Greg and I have just arrived home from nearly 6 weeks in South America. We went on a landscape gardening tour of Chile, Argentina and Brazil preceeded by about 10 days in Peru. We had a good time, saw some spectacular private and public gardens by some world famous landscape architects such as Juan Grim and Roberto Burle Marx. We spent 2 days with Juan Grim and he took us to some exquisite gardens he had designed and also entertained us at his own beautiful home down on the coast of Chile just south of Valparaiso. We met some really nice people and in general found that South Americans were very pleasant and hospitable people. However we were thrilled to get home on Monday to our own little corner of paradise. We visited the ancient Ancient ruins of the Inca city of Macchu Picchu perched high in the Peruvian mountains. Spent a couple of days there scrambling about in the ruins. The site for this hidden city is extraordinary and standing down at the river level looking up you would never know that the city every existed. We had a rather unusual incident while at Macchu Picchu on our first day. We were in a party of about 13 and we had just climbed about 20 massive inca steps and and sat down to rest in a Inca house and listen to our guide enthralling us with the history of the city. Suddenly I looked over at our tour leader and noticed he was slumped unconsious against a wall. Suddenly we all flew into action, placing him in the recovery position and our guide raced off to get help. Just as he was coming to we noticed that another member of our party was wedged between 2 rocks also unconsious. Now happening to one person was bad enough but a second was rather nerve racking. Luckily I worked as a registered nurse for many years so was able to lend a hand with our casualities. I could see the look of panic on the faces of our fellow travellers so to lighten the tension I happened to remark that "you know these things always come in 3's", at that there was a frightful crashing sound and a guide who was rushing up the massive steps carrying an oxygen cylinder tripped and went crashing to the ground. Now the appropriate thing for us normally to do would be to rush forward and assist the poor fellow to his feet and offer simpathetic words but instead we all just roared with laughter as the situation seemed to be taking on the characteristics of a Shakespearian farce. Needless to say all our patients in due course recovered and their conditions were attributed to altitude, fatigue, dehydration and the 2 unconsious ones had previous histories of heart conditions. Although we had spent several days acclimatising to the altitude it did not stop several of us succumming to mountain sickness. Alas I missed out on seeing a lot of the gorgeous old town of Cusco as I spent 36 hours sleeping. I am not normally a sleepy person but I was so affected by the altitude that I just couldn't wake up.
This week we have seen our first guests for the season arrive and the weather has been lovely every day. Clear blue skies, just a zepher of a gentle breeze and the garden in all it's spring glory with blossum flowers on the apple, almond and peach trees just about to burst into flower. The tea trees are a gorgeous crimson and the flax flowers will soon be open tempting the lovely Tuis back into the garden. The vege garden is looking very productive too. While we have been away our first batch of asparagus has shot up, the new potatoes are looking green and bushy and there are lots of flowers on the broad beans. Our lovely neighbour Janet, kindly mowed our lawn while we were away and so we came home to everything looking pretty neat and tidy in spite of our absence. Sitting on our deck last night, looking out across the garden to the sea beyond I really did feel that our garden was up there with the best of them and could stand it's own next to all the lovely gardens we had visited in South America. We may not have the garden sculptures and fancy walls and paths but our location is second to none and we have a wonderful selection of native NZ shrubs and trees, an orchard some very healthy fruit trees and a sumptuous vege garden.
Our guests last night were a local couple coming to celebrate a 50th birthday and have a night away from their 4 little children. Tonight we are welcoming a couple from Australia who are staying for 3 days. So no time for jet lag! Lots to be done. Every couple of weeks I make a big batch of my homemade muesli which guests always seem to enjoy. I notice the lavender in the garden is in full bloom so I will also make a batch of lavender shortbread and some chocolate brownie which are both hot favourites with guests.