After a cold night, it’s warm here now. I still harvest tomatoes, mostly Gardeners Delights from King’s Seeds, like someone down the road who shared the plants (thank you for this handful image, on Twitter in exactly the right week).
This morning in the garden I can’t see a single pollinator, but it’s a thrill to see the rapid spread of alyssum. It seems to be more highly scented at the moment, too.
A single anise hyssop is flourishing now it’s no longer competing with tomato neighbours. It looks as though it may flower soon. Nearby, one of the Italian parsley plant patches, there for passersby.
The late-planted thyme’s flowering well in places.
The dandelions are going from strength to strength now I’ve embraced them.
In the back garden there’s a herb forest alongside the fruit trees. Some bergamot is still flowering (and seeding) among more parsley, borage, alyssum, lavender, vietnamese mint, the very last of the basil fino verde and anise basil. And those tomatoes.
On the front doorstep, some baby hollyhocks to flower next summer.
And across the water, in Nelson, some travelling plants, in my mate’s garden near her flowering rosemary, New Zealand fern and late hydrangea.
The borage shouldering out – as always. The calendula and alyssum going for it across the side. The parsley doing its best. The basil and coriander are probably over.
In the spring, I gave bee-loved seedlings (and tomato and courgette seedlings) only to people I love. By chance really. People in my extended ‘family’ who help me flourish, so I see them regularly. Because they warm my heart, with their laughter and talk and generosity. (Some of them passed on the seedlings to people I don’t know.)
As the plants mature, I’m learning that these beautiful Bee-Loved Flower People (the 1960s return, in a new form!) also help the plants flourish, strongly. And differently from those that stayed here, in my garden and on the public zigzag. I expected that this would happen with the seedlings I gave my chi gong teacher, but it seems to be happening with all the plants.
Remember that 14 1/2 inch Florence ribbed courgette/marrow the other day, from up the coast in Kapiti? That courgette photo from out at Lower Hutt? And now there’s more news, via Twitter, from a household that’s a twenty minute stroll away.
Last night, in a series of tweets, I got the picture above, of the first bergamot seedling to flower, confirming that the plant is a bergamot. Then these tomato pics. Like me, this Bee-Loved Flower Person has lost the plant labels.
‘I think that’s the Gardener’s Delights,’ came the tweet. ‘Not sure about these wrinkly ones. I don’t think that’s the Black From Tula but I don’t remember what the third breed was you gave us!’ (Cherokee Purple.)
And: ‘I think this might be a B(lack) F(rom) T(ula)’.
‘Mine are so SMALL still,’ I tweeted back.
The response: ‘I may have cheated as they’re planted straight into potting mix bags. We are quite sheltered though which probably helps?’
My response just flew onto the screen: ‘There’s no ‘cheating’ in that. Shelter, yr sun, yr good chi & green fingers. All that laughter–‘
I’m so excited by all this. Surprised and delighted that these Bee-Loved Flower People’s experiences with their plants extend and enhance my understanding of the plants that stayed here.
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?
Bees & Bee-Loved Flowers. A Global View From New Zealand.