Thought you might like to see them since they are so beautiful.
We picked three kg of gooseberries and got a shittonne of jam from that, then R decided to go crazy and pick the other currants, which we usually leave for the birds because laziness. The hot month before xmas has turned them into something worth bothering about so we rounded up every remaining Ribes for committal to jars.
Thought you might like to see them since they are so beautiful.
On one of the new pieces I've scattered around the lower garden.
This is our most prolific clematis as far as producing vegetable material is concerned. Warsaw Nike has morphed into a protean lateral monster despite the numerous unceremonious moves I've subjected it to. In fact, dragging its arse around the garden has seen it boil outward at the base to provide a shit tonne of splittable pieces; since these plants retail at around fifty fucking dollars, I'm not complaining. The new, thinned starts produce longer, more adventurous vines while the mother plant sits stubbornly at about 1.5m, generating root cuttings like it has nothing better to do.
W Nike is a really beautiful, non-bouffant variety for the kind of nastily hot situations that would crisp the shit out of other dark flowers. I've never seen it suffer clematis wilt and that dreaded fuckery can be a problem here with our hot summers, funky soil and high humidity. This pic is pretty accurate on my monitor if you've been baffled by the mad-looking blown-out shots floating around the internet. The interior stripe is a deep cardinal red and the margins of the petals graduate to velvety red-violet. Overall, the impression is quite a bit more red than purple. I have a Clematis Etoile Violette on the same fence and that's a true deep purple; the contrast is quite marked.
Very plush and luxe and no hint of frou.
Which is tragic, and also why we can never, ever consent to lose them.
First, we tooled around the glass house with its tropical collections. Sticky. Vivid. Enlivening.
This beautiful Red Tailed Black Cockatoo hen is always down for a grevillea flower destruction opportunity or a closer look at your jewellery.
The divine Himalayan Poppy, Laburnum and Allium flowers.
When you meet onions that are more worthy and far better looking than you, you've learnt your true place in the universe.
Another dig through this and last year's pics reveals a wee trove of half-forgotten images so here they are. Some of these are flowering for the first time in our garden: great success.
above: Aloe cameronii (although some peeps are calling this variant something else now, saying it was mis-ID'd in cultivation. This is the less waxy, greener form, anyway).
below: Aloe mawii in full swing. One of my faves- my plant is heading up like a freak and will soon have about 4 new points.
above: Aloe conifera
below: Aloe andongensis. A really superb non-drama species that deserves a lot more attention
above: Aloe dawei
below: Aloe speciosa detail
above: Aloe aristata (proper) just budding up. I have the straight species and not the one usually labelled as such in trade and I find it harder to grow than the latter more common plant. It loves to lose its roots for no apparent reason.
below: Aloe hemmingii. Spectacular little fellow.
above + below: Aloe Burhii, details from the amazing UFO-style flower truss that appeared last year. Another of my favourite species with its fat, spineless dinosaur leaves and delightful flowers. Undemanding and delicious.
Another couple of firsts this year: above Aloe succotrina and below Aloe pulcherrima,
an Ethiopian plant. Last image is Aloe rupicola, flowering for the second time.
They're about twenty dollars a fucking kilo but we love them long time and are reminded every winter of their glorious idiosyncrasy. Their flavour is almost impossible to characterise; cool, wet, vaguest suggestion of umami, a hint of tomato, a touch of one of the whackier melons, maybe the tiniest suggestion of passionfruit with a sprinkle of the blander strains of durian. They are neither sweet nor sour and yet somehow both. There is a narrow band of optimal ripeness in between unpleasantly vegetable and soppy blandness which might account for their niche appeal but definitely try one.
Occasionally I make a sweep through one of R's annoyingly numerous photo dumps, give him a hard look and ask what the fuck is this? Inevitably, some of his best images are sitting with their thumbs up their arses, utterly unshared with the wider world.
Think some of the rhododendron pics are mine- you can probably tell by the shitty exposures. R is a far, far better technician than I am but he, in common with most camera nerds, couldn't really compose his way out of a wet paper bag until I taught him the basics, so allow me a fart-huffing moment of insufferable credit-snatching while you peruse these lovely images. His eye is coming along nicely.
R sneakily posts some nice things that don't appear on my main blog so check out his page.
Flower IDs: Oriental Poppy Pictoee, unknown Azalea, Oriental Poppy Patty's Plum, Bedding Dahlia, unknown Rhododendron, Brugmansia sanguinea, unknown Rhododendron, Buttercup.
* The Lovely R * Our Photography * Photoessays * Flora *
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.