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As a gardener I find growing Swan Plants, the host plant for the Monarch Butterfly's caterpillars, to be a weird though satisfying experience. From stripy caterpillars to graceful Butterfly, there is no time during their lifecycle where they don't look amazing.
Kings Plant Barn has been a proud long-time supporter of this festival, and this year we're lucky enough to have a stronger than usual connection; a garden that belongs to Takapuna staff member Lyndell Shannon and her partner Mick Roberts. Which was thankfully enough of an excuse for me to get away from the hustle and bustle of being in-store and spend some time in this beautiful and delightfully cool, award winning garden.
It can be incredibly disheartening when the plants that you have invested time, energy, and love into get ravaged by insects, hit by disease, or just generally start to struggle. And I suspect that many a new gardener has been turned away due to these sorts of disasters.
But while some failure is unavoidable, most instances can either be dodged or stopped with the application of a bit of know how and perhaps a touch of elbow grease.
I had lots of plans for what I was going to grow in my new veggie garden. However a wet spring, and the need to remove a sprawling matt of bamboo roots from my garden, meant that some of my plans have gone awry. So in a fit of desperation, I've even started eating flowers.
As somewhat of a country kid, the crowds in the run-up to Christmas often leave me somewhat terrified. So to make my Christmas less stressful, and to help me avoid the rush, I decided to come up with some simple handmade gifts to give.
And to hopefully make it easier for you, I thought I'd post a new gift idea each week in the run up to Christmas.
Despite the occasional bouts of fine weather, and the fantastic growing conditions, I've found myself way behind in the garden. In fairness, this isn't my fault; my left arm recovered from a dog bite just in time for me to to sprain it. But on the bright side, it's encouraged me to garden vicariously and read about the trials, tribulations, and techniques of other gardeners.
For years I felt that salad was basically pointless. Despite the weird and wonderful concoctions created from my parent's garden, the very word, Salad conjured up crisp, tasteless supermarket lettuce and watery tomatoes. An association that I assume came about because I'm vegetarian, which meant that whenever I had food at an omnivores house, I was invariably served up this sort of salad by people unused to catering a meal without meat.
They are normally red through and through, though they are rarely political. But many other colours are available, as a quick search around Garden Stores and Farmers markets will show that Tomatoes come in all shapes, colours and sizes.
As the wet dampness of winter starts to fade into an unpleasant memory, I will hopefully start to spend more time in my garden, especially in my veggie patch.
My own love affair with flowers got off to a shaky start. When I first started gardening I had no interest in frilly things and instead concentrated on growing food. It wasn't until I watched a bumblebee force its way into one Snapdragon flower after another in our St Lukes store, when I should have been working, that I got hooked.