May 242018 0 Responses

Growing Garlic in Hawke’s Bay

Garlic really is one of the most simple vegetables to grow – what can I tell you apart from it needs full sun to be successful.

I’ve grown garlic for many years now (and apart from last year when it got swamped by the invasive Horseradish) I have had fabulous results.  I usually grow two types of garlic around the edge of my large asparagus bed.    Sometimes I have to think “outside the square (or vege patch)” to find enough room! Read More…

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May 042017 0 Responses

Mini Daffs in the mountains

Lucky us – we found some tiny Daffodils still in flower on the top of the hills en route to Manteigas, Portugal – growing at 1450m in practically pure rock.  Growing with them were tiny alpine bluebells.

It just goes to show that when all the books tell you to put grit underneath your bulbs when planting  – it’s because they really like very good drainage and choose to grow right on PURE grit given the chance!  In NZ the best thing to use in your pots or garden would be small, sharp gravel or pumice.

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Apr 272017 0 Responses

The NZ connection – Gardens of Monserrate

Whilst in the magical town of Sintra we visited three Palace gardens – all had quite different styles.  I’ve chosen to write about Monserrate as it had some wonderful plant collections as well as having a very beautiful palace.

Lots of information can be found on the internet regarding the palace and its various owners so I won’t go into detail here but would like to point out the important placement of two New Zealand native trees – the Pohutakawa and Rimu.

The nearest tree to the Palace is an enormous Pohutakawa – too wide to get into a photograph – all I can glean from books is that it must have been planted between 1863 and 1875 when plants were brought in from NZ and Australia.

The enormous Rimu is given centre stage in the middle of the only large lawn area in the garden. (Pohutakawa top left, Rimu mid-right in the photo above)

Throughout the garden there are also many giant tree ferns from Australia and New Zealand and these look magnificent from the various viewpoints.  The terraced gardens containing Mediterranean shrubs and many of the old rose beds are being replanted this spring – it is great to see that this magnificent garden is still being renovated and improved.

For more pictures of the Palace and wonderful garden see the Green Door Face Book page – click on the link in the far right green column.




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Apr 182017 Tagged with , , 0 Responses

Cork Oak – Quercus suber in Southern Portugal

Probably the one thing I love the most about Spain and Portugal is the countryside – and the Cork Oak fields.   Thousands and thousands of acres of trees stud the semi- wild fields and all of them have the tell- tale marks of cork stripping.  They’re semi-nude up to around 2.5m high and have trunks of varying colours depending upon which year their cork was harvested.  Pinky/red hued trunks = newly harvested – over the years the trunks gradually go grey and then black.

The Oaks cover the countryside and the wide canopied trees look so beautiful.  It’s such a pleasure to see land that isn’t completely just grass and it looks so completely natural.  I never get tired of driving through it.

Prior to writing this blog I did a bit of research – as you do….  never want to get facts wrong, and I came across this terrific article that you should check out.  It has a wealth of really interesting info. On the Cork Oak, history, the industry, how it’s harvested and grown, the value of cork and the varied uses for it – apart from corks for wine bottles!

Phil and I have both purchased beautiful cork wallets and if I get the chance to go shopping again… a pair of cork sneakers and a belt will be coming home too!

Please click on this safe link below and find out more about this terrific tree  – I found it really enlightening



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