Violet Faigan | Artist, DJ, vintage clothing aficionado and her daughter Clara -
Dunedin NZ, New Zealand April 2013
‘There are constant themes that run through my head when I garden ... I often find myself chatting with my dead friends. I guess it is unsurprising as it is a combination of being aware of life’s cycle and a tremendous feeling of gratefulness to be there, doing what you love.’
The vege patch is alongside our house but also extends a little beyond it. It's on the north east side of the house and gets mainly morning sun. It is really fairly close to the house and quite sheltered.
Our section is quite big but as we have only been at this house a few months i have only got a small amount of vege garden happening. 4 smallish patches. I intend to extend it and to plant fruit trees too.
The soil seems to be quite dense and clayish. It pools easily when I water and goes quite gluggy. It needs a good feed of compost to loosen it up i think. I'm still getting to know it and haven't spent nearly the time i would have liked to in the garden over summer...I'm really excited about the coming seasons, feeding the garden and planning.
Our garden here is just 4 months old! So new! Before this we lived in a house with a tiny courtyard and I extended my gardening needs onto the bank outside my house on council land. This had to be 'pretty' though for me to get away with it. The only veges I grew were globe artichokes. Our new place feels so luxurious, we have a real garden.
Some weeks I spend no time in the garden, others up to 7 hours.
When I was a pre-schooler and my mother was at work I would garden with my grandfather (who lived with us) I think of the shiny ripe yams in the ground and "saving his back" to collect them. Mum is a great gardener, she is 86 now and after a stroke she needs a zimmer frame to get about but she still "plonks" herself in the garden to "scratch about" and pop in a row of radish. She is a vegetarian and has always had an interest in being as self sufficient as her life allowed her to be. (4 kids and a demanding job) She is amazing. She has a great asparagus patch, her property has loads of walnut and apple trees. Harvesting was a family affair, we would individually wrap the apples in newspaper before storing them in the pantry. I think of this in such a romantic way...I'm sure we all moaned and dragged our heels in reality!
I garden with my girls, Clara who is six and Emerald who's three. I get a sense that my partner Malcolm is going to join us as a gardener in this house. He has helped out a few times already and suggested certain crops - he's a great cook so it makes sense. I think I will buy him some gumboots.
Clara just put in her own vege patch this week, she painted the corresponding veges onto big flat stones to mark out her crops. She has a new pink pig watering can. She says she likes digging best and loves to eat straight from the garden, kale and spring onions!
It's a bit early to know what crops will be successful. The red currents in summer were amazing though and the gooseberries too. I need to sort my soil out and then experiment a bit. I have found myself thinking about chickens a lot recently.....
Although it's pretty, I am struggling to eradicate a wild campanula or canterbury bell type thing. It has a clever root system that keeps beating me. Then there is oxalis.....I just dig away and sift through the soil to try and at least retard their growth. Advice would be well received! Also have grass grub.....
Anytime of day is great in a garden! During summer I do love an evening potter when the kids are in bed.
I love the transitional seasons...spring for colour and that sense of what's to come and autumn for its subtlety. or as my mum always says '...mists and mellow fruitfulness...' (although Keats said it first I believe..and fewer times I expect...)
To be asked your garden philosophy is hard! it varies depending what is on my mind..there are constant themes that run through my head when I garden however...I often find myself chatting with my dead friends. I guess it is unsurprising as it is a combination of being aware of life’s cycle and a tremendous feeling of gratefulness to be there, doing what you love.
I almost don't know what 'it' is that gardening gives me, that I cant do without...it's instinctive, reliable it always makes sense.
My fave tool is my hands, for sure. I just need that direct contact with the earth for putting down seeds, patting down the earth, tracking the root of a tenacious weed. I’ve tried to wear gloves but it's not for me. Second to that a sharp pair of secateurs.