The February garden has been full of excitement and industry with the construction of the Main Pergola, the decommissioning of the pumpkin patch and the harvesting of all the Summer fruits and vegetables, not to mention finishing the brick edging of the Moon Bed and the multitude of Summer tasks from weeding, watering and mulching to lawn mowing and planting out new vegetables and seeds!
We were so thrilled with the Main Pergola and even though it is far from finished, the positioning of the new stringybark uprights gives a real sense of its potential and provides a framework and a perfect entrance way to the garden, as can be seen in the photos below. We used 2 old tall fenceposts (from the old Kiwi trellis) in the middle of the pergola. which lend it a rustic air and fit in well!
Wombat Ross dug all 6 holes by hand, all to a depth of 850 mm, which was as long as his arms could reach to scoop out the loosened soil with an old salmon can, but that was sufficient!
We strung up a horizontal wire and tied the laterals of the climbing roses to it, finally providing them with their much-needed support! As we source the wooden beams, we will gradually complete the top of the pergola, but the major part of the work has been done!
Having achieved the major goal for February, Ross then turned his attention to the rampant pumpkin patch, which was again threatening to take over the maple tree and was growing pumpkins up the back chook fence and sneaking through to the neighbour’s garden!Even though it was still producing tiny new pumpkins on a daily basis, we felt we had more than enough for the season and Ross was keen to reinvent the No-Dig Bed. My friend’s prized dahlia seedlings were up and running and we need to thin them out and transplant the extras to a larger area. I just hope that they last the distance and can reveal their beautiful flowers before the late Autumn frosts!He was also keen to establish a Winter crop of peas, cauliflowers and brussel sprouts, while we still have this wonderful growing weather. He has already planted new chard, carrots, lettuces and baby spinach, as well as a late Autumn crop of Dutch Cream potatoes.But back to Ross’s revenge attack on the pumpkin patch! It was swift and it was brutal and in no time at all, we had a new vegetable garden, as well as 37 Queensland Blue pumpkins and 4 GINORMOUS marrows, which are really zucchinis or courgettes, which have been let go (or forgotten in our case!)
Leaving one for our neighbour, we stored the rest in the shed in our trailer, bringing back memories of Ross’s mercy mission, when he and his brother delivered a trailer load of Queensland Blues to the starving people of Brisbane after the massive 1974 floods! A bit ironical really, given that Ross has always disparagingly referred to them as ‘pig food’! Please don’t read that the wrong way!!!
We much prefer the smaller, striped Jap pumpkins, which are growing in the future chook enclosure and to which we have allowed a grace of one extra week to fully mature!!!So, plenty of hearty Winter Pumpkin soups ahead! Fortunately, our son is staying with us at the moment, so not only was he able to help Ross out with the pergola posts, but he has been concocting the most delicious lunches and dinners from produce, fresh from the garden, including the dishes photographed below. As my son remarked, he feels he has given the humble and much-maligned marrow a measure of respect! Even though considered quite bland and requiring other ingredients with strong complimentary flavours, the texture of the flesh was superb! I had half expected this old zucchini to be tough and stringy, but it is tender and really quite delicious, even on its own. I’m a fan!!!
Today, we enjoyed an exquisitely light and creamy home-grown Red Cabbage Soup, garnished with parsley and an Italian Lavender flower! Red Cabbage is also incredibly healthy: see website:http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/healthy_eating/eat-a-rainbow/anthocyanins-blue-purple-food.htmWe harvested the last of the Dutch Cream potatoes. When Ross dug up the old pumpkin patch, he discovered another bucketful of this delicious and much-coveted potatoes. We are storing them in a bucket under the house, but I dearly wish we had kept our old wire safes to store them!!!
We have also been very impressed by our colourful capsicums, a first-time crop for us!The heritage tomatoes also produced a large crop and we made tomato chutney and a spicy tomato sauce, not unlike Barbecue Sauce, as well as using them in all our salads and on toast for lunch!
We also made a Sweet Apple Chutney from our small apple crop. Unfortunately, the birds had demolished a fair number of them, even though they were not ripe enough to eat!
The neighbour’s Beurre Bosc pears appeared to be about to suffer the same fate, so we picked them all for her (and lucky us!), to later discover on researching their harvesting that pears are always picked unripe and stored in the fridge to ripen. We have already enjoyed 3 delicious dessets of stewed pears and cream. It really is a beautiful pear with a sweet taste and firm flesh.
I knew it was only a matter of time before the birds stooped to harvest the tiny new crab apple, being one of the last fruits left for the moment, and I didn’t want to see the fragile branches damaged with the weight of the raiding Vikings, so I picked all 135 fruit, yielding 758g fruit, just enough for 2 scant jars of crab apple jam. The fruit was quite golden by this stage, despite the reddish tinge, so I am assuming its labelling as a ‘Golden Hornet’ crab apple was correct after all!!!So now we are waiting for the raspberries, our one fig (courtesy of the neighbour on the other side!), our first lemonade fruit and our cumquat marmalade crop!
Ross continues to wage war on the stink bugs, who have now just discovered our new citrus trees, as have the Orchard Swallowtail Butterflies (Papilio aegeus) ! Despite the fact that they are bad news for citrus trees, I really do love these huge handsome butterflies, who are a mainstay of the garden. I have been voyeuristically chasing courting pairs around the garden with my camera, obviously to no real detriment, as their spiky progeny is now appearing on the citrus leaves!
These slightly plainer brown butterflies are also very attractive, as are these stunning flies, wasps and beetles!The praying mantis keeps a much lower profile in my washing basket, as do the house spiders with their cunning camouflaged egg sacs, masquerading as leaves, suspended mid-air in their webs.
Mid-air antics are not just the preserve of the arachnids however! On investigating some luminescent shiny tracks on our stone wall one night, we were introduced to the fascinating Leopard Slug (Limax maximus), one of the largest of the keeled slugs. Apparently, they mate mid-air, spiralling down a thread of their own mucus, which they consume after exchanging their sperm! For more information, see : http://www.molluscs.at/gastropoda/terrestrial.html?/gastropoda/terrestrial/limax.htmlWe did not see their twirling dance, but for mucus of a different kind, see the next photo:My sewing room is proving to be an excellent vantage point for bird photography! I really must clean my windows!!! Often, I will have my head down writing or sewing, only to look up at a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo quietly watching me from the Pepperina tree or a King Parrot feeding its offspring!Now that the apples have finished, the King Parrots are feasting on the maple seed. We often watch them from the verandah or surprise them as we walk down the path, but they must be very hungry or very quiet, as they rarely fly off. And some like Oliver are just plain nosy parkers! He often startles us by swooping in close by our heads to land closeby and check out our latest activity! Candelo really is Cockatoo Heaven! This month, we hosted a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Convention down in the bottom corner of the garden. We are mystified about their food source, as the plums and apples are all gone. Perhaps the tiny fruit of the Floribunda crab apple has fallen!
And my beloved Gang-Gang Cockatoos have returned, doing their morning and night-time flyovers every day, though unfortunately, I haven’t yet captured them on film. I can however show you a photo of them feeding on Hawthorne berries last Autumn!We have also had garden inspections from a Spotted Turtle-Dove , a Red Wattlebird, a female Satin Bowerbird and some migrant Dollarbirds, as well as a very noisy, but as yet unphotographed, Cuckoo baby (possibly a Stormbird or Koel- its timbre is the same!), whose non-stop demands must really annoy its overworked host parents even more than us!!!And finally to the flower garden…
The Soho Bed, as generous and abundant as ever:
The Moon Bed, glowing in satisfaction with her beautiful soft David Austin blooms and flowering Paris Daisy, as well as her fully completed brick edging at long last!
Leander, the cutting which we just planted out on the shed corner, has been generously proving her worth, as has the continuous flowering Cornelia in the Pink Hybrid Musk Hedge and Frau Dagmar Hastrup in the Rugosa hedge against my neighbour’s fence.
The Cutting Garden has been ablaze with colour, the Zinnias taking over from the Dahlias, which are just about on their last legs. We also have some late Cosmos, in amongst the stock, and Foxgloves. I finally discovered the identity of these weird looking plants. I was mistakenly sent seeds for Nigella orientalis ‘Transformer’ instead of the blue variety : Nigella hispanica, which I had ordered. They certainly have dramatic seed heads!My Ceratostigma plants have finally flowered and have an electric blue colour, which goes well in mixed bouquets (see rose bouquet later). The Sunflowers were casualties of the pumpkin rampage, but fortunately most of their blooms had finished. I tied paper bags to their spent heads and hung them under the house to dry, so I can save their seed for next season. Our other giants, the Tree Dahlias, having attained their full height, are now gearing up for their brief spectacular finale before the first frost obliterates them. The grevilleas and Silky Oak in the rainforest area behind the shed are powering along!
And the Giant Bamboo on the side fence has finally made a recovery, as has the Banksia Rose over the outdoor eating area! The Woodbine is also well on the way to scaling the fence and has such pretty scented blooms! The hydrangeas are still blooming. I love their soft blue-green petals and the purity of their white blooms. The Cannas are beautiful at the moment with their orange flowers and ruby-red fruit!It is impossible to resist making up bouquets with all the beautiful garden blooms :
I just had to include a photo of my neighbour’s beautiful rambling back garden. I feel we complement each other well!!! Till next month…!