Getting Back to the Garden

Tractor tyre.JPG

This tractor tyre makes a handy garden space for growing these bok choy plants. At one stage the tyre was used as a sandpit for the little pre-schoolers I was looking after, back when I was employed as a home-based carer.


The silver beet plants are thriving in this year’s early Spring conditions. And best thing of all, no bugs or white butterfly to eat the leaves – too cold for them at the moment.

Backyard to Apple tree corner.JPG

At the back, a humble vege. patch houses some garlic plants and a couple of bean plants that sprouted from last year’s seeds. The plot has a lot room for development, but  plans are afoot and it may very well reach its potential over the next couple of years. First thing it needs is some higher walls and a load of top soil.

Over the weekend I did a huge amount of cutting away and clearing on the bank behind the vege. plots, giving the agapanthus and the echium room to do their thing over summer. A gawky plum tree (wilding) down in the right-hand corner is currently frothing with blossom. The apple tree nearer the back, blossoms later. I believe that the calm pink and white (with a streak of green) apple blossom, is my favourite of all the blossoms.

Glass house & steps down.JPG

Plans are also afoot to turn the slope below the glasshouse into more vege. garden. This morning I pruned the grapevine in the glasshouse. I never know when to prune – before the leaves or after the leaves. (This year I made the call to prune before the appearance of the leaves).

Glasshouse & steps going up.JPGIt’s an on-going task to keep the grass and weeds down and the backyard looking halfway tidy. At this stage of our lives, Robert and I are looking to keep it as low maintenance as we can. It will take a good 5 – 7 years to achieve this, we reckon. Hopefully the state of our joints will be in tune with these plans.

To the left of the steps and below the glasshouse, is where we are planning to expand the vege. garden.

Kettle 1.JPG

In the early years of marriage and kids, we always had a vegetable garden. Then I tended to concentrate more on flowers than veges. because they are less labour intensive and I wanted to put most of my time into writing. And Robert? Well, he took up golf!

However over the last seven years there has been a definite switch by me to less flowers, and a leaning towards veges. again. (And less writing).

Kettle number two

Having our sons and their families come and live with us, has certainly influenced this swing back to having a vegetable garden again.

‘We are stardust, we are golden

We are billion year old carbon

And we’ve got to get back to the garden … ‘

Joni called it nearly fifty years ago …

Kettles 3.JPG

Orange kettle.JPG

While in the garden, our resident Mr Blackbird has been keeping me company. Sadly I wasn’t quick enough to get the camera. He was after the bugs and didn’t seem fazed by my presence at all. I expect the blackbird family that likes our place to bring up their chicks, will be back with us again this Spring. I think Mr. Blackbird may well have been letting me know that they were back.


Sometimes we see one of these little fellows. Once I disturbed a hedgehog that had been hibernating under a pile of leaves. This plastic one is from my late mother’s garden and a reminder for me of her and of her colourful flower garden in Palmerston North. I always think of her when I’m gardening and can sense her presence with me – a voice on my shoulder.

“You don’t want to let that daisy take over”

“That’s nothing but a weed, it needs to go”.

“Look at that. The lilies I gave you are coming up”.

She said that any gardening streak to be found in any of of her kids would be from her father’s side – the Lee side – or from her mother’s father’s side (the Butlers) but definitely not from my father’s side.
“McKenzies weren’t gardeners”, she told me. Farmers, yes, but gardeners, no.

stones 4.JPG

However, my habit of picking up stones (and shells) is definitely from my father’s side.


I’ve been appreciating the daffodils. Not all the flowers have disappeared from our garden.

Yellow tree.JPG

And our many trees continue to grow. That is one thing we do not need to plant. We love our trees and the birds that they attract …


… but there are still some we need to cut down. They number about four and their days are numbered.


After all that gardening and garden talk, I think I need a cup of tea.


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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