Boutique permaculture in urban Auckland –


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SALLY TAGG/NZ GARDENER/StuffAmanda Warren runs Pandeia Te Taiao. “I design gardens for the wellbeing of people and nature in harmony with each other,” she says.Amanda Warren wants her beautiful and unique permaculture garden in Auckland’s St Heliers to inspire more people to grow their own food. Warren has a degree in landscape architecture, which partly explains how she came to the bold decision to terrace the agapanthus-infested slope behind her house. This has given her a north-facing sowing and growing space roughly equalling a quarter-acre. Here, she plants an inordinate amount of veges, flowers and fruit trees. It is an amazing transformation: “Before this, there had been a massive hawthorn in a corner, some pine trees and lots of concrete,” she recalls. READ MORE: From medlars and carob to American pawpaw, Hawke’s Bay farm grows unusual edibles Meet the gardener living her self-sufficient dream in central New Plymouth Organic & off-grid: The quarter-acre dream like you’ve never seen it before In keeping with the permaculture principles she holds dear, Warren has lettuces and herbs in beds and pots next to the kitchen and house. Compost and worm bins are tucked at the shady end of the garden, blending anonymously into the green “wall” of old established trees (including a lemon) and perennials.SALLY TAGG/NZ GARDENER/StuffDiverse systems have been integrated into this small space. As one climbs the wide stone steps towards the upper terraces, the garden reveals itself: bulging bags of potato plants, beans, berry canes, brassicas… If you’re not familiar with the vege plants, they are easy to miss as the eye is inevitably drawn to the pops of red, pink, purple, yellow, orange and everything in between from borage, rambling nasturtium, roses, masses of sweet peas and alyssum, salvia, daisies – to name just a few. Further up still, into zones two and three, a birdbath, then beehives (both horizontal top-bar and traditional), as well as a small plastichouse, used for sowing seeds. “I highly recommend it as a cheap and effective way of growing seedlings,” says Warren.SALLY TAGG/NZ GARDENER/StuffThese surprisingly well-behaved silkie chooks provide fertiliser, eggs and entertainment. Silkie bantams Duchess, Florence, Mummy, Baby Gold, Maria and Mavis provide fresh eggs, “when they are not on strike!” Keep climbing, up to the compact home orchard, with newly planted fruit trees (all within their own polyculture guild of complementary plants) and even a tiny banana grove where several generations have thrived. More recently, she has just planted a stevia in the front garden (which is also home to Tuatara the pet tortoise), and is still nursing a water chestnut as she reads up on the best way to plant it up. “I experiment with the plantings, to demonstrate to myself that one can grow lots of food and still have a beautiful place.”Use these basic ideas to make your home garden more productive and sustainable. The integration of diverse systems has veges and flowers mixing and mingling chummily to the constant birdsong and hum of happy bees. These little critters don’t seem to interest 19-year-old cat Candy nor sweet golden retrievers Kea, 12 years old, and two-year-old Tekarua. Framing it all – as one looks up and up from the deck next to the house – are flaxes as well as native and established trees. This picturesque scene defies expectations of what a productive permaculture garden looks like.SALLY TAGG/NZ GARDENER/StuffHay is liberally used as mulch all over the garden. Even with all the stepping up and down, garden maintenance is not too onerous. For one thing, Warren is a fan of Ruth Stout, an American author and gardener who advocated the use of hay as a permanent mulch on well, everything. This no-dig method – which Warren learned at the Taranaki Festival’s Sustainable Backyard Trail – minimises watering and weeding, improves the soil and requires little labour, she assures me. Plus, Warren is not the only one to love, care for and use the garden in meaningful ways. Since setting up her company Garden for Wellbeing Pandeia Te Taiao, She shares it with garden maintenance and design specialist Olivia Bayley, and plant-based chef Amy Klitscher, who set up her zero-waste catering company – The Sustainable Food Co – last year.SALLY TAGG/NZ GARDENER/StuffFood entrepreneur Amy Klitscher is the founder of The Sustainable Food Co, New Zealand’s first zero-waste catering company. Together, the trio recently started running permaculture workshops for city dwellers and renters interested in growing and cooking their own food sustainably. Warren and Bayley take participants through the sowing and growing, after which they are directed to harvest from the garden much of the ingredients Klitscher uses to prepare the shared vegan lunch, which is also an opportunity to demonstrate her waste-free tips and ideas for the kitchen. The workshop emphasises small scale, sustainable and zero waste – all achievable in the modest sections and tiny decks of our biggest city.SALLY TAGG/NZ GARDENER/StuffOlivia Bayley designs and maintains gardens through her company Lush Greenery Gardens. The goal is to kickstart (or simply refresh) the city gardener’s permaculture journey, showing that reconnecting with nature is both doable and practical in urban situations. Focus is on soil, seasonal veges and pest control. Under Olivia’s guidance, participants get their hands dirty potting up a “salad bowl” (lettuces and herbs) to take home – because, given Auckland’s mild climate, “nobody should have to actually buy salads,” Warren says.SALLY TAGG/NZ GARDENER/StuffAmanda Warren’s thoughtful design makes for a beautiful and productive permaculture garden in her St Heliers home. Perhaps more importantly, they meet other hope-to-be-green thumbs, finding an immediate peer support group. The trio ran three half-day workshops last year, starting after Auckland’s second Covid-19 lockdown in October. “We don’t really know what it will be like going forward but there’s huge interest so far,” says Warren. “It seems to be answering a call for many people. After what we’ve all been through, there seems to be a greater understanding of the need for more self-sufficiency and sustainability.”SALLY TAGG/NZ GARDENER/StuffAmanda bottles honey from the hives in her garden. This is perfectly in line with Klitscher’s personal approach to catering and cooking. The chef believes the past year has heightened Kiwis’ interest in healthy, sustainable food. “And the best thing about that is that just small changes in the way we approach and prepare our food can get us there,” she says. Bayley’s involvement stems from her longheld belief that pretty hedges and structural grasses can exist harmoniously within organic edible plots that will help gardeners feed their families too. “I try to implement organic practices within all my maintenance gardens and help the client grow their own passion for their outdoor space,” she says. Having worked in Auckland gardens of various sizes for many years (her own company is called Lush Greenery Gardens), Bayley has noticed a marked rush of clients eager to brighten up their personal spaces now – and that includes the garden. They are also keen to learn the basics of gardening. “A lot of people did their own gardens and learnt quickly it can be tricky,” she says. “My wish is for people to realise the potential of their space.”Stuff
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