Gardening by the book

I was blessed enough to be invited to speak at the Whanganui Literary Festival with some of our country’s finest authors.  It was a humbling experience to share with some amazing writers at what has been described as “the best regional literary festive in New Zealand.”

My session was really great fun as I was speaking to a delightful audience all clad in wonderfully decorated gumboots, and there was cake too.  My session was billed as a High Tea and Gumboots and there was cake and prizes for the fanciest gumboots.  People rose to the occasion and it was great to see so much creativity in the room. I spoke on my journey from the city to the country and all the crazy things we did in our naivety and then encouraged people to grow food too. I mean, if I can, anyone can!  Did I mention there was cake?!

It just so happened that this festival was in my home town and I took the opportunity to look at it through the eyes of a tourist and took loads of photos to share with you. My home town is indeed a beautiful place.  There are loads of great gardens and garden centres to visit.  It was tempting, very tempting to buy the beautiful things there, but there is only so much you could bring back on the plane.  And it was a very small plane.  I was right up the back in row 10 and we all got a window seat.  I’m not sure how well it would have gone down with the pilot if I’d clambered aboard laden with horticultural goodies.

I also picked up some more tomato seeds, the Amish Orange Sherbet was too much to resist at the vibrant market they have down by the river.  The other tomato seed was a Tangella, which has been tested and proven to contain tetra-cis-lycopene, which is a more easily absorbed form of lycopene than found in modern tomatoes.  And the great thing about the Tangella is it came tucked into the back of a kid’s book that encourages the love of growing.  It is a great little book and beautifully illustrated.

I also found a rare bargain, rare in that normally I buy things only to find out I’ve spent too much.  When I do something exciting like speaking at a literary festival, I like to buy a little something to remind myself of the event.  It might be a small piece of jewellery or a book or whatever takes my fancy.  This weekend a couple of prints of some old vegetables caught my eye and at the bargain price they were, I bought them both.  Curious about the small hand written numbers in the bottom corner we decided to have a look at the great big internet to discover they were worth significantly more than I’d paid.

The festival itself was an incredible experience.  The opening night was held with much fanfare and ceremony and set the tone for the rest of the weekend.  The Dinner with the Stars was a great opportunity to meet some of the town’s greatest readers and the organisers had selected a stunningly beautiful venue to hold it in.  As the authors moved from table to table throughout the evening we were able to enjoy lively conversation and I was more than happy to discuss great gardening conundrums with anyone who loved to garden, and with some who weren’t so in love with gardening.

The organisers had worked tirelessly for months to make this event the success it was.  I’d love to take this opportunity to publically thank them for including me in the line-up.  It was an experience I’ll always remember.

While there were gardens and talk of gardens, I didn’t get my hands dirty and they are still as soft as a ripe tomato. So I need to get out there and remedy this forthwith.

Come again soon – there is gardening to do.  A lot of gardening to do.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

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