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).