April and the leaves are turning beautiful Autumn colours , including our neighbour’s Virginia creeper. The purple violets are starting to bloom and we discovered white nerines in amongst the mondo grass in the border of the back path.After treating all the garden beds and new plantings with manure and mulch from a friend’s farm, we planted our first vegetables : lettuce, broccoli and silver beet.
We covered them with a wire guard to protect them from the bower birds, of which we have a huge population next door ! Lovely birds, but very destructive in vegie gardens !
We planted our Spring bulbs in the new cutting garden, except for the tulips, which needed refridgeration, and marked their planting rows with stakes of small bamboo. In between each pair of bulb rows, we sewed annual and perennial seeds to gradually grow and replace the spent bulbs as their leaves dry off. In effect, within the one cutting bed, we had 4 long skinny beds, separated by paths:
- Dutch Iris and daffodils with cornflowers in the middle at the back;
- Freesias and ranunculas separated by Iceland poppies;
- a bed totally devoted to blue, red and white de Caen anemones with calendula in the middle and finally
- a late bed of erlicheer jonquils and tulips, which will be planted in May and then joined by stock seedlings after the Winter frosts. We raised the stock in seed trays on the sunny verandah, along with Sweet Pea seedlings, again to be planted out after the frosts.
We marked out 4 paths in the Soho Bed and finally transplanted the Soho roses into their permanent positions:
2 pastel quarters :
• Icegirl (white)
• the Children’s Rose (pink)
• Eglantyne (pink); and
• Fair Bianca/
• Fragrant Plum(soft purple) and
• Just Joey (salmon) and
2 brighter quarters :
• Copper Queen (gold)
• Mr Lincoln (dark red) and
• Alnwyk ( mid pink);
4th quarter :
• Heaven Scent (blue pink)
• LD Braithwaite (deep red) and
• Lolita (orange, gold and pink).
Here are some vases of the Soho roses.
We edged the bed with lavenders ( English, French and Italian ), which we’d raised from cuttings and catmint from the local nursery, as well as planting blue and red flowering salvias, a pink verbena, a white gaura (which was damaged by later frost) and 4 gold bearded iris corms in each corner of the sundial .
A scarlet robin flew down to sit on the sundial and inspect our progress that same afternoon!We placed our 2015 rose order from both Misty Downs (http://mistydowns.com.au ) and Treloars (http://www.treloarroses.com.au ) in Victoria- the start of our new rose empire !!! We also planted an evergreen Bull Bay Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) in the centre of the rain forest area. I adore their luscious huge creamy- white flowers and glossy foliage.We also had lots of visitors in April- my daughters for Easter, as well as my sister and her husband and several close friends, so the kitchen saw lots of activity ! I made an Easter cake decorated with salvia flowers and my eldest daughter, who had just returned from a 3 month holiday in South East Asia, taught me how to make Vietnamese rice paper rolls.
I attended a local sour dough bread workshop and added it to our repertoire, although over time I reverted to our No Knead bread recipe, which does have yeast, as my husband preferred it.And we made cumquat marmalade from our generous trees- 37 jars of it ! I tried 2 recipes- Caroline Velik’s with lemon juice ( https://carolinevelik.wordpress.com/2010/07/ ) and Stephanie Alexander’s recipe from Merci Mama’s site (http://merci-mama.com/cumquat-mmmmmarmalade/ ). Both set well and I really couldn’t decide which recipe I preferred. It was so easy, as the fruit is only quartered and the numerous pips removed at the very end just before bottling. It has become our favourite breakfast spread.
I continued making aprons for the store with Mother’s Day coming up and made a cute little alien designed by Melly and Me ( http://mellyandme.com/) for another new baby, as well as a little appliquéd felt bird purse (designed by Salley Mavor from her book Felt Wee Folk. See : http://weefolkstudio.com/) for my youngest daughter.I also made a star cushion to thank my friend Beryl for the beautiful bunting she made and gave to me.