Archives for category: gardening

A few months back I enrolled on a distance learning horticultural course with the Southern Institute of Technology as I am VERY keen horticulturalist and wanted to back up my gardening experience with some theory.  The course is brilliant, I have learned a lot and am over half way through. My current module is on weeds, so I have to take photos of weeds and identify them. To make sure I don’t cheat I have to give an identifier of something that  links the photo with me. I chose The Spaniel as I thought she would be a unique identifier!

I took these photos on a 14 K trail run alongside Lake Hawea on Sunday morning and posted them on Facebook for friends to identify. They didn’t do very well), Can you do any better?

Weed or Spaniel? Sorry, I mean Weed or native plant? You decide..

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…it sat there stuck to the leaf, and I thought for a fleeting moment someone had been very clever and stuck a garden ornament to a plant. I carried on with the weeding I was doing and then took a second look and realised it was a real, live frog! It was coloured such a bright green it simply didn’t look real. I grabbed my ipad and went up close, literally a couple of inches to take photos and it didn’t move. Clearly a brave little fella.

So I looked it up. It’s the Green and Golden Bell Frog, Litoria aurea. Apparently it was introduced from Australia by the Auckland Acclimisation Society in the 1860s.

They are quite unusual in the froggy world in that they like to bask in the sun and are active during the day, which makes sense as it was a bakingly hot day yesterday when I took this photo.

I am still getting myself familiar with the wildlife here. It is very different as you would expect given New Zealand is an island in the ocean.

I will keep you posted on what else I see…

In the UK, I was a passionate gardener. Here, hey guess what – I am still am! We have been in our apartment now for 6 months, and it seems like we are meant to be here, on so many levels. But today, it’s the gardening I want to talk about…

Our landlord is a busy chap, and I think he realised I was an avid gardener through the conversations we have been having, like…(me), “I love growing veg…”, or (me), “Check out my sweet peas…”. Then out of the blue one day he suggested we did some gardening for him, in exchange we wouldn’t have to pay for our electricity bill. Without hesitation, we of course, said yes. When someone offers to effectively pay you to do something you love, how could you refuse?

So, we have a garden of mainly native plants to look after, tree ferns, silver ferns, even a Kauri tree (check out the big tree in the pic below).

My passion is vegetable gardening, and we have started growing veg on our decking: strawberries, swiss chard, rocket, coriander, parsley, courgettes, cucumber, tomatoes, peas, sweet peas, thyme, basil, lettuce, mint, and I am sure there are more that I have forgotten. I’m used to working on a large allotment, but it is surprising what you can grow in a compact place, when you put your mind to it, with a little bit of organisation (this is where Mrs. E comes in).

A few observations so far:

1. Things grow VERY quickly – I guess it’s the rain and sunshine combination. I’m interested to see how things are in the summertime here when the UV levels will be very high, and whether we will need to use shade clothes

2. Strawberries ripe VERY quickly, from white to ripe in 2/3 days (see below)

3. Tomatoes, chillies, and cucumbers thrive outside (no glasshouse required)

My thirst for gardening is being quenched by a free horticultural course, which I am starting in February, and I have located a local dahlia group, which I am hoping to join. Sure, the dream is to have a field full of sweet peas growing one day, but for now, this is all good.

I’m a happy, contented gardener…

One of The Hoomans