NZ Lifestyle Block - - Garden Diary - JANE BELLERBY

• Cut­ting back and clear­ing out spent growth gives us the chance to see the bare bones of the gar­den and it’s eas­ier to make changes.

• Plant out com­frey roots around the drip line of or­chard trees and be very sure you never want to move them! We have 30-year-old com­frey that is regularly grazed and still it grows, which in the right place is a good thing but it can be frus­trat­ing oth­er­wise.

• Mis­er­able days are an open in­vi­ta­tion to read books, sit by the fire and do a spot of gar­den dream­ing.

• Have a bon­fire, in­vite the neigh­bours and bring out the marsh­mal­lows, the foil­wrapped pota­toes etc, and celebrate the sea­son. It cleans up gar­den waste as well if it is dry enough.

• Hun­gry birds around? Con­sider plant­ing mid-win­ter berrypro­duc­ing shrubs for your own plea­sure and food for the feathered ones. Check the plants are not on any nox­ious weed list.

• Chop back ex­ces­sive vine growth from last sum­mer to keep the likes of wis­te­ria and jas­mine un­der con­trol. Nail back any boards on the house they may have started rip­ping off! • Con­tinue the win­ter clean-up and peren­nial di­vi­sion.

• Watch out for and mark emerg­ing bulb shoots.

• Prune fruit trees or get some­one in to teach and help if you are new to the land.

Win­ter in the gar­den is a great time to make changes and work on projects. Last win­ter I took to the gar­den and spent many hours on a pre­ci­sion weed clean-up, clear-out, cut-back and change-around, start­ing with my head space. I stopped part-time work as a hos­pi­tal aid at our lo­cal Golden Bay Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal. Ten years of night shifts had taken their toll: I was well and truly burnt-out and it was time for changes, some of which my pa­tient part­ner had been hop­ing would hap­pen for a long time.

So I gar­dened as I strug­gled with a few men­tal health is­sues: the ones about let­ting down my work mates, not bring­ing in as much house­hold in­come, and not lik­ing my job any more. Let­ting go of the ex­haus­tion took a while. I had some ex­cel­lent coun­selling, sup­port from fan­tas­tic friends, and re­alised yet again that when I let go of old stuff, clar­ity is able to come into my life.

I dug and weeded and changed the gar­den around, and prac­tised grat­i­tude. I love be­ing at home full-time. This time around, liv­ing a more fru­gal lifestyle is so much eas­ier: no house or busi­ness build­ing, no land de­vel­op­ment, no grow­ing chil­dren, and few wwoofers. Main­te­nance yes, but we have plenty of re­sources af­ter nearly 30 years of de­vel­op­ing our gar­dens, or­chards and the sur­round­ing land.

Part of the sort-out was de­mol­ish­ing the old as­para­gus bed in the flower gar­den. Most of the 20-year-old plants had died out and a new crop is now es­tab­lished in the veg­etable gar­den. Thanks to the trac­tor and its front-end loader, the cor­ru­gated iron sid­ings of the bed slid out easily and it didn’t take long to move the one big shrub, a crim­son

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