Delphiniums, family and fun

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

The river trip on Monday has given us the impetus to go for a New Year's Eve Cruise. Robert and Jennifer are coming too and we're gonna bring in the New Year playing cribbage. OK, we'll dance a little and maybe sing. All right, have a drink or two as well, if you like. Yes, I will give Janice a kiss, well, maybe two, if I'm allowed.

As we in New Zealand are the first to bring in the New Year we'll have a good look at it and maybe let you know how it's looking. That way you can take it or leave it, it's up to you.

Before the cruise we'll join R and J for Dinner at "The Avenue", one of our favourite Wanganui restaurants. I have to leave in 5 minutes so no time for images...which I don't have anyway.

So, all of you make sure you lay the foundation for a very happy New Year and let your hair down a little.

All the bast


Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Christmas has come and gone and so have our family.

We had a tremendous time. Emma came on Friday 18th and left two days later. Sarah, Chris, Aimee and Jessica arrived on Saturday 19th so had some time with Emma (who spent Christmas weekend with her partner Colin, and his family. Sarah and family stayed until 27th and so had time too with John who was with us from Christmas Eve until 27th. Both my parents who are in resthome (mum) and hospitalcare (dad) were with us for an extended Christmas Day lunch.

Janice who organises most social occasions did a remarkable job once again. I hung in for the ride and helped where I could and where I was allowed.

Here are a few images:

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Magical Day on the Whanganui River

Today was a magical day. The Whanganui river is always beautiful but today it was so fantastically beautiful that being there was a truly moving experience. Even David, the skipper of the MV Wairua, who knows the river like he knows his own hand, was knocked for six by the beauty of reflections from this silent highway of glass. He even found navigation difficult at times, not knowing where reflections ended, where the river became dry land or whether he was standing of falling over.

The Whanganui river between Wanganui and Hipango park (2 hours upstream) is tidal. Leaving the wharf at 7am we were lucky enough to strike a dead calm morning when the tide was full and the river slack. By 8:15am or so, when we had left the town behind and were steaming into the hills the light was perfect, being filtered through a benevolent mist still clinging to the hills. It was one of those rare moments when you wished you had your camera, wished you had time to take some images, wished the river would stay calm for a few more minutes, wished that the shy sun would remain in hiding. It was one of those moments when all your wishes came true. For the last hour of the journey we were treated to the surreal, lost in a wonderland that threatened to turn us on our heads. Had we met Alice no-one would have batted an eyelid and probably not even noticed.

There was a reason to make this trip today. David McDermid, friends and four Wanganui Daybreak Rotarians were out for a working bee at Hipango Park. Today the object was to clear the picnic tables of long grass and mow tracks to the hut and toilets. This is in preparation for further working bees and tours to the park. Evidence of the work can be seen below.



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas is coming

I took time off today to take a few images of happenings in the garden. We've had wonderfully sunny days lately after some good warm rain and the plants are responding with a good show.

There's a hollyhock flowering now and shows great loss of colour over tha past few generations. Starting out as a deep pink several years ago successive seedlings have become paler.

Our hydrangeas are approaching full bloom and this one looks happy draped with a Kowhai (sophera) hybrid

Hostas are also about to bloom.

Although the longest day has passed already we're still planting native trees as I've managed to extend a hose some 250 metres from the pump shed into the valley beneath our house. The view from our dining room window is now almost filled with trees whereas when we arrived some 10 years ago the area was mostly grass. Must look up some comparative shots!

Janice, Sarah, Aimee and I are all tired tonight and waiting for Chris (son in law) and Jessica (grandchild) to return from the hospital where Jessics went for tests after a particularly bad nose bleed that turned several serviettes at the Rutland Arms Hotel (where we went for "Wedges on Wednesday") bright red - quite a show it was but I'll spare you a photo of it.

More later



Monday, December 21, 2009

Bird feeders

The highlight of today was the making of bird seed cones that our grandchildren had seen on a tv programme and asked me to help them make.

Aimee and Jessica organised the whole thing getting us to buy the peanut butter and birdseed and collecting the pine cones which were nicely open after a spell of dry weather.

I tied the string to the cones, with the girl's help and they coated them with peanut butter. They got their hands very sticky and of course had to lick the peanut butter off.

They then rolled the cones in the bird seed.

After this we hung them up on our trees and from the eaves of the garage.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our daughters Emma, Sarah and her husband Chris and their children (our lovely grandkids) arrived Friday and today. Emma stays until tomorrow and the rest until Boxing Day. Christmas has started! I should be relaxing! However, I have to get up early tomorroy (Sunday) to talk to Mike Darcy of KXL radio, Portland, Oregon ( This is what Mike says about the show, their time 11am Saturday.

Delphinium Seed Promotion
Last summer at the Farwest Trade Show in Portland, I met Terry Dowdeswell who is a delphinium breeder from New Zealand. His company, Dowdeswell’s Delphiniums has produced a strain of delphiniums called New Millennium, which are from hand crossed seed. I attended a presentation by Terry where he showed photos of these magnificent plants in bloom. Later that week, Terry was a guest on my KXL show.

As I talked about delphiniums with other gardeners, I learned that Portland gardener and Timber Press Editor-in-Chief, Tom Fischer has successfully grown Dowdeswell Delphiniums from seed. I talked with Tom and he told me how easy they were to grow from seed, the high germination he had, the healthy plants and spectacular flowers. Tom’s experience has been that if you sow under lights in January or February and plant the seedlings out in April or May (bait for slugs), you will probably get flowers that first summer.

Hearing the accolades about these delphiniums, I thought it would make for a nice promotion to be able to offer seeds to listeners at a special price and without the hassle of paying shipping costs from New Zealand. I found Terry Dowdeswell very willing to work with me on such a promotion and Tom Fisher was willing to be a guest and talk about his success with growing them from seed.

After talking with Tom Fischer, I knew I had to have some of these delphiniums in my garden and while I am not one to usually grow plants from seeds, I am going to try this and will report my progress. The photo shown is a sampling of the flowers you can expect.

So, as mentioned on my show, I purchased a quantity of these seeds to offer to listeners. Packets contain 50 seeds of mixed colors. The cost is $7.00. Send a check in this amount to Mike Darcy, KXL In the Garden, 0234 SW Bancroft, Portland, OR 97239. You also need to send me a self addressed stamped envelope and I will send you a packet of these seeds along with instructions. I must have your request for seed by January 4, 2010. "



Thursday, December 17, 2009

No Time for Christmas

I protest! The closer it gets to Christmas the faster the days go. This is an interesting phenomenon that most people assume has been around since time immemorial - not so!

Think carefully and you will realise this is so. Do you not remember waiting for Christmas as a child? Did it not seem to take just ages to come? And what about Christmas Eve, the hours just crawled by lying in bed waiting for the eyelids to become tired enough for sleep, or crafty and resolute enough to see dad creeping in with the stocking. No, this is a new phenomenon. Further more it is attached to Global Warming! Yes, it's true.

It's not so noticeable in the northern hemisphere where the winter days are cold but here in summery, warm New Zealand it is obvious that the warmer than usual days around Christmas are actually speeding time up, so any one point in time lasts for less time. A second of warm time actually lasts for less time than a second of cold time. This is because warm time molecules are more active and so get their job done in less time.
From our point of view we therefore seem to have less time the get the Christmas shopping and other arrrangements completed. From our children's point of view they will also have less time to wait for Santa.

I really don't have time for this. Here are a few images from the last couple of days. First Miles Bockett doing some Pirate Ship painting (a Rotary project)

Next, Jason sawing up a tree we had just felled.

Monday, December 14, 2009


We had a relaxing weekend.
Saturday included some gardening (hanging hanging baskets) visiting mum and dad, playing Catan, Christmas cards writing, exercises, yellow house cafe and crib and simply dropping out.
On Sunday I visited mum and dad again walked around our hills where trees had been planted two days before, more gardening etc. Cooking for Sunday nights has now become a really must do something special occasion so that took a couple of hours. Janice made some really beautiful cup cakes and I managed a fancy lamb chop with finely chopped bacon, crushed potatoes and ratatouille.
Today, Monday, has been one of those low energy days where the work got done despite everything and what a great time 5pm is.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A few Pics

Here are three images. One of our delphiniums at the Bason Botanic Gardens in Wanganui, another of a really lovely day lily from Nan Ripley's seed and another of a dwarf runner (?) bean we are growing for Mark Christenson who is collecting and experimenting with "Heritage Plants".

I'll leave you to guess which is which.

More tomorrow when I intend to have some R&R



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Application for time to slow down

Wednesday passed in a flash. Tractor tyre puncture fixed, seed order to mail order seed company in Russia went out. Checked on trials growing at Bristol's and found oxalis rampant, but the delphiniums that are above the oxalis are doing well. Delphiniums flowering at the Bason Botanic Gardens look great. Will add images when I get a chance. Thinking of putting in an application to God, the Prime Minister, Oprah, Tiger Woods or some other authority to request a slow down of the rate that time flows. I'll keep you posted about progress

Thursday. We have an Internet slow down. I hope that is not a result of my "time" application. No - it appears that our carte blanche to our visitors for Internet use has sent us above our limit. Back to normal at lunch time .... hopefully. Only wasted an hour sorting this out.

Off to spread slug pellets at Bristol's after lunch, still have some spraying and pollinating to do first. more email to attend to too. Christmas is certainly coming.

Note for proof reader...Bason is correct, after Mr Bason. Full stops missed through laziness.




Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Backgammon Christmas Dinner

Tonight was backgammon night. All members of the backgammon club, plus wives were there for a Christmas Dinner. That made 7 in total.
Janice had to leave a little early because the quilt club had a committee meeting but quilt club meetings are very efficient so she returned before we'd finished desert.

Just for fun, another day lily image:

I didn't bike or walk today and spent it in quite a lazy fashion doing some pollinating and gardening. This was one of my days off in lieu of the open weekend. I'll have another half day off tomorrow.



Monday, December 7, 2009

Open Week End

Wow, nothing since Thursday. Well, it has been really busy.

Last weekend was our annual open weekend when we throw the nursery open to all comers and show off our delphiniums. Nothing unusual happened except that the weather was fine, just the right temperature and calm, something that is very unusual for this time of year. We were extremely pleased.

Janice did most of the work while I juggled the incidentals - like pollinating some trials, fixing some irrigation and generally hanging around trying to stay out of trouble. The sun brought our lots of customers and lots of lookers and we met up with many old friends. All in all it was a successful weekend.

Saturday evening was the Daybreak Rotary Club Christmas do so we didn't have to cook dinner after the day in the nursery. It was a great evening of boulles "petanque" style and charades with rather nice food too.

Sunday was dinner at the Gaskin's place so we didn't have to cook then either and tomorrow is the backgammon Christmas dinner. All in all some very lazy days not in the kitchen.

The delphiniums are now well into their pollination and the bulk will indeed be mostly finished by Christmas. The new season's trials are not yet flowering but some day lilies I bought from Nan Ripley a couple of years ago are beginning to show off so that's what you see in this blog.

All for now.



Thursday, December 3, 2009

In the Kitchen

Here we go, cooking again.

J cooked rissoles for dinner while N made the salad and now they are making macaroons. I really like these two visitors.

Winter returned again today. Firstly we had a power cut and I was woken by the ups beeping until I got up and closed the computers down. Then, as the day wore on the temperature dropped until now when it must surely resemble a cold winters night in Winnepeg - well, maybe not quite.

Plenty of work was done today however. I spent most of it answering emails and writing up new pages for the web site. These are for North Americans trying to find delphiniums that grow well in their region. We need to be more sophisticated when dealing with the regionalism that now dominnates google searches - probably won't make any difference! I've not updated "Terry Says" for ages and the "What are we doing this week" needed refreshing too.

Jason and Natasha prepared some plants for sale at our open weekend in a couple of days and Edita nad goodness knows how many staff were pollinating.

Oh yes, I went for a 40 minute brisk walk in half a gale

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not much today

Ah ha,
Sounds like Jason and Natasha have just come in for a game of Catan as I sat down to blog, I'll come back to this.
Jason won, Natasha second.
It's a little late now so that's all you're gonna get today



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pizza for Dinner

Hi Brenda, Jason's mum. Thanks for leaving the comments. The point about the table at the market is a good one. We will do that next time (which may be spring next year).

Yes, we are really enjoying having Jason and Natasha, they are good company and tonight Jason cooked us a beautiful gluten free pizza dinner, seen here in the oven.

We've found quite a few interests we share, including playing a game called "The Settlers of Catan".

I've been giving Jason "engineering" type jobs such as sharpening the blades on our lawn mower. Natasha and Jason also planted up some hanging baskets.

With any luck we'll be hanging the baskets up at our friends house before our two visitors leave. The baskets are for an electrical engineer and his wife. They get free baskets, we get a free electrician service.

Cheers for now


Sunday, November 29, 2009

A day of rest

Ah good, a day of rest.

Up at 7 went for a half hour walk with Janice, had breakfast and then finished of the 9 hanging baskets that are for Robert and Jennifer's place in about 3 weeks time. For the past couple of years I've cheated and bought the baskets ready made but this time decided to return to the real thing and made them myself, with the help of Natasha who did two yesterday. They are now sitting in the plastic house waiting for me to remember to water them.

After that a bike ride seemed in order and s there was not too much wind I stayed in the peddles for and hour - a good work out - and that cut out the morning. Next was a quick shower and off to see mum and dad in the rest home. I fed dad lunch in the courtyard and them took mum down to see him. He was very pleased and gave her a beaming smile.

As I needed more plants for our hanging baskets I called at the garden centre on my way home, the intention being to plant up more baskets today...but there's not enough time left now thanks to a cup of tea, a game of crib with Janice, a tour of the nursery with Jason and Natasha and a half hour distraction on the guitar. That's ok. It's now 4:30pm and I have to put the spuds on. R&J on on main (except for spuds). Janice on nibbles and I have J and N to help with desert.

See you tomorrow

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Welcome to Jason and Natasha from Manitoba, Canada. They are a young, newly wed couple traveling in New Zealand and have come to stay with us, probably for a few weeks.

Great news - they play Catan. We've had 2 games already.

More great news - they love food and cooking.

We're going to have a really enjoyable time together I'm sure.

I'll tell you much more about them soon.

The garden is looking very colourful. Here's some yellow.

The last few days have been really hectic so the blog has been left and Farmville has had to go on short rations too. For now, just a few images. More tomorrow.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Visit

Today started well with a bike ride at 6:30am. I hate riding in the mornings but this morning it was reasonably calm (only a 5-10 knot wind) and forecast of increasing to 15-20kts later in the day, so I opted for the early start. My legs ached but the main problem was the sun in my eyes on the way home. I'd forgotten about that.

After the ride I made a huge list of tasks to be completed today and I'm happy to say, managed to complete them by blog time. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the trip to our nursery that the Home of Compassion organised for 7 people, including my mum (rest home) and dad. Dad is in Hospital care in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease and is only able to visit with special wheel chair transport. They came to see all the delphiniums in flower.

Mum has seen the nursery before and remembers but dad's memory has been so far gone for so long that we wondered if it would register. Dad has been a grower almost all his life, growing tomatoes and chrysanthemums mainly, so being round the nursery would maybe catch his interest we thought. Well, it sure did. He was actually smiling and animated for the first time in ages. Twas a joy to behold! Janice wheeled him round while I helped some of the others then I took over the driving. He loved it. Later, in the packing shed, he ate a great afternoon tea and when I moved outside he made a great lurch to follow, which he could not do of course, so he got another ride out to see more delphiniums. It was real cooooooool.

Another item of note in the day was the White Ribbon March against violence upon women.

A few hundred of us males turned up to march up the central street of Wanganui to raise awareness that violence against our womenfolk will not be tolerated. It may or may not make much difference on its own but combined with growing publicity and awareness of how much family violence there is in our society and that it is not acceptable it will contribute to a change in attitude, we hope. So just remember fellas - cut it out! face the issues, be a man and most of all, love your family, they are the best treasure you will ever have.

So, against those two items the rest of the day pales but between the excitement I sure got a heap of work done too, including checking up on our trial delphiniums at Bristol's place. They are doing fine, just like the weeds.

Now I'm going to play a little guitar and wait for some visitors to arrive.