Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy New Year

We like to celebrate the Chinese New Year by going to the Lantern Festival at Albert Park in Auckland City. It's become a family tradition, I think we first took Alex when he was about 2 years old. It's always packed with people (about 100 000 attend over three nights), and the lanterns get better every year. Some of them have become old favourites.

A duckherder (minus his head, whoops), and his ducks. I have an affection for ducks, having my own of course, and the Chinese obviously value them as well.

It's always a bit random as to what events  and performances we see as we are never so planned as to look at an actual programme. It's so crowded that you kind of just have to go with the flow. This year Alex was particularly delighted that we happened upon the martial arts demonstrations. He has been doing judo over the 2-3 years, so recognised a lot of the moves. Although judo is a lot gentler than some of the other martial arts we saw. There was even a ninjitsu club which had all the costumes, very long weapons, and came complete fake blood in the mock battle scenes. It was an odd combination of serious fighting techniques that they had obviously trained hard for, and highly staged playacting. The tae kwon do was my favourite, with all ages partcipating, I particularly liked their precise high kicking abilities. They looked like they were enjoying themselves a lot. I would have taken some photos except the sun was shining right into the camera at that stage, and moving would have been too hard.

Instead, it was hard to resist taking photos of every lantern that you came across. Photo of butterfly above by Alex.

 There is definitely something about the dragons. It is also the year of the dragon, and both Mike and I were born in the year of the dragon.

And finally, for this is a garden blog after all, a snail about to chow down on the pak choy. If only they really did light up at night it would make snail hunting a lot easier.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Seed Saving

I'm a rather random seed saver. But it is always satisfying. And despite being brown and looking rather dead, they can have a beauty all of  their own. Some recent collections:

 Sweet peas. I haven't bought sweet pea seeds for years, as I'm quite happy with the mostly purple flowering selection I've ended up with. The children like to 'pod' them, and even I quite enjoy the way they spring open when you touch them.

Good King Henry seeds. Collection prompted by a request from an Ooooby member. An perennial salad plant which I have to confess I have only nibbled on in passing. But I would like to grow more plants for the food forest, if I have enough they might survive a duck onslaught. 

Honesty seeds. These come from a plant grown by Melina, from a packet of seeds that came from the bank as a promotion - Melina was keen on growing them as soon as she found out they were labelled 'money plant'. I grew up knowing them as honesty. I'm not sure if Melina was disappointed that they didn't grow actual money, but she did enjoy peeling back the outer brown layer of the seed pods, to reveal the seeds and the silvery inner, just as I did as a child.