The only one, real rule here on the Homestead is that there are no passengers.
Well, that’s not totally true but it made for a good opening sentence. “Don’t Practice Your Lionel Messi Moves in the Garden” is a pretty hard and fast rule (the lopsided nature of the espaliered Granny Smith apple tree provides a permanent reminder of that one) , as is “Don’t Hassle the Animals” and, come to think of it, we tend to turn a blind eye to Clank’s prolonged breaks from egg laying. But all things considered, as a rule of thumb, passengers on the Homestead are frowned upon. And that goes for plants too. If we can’t eat it, make something from it, woo the bees, or exploit it’s bad-insect repelling qualities, we’re not going to allocate it good garden space . But that was before we saw her: Daisy Kingfisher. It all started with the earthquakes and their effect on our rickety front fence, effectively moving it from the “We Really Must Do Something About That One Day” box to the one marked “Don’t Breath on the Fence!”. Time passed, our insurance company waved their magic wand, and one all-hands-on-deck weekend saw the fence removed in preparation for flash new one (chosen after a prolonged period of HD*). Also removed were all plants (admittedly 80% couch grass and oxalis, 10% scraggly self seeded alyssum, 10% stuff pillaged from Jude Nextdoor’s) from that little strip of garden that runs between fence base and the footpath. The new fence really demanded a more salubrious floral accessory and so more HD was required. Michael from across the road suggested avoiding anything easily picked by passersby, citing his shredded agapanthus flowers littering the footpath; a lovely lady waiting at the bus stop recommended something low growing to avoid wind blown litter collection. Out came the trusty Kings Seed (www.kingsseeds.co.nz) catalogue. What we needed was a low growing, unpretentious, hardy, low maintenance specimen of floral wonder. What we needed was Daisy Kingfisher.
Never has a seed order been so eagerly awaited; never has the progress of one glasshouse resident been so ardently discussed. What a glorious day it was when the first hint of Daisy shoot appeared! Zucchini, tomato, capsicum and aubergine development didn’t get a look in; it was all about Daisy. Somehow the promise of this freeloading plant had stolen centre stage in our garden opera. Then, because this is real life, the horrid day dawned when throwing open the glasshouse door revealed a site of mass destruction. Glistening silver trails menacingly criss-crossed the makeshift bench of potted future crops. Tomatoes were ignored, but everything else was sampled by the nocturnal visitors. Daisy had fared better than some, having lost but one and three quarters of her number. An eradication programme befitting the no spray, no chemicals, let’s-all-just-be-kind-to-each-other Homestead ethos was put into place: The glasshouse was emptied, several slumbering snails were located and consigned to the chicken coop to the delighted squawks of Clank and the Tinks, a bottle of beer was donated to the cause to lure the demise of any missed gastropods. There, that was that taken care of it! The following morning revealed our folly. Entire aubergine and capsicum seedlings had disappeared overnight, zucchini leaves had artistically scalloped edges and Daisy? Oh poor, poor Daisy! We were now down to six slightly slimy, bedraggled plantlets. War was declared! Live and let live be damned, this was now personal. That night we pounced. Clad in our various night attire, torch in hand we crept down the shingle path towards the glasshouse. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want, but I want you to know…” muttered one of our number ala Liam Neeson. Big, fat, feasting snails were plucked midmouthful and incarcerated until daylight and the awakening of the poultry. Handfuls of snails. Squadrons of them. Snail battalions.
But for all but one Daisy-ette, it was too late. We’ve sown another generation of Daisy, but our heart wasn’t in it. Out the front the alyssum has once again moved in, as have a couple of self sown cornflowers, and a run of the mill white daisy. Don’t get me wrong, we’d love to see her blue, metallic sheen flowers (a great colour-match for our future window sills) with their conspicuous golden eyes snuggling the feet of our glorious new fence, but at the end of the day she’s just a passenger. A pretty passenger, granted, but she would never pull her weight here on the Homestead. Besides, what is more gorgeous than a luscious succulent zucchini bloom? Or more vibrant than flowering runner beans? Or more delicately pretty than the feijoa flower? And at the end of the day, they stump up with the goods. So, no more passengers here on the Homestead. We’re taking a leaf from Shakespearean Titania’s book and seeing Eggplant’s bud over Daisy’s flower. We’re no longer enamoured of an ass-ter.