Monday, December 3, 2012

Long time, no blog

Oops. Far too long between posts, I am sorry! I haven't forgotten my little gardening blog, but things have been a bit mad around here recently. Not least of which, my D was diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism. Turns out his exhaustion was not solely due to overwork as I had thought, but had a real chemical/hormonal cause. He's probably had it for years. The solution was to locate the dodgy parathyroid gland (most people have four and they are usually behind the thyroid gland) and then remove the bugger. He's got the all clear now and is just left with a rather dramatic scar across his throat.
Anyway, we are getting back to normal programming now, so I'll leave you with a gratuitous photo of my boy and babe in the middle - literally - of our latest gardening construction project, which I'm calling 'Wall 2.' It's a rather imposing retaining wall we are plodding along building so that there is no longer a risk of stepping out of the laundry door and falling down a meter drop into the driveway. This wall will become an enclosed sort-of teardrop shape, and then this gardener will be putting loads of plants into it. Of course!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Handfuls of joy

Finally: I've cracked it! I have enough strawberry plants to be able to pick - and eat - an entire handful of strawberries in one go! Completely fabulous and delicious, but don't ask me what variety they are because I have so many different ones now that I've forgotten what is planted where. Many of the backyard strawberries suffered in today's 33+ degree Celsius heat - they are always the first plants to swoon dramatically the moment it gets to 25c - but the plants out the front have been in the longest, are the best mulched and must be the best established because they look just fine. Woohoo!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

'Peas, peas!'

That's what our SP says, 'peas, peas!' These are Greenfeast and Telephone varieties: Y.U.M. SP and I have been picking them whenever we wander past the vines, and eating them on the spot. Poor Old D isn't getting much of a look in on the peas. Oh well, he does know they're there!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Buckets of broccoli

I have no idea why my broccoli is doing so well as it never has before. The variety is Magic Dwarf, and eight individual plants has been enough to keep this little family of three in broccoli for over two months now. In fact, with a fridge crisper full and another bucket collected today, we're starting to get a little sick of eating it; Broccoli soup, broccoli salad, broccoli quiche... Broccoli pudding next? Fortunately -or not - I think we'll be back to buying it soon as our crop is starting to shoot and the season is ending. This means that summer is on its way and soon I will be muttering about gluts of tomatoes :)

14CC69C0-19A1-495F-8C87-20CDC3029A65-137-0000005F9D9F8377, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Monday, October 15, 2012

Summer Song Rose.

A long time ago I fell in rosey-love with pictures of a David Austin rose called 'Summer Song.' When I saw a plant for sale in a nursery this winter, I snapped it up without a second thought. My front garden is full of roses, but I felt this particular rose, with it's colours described as 'burnt orange,' wouldn't blend well with my colour scheme of white, yellows, and pinks, so Summer Song lives in a big black ceramic pot out on my back patio. She's been covered in flower buds for ages, and they have begun to open up before any other rose I have. She's also a bit lopsided, and in a hack-handed attempt to straighten her up the other day by squashing the plant up against a retaining wall I accidentally snapped one of the stems off. So today I brought in the bud that was on the broken stem and I'm enjoying it in a milk jug on my kitchen counter. I can hardly wait until it opens up all the way so I can see it in its lovely entirety.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Front path a masterpiece in recycling.

I haven't shown you any renovation pictures in eons, so will skip a discussion of growing eggplant from seed (or rather, a series of complaints about growing eggplant from seed) to show you our front path instead. It's only halfway through, but taking shape beautifully, and so far we've not spent a single cent on it. Bonus!

It starts here: with the porch. Pity I forgot to take a 'before' photo, but never mind. Why demolish the porch? Because it was broken and cracking, and right up against the old weatherboard, which was rotting. As the porch was peeled away, it became clear that the whole thing was damp and pretty terrible for airflow and general building health, so off it goes. We'll replace it with a little deck, we think. And I'm keeping the old iron scroll work pillars, because I like them.

Under those layers of tan-brown tiles, and rusty red stained concrete, there was sand and rock, and lots and lots of it.

 FIL had a flash of inspiration. A while ago, I'd mentioned just chucking a whole heap of paving sand around the 'pavers' I'd salvaged from when we demolished the back patio and have been using as stepping stones to the front gate. FIL thought he could dig up all the sand from the front porch (since he was going to anyway) and use that instead. Brilliant! The garden edging down the left of the path is old hardwood beams we had (although if they're old ones from our house, or ones the neighbour gave us, I can't remember).

Right down the back of  the path, behind FIL in this photo, is our new gate, which D has been building in dribs and drabs over the last few weeks to help make our yard a little more toddler-safe. Our gate is actually our old back door, with a recycled hardwood architrave. I think I'll paint it pillar-box red, or yellow. I like yellow, at the moment. We've put a little trellis to the right-hand side to climb plants up and over this space (I have planted roses, the native 'wisteria' Hardenbergia violacea 'Rosea,' and native clematis, Clematis microphylla). For the gardeners, other plants I have in this space - though barely visible at this stage - include the natives Plectranthus argentatus, Plectranthus  parvifolius, Hibbertia aspera, Guichenotia macrantha, and Goodenia amplexans. I've also got lemon balm and nasturtiums in here. This scrap of garden is probably the most challenging spot I've come across so far: it's quite shady, narrow, and not just dry but actually water-repellent. So far I've added loads of compost, manure, and clay to address the issues faced here.

And just for fun, here's a happy snap of the other half of the front garden which I took tonight at my favourite time of day: when the sun is getting low in the sky and shines though my Poas, which swish and shimmy in the breeze. All those roses are going to explode into flower in just a couple of weeks. Last year this happened in November, but some of the buds are splitting open already so I think they might bloom early this year.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Potting up tomatoes.

I promised ages ago to show you pictures of my seedlings, but as usual I haven't got around to it, so today here is just a selection: perhaps a quarter of what I have been growing. A lot of these are going to family-members vegie gardens, because there is far more here than I need. Last year I had perhaps 10 different tomato varieties and we were inundated with fruit for most of summer and well into autumn; this year I am trying to be more circumspect.
All of the bigger seedlings I'm going to plant directly into the garden. The smaller plants I'm going to pot on and give away. Known varieties here are Amish Paste (the biggest seedlings, prolific and delicious, great for cooking), Black Russian (one of the better known heirloom varieties) and Wild Sweeties (tiny taste bombs). I'm also growing a ten colour heirloom mix, and a currant mix, both from Diggers.
Incidentally, today I'm also going pot on, or plant out a punnet of sage babies, and another of marjoram. Those are the ring-ins in the pictures.
Which varieties of tomatoes are you growing and eating this year?

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sort of, kind of, done...

The backyard garden plan, that is. It's not exactly a fabulous work of art - I always get carried away with colour - but I'm happy with it. I particularly like my 'North' symbol. I've never attempted any kind of hand lettering before, and I think I need to work out the best kind of pen to do it with, but it's not so bad. It's a thoroughly dodgy photo, I couldn't get it lined up properly so opted to not line it up at all :S And now that I've uploaded it, I've realised I still haven't penned in the names of the top plum (actually two plums!), nor the grape I've just planted along the eastern fence by the house. Still, enough self-deprecation, it's not bad, and if it ever ends up on my wall I'll take a proper picture then. By the way, the size of the trees etc is how I see them in about five or more years, not as they are now. Indeed, only about 85% of them are actually planted!


Monday, September 10, 2012

And they're in!

Finally, my little plum trees are out of their pots and in the ground. There are six trees in this space: the first four are planted in pairs (a method where you plant two trees in one space and from then on you treat them as one tree, if that makes sense? It's a space saving/variety increasing method). These plants are D'Agen and Coe's Golden Drop in the first pair, and Santa Rosa and Satsuma in the second pair. The next tree along is a Wickson plum, then lastly is a damson plum. Behind all this, but very small, is one of my favourite Australian natives shrubs: Myoporum bateae, which should cope with the shade from the fence really well. Up the back is also some raspberries (both native raspberries, Rubus parvifolius, and an exotic variety, which I got from MIL's garden). Underneath the plums, along the entire wall, are over forty individual strawberry plants, all taken from runners off my older plants (I seem to produce strawberry runners prolifically, rather than the fruit we'd all prefer!). At the very first part of the wall, beside where the steps will be, I've planted a small David Austin English rose: Sophy's Rose. I've even scattered some seeds about: Yates 'Accent on Blue' seed mix, to help bring the pollinators in. That sounds like a lot, now that I write it out! I can hardly wait to see it all start growing and coming together. Next up we're making my raised vegie beds.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Great Wall of Adelaide.

Five meters down, only about 40m to go! We are busy packing all the rocks we've dug up back in behind there, and later on (today? In my dreams!) I'll plant my plum trees in the level we've created. A long way down the track the wall will be rendered to attempt to beautify it, but for the time being we are concentrating on the structure only (the 'bones'). Naturally, yesterday when D didn't have a day off the weather was absolutely perfect. Today, when he's home to help its warm, sunny and very, very, very windy. Not half an hour after I was admiring the gorgeous purple and fuchsia flowers on my Japanese snow peas they were swept off their trellis, bending and breaking half way down. Pooh!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Been aPaintin'

Just after 1am and hanging up the brushes and turning off the music for the night (soundtrack: CW Stoneking, Jose Gonzalez, Bobs Dylan and Marley, Royksopp...) First time I've been painting since SP was born over two years ago and I'm painting -what else- the back yard as it looks in ten years time (in my head). It's only half done, and apart from that old mistake of trying to use black in a watercolour, I think it's OK. Must put it all away before morning though, as the thought of a two year old near 'real' paints and paper makes my blood run cold!

Good night, all, and welcome to spring :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Getting organised.

Look what I spent the afternoon doing: laying out my future vegie garden! The boards are temporary markers - just old weatherboards from the old cladding - but when we build the real beds they'll be made out of recycled hardwood boards (donated by our old neighbour for getting rid of the pine tree). Each bed is about 1m wide by 2m long so I'll have 8m square of dedicated vegetable growing area, although I'm sure I'll keep squeezing random vegies into other patches of the garden.

After I took this photo I got to work digging out a bit of a ramp on the right hand side and levelling out the area where the beds will go (terracing them though in a disorganised 'make it up as I go along' kind of way, Katie-style). It got dark while I dug but I was on a roll so we set up FIL's spotlight and kept working for another hour. Now I have blisters and a warm sense of self-satisfaction for a lot of dirt moved today.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Introducing Scooter

Or Scoots, for short, the newest member of our little family. He's a purebred moggy we adopted a little over a fortnight ago from the Lonsdale RSPCA.

At about six months old he's still very kitteney and a complete menace to house plants (see exhibits A and B), but possibly also the most affectionate cat I've ever met.

Exhibit A: Cat in Norfolk Island bird's nest fern. Prime perching position in the bathroom, apparently.

Exhibit B: I quite liked this little Dracaena, and it was doing quite well from a $3 Ikea pot. Now sadly diminished.

Being a cat-loving Greenie, I intend to keep him inside most of the time; the birds have only recently started visiting our garden (now that there is shelter out there for them) and I've been enjoying watching them: the cheeky magpies, impossibly beautiful rainbow lorikeets, and adorable silvereyes. Scooter can enjoy watching them, too... from the living room window.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A bit grim out there today

You'd have no real idea from this picture just how cold and wet and windy it is outside today. There are the raindrops on the window (for I was standing outside to take this) and a bit of a wet sheen on the paving.

I am torn between going to the shops (to do some SP-free girly shopping, nice but not necessary) and staying inside in the warm looking at pictures of gardens on Pinterest (not Productive). I am also hoping this sideways rain doesn't wash our groundworks down the driveway.

You see, on the slightly nicer days we've had recently, D and I have been busy digging to make foundations for our retaining-walls-to-be. I say 'digging' but mostly I mean 'moving rocks.' You can see my original garden plan here, and for the most part the retaining (the darker lines in that image) will be about the same shape and in the same place, except for right up at the back fence where the ground is so rocky we have decided to forget about trying to make the wall go straight to the fence, and instead there is going to be a little raised area by the water tank where I hope to have a garden seat and some overhanging trees so I can sit up the back of the yard and admire the view (such as it will be: a completed view and organised garden, rather than the Shambles it is now.)

In the background you can see our unfinished chicken coop (a Work In Progress for over 6 months now, oops), the only passionfruit vine I have ever managed to grow well (on the fence), and where that lonely Styrofoam tub is is roughly where I am going to put my raised vegie beds once the retaining is done and that area is flattened out properly.

I am SO looking forward to having this done. It will be a big tick off the To Do list (a huge tick, in fact) and then I will no longer have a yard which looks like a building site. I can hardly wait!

(Winter countdown: 15 days left).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Small and perfect

That's my baby broccoli. I am super happy with it, because it's green and beautiful, and because I get to eat it before the aphids do! First time for everything, oh happy day.

Eighteen days left of winter.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Siberian Tomato Conspiracy

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

These are not my Siberian Tomatoes, and this is not my picture, this is (was) just my dream: Tomatoes in winter! And this is what sucked me in:

"Tomatoes in 60 Days! Plants set fruit at low temperatures, Produce extra early yields, frost resistant, too! Siberian tomatoes really do come from Siberia, producing juicy, flavourful, smooth, round fruit up to 225g (1/2lb) in size as early as 60 days from setting out plants. The plants produce delicious tomatoes ahead of other varieties because Siberians do not require high temperatures to set fruit like other tomatoes - just a few degrees above freezing is all the warmth they need."

(From Australian Seeds, and I avoid promoting websites or products, but they have some interesting stuff and I must reference the quote!)

Way back in March I ordered some seed and sowed it in punnets. It all sprouted beautifully and it was very exciting. Then there was a toddler-related incident and I was left with four intact seedlings out of about 30, but never mind, these things happen. I potted the four babies on and slowly they grew, and later I planted two of them into pots, and the other two into a sheltered spot in the garden by the warmth of a north-south fence. One garden-planted tomato died immediately, the other struggled on. The two potted tomatoes have done marginally better, reaching a whopping four or five inches tall by now. They are nearly five months old, these plants, and will certainly not be flowering, let alone fruiting anytime soon.

The dream of winter tomatoes is gone, and even of spring tomatoes very much diminished, but I live in hope that we may get one or two tomatoes off a plant eventually (and in the meantime, I'll stick to summer cropping varieties!)

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

(Yes, I know I said I was going to talk about seed sowing this post, but I can't find the card-reader so my pictures are all stuck on my camera until I can locate the blasted thing.)

Three weeks left of winter, folks!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

We're online!

It's been 2.5 months without real Internet at home, but we're back online at last and I can stop fretting that I will exceed my phone download limit (which I did last month; horrors!)

Overall, this winter seems to have been remarkably mild... or perhaps I'm just coping with the cold and damp better?

As usual, I've had masses going on out in the front garden and the nature strip. This, in particular, is starting to come along quite nicely. It's not the best photo (I promise to start using my real camera again, rather than my phone!), but I hope you'll get the idea of what's going on out there. After realising that since the conditions in the nature strip were so awful (compacted clay overlain with dolomite, blasted by the sun and the wind and passing cars) so nothing was likely to grow very big, I added in a whole lot more plants. All up so far there are just over 50 individual plants out there, all of which are native to Australia (except for the gazanias which I am slowly removing), and the majority are indigenous to my area. The major players are my grasses, which I'm hoping will grow up and spill over and blanket the area. By the way, I have finally had the large tree in the front of the garden identified: It's a large-fruited blue gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp megalocarpa). I'm told the other, smaller tree in the background might be the same but I remain sceptical. The best news about the nature strip? Not just that plants are alive - if not exactly thriving - but I'm finding worms out there now! Wasteland no longer.

Another project I've got going on is the greening of the driveway, or rather, the strip down the centre of the driveway between the two concrete strips we drive on. It's another tricky area: west-facing, dark in winter and blazing hot in summer, and all the water from the backyard drains through it whenever it rains. Sometimes I think I'm mad. My neighbour certainly seems to think I'm forever gardening, and I'm sure I saw his eyes glaze over when I mentioned native grasses... Natives I've planted down the driveway include Isolepis inundata (a little rush) and Microlaena stipoides ssp stipoides (a little grass). I'm also trying out lawn chamomile, and creeping thyme I grew myself from seed. It took over four months to get as big as you can see here, so it's certainly not a fast grower, at least not during the cooler months.

Onwards and upwards! Spring is coming, and I am going mad for seed sowing in preparation. Will show you that next time.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Baby carrots too.

We're pulling carrots too, baby carrots. I'm very happy with them as I've not had much success with carrots before (they get eaten, or grow too slowly and I get impatient, or they are bitter). These carrots are little and sweet and lovely. They were all grown in pots from seed around other, more permanent plants.
We're having an odd warm spell in the middle of July. It's a dry week, but the sunshine overhead warms up my bones and I'll not complain.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Snow peas!

And quite a lot of them, too. A bit daggy, mind you, because I managed to forget about them despite their close proximity to the back door. Despite the black spots and bug-chewed bits, they're quite sweet and moreish (though Miss 2 declared 'not like thems,' of course). Nothing quite like a bit of mid-Winter homegrown produce, is there?

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Bargain Hunter

So, there is this giant hardware store (let's call it 'S') that has fairly recently opened up quite close by to me, in direct competition with another giant hardware store that is also quite close. I have discovered that S's attached garden centre often has the most amazing bargains. I think they buy up so-called unwanted stock from various places and then flog it off really cheaply. My first favourite bargain was finding caper plants for the basement price of $2.50 each. I was astounded enough that they even had caper plants, let alone for that price! Naturally, I snapped up two of them.

My second best bargain was three deciduous magnolia plants for $13.95 each. They're small pots, granted, but a bit of a gamble in my area and I'm not sure if it's cold enough so I didn't want to spend loads of money on them (I have 'Merill,' 'Stellata' and 'Susan'). Anyway.

Here is bargain #3 which I got yesterday: Five roses for $1 each. I could have taken up to 'six per customer' except that I could only find five that I wanted. For the record, I have three climbers: 'Golden Showers' (terrible name, isn't it?!), 'Zephrine Drouhin' (a pretty name to make up for the previous...) and 'Pinkie', then one shrub rose, 'Apricot Nectar' (because when I went to a rose show - where I was by far the youngest person present except for a number of small children who'd been dragged along by grandparents - it was the only rose which really caught my eye), and a ground cover rose called 'Our Rosy Carpet.' I have places for all of them - I think - except for the ground cover rose which I have no flipping idea where it's going to go.

And to think all that time I spent making lists of roses, muttering over the prices, and making agonising decisions about what to put where, and how X would have to wait until I could justify it, and Y was probably not quite gold enough, and Z wasn't a repeat flowering rose so I wouldn't get it, and then all it took was one ultra-cheap rose sale for all that ground work to go out the window and I just bought whatever took my fancy at the time. Typical!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Got a cold?

Horseradish is supposed to be good for that! And I can believe it too: today I pulled a whole heap of it out of my garden (I foolishly planted it in the ground as a gardening newbie, not realising it was invasive, oops! Time will tell if I got it all or not) and even out there in the chill air I could smell the scent from the roots wafting up around me.
These strange alien-like plants are waiting in the sink for me to attempt to process them, but I think I'll wait into SP is in bed as at least one of the web pages I've read re: horseradish processing compares it to chemical warfare!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mmmm, pumpkin!

2.022kg (4.4lbs)! Not bad, hey, for a pumpkin self-sown out of a compost heap! There are a couple more on their way, too. I don't think they'll get so big since it's getting quite cold outside now, but I'm quite impressed with my free food.

(This post is just to stay I still exist! We are the Lurgy House at the moment but hoping to be back and blogging properly soon. I'm not sick, by the way, I get to be the nurse this time.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mini updates #5 and #6

We've moved in and I'm back at the old lappy! I am slowly trying to read all the blogs I have been missing (getting there). I feel I have 100 things to write about and am still playing catchup, so here are two more update snippets.


Look! Look! It's a nearly completed and tidy house space! Very exciting :)

This shows some of the things I have been rambling on about for the last 15 months: 'Australian Chestnut' hardwood floors (really up to four different species of Eucalypt), high double glazed windows (looking east), Danish couches (new to us, IE second-hand), 'Parchment' wall paint (Solver), and good old ceiling-white paint on top. And I do believe this is the first appearance of D's fish tank on this blog? It may feature in later posts, on and off.
Still to do in this section: my photo wall, adding a rug or two, and a reshuffle of the furniture. I am pretty happy with this corner of the house so far, especially considering that from the point that I took that photo, if I'd turned about 180 degrees to take it you'd see complete chaos and it would look like a different house (with quite nice floors).


The Great Fence Project.

This is what I've been attacking over the last month or so: planting a variety of fruit trees along the fence (mostly figs and citrus so far), and removing the clumps of old Agapanthus planted along there. Apologies for the dodgy photos; I didn't realise how blurry they were until I loaded them up! So far I have removed well over 200 individual Agapanthus plants (rhizomes?) This is, in short, a crap-load of hard work. They're surprisingly shallow rooted, but very heavy and bulky. I feel that rather than using a spade to remove them, I'd be better off with a machete. It's an unpleasant and particularly dirty task, made worse by the sticky and slimy gloop that the broken leaves exude.

It feels a little thankless, at times, to have been hacking away at the clumps for hours and only have cleared a small space, and then to have looked up and see the meters and meters of plants stretching away in front of me still waiting to be cleared. I persist because of all that lovely warm and sunny west-facing garden space they will free up once they're gone.
Bottom left of this photo is a representative of one of my new espalier-babies (a Eureka Lemon). I plan to try my hand at espaliering a whole row of fruit trees along this fence, but I'll devote a whole post to that later.

FWIW, many of these Aggies are going to family member's gardens. I feel a bit torn about it: I hate to waste a perfectly usable and useful plant (drought tolerant, fire retardant, endlessly green), but on the other hand a fairly serious environmental weed, though not a declared one, and often still available for sale, and mainly a problem when garden waste is dumped in bushland. If the old flower heads are removed before they scatter seed everywhere they're not really a problem (but still...)

Must go. Need to be up at the crack of dawn for the early-bird plumber tomorrow.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mini updates #3 and #4

#3 Three cheers for indoor plumbing: hip hip hooray! And, if the Gods are with us, we'll have hot water by the end of Tuesday :)

#4 An autumn colour happy-snap: my crabapple seems to be settling into the rose garden nicely (Malus ioensis 'plena'). I suppose I won't know for sure until next spring when it bursts back into life with blooms, but I'm looking forward to viewing it from our bedroom window!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mini update #1 and #2

The idea here is to do a series of quick updates over the next few posts, seeing as I don't seem to be able to get to the old blog very often any more (and I haven't been able to read many others, either, sorry everybody! I have been neglecting you, though not intentionally.)

#1 Renovation update:

While we've been pottering along and things are slowly happening, not much of it has been particularly newsworthy. The big news of the day is that our bathroom bits and bobs should be arriving at the end of the week, and all things being even the plumber is going to visit early next week and we'll have an INDOOR TOILET! (I want to hash-tag that #firstworldproblems...), and if he's really on a roll we might even get, like, running water inside and not need to bring it in in buckets anymore. Actually, I lie, D brought home an empty 20L olive oil cask from work and we've been filling that with water. From time to time we've slept over at the house, but the lack of plumbing is terribly inconvenient so we limit it to once or twice a week.

In slightly more photogenic news, I've tried out some samples of paint on the exterior of the house. I wanted to paint it purple or mauve, so we tried it: everybody hated the lavender tone on sight - including me - and although I quite liked the darker purple I was the only one and well outvoted, so I came to my senses and went off the paint shop to look for what I like to call 'dove grey.' I'm not sure if this qualifies as dove grey - suspect that's a matter of opinion - but is IS very pretty, and no one is looking at me like I have two-heads with this colour, this time. (On a side note: I can hardly wait until I can tackle the landscaping in the backyard and stop ignoring the weeds, though Heaven only knows when that will happen.)

Mini Update #2: Microcitrus: for the gardeners.

Back in August last year I bought myself a Fingerlime (Microcitrus australasica). Recently I finally got around to repotting it in a terracotta pot and he's doing quite well so far. In the last 7 or 8 months he's grown perhaps an inch higher and is lovely and healthy. At that time I also bought my first Australian ground orchid, a greenhood Pterostylis curta). And although I don't have any photos yet, I'm happy to report that it has come out of dormancy after the Summer and resprouted from five bulbs. One fell victim to a snail or slug the moment it poked it's green nose out of the sand, but I whipped the rest away to safety and surrounded the new shoots with a protective ring of snail bait (bad greenie, I know!)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hardenbergia's revenge

I have a blind spot with plants. I read their labels, and then assume that they won't grow as large as is suggested. Case in point: planting four hardenbergias in the rose garden, thinking they would spill out over the ground like a ground cover. Wrong, of course. They grew at a rate of knots and were attempting to take over completely. It was time to bite the bullet, admit my mistake, and say goodbye. But not before these plants could exact their last bit of gardening karma on me: I began by digging around the stems of the plants with my pitchfork, and quickly moved on to a levering action, using all the strength in my arms to push and pull these plants, feeling the snap and pop of the roots and their springing resistance, until finally, with a great crack, and as I was standing on the handle of my pitchfork using it like a trampoline in an effort to remove these tenacious beasts, the handle of my well-loved fork snapped completely. Lessons learnt: some plants will hang on grimly to teach you a lesson; a plant in an appropriate spot will indeed grow to its projected size; and never plant strong climbers unless you are absolutely sure they will grow as you want them too.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rose wish list Mk2

Eons ago I made a list of a few roses I wanted to get for the garden. Now that Autumn is here, I am browsing rose catalogues again and making more lists. Long, long lists. I need to pare my rose wish list down to less than a dozen, because I just don't have the room out the front really, and because if I bought everything I wanted it would cost me a small fortune. If I spent as much time reading about native plants as I have about roses lately, I'd rapidly be becoming an expert in my job...

You might remember that my front garden is packed with Iceburg roses, in other words, about two dozen white shrub roses. They bloom profusely and seemingly endlessly, but have virtually no scent and are on the boring side. Last year I ordered and planted five David Austin roses: Graham Thomas, Jude the Obscure, Charlotte, Crocus, and Lichfield Angel. These are all yellow/peach/apricot/buff tones. The Graham Thomas, Jude the Obscure, and Charlotte have all done well and are lovely, healthy plants which have bloomed all summer though are still small. The Crocus was attacked by a mysterious leaf-eating bug all Summer and has struggled along with barely any greenery at all. Now, at the change of seasons, it's finally got some leaves and has stopped being eaten so I'm hoping this will help it get lots of energy back ready for the Winter dormancy. The Lichfield Angel inexplicably died almost immediately after it was planted.

So this Winter I want to plant more yellow roses, some pink, and one or two others that I love too much to not plant even though they don't really fit in with my front garden colour scheme (white/lavenders/blues/yellow). I'm hoping this post will help me shorten my short list!

First, thinking of the garden bed which goes from the front gate and down the side of the bed...

By the gate I'd like a Raubritter rose (Rosa macrantha 'Raubritter'). It's supposed to be a largish groundcover/sprawling rose. I have a low wall along there and I think it would look nice spilling over the wall, but it's apparently quite thorny so that might not be the best place if people are going to walk past it. I'm determined to have one, however!

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Further back along the path I think I should stick with the pink tones. I'm in love with Strawberry Hill (a David Austin rose). This medium sized, arching shrub made my original wish list and since it's still on the list I think it's a goer;

I've got a real soft spot for Saint Cecilia... way back when I was in a Catholic highschool and most of the other kids were choosing saints for their new middle names for their confirmations we all had to research a particular saint and I chose Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music (that might not be why we were learning about saints. It was a long time ago and my memory is a little hazy, but that's how I remember it in any case). Anyway, Saint Cecilia is another shrubby, upright David Austin rose with lovely pale pink/apricot blooms. This one was on my original list as well.

Up the back of that side bed, by the house, I'd like to plant a gigantic climbing rose. It's not the most sunny of spots, being squeezed in between the fence and the house, but I want a rose which soars overhead so I think once a plant grew upwards it would get enough light. I'm tossing up between a yellow Banksia rose (Rosa banksiae lutea, enormous, close to my heart), or a Crepuscule (awful name, lovely noisette rose, yellow/apricot flowers), or something old-fashioned with lovely red rose hips like a white Rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa alba). Descisions, decisions...

(Banksia rose)

Source: via Katie on Pinterest


(Rugosa rose)

And at the risk of a total rose overload, here's just a few others (all shrub roses, all David Austins) that I keep thinking of and can't strike off the list.

The Pinks:

William Morris;

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Brother Cadfael;

The Alnwick Rose;

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

The Yellows:

Golden Celebration;

Teasing Georgia;


Source: via Katie on Pinterest

And the randoms I can't get past:

Summer Song (in a pot because it wouldn't fit anywhere else)

and finally, Munstead Wood (I'd like a climber).

Hope you enjoying this look into my brain tonight :)

(And for referencing purposes, none of these photos are mine - obviously! - but if you click on them it will take you to my Pinterest boards, and then if you click again it will take you to the website where the photo was originally posted. Or at least, that's the idea).