Week Seven

It’s been ‘all quiet on the blog front’ and for that, my apologies.  I think it was karma giving me a bit of a kick from the previous post about ‘being busy.’  I’ve learned my lesson, nuff said.

One of the most beautiful things about this grand house, are its “gardens.”  I never quite got used to the switch from the term “backyard” in the US, to “garden” in the UK as most gardens I saw were in London and were patios with a pot of grocery store herbs re-potted at best…but now, living amongst this glory, I can call it our “garden” and feel it’s the perfect term.

The front garden is abundant with rose bushes.  Small white ones, pink, amber, peach and yellow fill the raised beds that frame the front brick wall and line the front windows.

The back garden has 3-tiers.  Near the house, is a brick raised garden with sweet trees that give us shade in the kitchen and frame the patio.  This opens out into a top tier that is ringed with an almost french-styled rosemary hedge.  The inner, lower tier has these amazing ‘wedding cake’ trees and tons of iris, petunias, and fox glove.

And the top third tier has a lovingly built raised bed veggies garden.  This has been such a focus of mine, that I’ll leave the veg garden for its own post (oh joy…see how old I’ve become, I get excited about posting about my veg garden…just call me Nan.)

So my story for this post is a perfect example of my experience these past months of the balance of being an immigrant in a new country and how it frames your perspective.

I am so very glad I had the experience of living in London as my first experience living outside the US.  It was a culture shock that took about 6 months to navigate.  But even in London I was surrounded by Americans who knew about good peanut butter, and Thanksgiving and there were GAPs in which to shop and even a Banana Republic so it was an easy first experience.

So here I am in New Plymouth, New Zealand.  Going from living in a small San Francisco Victorian House, to a series of small flats in London to this grand house with a GARDEN!  Wow, I’m excited.  I’m ALL IN.  Get me into that GARDEN!

But you see, I don’t really know much about gardening in New Zealand.  I’ve had a veg garden in New York the summer after I graduated from Cortland, and tended a small patch in San Francisco, but I’ve never gardened in this cornucopia of amazing soil where everything ‘grows like a weed’ nor have I done so in Taranaki, which is truly called the ‘garden of New Zealand’ and hosts a garden festival each year with 50+ gardens of distinction on display.

So here I am, this New Yorker, putting on my cute Cath Kidson gloves, donning the wellies, buying a nice metal watering can (no plastic for me even though I had to go to 3 stores to find the metal version and needless to say the price,) and getting into my garden.  I literally have spent every day, each weekend since we’ve moved in, “In The Garden.”  Each time I get proud of my work ridding the garden of weeds, someone pops in and points one out.  Each time I think I get the place looking tip top, and gorgeous, a native Kiwi shows me the wisdom that the little flowering thing in the corner that I’ve left, is the worst sort of weed, and will take over the whole garden unless I get it out.  Rod comes over and goes, “No, that’s a weed, pull it out.” So basically – I don’t know what I am doing.  Ok, I like a challenge, bring it.

I was showing Rod’s sweet sister the garden and she quickly pointed out a bunch of plants and told me they were ‘Fox Glove”, and told me to quickly get rid of them as they are the worst sort of weed and can actually kill animals, (she is a dairy farmer, that’s her perspective.)  I trust her completely and think she’s fabulous, so I quickly yanked them out.   About a week later, I was at a garden during the festival and saw the most lovely flowers (the lead photo on this post,) asked what they were, and were quickly told, “Fox Glove.”


I went out and bought a half dozen and replanted them.

It’s all perspective isn’t it?

We all come from where we come from. I just happen to be this girl from Long Island New York, who chose to come to New Plymouth, Taranaki New Zealand by way of San Francisco and London.  What is a truly poisonous plant to one person, is another’s delight.

What is to some a garden of weeds, is my glory.  I’ve tried lately to stop complaining about being ‘busy’ and overwhelmed.

I truly am unable to walk through our garden and see the weeds. 

By virtue of my perspective and experience in life, I may never see them. 

Isn’t that just marvelous?  I love it here. 

One thought on “Week Seven

  1. Oh, Rachel, wish you had shared this with me earlier, I know a bit about plants, and gardening, but I understand it is about learning on your own, and you will. Everything you put your heart into is such a success, as this will be. GARDEN ON, my daughter!

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