Today, we took delivery of bare-rooted heirloom apple trees. The nursery owner uses grafting wood sourced from organically grown or wild trees from old orchards. We asked for the trees to be grafted onto Northern Spy rootstock because it grows well on our clay soils. The aim is to enjoy different apples across the seasons and also to play our part in preserving the older varieties.
According to the info sheet, Vaile Early is reliable and fruits in January. I grew Egremont Russett in a previous garden. I love this apple – its golden brown skin and distinctive flavour. Always had good crops, so I have high hopes for my new tree. Priscilla is new to me but it comes recommended as a good mid-saeason variety, as being disease resistant and a good keeper. Two late season varieties new to me are Liberty – an American variety I understand to have been produced by Cornell University orchards about 1978 – which is described as disease resistant in our region and which stores well. Merlin’s Golden Late is described as a local seedling cross between Granny Smith and Golden Delicious.
Some stars to strive for and to cheer about as we contemplate our soggy land. Matariki marks the start of the Maori New Year. It is so named after the group of stars the seven sisters known as Pleiades. The re-appearance of Matariki in our southern skies is celebrated because it reminds us of beginnings, the promise of the new growing season. My magnolia (‘Star Wars’) is budding – albeit wind battered- but it’ll recover and be a show-off tree soon as the days lengthen.
Writing about my garden has taken a backseat in the last few months because of work and family responsibilities. This week our region experienced serious damage caused by very strong winds and flooding. This was the second major storm in about three months. We recorded more than 300mm rainfall at our place during the 48 hour period of the storm. Living had a decidedly chilly blast to it. An irony was that we could not use our firewood because we’re waiting for the installation of a new woodburner unit. All we could do was get the emergency gas bottle and cooker-ring out, cook a warm meal and go to bed. It’s mid-winter here and gets dark about 6 p.m.
I’ve always kept emergency supplies, torches/batteries and bottled water (we have rainwater tanks but need the electric pump to get the water to the house). This is the first time we’ve used these things and I’m so glad we thought it could happen to us. I will add a battery powered radio. We had no power or landline phone for nearly three days so did not know what was happening. We kept our cellphones for essential use – anyway, the help lines were jammed and we couldn’t get through.
Our neighbours were blocked in by fallen trees. We and our neighbours have not experienced such howling screaming winds. Our house shook during the night and we did wonder whether our roof would take off. On the first day, we watched as the wind whipped up white-crested waves on the floodwaters in our paddocks. The power was restored yesterday and we have since found out the scale of damage. So much tree damage everywhere – trees uprooted, across roads, onto houses, onto powerlines and so on. Floodwaters swamped farms and homes – a repeat scenario of the March floods that I posted earlier. Local neighbourhood damage is light compared to the sufferings of others living further north. More rain is forecast – but we’re drying out in the meantime. And we’ve all got the chainsaws working.
Yesterday, we pulled on our gumboots and coats and inspected the place. The pictures give some indication of what we found.
Cheerful survivors in my garden include purple sprouting broccoli, mandarins, Earlicheer daffodils, Hebe ‘Wiri Dawn’.