What a wonderful Summer we have been enjoying! Perfect temperatures in the late-20s with some mid-30s and the odd scorcher above 40 degrees Celsius, as well as Summer storms and beautiful rain, resulting in flooded creeks and river beds early in the new year. It is always good to see a decent amount of water in Candelo Creek and the birds love it! I couldn’t catch the fast-flying reed warblers, but I did see this gorgeous swamp hen on her grassy platform, which was at the back right of the large central island in the 2nd photo.
There has been so much growth in the garden! The stems of the climbing roses on the Main Pergola are so long and are urging its immediate construction! We ordered 4 freshly-cut, 3.2 m long stringybark posts yesterday, so the roses and I can’t wait for the building to start!Ross also wired up Lamarque, the climbing rose on the front wall of the house, to train its increasingly wayward canes, as well as making a raspberry trellis at the back of the northern vegie patch. We will transplant all the new canes to the vacant half of the trellis this Winter, so have sowed some multi-coloured sweet pea seed for a last crop in Autumn.
We also planted some very special dahlia seeds given to us by a dear friend. I can’t wait to see the colour combinations in Autumn. While Ross was sowing seed, I collected the bupleurium seed.
When we were ordering the pergola posts, we also picked up 50 old red bricks, so we were able to complete the brick edging around the Moon Bed. It looks terrific and will make maintenance so much easier. I would really like to edge the Soho Bed in a similar fashion, though we might have to use smaller broken bricks on their ends because of the continuous curve of the circle.
We have also done lots of watering, weeding and mulching throughout the month, not to mention giving that rampant pumpkin a severe haircut!!!All Ross’s hard work in the garden is now paying off! Even though the potato plants have struggled, we still had a good crop and we are harvesting red and gold heritage tomatoes every day. We made a second batch of Wild Plum Jam and more Basil Pesto.We feast on delicious fresh salads, divine home-made pesto and tasty pizzas for lunch! The pizzas were made with our own onion, tomatoes, capsicum, basil and pesto.
The plums have been superb! We have been eagerly awaiting the ripening of the large purple plums and after a spell of warm days, we harvested 2 buckets worth. We kept a third of the ripest to eat for breakfast, then experimented with 2 different recipes : http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/11891/dolous+dark+plum+jam and http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/backyard-plum-jam. Both have similar ingredients, but their method and timing differ. The first probably set better than the 2nd, but both are delicious and we now have 15 jars of divine Plum Jam for our pantry. And there are still more plums on the tree!
Our neighbour’s pear tree also has a bumper crop!We have had plenty of avian visitors to the garden, keeping a close eye on the ripening of the fruit. We have chased off a number of raiding parties of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.
Oliver and Twist have been regular visitors to the verandah. They seem to like our company and chatter away to us, good-naturedly accepting our less-than-perfect-host behaviour by refusing to feed them! They like nibbling away at the fresh winged seeds of the nearby maple.
The Crimson Rosellas are also enjoying the Duranta berries and at least one of them has been led astray by Oliver and has tried joining him on the verandah!
We even have a young Butcher-Bird, much to the alarm of the other bird parents.The January garden is full of flowers! We have been so impressed with the pink sweet peas, which despite their late start, have positively exploded and are enjoying a long season!The Burgundy sunflowers are equally impressive for their colour, boldness and vigour, producing many many flower heads.
The dahlias are still brightening up the cutting garden with their generosity, as are the calendulas.
They have been joined by exotic scarlet, gold, orange and pink zinnias. Their colours are so intense, as is the purple of the cosmos.The Tree Dahlias have surpassed the shed roof and the corner of the house is a mass of blue and mauve hydrangea mopheads. They are my monthly feature plant for February!The agapanthus provide a sea of blue to cool the senses on the really hot days.And the roses continue to romance us! The Moon Bed looks so pretty with it soft pink, cream and gold David Austin roses.
The Soho Bed is also undergoing a fresh burst of blooms.
The climbers are also throwing out fresh blooms.
My rose cuttings from last Winter are thriving and their roots have reached the base of their 2nd larger pots already, so we have decided to plant them out in their final positions over the next few weeks to make the most of the growing season.
The diversity of the insect world in the garden continues to astound us. We discovered the culprit, which defoliated our potato plants : the larvae of the 28-spotted ladybird (Epilachna vigintoctopunctata). It appears that not all ladybirds are good!!!These red beetles were much more attractive, but had little impact on either the pumpkins or the sunflowers!These beetles were mating on rhubarb leaves.I love the jewel-like beetles on the raspberry below. One could almost forgo that berry for their beauty!But not our precious cumquats for the 2016 marmalade season!
Our stink bugs continue to thwart Ross’s efforts to eliminate them! Unfortunately, their awful smell cancels out any benign thoughts or appreciation of their own unique beauty!
This little moth is in heaven!
The handsome Orchard Butterfly is back, flitting heavily from the buddleias to the Soho Bed.There are some stunning wasps and spiders.These cute little grasshoppers are hopefully behaving themselves!
Summer also means lots of beautiful bouquets for the house!
And it’s been so wonderful having our daughter here on holidays. Lots of exploring our beautiful local area, as well as relaxing at home. Caroline always enjoys sewing when she visits and made this beautiful cushion- the pattern sourced from : http://cluckclucksew.com/2011/03/tutorial-sprocket-pillows.html.
We actually made it a little larger, so she could use it as a floor cushion. We had a quick impromptu lesson on tassel-making from the habadashery lady, as she had no gold tassels in stock, then Caro made all 12 from gold embroidery thread within half an hour! I was very impressed!!! We had even more fun attaching the central buttons! Having pulled both buttons together tight, we were trying to hide the thread end and actually lost the entire needle inside the cushion!!! Fortunately, we were able to retrieve it and disaster was averted!!!Caro has also had a lot of fun with her watercolours. Having had a lesson from her friend on the way over, she really developed her technique over the holidays. She loves painting animals, especially in quirky or fantastical situations. Here is some of her work!