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Wednesday, 7 November 2012



This spring, I rediscovered the beauty of the Flag or Bearded Iris, when I saw them in the Botanical Gardens.

We had a border of them that I had planted as a child, at our home in Guppy Road, Taradale, Napier. I was very fond of them and had beautiful plants in various shades.

 They are in every colour of the rainbow except a true red.

 This is one of my favourite irises.
I like the variegated shades of this one.

 Some are more or less one shade like these pale yellow and the bright purple ones.

 Here they are grouped in complementary colors.

Another paler purple iris with orange poppies.

Irises grow from rhizomes and once you have them, you can split them to form new plants.
I plan to get some for my garden to grow and enjoy next spring.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Monarch Butterflies

I have recently become the guardian of five Monarch butterfly caterpillars. I was so excited when I found one on my tiny Swan Plant and I thought it was the only one.
After this one had gone into a chrysalis,
 I went out a few days later to look at it and found four more tiny caterpillars on the plant. I  almost panicked as I thought of four hungry caterpillars feeding on my small Swan Plant. So off to Mitre Ten I went to buy two more plants to feed my growing family. Now all are doing well and number two went into its chrysalis on Friday. It attached itself to the house. Maybe because it was so windy it didn't trust itself to the Swan Plant.
Two more are getting quite fat and will soon be in their chrysalises. The last one will have no competition for food, but I hope it will have time to develop into a butterfly now that the weather is getting colder.

Meantime, the first caterpillar is almost ready to emerge as a beautiful Monarch butterfly.
There is plenty of life in Beauty's Wildflower Garden. With all the rain we have had the plants are luxuriant and starting to show flower buds. Hopefully it will soon be a riot of colour.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Turning Your Patio into a Herb Garden

I began by looking on the internet for herb garden plans and then drew one I liked. Then I looked at the patio. It is down a level from the deck and I never sit down there as it is not private and is overlooked by neighbours. I have an espalier apple tree and red currants and raspberries on one side.  My herbs are in the potagers and in pots about the gardens so I won't need to buy many new ones, I can transplant these.
I began by taking up tiles and as they had been laid like bricks they made a pattern I noticed.
Took up tiles to form a wide rectangle. This was not on the original plan, but worked better than the diamond shape. Made an urn  feature and glass beads. Planted two miniature roses, lavender, geranium and lemon verbena.
Started to take up tiles for second bed. Decided to make pathways two tile widths. Forgot about plan!
I completed the second bed. It was a smaller one and I put two halves of a broken pot into it and planted a thyme bush between them.

To the left of the thyme, I decided to make a long thin bed. Into this went geranium, parsley and sage.

I then brought two ornaments down from the front garden. I put the little boy figurine in the large bed and placed the goose girl on a weathered pot in the right hand corner. So far so good.
Today in the drizzle I put in the fourth herb bed in front of the feature bed I did first of all. I transplanted Oregano from the potager garden and added Italian Parsley, an Emerald Thyme and Pot Marjoram which I had bought this afternoon. I put a wooden half barrel at the back of the garden and filled it with Pansies and Lobelia.

So ends day three. Another day and I should be finished.
I had a few days off due to stormy weather and had a little clearing up to do before putting in the fifth and final bed in the top left hand corner of the garden. I left no path young this bed and planted a Rosemary in the corner with a lavender transplanted from the main garden. 
I decided to move the goose girl figuring into the corner of the bed and moved the tub of pansies where it had been. Then I placed a chair in the middle.
I found a patterned pot in the back garden and planted yellow Iceland poppies in it. It will give some colour when all the herbs stop flowering for the winter.
I plan to do some wall art on canvas using elements such as Tudor Roses from my family coat of arms.
In the meantime I am happy with my new Herb Garden.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Little Miracles of Creation

I have spent most of today in the garden, mainly clearing the patio which I am going to turn into a herb garden. Then I took out my camera and had a look round to photograph the garden before I start replanting herbs out of the potagers. I also looked at the newly planted Beauty's Wildflower Garden and there I spied a Monarch Caterpillar on the tiny Swan Plant. I hope its mother knew what it was doing as the plant is very small.
Next, I came across another tiny creature, a bee,  busy in the Oregano flowers.
I moved on to the deck, where I have some plants. First, I found some beautiful roses.
Then I was struck by the lovely contrasting colors of the blueberries just starting to ripen.
After this I looked at the newly planted fruit trees replacing the trees that had died and been felled and discovered these juicy limes almost ready to harvest.
I ended my tour at the potagers. The harvest is late coming in this year but everything looks luscious.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


This is a tribute to my furry companion of fifteen years- Beauty. She passed away on Monday 16 January 2012.
She was feral cat. She was one of two in the litter, born about the 19 October 1996. Her mother left her and her sibling on the backdoor step of my friend Margaret's house. Margaret invited me to take one of the kittens and my niece Sarah and I selected Beauty.
I already had a four year old cat called Fern. She took to Beauty immediately and treated her as her baby.
At that time we were living in an upstairs flat in Kingston, Wellington.

She was very cute and playful. At Christmas 1996, Sarah looked after her while I went on holiday. After that she and Fern always stayed at Maria's Cattery in Strathmore. She never trusted Mary and Neil and was always grumpy at the cattery. While Fern was alive, she  used to stay in a caravan and liked that.
Beauty soon grew bigger than Fern but to Fern she was always the baby and she would go out looking for her if she was late in. Here Beauty is eating Fern's meal after eating her own, but Fern doesn't mind.
Later she outgrew the basket and graduated to the sleeping igloo.
Beauty was the gentlest of the three cats I had and was absolutely devoted to me. She was a one person cat.
She loved the second home in Karori as we had a large lawn and a stand of native bush. She disappeared into this for a few days after we moved and I thought we had lost her. She returned at one o'clock in the morning and me and Fern fell on her.
She liked to sleep on my bed with Fern and she had a curious habit of wrapping her fat tail around Fern.
When I sold the house in Karori, we lived in a flat in Northland, which was tough on the cats as there was no land and no territory for them. They were both very pleased when we moved to Stokes Valley.
Fern passed away after we had been here for only a year. Beauty mourned her for some time. I didn't get another cat to replace her as I didn't think Beauty would take to another cat. So she was the last of my cats.
Just over four years ago, I established a Meditation Group at my home on Friday nights and Beauty always meditated with us, sitting along side one of the group. Each day in the morning and evening she would sit with me.
As she got older she darkened in colouring and slept a lot. About four months ago she began to lose weight and sleep a lot. She would curl up with the Paddington Bear my mother made in the library.

She was a very loving cat and the house is empty without her.
Yesterday I planted a wild flower garden in her memory and I look forward to all the beautiful flowers appearing.