My truck was in the garage, I went to Auckland for 24 hours and there was stuff to take care of with my father so I hadn't worked since last Wednesday. I'd intended to go JNKs but there was a car in the way of where I need to back the truck in so today I stopped in and asked if they could move it sometime. Of course they were very happy to do that and I was able to do two loads until even my yellow safety glasses weren't bright enough for me to see anymore. I was going to dump the second load because I have a big day tomorrow but when I had to turn my headlights on, I realised I really did just have to stop!
Which I did. Outside the legendary Lobster Pot. I hadn't been in there since I was a kid but instead of ordering a piece of fish, I got Shrimp Chowmein. It felt like such a treat after a couple of hours of sawing dead branches and scraping up wandering dew.
This time you need to keep an eye on the Nikau (?) in the very middle to get a sense of the changes (that's the scruffy one you see in the top two).
When I trimmed it last week, it had one open frond and one tightly shut so it was a real reward to see this tonight...
Now to the mysteries...I'm the first to admit that a) I never know what I'm doing and just go by instincts and b) this means I don't know many plants.
So I found a virtual miniture forest under these trees today. All of them had baby ones of the themselves coming up all around them and I felt mean ripping them out but I could tell by their parents that it wasn't wise to leave them there. BUT I also didn't know which ones to keep for planting elsewhere either. I'd sooo appreciate your help by first telling me if the above plant is actually a Nikau or something else then by identifying the below three plants and tell me the pro's and con's for keeping/relocating or greenwasting them. I get a sense they might be natives but that for every one I've pulled out, 3 will soon appear in it's place - especially now there is light and air around them...
I'd done three loads from three differenct gardens a few days ago but I still had energy for one more so I rolled into JNKs around 6 when no-one was there. I reversed the truck right into the very back and went crazy.
The trimming of the hedges was the easy part.
You can't see it in the first image but because all the inner branches of those bushes were dead, there was kneehigh Wandering Dew under it and that was the challenge. You can just see in the far corner of the second image where I got up to before it got too dark.
Now that Father's been discharged from hospital after 2 months and is home, his needs have increased. He's always had only one functional arm but since his stroke, he has to have pills at 5 different times of the day, a patch, a fizzy pill twice a day, and have all his meals prepared for him. But here's the thing. His Carers he gets for half and hour each morning and night aren't allowed to give him pills and aren't allowed to use a stove. This means it's become our (my) responsibility to give him both, defeating the purpose of having Carers. And because my brother's at sea, I've had to set alarms and drop what I'm doing to go do these things myself.
So gardening has become my happy place. No matter how frustrated or sad I get about my Father's decline, the minute I get in my truck, everything disappears.
After giving Father his afternoon pills, which I added the night pills to so I didn't have to check in later that he'd taken them, I drove straight to one of my Timebank colleagues place and stole a pile of branches, Wandering Dew and Nasturtiem from her garden. It was so satisfying taking twice as much as what she hoped for. And she generously gave me two hours into my bank. I'm not sure if that was from the relief of having the piles gone or because she knows I'm hoarding hours that I can pay lots of people to help with a major clean up mission next year.
Either way, I would have paid her for giving me a job where I was able to abandon my cares for an hour...
I went like crazy this weekend to get JNKs finished before clients start arriving on Monday. My dear friend Fiona helped with some big stuff on Saturday and at 5pm on Sunday, I was done. I told the new tenant that I'll go back on nights and weekends and potter away with the back area. I told her I wasn't going to go all 'forensic' on the back area but later she told me they were going to fence it off so children can run around there. Now I can't wait to make it a fun little area with mystery things for them to discover. I already found a concrete piglet that I've tucked under some agi's and someone had placed a few painted stones that I've distributed for others to find randomly. (When looking at the images, that one big rock in the middle is the same one in all of them).
You'll notice I put a few rushes against the wall to create more privacy between the two properties. And you can imagine how much I enjoyed digging up all those rocks and placing them. Have I told you how much I love rocks?!
Fiona was working to the right and I was to the left so putting Boomie, my portable speaker on her motorbike seat was perfect. I've left it in the garden overnight and even run over it when I'd left it on the truck and it fell off so there was no way it was going to get damaged or forgotten here ;-)
My happy place ;-)
It's all go at JNK's place. I drove past this morning on my way to dump last nights load and there were vehicles everywhere, including a monstrous moving van. Luckily I had lots to do so didn't go back till after lunch. The moving vehicles had gone and there were only cars left so I was able to park up and start work.
You can imagine how excited I was when I discovered what lay beneath that first images mess! And there are quite a few more rocks in amongst the rest of the plants but I'd be there till Christmas if I tried to do the whole area so I settled happily on this small Zenish space.
I have my music on random rotate everyday and after digging out the stray agies, just as I was pulling the creeping hedge off the magnificent rock, the song Whakaaria Mai came on. It felt like a moment - as if the rock was thanking me for giving it back daylight or something...
Last night my step-father surprised me with the offer to come and waterblast the wood fence that the hedge had been all over. The neighbours had obviously waterblasted the section they put back in (to Jim's left) so it stood out.
What a difference huh?! Jim (and Ruby!) did a spectacular job.
Now that the fence is complete, I'll distribute some of the ferns to fill in the gaps...
So now I have one last section to do in the front then I can move around the back.
I've been gathering stray plants from the other areas to fill in this one because it's the only part on the whole section that's fairly bare. I'll try take better images this time...
The images are a little cropped by the software so if you click on them, you get to see the whole picture. I've tried using three different options to show you the images - there's the slideshow, the gallery (the last two) then individual images (the one above). Which do you prefer?
What an interesting week!
I drove past the site in the weekend when taking a load from Kam's place and saw that the fence had been filled in. At first I thought the owners were super on to it and had got it done then I realised by the age of the fence that it was obviously the neighbours putting back up the missing piece. It turns out that the hedge Willy accidentally cut through had been the bane of their existence and were thrilled to see it gone. Who could have guessed?!
They took a bunch more hedge out too but when I met the K of JNK later, she was super relaxed about it all and was really pleased with what had been done so far.
Yesterday I did the front of the building. I realise a lot of the images are barely recognisable. In this one, get your bearings by the windows.
Again, sorry for the crap images...
I knew the new tenants were going on a looksee on Wednesday and I wanted it be a less Tarzan or Jane and more Zen experience making their way up to their new front door so today I focused on the walkway. It was by far the toughest day so far. I'd asked my cousin if she knew any flax weavers who would like some flax because I knew I would have to trim it all today. The first question she asked was Is it the tall straight sort or the short floppy one? Until that second, I had never noticed the difference but when I looked around with new eyes, I could see there were about 5 of each. I told her when I'd be there and no-one came so I tentatively started 'sculpting' the flaxes and dug out two to replant in a bare space over the other side of the carpark. And more treasure. Two more substantial rocks!
You know how I said we just see the beauty in things and bring them out? This is what I mean. Those two rocks were completely covered by flax and all those cute little clumps of grasses? All there too. The bonus was a bunch of bark pushed up against the fence that I was able to rake down to cover the whole garden once I'd finished.
Tonight, after feeding father and in the pouring rain, I went back with my step-fathers lawn mower and whipped over the back grass area. With that close look at the back area, I realised I'm not even half way through yet! However, the only reason I wished I didn't see it all is that now I'm impatient to get back there and uncover and rearrange all those treasures too!
Talk about full immersion!
You know you're in the right business when you can't get enough of video's in your line of work.
And when the soundtrack is Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle talking about the mind? I listen to what I call Motivids everyday while on the job so how was I not doing this 20 years ago?
The words on one of my favourite pieces of art in my collection say But then again...I've always had a thing for Cowboys. Remember when I told you my brother and I were happily calling ourselves Cowboys?
I think I might have a New Thing for Garden Cowboys. These boys are speaking my language and Ohhhhh The Powertools!!!
I know I'm pedantic in my work, and I may be pitiful watching lawn mowing videos on a Friday night but I've never felt so powerful in my conviction that even though I really don't know what I'm doing, I'm doing exactly what I'm meant to be doing right now...
One of the most rewarding experiences I had was when I lived with a dear friend whose surroundings were chaos. Mountains of everything, everywhere. When I asked if he wanted to move into my house, he warned me he was messy. Of course I already knew this and said I wouldn't judge his messiness if he didn't judge my tidiness. So I made a suggestion that might work. I kept the bathroom and kitchen clean then I gave him the dining room as his space and kept the lounge as mine. He thought that might work and moved in.
It didn't take long for me to realise that he knew where every single thing was in his piles. I would need a copy of a bill and he would magically go to the exact place in the pile and pull it out. This taught me the sensitivity and respect to other people’s sense of order that I've mentioned elsewhere.
When his stuff started arriving and staying in my lounge, I let him in on one of my tricks. The Dump Spot. I asked him to allocate a space in the dining room where I could put whatever needed to be relocated back to him and he chose a corner of the table.
I never had any reason to go into the dining room because I ate in the lounge on my knee and he enjoyed joining me occasionally in the peace and warmth of the lounge so this set up worked perfectly and we never once had an issue in the almost two years we lived together.
Yesterday I got order in the garden in front of the left hand carparks. It's hard to tell but I pulled out and rearranged all the plants and kept a few aside for planting elsewhere. I was so happy to find a bulbous rock - except I didn't know how round it was until I tried lifting it off the dirt - turns out it was an iceberg rock and I had to dig deep - you can see the dirt line of how deep it went.
I felt it deserved it's own mantel against the fence.
When I came back after taking Father his dinner, I felt like a change of scenery and gratification so I started on the opposite carpark. By the time it got dark, I'd pulled down a truckload of hedge so I left it there because I'd arranged to have Willy work with me today so being a wiry, strong kind of guy, I knew he'd have it loaded in seconds.
In the first two images, you can see how the hedge behind had grown over the ferns and down onto the tarseal. That was the first layer to go. Then I was thrilled to find that the agi's all along the front were only on a one inch mat of dirt so after Willy loaded the truck this morning, I got him to cut squares around them and put them to the side to plant along the front of the building where it was bare. Score!
I'd also uncovered a small ponga fence that was in mostly good shape so with removing the agi's and going back to the ponga's we managed to reclaim about a metre of carpark space in the end.
(I'm just noticing the difference in image quality. The top two were taken with my old Nokia N8 - 41 megapixel camera, and the bottom with my new Samsung Galaxy A8 - 13 megapixel camera)
Earlier in the day, we found an old broken trellis fence woven into the myriad of branches from the hedge to the left of the tree in the last image. In order to get it out, Willy had to cut most of the branches away so tonight when I went back, I had to pull all the branches away because they would have started withering anyway. Fortunately I'd kept a bunch of new shoots of another hedge so I planted them in the gap. Turns out there were already a whole lot of shoots of the same hedge starting anyway so it felt like a confirmation of the right choice ;-)
What was that bit about a realistic quote?!
I've done almost 7 hours at JNK's already in two days and only cleared a tiny section of the property. But luckily, when I was mulling over the quote, I didn't settle on the amount based on the hours so much as what I would be happy being paid to do the job. I'm really really enjoying it and love that I can come and go based on the intensity of the sun and my energy levels. I've found that working in the morning then after I've taken Father his meal to the hospital when it's both cooler and quieter with the less traffic works best.
Just as I was finishing off the last bit of the corner in the last shot, I found a bunch of huge rocks behind the Agapantha's so I can't wait to get back to those tomorrow. The next section of garden is very bitsy with lots of wonderful plants but they've got too big and grown in odd places that hopefully I might be able to redistribute, along with the rocks ;-)
Have I told you how much I love my job?!
I may have a new phone but I'm still not taking very good shots - so apologies that they're not like all those other flash Instagram whizzy images that you're used to seeing...
I'm starting to get really busy already but when Alex invited me out again on Sunday, I couldn't wait! For a place out the back of nowhere, there sure are a lot of people in the neighbourhood and there were visitors all day. My kinds of visitors. It was so much fun and I almost felt guilty logging my 2 hours with Timebank because I felt like I just ate and talked and laughed the whole time.
As I was driving out their driveway, I saw that I had a missed call from Kim. She'd rung me about doing a major (paid) clean up of a commercial property she was a co-owner of. I'd been over to it, taken a ton of images and videos and thanks to all the work I'd done at Kam's place, I was able to give what I felt like was a realistic quote.
I pulled over, turned the truck off and rang her back.
She said they wanted to go ahead with the quote and could I start tomorrow?
I was ecstatic and it was the perfect end to a glorious day...