West Coast Road Trip

Obsessive gardeners really should to go away for tiny compulsory holidays, in order to totally appreciate their own garden world. I've just spent three days on a road trip on the West Coast. That's the South Island, New Zealand version - think tree ferns (pungas), wild driftwood beaches, rugged bush-clad hills...

 Minimus the cottage cat.
Did You Miss Me?

Thursday 5th September

It's soooooooooooo lovely to be back home, and yet I had a great time away. I love that silly mix of emotions.

So, reunited with the garden and my cats and dog, what have I been doing all morning? Can you believe - vacuuming the house! And dusting. And wiping surfaces, including the inside of the piano. And doing loads of washing - chair covers, sheets, cat blankets... Weird!

My garden out there just looks beautiful, and I'm about to have a coffee and a rather large think. Tonight I pick up fifteen more recycled, unwanted roses. Where are they going to go? I haven't a clue! And I wonder if anything new is flowering. Certainly there's been rain while I've been away, and the new rhododendrons I planted seem to have shrugged off their cross-town journey in the trailer.

I Missed my Cats and Dog...

I missed my cats and my dog. And where is Lilli-Puss? She ran away from Non-Gardening Partner (silly cat - he was arriving with her food) while I was AWIL (that's 'Absent with Leave'). All other cats were rather ho-hum about my reappearance. 'Oh, it's you. Where's our fresh pet meat?' I am obviously not the most exciting person in Rusty's dog-life, either (unless I have a dog biscuit in my pocket and we are going for a walk).

 The latest to flower.
Creamy-Yellow Rhododendron

+5Wait a minute - big Fluff-Fluff has appeared. His fur smells beautifully 'aired', he's dribble-purring, and super-smoochy. Maybe he did miss my person after all. Love you, big cat.

My trip was groovy, and easy - I was a passenger, driven through the scenic forests. In a flash I'd pass road-end signs of tracks I'd walked in the mountains. On this trip my walking was strictly small-town. I'd plod happily off to the breakwaters at the river mouths and think about my childhood and beaches. I'd sip coffees in cafes, and think wistfully about my garden back home.

The best things in life are not things. -Joann Davis.

But was Minimus, my cottage cat, OK? Non-Gardening Partner had promised to leave the light on for her. And was Non-Gardening Partner eating sensibly, with not too many sticky buns and donuts? 'The best things in life are not things'. I read that in a book in the Hokitika Library, while sheltering from the rain on my last morning.

I did some shop browsing, looking for some oddity I could bring home. The 'Antiques and Collectables' shop in Greymouth looked the most likely, but it was stuffed full of old granny cup saucer and plate sets, and aged, browning jigsaws - the clean-out after moving to the rest-home, maybe? Thrashy heavy metal music was playing, while the jockey-sized man in charge sucked an electronic cigarette and talked to a rough old codger about the whitebait (it's the whitebait fishing season). Not quite the place where the stylish country-casual lady lingers, hee hee...

I came to the West Coast expecting to see some sort of 'retro' style in the gardens. But there was often nothing person-made to see. The older rural houses had few ornamental plantings - there'd be stands of native bush in the middle of wet green paddocks, maybe some clumps of Arum lilies (garden escapees), and maybe an old species Phormium. Here and there some mighty specimens of Rhododendrons, Magnolias and spring blossom trees, all planted years ago, would tower over the fence-lines. So much bigger than those in my youthful garden...

 Still flowering brilliantly!
My Big Red Rhododendron Kaponga

Some newer houses had easy-care brown-green-yawn native gardens, full of oversized Phormiums, messy Cordylines, and wood-chipped paths edged with river stones. Oops - sounds a bit like my garden! In all my travels I only saw ONE garden gnome. He was stuck in a garden halfway up some sterile concrete steps, and looked very bored. Alas! 'Rescue' would have been 'theft'.


The gorse was in flower. Many of the paddocks are riddled with this horrible invasive shrub, as it quietly creeps into the native bush. Oops. Must dig out the small gorse bush flowering on my front fence. Apologies to anyone who unconditionally loves yellow flowering shrubs in springtime. Genista, Forsythia - you darlings! Now you both know how to behave, right?

 Oh so pretty...
Gorse Flowering

And so a tiny holiday breathes fresh air into my gardening lungs (not to mention reactivating the house-cleaner lurking deep within). What a nice break...