With Autumn colds, exploratory trips of the local area and the demands of general day-to-day life, we have not spent as much time as we would have liked in the garden this month, but the weather has been superb! Hence, the recent excursions to the national parks of the hinterland and the escarpment, before it gets too cold or too snowy!!! We’ve visited Tuross Falls and the Cascades (Wadbilliga National Park); Deua National Park, both covered in last week’s post, and this last weekend, Lake Crackenback Resort, between Jindabyne and Thredbo.Ross has however managed to upkeep the vegetable garden from liming the soil to planting out new vegetable seedlings (sugarloaf cabbage, cauliflower, Winter greens and onions) and sowing spinach and snow pea seed. The capsicum are still productive, but the tomatoes are taking much longer to ripen. We harvested them all today to make Green Tomato Chutney!He has also totally finished the pergola, with all the wiring done as well, so we should be able to train the climbers correctly for next season. We were rewarded with some late blooms of the climbing tea rose Adam.Other roses still throwing out blooms include: Alister Stella Gray; Jude the Obscure and Evelyn; Heritage, Eglantyne and Alnwick; Mrs Herbert Stevens and Lamarque; Icegirl and The Children’s Rose; and Mutabilis and Monsieur Tillier.As you can see from the pergola photos, the Autumn foliage of the Snowball Tree (Viburnum opulus) has been superb from muted golds (south) to fiery reds (north). The Carolina Allspice beneath the snowball tree is also turning, its golden green leaves contrasting well with the red of the latter.At the bottom of the garden, where the poplar and plums are bare, the pomegranate provides a welcome splash of gold. A softer gold carpet is forming under the Floribunda Crab Apple Tree. The maples too vary from an green-orange-red combination to more red-purple-orange hues, depending on the variety. In fact, the whole backdrop to the garden is in its most interesting and colourful phase.The Paris daisies are in full gold regalia in the Moon Bed and attract many butterflies. The dahlias are the other major highlight in the May Garden. The tree dahlias are finally in bloom, their fragile, soft mauve-pink flowers and buds superbly contrasted against the intense blue Autumn skies. This is why I still grow them, despite their instant capitulation to wind and frost!The seed dahlias have provided us with such joy and are unfortunately slowly finishing off for the season. Knowing that their days are limited, their foliage already touched up by a few early light frosts, I have started cutting them with longer stems for beautiful floral arrangements for the house. It is such a shame that they don’t flower over Winter, as they really cheer the place up with their wonderful colours. While I love the flamboyance of the deep reds, deep gold and bright oranges and pinks, I equally love the softer warm orange-pink shades. I suspect this is the last dahlia bouquet for the season!Here is the last zinnia bouquet, picked in early May as we cleaned up the cutting garden, as well as a sweet little posy of violets, the first of the season.We attacked the chaos of the late Autumn cutting garden with a vengeance, pruning back the rampant wayward stems of the ‘Meadow Lea’ dahlia, removing spent plants and transplanting the Angelica and Lady’s Mantle to more appropriate (ie larger) sites of the garden. We transplanted the foxgloves to the back of the cutting garden and left the old biennial stock, the new cornflowers and a very brave, tenacious but foolish Iceland poppy seedling ! I have sowed seed of Ladybird Poppies, Linum and more Stock in egg cartons, for less disruptive transplantation in the cutting garden later on. All the old bulbs are surfacing, except for the De Caen anemones, whose corms have disintegrated to nothing! Possibly, the ground was too wet during their dormant period or maybe the greedy zinnias took all their nourishment! We planted out Species Tulips (Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’), as well as 3 ‘Bokassa Gold’ Tulips, down the centre of their empty bed on Mothers’ Day. We also moved 2 camellias (‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Nuccio’s Gem’) forward, so they get more light, while still being shaded, and removed the dying Maple on the north-west corner of the cutting garden, which will be a great improvement , as it will decrease the amount of Winter shade on the bed. Earlier this month, we also planted the bulbs of Snake’s Head Fritillary, a Delft Blue Hyacinth and miniature Tête à Tête daffodils in the rockery garden, as well as 25 Grape Hyacinth, which are already up. I also planted some pinks: Valda Wyatt, Dianthus Pretty and Coconut Sundae into this bed . The Rockery Garden is a good spot for all my smaller treasures! We moved the Rozanne Geranium into the end of the bed, and while it will die back with the frosts, it should come again in Spring.Across the way, the heliotrope continues to colour the foot of the climbing rose Mrs. Herbert Stevens. The violets are coming into their own, as are the forget-me-knots in the Soho Bed.At the back of the house, the white Nerine show is coming to a close, but the Nandina is now taking centre stage with its red Autumn foliage and berries and the occasional cream flower spike. The Bowerbirds are loving the black ivy berries. The Loquat trees are in full bloom this year, so we should get plenty of fruit (and probably accompanying flying foxes!). The King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas are back to harvest the Duranta berries, as well as nibble the fresh shoots of the Giant Bamboo. The bird bath is still a popular venue with female Bowerbirds, Crimson Rosellas and Currawongs all vying for a place! And the first of the camellia blooms are out- a soft pink and a few deep rose pink flowers, complementing the warm pink cyclamen at the front door.The Grevillea has grown so much and is in full bloom and the protea is flowering again. We have started protecting our second Firewheel Tree and Silky Oak from the frost with hessian covers.The cumquats are covered in little orange globes – I can’t wait to make a new batch of Cumquat Marmalade! This little thrush is doing a stirling job keeping the bugs under control! Not a sign of the bronze orange stink bugs, though Leaf Miner has been distorting the leaves on the new citrus plants, so Ross has administered an application of Eco-Oil to treat them. See : http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s2528879.htm Maybe, we should send this little praying mantis down to the citrus! I can’t wait for all the citrus to reach fruit-bearing age, though our Lemonade already has 3 fruits on it! I feel another batch of Lime Cordial is also calling!!!And my first ever Peony Rose (Dr. Alexander Fleming) and Lily-of-the-Valley bulbs have just arrived from Tesselaars, so I am back into the garden! Till next week…!