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
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