My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

"I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills," William Wordsworth


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My Garden ~ putting my places on the map

Today, my map is back!!!! How did this happen? Resilience is one of my personal traits – ‘I can do it!’ is my mantra (well, that’s what I’m telling you).   In a New Year post, I recounted Mike Sneddon’s blog – 7 Tips to Building Your Blog’s Readership http://www.worldwidefreelance.com/writing.htm  At the time, his words made sense, so I idly thought it a simple matter to add a Platial map to highlight my New Zealand references. Progress was slow and painful as I didn’t have a clue how to go about things.  What did I learn? Not sure. Six months later in June, and I’ve never worked out why or what I did, but my flash new Platial NZ map widget had disappeared from my blog. I lamented the joys of learning how to manage a  blog. 

Today, I went back to Platial and did some searching homework. Well, long story short, I’m setting up a new blog. I need to include a map. In 2009, Himself and I will leave NZ to work and to travel (more about that at a later time). My Garden blog will go on the back-burner for a couple of years though I probably won’t be able to resist dropping in from time to time – likely from a ‘homesickness’ for my plants and trees – and the pukeko, the cat, the animal life. Anyway, that’s in the tomorrow and tomorrow’s time.

However, first things first, my newly re-discovered world of mapping in blogland is grabbing my attention.   


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My Garden ~ the bees aren’t buzzing like they did last year

The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others. St. John Chrysostom

Bees seem to have vanished from my garden. I’m not getting much of a buzz. My orchard is a feast for the senses. The plum, apple and quince trees are smothered with sweet nectar-filled white blossoms. The calendula, broad beans, borage and lavender and other companion plantings under my fruit trees are gaudy in their their orange, yellow, purple and blue scented array. Spring has well and truly arrived here. In my blog (September 2007), I couldn’t ignore the buzzing in my garden. But now, one year later, I see and hear only a handful of bees working among the blossoms. Where is the rest of the horde? It has been the wettest of winters. And I know the varroa mite has wreaked havoc on the nation’s hives. The silence in my garden scares me.

 

Transfixed as we are by the seriousness of  economic woes and global credit crunch fallout, there’s a serious ecological problem that has just as far-reaching and potentially devastating consequences for people everywhere. We must pay attenion to the chain of events happening in our food producing habitats. Prescient words echo down the decades in a quote (15 April 1964) from Rachel Carson’s obituary published in The New York Times.

 

“Now, I truly believe, that we in this generation, must come to terms with nature, and I think we’re challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.” 

www.rachelcarson.org/RachelCarson.ASPX

 

Earlier this year when Mum was dying of cancer, my brothers, sister and I recalled how when we were kids, DDT was mixed into the fertilizer that was spread by agricultural top-dressing trucks and planes in white billowing dust clouds over the local farms. I can still ‘smell’ the DDT as I write this. There was the economic imperative to develop farms in those days. I’m not exactly sure what made Dad change his farming practice, but he did so by the 1960s. Others in Mum’s age group in the district have succumbed to the same cancer. We haven’t been able to get conclusive answers that may link the cancer to DDT. There seems to be a wall of silence. I have digressed somewhat from the vanished bees. One consequence of the application of this insecticide is that DDT remains in the soil. It may be residual DDT is part of the explanation for the silence of the bees.

 

The health of honey bees is critical to the well-being of humans. In my blog (September 2007), I mentioned how Mum was buoyed by a book The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter. So I was interested during my web search to read Joe Brewer, (25 August, 2007), Rockridge Institute, Berkeley, CA. Bee Keeper’s Wisdom for Human Flourishing.  www.celsias.com/article/bee-keepers-wisdom-for-human-flourishing.

 

Back to bringing a buzz back into my garden. I’m not alone in my concerns about vanishing bees. An article (October 8, 2008) gives pointers and describes Californian farmers work in re-developing native bee habitats.

 

“With honeybee populations weakened by disease and the mysterious malady known as Colony Collapse Disorder, farmers place new focus on work to benefit native pollinators. Decisions by farmers and ranchers to replace bare ground along irrigation ditches and roadways with native plants, trees and grasses, in order to encourage beneficial insects and eliminate weeds, have evolved into a movement to bring native bees back to the farming landscape.”

www.cfbf.com/agalert/AgAlertStory.cfm?ID=1147&ck=A1D50185E7426CBB0ACAD1E6CA74B9AA

 

I trawled the net for advice and insights to the nature of my gardening problem with the thought there must be something further I can do in my backyard. There’s any number of websites and blogs about colony collapse disorder and bees.

 

NZ newspaper item (6 October 2008) Fears that bee colony disease is here.

www.times-age.co.nz/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3786935&thesection=localnews

 

National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand (25 September 2008) posted a Radio NZ report on the declining bee numbers. www.nba.org.nz

 

Linda Moulton Howe (31 August 2008) wrote about the poor health of honey bees. www.earthfiles.com/news.php?ID=1466&category=Environment

 


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My Garden ~ Birds’ Nests, Lazy Cats and Granddaughter’s First Post

When she was a toddler, Granddaughter and I made up scrapbooks about anything and everything when she and her twin brother stayed with us. We’d do drawings, paste in leaves and flowers, and pictures and the like. I’d scribe the dictated little stories about what we’d been doing that day. These battered books are now tomorrow’s treasures. It’s the school holidays and today, blogging is the new scrapbook.  We had fun choosing a new photo of our countryside for the header. This is her first post. 

Nana and I thought how clever birds are when they make their nests. The thrush used the grasses to make a warm nest. Her nest looked like part of the clump of the same grass on the driveway bank. Pukeko is nesting in the long grass near the electric fence in front of the house. We took some photos and I wrote about them.

 

Sometimes the cats come for a walk with us. We didn’t want to stay near the birds’ nests for too long, otherwise the cats might sniff out an easy meal.


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My Garden ~ Talofa! We were captivated by fa’a Samoa

Last week was our special time together. We chose to quietly celebrate 40 years of married life in the islands of Samoa. Last week we found Paradise.  No cellphone, no book, no television or radio. No grandkids. Just us. Island time. Siesta time. Conversations as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Himself and I became willing captives in this beyond-our-Kiwi-lifestyle, traditional way of life of the friendly Samoan people.

Like Rupert Brooke the poet who visited Samoa, we were enchanted as we lay “on a mat” and looked “out on the white sand under the high palms and gentle sea, and the black line of a reef a mile out…”. We too met “the loveliest people in the world, moving and dancing like Gods and godesses. It is sheer beauty, so pure it is difficult to breathe in it.” Of course we took in the sights and familiarised ourselves with Samoan culture and history. We listened to the stories about legendary hotelier Aggie Grey and Robert Louis Stevenson who was known as Tusitala the soryteller.  Film-makers have been inspired by the spectacular lagoons with their palm-fringed beaches. I must read James Michener again and see the movie Return to Paradise filmed at Matatau on Upolu Island. I didn’t need a book.The stories were there before me.

We trawled the local food and craft markets. Naturally, I was interested in what village people grew in their gardens and plantations. In our travels, I marvelled at how hard people in the villages work to live on meagre means. They fish in the lagoons and beyond the reef. They cultivate taro, breadfruit, papaya, plantains and other vegetables and fruits as food staples year-round for their large aiga (families). Their pride is reflected in their immaculately kept villages. There’s more in these islands: volcanic lava fields; the rainforests; fresh water streams and waterfalls; nature’s riot of colour repeated on the houses, churches and fale. A pod of whales cavorted on cue in the sea during one ferry trip. The turtles in Savaii were captivating.

Back at the resort into the night, there was Samoan dancing and singing and fresh game fish on the menu. It was all so leisurely. After a day in the tropical heat, a tall glass of gin, tonic and fresh lime poured over ice seemed just right.  I wondered vaguely (ever so momentarily)  how I would ever manage to go back to work and do all the physical gardening activities at home. Getting to know another country is exciting. Our time in Samoa was too short. We didn’t see it all but we will go back. This was our special time.

I even had to remind myself to take any photos at all such was the entranced state we found ourselves in.