The January Garden

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.

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Looking down Candelo Creek from the bridge
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Looking up Candelo Creek from the bridge

BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 10.02.51There 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!BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 10.06.23Ross 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.

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Educating Lamarque!
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Ross sowing Sweet Pea seeds under the new raspberry trellis

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.

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Planting the special Dahlia seed
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Bupleurium seedhead

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.

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Ross laying the brick edging of the Moon Bed
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I didn’t even notice Ross’s deviation joke!!!

We have also done lots of watering, weeding and mulching throughout the month, not to mention giving that rampant pumpkin a severe haircut!!!BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5799BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_6747BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5490All 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.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5146BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_4529BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5131BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5733BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.13.20We 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.

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All home-grown except for the eggs!!!

BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5406The 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!BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5849

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Ingredients for Plum Jam : Plums, water, sugar and lemon juice. I didn’t end up using the limes, as I had enough juice from the old lemons in the tub!

BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5794Our neighbour’s pear tree also has a bumper crop!BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5782We 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.

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Yum-a-Plum!!!
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This smart cookie was cleaning up the fallen plums underneath the tree
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Munching on plums
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This bird definitely needs a bib!!!

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.

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I love the under-colours of the female King Parrots!
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Twist on the verandah
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Oliver is the more confident of the two!
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Oliver sheltering from the rain
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A Maple seed feast

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!BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5316BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 14.39.03

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Crimson Rosellas also have beautiful colours underneath!

We even have a young Butcher-Bird, much to the alarm of the other bird parents.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5298The 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!BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5213BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5216The Burgundy sunflowers are equally impressive for their colour, boldness and vigour, producing many many flower heads.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5166

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Sunflowers after rain

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This bloom literally glows!
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Caroline’s wonderful watercolour painting also looks alive!
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The geometric form of the new blooms is stunning!

The dahlias are still brightening up the cutting garden with their generosity, as are the calendulas.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5487

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This wet dahlia bud has a metallic glow!

They have been joined by exotic scarlet, gold, orange and pink zinnias. Their colours are so intense, as is the purple of the cosmos.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_6764BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_6766BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_6741BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_6650BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5831BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 17.32.17The 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!BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5331BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5333The agapanthus provide a sea of blue to cool the senses on the really hot days.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5221And the roses continue to romance us! The Moon Bed looks so pretty with it soft pink, cream and gold David Austin roses.

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Golden Celebration
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Heritage
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Troilus
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Lucetta

The Soho Bed is also undergoing a fresh burst of blooms.

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Lolita
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Just Joey
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Ice Girl
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Mr. Lincoln

The climbers are also throwing out fresh blooms.

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Devoniensis
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An older bloom of Devoniensis
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Mme Alfred Carrière
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Alister Stella Gray

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.

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Planting cuttings of Mme Isaac Pereire and Fantin Latour on the shed fence
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Planting the species rose : R. foetida bicolor on the bottom fence
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The Reve d’Or cutting has a flower
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The Leander cutting also has a bloom

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!!!BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 17.27.51BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.15.13BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 19.37.34These red beetles were much more attractive, but had little impact on either the pumpkins or the sunflowers!BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5121BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.06.51These beetles were mating on rhubarb leaves.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.10.56I 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!BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.18.18

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!

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The Cumquat Battle
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Post-War breeding!
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First of the Baby Boomers!
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Almost armour-plated!

This little moth is in heaven!

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Heritage Moth (as in rose!)

The handsome Orchard Butterfly is back, flitting heavily from the buddleias to the Soho Bed.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5625BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5599There are some stunning wasps and spiders.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.28.02BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.30.32BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 15.20.28These cute little grasshoppers are hopefully behaving themselves!

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His antennae extend beyond the photo edge!
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Ready for Lift-Off!!!

Summer also means lots of beautiful bouquets for the house!

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Dahlias, Catmint and Sweet Peas
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Monbretia, Calendulas, Poppies, Feverfew, Blue Salvia and Stock
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Sweet Peas, Stock and Catmint

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!!!BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-16 20.21.33BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-16 20.21.06Caro 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!BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5802BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 15.48.43BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_6652BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-11 18.47.42BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5464

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Winter

The Winter frosts kicked in with a vengeance with the start of June, but the days were beautiful – crisp blue skies and we could still sit in the sun on the verandah. All the deciduous trees were now bare except for the maples, whose leaves were persisting in a blaze of rich warm colours.Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-04-17 09.42.06And the Winter blooms were appearing :

  • our wonderful multigraft camellia at the front door with its variety of coloured blooms from white to white laced with pink, light pink, pink striped with deeper pink and a full deep red – underplanted with white and soft pink hellebores, as well as pink and purple violets;
  • the divinely scented Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima);
  • Galanthus nivalis flowers- the true English snowdrop- I started with one bulb in a pot and now have 20 !
  • And snowflakes ( Leucojum), which replaced the nerines.
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    Galanthus nivalis
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    Species hellebores and violets under camellia

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    Our camellia sports blooms of different colours

All these flowers were such good value, as they lasted all Winter and kept our spirits up. I have also included a photo of a magnificent camellia hedge at Kalaru.Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-14 12.43.36We fed the beds with more manure, severely pruned the old lemon tree, thinned the calendula and cornflowers and put cardboard over the 2nd cutting bed.

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New cutting garden on right under cardboard and lawn clippings

We planted the old in-ground septic tank, now filled with sand, with tiny native plants from the local market:

  • a Westringia fruticosa-Wynyabbie Gem,
  • a ‘Dusky Bells’ Correa (Correa pulchella X reflexa),
  • a Crowea exalata and

Dwarf Pink Diosma (Coleonema compactum), knowing full well that even just one of these shrubs will ultimately fill the tank alone and we will probably have to transplant 3 of them later on as they grow, but for now they all fit and its lovely seeing their tiny little blooms through Winter as well. The birds should love them and we will have a wonderful view of them from the verandah!

Other new plantings included:

  • Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) in the cutting garden for its pretty frilled foliage which holds raindrops and its yellow blooms;
  • Lilacs: Mme Lemoine (white) for the white border and Katherine Havemeyer (mauve pink);
  • Flowering Quinces ( Chaenomeles) in red, white and apple blossom pink and white.The japonicas and mauve lilac replaced the sheoaks and the red japonica graces the bottom of the garden; and
  • a red camellia (Little Red Riding Hood) and red rhododendron ( Vulcans Flame) on the side border under the deciduous trees to provide an evergreen screen.

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    White japonica

We collected sand from the creek and laid the paths in the Soho Bed with rustic old bricks, which we found under the house or edging well established garden beds, where they were now superfluous. We only just had enough for 3 paths, so the last path was paved with my neighbour’s old bricks, hence christened ‘the Anne Path, ’ leading south towards her fence ! We planted 4 types of thyme around the central sundial : Ordinary/ Variegated Lemon/ Orange Peel and Creeping Bergamot thymes.Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-26 12.56.41Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-27 16.29.03

We also planted double pink and mauve Peony poppy seeds ( a bit like the old opium poppies) from Lambleys :  http://lambley.com.au/ , which were immediately picked off by some crazed drug-addled bird, rabbit or fox ! There were little pockmarks all over the Soho Bed the next day, so I don’t expect a great strike rate unfortunately !

And then the roses arrived ! My Mum gave me 3 David Austin roses from Treloars (http://www.treloarroses.com.au ) to start my David Austin bed early in June and my Misty Downs (http://mistydowns.com.au ) order arrived towards the end of June. It was so exciting planting them ! We dug holes for the David Austin roses : Windermere, Evelyn and Jude the Obscure – to be later formed into a moon shaped crescent bed with the best aspect in the garden – full Northern Winter sun all day !Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-07 12.08.54

White Hybrid musks: Autumn Delight and Kathleen joined Penelope at the back of the left hand vegie garden, the latter covering half the chook gate arch over the path. On the other side of the chook arch, we planted Cornelia, then the right hand vegetable hedge was continued with another pink Hybrid Musk Felicia, then Stanwell Perpetual, the already planted Mutabilis and at the end of the row and the start of the Rugosa hedge, running at a perpendicular direction around the corner, the exquisitely scented deep pink Roseraie de l’Hay.

The rugosa hedge also included the pale pink single Frau Dagmar Hastrup and my favourite double white rugosa : Mme Georges Bruant. I love the scent and generosity of the continuous flowering Hybrid Musks and Stanwell Perpetual is a favourite old Species rose, which is one of the first and last to flower. The rugosas, which we first saw lining the French motorways, are tough, beautifully scented and extremely prickly, so we will have to be very careful when patting our neighbour’s dogs !

We planted the Noisette roses : Alister Stella Gray over the Soho arch to be joined on the other side by a blue clematis one day,  and a creamy white lemon/apple scented Lamarque to climb the front wall of our high set wooden house. Ross is going to devise a fold-down trellis network of some sort, so he can still paint the wall in the future if he needs to, without disturbing the climbing rose too much!Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-09 08.06.25

While I was waiting for my roses to arrive, I was busy in my sewing room. I designed a new ‘vase of flowers’ embroidery, just using embroidery stitches (first photo), then when I was satisfied with it, I used it as a basis for an appliquéd felt cushion cover for myself.

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I traced glass circles on different coloured felts, embroidered each circle with a different combination of stitches and colours and then attached them to a dark navy felt front. I added green felt leaves, each one displaying a different embroidery technique to depict the veins ( that multi toned green Perle thread is fantastic for foliage !) and the mauve vase was again a sampler of different embroidery stitches in its own right.

I completed the centre of the bouquet with an  abstract flower and bud inspired by Angie Lewin ( see : http://www.angielewin.co.uk/ )  to complement the vase colour, then backed the cushion cover with a bright tartan plaid from my stash, a fabric once reserved for a girl’s skirt pattern. It has been wonderful to finally use some of my long held fabrics at long last! I love working with felt and shiny No. 5 Perle thread, though I used No. 3 Perle thread to blanket stitch the felt panel to the backing material instead of ric rac.Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-04 18.40.24Blog Early Winter20%ReszdIMG_8907

I also made 4 jewellery rolls (old Vogue Pattern 1528) out of fat quarters for my nieces’ birthdays with 3 zips, 5 pockets and a little silver charm or key ring hidden inside, as well as trying out a pattern for a petal pocket fabric knick knack holder designed by Valori Wells (http://www.valoriwells.com/ ),  a cute pattern which is very easy to make, so good for a quick emergency gift !Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-18 12.25.05

When my youngest daughter visited on her mid-semester break, I helped her to make a patchwork vintage cushion cover out of material scraps and some cosy wheatbags -with the proviso that she never sleep with them due to the risk of fire !Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-26 12.53.20