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Taranaki Spring


It seems we’re home for a while so my latest reading material has sent me spiralling into the garden to see what delights of Spring await me – and guess what? My daffodils are about to bloom!

For anyone who gets even a skerrick of pleasure from their garden, A Fig at the Gate, by Kate Llewellyn is a joy to read. It explores the question of how we can live well embracing life and the gifts it can bring. All revealed as we travel through the seasons with Kate developing her wonderfully eclectic garden. Such a fun read, when you visualise her wobbling erratically down the road with her bike basket overflowing with plants larger than the bike itself.

It’s been a cold, wet winter here in the Naki, the wettest on record I understand, so it’s been weeks, dare I say a month or two, since my last visit out the back.As I wander there’s not a breath of wind. Our garden is sadly often a wind trap so imagine my joy to experience a stillness this morning that seems almost magical – and my Magnolia is in bloom for the first time – I nearly missed it!

My Palmers Garden Centre monthly calendar popped up in my emails recently so I’ve taken time to glean from its wisdom.Evidently its time to prepare potatoes for planting, so I now have them sitting in the sunshine sprouting away. You can almost see them drinking in the sunshine! Strawberries too need planting out, they say 5 plants per person should keep us in supply. I’ve fed & tendered last year’s,in the pot Andrew gave me for Christmas one year,  so hopefully they’ll feel the love and shoot away again.Without our  treasured “puppy”  here to eat them (she died on Christmas Day) we might have a chance of tasting more this year. I really had no idea dogs even ate strawberries, let alone obsessed over them – when we realised, we had to apologise to the neighbourhood birds who we’d been blaming for years. Maybe I’ll plant a strawberry bed over her grave.

It’s fair to say gardening is not Gordon’s happy place to play so I am always delighted when he joins me in my projects. Having planted out my first veg of the season he came and erected a White Butterfly deterrent over them. I detest caterpillers in my greens as much as he detests gardening!
I’m spurred on by Kate’s writing,  to start sowing  vege seeds in readiness for later plantings. Not just for the thrill of eating a vegetable that I’ve nursed from nothing, but also because buying a punnet of plants these days is just so expensive – I’m keeping my retirement budget in mind! I love the idea of our tiny city centre patch feeding us- presently we have trees overflowing with lemons and mandarins; spinach going to seed, parsley coming on and not much else. If I want to create a lovely little l’orto  I have some work to do. I’m also a big fan of upcycling so have reused a perfectly good cupcake tray to sow my seeds in. Mostly because Gordon would need 3 or 4 this size with his coffee – that’s far too much work. I’ve bought much larger muffin trays to meet his appetite and put these to better use.


Like Kate I love Italian kitchen gardens. They just make you feel wonderful, overflowing with produce waiting to be picked and used in the kitchen. Amongst my busyness I’m hoping to keep an overflowing garden going this summer. So today involves more seed raising. Our little unit is going to look like a nursery with seed trays basking in every ounce of sun I can find.
Being Spring it’s also cleaning time. My mum brought us up to totally strip the house down each spring and clean from top to bottom. We tackle this one room each weekend. Last week the lounge won the lottery and today we are tackling the spare room. While I can’t say I enjoy spring cleaning , it’s a great feeling to get rid of junk that’s mounted up and  incentive to keep “cleaning out the underwear drawer”. You find the most amazing things hiding where you forgot you put them. Today Gordon won the lottery. We found 2 large chocolate trays of specialty chocolates that we forgot about last Christmas. Being nearly September, I hesitantly suggested we could keep them for this year – well that went down like a lead balloon. They are now cosily esconced in his wardrobe where they will be lucky to see the week out!

My reward at the end of today is to attend the Taranaki Christkindl Christmas Market at the Stony River Boutique Hotel. Heimo  Staudinger is a delightful Austrian chef , so I’m looking forward to a warming mulled wine and a smorgasbord of his traditional Christmas market food.















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