Sunday digest

Powdery mildew is annual foe and for gardeners keen not to use chemical sprays there are some ideas for effective alternatives in this RNZIH article.

If you think it all sounds a bit airy-fairy, this article from the Royal Society of New Zealand looks at the commercial use of a milk spray.

The bush fires in Australia are a terrible thing in human terms … but at the botanical level they can be a wondrous thing, as this article about a native orchid shows. Endangered eastern spider orchids (Caladenia orientalis) began to sprout and bloom after the 2009 fires in Victoria – as a direct consequence of the flames.

Why do we garden? English writer Francine Raymond offers a few thoughts. One of them – healing – is one I have come across regularly from people I interview. When life gets a bit tough they head into the garden, not to escape so much as to calm themselves.

Heidi Herrmann is a German-born natural beekeeper in England, a “heroine” of the movement there, it seems. According to Heidi, one of the reasons for the decline of bees is that conventional beekeepers suppress the swarming urge which, she says, is a strategy for survival and diversifying the gene pool. Read some of her thoughts here, as well as about her “sun hive” structure which is taken apart and refreshed (with resident bees) in an 11-minute video here.

The documentary film Queen of the Sun showed in New Zealand a couple of years ago. An interview the director and producer may be seen here (8 mins).

Go here to read a great piece by Abbie Jury on the importance of soil to gardens.

And for all those who think February has rolled around a bit quick … this brilliantly funny column by Toby Manhire appeared in Friday’s NZ Herald (no gardening content).

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