Garden Journal

There is still lots of colour in our autumn garden. Taking pride of place is the pretty cosmos, which is flowering after many of the other plants have finished. The weather is still warm and sunny, although we had a cyclone sweep through the country the day before Easter. It caused much destruction, with trees uprooted all over the town, including, sadly, our own lime tree, which we planted about ten years ago. In its place we have planted a bay tree, which we had growing in a pot, but it should do much better now it is in the ground.

I have planted a Camelia sinensis to have a go at growing my own tea! From the one plant you can make green tea, black tea, or oolong tea, depending on how the leaves and buds are processed.

The winter vegetable garden is planted with broccoli, cauliflowers, cabbages, lettuces, spinach, kale, and silverbeet. I still have leek seedlings to go in. I haven’t tried growing leeks before, so it will be interesting to see how they do.

These are my garden journal pages for March and April.

A book I have enjoyed reading this month is A Cottage and Three Acres by Colette O’Neill. Thirteen years ago Colette left behind her life in London to begin a new life in Ireland. She bought an old cottage with three acres of bare, wet, rushy land and set about transforming it into a beautiful, lush, permaculture garden, planting thousands of trees, as well as herbs, vegetables, and even a fairy wood. The book tells the story of what one woman with a dream can achieve on her own, and how a woman’s love of nature and incredible affinity with Mother Earth was able to heal, in her words, “Some of the saddest looking land I had ever walked upon.” Colette truly is an inspiration and I would recommend this book to anyone with a love of gardening, and of nature.

Colette has thousands of pictures of her garden and cottage on her website bealtainecottage.com and hundreds of videos on YouTube. Her book can be purchased through her website, and she is happy to sign it for you!

Summer Garden

Here, in New Zealand, summer is in full swing and the garden is flourishing with flowers, herbs, vegetables, weeds and wildflowers. The beautiful larkspur made a magnificent show during late spring and early summer. The majestic blooms ranged from a deep violet colour to a lighter lavender. Sadly, they are finished now, but we have saved lots of seeds and want to try growing them against the house next year, instead of out in the open where the tall spires are ravaged by the wind.

Larkspur

Echinaceas that I grew from seed last year are flowering earlier this year. They always remind me of my time working at Weleda where they were grown to make herbal remedies.

Echinaceas

Feverfew self-seeds all over the garden.

feverfew

In the vegetable garden we have just picked our first beans of the season, and have been regularly picking lettuces, baby spinach leaves, radishes and spring onions for summer salads.

Vegetable Garden

Lavender and borage are planted amongst the vegetables to attract the bees. This pretty purple plant self-seeds everywhere. I am not sure what it is called, but the bees love it, so I am happy for it to grow wherever it wants to.

bee plant

The citrus trees are laden with fruit and we always have a jug of freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice in the fridge.

These pretty blue cornflowers self-seeded in the planter outside the studio, as well as elsewhere in the garden. There are plenty for picking and they last well in a vase.

cornflowers

Garden Journal

September has been a very wet month here in Hawke’s Bay, but the beginning of spring has brought plenty of growth in the garden. Daffodils and tulips have been blooming, pretty blue forget-me-nots have sprung up all over the garden, the lavender and rosemary have been abuzz with bees, and the orange and grapefruit trees are laden with fruit, although not quite ready for picking yet. I planted trays of vegetable and flower seeds in the greenhouse, and we dug compost through the garden beds, ready for planting in a few weeks’ time after danger of late frosts has passed.

garden journal

garden journal