There is nothing more frustrating than going to put your hand on a tool, and discovering it isn't where you think it should be! Especially when that tool is an expensive pair of secateurs, and you just had them five minutes ago! This was a frequent issue with me last year. Especially since moving to the new property and having storage so much further from my work space. I had a wee pouch that I kept my secateurs in but the gaping hole in the bottom meant the blades were more likely to be found stabbed into the ground somewhere, having dropped out as I did my rounds of the gardens. I spent far too much time tracking back looking for them, or traipsing back and forth from the potting shed for things that I needed. So after great humming and haa-ing, I decided it was well worth my sanity to invest some money in the right tool for the job....or tool belt as the case may be!
This stunningly practical piece of workmanship is the result of a collaboration between myself and the talented Mr Peter O'Brien from Village Leather Craft. I contacted Peter by email leading up to Christmas, and a couple of phone calls later he was all set to get this made for me. It was a surprisingly short time later that it was delivered to my door so all in all I am very pleased with the transaction. Now two months later, and having had a thorough work out in the Nursery, I can absolutely say I am very pleased with both the service and the product, and I wouldn't hesitate to contact him again for any other leather related needs! If you are in need of a good tool belt - or even if you just need a good belt - you can find Peter's contact details on his website here: www.villageleathercraft.com and he also has a page on Facebook, just search for Village Leather Craft. Go on and treat yourself - you know you want too!
It hasn't been a particularly stunning summer here in the South of the South. I understand there are rumours of drought in the far north, but for us it has been quite the opposite. Having been spoiled last year with higher than average temperatures, we are now suffering from almost too much rain, and there's definitely not enough UV getting through.
So what can we do to alleviate any issues in the garden caused by such damp grey weather? We don't feel inclined to get out into the elements when it is pelting down. Working the ground isn't recommended anyway, as you do more damage than good to the soil structure. But all is not completely lost, and there are things you can do to keep your garden looking fresh and healthy.
The ideal advice, is that you should plan your garden in such a way as to be sure it can cope under extreme weather conditions at both ends of the spectrum. Look at your plant choices and placement, consider the options of shade vs shelter, sun vs frost exposure, damp and drought etc. But that is only good advice if you set up a garden from scratch. Given that most of us inherit our gardens from a previous occupant, how do we then get the best results from our efforts?
The first step is easy. OBSERVE. Observe your garden. Pay attention to it. Slow down and spend time watching how mother nature affects your garden and how your garden responds. Spend time thinking about where the sun is, how much shade do the plants get? Where does the water go when it rains? Is it wind blown or sheltered? All these things contribute to the overall health of your plants and your soil, and therefore to the presentation as a whole.
Next, consider the plants that you currently have in place. Are they happy and growing strong and healthy where they are? Or perhaps is it time to think about a change, and introduce something more suited to the site? Any good plant seller should be able to help you understand the right conditions for the plants you are purchasing, provided you can adequately explain the conditions you are dealing with.
If you do have to garden in damp conditions, it is a good idea to lay down a board to walk on so as not to compress the soil excessively. Don't prune or cut anything important in the damp as this can invite disease. Remove any soggy and rotting vegetation from the immediate area - this stuff is best in the compost and not sitting around your plants. Deadhead soggy dying blooms if the day is dry enough, this can prolong flowering in some plants and brighten the garden for a while longer.
Most importantly - MULCH your garden. Adding organic matter in the form of compost or mulch is the number one, hands down, absolute best thing you can do for your soil. It absorbs excess moisture while at the same time protecting the moisture in the soil from escaping under hot and dry conditions. It helps to moderate temperature fluctuations. It encourages beneficial insects and fungi to establish healthy life in your garden. It keeps weeds suppressed and makes them easier to remove. And it looks pretty! (However, I don't recommend using dyed and coloured mulch - you don't want to be introducing unknown chemical compounds into your environment.)
At the end of the day - weather is just weather and our gardens will cope with it, better than we do some days! Let me know how things are in your garden this month. Happy gardening!
We love our life here at Goodlife Gardens. I can think of nothing I would enjoy more than my daily activities of growing plants for lovely customers! Even the admin and website tasks are well within my realm of fun things to do. But my life wouldn't suit many people. I challenge you to think about your life - what you love and what you don't. What can you do today to move your life in the direction you would prefer to move? What can you do in even a small way, to live your own Goodlife?
Comment below - tell us what your Goodlife looks like! Or better yet: pop over to our facebook page and share with us there!
So. For the past few months, the general expectation was "Winter is coming!" But I think we can safely assume now that winter has definitely, well and truly, once and for all, arrived! Over the last few weeks we have seen temps regularly drop below freezing, and that often means we are in for a bright and crisp day. Something that I wasn't expecting however - is a good thick fog arriving along with a negative 5 temperature reading. Wow was that a bone chilling day! The fog finally cleared around 1.30pm, and we did see the sun-shine for about an hour, but the high of the day was a depressing 2 degrees Celsius.
In spite of the variable weather patterns, we have managed to finally get started on setting up the nursery at our new location. We now have the bigger green house up, and the smaller seed-starting house is securely tied to the garden fence. We have gravel down over the first section of the growing area, and Aaron has been busy replacing the door and step to my potting shed, which will be lined out in plywood and shelving for all my pots and materials. I am very excited!
I spent several days last week picking over the plants we brought with us from Dunedin. These poor plants have gone through a bit of a shocking experience with the extreme weather that we have had. I expect I shall lose more than one or two before spring, but those that survive should be well toughened and adjusted to the environment for which they are intended. I have moved some of them under cover of the greenhouse but with open doors so they are not completely protected. The greenhouse will still suffer from frost but they do not get as badly affected as those out in the open. Be aware folks that plants can get adversely affected by the cold even when inside a closed greenhouse. Always best to check them if you are concerned, and throw a frost cover over them as a secondary precaution.
See some of my winter pics below!
Hello hello! For those who haven't seen us recently, I thought it was time to fill you in on what we have been up to!
At the peak of summer I withdrew Goodlife Gardens from all of our scheduled markets for the remainder of the season. This was a difficult decision for me as I enjoy our market days, and we need them to meet all our lovely customers and make a few sales. However we were in the middle of finishing major redecorating projects, and also listing our house for sale, so we needed to heavily prioritize our time for a short while.
We were successful in selling up our home of ten years and have purchased another place that is more than twice the land area of our old property. We have relocated both the family and the business to the beautiful Southland township of Gore, and I am incredibly excited about learning the peculiarities of growing in the new climate. We are still operating from home at this stage, but it is a vast improvement on accessibility from what we had before.
"But what about markets?" Yes I can hear you asking that question! We are looking at finding a regular spot at one of the local markets in Southland, so keep an eye on our website for news of that as we get it settled. Also we plan to still attend the awesome Dunedin Botanic Gardens Plant Sale that is held during the Rhododendron Festival each October, so all our regular Dunedin customers will still be able to visit us there.
Our website will again be updated with news as the year progresses, and photos of new plants as they come available for sale. If you are interested in purchasing from us but can't make it to a market; please drop us an email and we can make arrangements. We still travel up to Otago from time to time and can possibly arrange to meet you in a central Dunedin location for pick up.
As we have only just moved in the last 6 weeks it will take some time to get the Nursery up and running again. I am yet to build the new greenhouse but am excited to be able to add a shadehouse to my setup this time too! I will post photos of this event when I get a chance.
Other exciting happenings for me in the last wee while include a trip to Christchurch to attend the International Plant Propagators Society Conference. This was a fabulous opportunity for me to rub shoulders with other plant folk from all over the world. We had field trips to look at other nursery operations, and (not enough) time in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. One of my favourite stops was a visit to Broadfield Gardens. This is a private Garden but opens to the public for a fee. They have very beautiful formal gardens in the style of an English country estate but using primarily NZ native plants which was just stunning to look at. I was disappointed not to have taken my camera and will definitely be going back at some stage! There were so many friendly and knowledgeable people at the conference and I was honoured to be a part of it. I am looking forward to sharing further ideas with my lovely new friends!
Keep watching the Facebook page and I hope to re-establish newsletter posts as the next growing season arrives.
Take care and we'll see you real soon!
Kimberley and Aaron
Currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity; the Hydrangea is a great choice to fill a corner or create a distinct division between two areas of your garden. Hydrangea were once considered old fashioned, but new hybridised colour ways are flooding the garden centres and a new generation of gardeners are appreciating the benefits of having them in the garden.
We are a bit old-fashioned ourselves here at Goodlife Gardens! We stock the traditional mop-head variety of Hydrangea in colours ranging from White through to the Blues, Lilac, and Pink options. Bear in mind that the colour of these older varieties will not be determined until you get them planted, as their colour can change depending on the pH level in your soil. A low pH (acidic) will tend to produce bluer flowers and a high pH (Alkaline) will tend towards redder shades. Whilst you can attempt to force this change it will be difficult to uphold unless you have the plant in a pot, and may in fact stress the plant over-much and therefore invite pest and disease. But it is a fun experiment to play with should you be interested! White flower heads are supposed to be stable and not subject to change, but they do go through some interesting colours as they die off which adds further interest to the garden
Hydrangea need well drained soil and protection from harsh winds and weather. The foliage will show signs of cold damage if the winter is intense, but usually the plant will cope if it is well established. A regular pruning after flowering will help keep the plant in a pleasing shape and encourage fresh healthy new growth each year. Plenty of water and sunlight will make for a stunning display mid summer.
Name: Aquilegia species
Aquilegia, it's common name is Granny Bonnet or Columbine. Often-times found in cottage gardens it is notorious for self-seeding. Bright green foliage dies back each year to emerge again triumphant as temperatures begin to rise after winter. Flowering in spring it is an incredibly attractive and easy care addition to the border.
Different varieties each have their own special qualities, and this enables the gardener to find an aquilegia to suit whatever the space or colour scheme required.
Name: Lobelia Queen Victoria
A perennial plant that is a stunning showpiece in the garden. Dark burgundy foliage stands erect reaching approximately 80cm in height.
Enjoys moist and damp conditions - is ideal next to ponds and waterways. Can handle shade but more sun means darker leaves. Too much shade and the leaves develop a green tinge.
Flowers during summer - tall spikes of gorgeous bright scarlet flowers. Can be a favourite of butterflies.
Stems can be damaged by excessive wind so group plantings and supports can be helpful.
Cut the flowering stems down after flowering is finished and new growth with emerge from the base for next seasons flowering.
Well, as so very often happens; best laid plans are made to be changed and nothing is ever as certain as we think. I had planned to take the next couple of months to get ready for spring and work on my own garden, but I just couldn't turn down the invitation to attend a few fundraising markets. So we have started our market season ahead of schedule, but will still be taking things easy and gradually building momentum as we move towards spring.
Our first market was the Waihola midwinter market raising funds for the improvement of the local playground (Waihola Playgrounds Trust). The weather was just perfect and we were impressed with the support shown by the Waihola community. I love the small town feel and will be sure to attend again next year.
Moving forward into August, we are looking at another fundraising market, this time for the Mosgiel Playcentre. The Mosgiel Big Day Out is to be held on Sunday 9th August at the Elmgrove School. It is shaping up to be a great event with a good mix of new and second hand goods. Keep an eye on our Facebook page to see what specials we will be running on the day.
Other potential markets in the pipeline include occasional appearances at the Blueskin Community Market, we will test out the newly established Beach Market St Clair in August, and we definitely want to return to the Botanic Gardens Plant Sale in October. We will be posting the dates and places as we get closer to each event.
I hope to see some familiar faces in the crowds so do pop down and visit with us. In the meantime, stay warm and dry, I get the feeling that winter isn't done with us quite yet!
So we are now done with markets for this season. I decided to finish early this year as family commitments were clashing a bit over the March period - and as I started working from home to be more accessible to my family, I really must make the effort to remain so! Plus the added issue of losing two greenhouses to wind this year meant I had less stock than I was happy with. However - spring will return to rejuvenate us all, and so too shall the next market season!
We are starting to see a bit of a change in the weather patterns now - it feels a little less summer like and the mornings are noticeably darker. We are working hard to get the plants to a point where they will survive the winter without too much hands on fussing. I will be clearing out the weaker specimens and taking care to move the more cold sensitive plants to the warmest part of the garden. But it isn't all over yet and we will surely have more good weather soon!
In the meantime I have my winter vege to prick out and prepare for planting out into the garden. I have been so busy with plants for market that our own vegetable garden was almost non-existent this year. It will be nice to get a late crop in so we too can enjoy the exceptionally good flavours of home-grown veg. I have started a good mix of brassicas and winter greens and will even be so cheeky as to try a run of carrots before it gets too cold. Add to that another lot of spuds in buckets and we should have a few nice meals as winter sets in.
As always - we are still here to fill orders for delivery (or arranged pick up) over the winter break so do get in touch if there is something you need. I will be continuing to post new stock as it come ready for sale, so keep watching the website (which I am to update again shortly) and our Facebook page to stay up to date with what we have available.
See you all soon!
I'm Kimberley, and I live in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. I am very passionate about growing strong healthy plants that enrich us and our environment. Welcome to my place - feel free to look around!