I am not a horticulturalist, nor am I an avid gardener. I have, however, dabbled in gardening both indoors and outdoors with pot plants and the traditional veggie patch sticking to the easy stuff like potatoes, tomatoes, silver beet, carrots, cabbages, lettuces etc.

I must admit there’s always been a great sense of satisfaction as one consumes the products of one’s labours. Always fresher than the bought stuff I’ve always felt there’s more taste but whether this could be validated in randomised controlled trials is a matter of conjecture.

More recently I’ve had great success as a budding yucca farmer, taking offcuts and sprouting new healthy specimens which I proudly gift to friends and relatives. There are parallels with my tramping here. As every experienced tramper knows, those bloody Prickly Spaniards always seem to grow in the spots where you have to place your hands in steep ascents and descents of off-trail routes. Despite great care my yucca exploits have always generated a great number of skin pricks accompanied by loud expletives!

Several years ago I was given a small kowhai tree. It was a healthy specimen and grew quickly and soon required re-potting. Its growth accelerated and on shifting house just after the 2010 earthquake I decided to plant it in the outside garden.

Exposed now to the easterly and embedded in clay it withered and looked very dead, however, the smallest of green shoots still kept appearing so I stuck it in a bucket with some surplus potting mix. It flourished! So much so that I replanted it in a half barrel. It is now so lush and verdant that I find myself stroking its soft leaves and almost talking to it.

The overwhelming feeling however is one of great pride that I’ve helped it to survive and thrive. Now I really do understand the phrase “love your garden”!