Sunday, 8 December 2019

8 December 2019

Today it was raining most of the day. There was flooding in parts of Wellington. We're up in the hills so it's mainly surface water for us. The rain meant I wasn't able to do what I had planned. I knew the greenhouse needed some attention though so this afternoon I decided to do some work in there.

This was what greeted me when I opened the greenhouse door yesterday, except for the two buckets full of the fennel I cut yesterday. Boar helpfully put them inside which was good or they would have been full of water with all the rain.

Of course if I had been in the greenhouse recently the day of the triffids wouldn't have happened!

So much rain that the water tank is overflowing. The outlet hole is in the side and I keep thinking I should put a pipe in so that when it rains like this we can collect the overflow as well.

The other day I decided to de-head all the arum maculatum, or Lords-and-Ladies as one of it's common names is and how I shall refer to it from now on. I went to find my basket and the watering can. Usually they're sitting in plain view but no, totally covered. Extricating them was fun 😁

It's a pretty clever plant convolvulus! No discrimination, it'll wrap itself around anything it can. I couldn't resist this photo of the rake. Just standing there innocently minding it's own business then it gets wrapped. On the framing is my all important cuppa in a thermal mug to keep it warm for a wee while.

In the two back pots are a couple of lavender I got a few months back. I need to plant them out. They've been in the greenhouse so I put them out in the rain for a bit of a wash. The development next door has created so much dust they get coated in it. In the front icecream carton is a Chatham Island forget-me-not. I'm hoping it will take off.

This is a close up of the seed-head of one of the Lords-and-Ladies. Those berries turn orange and drop to the ground. Yes, they're even in the greenhouse.

Another view. They're quite pretty really. I wondered how many seeds or little green berries there were and estimated around sixty. So then I decided to count them . . . Ninety-two! And each one has the potential to become a new plant. Even if only one germinates from each seed-head it's more than I want.

Ta-da! After a couple of hours this was the result. So much better. I don't hurry or I get tired more quickly.

There are two and a half bags of weeds at the back, as well as rubbish in the teal bucket, a bit of fern I'm going transplant in the white bucket. There is also a fern I chopped back which I'll dig up and try to transplant. It's too large for the greenhouse.

It was nice being in the greenhouse getting some work done while the rain was beating on the roof. By the time I finished it had stopped raining. Now to plant some seeds. Tomatoes I think. Probably a bit late but better late than not at all. I'll probably start them off in pots first and I have some newspaper ones ready so will use them.

7 December 2019

I got up to the garden today after we had been out to Porirua to do a few jobs. When we got home I found a parcel I'd been waiting for had arrived. It's for a commission I'm working on so I'm happy it is here.

Going up to the garden/backyard isn't just a matter of popping out the back door. There are generally a number of steps.

Step 1) Put on my gumboots. Earlier in the year I got a pair of these boots - Grubs. They are great and have made such a difference to me. So much easier to just pull them on than to do up my old tramping boots. They also support my feet really well and the neoprene uppers keep my legs warm and creepy crawlies out!

These are my somewhat muddy ones. They're also great for walking the pup in wet grass.


This is what they actually look like. They cost a bit but will last me a long time.

Step 2) Grab my handy clear case that I put my phone in. It protects my phone and is easy to see. No risk of my phone dropping out of my pocket and me having to spend ages searching for it! I found it at Bunnings, where my older brother bought one last year.

Step 3) Once we've headed up the first set of steps to the patio area I tie up Paddy briefly. Full name Paddington but Paddy is easier for everyday use. He's 8 months old and a Mastiff cross - and hasn't quite yet learned to leave the chickens alone! Or to come down when called. So the last couple of days I've put this long lead on him. It also means I can get hold of him easily when I've finished. One day he'll be an old plodder, but not yet! He's large too, 40kgs already so not a pup I can pick up any more!

Step 4) Head up through the gates at the archway because these girls come down when they hear someone coming. Get them some chook pellets, they follow me to the coop and I shut them up till I've finished what I've decided to do. Paddy romps around while I get some things done. Then repeat steps 3 and 4 to let the girls out again!

I suspect these girls are laying but most likely it's in the long grass somewhere. I need to replace the lid on their nesting box and then shut them up each night, because otherwise one or two of them sit in the nesting box overnight which means it gets messier quicker.

Today I wanted to clear at least half of this path. This time of year all the weeds seem to go crazy, as though they shoot up in a few weeks if you don't pay them enough attention! The fennel is doing wonderfully. Apparently the fronds and seeds are edible but I haven't tried them. I want to clear this path so I can request the temporary fence is taken down by the developers. That's the waratah's, boards and orange mesh in the photo. The other side we haven't been able to access for months.

I pottered away, and in about an hour got one side mostly clear. I chopped it into pieces as I went so it took a bit longer than if I had chopped it down and just laid it somewhere.

The after photo. I can see most of the path and tomorrow I hope to clear the other side. Not long after I got up the back and began cutting the fennel it started to rain . . . but thankfully it was just a sprinkling so I was able to keep going.

A closer photo of another patch of the arum maculatum, which will also be for the chop tomorrow, the seed heads at least.

It's a bit hard to see in this photo and I didn't think to get a close up but these are some forget-me-nots I sowed earlier in the year. I saw a few leaves come up so watched them and weeded round them carefully hoping it was what they were. I'm hoping they will self-seed and there will be more next year. It's the small things like this that bring me joy and give me hope that I can eventually have the whole place looking better.

Lastly I took a photo of my Compassion rose. I did what you are not supposed to do and cut it right back to the two main stems as it had become very sparse. There was another strong shoot off to the left but a certain puppy broke it off leaping round. Usually it will have flowered by now but it's going to be next year before it gets any I suspect. Need to weed and mulch too.

After a bite to eat I did some work on the commission then we went to have dinner with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters which was lovely 😊

Friday, 6 December 2019

6 December 2019

The years seem to just whizz by these days! This year has been busy with family happenings and life in general. I did get up into the garden sometimes but not as regularly as I would have liked.

I'm typing this post on my tablet as Boar has the computer, well, he's dozing but I can guarantee if I try to move it he'll wake up! I'm going to post a couple of photos I took this evening and then try and write some posts with photos from throughout out the year in a few days. Most of my photos are on my computer so if I can get them into a new post I can do the writing on my tablet later.

I've been aware that the arum maculatum will be starting to form their seeds, and they have. Tonight I had some unexpected free time and so I decided to go have a look up the back. Yes, there they were, lots of seed heads formed. Thankfully green so a way off dropping the seed. Where I'd pulled them out earlier in the year was free of them which was great. Each of the beige papery looking spikes is a spathe that has withered after the seed head forms. I decided the quickest method to get rid of them would be to chop them off.

Boar came home partway through and helped too so double the amount got done. The tub is nearly full of seed heads and there are still lots left. I'll try to get rid of more as I figure the more I chop or break off the fewer plants next year. 

This photo is just to show how tenacious this rose is. We chopped it back hard and it's put out lots of shoots and given a lovely display.

I think Boar has plans for the old fence palings. We shall see.

27 Jan

We decided to use up some of the bricks to make a small incinerator up the back. Boar dug a small area for it to go on below the deck.

Getting the bricks up was a bit of work. I used the trolley to haul them from the driveway where they are stored, up the path . . .

To the bottom of the steps.

We got the young ones to carry them up to the deck. Brains carried around 10, 6 in a backpack and the rest in his arms.

We used one of the paving stones we found as a base. Then just stacked them on it.

We had to test it out of course!

The ferns got a little singed from the heat.

A lid so it doesn't get drenched.

I'm standing just below the greenhouse in this photo.

And now I'm down by the archway and you can see the incinerator in the top right of the photo. A good morning's work 😁

20 Jan

Another post I thought I had done. So I'll just make a few comments because who knows what I was going to say!

The first photo is a Karaka tree we transplanted.

We also transplanted several patches of smaller seedling Karaka's to see how they go. This is so we end up with a bit of privacy from the places being built behind us. It will take time.

We also found this feijoa has broken off. It's one of three we planted around 15years ago. Bit of a shame.

1 January 2019

I thought I'd posted this way back at the beginning of the year . . . Obviously not! 

Happy New Year to you all! It's been a lovely day here today. Nice and warm. We didn't do much last night except watch TV - although we did stay up till midnight to welcome the new year in. I went in to the city soon after midnight to pick up a couple of young ones from the city. Then home to bed!

Yesterday I went up the back to begin to restore order to overwhelming garden chaos. Under there is one of the garden beds! The black bag is pretty full of the lily (arum maculatum) spikes. Back in September I'd pulled some of the leaves from a patch of this garden. It was interesting that there were no spikes where I'd pulled the leaves out. As well as the lilies there is a mass of convulvulus.

Each one of those spike heads contains berries, which are beginning to ripen. Then they drop off, or the spike head goes onto the ground which means each seed is a potential plant! So they need to go.

This is one of the tubers and it's around 8 - 10cms across and quite starchy looking. It's gone into one of the bags as well. All in all I filled up three bags of the spikes, two today and one a few days ago. They can be quite deep down too but this one was just lying on the surface.

Here is the same garden bed after a couple of hours work. Quite a number of seeds fell off when I was moving them into the bag however I'll be able to pull them out if they sprout. The raised edge is falling apart so we are going to rebuild it. Boar is thinking of extending it to the fence. I'd planned to do the other bed the today but ran out of the plastic bags as I discovered when I went up the back this morning.

Instead of that I mostly stacked branches Boar was chopping down. I also took some plant material out of a couple of buckets that had been sitting there since September and which I'd forgotten about since it was a while since I'd been up the back. I was going to chuck it out but then decided it would make good fertiliser so I strained it through a piece of windbreak into the buckets.

The rest of the photos show the ivy we need to get rid of, and the pile of branches we were left with.

Monday, 31 December 2018

30 December 2018

Hello folks! I haven't touched this blog, or my other one, for months. My only feeble excuse is that I've been pretty busy - if anything busier than usual.

I made the decision earlier in the year to do some study - New Zealand Certificate of Creativity Level 4 through The Learning Connexion (TLC) as a distance delivery student. I tossed up whether to do it this year or next and in the end decided to go ahead this year. It's Locket's last year of her degree so works out well.

This decision though meant that I needed to devote time to study. It averages out at 3.5 hours a day five days a week, or 17.5 hours a week, or 70 hours over 4 weeks. There is some flexibility around when you do your hours which has been great for me. At times I've found it a challenge to get the hours done, however I now have all the theoretical goals done and have only 70 hours left to complete by February 22 2019. So I'll get them done over the summer.

As well as the actual work there is photographing what you have done, filling in a visual diary and uploading everything (the images) to a storage place on the TLC site for a mentor to review. So sometimes the 3.5 hours stretches to five or six hours. You can count all the time you spend photographing etc, but I wouldn't always remember exactly when I started as I'd neglect to write the time down!

This has been my focus this year and therefore there has been less sewing and the gardening I was doing came to an abrupt halt. Although I could continue with the study I've decided not to. I don't feel I need to and I will keep on learning, just in my usual autodidact way. What I have done has served it's purpose but it's time to move on to other things.

One thing that has proved distracting this year is the development up the back of us, and in one way beside us. The driveway next door leads up to a section that has stood empty the whole time we've been here . . . till this year. Last year developers bought it and there are 17 townhouses being built on it . Earthworks started in April and currently the buildings are going up. There is the potential for at least 23 vehicles to go up and down the drive - not that the council thinks it will be a nuisance!

There is a lot to do around here to de-junk the house and tidy up the grounds in the event we decide to move, which of course takes time, the de-junking etc! It's easier to do it steadily over the next few years rather than having to do it all in a rush in a short space of time.

Enough about me! Boar has continued to work although he is increasingly looking forward to when he retires in less than three years. Another reason to get the house and grounds in order.

Locket has finished her degree and Brains has completed the second year of his degree. Frosty is on her own with Mr Magoo and living nearby. Braveheart still lives where he did and has the boys to look after. Smurfette continues with the work she does and is still living nearby. Absent-minded Professor and Moneypenny are also nearby with their three young girls.

All the grandchildren are growing up and the oldest ones are learning to read now as well. I love watching their blossoming minds and personalities.

I'm going to share some photos of some of the things I've been doing this year. Disclaimer:- I'm at the very beginning with drawing and painting so my efforts are explorations - not masterpieces! I will continue to practice but there is much room for improvement!


I did this drawing at a class at Karori Arts and Crafts Centre in a beginners drawing class taken by Helen Casey. The photocopy on the left is what we were given and my effort is on the right.

Trying to draw a pot - which is not as easy as it looks!

This one is looking at the shadows and shading. Crumpled paper is very tricky to do. Plus it took me a long time and the shadows were in completely different places by the time I finished!

This is Encaustic Wax Art which I did with my friend Arty Vicky. This was fun and easy to do so I'll include the link here in case you would like to see how it is done. Some of my efforts didn't work out too well but that's all part of the process.

Painting in warm and cool colours. Getting the angles right is challenging for me but hopefully with practise there will be a bit of improvement!

While I find the drawing and painting a real challenge I really enjoyed the screen-printing I did. It's something I've been wanting to do again since I was around 12 or 13 years old and did it at school. This was different in that it was photo emulsion screen-printing. This is one of the pieces I put into the TLC student exhibition.

 Another of the pieces I put into the exhibition, my first screen-print on fabric, white calico. I did this at the first session of seven classes I did at the TLC campus. I used black tape as a resist and just cut it and applied it to the screen in a fairly random way.

This is the third one I put into the exhibition. I used some manuka tree twiglets I found lying on the ground in the driveway of TLC. I wondered if they would make a reasonable exposure and was very happy with how delicate they looked. This print is also done on calico, this time unbleached.

This one is done with transparent ink in layers so that you can see the different colours and how the colour changes when you layer it over another. 

Just a small sample of what I've been up to. 

I have ventured up to the backyard a few times but not accomplished anything. I went up the other day and saw that the lilies, arum maculatum, have produced the spikes of fruits that I was waiting to see. These contain the seeds that of course I've been neglecting to deal with and have helped the plant invade the garden! Until I researched the plant this year I didn't realise they could grow from seed. I took a photo tonight. 

There are still a few leaves but most of the plants have these spikes of fruit. The most effective way to get rid of the plant is to pull the leaves out when they appear and eventually the bulb starves. Something to keep on top of from now on. I put a whole lot of the leaves in black plastic bags and stuck them in the greenhouse back in February. I left them in there and when I went in recently they had turned to sludge! Quite a smelly sludge but I guess it's one way to dispose of the leaves and stalks. I think chopping them up would allow them to break down more quickly.

Somewhere under there is a raised garden bed that I plan to plant with flowers! Well, there are nasturtiums growing and convolvulus, plus long grass - lots of it. There has been stuff piled on here for a while, there are branches under there but eventually I'll get to the bottom of it! It's pretty much what the whole backyard gets like at this time of year when it's neglected. The grass grows very long. So another task I want to learn is to use the weed-eater so I can keep on top of the grass. It's the only way with our section.

The last photo I took tonight is of the Heartsease I planted earlier in the year which has given and continues to give me a lot of pleasure. It gives me hope that I will be able to get the backyard organised . . . eventually! 

And on that thought I'll wish you all a very happy new year and all the best for 2019. I don't think I'll get another post in before then! Fare thee well in the new year.  💕