Thursday, October 17, 2013
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Meanwhile, I have invested in a miniature cherry tree, 'Cherree Black cherry,' (from Flemings). Gosh, it was expensive! But not much room left out there in the old backyard, and cherries are such a treat it will be worth it.
The backyard is a swamp thanks to all the rain we've had in the last few days. I can hardly wait for spring; less than a fortnight to go! We're making a brief trip to the snow because snow is all Miss 3.5 has been talking about for the last 6 months, and then when we get home it will be all systems go in the garden again.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Well, look at this spot now! Starting to come along well and filling out nicely.
This photo is looking at the same patch from the other direction. At the front-left is a non-indigenous grevillea (name escapes me), at front right is a Myporum parvifolium. Barely visible because it blends in so well, behind the grevillea, is the saltbush Atriplex semibaccata, and behind that is all those mentioned before with a better view of the goodenia (now on the right).
This picture shows the other end of the nature strip. It's a bit more bare because that's where we need to put our waste bins on rubbish days. At the far left is the original Juncus ursitatus (not indigenous), behind that is an indigenous Juncus (sarophus?! C'mon, brain, work!), doing surprisingly well despite the harsh conditions. Also in this picture, but much less obvious, is more Myoporum, Enchaleana, and Ficinia, a couple of eremophilas (cultivars and not indigenous species), a bit of dianella which has been struggling along since the beginning, and a little Calytrix tetragona. And some weeds. Oh yes! I improved the soil and the weeds have certainly taken advantage. Most of them are little thistles and dandelions and easily dealt with. A couple of months ago I also removed the biggest weeds in here: several large clumps of gazanias. 'Oh,' said a neighbour, 'but they grow so well!' Yes, indeed! That's one reason they're a weed!
The one major difference I have found between planting native plants in the nature strip, as opposed to in my front garden (behind the fence) is that the plants are growing far more slowly. This would be from a combination of the difficult growing conditions, and receiving far less water over summer. I only toss a few buckets of water about there when it gets really hot.
And last but not least, a winter-happy for you :) The indigenous Clematis microphylla growing on my front fence and flowering it's head off. Very pretty!
Stay warm xx
Thursday, July 4, 2013
In other news, I've just eaten the last two raspberries off the bush. Raspberries in June? Oh, yes! I am as surprised as you are. And they were delicious :) These are an unnamed variety that I dug out of my Mother-in-law's garden a year ago. I love it when a free plant performs well. I have six other - known - varieties of raspberry scattered throughout the yard as well. If I have my way, we will be overrun with fruit in a few years. I can't think of a nicer fruit to be overrun with, either. The varieties I have should provide fruit for us from December right though to June, if the past six months are anything to go by.
Last but not least, another bargain which is proving itself a brilliant performer: A David Austin Rose I bought from an online store in a kind of 'end of season run-out' sale. It's called Sophy's Rose, and it's proving itself almost impossible to photograph accurately. I appreciate this Hipstamatic snap is especially dodgy and not even in focus, but so far it's been the closest representation of the colour I've managed to get (real-camera photos are even worse, and show it as a hot pink colour). This photo on the David Austin website is a little closer, though my roses seem to glow more than that. Sophy's Rose is a glorious burgundy-wine-red colour, warmer than the red in the lower rose in my picture, but not as pink as the one on the top.
Furthermore, it's still blooming in June and the plant itself has done wonderfully for one just planted last winter, not showing any signs of the blackspots and yellowing leaves of the roses in my front yard, and even still has a generosity of leaves.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I love anemones of all kinds (oceanic varieties included), seriously love them. I bought these bulbs around 18 months ago. I had a vision of sweeps of blue and white beauties in and around the roses. And then, not long after my bulbs arrived in the post, I lost them. Like, proper lost, turned the house upside down, couldn't imagine where they could have possibly gone. I started to wonder if I'd actually accidentally thrown them out. Then, about two months ago they miraculously turned up in the study. Bingo! Now I could plant them. Except where were they to go? The rose garden vision has changed, or rather, has filled up in the intervening year with other plants (mostly native, which these anemones are not). What to do, what to do? So, the bulbs have been sitting on the kitchen bench for weeks and weeks now, getting pushed aside, while I've been trying to decide what to do (short of listing them on eBay!). In my dream, some of them had flowers already...
So, in they go, and this afternoon at the latest. It's a bit late to be planting them to be honest, but better in the ground than stashed at the back of the laundry cupboard for another year. The plan now goes: whack them in, in random clumps, wherever there happens to be a space.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I found some garlic bulbs in the cupboard, neatly labelled, from last year's harvest. Normally they would have all been eaten months ago but this time, morning sickness put me off using them completely and so I have plenty left to plant (not to make this post entirely about pregnancy and garlic!)
I'm planting Dynamite Purple, Early White American, Cream, Melbourne Market and Australian White (not pictured). I love garlic as a crop: bung it in, and off it goes with almost no maintenance or care required at all. It will do better, however, if kept weed-free and fed.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
I made myself a short-list of roses that I'm interested in (all climbers, this time). I couldn't help noticing that SP has annointed it with her own ideas... Is that a 'no' to Tess of the D'Ubervilles, or a 'yes,' I wonder?
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Or, in the case of gardening in difficult climates and soils, do some research before spending any more money!
When we first bought our house, I ran out and planted a number of things. Mostly I got lucky, but one of my first failures was a couple of blueberry plants.
Mistake #1: Planting them up against that blasted (and blasting hot) Western fence. I've lost many plants against that fence now, and those that survive do not thrive over summer. All that radiant heat is a bad idea for nearly everything. Not to mention that a lot of blueberries are not very heat-tolerant at the best of times.
Mistake #2: Blueberries like acid soil, which is in short supply in nearly all of Adelaide and surrounds. I'm lucky: the soil in our yard happens to be a little bit acidic with a pH of around 6.2, except in gardening circles that's practically a neutral pH. Blueberries like a pH of between about 4-5.5. That's just not something I can provide for my plants in the ground, and I'm not about to go faffing about trying to alter it (too tiresome, potentially expensive, and a never-ending exercise).
The solution? Pots! And a couple of plants which hopefully will be a little more heat-tolerant (or at least are low-chill varieties).
Today I went out and bought four new blueberry plants (because I have four big pots to put them in). I had a chat to the girl at the counter about the plants, and she thinks these four should be OK in my area (hills, but not the cold-cold hills further behind Adelaide.)
My three 'real' blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are 'Denise', 'Northland', and 'Sunshine blue'. They are all Northern Highbush varieties. I also have a Chinese blueberry (Vaccinium gaultheriifolium), which is a bit of an experiment as it's different to the other blueberry species commonly grown.
I also spent what felt like a small fortune on special 'rose/camellia/azalea etc' potting mix especially for acid-loving plants. I tell myself it's OK, because my SP adores blueberries and inhales them by the punnet, and they are usually really expensive to buy, and I've spent about 12 punnets worth of blueberry money on my plants and potting mix. If this goes well, within a few years we should be set up for fruit for most of Summer and Autumn, which will be super-nice!
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Nepenthes are my favourite carnivorous plants; they remind me of Malaysia, where some species are native to. Nepenthes are pitcher plants, with their pitchers dangling off the end of their leaves. I've never had one, because they're usually expensive and I'm not overly confident about growing them. Anyway, I found some in my local nursery, marked down to $6! Yes, please!
I brought one home and then got Googling: 'care of Nepenthes.' My new baby is some sort of hybrid, and there was very little information on the label, so I feel I'm flying blind here, a little bit.
According to the WWW, these plants are best potted up into a mix of sphagnum moss, peat moss, and orchid potting mix. I visited three different shops before I found some sphagnum moss, and I had a bag of orchid mix in the shed already, so I did a rough mix of mostly sphagnum with a big dash of orchid mix. I skipped the peat moss because you can't get real peat moss - I don't think so, anyway. It's not environmentally sustainable and not really a renewable resource, I believe, but I'll have to check that - and I've gone off coir peat after being told that as well as holding loads of water, it also holds loads of salts if you use tap water. I like to think that as the sphagnum moss was from New Zealand, it would be more sustainably managed. Anyway... What was I saying?
My new plant has a new home in a big vase, and it will live in the bathroom , because they like humidity and the bathroom is brightly lit. Wish me - and it! - luck. I will try to remember to update on my baby Nepenthes progress down the track.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Quince is such a nice, fragrant fruit. Well worth the long wait for it to ripen. In fact, I picked this quince (and a few smaller ~500g siblings) a touch green because my poor tree was so overladen with heavy fruits that I thought the branches were going to snap in two.
Last year - the tree's first year in the ground - I had seven individual fruits, and this year I have fifteen. So, it's quite a productive little tree for one so young (in contrast, we are still waiting for the first of our three year old lemon tree's fruit to ripen).
It's been a remarkably low maintenance tree too. It is in an irrigated garden bed, but otherwise gets absolutely no special care at all. It doesn't get any extra fertilisers, or seaweed extracts, and I've never seen any serious insect problem or hint of disease on it. Every year I take photos of the blushing pink flowers, and then promptly forget to put any pictures on the old blog.
As I always do with quinces, I peeled them and chopped them, removed the seeds (and was generous taking the flesh from immediately around the seeds as this part can be quite grainy and spoil the texture of your finished product), and poached them in water, sugar, golden syrup, lemon and spices. I'm happy to say that cooking slightly green fruit hadn't been a problem and my quinces are just as much of a treat as always.
Internet recipes often warn you that quinces are very hard to cut, but I haven't found this at all; they are just as soft as their apple cousins. Perhaps it's the variety? My little tree is a 'Pineapple quince.'
Happy Easter, all xx
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Our vegie patch is not doing brilliantly at the moment. Half because when it needed to be lavished with love, care, and water, I was in the throes of morning sickness and spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself rather than working in the garden, and half because a reasonable amount got wiped out by the endless hot weather we had about two months ago (all the bigger tomatoes, in particular). However, excuses aside, the four chillies I planted from a mixed punnet are doing brilliantly. My favourites are the blasting hot Thai chillies (prik kee nu, literally 'rat shit chilli,' because that is what they look like), which we like to chop up small and soak in fish sauce (prik nam pla, ie 'chillies in fish sauce!') and eat sprinkled on practically anything savoury. I also have the bigger varieties Anaheim (lots of fruit, but suffers more from what may be blossom end rot than the others), Cayenne (not prolific) and Jalapeño (also not especially prolific).
Yet again, for about the third year running, I promise myself that I'll try to shelter the plants over winter so they have a chance or survival. Being tropical perennials, there is a chance they can make it through the cold if protected, but of course this does rely on me actually making an effort and not leaving it too late!
Thursday, February 28, 2013
1. Sri Lankans like to use place-mats and coasters.
2. Meals are universally enormous.
3. Double bed sheets must be nearly impossible to find, because beds are nearly always made up with two single sheets arranged vertically. The sheets are often folded into origami-like patterns as well.
4. Smoking is unusual.
5. I've not yet seen single child selling or touting anything. I think kids here are actually in school or playing at home. This is a refreshing change!
Five things which are the same everywhere throughout tropical Asia:
1. Stray, mangy, emaciated dogs.
2. Terrible roads, open drains, bad or non-existent plumbing.
3. Dragging poverty in some areas (though no one here that I've seen so far seems to actually be starving...)
4. Bus drivers with death wishes.
5. Bananas, papaya, mango, pineapple, rice...
I had a photo too, but Blogger doesn't want to play today...
Friday, February 15, 2013
I knew this hotel was dodgy and chose it (online) because of it's proximity to the airport in Kuala Lumpur. We three (four?!) are on our way to Sri Lanka for a short holiday, and until recently our flight to Colombo left ridiculously early in the morning so I wanted to be close. The flight time has since be changed to 11am and there is now no need to be out in the sticks of KL at all, but nevertheless, here we are.
We have stayed in plenty of shoddy places before. And it's not like this place is particularly decrepit, really. First impressions were not great: the building is a Classic Tropical Concrete construction, painted maroon and green. The corridors are painted an insipid lime green with chocolate brown doors and trim. Our room follows the lime green and brown theme. We seem to be on the edges of some kind of derelict estate and were not keen to explore further than making a loop around the block to find the only restaurant open (but busy, at least) for a quick dinner of ordinary nasi goreng and mee goreng. Almost all of the buildings are deserted and in a state of disrepair, featuring broken sidewalks, weeds, and even half-grown trees sprouting out of gaps in the concrete.
Still, our room is clean and dry, has hot water and electricity, beds, a TV... far more than we've had in many places before. So I'm not complaining about our hotel, as such, although it was exorbitantly priced for something so ordinary.
Anyway, enough of all that. All things being even, this time tomorrow we should be eating dinner in Negombo, Sri Lanka, by the beach, and deciding where we are going to go after that. We're half backpacking it around the country, as in going with the wind as much as travelling with a toddler will allow. We have a rough idea of where we want to go, and are just going to get people to point us in the right direction. Our girl turns three years old in a week, and we're hoping her birthday involves elephants somehow.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
When last I posted, I was busy pulling up daggy lamb's ears and some Lomandras I was never happy with, and replacing them with a group of small, native ground covering plants (lots of daisies, plus a few ring-ins). I'm happy to report that most of my new flower patch is doing quite well. We have had a bit of a break in the hot weather recently with milder days and even a little bit of rain and the garden is loving it (as am I). A special mention here to my Helichrysum rutidolepis ('pale everlasting daisy'). It's a local species and classified as Threatened, and apparently it likes it in my front yard - with it's dripper irrigation and thick layer of pea straw mulch - because the few plants I put in have rocketed along, tripling in size in three weeks. Woohoo! Now, if only the rest of the plants would do the same thing...
Photo #1: Long shot of the front yard. The 'gap' at the front is actually a transplanted Poa lab and Scaevola 'mauve clusters,' which are still considering whether or not they are going to join the party.
Photo #2: Helichrysum rutidolepis going gangbusters.
Monday, January 14, 2013
There are a number of little native plants right up again our fence already, including:
Brachyscome multifida var. diliata
B. 'Break O Day'
B. 'Pacific Sun'
Laurentia 'blue stars' (annual)
Chrysocephalum apiculatum prostrate form
Billarderia cymosa (climber) and
Clematis microphylla (climber)
Today I'm planting a couple more Brachyscomes, Dampiera diversifolia, Halgania cyanea, Wahlenbergia communis and Helichrysum rutidolepis.
I will add a few more updated photos at the end (as well as a spelling and grammar check, which I can't do on my phone!)
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Speaking of babies, our second child will be landing earth-side around the end of June :)