In the gar­den in Oc­to­ber

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents -

•It’s such a lovely time of year to be work­ing out­side, but spring winds can be a has­sle so tie things up, or down, pro­vide sup­port for soft sappy growth, and have string handy for in­stant use as you come across new growth. • Re­duce trans­plant­ing shock for seedlings by plant­ing in the cool of the morn­ing or evening and cut back the fo­liage by a third to min­imise tran­spi­ra­tion. Keep seedlings well-wa­tered.

Birds are busy nest­ing and scratch­ing for food for their ba­bies, but we want food and beauty for our­selves as well, so net­ting spread over plants and along rows can be a good idea un­til the plants are big

enough to sur­vive.

• Once the soil is warm (about 12°C), mulch can be put down to con­serve mois­ture. It needs to go onto damp soil, not dry ground.

• Gaps in the flower gar­den may well fill in later with peren­nial growth, but if it looks a bit scrappy now, a few pun­nets of an­nu­als will help to fill bare patches. Al­ter­na­tively, you can fill in the gaps with big rocks or in­ter­est­ing driftwood, a sculp­ture, or maybe a place to sit while you rest from your work.

• Take time to en­joy your gar­den, whether it be with a trea­sure hunt, games of hide and seek, tea par­ties, bar­be­cues, or a quiet sit by your­self to en­joy the beauty.

Iwas righ­teously in­dig­nant (again!) a few years back when an English gar­den­ing guru crit­i­cised Aotearoa gar­den­ers for some­thing like plant­ing too many pan­sies. He went on to make pre­ten­tious re­marks about fash­ion and form and the cringe fac­tor of not be­ing in the vanguard of style.

All I can say is he’s welcome to the con­stric­tion of try­ing to con­form, but I don’t need to be told what to do and how to do it ac­cord­ing to his rules. One of the joys of hav­ing a gar­den to play in is not hav­ing to fit any fash­ion or trend, any style or must, have-to or should. My gar­den is mine, your gar­den is yours and within the con­straints of time, bud­get, energy, knowl­edge, cli­mate and soil con­di­tions, we can en­tirely please our­selves.

My life used to be full of the re­quire­ments of chil­dren, busi­nesses, an­i­mals, nurs­eries, writ­ing and work at the hos­pi­tal. I would let the gar­den slide and then put in a huge ef­fort to get it un­der con­trol again. These days, with the bless­ing of more dis­pos­able time, I main­tain it a lot bet­ter, but it’s not a ‘neat and tidy gar­den’ by most peo­ples’ stan­dards. How­ever, it is what we like and that is the joy of a gar­den.

At this time of year I am happy, en­joy­ing the rapid growth, lush green­ery and won­der­ful flow­ers that the peren­nial gar­den pro­vides. When I think of the trans­for­ma­tion that takes place from the months of July and Au­gust to Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber, it’s a chance to re­joice in the mirac­u­lous. There’s so much beauty in blos­som and gen­tle flow­ers, new vi­brant fo­liage, and all those flower heads bud­ding up with their po­ten­tial beauty.

The warm­ing weather means you can think about gar­den ac­tiv­i­ties such as games, tea par­ties, bar­be­cues, sketch­ing or photo ses­sions, or what­ever your gar­den lends it­self to in the way of en­ter­tain­ment. When our chil­dren were small I would make up rhyming and pic­to­rial trea­sure hunts. Those who could read did, while the smaller ones guessed where to go from the pic­tures. There were clear guide­lines that the group had to move to­gether so ev­ery­one had a turn.

Your gar­den is your place to experiment. You could try a dif­fer­ent gar­den­ing sys­tem, like Bio­dy­nam­ics which as­pires to be a closed sys­tem where the ma­jor­ity of gar­den in­put is de­rived from the im­me­di­ate area.

This can be a good thing and also

Hebe in full bloom. Plenty of Oc­to­ber work go­ing on in the vege patch. The del­i­cate flow­ers of poor man’s

orchid in­vite closer in­spec­tion. Hosta fo­liage

pro­vid­ing beauty way be­fore the flow­ers ar­rive.

JANE BELLERBY

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