Six on Saturday 13.03.21

You can really feel we are entering the first days of autumn. The mornings are just that bit darker, the air just that bit cooler and the time for bulb planting is approaching. However, the cicadas are still deafening, the cabbage white butterflies are still enjoying the nasturtiums and the tuis still wake us up with their early morning song. Anyway, for this week’s Six on Saturday, we have a mix of the good, the bad and the beautiful…and a question. Thanks once again to The Propagator for allowing us to share what is going on in our gardens. Check out the participant guide if you want to join in. So…let’s look at this week’s six.

First up, the beautiful, with the Japanese anemones continuing to delight. I took these pictures on Friday evening, when they were looking quite stunning. Such a pick me up after a day at work.

Next, the bad, with a little bit of beautiful. During the week, this tree fell over at the side of the house. At the moment it is resting on another tree in our neighbour’s garden. Someone is coming around to take care of it as it is not something we would dare to tackle. In the meantime, we have to hope that there is no earthquake or big storm that will cause it to topple over more and block the up staircase. The beautiful in all of this is…well, look at the colour of the sky!

And so to something that is both good and bad. At the back of the house is a karaka tree, a species endemic to New Zealand. Between around January to April, karaka berries ripen, turn orange and fall off the tree. They are quite distinctive, with an edible pulp under the orange skin. However, the kernel or stone of the fruit is poisonous, containing the toxic alkaloid karakin. These berries are particularly poisonous to dogs, who tend to eat the pulp and stone. The berries are a favourite food of many birds – apparently, keruru are often seen so fat with karaka fruit that they cannot fly!

Now to more bad…and the dreaded passion vine hopper (or lace moth I think they are called as well). They are small, moth-like brown insects with partially transparent wings, that I have definitely featured on here before. The juvenile nymphs are wingless and commonly known by the delightful name of ‘fluffy bums’ due to their fluffy tails. Both the adult and nymph are sap suckers and so are rather unpleasant to have around. Time for the garden centre to get something to stop them sucking the life out of my dahlia!

At number five, well, I’m going to call this a bad, because I am not sure what to do, and hope it turns out good in the end. I planted this begonia a few months ago. It took a bit of time to get going, but has never really been happy. It is supposed to be a variety that is OK in pots, but I wonder if the pot isn’t big enough, has been in the wrong place (I have moved it about) or something else as it is not a happy plant. Any ideas what to do with it? Any suggestions welcome!

The post has to end with something beautiful, and what could be more beautiful than these little violas. They are just so pretty and gladden the heart.

So that is me for now from Wellington. As usual, I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s beautiful gardens in other parts of the world. Hope you are all well and enjoying your gardens in whatever the season is with you. 

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on


  1. Some lovely sunny photos, a bit of blue sky does help to make things seem better!

    With the begonia, I wouldn’t have thought it being in a pot was a problem – their roots are very dense quite close to the tuber, so they’re usually happy with limited root space. Beyond that I have no ideas – sorry I can’t help!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your begonia situation is similar to mine last summer. I had about seven or eight that did not thrive. Eventually, I dumped them. As I was doing so, I noticed the tuber was spongy…. Some kind of mouldy fungus I think.
    Problem unlikely to be the pot. In fact, to best of my knowledge, they grow better slightly constricted.
    Lovely that you finished with the beautiful violas. 👋👋

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We’re at the point in the year when your pretty and cheerful violas over there are flowering with our violas over here, at different ends or beginnings of the seasons! Am curious to see what people say about your begonia, as am going to try growing one for the first time this year. I like the way you’ve planted the Japanese anemones next to the steps, they look great with some structure to back them up.

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  4. I love hearing about your (to me) exotic animals and plants. Hoping that the tree stays in place until it can get sorted. Lovely violas. The begonia looks healthy enough, just not very vigorous, perhaps too wet. Hold back on the watering and give a pellet feed for a boost. And cross your fingers.

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  5. Love the little viola, which is quite without nibbles, maybe the slugs and snails are killed off by those berries at this time of the year?

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  6. Beautiful Japanese anemones ! I didn’t know the Karaka tree and these fruits. It must be quite special to know that you have to be very careful with the seed/stone … (like many other plants though)

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  7. I love your Japanese anemones, ours are white, but the pink ones are lovely too. Oh dear, what a pity such a big tree has fallen, I hope it stays put until someone comes around. Trees can be a problem for us, especially as Eucalyptus trees are usually street trees in Canberra, and often grow too big for the street! Anyway, happy autumn!


  8. Those violas are so pretty. My lovely daughter-in-law appeared with a pot of the red violas for me for Mother’s day. She stood outside and we chatted (at a distance), it’s the first time I have seen her for months. Lovely, deep blue sky.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Presumably karaka seeds go straight through a birds digestive system to get dispersed. I’m guessing dogs chew them rather than swallowing them whole? I’d guess at lack of feed for the begonia, bought potting compost doesn’t contain much.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Japanese anemones are always winners for big clumps of lare summer colour. I’ve never heard of Karaka before. Here birds eat poisonous daphne seeds without coming to any harm.

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  11. Yes, the tell tale signs of autumn are definitely in the air here as well! I think your anemones are lovely! I found it interesting to read about the Karakoram tree berries. Your display of violas is beautiful! They are a firm favourite of mine!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a mixed week for the garden. Please be careful with the fallen tree. I am no garden aficionado, but perhaps your begonia needs one pot size bigger so its roots can spread out a bit.


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