Nice detail by R. I think this is an Aloe x Gold Tooth bud
Nice detail by R. I think this is an Aloe x Gold Tooth bud
A lovely shot by the Lovely R.
Summerinas are a recent intergeneric hybrid. We have trouble with this plant's parents- echinacea and rudbeckias- because they tend to be dry prairie type species and we are well, a dampish coastal situation on the other side of the fucking planet. They'll do alright in a hot year and then rot down into slimy little grey masses the next, which is a shame because the plants are somewhat expensive and very lovely when successful. I splashed out on two summerinas this year and they dutifully put forth both marigold-yellow and these deep mahogany red blooms; it remains to be seen if they will prove as perennial as their nursery bumf claims.
I highly recommend them if you're in a hot dry spot and like a nice showy late season daisy; their colours are pretty unique and highly saturated, providing great contrast to the fleshy turquoise and emerald of xeriscape species etc.
So don't be put off getting things started if you don't have some sort of grand baronial vision.
Just let what's there remain and add some more stuff as you go. This is the best way to
maintain a love relationship with a large bit of ground and not come to resent the slavish
efforts that whack notions of perfection will require from you.
That's not to say that our garden is a disgusting place to be; on the contrary, it has the sort of faineant, deshabille charm that can only come from a genuine lack of consideration, experience and forethought. I am never as bonelessly relaxed in a neat, deliberate garden as I am in our own shambolic tract of half-arsed wilderness. Hopefully the other inhabitants are similarly contented.
The only horticultural talents I can claim are the ability to spot the half-priced gold buried
amongst the shrivelled dross at nursery sales (an acquired skill) and to instinctively know which shit's worth getting out of bed for as far as species and variety are concerned.
But we don't have a lot of undue concern for vistas or harmonies. My rose collection looks
like it was sharted out of a My Little Pony- if it's vulgar or stripy or pink and stinky you'll
probably find it clashing violently with a neighbour at our place. It's safe to say that
Winchester Cathedral, posing so demurely directly below, is not completely representative.
If you're starting your own garden with few to no clues under your belt, or if, like me, you have been blessed with vulgar sensibilities but would like to present a more cultivated face to the world, my first and most important advice would be to stick with the older plant varieties.
I wish someone had told me that twenty bloody years ago.
I was going to start a rose review series this summer but the weather was so foul we barely
had any bloody material. Hopefully I'll have time over winter to cook up some notes with
the few decent shots we did manage and kick that shit off, because I've personally had it up to
my tits with being duped by shady breeder and nursery descriptions.
Thanks again to the Lovely R for his lovely pics.
It's deeply ironic that the only predators one really faces in this country wear trainers and clutch smartphones, but that's another story.
The drive winds for an unexpected distance through increasingly emphatic mixed podocarp coastal forest that seems to at once condense and amplify as you progress, both invoking and assiduously retaining the kind of downpours that are always imminent in this infamously pluvial district.
Arrival at the dedicated carpark with its strangely prosaic tourist shelter and prosy signage is a bit of a jolt. On exiting their vehicles, the extraneous arseholes of all nations blink at each other in the sunlight admitted by the arbitrary clearing, checking for reception, tightening their laces, picking at their peeling tans. Ambient humanity has soaked sideways even into this once obscure destination in a slightly greasy, sunscreen-scented tide.
I wish we'd started at 4.30am on foot, but I'm um... with a bunch of other people.
They do not pulse in any visual sense but it takes a few extended glances to establish this. These same patterns snake unseen through your own flesh, feeding your brain, irrigating your organs. Blood-warm sweat beads upon your neck and forehead; some of it is yours, some theirs.
Behold the Moria Arch, a cavern tongued out of the fundamental limestone by the deceptively quiescent Oparara river. The track ends in an abrupt descent into its darkness via a pretty undignified scramble over dodgy rocks aided only by a wall-hung chain, so brace yourself for a few short downward slides and a muddied arse if it's been raining (and it probably has).
The really claustrophobic amongst you might want to look away and think about something
else for a moment. The arch opens out to regard the river in two directions. I'm not sure if
these are totally legit stalactites and not just calcified root intrusions, but I was cool with
whatever was happening here.
A skirt of uprooted and forsaken trees downstream spoke for the water in a worse mood.
I'm not going to lie; all that stone overhead in a seriously geologically-active area was not my favourite thing in the whole world. I kept a discreet tally of the likely time it would take to bolt from wherever the hell I was standing toward open daylight at the first hint of P-wave.
All you phobics look away again.
This is how you exit- the same way you came in; slowly and cumbrously, no matter what. It's always easier going uphill than down, but my inner calamity-ruminator pictured getting stuck behind a logjam of sunburnt Germans while the place stoved in around me.
Looking up helps get you through the worst of it; one could always repurpose those moiling strangers and use their static mass to vault to freedom through this handy aperture.
* More NZ Photoessays * Our Photography * Flora *
Due to a an epically shitty spring we only grew six apples :(
I always want to call this variety 'Explorer' for some retarded reason and can never, ever remember its correct name. Discovery is a lovely heritage cultivar with a neat, smallish tree and crisp, slightly tart fruit that are still sweet enough to appeal to modern sensibilities. I can confirm that it's also a solid candidate for organic cultivation since we never do shit to it and it always produces an edible crop: not a single spot of moth this year.
another good detail shot by R.
I take these lovely blue (only the extreme centre has this pink flush) flowers for granted because they are so easy to grow, split up and move around. They're one of the first things to flower here in early spring along with the Persicaria knotweeds. They have a fucking peculiar smell which is quite pervasive on a still day; crushed strawberry + juiced violets + household bleach + foxy, animalic musk as per Lilium pyrenaicum.
It smells medium blue, if that's any help to you.
The Tuis visit the Banksia but seem more enthusiastic about the Pohutukawas (Metrosideros) coming into flower in our upper garden, along with every bee and wing'd insect for a mile in all directions. On a warm, still day during its luminous scarlet declamation the whole tree hums and shivers with a host of nectar-seeking visitants. Pohutukawa honey is bloody delicious- pale, thickly gloopy and almost salty, loathsome in its deliciousness. Try it if you ever come across it.
* More Photoessays * Port Chalmers, New Zealand * R's Blog *
Mine flowered for the first time this year with the stalk emerging in late autumn/early winter, snaking slowly upward to become a brilliant coral red spike in mid-spring, which was appreciated by the local honeyeaters. The stalks apparently branch in time to form a more spectacular candelabra-type arrangement.
My overall impressions of Aloe rupicola are moderate size, attractive foliage, decent growth rate, cold-hardiness, undemanding cultivation (mine's in a shitty plastic pot with proprietary cactus mix) and ready flowering. It doesn't seem to suffer any of the spotty fungal leaf pathologies that afflict a number of other aloes in this humid coastal situation, which is an important bonus. The one thing it does not seem to appreciate is massive amounts of harshest midday sunlight, presumably because it has evolved as a semi-understorey species in open hill scrub in its native clime; mine is happiest in half day shade and/or filtered sunlight, perhaps even looking its best in these conditions.
A recommended species for those with neither the room nor the climate to accommodate the larger tree aloes and one that would look particular striking and serpentine planted in groups.
R took this lovely detail shot.
I have three different clones of this sought-after variety; one super-large and sprawling with a weirdly cinereous, bruise-coloured flower that nudges ugliness, and two smaller, slightly frillier plants with a sweeter plum bloom, of which this is one. So not all Patty's Plums are created equal and this may account for the mixed regard in which this variety is held. I personally went to great lengths and some expense to secure this poppy, and while they will flower well in half shade and do look great with roses, all in all I prefer other varieties, like the deep reds and large whites.
My fucking poppies are flopping this year on account of all the bloody rain. Poppy flop sucks.
From top left: scilla, magnolia yunanensis, unknown daffodil, wallflower, osteospermum daisy
Sophora (kowhai tree), kale flower, forget me not, sisyrinchium Devon Skies
Rhododendron, geum/avens, clematis Guernsey Cream
Oriental poppy Patty's Plum, wild cranesbill, viburnum plicatum, erodium trifolium
Arctotis daisy, aquilegia Nora Barlow
Geranium phaeum Samovar, armeria, pansy, astrantia major.
Technical notes: R used a Panasonic GH1 body with two old macro lenses, the Tokina 90mm AT-X and the Vivitar 55mm, plus a more modern Panasonic 45-150 with an Achromat close up lens attached. Most of these pics are pretty much straight from the camera.
R says: "I had to heavily-bracket the exposures to achieve decent capture and keep the highlights from blowing out, particularly with the manual focus lenses. Live-view cameras such as this micro four-thirds body make the difficult angles presented by garden subjects so much easier. This format is great for macro with its greater depth of field control and lots of cheap old classic lenses will adapt to these bodies.
I try to be really patient, wait for the wind to absolutely settle and keep one eye on the background elements, even when using a narrow focal plane. The wrong blobs in the wrong place can really sink an otherwise great pic. Watch out for human and pet hairs and stray spider web on your carefully-chosen subjects. They are everywhere.
I typically use settings between 5.6 and f8, which is pretty par for the course in macro (small scale) work. Both of these old manual lenses show nice out of focus (bokeh) characteristics. Some lenses really are better at these sort of liquid backgrounds than others and it's worth investing in them if you're interested in this look. The Tokina in particular is famous in this respect, to the extent that it's called 'the Bokina'. I don't advocate expensive gear and this lens is pretty pricey at $3-500 depending on the mount but you can still get lucky online and it's one of the few pieces worth forking out for. The Vivitar 55mm is easier to find and this combination goes for around $200 in NZ, depending on the mount. It was made circa 1978 by Tomioka, a renowned Japanese manufacturer. They were distributed under different branding; the Vivitar is a common version. "
We're notorious for never going on holiday. As xmas approaches, some people ask us why with a by-now familiar expression; slightly incredulous + a dash of theatrical concern. The head tilts. The nose scrunches ever so slightly. You probably know the type.
Usually they're being arseholes, wanting to make themselves feel better about the card debt and carbon footprint they're amassing flying back and forth to wherever. Sometimes they really are just travel rats, the sort that derive their primary pleasures from the act itself and genuinely wonder at the sight of such a stationary existence But not very often.
We drink tea in our own teahouse every day. It's made from bits of an old school porch that was destined for a landfill. We built it ourselves and even Felix has his own little rescue-beanbag. Nothing on our formerly shitty half acre was the product of random fortune; it was achieved with hammer, spade or handsaw, mostly salvage materials and very, very little $. It's not flash, but it gives us immense pleasure. We like to share it on the internets so you can enjoy it too and perhaps be encouraged that living modestly doesn't mean life has to suck. Your power to effect goodness and beauty is only really limited by your own inclinations.
Never apologise for being happy in your own little orbit without reference to convention. Never allow other people to diminish or dissuade you from your constructive pursuits. A lot of people will want you to think you're just too much of a freak to ever find or deserve contentment and/or try to blank what you've achieved. Their disparagement says far more about their situation than your own.
The roses aren't really out yet. Another week or so. Enjoy your All Hallows.
A very satisfying image courtesy the Lovely R. He posted it in his section too but whatever 😀
Another busy busy week so you'll be getting a lipstick review unless I get time off from designing wedding shit and property upkeep and spring cleaning etc. to write something else for you.
Someone should be paying me for something but they never do.
There are apparently many educated people who believe that we are simulated creatures living in a synthetic world, a system modelled by advanced persons in an attempt to retrospectively understand their own development. From whence they derive this notion is somewhat hazy; some of them sound bereaved by the notion of a creator. Others just love maths and want their imperfect quantifications dignified or supplemented by some deeper, less dismal certainty. All of them need to be fired into the fucking sun.
The paper birch pumps rain into its brand new leaves. Its cells divide. Division of these fundamental units is governed by both chance and certainty and these two elements are the twin gods in any given process, organic or synthetic. Some argue that chance is just an artefact, a representation of our imperfect perception of certainty, and that this underlying certainty implies some sort of fundamental administration; that we are somehow curated.
But a stopped clock is only right two times a day if no one smashes it to shit with a cricket bat. Live long enough and you'll feel that cricket bat of randomness, wield it yourself and recognise its disordered nature.
Personally, I think the kind of mastery of inputs and systems required by a universal simulation renders any such simulation utterly fucking redundant. Unless our future selves are the kind of people who sit staring at their phones while out at dinner with a dozen of their own species, in which case
The birch, the quince flowers and the magnolia are made of certainties and chance. Their beauty denies and rebukes the purpose of creators and simulations and every other fucking thing that smells of savoured fart. They don't care for our bullshit and will ultimately feast on all physicists.
Shithawks, people. Shitropes.
Midwinter lacuna. Which is not some sort of frosty camelid.
I'm totally in one right now and that's sort of alright even though I suspect it's only exercise endorphins that are standing between me and a bout of mild depression.
Should I be concerned? I can't decide. Lets look at some aloe photos. It's been a quite good year for the more difficult species with a long warm autumn inducing some nice flowering. This is Aloe fievetii from Madagascar, blooming for the second time. I blogged it a wee while back and it's been chugging along nicely. Got a branching inflorescence this time. Yay.
Below left: I have two supposed forms of Aloe cameronii, the waxy shiny sort of plasticky one that colours up deep red when stressed and the more matte jade green one. They're both flowering at the same time here and this emerging inflorescence belongs to the latter form; the former is thinner and more elongate. Some people like to split the species but I'm of the opinion that they're just extreme ends of the same plasm yo. Below right: Aloe conifera, getting there slowly as is its wont.
Above: Aloe Mawii, coming on strongly now and colouring up. Much excite.
Maybe you're hardened to the sight of good old Aloe x 'Gold Tooth' but it is a fucking spectacular plant despite its vulgar ease of cultivation. It glows hypnotically in strong afternoon sunlight, its peacock green coruscating against the bright gold of its toothy margins. And what's not to love about that fat cobby bud? All killer, no filler.
I had it in a pot in case we got a hard winter and it's done so well that I'll plant it out in spring. Nice species. Try it if you get the chance.
This week will be more photacular than tentextual so you'll just have to reconstruct my spitting and raving from memory.
The serpentine, asparagussy flower stalk is emerging at an almost alarming rate.
I'll post detailed pics of the inflorescence since there's not many images of this plant online.
And finally we have one of my pair of Aloe conifera, a Madagascan species with scented yellow flowers; another first-timer. The other plant hasn't budded up visibly yet but fingers crossed.
Not sure what's coming at you this week since a stretch of unwintery weather has given us a window to frenziedly undertake all the outdoor shit we neglected over autumn. Stay tuned.
The second most exciting thing to happen lately was waking up with that fucking Sam Sparro song Black & Gold in my damn head out of entirely nowhere, which is especially weird given its vague deistic sentiment and the fact that I don't generally care for soul. It happens about twice a year, then I have to hear it three or four times a day for a few days, and pffff; the urge disappears for another twelve months. I do seriously love the smooth reptilian righteousness of this video, though. It spins a shitty little budget and a mess of tenuous associations into something utterly apposite and weirdly hypnotic, which is something you don't see every day.
I suppose I should be grateful that the most exciting thing that happened to us recently is still illegal in most countries, including this one. This is middle age, bitches; you take your thrills where you can get them.