My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

Life is a lot like a garden


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Trees for Every Living Creature

Creature

Trees worldwide deserve our utmost care and attention. Planting a tree, be it in our garden or in a forest, is an action that breathes life the environment. Destroying a tree is an action that disrupts the cycle of life. We are part of a dimension of life that is greater than ourselves. 

Ancient trees are our links to life lived before our time. A tree revered by Maori and of national importance  in New Zealand is Tane Mahuta Lord of the Forest, a 2000-year old Kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest. It was a seedling tree well before people arrived in this country. It is a parent tree that has seeded a forest, creating living habitats for countless lifeforms. It is a taonga, so precious that it, and other Kauri trees, now requires protection from human interaction. Imagine if the father of this forest could speak. What might it tell of New Zealand’s extinct flightless birds that once roamed the forest? What secrets lie beneath centuries of tree litter?

Kauri Tree in Waipoua Forest

Trees give protection from the wind and sun. They soak up carbon from polluted air. They provide food and fuel. Their visual amenity softens harsh urban development.

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Magnolia ‘Star Wars’ is about to flower in February! Tree is a visual delight in my garden when in full bloom.

Boundary Shelter Belt Tree

Boundary shelter belt tree Cypress Leylandii being felled because it was overgrown and dying off.

On my lifestyle block, we have had to cull storm felled or old, diseased, overgrown shelter belt trees that crowded our driveway and boundaries. Branches can be hazardous when left as they rot and break off. When we fell such trees, we mulch their branches and make compost for my garden. 

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Tree mulch in the compost bin. Another truckload of mulch was added after this photo was taken. Pure garden gold.

My replanting focus has been to choose low growing trees as food sources for beneficial insects and birds. For my garden, I selected fruit trees grafted onto dwarf root stocks which makes them easier to manage. I am protective of the many native Totara trees on our land, several of which are about 80 to 100 years,. They protect the water in our stream.

Vibrant trees provide safe habitats for every living creature.

 

 

 


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Broken Branch a Shock to the Tree

Shock

Whenever a tree breaks or falls, I feel a sense of pain. I think about the loss of the ecological habitats and homes to generations of birds and insects. Trees are part of nature’s cycle of life. Cattle rest in the cool shade. The animals stretch their necks to munch the edible foliage and nutritious autumn seed pods.  The tree roots stabilise the soil. Leaves colour with the seasons before falling to be raked into my garden mulch and compost. Ornamental, mature ‘Sunburst’ Gleditsia Triacanthos – Golden Honey Locust and ‘Sweet Gum’ Liquidambar Styraciflua trees, planted before our time here, line the eastern side of our long driveway. 

This week, a humid weather front with north-easterly winds gusting strongly at times, caused a big Liquidambar branch to snap but not sever its attachment to the tree trunk. There it rests, beyond our reach, in a precarious position, weighing heavily across the lacy foliage of a Gleditsia branch now hanging low over our entrance. Our driveway gate is shut for now and a sign, ‘Beware Broken Branch’, hangs on the gatepost.

When a tree is damaged, Himself nips into his workshop to check and fuel his chainsaw in readiness to deliver the cruel and final cut. There is firewood to saw and stack ahead of winter. There is pruning to be done to remove potential hazards. There are some jobs he can do and there are jobs beyond the scope of his chainsaw. The wisdom is to know the difference. Safety is paramount.

Shelterbelt trees

Some of the felled Leyland Cypress shelter belt trees. Lots of firewood.

Leyland Cypress trees once lined the other side of our driveway. Planted close together as a shelter belt before our time here, they were never pruned. They grow fast to a height of thirty metres and become wide-branching. Bark had grown over the fence wires and signs of dieback and wood rot meant the trees were at risk of being felled by high winds. We had professionals do the dangerous work of felling this row of 120 trees. For days, chainsaws, screeched and snarled in loud protest above the low base undertones of the heavy rumblings of the industrial grinding and mulching machine.

Thirteen years later, the tree stumps are rotting into the ground. We had firewood forever it seemed.  Truckloads of  shredded foliage and small branches were dumped to form a large mound of organic matter near my garden area. The resulting compost has since been added to my raised vegetable beds. 

Every tree matters to the world. Their limbs reach to the sun and bring goodness back to the earth for our health. Trees are a litmus test of the state of the health of the earth. I am protective of my trees. I know the trees will have to be pruned. An arborist is coming to inspect the tree damage and other work to be done. I will put my trust in the arborist to prune the overhanging branches with skill and care.

Lorax

I want healthy trees. I want the trees to heal well after their limbs are amputated. I do not want the trees to succumb to post-surgical shock.   

 

I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.  

Dr. Suess. The Lorax.


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Easter Monday evening and “The day is done,”

My mother had a good memory and flair for reciting poetry and as a child it was common to hear excerpts inspired by a moment as she went about her household tasks. How could I not hear Mum’s voice as I shut the hens in their coop tonight and enjoyed the cloud formation lit by the rays of Easter Monday’s setting sun.

When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,

excerpt from: Song – The Owl by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The cattle, sated after a long day of grazing grass, languidly bovine and disinclined to poetic gestures, were settling for the night under the Totara trees by the stream.

The day is done, and the darkness
 Falls from the wings of Night,
excerpt from: The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

No Tennyson’s white owl lives in my world. Gertrude clucked her defiance at my attempts to corral her with the other hens in the hen house. Always there is one last worm or one last slater to find. Tastier still would be my Kale seedlings that now must be grown under bird netting in the new raised garden beds.

So I sit in my garden. And I wait for the white hen to go about her routine. After a busy weekend, it is a quiet reflective moment, a chance to enjoy nature’s celebration of Easter Monday evening.

Five visitors stayed overnight so we have had a full house. There were six kids and five adults in all with one extra person who came to dinner on Saturday. The garden hosted the kids’ Easter egg hunt. Kitted out with torches, the sugar-rushed children ventured into the moonlight to explore the night world in their treehut, in the paddocks, under the trees and along the stream.

Eels transformed into alligators, pukeko assumed vulture-like proportions, deep shadows morphed into monsters and grunting possums grrrrd. Oh! How I just love The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree written by Dr Seuss.

 

 


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The trees yawn and stretch their limbs to the sun

Early this morning I went for a walk. The cat stopped following me once I left the sanctuary of the garden and sat  down to sun himself by the gate until my return. The chickens gave up following me in disgust because I had no food bucket. A rabbit crouching in the long grass and I startled each other.  A white tail bobbed off at speed under the trees. A bird, hidden high in the branches, made its presence heard. Further along the path, a loud squawk was accompanied by a flapping of wings as a beautifully coloured cock pheasant took flight (or fright) from under the ferns.

No animal life stirred in the stream as the sun gave life to the day and as its fingers of light reached through the trees. Eels have retreated deep into their watery stream bed to dream of their long swim through the rivers to the coast and of their arduous journey to the spawning grounds in the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean. The trees yawn and stretch their limbs and preen themselves in nature’s mirror, readying for another day.

My humble stream moment makes me think of poems by two esteemed and eloquent New Zealand poets

“The sea, to the mountains, to the river” by Hone Tuwhare

“The river in you” by Brian Turner


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Garden gate is open ~ come for a stroll

Garden Gate

Garden gate and fencepost

Come for a stroll with me. I won’t be long. I need to check a few things. It’s quite dry underfoot and there’s a cool breeze blowing.

Mind, be careful, don’t touch the electric fence wire and gate tapes are switched on. We won’t go into that paddock. The animals are friendly but they can get frisky when people are about as they expect to be hand fed goodies. They don’t realise they’re not pet calves anymore.

Gosh, the grass has grown fast even though the cattle ate the paddock out a week ago. The growing conditions are good. The paddock gets topped with the tractor and mower after the cattle are shifted.

Mmm! Just noticed that the cattle troughs  need cleaning out. Leaf litter and twigs fell into the water when we had that last lot of windy weather. I’ll have to do that soon. The liquid amber is showing its colours. Leaf  fall later during autumn means work.

Woops!  Didn’t mean for us to disturb the mother Pukeko on her nest. The native swamp hens hide their nests well in the grass so we don’t always see them.

Stream reflectionMy favourite place anytime along the stream. We see eels and freshwater mussels in the stream.

It’s always tranquil and cool under the totara trees. I’m proud of the way native ferns are regenerating along the stream bank. It’s taken lots of hard work over the years to clear inorganic rubbish and pest plants from this area.

Stream protection in New Zealand means “if you have water supplied by a stream, you have an obligation to safeguard the quality of the water leaving your property – for downstream users and for other stream life.” 

There’s a couple dead rats over there. An unpleasant fact of life. I can’t bring myself to photograph these creatures. These pests seem to live well off creatures in the stream. We need to reset the poison bait traps. It’s an ongoing battle against these pests that also want the yummy food we put out for the chooks. We have predator proof netting on the chook house.

The dwarf heritage Captain Kidd and Golden Delicious apple trees look healthy and happy in the sun. I’m hoping the branches don’t break under the load of the fruit. The pears and quinces are looking good.

Himself made this footbridge across the drain as a shortcut to and from the back paddock. Trouble is that the grapevine is claiming the garden gate. I keep meaning to prune the vine back. Meanwhile, it’s hard to shut the gate after us.

 

 

 

 


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‘I speak for the trees’ ~ quote challenge

I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.  Dr. Suess. The Lorax.

We happen to share our place with many Totara trees, some about 80 to 100 years old and still growing. We are mindful of our custodial responsibility. Trees have deep meaning reflected in Maori forest mythology a site where Maori have many whakatauki or sayings that use trees as metaphors.

Trees are poems that Earth writes upon the sky. We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness, wrote  Kahlil Gibran.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy at the end of his address to delegates at the Anniversary Convocation of the National Academy of Sciences, told what the French Marshal Lyautey said to his gardener:

“Plant a tree tomorrow.” And the gardener said, “It won’t bear fruit for a hundred years.” “In that case,” Lyautey said to the gardener, “plant it this afternoon.

 

I could not decide on one quote hence I include three in my second challenge post. Thank you Carol  for nominating me for a three-day quote challenge. Please check out Carol’s Food For Thought post at https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com

In the fun spirit of voluntary participation of the challenge, nominees may choose to

  • Post for three consecutive days
  • Posts can be one or three quotes per day
  • Nominate three different blogs per day

 Please check out my nominees’ wonderful blogs:

Keith Garret Poetry

Ockham’s Razor

The Lemonade Chronicles

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