Planting the Stumps

From the North east

I have made a start on planting the stumps. Several orchids, cymbidiums, sarcochilus, dendrobium, odontoglossum, all plants which grew well for me on live totaras at the farm. Here there is no overhead shade and more exposure to wind so it will be interesting to see how they adapt. Likewise the piece of astelia that fell out of a bush tree. A couple of bromeliads are tucked into the base and I will add some crucifix orchids on the hot, northern side. Already they are looking less stark and less an improbable gardening mission. I will keep adding plants to the nooks and crannies as I find suitable candidates. I wonder what they will look like in a year.

From the north east


Pond Problems

For the first time water ran over the pond’s spillway during heavy rain last week. It looked great while it was full and the ducks and pukekos that visit it every day enjoyed the larger area to swim around.

Spillway flowing
Pond full!

It has been leaking ever since it was built and although we hoped it would eventually seal it is showing no signs of doing so.

Roger treated it with a polymer substance a few months ago but that has not had any affect. We are now resigned to lining it and are awaiting quotes with some trepidation.

We planted the part of the dam wall too steep to mow with 50 ground cover Coprosmas – repens “Poor Knights” and kirkii. Despite spraying them with the rabbit repellent they were immediately attacked. We put out bait but it was obvious that we would lose them all if we didn’t protect them. So now we have a garden of plastic rings – the latest garden design!

rabbit proof garden design.

Two Interesting Orchids

Neobenthamia gracilis is the unwieldy name of this little orchid. It has been in flower for over two months and the first blooms to open are still in perfect condition. It was given to me with the advice to put it in full sun and to keep it dry. I planted it in this small, porous pot and placed it on a hot dry bank and forgot about it. At the end of March I noticed the bright white flowers and so brought it into the courtyard where we could appreciate it better. I have just removed a small piece of the plant and put it on the “Stumpery” to see how it does there.

Neobenthamia gracilis

Maxillaria picta is this small orchid, happy on a small piece of wood. It flowers each year and is lightly perfumed. It is living in the shady corner of the courtyard having been moved from its previous home under a puriri tree.

Maxillaria picta

Vegetable Harvest

This vegetable, Tomatillo, was completely unknown to me when I sowed the seed this year. It has taken a long time but we have had a few meals in which I used them. They belong to the tomato family (Solanum). They look a bit like a cape gooseberry but with a green tomato inside. I found them rather tasteless and probably won’t bother to grow them again. I’ve used them in salads, stir fries and roasted. A common vegetable in Mexico.

Tomatillo bush
Tomatillo Harvest

I love fennel and this crop has certainly done very well. We’ve been eating them for about 3 months. I use them in salads and in a leek and fennel bake. If you leave the base when you harvest them by cutting them off quite high they will sprout and give you multiple new growths—not large but sweet and tender. I have never found the plants available in garden centres so I grow them from Kings Seeds.

fennel ready to harvest
fennel bulbs

Camellia amplexiscaulis

Camellia amplexicaulis

Visiting the Whangarei Quarry Gardens yesterday I found this unusual plant in flower.


It is from Vietnam and the Yunnan Province of China. I’ve read that it is extinct in the wild. It has the most beautiful foliage and this particular plant is a slender small tree. I guess it is quite tender.

Small Tree

A great addition to the camellia collection at the Quarry Gardens.

Getting Ideas – Visiting Gardens

I love visiting other gardens. Recently I was in Hamilton and, as always when there, I visited the Hamilton Gardens. They are on a scale no private garden is going to achieve but there are always little visual gems one can learn from for your own garden. I love the diversity of ideas in these multi-themed spaces and the clever way they all mesh together with their hidden service pathways and also their use as a horticultural education asset.

Totara hedge
Camellia hedge

I’m never likely to have hedges like these – totara and camellia respectively – but they show me how suitable these plants are for clipping.

Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden is classical in design and enclosed in such a way that there are no distractions from its pure tradition. I do not hanker after such a garden but I can learn about the placement of stones and other features by studying individual aspects of this design.

Blue Ginger

I had a raid on Kerikeri nurseries recently with a friend. There are several independent ones up there that have different stock from the chain stores, so for something a bit different it is well worth a visit, and there are some good cafes and an independent cinema in Kerikeri as well. One plant I picked up and placed immediately in the courtyard until it finishes flowering is this blue ginger.

Dichorisandra thyrsiflora is its botanical name. It is non- invasive, unlike many of the spectacular tropical gingers and blue flowers always attract me. I should be able to get some cuttings rooted off it when I cut it back post flowering. It can be quite leafless over winter in cold spots. Not sure how it will perform here yet