It’s intended to be an experience not a thoroughfare
Visions of the new garden
In setting up my garden, I’m ever conscious of how I want it to ‘feel’ both on a tactile and emotional level. And this is what I have in mind (but am only part way to achieving):
Despite being a small garden, it’s intended to be an experience not a thoroughfare. On climbing the fifteen steep steps to our house a breather is needed which is great because it slows everyone down – gives pause – encourages us to be in the moment.
A feijoa hedge grows along the first boundary, with yellow tipped tassels at the centre of bright red flowers. Introduced into New Zealand in the early 1900’s from Uruguay and Brazil, the green ovoid fruit has an unusual flavour, much more subtle than the guavas of my African childhood.
Step to your left, under an espaliered pear archway and catch the delicate perfume of the low growing Myrtus ugni, a weird name not becoming of the diminutive, shy fruit similar to cranberries. Pop a few in your mouth for a vitamin boost.
Ahead is a flower patch of lavender, poppies, scabiosa, salvia – playground for the bees and encouragement to dart between here and a variety of fruits requiring pollination.
A miniature edible patch, protected by a buxus hedge, contains strawberries, parsley, chives, garlic and salad greens. Mint nearby is imprisoned in a pot because its roots would wreak havoc if let loose. Pick a herb leaf, rub it between your thumb and finger – enjoy the texture, the scent and the taste.
Tall Silver globe artichokes stand aloof beyond the flowers. We can pick the heads in summer, and eat them steamed with lashings of melted butter. There’s an art to savouring each pulled petal until reaching the firmer, more satisfying heart. Not a dish to be rushed but one to be enjoyed on a balmy evening with friends and wine. Some of the heads will be left to mature into giant purple thistles which, with their large stately leaves, lend royal presence in winter while other plants have taken their leave of absence.
Now you might be tempted to head for our bright orange front door but I’m going to lead you astray – down the windy, garden path.
Up a couple of steps you’ll pass through an opening in a columnar apple tree fence and walk through a small berry garden with pots containing blackcurrants, gooseberries and raspberries. Dripping down on you from above are crabapples – tall flexible stems crisscrossed to create a floral tunnel. The fruit – not great for eating – is rich with pectin that helps in the setting of jams and jellies. Ground cover of lady’s mantle, cranesbill geraniums and lambs ear underplant the pots. Don’t be afraid to run your hands through the soft foliage.
A flight of wooden stairs leads up to the upper garden where indoor and outdoor living areas merge. Under the shade of a clematis covered pergola, enjoy home prepared meals while looking back at the productive upper garden vegetable terraces and forwards to the port harbour view.
From within the house enjoy a birds eye view of the garden you wandered where you can watch the decorative grasses moving with the breeze. And discover a secret garden from above – tucked away in an un-ventured part of the garden with its canopy of tree ferns and my garden shed. Now do you want to go back downstairs and explore some more?
I’m not there yet!
There’s much still to be done though and my heart can’t help but sink at seeing the weeds and bare patches of soil. It’s certainly not got the extravagant lush look I’m planning on! In my following post I’ll share how I’m staying motivated when establishing an edible, sustainable garden.