Bellbirds in the winter garden

"Wonders of the winter landscape" Book coverWinter garden are beautiful with the stark contrast of twig and berry. I am enjoying the bellbirds, fantails and wax eyes visiting my garden seeking out winter flowering shrubs. 

As the cloud level comes down and the weather cools, native birds arrive to take their luck in domestic gardens. If you’re lucky enough to have a neighbour with large trees or you have nectar rich flowering shrubs in your garden you may have had a visit. The liquid sound of bellbirds singing in Christchurch gardens is on the increase. Have you had any visit your garden? 

Investigate these books on: 

  • Attracting birds to your garden.
  • Winter gardening
  • Plants in winter
  • If you haven’t had any bellbirds visit you could take advantage of the wet ground and plant a tree or shrub with the family. Take a visit to your nearest garden centre and get the children to select their own to plant, break out the gumboots and spades and spend the weekend planting. It’s a great way to get everyone outside enjoying the garden and connecting with nature. The kids will remember the time they planted their tree or shrub and you can compare how much they’ve both grown in years to come. 

    Explore our Library Website: 

  • Sustainable living
  • Loving winter
  • Gardening
  • Autumn Gardening
  • Winter Gardening from Richard Poole 

    Mrs Beswick planting a Coronation oak in the Christchurch Domain [22 June 1911]Got a pocket sized garden? Then take advantage of Council planting programmes and connect with your local community. It is surprising how many hands make light work big planting schemes, you’ll see the rewards of your labors quicker than you think. A few years is all it has taken to make a change from paddock to park at the Halswell Quarry. 

    Christchurch has a proud tradition of public planting days we first celebrated Arbor Day on 4 August 1892. Augustus Florance waxed lyrical and advised on how Arbor Day might be even more successfully observed in the future. 

    Christchurch City Council Links: 

  • Arbor Day
  • Year of Biodiversity
  • Volunteer events including clean-ups and tree plantings.
  • Popular Parks
  • I remember my children as they got their hands dirty and planted shrubs having enormous fun and enjoying a sausage to celebrate their achievement afterward. Have you ever attended a planting day?

    You don’t want to meet Smiling Jack

    Ken Catran is a national treasure.  He’s written close to fifty books from a range of genres including history, war fiction, thrillers, science fiction, both for children and young adults, and has brought some classic moments to New Zealand television through his work as a writer for Shortland Street and the TV adaptation of Under the Mountain.  I’ve been a fan of his for years and it’s always interesting to see what he will write next as he seems to like trying something different.  His new book, Smiling Jack, is a return to the thriller genre that he is particularly good at.

    Set in a rural South Canterbury town, Smiling Jack is the story of Robert whose father and uncle get caught up in some dodgy dealings.  The local police sergeant turns up on Robert’s door-step one night to tell him that the car his father and uncle were in has crashed into the river, killing his uncle and washing his father’s body away.  Robert goes to the crash site to investigate and finds a Jack playing card with a huge grin drawn on it.  This is only the first of the ‘Smiling Jack’ cards that will turn up in this small town as others are killed, connecting the murders back to Robert.  As the body count rises so do the number of suspects that Robert adds to his list as he tries to prove his innocence, including the mysterious head of the Aten cult that seems runs the town.

    Ken Catran keeps you guessing right until the end when the Smiling Jack is revealed.  It’s not just for young adults as I’m sure plenty of adults would enjoy it for the thriller that it is.  HarperCollins also have teachers notes available on their website.

    Dead Dudes: J.G. Farrell 1935-1979

    As a companion to our Dead Dames series, I thought I’d sneak in a quick blog to celebrate dead dude J.G. Farrell, who last month posthumously won The Lost Man-Booker prize. A change to the Booker prize rules resulted in titles published in 1970 being ineligible for consideration, but forty years later Farrell beat out literary luminaries Muriel Spark, Nina Bawden, Shirley Hazzard, Patrick White and Mary Renault to collect the big prize with his novel The troubles.

    Sadly, James Gordon Farrell died in 1979 after a comparatively brief career which saw him win both the Booker Prize in 1973 with The siege of Krishnapur, and The Faber Memorial Prize in 1971, also for The troubles.  Best known for his historical fiction, The Singapore Grip was prescribed reading in my Colonial History course at Edinburgh University, Farrell’s early novels tackled a variety of topics; Martin Sands, the central character in The Lung (1965) had like Farrell contracted polio and been forced to spend long, gloomy periods recuperating in hospital, while A girl in the head (1967) featured a Nabokovian character called Boris, and was set in a fictional English seaside town.

    Farrell drowned while fishing near his home at Bantry Bay in Cork.  An editor acquaintance James Hale said “the memorial service was full of the best looking women in publishing”, a charming but perhaps meaningless observation on a creative life cut cruelly short.

    For more on J.G Farrell’s life, Lavinia Greacen’s biography is worth a peek, so too is Farrell’s unfinished novel The hill station; while only 19 chapters and fifty-thousand words, it gives an indication of what would have been the next step in his literary story.