By July, we were well into the throes of full Winter – lots of cosy warm fires and hearty vegetable soups ! My daughter was still with us and we enjoyed exploring the local coast with her and collecting shells, so I made her a seashell-embroidered cushion cover, on which I experimented with different stitches for ideas for a future cushion cover for me. She loved it and even though I just used line in the design, I think it was very effective.She also enjoyed spending time with our beautiful old dog Scamp ( born in 2000), who was on his last legs and who died not long after she left. We miss him so much ! He had such a beautiful nature and was such a great help in the garden!It was so quiet once he’d gone, so we decided to pay a long overdue visit to my parents up at the Gold Coast- plus enjoy a little Queensland warmth and shortcut the long Winter !!! I quickly made my Mum a felt cushion cover embroidered with seabirds, as she had loved her little Mother’s Day seabird plate. I used all my old photos and substituting purples and light blues for my nonexistent grey threads, I embroidered a sea eagle, pelican, silver gull, blackwinged stilt, pied oystercatcher, hooded and double banded plovers, a cormorant on a lichen-encrusted rock made of French knots and even a fairy prion in flight, the only bird photo that came from a bird book . She was so thrilled, as was I, by the result.Just before we left, Ross helped a builder construct a wooden fence down the side. Unfortunately, the banksia rose had lost half its bulk when our side neighbour needed to clear a driveway and the weight of the unilateral growth was pulling the huge rose down over the outdoor eating area. We had bought old wooden uprights for a supportive pergola underneath, but before we could construct it, strong winds brought the rose right down to the table overnight 2 days before we left and we couldn’t lift it up. There was no other option but to give it a massive prune on our final day and let it shoot again ! An enormous job, but it had to be done and at least we could leave for our holiday, knowing it would be safe without a supporting structure underneath !We pruned the buddleias at the same time and planted yellow honeysuckle plants I’d grown from cuttings along the new fence to intermingle with the new banksia rose growth, as well as a yellow Trachelospermum asiaticum, which our side neighbour gave us to replace the ivy, which used to cover the stone wall and to which she is allergic. We planted red and gold woodbine along the kitchen window part of the fence.
During our trip up north, we raided our old garden in Armidale for cuttings of my favourite heritage roses, many no longer on the market, as well as getting cuttings from another rose-mad friend at Black Mountain. It was quite a task, as I didn’t want to mix up the cuttings and only had a limited number of pots, as well as limited time, so we numbered each pot and used bands of orange electrical tape, so we could use each pot for 3 cuttings each of 2 different roses.We bought 2 smaller grevilleas : Lady O (1-1.5m tall ), on left side of basket, and Fire Works (1m tall ) at the back of the basket, to grace the bank behind it.We also stayed with friends, whose property included rainforest, so we were able to collect plants for our rainforest fernery : elkhorns, staghorns, birds nest ferns, felt ferns, sword ferns and maidenhair ferns. We purchased a Lemonade tree on sale, a Star Above Star camellia like the bloom in our guest bedroom vase at Black Mountain (see photos ) and an Armeria ‘Pretty Petite’ (thrift) from nurseries en route. How I regretted not buying that delightful blue species clematis, Clematis macropetala ‘Pauline’, from a nursery in the Blue Mountains !!! We also returned home with lots of homemade jam and chutney ( in exchange for the cumquat marmalade we had taken up as thank you gifts for accommodation ) and huge bags of homegrown limes and mandarins !It was lovely to get home after our first trip away and discover that all the plants had survived. The new japonicas were all flowering , despite their small size, and we planted the Star above Star camellia up behind the white and apple blossom japonicas, as its pink and white blooms will complement them well.
The daphne buds had finally burst and smelt divine and the multigraft camellia, Winter honeysuckle, violets and hellebores continued to delight.My Mum’s pink begonias were all in full bloom down the rainforest path and the hydrangeas were all sending out fresh bud.The first day back, we repotted all the rose cuttings into their own pots, labelled with their name in whiteout pen !We planted 3 more David Austins, ordered before we left from Treloars and awaiting our return : Heritage, Troilus and Golden Celebration. Ross pruned the old kiwi fruit vines behind them, but discovered that their stems were quite rotten- no wonder we only had 3 tiny kiwi fruit this year ! Since that part of the garden is prime growing real estate with full northern Winter sun all day long and we have such limited space for new trees, we decided to remove the vines and replace them with citrus trees – an Imperial mandarin, a Washington Navel, a Lemonade Tree and a Tahitian Lime.
And Ross finally started his fernery ! He cut his gardening teeth on his own fernery in childhood and has always loved them. He tied the staghorns and elkhorns to the loquat and pepperina trees, where they should thrive, as well as planting out potted orchids and all the ferns.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I was baking Mandarin cakes and making Mandarin Jam and the most divine Lime Cordial- so easy and delicious- I will never buy Lime Cordial again !!! See my post on Christmas Drinks and Nibbles for the recipe : https://candeloblooms.com/2015/12/17/christmas-eve-drinks-and-nibbles/