My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

Life is a lot like a garden


My Garden ~ UNEP campaign to plant for a billion trees for the planet in 2008

“Plant trees, lots of trees “
An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore

Willen Van Cotthem writes in his Desertification blog how more than billion trees were planted in 2007 as part of the UN Environmental Programme Plant for the Planet: One Billion Trees Campaign. This year, UNEP seeks for more people and organisations everywhere to pledge to plant another billion trees.

Let’s do it.

In 2007, I fulfilled my online pledge as part of this campaign to plant trees.  I personally aim to build more carbon credit-worthiness. I’m conscious of the compelling connections between the health of the planet and the health of the people.

“The symbolism – and the substantive significance – of planting a tree has universal power in every culture and every society on Earth, and it is a way for individual men, women and children to participate in creating solutions for the environmental crisis.  Al Gore, Earth in the Balance


My Garden ~ stargazing at the summer night sky

It’s a balmy evening. No cloud cover. The sun has set and the moon hasn’t risen yet. Himself and I went for a stroll up our rural road. No torch. No traffic. No streetlights. Few house-lights pinpoint the countryside. Ridges of the hills and local mountain are silhouetted against the faint glow of distant city lights.A remarkably still night and good visibility for stargazing. 

A possum grunted. Pukeko squawked their raucous squawks.  Morepork or Ruru ‘s (New Zealand’s night owl) distinctive moooorpoooork call echoed among the trees. Last year, friend Trish and I were lucky enough one evening to see a young morepork perched silently on a branch of one of our Totara trees. We stood still and silent. Round unblinking eyes solemnly stared. I’m not really sure who was watching who that evening. It was the night bird’s space.  We were the intruders, so we quietly retreated.     

It’s a good night to gaze at our summer night skyWe have often sat in our garden to watch the evening stars using binoculars and telescope with friends. Tonight, we had no need of these tools. While I recognise the Pot, I do need to refer to a NZ astronomy website to learn the names of the stars.  A few I do know. Mars is distinctive.  The seven sisters or Pleiades (Maori call this cluster Matariki) I’ve referred to in a previous post. The four brightest stars (on the NZ flag) of Southern Cross point the way to New Zealand. As wonderful as ever, Orion Belt – the Milky Way galaxy stretches across and into the night.

Maori have ancient knowledge of stars and they have many stories to tell. “Swimming across the darkness is Te Ikaroa (the Milky Way), the great fish of Rangi, the Sky Father.”   

Adding to the magic tonight, a satellite sped across space and a meteor showered ever so briefly  as it streaked northwards. So, I did what people do at moments like these and wished upon a shooting star ….

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My Garden ~ learning how to use Flickr

Please bear with me. It’s taken me all of today to teach myself how to use Flickr. This is my test post using a snapshot of the grounds in front of the historic Government House in Rotorua which is now a museum and art gallery.

Historic Government House – now a museum, originally uploaded by Jennylitchfield.

Obviously still some refinements needed. That’s tomorrow’s effort.


My Garden ~ reflections for gardeners

How often have I walked in My Garden and not looked at what’s beneath my feet?

When I have the time to take a walk, I would often take the time to admire
the grass.   Grass doesn’t make a fuss.  It doesn’t try to be beautiful or
outstanding.  It doesn’t want to attract attention.  It is so humble that it
even allows people to walk all over it.  Yet, it possess such strength.
It glows in healthy green despite being stepped all over, and when a
typhoon strikes and all the flowers die and all the trees get uprooted,
humble grass survives.  And humble grass, in its own humble way,
provides food for animals, shelter for insects, and joy to some funny
guy walking past.  I think a virtuous man should be like grass.
Humble, unnoticed, yet possessing great strength and kindness.
–  Tan Chade Meng

More ancient wisdom:

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.
– Confucius


My Garden ~ neglected somewhat

Lately, My Garden hasn’t had the attention it deserves because my Mum has increasing palliative health care needs. She remains in her own home with support. It’s important my brothers, sister and I are there for her in the time she has left to her. We talk about her family and childhood upbringing in England, Dad and the farm, gardening, books, her seven great-grandkids (numbers eight and nine are on the way) and eleven grandchildren, high humid temperatures, community gossip, you know – the stuff of life. Mum always sang about the house and in the community, so it must be sad for her that she no longer sings in the local choir or no longer has the energy to play the piano now.  My sister and I maintain her small garden – the roses continue to make a great showing outside her lounge windows where Mum can see them.

In contrast, my own climber roses are wind-blown and are not dead-headed. Triffids is a description that comes to mind when I look at my garden. I can barely keep up with picking rhubarb, zucchini, apple cucumbers and scarlet runner beans. The coriander and other herbs are rampant and producing seedheads. The Luisa plums took a battering in the easterly winds from a tropical cyclone that recently hit Northland. I pick up the fallen fruit and ripen them in the kitchen. I don’t get into a sweat about this – such things happen.

At the moment, Himself is head down in the tractor engine doing mysterious machinations with some wiring. He’s setting up an electric motor to drive a spray pump unit. A noxious weed Wandering Jew, carried onto our place with flood debris has been rapid in its growth and invasive in its spread.  

dscf1302.jpg  dscf1307.jpg It thrives in damp shaded areas and has carpeted our  stands of native Totara trees along the stream banks. Leaves and stems grow roots on contact with the ground.  Aquatic birds that inhabit our stream – Pukekeo and Paradise ducks also spread this weed in their webbed wanderings on land. Anyway, we now have a major noxious weed problem under our trees and along our stream banks. 

 dscf1304.jpg  dscf1303.jpg It’s choking our regenerating native ferns and tree seedlings. So sadly, we’ll have to  spray using a herbicide as advised. Because we don’t like to spray we usually grub, smother or hand-pull weeds. This is a last resort decision for us. By now, you’ll have worked out that this is big stuff that we do sweat about.

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Sir Edmund Hillary

This morning, New Zealanders  are honouring a modest and great man in their own ways and celebrating the life and adventures of our Kiwi hero. It’s amazing how he inspired so many people to make a difference that transformed their lives. His  values were and are timeless. We’ve learned among many other stories, he was responsible for reforestation of rhododendrun trees that used to grow prolifically on the Himalayan foothills before the wood was used by climbers for their campfires in subsequent decades.