Hello again!

Each new flower is like a discovery, yet my photos of a year ago, four years ago, six years ago show that the same sudden appearances have surprised me each spring. Today, it was the first rose.

Chinensis mutabilis

The kowhai trees are flowering enthusiastically – better than before, surely?

The apple tree seems to have been encouraged by pruning.

Each new blooming is superseded by another: Camellias then lilacs, magnolia stellata then forsythia, violets then forget-me-nots, aquilegias and Solomon’s seal, bluebells then hebe, lavender and bay, rosemary then banksia, and the beginnings of fox gloves, cabbage tree flowers, and karo.

The blueberry is flowering profusely and the first flowers are appearing on the strawberry plants in a hanging basket, with promise of summer fruit.

And, on the beach on Sunday, eight inflatable rescue boats on exercises meant the surf patrollers (my nephew included) are gearing up for the summer season.

Backyard Bounty

The greenhouse is proving its worth. My long tee shirts are useful for collecting tomatoes.

Pockets are okay too for a few tomatoes, but you have to be careful not to forget the collected ones – or accidentally squash them.

In the last few days the number of ripe tomatoes has increased.

Every vase has been called up to accommodate the sweet peas.

Yesterday’s ferocious nor’west wind threatened the second flush of roses, so I rescued this Blueberry Hill. These roses are all on one stem. The abutilon flowers were blown off by the wind.

Popcorn is broody again. She is all fluffed up, giving the impression of an abundance of feathers.

If there was sound with these photos, you would hear her muttering darkly about how cruel I am to shut her out of the nesting box. And she doesn’t let up.

In the wider backyard of our city, people are gathering for the Backyard Buskers’ Festival. Formerly the “World Buskers Festival”, border restrictions mean no international performers this year. A circus trio was entertaining a large crowd in the city today, and another pitch I passed was full of people waiting for the next performance.

We are not unaware of how fortunate we are to be able to live like this now. On Saturday, at a Christchurch Symphony Orchestra performance in Victoria Square, I noticed a person on a balcony of the nearby Managed Isolation hotel. A poignant reminder of how lucky we are – for now.

Home sweet home

It has felt quite good to be retired (note the qualification). Being at home has always been something to look forward to, such as at the end of each working day and during holidays. Now that we have to stay home, home remains a sanctuary for me.

There was a southerly blast last night and I’m pleased I photographed the roses before they were blown about. There’s a nice autumn second – or third – blooming happening.

The abundance of Japanese anemones or wind flowers brightens the whole garden (once you’ve got ’em, you’ve got ’em). At night, the flowers close up forming lovely nodding heads.

Loads of cranberries, framed by Japanese anemones – and parsley, chives, swan plants, Cecile Brunner, pittosporum, kowhai, and lilac which is turning to autumn colours.

There are white anemones too, with one of three rhubarb plants behind.

Herbs, fruit and vegetables are doing pretty well despite, in some cases, the ravages of chooks and caterpillars.

It’s rather nice to have hens to keep me company when I’m out in the garden. Yesterday, I picked the seventh bowl of raspberries, and a few blueberries. The chooks don’t like raspberries, but love to jump up and pick low-hanging grapes. Mostly, they prefer to scratch about for bugs.

I felt sorry for the hens when it rained the other day. They didn’t go into their little house for shelter. Instead they huddled under trees or scratched about in the rain getting quite wet and bedraggled. So I found an old umbrella and tied it up over their perch. There it sits quite fetchingly under the banksia rose and behind the abutilon and fairy rose. Even Popcorn, the white hen, matches the colour scheme as she turns pink under the umbrella!

Making a “home sweet home” for the hens is calming somehow in these days of uncertainty and anxiety. My WEA course on Sustainable Living has been cancelled (with two sessions to go) but now I can practise what I have learned at home.