‘Tis the season to be frantic, with Christmas and the start of the holiday season now just days away. Amidst the whirlwind of socialising, eating, drinking, shopping and yet more eating, getting stuck into the garden can be a challenge.
Yet, as we are discovering this year, taking time out to smell the flowers, or more accurately pull up the weeds, can be a grounding antidote to the seasonal excesses.
Despite the inherent craziness of December, our kereru friendly garden efforts are back on track after a hiatus. Our weeding day in late July was awesome but a few weeks’ later along came a beautiful baby girl who – along with her 3 year old sister – diverted our attention indoors.
She is now 3 months old and has (largely) mastered the art of sleeping, so we can return to the task of transforming our suburban west Wellington garden into a fledgling wildlife haven.
Although officially summer, our ‘winter plantings’ are underway. Suz from the Kereru Discovery Project tells us that while winter is the ideal time to establish new plants, so long as we water prolifically new roots can take hold even in the warmer weather.
After a bit of weeding maintenance to rid the bank of tradecantcia that had crept back while I was busy changing nappies, we dedicated a recent Saturday morning to a native planting session. Now we are really getting somewhere: the dirt-scape has been replaced with flowering hebe in various hues; green and purple flax; dwarf tussocks; libertia with bushy white flowers and ideal for bank stabilisation.
We have planted a second nikau to accompany the one we rescued from slow strangulation earlier in the year, and a kowhai seedling that will one day form a brilliant canopy for birds to roost. It is still a work in progress, as the agapanthus will eventually be replaced by the lovely native rengarenga but the vision is taking bud.
I once admired the purple and white flowers of the agapanthus but now know that, although common in gardens, it is in fact a pesky weed. This prolific seeder thrives in most conditions New Zealand has to offer but unfortunately forms dense mats that stop native seedlings taking hold. Therefore its days are numbered! We plan to plant rengarenga and turutu (Dianella nigra) as a native alternative to stabilise the top of the bank, and to encourage native birds and lizards into the garden.
A manicured English garden it is not, but our backyard’s beauty will lie in its wildness and natural fit with the surrounding environment. Tuis are already frequent visitors to our flowering flax plants, and we are now hoping our efforts will see kaka, bellbird and other locals from nearby Zealandia sanctuary stopping by on their journeys. In future Christmases we may even host some resident Kereru in our kowhai, if Santa’s reindeer don’t scare them off.