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The New Zealand Evangelist

Notes On Gardening

page 214

Notes On Gardening.


“Green peas on Christmas day,” when told to country cousins, will excite the idea of our “living in clover” all the year round. They will naturally say, if such is our Christmas fare, what store of good things do we not get at midsummer! They must remember, however, that with us, the world is turned topsy-turvy, and while they are warming there half-frozen hands over the Yule log, we shall be eating our Christmas dinner al fresco, with all the windows and doors open. Such at least is the usual state of this our antipodial climate. But this year has been the most backward, the most variable, and the most ungenial, of any within the memory of that most unerring and respectable person—the “oldest inhabitant.” If the universally cold S. E. winds, under the influence of which we are now writing, are to continue a few days longer, we may say with the poet:—

The seasons alter—hoary headed frost,
Falls in the soft lap of the damask rose.

Our roses, in fact, have already (12th November,) begun to open their buds, and the rain of last night, has added another coating of snow to the Tararua Mountains.

December is as redolent of flowers as the month to which it succeeds, and it possesses the further charm of giving us, fully ripe, all those delicious small fruits, natives of our English gardens, which we remember from childhood. Strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, cherries, and even some early sorts of currants, ripen towards Christmas. The race of Barrow-women, in the streets of London, we are afraid is extinct. Peel's Policemen have scared away these, and most of the itenerant venders of “small fruits,” (as the gardeners call them), from our streets.

page 215

Round and sound,
A penny a pound,
Black-heart Cherries,

No longer delights, we fear, the ears of little urchins, who (in our boyish days) used to save their penny, to make their months black, by purchasing a pound of that most delicious fruit. It is a rhyme of days long past (sounding in our ears as it did some fifty years ago,)—which is well worth preserving. To turn from this digression to the more immediate object of our notices, we shall refer to the gardening records of the last year, which was almost as backward as this, we there find that the month commenced with exhibiting the following shewy flowers in full perfection.

White Lily,Lilium candidum.
Foxglove,Digitalis purpurea.
Watsonia iridifoliaand three other species.
Gladiolus,several species.
Yellow Celsia,Celsea Cretica.
Purple do.,——purpurea.
Blue Bugloss,Echium caruleum.
Cistus,three species.
Buff Day Lily,Hemerocallis fulva.
Yellow do.———flava.
Small bulbous Iris,Iris xyphoides.
Scotch Iris,Iris Scotica.
English Iris,pseudo acorus.

The pale Sulphur Iris, and more than five other species in our gardens ceased flowering in November; but all the different roses, which began to blossom in the middle of November last, lasted until the third week of this month. Both these and the white lilies are succeeded by the whole family of Peliargoniums, or Cape Geraniums, and the different varieties of Holly-hock, the annual Enothera, or evening Primrose, and numerous other shewy plants, common to most gardens. On last Christmas day, in addition to several of the above plants, the following opened nearly their first blossoms.

Blue Evening Primrose,Enothera purpurea.page 216
Pink, do. ——glanca.
Blue Cornflower,Catananche carulea.
Natal Gladiolus,Gladiolus Natalensis.

The red Nasturtium, seldom opens its flowers before the last week, in company with all the beautiful Dahlias, which give such a gorgeous richness to the garden, that they seem to supply the place of all those that have “bloomed, and past away.”

Tulips should be taken up, and the bulb stored in a dry place, the second week in December, by which time they are usally quite withered.

On the Fruit department Raspberries, both red and white, were ripe on the 20th, as also some red and black currants. But the Gooseberries come in somewhat later, and are only in pcrfection with the currants, towards the end of the month. I take little note of vegetables. But peas and beans are abundant, and we had fine large new potatoes last year upon Christmas Day. We pride ourselves, (like as Mrs. Primrose did on her gooseberry wine), in growing the finest potatoes in the Hutt Valley, at least so our managing man says, and we do not, of course, dispute his word.

The chief business in the garden during this month, is keeping down the weeds, transplanting annuals and other seedings, and watering them regularly in dry weather.

Hay harvest usually begins about the 25th of the month, after which the great heat of summer begins, and little can be done either in the field or garden.

Printed at the Office of the Wellington Independent, corner of Willis-street and Lambton quay.