Posted by: scribe9 | November 17, 2009

Zealous gardeners

As far as I can tell, many New Zealanders are zealous gardeners. The neighborhood garden center, Sciadopitys, is named for the genus in which the Japanese Umbrella Tree (a conifer) is the only species. With a name like that, you know the owners are serious–but the garden center is friendly and has style, too.

The previous tenants were kind enough to leave onions, leeks, broccoli, and rainbow chard in half the garden, so yesterday I cleared the other half of weeds–some of which were familiar nemeses from Portland. I did my weeding to the beat of techno. I didn’t know, until Emily told me, that that’s the music the neighbors were sharing with us. It’s not what I’d choose to listen to, but it’s better than rap or power equipment.

Even though many of the lawns here are small and flat, most people use gas mowers. We managed to find a decent push mower. Even though our lawn’s about the same size here as in Oregon, it takes longer to mow, because it’s dotted with citrus and palm trees. I guess we shouldn’t complain.

One nasty surprise is that there are biting bugs. I had slathered on repellant, but later found bites under my shorts and shirt. It’s incongruous that I must coat myself with poison in order to garden organically, but I want to grow my own because it’s hard to find organic produce, even at the grower’s market, where most is just spray-free.

Among the flowers are lots of tropicals–we have Birds of Paradise in the back yard–but also lots of the usual. New Zealand is, like the Pacific Northwest, an Anglohortiphilic culture, with roses, hydrangeas, impatiens, and English daisies everywhere, and feral nasturtiums cascading down the banks of virtually every stream bed in town.



  1. Pictures please. Your descriptions are wonderful – i can practically “see” what you are describing but would love to see pictures! We are having an early leaf drop this year — the pin oak is very nearly finished with its business. There are some years when it doesn’t finish dropping leaves until February. With a 2 week Christmas-New Year shutdown, i intend to get every last leaf out of the yard. No yardening help for me this year, so am getting my abs and upper back in shape with the raking, bending, scooping… Tyler is keeping the street swept of leaves (and thus, out of the storm drain…)

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