Thursday, June 01, 2006

Captains and cabbage trees

The cabbage tree outside my front doorMy internet connection went down last night (shriek!) and I had a bit of extra time on my hands... so I thought I'd make myself a new banner for the blog. It's part of this picture of the NZ native cabbage tree (Cordyline australis) that grows right outside my front door.

Sometimes I take my cigarette and stand on the top step of my verandah, looking out over my garden, past the cabbage trees and on up the valley. I feel like the captain of a great ship, watching from the bridge as we sail across the green sea of native bush. At night, when the road is quiet, and I'm leaning against the doorframe gazing across the valley, the sense of being the master of my own sailboat is even stronger. It feels as though the streetlights curving up the hill are like some landlocked version of the wake of another vessel, trailing its phosphorescence for me to follow.

Foxglove growing wild in my veggie gardenI love my garden - it's a bit wild, and a bit overgrown in places, and sometimes I feel I just can't keep up with the sheer volume of growing it seems to do - but I like it that way. It's a home for hedgehogs which snorfle around at night eating snails on the terrace, and beautiful stripey wetas that appear out of the hedgerow when you're least expecting them.

There's a wonderful range of native birds who visit from the nearby nature reserve - including tuis, fantails, silvereyes and willow warblers - and the dawn chorus is quite extraordinary. It sounds as though the entire valley is filled with a million different birds, all bouncing around on their branches or in their bushes, each one determined to make the biggest noise possible to welcome in the new day.

My back garden - and a glimpse of the garden shedMy shed in the back garden is the best shed that ever shedded. It is ancient, falling down, rotting away - and yet there it sits beneath its own personal cabbage tree, its rotting boards painted in flaking white and russet-coloured lichen, secure in its place at the top of my lawn. On a perfect Wellington day when its old bones contrast dramatically with the intensely blue sky it is the absolutely archetypal Kiwi shed. It's perfect. I'll keep it until it literally falls down.

My friends Kurt and Briget helped me make it a little more sturdy a couple of months ago - as I had been watching it sway from side to side in Wellington's strong winds with increasing trepidation! We shored up the front two corners with new wood, replaced a missing weatherboard and fixed all the other sagging boards back in place with screws and washers. I feel so secure knowing my shed isn't going to blow away in the next big northwesterly!

Self-seeded marigolds in the veggie gardenI love spending time in my garden. I love helping things to grow, and I love the fact that you need patience when you're gardening. It gives me a very clear feeling for the passage of time. And on a blue-sky day, or splashing around after a cleansing rainstorm - it's the best place in the world.

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feelingthejoy said...

Your garden looks lovely. I can't even seem to keep potted plants alive *g*.

~ YSRN ~ said...

It gives me a very clear feeling for the passage of time.

THIS is one of the main reasons I love gardening. Beyond the beauty of the flowers or the new growth in spring... beyond the harvest of apples or grapes or tangy/sweet plums is the absolute connection to time. I often measure my life by how many more springs I hope to have and how many more opportunities I get to plant new things or if I'll be around when this or that matures.

Loved reading about your Kiwi garden. Hedgehogs...? How fun!

I'm your new stalker. Might wanna get used to me. ;)

webweaver said...

Hey feelingthejoy!

It's easy as one, two, three...

The occasional bit of plant food or fertilizer

...and they'll grow and grow :)

webweaver said...


Stalk away.... hee! I just put both of you guys on my blogroll - I love your writing. I think the secret is going to be honesty, and detail, and most of all - finding your voice. Hmmm. Where have we heard that phrase before?!