Down here in Dunedin, we are currently in the depth of winter. The winter solstice may have been a month ago, but now is the coldest time of the year for us, and will probably stay that way until late August at least. If it's not freezing cold and sunny, it's gray and rainy and soggy (and also still cold). Both outcomes mean not much can be done in the garden at the moment, on frosty days the ground is frozen solid, and on rainy days the garden is very squishy.
My frustration at not being able to get into the garden due to the weather has been made worse by me having minor toe surgery two weeks ago which has turned complicated thanks to an infection (as always, sigh). At the moment I can't fit my bandaged toe into any shoes (well apart from jandals), and if that wasn't bad enough, I'm not allowed to get my bandage and toe wet at all which would totally happen if I attempted to wear jandals in the garden right now. This pretty much means I have been confined to inside my home since the surgery, well apart from when I have to go to the doctors to get my dressing changed.
Just when I began to feel a little down about all this, one of the most exciting gardening days of the year happened, the arrival of the 2023/2024 Kings Seeds Catalogue. There's nothing like ripping open the packaging, sniffing that new magazine smell, and then flipping through the pages to see what seed goodies are available this year.
The first responsible thing to do though is to go through my current flower, herb and vegetable seed stashes and see what I have, there's no point in buying seed when I have plenty stored away already. My seed stashes are split into three sections, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. The flowers and herbs seeds are in disorganized chaos inside some plastic tubs.
The vegetable seeds however are meticulously organized in a craft storage box from Spotlight. It has lots of small containers which I use to separate the vegetable seeds based on each vegetable type. And thanks to my handy dandy label maker I know exactly which container is which. I also use the coloured boxes to match each vegetable type, and this makes it super easy to find the corn and carrot boxes for example.
After I pull out each box I open my garden seed database and check each seed packet, and their use by date, and update the database accordingly. If any seeds are low, or finished, I highlight the database to show which seeds I need to reorder. My database also includes a section to show what times of the year the seed can be sown, and when it has been sown. It's been very handy over the years as long as it's been kept updated.
Once that is completed, it's time to browse the Kings Seeds catalogue. On the first go through I highlight all the things I need, and those that I want. I let myself go wild. After that is done, I knuckle down and make post it notes lists. This list is more focused, and I make a point of deciding things like if I do really need three different varieties of calendula...
After that, the next step is going onto the website. First of all I add stuff to the cart that we absolutely really need. After that I narrow down the other stuff I want and put it in the cart. Sometimes the seeds that I need and want appear in the Kings Seeds shopping rewards list (they have a system where after you spend a certain amount they give you free seed packets). Then I tend to juggle the cart based on if some of my seeds will end up on that list, there's no point wasting money on what will be free seeds.
After all that is done, and I've justified to myself every seed packet in the cart, it's time to pull out the credit card and pay for all my precious seeds. And then the waiting at the letterbox begins...it's nearly just as exciting sorting through all the new seed packets when they arrive.
Are you buying and growing any new varieties of plants this year in your garden? Do you have a seed database like I do? I'd be interested to find out.
Have a wonderful day
Recently it was hubby and my wedding anniversary. It was a big anniversary, the type of one that has precious metal connotations with it.
It's hard to believe it's been 25 years. Hubby and I met in university, back when I was a biochemistry honors student, and he was in 3rd year computer science. We met through a mutual friend, and then over time we became best friends, and then we started dating after falling in love. After a couple of years, we got married, and life has been busy ever since.
We decided for our 25th wedding anniversary we wanted to do something very special, and since I have developed a very large fear of flying (thanks to living in Wellington), we decided to stay somewhere within driving distance.
A number of months earlier I had spotted an Instagram ad for a place in the Mackenzie region called SkyScape. It's a luxury eco-accomodation nestled within tussocks and hillside of Omahau Hill Station. Once I showed hubby that we could have an opportunity to sleep under the stars within the dark sky reserve, similar to places like Finland and Iceland, we booked our stay.
day before our anniversary we drove from Dunedin to just outside of
Twizel, where SkyScape is based. The three SkyScape units are nestled in
the hills on a working farm just before the mountain called The
Pyramid. Each of the units are far away from each other, ensuring
privacy and peace. After settling in, enjoying the central heating on
the cool autumnal day, and cooking a delicious meal, we eagerly awaited
We were extra excited because my phone had been pinging me all day about there being a huge aurora. A KP8 aurora was happening, and we hoped and prayed it would last until I could photograph it. As a keen amateur astro-photographer I had brought all my gear, it was a great chance to do some photography. We prepped my camera gear, got out all our winter clothes and hiking boots, and waited... And oh wow, it was just wonderful, the aurora was huge and big and bright. While taking photos hubby and I witnessed arcs, bands, and rays, all visible to the naked eye.
The aurora was so beautiful and magnificent, it didn't really bother us that it was freezing outside. We stood outside taking photos for a couple of hours, and then once the aurora had begun to disappear, we retreated back to the cozy warmth of our SkyScape unit, and looked up at the milky way through the glass roof above us.
was very special to be going to bed and sleeping under the stars, I
actually found the whole experience very relaxing during the night
whenever I woke up. The
next morning, our wedding anniversary, the sun peeked out over the
horizon, and we were treated to the most amazing sunrise from the
comfiness of our warm bed.
The next few days were quiet and restful, since I was recovering from surgery, and then an infection afterward. We relaxed, read books, I did knitting and cross stitch, and we ate lots of good food. Hubby went for walks on the farm tracks, since I wasn't allowed to be doing that much exercise yet, and he also enjoyed SkyScape's outdoor tub as he soaked under the stars. I'd downloaded TV shows and movies on Netflix and Disney+ on my iPad before we left home, since I knew there was no TV available, and we ate popcorn and snuggled up as we watched shows on my small iPad. We also went into town for supplies, and to walk around, and we found the most amazing bookstore in Twizel called The Twizel Bookshop. The bookstore is tiny, but the owner has the most amazing taste in books. I walked away with a pile of books I'd been wanting for ages, but couldn't find them easily in our local bookstores. They had a great selection of science, gardening, fantasy, and science fiction books for both children and adults, and I'll definitely order from them online in the future.
While we were also in town, I found this amazing giftware store, and I just had to come home with a bee themed mug called "Bee Happy". It got added to my huge mug collection that hubby groans about at every time he opens the kitchen cupboard.
On our last night we went into Twizel for dinner, and came across the institution that is Twizel's Chippery. We waited for our order in the car since it was already getting cool, and drove to a scenic spot to eat dinner while the sun was going down behind the mountains. We headed back to SkyScape very soon after that, a frost was due, and we wanted to return while it was light enough to easily drive the long farm track to the unit.
The next day, we left SkyScape and Twizel, happy and relaxed, and we headed north for the next part of our adventure, visiting Aoraki, and then onto Lake Tekapo. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about our adventure, if you ever get the opportunity to go to somewhere like SkyScape, I thoroughly recommend it. Our hosts were friendly and knowledgeable, and their units are wonderful to stay in. The units were designed to keep warm in winter, and cool in summer, and are solar powered. Water is supplied by a local spring. I really enjoyed their continental breakfasts while we stayed there.
Have a wonderful day