So Out in the Park became Out in the (Car) Park, as part of a much bigger event, Cuba Dupa.
And our Bee-Loved stall was there, under one of these gazebos, thanks to my qi gong teacher, Fan, who contributed some – very popular – plants of her own. And to Tasha Haines, whose lovely eye and generous heart are always valuable to have around.
We also advertised qi gong and sold some women’s film-related things.
And Anna Keir’s quirky crafts.
It was fun. And good to talk with visitors, share the plants and the accompanying handouts.
Until a Wellington gust lifted the row of gazebos. Twice. The gazebos were dismantled and we went home early.
I was proud of my plants, from heritage seeds, in their biodegradable Fertil pots from France, in their organic compost and growing sturdily: alyssum, two kinds of basil, bergamot, borage, calendula, coriander, parsley. Many flowering or about to flower. All attractive to bees. All going to provide seeds that their owners can use next year.
Now it’s time to prepare the garden for winter. There are still bumble bees in the lavender. And the anise hyssop is flowering. But daylight saving ends soon.
Tomorrow, with assistance from lovely mates, I was having a stall at Out in the Park, Wellington’s Queer Fair, down the road at the harbour’s edge. For the first time, I was going to sell bee-loved plants. I even have this big (A0) vinyl poster, logo designed by Maeve Marama Lonie, the daughter of one of my oldest friends.
There’s a coldish southerly tonight, so I brought the plants inside for the last time, sad that they’re going. Each biodegradable pot holds alyssum, two kinds of basil, bergamot, borage, calendula, coriander, parsley, all grown completely organically and without neonics. The idea is that people get to know these plants as they grow and flower, attract bees and then seed. And because the plants all come from heritage seeds, buyers can collect their own seed for next year.
The plants loved it when my qi gong teacher spent forty minutes giving them qi, on Tuesday. ‘They’re happier’, she said afterwards. BUT last night some little organism got to the large basil – the fino verde is fine – so that happiness didn’t protect them.
And now the fair’s been postponed till Sunday because of that nasty southerly, whoosh! in from Antarctica. Irritating, because my driver isn’t available that day and the day’s timeframe for the fair may change, too.
But the extra day gives me time to replace the munted basil and to better organise the other, film, side of the stall. There, I’ll be selling items that aren’t at risk from the environment in the same way plants are.
Pure cotton tea towels from my Development project. All the same size, unlike the bergamot, for instance.
And Complex Female Protagonist military caps. Three colours – black, white, khaki. All standard, unlike the greens of the plants. Here’s the poster–
I’ve been too timid to open the carton they arrived in– what if I hate the caps I ordered, military-style, as befits a ‘campaign’?
And now there’s lots of time to do that tomorrow. And to enjoy the sunflowers. Even if it’s raining.
I might even walk along the zigzag to our local park, formerly a monastery garden. Traces of the garden are still there – brick walls, a huge pear tree, some herbs. But most of all, I love the mature pohutukawa trees. The bees love pohutukawa too, when it flowers in December.
People visit to choose plants to take home. Two have taken a clump of sunflowers and the interplanted alyssum. But most people want tomatoes. And basil.
What about some alyssum I say. What about some sunflowers? We’ve got sunflowers, they say. Got alyssum.
Look! I say then. Look at these tiny bee-loved plants.
I don’t know what they’re called because their label sticks blew away in a Kapiti wind. But they’ll be safe for the bees at your place. Better than anything you can buy at most garden centres, where they may be affected by neonics.
But no. They want tomatoes. Which don’t need bees. Which bees don’t care about. They want basil, because it’s hard to grow and it goes with the tomatoes. We’ve got plenty of flowering plants, they say.
So, a bit of advice about tomatoes out in the open–
They will flourish only if they’re in a plot with at least six hours of sun on a sunny day.
You can split open a bag of compost and put a tomato plant directly in it – no need for more!
You can fill a bucket with compost, put a hole in the bottom of the bucket and hang the tomato plant downward – then feed liquid seaweed/comfrey etc from the top.
If you want tomato-flavour-to-die-for, establish around 50 plants and severely limit the number of branches and fruit (via the sterling Alex Mackay, whose tomatoes are legendary).
Gardeners Delight (no apostrophe!) is the visitors’ fave tomato, so far. I have lots of Black From Tula and the ones that – this year – interest me most, Cherokee Purple .
Here are small Cherokee Purples in among the strawberries a month ago with tiny bee-loved borage plants top right–
From egg cartons inside, then to the outside, then to bigger containers outside. Some Cherokees now await new owners, with basil and – in one pot – a sneaky alyssum. These are rescue plants, coming right near the rosemary, the lemon balm and the evening primrose.
And I’ve planted a few Cherokee Purples myself. The biodegradable pots are meant to be below the soil, but I haven’t got that quite right yet. So I tore the top of the pot and pushed it down towards the earth.
And – fantastic news – that top-and-bottom-less tin to protect the Florence courgettes from slug-and-snail invasion seems to be working–
Apart from the Purple Cherokees and the Florence-courgette-in-the-tin success, I’m excited about my phacellia. This bowlful and a couple of smaller containers – only one of them given away, to a special gardener. Can’t decide where in the garden to provide this new-to-me-bee-loved treat.
The big question at the mo though is, HOW am I going to persuade visitors to welcome healthy bee-loved flower plants into their gardens?
Out at Kapiti, the label sticks blew off the seedlings. So I have anonymous seedlings.
There are too many in each little organic pot, too, even though we sowed some of them one-by-one, with tweezers. This is how they looked last week–
And they’re not growing quickly. Even when I transfer them to bigger pots. But some of their leaves are differentiating more. That’s fabulous. But because my only pictures of them are of their flowers, I don’t know what the leaves mean.
Except for the basil. Those are the bigger seedlings in the round pots below.
The single seedling in the big round pot at the top of the image is a courgette.
Someone told me that if we cut off the top and bottom of a used tin and place it over a vulnerable-to-slugs plant, slugs will stay away. So that courgette is sitting inside its tin-frame, inside its biodegradable pot, so it will be safe (I hope) when a friend takes it home.
I think the tiniest seedlings are thyme, which took a while to germinate. A bit like parsley, which I know takes AGES.
Bees & Bee-Loved Flowers. A Global View From New Zealand.