Garden of Strife. Hehe.

Posted by: James on: Tuesday, 26th July, 2011

Digging our garden is like doing a jigsaw: you look for the straight edges and distinctive colours first. If there’s a straight edge, it’s either a submerged sheet of steel or a shard of manky glass – the muddy splotches of bright colour are clothes pegs, bottle caps and plastic bags.

There’s a pretty reliable weekly rubbish pickup service, but it seems that wasn’t convenient enough for the previous tenant or someone who lived over the fence. Add to the junk a collapsed brick wall that we’ve partially reconstituted to create a compost area and a Nasturtium plant so virulent that it’s reappeared in the same area it was dug out of a mere fortnight earlier – and you’ve got some idea of our garden.

Our garden before - nastirtium prevails

What lies beneath? No, seriously.

Up until a couple of weeks ago we had grand plans for this garden. Underneath all of the above obstacles is actually a patch of beautiful dark loam (I’ve been rolling the word around my mouth like a good whisky ever since turning over the first forkload – although I’m pretty sure it’s not the correct term). It’s good volcanic New-Zealand soil, in which you can reputedly grow practically anything – and that was the plan, but now we’ve decided to leave.

The reason can’t be simply stated – it’s the kind of thing I’d have several different answers for depending on what kind of day I was having. The reason I’m giving today is this: we came to NZ because we couldn’t stay in London – personally I’ve felt more pushed than pulled to NZ. There’s plenty I like here – nice people, the great outdoors and all that, but it’s also just a bit too much like a sandwich of England and America with oriental seasoning. I’m starting to think it would be nice to have a proper culture shock – and so we’ll move on.

What we’ll take away is important though: this garden might be riddled with Nasturtium by the time we leave, but its successor hopefully won’t. We’ve got an idea of how we’re going to manage a garden and Ash has been researching the kinds of things we want to grow in it. And, gardening aside, we’ve stayed largely true to our ideas of how we wanted to live – our flat has been cheaply furnished with items from Freecycle and TradeMe (ebay for kiwis) and we’ve even made a couple of bits – we have a rather good table that was once a door but has now been painted a beautiful shade of grey called something like ‘Baltic Sea’ (I think there was once called ‘Zeus’ too!) – it sits proudly atop four stacks of second-hand hard-backed childrens’ books with illustrations of derring-do and exploration on the spines. We rejuvenated a crummy old desk from the shed that once looked like a kindergarten project, but is now a clean bright white, with sunny yellow drawers. I bake bread, which mostly turns out ok, but sometimes goes soggy in the middle. We make up our own muesli and home brew beer. We go to farmers markets in preference to supermarkets and we zealously horde and recycle pots and containers.

These are all pieces of the life we want to live: part of a jigsaw – and we’re only just working out the edges at the moment.

1 Response to "Garden of Strife. Hehe."


Hope all is well for you. My darling daughter might be considered by some to be a tad headstrong as well as bedheaded. Nothing you don’t already know. Some levelheaded (how’s that for metaphorical repetition?) person needs to provide occasional course correction.

All the best,


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A fairly loose blog about the places I go and the things I think. May also include left-leaning social commentary derived in part from video games.

What I’ve been on about: