My Favourite Window

May 29, 2013

Time for Autumn

It is the time of chrysanthemums in this North Canterbury Secret Garden. A single plant romps with gay abandon through the rose bushes along the verandah. No need for staking when there are handy rose bushes nearby.

Time for medlars too - if they take your fancy... Friend Jo found a crop in an old garden and we've Googled them, admired their rosehip forms, and yes, tasted them. There's no need for any laying out on sawdust. They just 'blet' quietly and within a few days, in a bowl on the kitchen bench - the skin changes from firm, to wrinkled and soft. If you can push yourself past the feeling that they are rotten fruit - I decided that they looked like spicy buns instead - medlars have a light apple flavour, with the gritty texture of cooked quince. But eating around the large seeds is fiddly and not very rewarding. I can understand why they are used in preserves instead of as a fresh-ish fruit. I'd still like to have a few trees here in the Secret Garden for their lovely flowers and foliage, so yes, I have saved some seed.

There has been time for celebrating Mothers

with Kitty's treat of a sun-filled breakfast tray to begin Mothers' Day,

and afternoon tea with my own mother.

It was time for someone to move house! 
This one - possibly a refugee from the Earthquake Red Zone - was parked in the village for nearly a fortnight. 

There was a time to wash and dry a new stash 
of pretty linen for my shop. 

It is time to look to the Future.
I found this silver ball at the same dump shop as the linen. 
The silver ball is for me, not my shop.

When I was a child in the 60s, one of these set on a pedestal, was a genteel garden ornament. I was enchanted by them.
They belonged with rose bushes in a row along each side of the path. 
They belonged with a white ceramic swan displayed on the front window sill.
Time passed and they became very uncool in my generation's eyes. 
That neat front garden ethic: it's almost gone now - replaced all along those suburban streets with 1.8 metre plank fences - for privacy of course.
But the ball, the ball... I have wanted one (or more) to float in the occasionally flowing ephemeral stream ever since Elwin and I placed our house to overlook it. 
How strange to have come across this one, streaked with paint and jammed into a cardboard box at the dump shop, at a time when I am constantly questioning where I belong and whether I should stay here. 
You're not finished here; remember to come back,
the ball is telling me as I fly off into Arabian Nights and Summer days.

Medlar  Mespilus germanica

May 26, 2013


Libby over at D-scribes has been writing about the robins nesting in her hedge. Over and over again, I am grateful, not to mention over-awed, by the wild-life that appears in my garden and around my house. Watching regulars and noticing new visitors, often feels like the greatest privilege in Life for me.

This stick insect appeared in our back porch a few days ago, probably forsaking the raspberry canes around the entrance as they loose their leaves. It's body is about three inches long and it is a native species. I have never seen them on trees or shrubs, so can't be sure if they are truly native to this area, or the offspring of some babies I released about ten years ago. They apparently like the rosaceous plants even though the rose family is not endemic to New Zealand. The trap, it seems, in having taken to an introduced plant species, is dealing with the deciduous nature of roses, raspberries, brambles et al. Come leaf-fall, they have to leave home and look for winter shelter elsewhere.

I had another go at photographing the bellbird. His shape makes a nice silhouette and his wing flashes are just visible in this photo. The bellbird seems like the fantail and tui, to have adapted well to modern gardens. They enjoy feeding on the flowers of the introduced eucalyptus, garden clematis, and ripe orchard fruits. And as I mentioned in my previous post, non-spider-proofed weather boards harbour a rich winter food source.  

These cats: they are not the best of friends, so this was a rare recent shot of acceptance if not companionship. They are both hunters. They hunt in this garden mercilessly. Aelfy, the black cat, is a mouser, which is a blessing. But he also catches skinks, ground-feeding birds and fledglings. Catkin, the tabby, who spent his first year fending for himself in the wild, is a big game hunter, though he seems less inclined to bring down hares, rabbits and poultry now that he has been neutered.  Somehow the bird population, continues to thrive in this garden of mainly introduced species. What I see is that the birds' strength is the scruffy places, the untrimmed, untamed, overgrown spinneys. Introduced gorse and hawthorn provided dense prickly havens, unappealing to cats, while the native pohuehue vine - which I curse endlessly - provides an impenetrable cat puzzle and good nesting sites. Untidy weedy overgrowth and old seed stems - that the good gardener learns to trim away - are full of insect life: good for the birds and bio-diversity in general. The lizards get half a chance in a weed bank too. 

With recent controversy over the place of cats in New Zealand, we could maybe give equal thought to how our human inclinations - affect the birds.

Gorse Ulex europeaus
Hawthorn Crataegus spp
Pohuehue, muehlenbeckia Muehelenbeckia australis