I haven’t quite gotten to the autumn clean up yet but I’m hoping the leaves will suppress some of the weeds until I get to getting it sorted.

In the meantime Compassion and a couple of other lovelies continue to bloom on despite the miserable weather.  this old rose is about the same age as my house.  She was probably planted when the house was built as her stems are old and gnarly.  Last year I was complaining to a professional gardener about her lack of good fresh growing stems and he suggested I take to her with a wire brush.  Well, it is amazing.  She has sprouted all new growth from her base and although the season for roses was terrible last summer she has started to look really healthy.  I don’t expect many more blooms on her but she is always surprising.  Her scent is just delicious.

Rosa Penelope

This is Penelope.  She is a gorgeous thing and not just a pretty face.  She smells  delicious, and she grows in exactly the appropriate way for the spot she is growing in.  Penelope is a Hybrid Musk rose and is dated 1924 and therefore officially ‘Old’ which is great, seeing as these are the ones I love the most, the old ones, though casting a eye around the garden this morning, it seems I like pretty much anything as long as it smells good and is a rose!

She is pale porcelain pink, a sprawly creature.  I’m trying to teach her to grow up the fence so that her slightly droopy flowers can be gazed up into (Barbara Lea Taylor would be proud).  The flowers just keep coming and coming and although these last autumn ones aren’t her best, and tend to go a bit pink around the edges, she still looks lovely and I am pleased that I put her near the front door.  When I’m coming and going I can see her still blooming on, even though the weather is becoming colder and there isn’t much else in the garden that isn’t all overblown and had it.  Garden clean-up imminent!

I took delivery of a trailer full of leaves from school.  The caretaker there  had them collected in a trailer, and they have been sitting for about two weeks just getting all manky and perfect for mulch, the ones at the bottom were even really hot, which means they were on their way to compost.  They were distributed yesterday by the beloveds, who don’t understand my fixation with these leaves that everyone else ‘in their right minds’ is raking up and dumping.  Hey people, dump them here, they turn horrible clay into great soil eventually.

Sweet Peas – perfect plants

Sweet PeasFence covered in sweet peasWhen you walk past a fence which is adorned with sweet peas, and has been in the sun for a while the perfume is just divine.  It smells like summer, it smells like old fashioned gardens and old ladies and the colours are riotous, the perfect plant really.

I’ve never understood why you can’t buy a perfume that has the essence of sweet pea infused into it.  I’d buy it!  I adore Sweet Peas for me they have no negatives at all, everything about them is relaxed, easy, and perfect for the sort of gardener I am.  They pop up when you haven’t planted them, in the middle of nowhere, they come in different heights, they will grow almost anywhere with something to lean on and twine through and they don’t need spraying or nurturing or have any special needy characteristics.  Chuck em in the ground and wait for them to produce smelly, colourful and pick-able yumminess.  I think I will grow them for all my days.  I grew two types this year but the only label I can find is Bijou.  There are some modern varieties which I grew once but they had little or no smell, you want the scent then grow old fashioned ones.

Tyre Potatoes!

The tyres back in January

Pictured on the left are two stacked tyres.  These ones are not my faves.  These are the rubbish ones and we will quickly move on from the fact that these have produced one lousy radicchio plant, and three slightly stumpy zucchini.  They have been rubbish!

Moving quickly along, let us discuss the successful experiment to grow potatoes in tyres.  I head all sorts of opinions on this but in the NZ Gardner magazine they assured me that it would be fine.  And it was.  Yesterday I harvested an enormous sack of potatoes from a three tier of tyres.  I grew Red Rascal and Agria potatoes in them and although some of the spuddies are a little funny shaped – kinda flatish rather than roundish – it was majorly successful.  I still have a whole heap of spudies in the ground waiting to be harvested but they can just wait until some of this crop have been cooked up.  Note to self, find some new potato recipes.  Or I could revisit some like this one from a previous post

As for the dismal lot in the photo, those tyres are going to be moved and shifted and I might try a different root crop like yams or kumura.  I think the problem is that the tyres get too warm for leafy crops.  Ideas welcome.

Dahlia Time

Kelvin Floodlight (maybe)

I have been totally neglectful of my garden for about 2 months.  The lawns are long, the weeds are long and the clematis is so long it is choking the roses.  I have a spectacular pumpkin completely overtaking the potato patch and climbing up the roses along the fenceline.  This is not good, but I do have spectacular dahalias at the moment.  Here are some of them.  The huge yellow one is Kelvin Floodlight.  Well I think it is, Dad has grown this dahlia for years and the flowers are as big as a large dinnerplate  but my lovely sister is convinced that this is an interloper and that Kelvin Floodlight looks different.  Well I dunno but in the meantime it is pretty spectacular.  I think the orange one came from the very same lovely sister but we don’t know what it is called.  Anyone out there know?  Both of these have really strong stems which for really large dahlias is great often they need their flowers held up with support so that they don’t flop all over the place. 

The large maroon one here, it isn’t that great a photo to be honest, is called Midnight.  The first blooms are quite big but they shrink in size ad the season goes along.  I really like it, it looks great picked and in a vase with some white roses – Margaret Merril for preference if you ask me, mostly because she just smells so good but my Margaret hasn’t been great this year so I have been picking Elina to put with this one.

People have commented a lot that it has been a really bad season for Daliah’s here but for me it has been one of the best, even some of the ones that hadn’t been great and were being threatened with the fork have done well.

The summer garden

Archway with compassion and regal lily

Yellow asiatics and delphiniums

My garden peaks during mid January.  This year I was swanning around the North Island in mid January, having myself a gorgeous time with my partner and visiting friends all over the place, and going to places I had never been before.  I know, it is a tragedy, I’ve traveled the world, lived overseas in exotic locations for years and never seen the North Island (well north of Paraparaumu and that was when I was 8!) apart from Auckland and Wellington when I go to meetings and conferences or leave the country.  Anyway, I was away for 12 days, and Megan (the middle baby) was chief executive in charge of feeding Raisin and deadheading roses and watering the veges.  She did well!

When I arrived home it was all a bit overblown but still there were treasures to be found.  One of the best things was that my Xmas lilies were so slow to flower that I got home in time to enjoy them.  It was very cool and quite damp here this summer so things became very long and leggy and have been a bit slow to flower.  My bergamot is as tall as the fence which is ridiculous!

Claude Monet and pink daisy

Also in flower was this gorgeous rose, Claude Monet.  It is a lemon yellow with a pink stripe.  I’ve a bit of a thing about stripey roses and am quietly collecting them.  I have Claude, Ferdinand Pichard and Scentisima so far, I’d love Rosa Mundi but missed the rose sale this year.  My garden is getting rather full now with only one major area at the front left to plant and it is currently full of potatoes which are about ready to harvest.  If only my capsicum was doing as well as the spuds – never mind.

Things have changed considerably since these photos were taken. Claude is having a rest before working on an autumn flush, William Lobb a gorgeous thing is pretty much done for the summer and Tess, which I didn’t think would survive has produced some gorgeous blooms.  Now is the time of the dahlias though and you can look forward to seeing some pics of them soon, I’m a bit delighted with how they are doing this year.

Garden update

Proud moment time!  This delphinium (on the right) is making me look good at the moment.  What a beauty it is.  It is quite lilac at first but has faded to pink.  The winds we are having at the moment mean it won’t look this good for long so thought I’d get a picture of it while it still looked lovely.

Also on the right is the final paeony of the summer.  These gorgeous things are so cool when they are out but it’s a short burst and then you are left with masses of green leaves while they gather strength for next year.  This one is lovely with lots of golden stamens inside the cupped flower.  Hopefully next year there will be more than just the one flower on it!

Photos of the roses coming soon.  This probably isn’t even remotely interesting for anybody else but majorly interesting for me.

Rhodendron Season

Ultra purpleness

It’s nearly over.  This huge hunk of purple – no idea what it’s name is is the final one of my rhodies to flower and it is certainly a statement, a bold statement.  Every year I think, right rip it out it is a terrible colour, and then it flowers and I get all, oh look at that!  So, it stays, and flowers away merrily despite having sat if a pool of water for about a year before I moved in and discovered the pouring drain from next door. This year it’s roots are completely covered by grass clippings as I get to work on this side of the garden, trying to build a garden out of the King’s clippings, blood and bone, sheep poos, horse poos, and newspaper.

Veges galore

Chives gone madSpuds and artichokesI am experimenting with growing potatoes in tyres.  This is batch number 1.  Batch number 2 will get planted tomorrow.  The heat generated in the compost within and the black rubber of the tyres is supposed to accelerate the growing and so if this turns out to be true there will be new potatoes for Xmas at the beginning of Advent!  Hmm.  I doubt it but anyway it is worth a try.

The tyres came for free from a tyre place, and the compost is grow your own and cheap stuff from the warehouse mixed with blood and bone (my fave).  At the moment in the garden there are.  Mustard greens (they will not make the cut next year) Corn Salad (fantastic stuff) various lettuces, tomatoes, zucchini x 2, and assorted others.  I await developments with interest.

Happening outside now!

Spring has sprung and the garden is coming along nicely.  The last couple of days have been really warm which means greening up, aphids and a big growth spurt.  I took some photos the other week and thought I’d stick them on because most of the things I photographed have now passed on, and are being replaced by other gorgeousness.



The pulsatilla is lovely, and lasted quite a long time, much longer than last year.  Next year I will divide it, which is my fave – two plants from one.  However, a quick check of wikipedia for some info about this plant have left me frightened.  Check this out: “Pasque flower is highly toxic, and produces cardiogenic toxins and oxytoxins which slow the heart in humans. Excess use can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting and convulsions,[1] hypotension and coma.[2] It has been used as a medicine by Native Americans for centuries. Blackfeet Indians used Pasque Flower to induce abortions and childbirth.[1] Pulsatilla should not be taken during pregnancy nor during lactation.[3]” ” That is just downright scary and that is only the half of it!  I was a little bit pleased with the photo I have to say.

The Swingy Man

The Swingy Man

The photo of the Swingy Man is for L.  I know how much she likes him!  He looks quite cute at the moment with the Peris behind him in full bloom.  I’m very keen on the peris, shame it doesn’t have a scent, but when it is out it really means it is spring I think, this one flowers really early.  It needs a bit of a haircut actually so will give her a trim when the flowers have finished which won’t be long away actually.

Mr Swingy Man is a creation of my Dad, he sells them should you be interested in purchasing.  They come as boys, girls or twins.  Girls even have hair, a bit ropy the hair, but very attractive in a certain light.  Want one?  Sure you do, contact me and I will give you his phone number.

Flowering CherryThe final photo is of the flowering cherry.  The blooms are nearly gone now and it is busy leafing up nicely.  This tree has been slightly problematic, it is an upright one, but was far too upright, like it only went straight up.  Looked terrible, so Dad and I have anchored down the side branches to the fence in an effort to make it spread out a bit.  Not sure that this will actually help in the long term, have been driving round looking at other peoples to see what they do when they are older and generally they just grow straight up, like a poplar.  Well we will see.  In the meantime it has nice blossom, attracts the bees and is growing nicely, albeit straight up!

Paeony time

It is with a large measure of excitement, that I can report the sighting of the first paeony in my garden.  If you live in Central Otago you will have had ye olde white paeony out for ages, but not me.  So, here are pictures of the first bloom in all it’s glory.  Probably should have weeded before photo – but no.

Paeony Number 1 2009

Paeony Number 1 2009


Check out my trillium

Isn’t this gorgeous.  This darling came from Mum’s collection and it is in full bloom at the moment.  They are so gorgeous but so fleeting,  eventually this ends up buried by the big daisy beside it but for it’s moment of glory it is pretty damn cool!  While we might have miserable cold winters down here in the south, the fact that we can grow hardy cold climate things like this make up for a bit of nip in the air.



Riverstone Kitchen

On the way to conference Senga and I stopped at one of my fave places to eat, Riverstone Kitchen near Glenavy.  Yes it is in the middle of nowhere but every time I have eaten here (all three times) I’ve had something really yummy and simple and nice.  The chef is Bevan Smith and he writes in the ODT.

Their website has recipes including this month the yummy thing I had for lunch,

Poached Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Truffle Oil

they grow their own produce so everything is really fresh and their vege garden is a wonder to behold.  Check it out.  Driving from Dunedin it is quite a way past Oamaru, and beyond the airport.  If you reach the bridge over the Waitaki River you’ve passed it, just.