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First primrose of the year

Inspired by shark_hat saying her sweet peas are still in flower, I just did a garden wander, and found fourteen or fifteen things in flower. Borage is the only one as tender as sweet peas, but the winter flowering honeysuckle and mahonia smelled wonderful and Christmas box, viburnum tinus, and viburnum burkwoodii are also scented. The violas have been flowering for weeks, but I saw the first primrose in flower, tucked under the bay shrub. (It isn't big enough to be a tree, or clipped enough to be a standard or other shape.) Cyclamen, presumably coum, are out, and snowdrops are showing green but not yet white.


I wish I could start work in the garden, but that is still some time ahead. The rare dry, sunny days when I want to be outside and weeding the borders or winter pruning or shredding or turning compost heaps are hard.

Dec. 20th, 2013

Tomorrow is the shortest day, but the shortest afternoon was the 13th. At least the days appear to be getting longer even if they aren't.

I am highly frustrated at not being able to do lift anything or bend (and this will last for several more weeks at least) as it means I can walk around the garden but not do anything. There are still quite a number of things in flower in the garden, some of them scented, and most of them I can't even sniff as I'd have to bend over.

Spring!

All except for the very early spring flowers are out all at once. My new greenhouse is up and running, with seedlings I have been given growing well and over wintered chili plants just moved in from the house. I think I have adjusted the temperature on the auto vents so it won't get so hot. I need to resow parsley, and have reseeded coriander. I am not sure if it was using old seed or temperature extremes that meant nothing but rocket grew from the first sowing. I hope to get parsley and coriander self-seeding and growing in the corners around the tomatoes that will go in later.

Spring?

There is ice on the pond this morning. It has turned a lot colder in the last couple of days. Last weekend I was thinking that spring had advanced by a month or more in the previous few days, with a lot of bulbs flowering, birds pairing off, lots of evidence of frogs in the pond (I am not being coy, but writing out frog s**** in full attracts a lot of spam). There was a lot of sun earlier in the week,and yesterday we had a few minutes of sunshine, but it is grey again today.

I am not out in the garden planting the things I bought last weekend, or helping dig the foundations for my greenhouse. I am not cleaning parsnips so I can freeze them either in chunks or soup base. But I have done two loads of washing and provided tea for the foundation digger, phoned to say there is no drainage hose with the new dehumidifier, made yogurt and soup, and other indoor things like making a list of things to do...

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New Zealand continued to be amazing, Rarotonga was hot but relaxing, and I could swim in the sea! Los Angeles was fine, the 70th wedding anniversary went well, quietly but with family and friends, with a celebration helped by NZ bubbly. The drive north was good, stops at Cambria where there were dolphins just off-shore, just north for the elephant seals, Big Sur for trees, and then to Oakland for a good visit with more family. Went to Hida, the Japanese tool shop in Berkley. Home before Christmas, and a post-Christmas visit to East Anglia.

We has a bit of snow a couple of weeks ago and now the spring flowers are advancing by the day. Snow drops, a few crocuses, cyclamen coum, wall flowers, primroses, iris unguicularis, the first early violets, are more or less seasonal, but for some reason the chanomeles by the house has decided to flower early after being in flower most of last year.

Nov. 30th, 2012

Best things about New Zealand so far:
Fruit for breakfast, fresh, NZ grown, kiwifruit, strawberries, melon, grapes, apples, citrus, all in November
Mountains, snowed capped, spikey, isolated, in ranges, bare rock, covered in trees, covered in bush
Tree ferns, especially the slender, taller ones
Mosses and lichens of varied forms and sizes and greens and browns
Alpine flowers
Longer days!

Also:
New birds and trees
Seeing plants like pittosporum and phormium (NZ flax) in their native habitat
Rain, annoying when we want to go out, amazing in Milford Sound, supporting wonderful rain forests
Friendly people, good to excellent B&Bs
Food mostly very good, almost always GF options (and the chance to go elsewhere when there isn't)

Worst thing:
Sand flies!
Milford Sound. Amazing! We saw it in the sun, and with cloud on the peaks, and some rain, all today. We were on a small boat that could take up to 75 people, and there were only about 25. Lots of photos, of waterfalls, seals, a penguin, mountains, snow, mountains, valleys, and waterfalls. Also, on the way to and from, trees, mosses, and mountains. Mosses in many forms and shades of green, tiny, tall, growing from trees, covering fallen trees, hanging from branches. 

New Zealand

Having a wonderful time so far. We have been to the far north, spent a day on Tiritiri Matangi, seen Victorian towns, not seen the tops of the volcanoes because they were in the clouds, seen mud pools and thermal springs, had terrific hosts for B&B, seen J's brother (the first time I'd met him), had warm sunny weather, rain, hail, showers...
We have seen new bird species, many different tree ferns, plants familiar from the Scillies except they are natives here. We are trying the excellent wines, the food is good--lots of salads and veggies as well as fish and meat. 
Hong Kong was hot and humid. Very high rise, very crowded. Visited the Temple Street Market (reminded me of SF Chinatown) and the Jade Market. Stall holders kept pushing us to buy so it was hard to enjoy just browsing. Visited Kowloon Park and the waterfront Avenue of the Stars. Everything was interesting, food was good, it was too hot!

New Zealand much more relaxing. The first night, in Omapere, we had a cottage. We just wanted B&B and had booked that  but the owners had to be away so they left us breakfast things in their holiday let cottage. We saw one of the huge old kauri trees in the kauri forest, the Tasman Sea, lots of interesting birds and flowering trees, tree ferns... The bird field guide we brought has been very useful and we got a small book of native trees and ferns to help with those.

Last night we were in Taihururu, near Whangarei. We saw mangrove swamps, and birds included tui and shining cuckoo, and we heard a morepork. (The total of bird species is 37 in two and a half days, I think.) Trees and shrubs include manuka and maire, and pohutukawa in flower.

Sorry no links or picture, but jet lag has kicked in again and I can't manage the thinking necessary.

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Autumn

An excellent bonfire on the Equinox, fire built and food well cooked on it by sigmonster. Then yesterday (the 23rd), rain, and last night more rain--nearly 3 inches in 24 hours. Today, brief sunny spells and showers, with enough sun and breeze to lure me into hanging out washing, followed by a shower just enough to re-wet it all. I did get it in then, before two heavier showers which would have meant needing to respin it all.

The harvest is continuing. Courgettes/zucchini are producing well, not up to full glut levels but with a surplus. Cucumbers are amazing, with another 6 or 7 at least on the plants. I am not sure how many I have already eaten, I have given away at least 3, and 2 went home with sigmonster. The Sunset apples will need picking soon, but since the rain and wind last night didn't bring them down they can wait a few days. The pears aren't quite ready yet, but I will have a lot of pears to dry when they are! There are beans to freeze, and maybe courgettes to dry to make soup this winter.

Since the cotoneaster near the kitchen was cut down (think tree, growing up to 15 feet a year) there has been a gap above the wall that needs a trellis for the huge old clemtis to grow over. The trellis is being put up later this week, and I thought I'd have to buy a new clematis as the old one has showed no signs of life all year. On Saturday I noticed it had put out some new leaves, so maybe it responded to the threat of being replaced.