Saturday, December 3, 2011

Blooming beauties

Next update! This time on the flowers I've planted about the place.

Out the back, I had dreams of sunflowers and hollyhocks all the way along the west-facing fence. I sprouted loads of seedlings of the above, and planted them out. Unfortunately, the snails, slugs, and similarly minded critters thought this was a fabulous idea, said 'thanks for the supermarket,' and ate their way through nearly all of them. I had, perhaps, three or four dozen plants out there, and only half a dozen sunflowers survive (both dark red and yellow) and a miserable two, lonely hollyhocks are struggling along. The remaining sunflowers, at least, are not struggling. They are impressively tall and looking grander and more stately by the day. They are developing flowers already. This is one of the yellow varieties (I'm hoping it's an enormous Russian sunflower, but so many have gone that I can't remember what was planted where now, it may be an ordinary Sun King)

And this is one of the red sunflowers. These beauties had red stems even when they were tiny seedlings, and now that they are bigger they have a distinctive purple tinge to their veins and margins.

Most of my flowers are out in the front garden as the back is dedicated more to veggie and fruit growing. Slowly slowly the front 'rose garden' is taking shape. I never really meant to have a rose garden, but the 23 Icebergs already out the front pushed me along that path. We missed the first Spring flush, but they'll continue to bloom all Summer and Autumn.

Over Winter I added five David Austin roses to the front garden; all are apricot/yellow tones. They were Jude the Obscure (my all time favourite), Graham Thomas, Lichfield Angel, Crocus Rose, and Charlotte. Unfortunately, the Charlotte rose did not survive the winter which is a bit of a bummer, but the rest of them are thriving and have their first flowers or buds. The Graham Thomas is as lovely as I expected(but I was too slow with the camera!) and smells gorgeous. The rose pictured is Lichfield Angel. I notice, that just like the Icebergs, the rain leaves pink spots on the flowers! I am waiting eagerly for the other two roses to flower so I can see what colours they are in real life.

When we bought this house I planted a hedge along the fence of Hidcote Lavender. There is a definite 'wellness gradient' along the fence, I've found. The first two lavenders by the gate at the Eastern end of the fence did not survive, but as you go down the fence line the lavenders look better and bigger until the Western end when the look like this! So pretty, and by next year I expect they would have filled out more completely and will have more of an informal 'hedgey' look.

Then, on a whim, I planted a couple of Catmints (Nepeta spp) after reading that they are traditional in rose gardens (the pretty lavender coloured flowers are supposed to help hide the leggy stems of the rose shrubs). I have fallen in love with the Nepeta completely, and have already planted a couple more (in both lavender and white) and I'm trying to grow some from seed too, so I can have loads of it.

And then there's the borage, which I've been trying to photograph because the sunlight in those little hairs is so very pretty, and the Dodonaea viscosa purpurea, which has no flowers yet but is a lovely wine colour.

I have realised that I've unintentionally begun to create a rose garden with a white/lavender/yellow theme which should be quite nice if it all comes together as it looks in my head. Here is how it looks so far - without a rose in sight because they are all behind me! - getting there, getting there... I want to put in more silvery foliaged plants next, and more of the creeping thymes, and more Nepeta of course (and a few more roses, ones that are more yellow than apricot). That's my wish-list anyway, to begin in Autumn when we get back into a planting season. (Northern Hemisphere readers: Summer in Southern Australia is a bad time to plant most plants as it's very hot and much too dry. It's not impossible, but new plants need to be lavished with care or they will not thrive.)

That shabby brown plant in the top left is a native pelargonium (Pelargonium australe). It was looking wonderful before we went away, but has suffered in the hotter weather because it's in a bit of an exposed spot. The flowers are pretty though, typical pelargonium flowers, and I have started to collect a bit of the seed - they are fluffy and parachuted, like daisy seeds - to see if I can grow more plants from it (it can also be propagated easily from cuttings just as you could an introduced pelargonium).

Most of those plants pictured are on the western side of the front garden, the eastern side is very much a work in progress. This link shows you roughly what I have planned. The main eastern garden bed was just grass which I dug up, and then I transplanted a heap of the Icebergs into that space into a kind of wedge shape. There was a path down the side of the yard past the house here, which was dug up as we are bringing gas into the house from the street main supply. Until just a few weeks ago, this space was a giant ditch. It's finally had the gas plumbing put in and it's been filled FINALLY! I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to walk easily down there again! The roses are all totally fine and blooming - I had a picture which I accidentally deleted, oops! - but a couple of the other plants I had in here got squashed by plumbing/ditch-filling efforts. The gardener in me was horrified to lose a Lomandra (pictured!), a little Kunzea, and a chamomile (which may yet recover) but my inner-renovator is just happy that the plumbing is done.

Speaking of renovating, that's what I'll update you on next. :)

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