I don’t know if it was my imagination, but Winter seemed to start later this year with the Autumn leaves persisting into early June. Certainly, the frosts were later, the tree dahlias eventually succumbing to heavy winds rather than frosts this year! We had some wild and woolly weather in the first week of June with one quarter of our annual rainfall (247 mm) in 3 days. The gully and creek were in flood- the creek level rising high, with the fast-flowing current cutting hard into the bank and bringing down trees. The local coast also experienced enormous tides with cunjevoi and sea tulips ripped from their beds and washed up on the beach. We had so many puddles in the garden and Ross had to race out in the middle of it all to dig a trench around the cutting garden. By mid-June, the weather finally turned cold with some lovely sky effects.
The Winter garden finally arrived, its palette predominantly white and purple with a few lemons and pinks thrown in! The violets are a mass in the maple bed and along the path. My rockery is full of bulbs poking their heads up, as well as divinely-scented lemon jonquils and white Coconut Ice dianthus, both demanding obeisance every time we walk past! I also love the fresh lemony smell of the tiny flowers of the Winter Honeysuckle, as we enter the back porch. Our daphne is in full bud, promising further fragrance as the Winter progresses. The wallflowers in the Soho bed (below) and stock in the cutting garden have a warm spicy scent. The bulbs have greatly multiplied under trees and in the cutting garden with tulips, iris, daffodils, freesias and ranunculas all growing madly.
The jonquils and tiny snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, are so pretty. I constantly look for new bulbs every day and it is always so exciting when I spot one emerging from the soil like this tiny bluebell under the crabapple tree. The hellebores are all in bud, ready to provide a splash of colour under the trees. I love the sweet diminutive forget-me-nots and the splash of gold of the Winter Jasmine, Jasminium nudiflorum, on the laneway. Here is a colourful black and gold ladybird from the bottom of the garden. I am really looking forward to seeing the japonica buds open. The camellia at the front door has already blessed us with a number of light pink and deep pink blooms. The new camellias are also in bud and Star-above-Star has had its first flower. The roses have still thrown out the odd bloom: Eglantyne (pink) and Golden Celebration (gold). My birthday Souvenir de la Malmaison is already in new leaf. I cut the last blooms of the roses and frost-damaged hydrangeas for two final bouquets for the season. I pruned the hydrangeas and all the Soho Bed roses rather severely on the weekend.We also turned and transplanted quite a few of the roses. Despite our careful observation of outer buds and planting for correct shape, my roses have a habit of sending their shoots out at 90 degrees to where I want them! Now that the roses are dormant, it is a good time to correct their positions- hence Lamarque was dug up after the heavy rains (a perfect time as the soil was so soft), turned 90 degrees and replanted, so that its long canes can diverge horizontally and create the desired fan shape up the house wall instead of growing out from the wall as before. We did the same with Cornelia, so it arches it long canes to the left over the gateway to the chooks (we have yet to build a simple wooden single arch for it), instead of throwing them up into the apple tree to its right. We transplanted Aimee Vibert from its initial position as part of the cutting garden screen behind the Soho Bed to the other side of the arch to replace the dying Kathleen. We also turned Penelope, so it was a member of the hybrid musk hedge rather than the vegetable garden! See the new hedge-line in the photo below : From front to back : Penelope, Aimee Vibert and Cornelia. We made a decision to eliminate the screening hedge between the Soho Bed and cutting gardens. There really was not enough room for the hedge and path, the mature shrubs would have cast too much shade on the cutting garden and in the end, we concluded that we actually like seeing the cutting garden. So, we transplanted the white lilac to the corner of the cutting garden, the Philadelphus to the main pergola corner next to climbing Tea rose, Adam (photos 1 and 2), the Viburnum burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’ to the camellia border (photo 5), the Exochorda between the purple-pink lilac and the pink-and-white Japonica (photo 4) and the Flowering Currant to the front of the Snowball tree (photo 3). Its future pink Spring blooms will complement the pink Weigela on the other side of the pergola entrance. We finally moved the Alister Stella Grey rose to the shed corner to create a golden yellow arch with Rêve d’Or in front of the cumquats, lemonade and quince trees. We still have a number of potted roses, raised from last Winter’s cuttings, to transplant- a hedge of Russelliana on the fence behind the White Mulberry and an Albertine hedge along the back side wall of the shed, the old timber a perfect background for the warm pink blowsy blooms.
We are starting to feel like we are finally achieving a sense of control and structure in the garden. We plan to build a compost bay with 3 divisions against the fence behind the no-dig cutting garden (see the bamboo markers behind the garden fork). The seed dahlias are over-wintering in the front of the bed under their blanket of mulch. Ross has just redug the patch behind the dahlias prior to sowing last year’s peony poppy seed for Spring, to be succeeded by zinnias in Summer and Autumn. Both plantings should benefit from having their own area, as both are very tall and take up a lot of room. Behind the zinnias and poppies will be a strawberry patch, then a path in front of the compost bay. On the left end of the compost bay, we will create an asparagus bed and on the right end, we will grow angelica and rhubarb.There are also self-seeded peony poppies sprouting in the Soho Bed and I have some Iceland poppies in egg cartons awaiting transplantation to the cutting garden. Other pending tasks are to construct the chook fence (and chook house) behind the hybrid musk hedges and transplant the natives in the old sandy septic tank, so we can transform it into a shallow rock-lined pond. Ross has limed the vegie garden. The growth of the new vegies is a bit slow because of the cold and Winter shade. We have yet to prune the raspberries and harvest the cumquats for marmalade! Our first lemonade fruit is almost ripe! We are anticipating a huge crop of loquats this year, as it is still flowering! With all this time in the garden, we have enjoyed the company of lots of little birds from fairy wrens to brown and yellow thornbills, flycatchers, eastern spinebills and silvereyes. We will often look up to see a King Parrot quietly grazing within arm’s reach. A large flock of Little Corellas materialized briefly one week, transforming bare branches into the appearance of white blossom. The very same roosting trees were a sea of pink the following week with a large flock of galahs. The rich diversity of bird life in our garden is a constant joy. We found the perfect spot on a Winter Honeysuckle branch to hang my bronze bird feeder, a birthday gift from a dear friend. It looks like it has been there forever! I will finish with a few photos of a spectacular Winter night sky last week.