Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sustainable Garden Hive

The sustainable garden, situated in the beautiful Hamilton Gardens, is run on permaculture methods and values. It is completely spray and chemical free, has 2 chookies ( hens) that are let out of their coop each day to free range, the hen house is also shifted around the garden regularly so the girls can dig over and fertilise each plot, a flow-form water reticulation set-up, and last but certainly not least, a working bee hive !!
There are veges and flowers, herbs and fruit trees grown in this small garden, it is seasonal, rich in insects and birds ..

The hive is placed on a platform on top of a pergola, north facing and protected from the cold south westerly weather by a trellis affair. It is checked regularly by a local bee keeper, as I work down here in the Gardens for the Horticultural campus
of a teaching institution, I am going to ask if I can be the keeper of these bees.
There has been acouple of vandelism episodes where idiots have knocked the hive down, with any luck they got stung, but each time the bees have carried on regardless - such forgiving creatures ..
On a summers day, sitting under the vine covered trellis, if you listen carefully you will hear the contented hum of the bees ..
Actually, most people don`t even notice the hive of industry happening right above them, not unless they stop for awhile.

The bees have a wide range of flowering plants and trees to choose from, including this pretty cherry, Prunus campanulata or Tui tree as it is known here in NZ. The bright pink blossom attact Tui and other nectar drinking birds, it is also the first cherry to bloom - always a welcome sign of spring after a dreary winter. It is not a native tree, cherries being introduced here in the late 1890`s - it is a good source of nectar at this time of the year for native and exotic birds. The Tui in the picture below is sitting on a native flax, Phormium tenax, also another very rich in nectar plant - the bird`s long brush-like tongue getting right down into each flower for the sweet treat ! Tui are real characters, quite big birds with irridescent blue green/black feathers and a white tuft under the beak, also called the Parson bird for obvious reasons. They have an amazing range of song, from the sound of a creaky door right through to the most pure bell-like chiming. They imitate other birds and human sounds, including a chainsaw !


julechen said...

I'll be back in NZ for the first time in 4 years and I'll be visiting a friend who now lives in Hamilton. I'm really looking forward to visiting all these gorgeous places you mention. Thank you for the great guide and photos!

Ngaio said...

When you get back to NZ stay in touch and we can talk bees !! I hope the course goes well, I am totaly besotted with the creatures !

julechen said...

Maybe I'll see you at the sustainable garden looking after the bees in January/February!

I'm very excited about the course. I just hope the guy will try to speak "hoch Deutsch" (high german) for me so I'll understand something! I have already found a place to keep my bees (laws are quite strict here about where you can keep them) and I'm just interested now to see exactly how time-consuming this hobby will be.

Your blog is extremely interesting. Even for somebody who grew up in NZ. You put me to shame with your knowledge of native trees, plants etc!

Ngaio said...

Plants are one of my passions, especially NZ natives. I have a Diploma in Horticulture and specialised in natives. Will your bees be in a rural or urban situation ? I wish we had courses here, I have read anything I can get my hands on about bees, I belong to our local bee club and do the newsletter now, surf the net alot and generally pick anyones brain that have had bees !!

julechen said...

Okay, so I don't need to be ashamed anymore!

I live in a village on the outskirts of Vienna, right next to the Vienna Woods. Perchtoldsdorf. A piano student of mine has offered his huge, overgrown and wild garden to my maybe future bees. He lives in the next village 5 mins away. There are loads of fruit trees everywhere and vineyards about 300m away. Perfect for bees? It's wine country.

I am so excited about next week. 2 hours 2 x per week for 9 weeks. There is a shortage of beekeepers in Austria because no young people are taking over the job anymore. So the govt. is trying to encourage interest by offering incentives such as, if I complete the course and DO become a beekeeper I will have my course fee reimbursed. Also, if I buy all the gear and I have completed this course, I will receive 40% back from the cost.

Doesn't sound like you need any more bee info. You're obviously a natural talent!

Ngaio said...

You lucky thing, I would give my back teeth for the chance to do a course like that !! I have really just blundered along reading books and talking to other beekeepers. I love it so much I don`t mind the odd sting

How wonderful to live near the Vienna Woods, do you live there permenantly?
I`m sure you will get so much from this course and have your bees set for next spring.