Chris Elliot & Rachel Strong | Art Director & Jewellry maker and stunt sewer
Grey Lynn, Auckland New Zealand | March 2012
‘Gardening comes naturally, it doesn’t matter how good at it you are. We just fumble our way through it and we always get results – sometimes they are f**king amazing!’... more words below photos ...
Our garden is on the edge of an old bowling green in Grey Lynn, Auckland. It is elevated and faces East. Including the olive, avocado and fruit trees it covers about 300 square metres. We have been growing here for about 9 years.
We built our garden. Starting with clay, we sliced our way through it – adding compost, lime, blood and bone meal and sweat.
R: We garden with each other. Getting stuck in for a few hard days now and then followed by less effort. On average I spend an hour a week and Chris spends a bit less.
C: My dad and his dad are my inspiration. Serious gardeners. Now 83, my dad is down to just 2 acres and yet he still can’t help himself. He is taking out climbing roses and planting runner beans, removing decorative trees and replacing them with fruit trees.
Tomatoes, beans, strawberries, citrus, grapes, raspberries, spuds all grow well here. We struggle to grow good carrots and eggplants.
We have two hives with quite a few bees – (which were unusually unhappy on the day of our meeting! Chris and I were stung several times and Rachel got a bee stuck in her hair.)
Our number one pest is snails. We used to pick off literally thousands. Leaves would be covered in handfuls. We’d be crushing them whilst our daughter was trying to save them. We’d pick off bucket loads and use bottles and bottles of beer in bowls to trap them. They fall in and start fizzing and then die.
R: I love nice full trugs of happy produce. My favourite time to garden is the cool of the morning.
C: Anytime is a good time to be in the garden because I don’t get out there enough, early summer is the best time when the strawberries are in full swing, the tomatoes are getting bigger, the beans are starting to run up the poles, the raspberries are fat and there is an expectation of good things to come.
The garden gives us another dimension to our life in the city, it brings the country to town. We are both creative and it’s a creative thing to garden. We love growing food.
The best moments in our garden so far have been eating our first proper asparagus meal with fresh Jersey Benne potatoes.
Our favourite way of socializing is drinking Pernod with friends in the railway carriage.
C: To use a sporting cliché ‘Just do it!’ I think it’s astounding what you can get done in a garden in 15 minutes.
R: Anyone can have a small garden anywhere. You can grow beans in a pot on a balcony or roof. If you are flatting just throw some runner bean seeds along the bottom of a fence. Runner beans are a great ‘veggie result plant’.