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Your let­ters

OUR SNUG BUGS

I wanted to share a very spe­cial bug ho­tel that my dad Rodger Meikle (an avid NZ Gar­dener reader) re­cently made for his grand­daugh­ter Lucy. Dad spent many hours craft­ing this spe­cial ho­tel that he’d seen in your magazine (Au­gust 2018) and was re­ally pleased with his ef­forts. It even comes with a brass badge of com­ple­tion and edg­ing on the roof.

I wanted to share this with you and your read­ers, as I’m re­ally proud of his hard work. Leanne Meikle-Be­van, AUCK­LAND

MY GAR­DEN­ING JOUR­NEY

My gar­den­ing be­gan when I was a fis­cally chal­lenged stu­dent liv­ing in a 50sqm flat in Christchurch. I was given a cut­ting of rose­mary and it de­vel­oped roots in a jar on the win­dowsill. I didn’t want to waste it, so I planted it. The rose­mary bush flour­ished, and I be­came ob­sessed. I pulled all the shrubs out of the gar­dens bor­der­ing the drive­way and planted broc­coli and cauli (they are flow­ers, af­ter all), and I scored a tiny planter­box from the land­lord that held salad greens and herbs. I had much suc­cess and man­aged to sup­ple­ment my diet and save some of my lim­ited stu­dent funds by eat­ing spinach and baked beans, or beet­root leaf salad. I spent hours talk­ing gar­dens to the el­derly neigh­bours, glean­ing wisdom and shar­ing sto­ries.

It was not all joy­ous, how­ever. As all gar­den­ers know, there are al­ways flops and the first time I tried cour­gettes nearly ended ev­ery­thing. Un­der the pear tree at the back of the slop­ing lawn I dug a hole for the fledg­ling plants I had bought. They never quite took off and one day, as I was be­wail­ing their lack of lus­tre and ges­tur­ing pro­fusely, I knocked the tiny, strug­gling top right off one. I re­mem­ber sob­bing, “I mur­dered it! It never even had a chance!” There were no cour­gettes that sum­mer.

Since then, ev­ery house I have lived in, I have put my gar­den­ing mark on. Af­ter the earth­quakes, we did a stint in the North Is­land. What an eye opener – I could grow ev­ery­thing! Now we are back in the South Is­land and I am re-learn­ing the south­ern sea­sons. I love the idea that ev­ery­where I have lived I have made greener, more pro­duc­tive and a lit­tle more alive. For what is a house with­out a gar­den? And what is a gar­den with­out some love? It is such a plea­sure to share that joy with my fam­ily and the wider gar­den­ing com­mu­nity. Vicki John­son, TEMUKA

MY FAVOURITE GERA­NIUM

I have just fin­ished read­ing about gera­ni­ums and pe­largo­ni­ums in the June is­sue. Some years ago, a friend of my hus­band gave me a small plant which he said was very spe­cial, called Gera­nium maderense. “It will spend its first year grow­ing and will bloom lav­ishly in the sec­ond.” It did just that and I have nur­tured it ever since. No-one I have shown it to has ever heard about it and but they are al­ways stunned by its dis­play. It hap­pily copes with the Waikato frosts. Mar­garet Wil­lis, CAM­BRIDGE

AN­OTHER MAR­MALADE FAN

I had bought an or­ange tree and a le­mon tree when mov­ing from Bal­clutha to Wanaka 16 years ago. They were tiny trees and cost me $4.50 each. They grew in pots al­beit rather stunt­edly un­til about five years ago when my hus­band Mike trans­planted the small­ish trees into the ground in a shel­tered north-fac­ing po­si­tion. Both trees said thank you, took off and this year I have made three batches of the best mar­malade ever! I used the Win­ter Mar­malade recipe in the NZ Gar­dener spe­cial edi­tion Home­grown Fruit Trees (2009). Take four or­anges and four lemons, cut up fruit and put ev­ery­thing in food pro­ces­sor to purée un­til skins have been bro­ken down. Place in large pot and bring to boil briskly for 1 hour. Add 2 ki­los sugar and boil a fur­ther 20 min­utes, test for set­ting on cold saucer. When ready, stand for 15 min­utes, stir and put in clean, ster­ilised jars. Beccy Horder, WANAKA

SHARE THE LOVE

We are so lov­ing the vi­brancy of these colour­ful freesias and irises un­der our cherry tree that we had to share the plea­sure they bring. Win­some Edwards, TAU­RANGA

GAR­DENER FOR LIFE

As an oc­to­ge­nar­ian, I have down­sized my gar­den­ing, but my great-grand­chil­dren still love pick­ing straw­ber­ries from my gar­den… and birthdays are still cel­e­brated with Aunt Daisy’s 1968 recipe for straw­berry and rhubarb jam with scones. Bromeli­ads are now my favourite plant with many sit­ting in pots un­der­neath my large grape­fruit tree – so pro­duc­tive I put the fruit at my let­ter­box for all who wish to en­joy them. They are re­ceived with a wave and on the odd oc­ca­sion a lolly left in the let­ter­box for me. Such a spe­cial thing to be able to share my love of gar­den­ing with many of my grand­chil­dren and great­grand­chil­dren. The first NZ Gar­dener magazine came out in the 1940s… and I have only just re­cently mis­placed that first copy. Roll on NZ Gar­dener. I’m still get­ting lots of plea­sure and still learn­ing thanks to your great magazine. Verna McIn­tosh, MAN­GERE BRIDGE

DON’T WORRY, BEE HAPPY

With the fo­cus on bees in the Septem­ber is­sue, I have spent the last few weeks do­ing some re­search of my own and ob­serv­ing which flow­ers, if any, were vis­ited by bees. There sim­ply weren’t many around. Where were they when our straw­ber­ries and broad beans needed pol­li­nat­ing? With so many flow­ers out, why weren’t there more bees? Well, I don’t need to ask that ques­tion any more!

They are now all on my shrubby echium, flow­er­ing for the first time against a warm brick wall. With 12 tall spikes packed with cobalt blue flow­ers, with one to seven bees on each flow­er­ing stem, I can now hap­pily say bees are alive and well in my gar­den! Heather Hill, BLEN­HEIM

GAR­DEN IN­SPI­RA­TIONS

I wanted to say that I re­ally en­joyed read­ing about the gar­dens in your Oc­to­ber is­sue. The Rich­mond gar­den story made us start plan­ning for a road trip to see the Wairarapa Gar­den Tour right away! The gar­den in the North Shore was in­spir­ing too, as it showed us what can be done in a sim­ple sub­ur­ban gar­den – a small sec­tion doesn’t have to be bor­ing. Thank you NZ Gar­dener. Ken Jarvis, AUCK­LAND

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