My Favourite Window

September 30, 2012

Tulip Time

What has happened to the tulips here?
I suspect they have been wrenched and unsettled like so many other creatures in this quake ravaged province. It seems quite believable that bulbs, naturalised in the ground, could be stressed and disrupted by constant seismic activity. Last spring - the daffodil blades came through but were very shy with their flowers; they seem to be back to normal this spring. But a prize group of red tulips that has moved about with me for nearly twenty years, surviving naturalisation and re-planting, has sent up one single specimen this year. The photograph, taken in another part of the garden, shows a very stunted 'Apeldoorn' tulip. This could be a result of competition with a cabbage tree rather than earthquake stress.

In Wellington a fortnight ago, I glutted on the annual display of tulips in the Botanic Garden . . .

Varieties are chosen to provide display throughout Spring. The dwarf 'Pinocchio' tulips below were already going over, though they still looked striking, and the interplanting of forget-me-nots will continue to colour the bed until the whole area is replanted sometime in November.

'Daydream' tulips, inter-planted with matching calendulas, were full of sunshine but just beginning to flop,

while some varieties still held their promise furled tight.

This subtle mixture of pink toned flowers was my favourite planting.

But this Van Eeden mixture was my lesson for the day.

Close up it was just a motley collection of colours and types - the sort that hold no appeal for me at all, when presented in packs of five, or even ten, on department store racks.  

From a distance though, and en masse, this was fabulous with the tall pink variety floating in the light while the shorter varieties gave depth and texture to the vision.

Imagine, I think to myself, planting great swathes of my own special tulip mixture across the open reaches of the Secret Garden, utilising the contours of the land and defining the copses.

And then the Nor' Westers would come, hot-breathed, just at bud burst...
Oh you spoilsport, Lady Mondegreen. I will just have to make do with little sheltered groups of supermarket five packs that don't even come with proper names.

Cabbage tree, ti kauka, Torquay palm Cordyline australis
Tulip spp
Forget-me-nots  Myosotis hortensis vars.
Calendula, pot marigold  Calendula officinalis vars.

September 26, 2012

Lucky 13

A pink and blue Dawn and Kitty knows it was especially for her. My youngest child becomes a teenager today, as my eldest steps into the sky on a red-eye flight to Wellington: soaring away to possible futures.  We cross the Ashley Bridge at 6.20 am and marvel as the sun casts low shadows off greywacke pebbles and marches the bridge, on long, long legs, towards the mountains. Surreal. Kitty sits with her sister in the back of the van, opening her presents and reading the labels out for me. There are squeals of delight. What a relief.

And then Bryony is gone; gone too quickly - without a proper goodbye - for three days of work experience in the textile and costume department of our national museum.

Kitty and I breakfast in the airport on pain au chocolat and coffee, and are back in time for school at 8.30. It feels like a full day already. But of course there are more treats, messages, friends and gestures of celebration...

including a visit to see Grandma.

"This is the best birthday I've ever had", says Kitty.
I'm sure she has said that before, but the highlights of a day seem to take on special significance when it's your birthday and there were plenty of highlights for Kitty today.

September 5, 2012

For the Future

I cannot quite believe that I have planted a tree in my garden. 
I have planted many trees in the past and even before I became a professional gardener, I planted them here with my father. But since Elwin and I bought this land two years ago, I have planted nothing for the Future.  Dealing with the Present took all of my energy.
But now, the sap is rising and a tree raised from seed is overdue for transplanting from its tub. Ten years ago I sowed the seed of five haws from a young pink may in the garden. First I crushed the fruit and mixed the pulp with gritty sand before putting it inside a plastic bag at the back of the fridge. In the spring I potted the mess into a sand and fine bark mix and left it in a cool, shaded place. The following spring - 2003 - the seed germinated and from it I have raised three trees. This one is the most vigorous specimen and flowered years ahead of the other two: frothy double white blooms on arching stems. 

Last year's double white may in front of parent Crataegus laevigata 'Rosea Flore Plena'

I have enjoyed the three trees in their tubs outside the kitchen window, not just for their blossom, but because the secretive garden birds visit them, not knowing that I am watching from very close quarters. While Andy was here a couple of weeks ago, he began the unwieldy business of shifting this tree. 

Continued rain and boggy ground hindered progress, but I finished the job last week. Wrenching the tree from its old laundry tub was time consuming and difficult. Roots had grown through the plug hole, but even the fine ones had to be teased free. Once I had released the roots, the root ball was not as big as it should have been for a healthy transplant.

Hopefully the high ground water will encourage new root growth.

I dug a round hole three times the width of the anticipated root ball, and as deep as I could go (the topsoil here is two spade spits deep). I kept the turfs separate for placing upside down at the bottom of the hole. As they decay they will provide nutrients for the young tree. I raised the base of the hole so that the tree would sit with its old planting level just below ground level. Then I mixed the clayey subsoil with loose topsoil and filled in the rest of the hole. Although conventional wisdom implores the home gardener not to bring the subsoil to the surface, here I have noticed how it provides a moisture retentive medium during summer drought.

And this is as far as I got before I had to begin the after-school drama run.

Pink may, double pink hawthorn,  Crataegus laevigata 'Rosea Flore Pleno.'
Midland may, double white hawthorn  Crataegus laevigata 'Plena'

And who won the 'Latitude' magazine from my second anniversary post ? I didn't quite get the cascade of writerly prose that I was hoping for but Cindy from Just North of Wiarton and South of the Checkerboard is the winner!