Our Garden in Late Spring 2018

What an amazing Spring it has been! Even though a trifle late to start due to the recent drought, we had rain just at the right time and even though we can always do with more, it has certainly had a rejuvenating effect on the garden!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9388In my post on early Spring at the beginning of October, we were in the throes of Spring blossoms, Dutch crocus, primroses, tulips and other Spring bulbs.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3903 They were soon followed by ranunculus; Crested, Bearded and Dutch iris; tree and intersectional peonies; and now, our glorious roses!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8508The garden is full of colour and scent and the birds, bees and I are in seventh heaven! Here are some of our locals: a magpie, a baby galah and of course, Oliver, the quiet and sociable King Parrot!

It is probably easiest to visit each section of the garden in turn! Following my steps in my daily garden inspection- well, let’s be honest, I probably do this three or four times a day (!), starting from the house, along the side path to the treasure garden and terrace, then descending the steps to the Soho Bed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8990

We are then bowled over by the cutting garden with all its profligate abundance and riotous colour, then past the productive vegie and perennial bed to the bottom of the garden. On the way back, we visit the Moon Bed before swooning at the Main Pergola, then a walk up the hill past the new white hybrid musk hedge to the rainforest area, before following the steps down to Tea Garden and the shed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8857House

The entrance arch from the lane is now looking very established and I love the appearance of these dainty little pink blooms of Cécile Brünner just as the camellias are bowing out.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9219We transplanted the Rugosa rose hedge from down by the brutish cottonwood poplar last Winter to the driveway and even though the soil is tough, these roses are also and can probably handle it! They will provide beautiful scent for passerbys and mask any odours from the garbage bins, as well as a beautiful sight from our bedroom window! Mme Georges Bruant (white) and Frau Dagmar Hastrup (light pink) are already up and blooming, but Roseraie de l’Haie has yet to find her feet, having been the closest to and worst affected by root competition from the giant poplar!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7776BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9060When we come out our back door, we are greeted by the sight of our magnificent Banksia rose, which has now fully recovered to its former glory, as well as the sweetly scented white and gold honeysuckle.

Its red and gold companion blooms further down the fence line, as does this glorious broom and this sweetly scented lilac.

Mme Herbert Stevens was one of the first roses to flower this year and has been so generous with her blooms. I love the soft tinge of pink on her creamy buds and her soft globular blooms.

The bright mixed massing freesias of early Spring were replaced by Cottage Gladioli Blushing Bride Gladiolus nanus and now, colour is provided by purple and pink lavenders.

Mrs Herbert Stevens was soon joined by the lemony white Noisette rose Lamarque, who is now quite established, and their combined scents waft up to the verandah every day.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8652Treasure Garden

The first garden bed I peruse on my daily walk, containing all my tiny or fragile treasures.BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8505 It never fails to surprise me. I discovered that the Rhodohypoxis baurii survived after all and this year, had my first Lily-of-the-Valley flower!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8029

The blue and gold colour scheme of early Spring bulbs and primroses has now been replaced by pink, white and plum dianthus and the spicy scent as absolutely divine.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3995 In order: Coconut Ice; Doris; Valda Wyatt; Sugar Plum and oldfashioned favourite, Mrs Sinkins with the strongest fragrance of the lot!

Terrace

We were thrilled by our first Bearded Iris blooms on the terrace, presiding over their older cousins in the Soho Bed (soft gold) and the Moon Bed (mauve).BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7777 A dear friend gave us a number of corms to plant at the top of our future lavender bank and they produced a range of colours from the dark purple of early Spring to a bronze, gold, royal blue, pale blue, pale mauve and white.

I now have a new passion- bearded iris!!!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7588 We were also mystified by another different iris from my sister’s garden, eventually identifying it by its white crest as Iris tectorum, the iris found in the thatched rooves of Japanese and Chinese houses.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7408Soho Bed

The Soho Bed has been an absolute picture from the soft gold bearded iris, purple Italian Lavender, mauve catmint, light blue forget-me-not, pink and white valerian and mixed pink, white and purple aquilegiaBlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7161BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3904BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7794… to the blowsy chaos of late Spring, as can be seen in the photos below.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8458BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9170BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8281The rose have been glorious: Mr. Lincoln and The Alnwick Rose;BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9510

Lolita; BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4161The Alnwick Rose;BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8567Just Joey;BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8713 and Fair Bianca.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8883Cutting Garden

Our decision to redesign the configuration of the cutting garden from 4 long skinny beds to 4 square quarters has certainly been vindicated by the best ever Spring display!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8255BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8969 - CopyIn the shady bed, the pansies persisted into late Spring, with magical foxgloves and aquilegia replacing the earlier Dutch Crocus.

I have never come across such tall heartsease, which skirt the purple divinely-scented sweet pea.

The late tulips (Carnevale) were replaced with the ever-faithful hoary stock, Jacobean lilies, blue cornflowers, yellow statice …

and poppies galore from wild species to orange, gold and white Iceland poppies and wonderful mottled mutations of Ladybird poppies.

The Dutch Iris were later than the bearded iris this year, possibly because we moved their bulbs in the reconfiguration of the cutting garden, but their display was superb,

especially in combination with the jewel-like colours of the Picasso ranunculus!

They have since been replaced with a wild riot of ladybird poppies, self-seeded from last year and mutating with a wide range of colours from the traditional scarlet to a pure red, mushroom pink and a delicate clear pink!

They looked fabulous with gold Dutch Iris and ranunculus and now, the blue nigella and cornflowers, which for once are standing upright with the support of the mass of poppies!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8977BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8253BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8660 And now, the dahlias are starting their season, both in the cutting garden and underneath the Albertine rose frame on the shed wall.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9501BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9786

The final bed is filled with feverfew, just about to flower, interspersed with Love-in-the-mist, Nigella hispanica, both beautiful fillers for vases! I love the variations in the latter’s colour and form.

The cutting garden has provided us with some beautiful bouquets, as well as edible flowers for our salads and omelettes.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9273BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7114Vegetable Garden

This Spring, we have been enjoying fresh shallots, lettuces, cabbages and broccoli, the latter well protected from the marauding bower birds.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9469We have also been feasting on fresh strawberries for breakfast with yoghurt, on their own with cream for dessert and also in homemade strawberry ice cream and rhubarb and strawberry icecream!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8194 At the back of this bed are new hollyhocks and peony poppies from last season.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9591 The perennial bed has established well with rhubarb, asparagus, raspberries coming into fruit, angelica producing seed and Russian and standard comfrey in flower.

The mulberries are also turning black and we think the removal of the shading cottonwood poplar branch above it last Winter has really helped with the full sun sweetening up the berries.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9457 Peaches, plums, elderflowers, crabs and apples are also developing. BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7641BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4166BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9572BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7264At the bottom corner of the garden, buttery Albéric Barbier is in full bloom,

but its thorny stems were not enough to deter a lost wombat, who tried to barge his way unsuccessful through the fence one night!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9438 We return to the main garden through the future chook arch,BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4114smothered in pink Hybrid Musk, Cornelia,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8768 BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8259 and Climbing Tea Rose, Sombreuil,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9120BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8578 with a new vigorous Clematis texensis ‘Princess Diana’ rapidly clambering its way up the latter’s stems and flowering for the very first time- a real thrill!!!BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4509Moon Bed

Another visual treat, it looked particularly good, backed by the snowball tree in full bloom.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4495 Starting with the mauve bearded iris and honesty,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7599BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7710 it was followed by six beautiful intersectional peony blooms, their colour reminiscent of moonshine….BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7797 very similar in fact to the beautiful blooms of Troilus:BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8708and finally the stunning David Austin roses: cream and gold roses: Golden Celebration, Jude the Obscure, Windermere and Troilus;

and soft pink William Morris, Lucetta and Heritage.

How could I not be inspired to make beautiful bouquets of these sumptuous globular roses!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8729BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_9287BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_9288Main Pergola

We are so happy with the main pergola, which is starting to look very established now!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8801BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7771 The roses are clambering over the top now with their heads bowing down and are just so exquisitely beautiful!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8933 - Copy On the lower side, creamy Devoniensis,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8572

perfect soft pink Souvenir de la MalmaisonBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7633 and now New Dawn,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9589 all backed by choisya, allspice and the snowball tree in full bloom. The photo below demonstrates the reason snowball trees got their name!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9190BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8573BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3916 The upper side sports Adam,BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8430 Souvenir de St AnneBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9520 and my favourite Mme Alfred Carrière!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8945 - CopyBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8805 Next to Adam, our tree peony bloomed for the first time this year- such a spectacle!BlogLateSpringGarden40%IMG_7115 And now, Philadelphus virginalis is treating us with her beautiful fragrance.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9588 On the other end of the pergola, the Michelia ‘White Caviar‘ gave a us a totally different olfactory feast in mid-Spring,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7167 followed by the everchanging hues of Weigela.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4067 The transplanting of the white hybrid musk hedge of roses last Winter was also a great success and all roses have experienced a great improvement in their health!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8943 - Copy

They included Hybrid Musk roses: Autumn Delight, Penelope, Kathleen and Stanwell Perpetual, a Scots rose with a delightful scent and long flowering period.

Rainforest Area

The big star of this area of the garden was the waratah ‘Shady Lady’ blooming for the first time!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7769

It was so exciting watching the bud, which had been dormant all Winter swelling and colouring up to produce its magnificent red bloom!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8325 We were also thrilled to see all the bluebells from my sister’s garden come up at the same time.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7265 Down in the Tea Garden, all the mints have returned after their Winter dormancy and the Maigold holds court, being one of the first roses to flower this year and still flowering!

Entrance Arch and Albertine Frame

The gold of Maigold is continued at the corner of the shed on the entrance arch,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8431BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4015which is smothered with Rêve d’OrBlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4017and Alister Stella Gray.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4476 A blue Clematis macropetala ‘Pauline’ is climbing up through the latter rose, but has yet to flower for the first time.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9046BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8900The Albertine trellis has been spectacular in its second year with an extended flowering season and many many salmon-pink scented blooms.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9027BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9538The dahlias are now starting to appear under its petticoat!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9534Shed Garden

On the other side of the shed, Albertine is matched by the exquisite Fritz Nobis, climbing beside the entrance door.

Fritz Nobis and Leander (below) are repeat-flowerers in a predominantly old-fashioned once-flowering rose contingent in the shed garden,BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4047 though Mutabilis and Archiduc Joseph also bloom throughout the season.

Once-flowering roses (left to right and top to bottom) include: York and Lancaster; Mme Hardy; Mme Isaac Pereire and Fantin Latour.

In amongst them grow old cottage garden favourites like yarrow, sweet peas, Gaillardia Goblin, agastaches, campanulas and alstroemerias.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9530The garden really looked a picture for the opening day of our latest venture, appropriately titled ‘Candelo Blooms’, selling handmade creations from the old shed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9417 It has been a real labour of love and a long time in the planning and implementation, but we finally made it! My daughter Jen designed and painted the flyer and signs,

while my other daughter Caroline sold her own Christmas card sets, art cards and prints.

BlogLateSpringGarden40%IMG_9983

My products included children’s clothing, cushions, toys and crepe paper flowers, as well as fresh bouquets straight from the garden and plants and secondhand books.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4565BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8830 while Kirsten Rose sold her beautiful timeless ceramics.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4566This clever lady also designed another beautiful flyer for future promotions.IMG_9982We had a wonderful day- very well-attended by market visitors and many locals, who all really enjoyed the old shed, open garden and music provided by my beautiful daughters. We were even visited for the first time by a Tawny Frogmother Mum and baby, obviously very intrigued by all the festivities!BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4580 It was such a fun day! Here is a photo of Ross and I outside the shed!GTOD9695

I hope that you have enjoyed a peek into our late Spring garden. Happy Gardening!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7286

Spring 2018 : The Garden Awakens

I have not featured our own garden for quite a while. In fact, I think my last reference to it was Spring last year, so I though an update was long overdue! It has been a very long cold Winter again with heavy frosts and very little rain, so all the flowering times have been delayed, both in the garden and in the native flora.BlogSpring25%IMG_4930BlogSpring40%IMG_5057Our recent walk to Hegarty’s Bay was marred by the dearth of the highly anticipated Spring wildflowers. This month has also been quite cold. So we are only now just starting to experience early Spring.BlogSpring25%IMG_6050 The early jonquils (Erlicheers, Ziva Paperwhites and white jonquils) and camellias are now over,

but other narcissi (including the double Winter Sun in the first photo, and in the second photo in order:  Pheasants Eye (top two photos), Golden Dawn and scented white Geranium,  Ptolemy and King Alfred) are persisting…,BlogSpring25%IMG_5395

along with violets…,

japonicas (Chaenomeles)…,

and hellebores.

However, it is the advent of the Spring blossoms, which really spells Spring for me: the plums and crab apples, BlogSpring30%IMG_6085BlogSpring30%IMG_5844BlogSpring30%IMG_5732and flowering shrubs: Exochorda macrantha ‘The Bride’  and superbly scented Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’.BlogSpring25%IMG_6054BlogSpring25%IMG_6069BlogSpring50%IMG_5912We had a wonderful display of our new Dutch Crocus (white Jeanne d’Arc, striped Pickwick and mauve Grand Maître) in the cutting garden,BlogCrocus20%DSCN3483BlogSpring30%IMG_5664BlogCrocus25%IMG_5605 which has had a makeover in its arrangement with the paths now dividing it into four large squares rather than the original four skinny strips, allowing much more room for the plants to grow and multiply.BlogSpring30%IMG_6150BlogSpring30%IMG_6149We have two shady beds nearest the boundary trees (left side of photo above) and two flower beds in full sun (right side of photo above). The back shady bed is full of feverfew and blue Love-In-The-Mist, Nigella hispanica, both wonderful fillers for bouquets, while the front shady bed contains foxgloves, Nigella orientalis ‘Transformer’, Aquilegia, Dutch Crocus, Hacquetia epipactis, Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis), pansies and heartease, the latter two sustaining us through the Winter with their wonderful colour!BlogSpring25%IMG_6221BlogSpring25%IMG_6220BlogSpring2518-05-20 11.58.11BlogSpring20%DSCN3493BlogSpring20%DSCN3486BlogSpring30%IMG_5663The back sunny bed is chock-a-block with Dutch Iris and poppies, edged with ranunculas,BlogSpring25%IMG_5656 BlogSpring25%IMG_6387.jpgand the front sunny bed is now coming into its own with the steadfast purple Hoary Stock, Matthiola incana, which provided much needed colour over the Winter, as seen in this vase with Winter Jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum;BlogSpring25%IMG_5241 anemones, Anemone de Caen….;

and now, Lily Tulips (Synaeda Orange) and Parrot Tulips…BlogSpring30%IMG_5909BlogSpring25%IMG_5908 BlogSpring25%IMG_6282and species tulips: Lady Tulips, Tulipa clusiana: the red and white Lady Jane, and yellow chrysantha and ‘Cynthia’ varieties,BlogSpring30%IMG_6074BlogSpring25%IMG_6057BlogSpring40%IMG_6099 as well as the stunning Bokhara Tulip, T. linifolia.BlogSpring25%IMG_6060BlogSpring25%IMG_6007The cutting garden certainly is a mass of colour at the moment and I find it very hard to pick anything!!!!BlogSpring25%IMG_6252BlogSpring25%IMG_6049BlogSpring25%IMG_6385The Soho and Moon Beds have been weeded, pruned and mulched over the Winter.BlogSpring25%IMG_6193BlogSpring25%IMG_6184BlogSpring25%IMG_6209

A few ailing roses have been replaced and the Bog Salvia removed, as it is far too rampant and swamps everything! We have moved some of the plants around to allow for better aeration around the roses and peonies. The wallflowers and nemesias are blooming at the moment.BlogSpring25%IMG_6182BlogSpring25%IMG_6183 It looks like I might have my first Tree Peony this year!BlogSpring25%IMG_6190We also transplanted the hybrid musk and rugosa rose hedges, as they were not thriving, due to the heavy root competition and shade provided by our neighbour’s huge old Cottonwood Poplar tree. Fortunately, the latter had a severe haircut by some very talented tree surgeons over the Winter, with the removal of the bough over our Mulberry Tree, so we hope the extra sun will sweeten the fruit considerably this year, provided of course that we get more serious rain as well! We plan to build a glasshouse on the old rugosa site one day in the future.BlogSpring20%DSCN3191BlogSpring20%DSCN3205BlogSpring20%DSCN3221The rugosas all moved up to line our driveway, while the other roses now grace the sweeping path from the Main Pergola up past the entrance steps (on left of photo), along with new plantings of quince, apricot (second photo) and Prunus subhirtella autumnalis.BlogSpring25%IMG_6192 BlogSpring25%IMG_6278We have also planted a golden peach to replace the dead Native Frangipani in the Tea Garden and a fig and a blood orange in the citrus patch behind the Moon Bed.BlogSpring25%IMG_5753

Sweetly scented old-fashioned freesias are just starting to bloom on the steep bank of the Tea Garden (second photo below), while their colourful relatives brighten up the feet of Mrs Herbert Stevens next to the house (first photo below).BlogSpring25%IMG_6262BlogSpring30%IMG_6073And we have the first of our new Bearded Iris starting to bloom at the top of the agapanthus bank.BlogSpring25%IMG_6259BlogSpring25%IMG_6265We also planted clematis on both iron rose arches: a blue Clematis macropetala ‘Pauline’ to complement the golden roses Rêve d’Or and Alister Stella Gray at the entrance to the garden; and the fast-growing pink Clematis texensis ‘Princess Diana’ to accompany the creamy Sombreuil and pink Cornelia on the chook fence arch (photo below).BlogSpring25%IMG_6374 While we still have to develop our chook yard, we have moved the compost bays and planned a garden shed behind the Perennial Bed, where the raspberries have been pruned and tied up and the comfrey, sorrel, angelica (currently in full flower), rhubarb and asparagus are thriving.BlogSpring25%IMG_6136 BlogSpring25%IMG_6203BlogSpring25%IMG_6205The strawberries and blueberries have their own bed, also sown with hollyhock seeds, and there are two more vegetable beds underway.BlogSpring25%IMG_6131BlogSpring25%IMG_6180Up on the terrace, the Treasure Bed has been awash with blue Hyacinth (Delft Blue) and grape hyacinth, interspersed with Tête à Tête daffodils, pale yellow primroses and now, the mauve Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris.BlogSpring30%IMG_5645BlogSpring20%DSCN3469BlogSpring30%IMG_5345BlogSpring30%IMG_6003BlogSpring30%IMG_5977 BlogSpring25%IMG_6368We have created a new herb garden close to the house in the old Acanthus Bed, though the latter keep popping up- they are resilient survivors indeed! We have planted Italian and Curly Parsley, lemon thyme and common thyme, Savory of Crete Satureja thymbra, common sage, French tarragon, oregano and calendulas, now in full glorious bloom!.BlogSpring25%IMG_6165BlogSpring25%IMG_6235BlogSpring25%IMG_5788 We have also started to clean up the agapanthus terrace, though it is a huge job, as the steep slope was never terraced properly, so new beds have to be created and supported, as well as eliminating all the old couch grass, before we can plant lavender. Ross also had major waterworks with new pipes being laid and a new tap in the vegie garden, which will make watering so much easier now. The bowerbirds were pretty impressed with the new tap!BlogSpring20%DSCN3418 Ross can certainly dig a straight trench!!!BlogSpring20%DSCN3246 And we have been working on the shed, lining the interior ceiling with ply, so now it is clean and dry and usable… not to mention, possum-proof!!!BlogSpring50%2018-04-26 08.24.59.jpg The shed garden has also been the recipient of much-needed attention and is sporting lavender, primula and euphorbia blooms!BlogSpring20%DSCN3724BlogSpring25%IMG_5752BlogSpring25%IMG_6187 It is so wonderful to be heading into Spring finally here in the Southern Hemisphere! I know I was sustained over the long Winter by blog posts and Instagram photos from the Northern Hemisphere Spring and Summer, so I hope this post has returned the favour! I will probably write another Spring garden post later in the season, when the garden is in full party mode! In the meantime….Happy Gardening wherever you are!BlogSpring30%IMG_5819

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Feature Plant for September: Crocus

I have to admit that I am a newcomer to the world of crocuses, know very little about them, except that they are one of the first flowers to herald the Spring, and tend to get a bit confused about all the different types, so I thought a bit of research and consequently a feature post might be in order!

The first surprising fact, which I discovered in my research was that these tiny little bulbs belong to the Iris family Iridaceae (see photo above); there are 90 species (though recent chromosome tests have increased the number of species to almost 200) and only 30 species are in cultivation; there are many crocus species, which also bloom in Autumn and Winter; and crocus enthusiasts are known as ‘croconuts’!!! I suspect that after this wonderful season, I could well become one!BlogCrocus20%DSCN3491Their name derives from the Greek word ‘Krokos’, meaning ‘saffron’, referring to the long history of the cultivation of Crocus sativum over 2000 years for the production of the spice saffron for a yellow dye, food colourant, culinary spice and medicinal purposes. The large lilac Autumn flowers have darker veins on the petals, yellow stamens and three vivid red stigma, the source of the saffron.

It is the most expensive spice in the world, 1 Kg of saffron requiring the handpicking of over 85 000 flowers between dawn and 10am and costing $35 000 per Kg! Mind you, both those figures (number of flowers required and cost) vary widely, depending on which article you read! All I know is that in both cases, it’s a lot!!! I found an interesting link about saffron growing in Australia at: https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/man-with-the-golden-thumb-20080812-gdsq4i.html.

BlogCrocus25%IMG_5485Crocuses (or Croci) are native to Central and Southern Europe; North Africa and the Middle East; the Aegean islands and Central Asia to China. They grow from corms and have narrow mid-green grass-like leaves with a central silver grey stripe and white, lavender, lilac, purple and yellow cup-shaped six-petalled flowers, which have a short stem, long tube, three stamens and one style and only open in the sun or bright light, remaining closed in rainy weather or at night.BlogCrocus25%IMG_5604The corms should be planted 3 to 4 cm deep in sandy well-drained soils in a sunny position. They look lovely in drifts or clumps and naturalise well in lawns, though the grass should not be cut for 6 weeks after flowering to ensure blooming the following year.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 17.07.54There are a number of different species, many of which can be seen on : https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Crocus. Another excellent link is: https://gardendrum.com/2014/02/27/crocus-for-autumn-winter-and-spring/.

The name of EA Bowles kept cropping up in my research into crocus, both in relation to his breeding of them and in the naming of new cultivars and if you would like to know more about his endeavours, especially in relation to crocuses, it is well worth reading: https://thedahliapapers.com/tag/crocus-e-a-bowles/.

BlogCrocus25%IMG_5492The cultivated crocus species can be divided into two main groups according to their flowering season.

Spring

Crocus sieberi  Cretan Crocus. Small flowers start blooming in late Winter as the snow melts. It naturalises easily. Cultivars include Bowles White; Firefly (lilac); Tricolor (white to pale lilac with dark lilac edge and gold centres); and Violet Queen.  The species name ‘sieberi’ honours Franz Wilhelm Sieber (1789-1844), a natural history collector and traveller from Prague.

Crocus chrysanthus Snow Crocus. Native to Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece and Southern Turkey, it flowers in bare earth or the snow on stony or grassy slopes at 1000 to 2000 metres altitude in early Spring. It has smaller, but more profuse flowers than the Dutch crocus and unusual color blends, many hybrids having bicoloured petals and striking yellow centres. The species name ‘chrysanthus’ means ‘golden flowers’. Hybrid cultivars include Cream Beauty; Dorothy; EA Bowles; Goldilocks and Gipsy Girl.

Crocus tommasinianus Early Crocus. Blooms from late Winter to early Spring with pale lavender to red purple blooms with a silvery reverse. They flower profusely after the leaves have fully developed and spontaneously self-propagate, so are very good at naturalising in lawns. The species hails from the woods and shady hillsides of Southern Hungary, Yugoslavia and Northern Bulgaria is named after Muzio Giuseppe Spirito de Tommasini (1794-1879),  an Italian botanist and expert on Dalmatian flora from Trieste. They can be distinguished from C. vernus by its combination of narrow leaves, purple flowers and white tube.

Crocus vernus Dutch Crocus. Very popular and well-known, these tough crocus have the largest flowers of all, so they are sometimes known as Giant Crocus. Originally from the mountains of Europe from the Pyrenees east to Poland and Russia and south to Sicily and Yugoslavia, they flower from early Spring. They will tolerate light shade, like under deciduous trees, in temperate areas. ‘Vernus’ means ‘of the Spring’. BlogCrocus20%DSCN3483I have planted five varieties:

Jeanne d’Arc: Pure white (photo above);

Mammoth: Golden yellow;

Pickwick 1925: Striped white and purple (photo below);

Remembrance: Violet-purple; and

Grand Maître: Purple and blooms slightly later in Spring.

There are also yellow and bronze varieties.BlogCrocus25%IMG_5648My first attempt at growing Dutch crocuses in 2016 yielded a single purple flower, about which I was very excited as its appearance was a total surprise! I had planted ten corms (4 Mammoth and 6 Remembrance) the previous Autumn (mid-April) in the lawn under the deciduous trees, but had not been aware of the emergence of the leaves, when suddenly there was this bright purple flower in July!

I searched in vain for any further flowers that season, as well as the following year, so I was delighted when again a further bud snuck in under the radar, as well as a second grouping of crocus leaves. They are definitely reproducing. Imagine my horror to discover the new bloom nipped in the bud literally by a voracious Satin Bowerbird male and there were no more Remembrance blooms this season!

BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 17.07.59Luckily, at the end of April this year, I also planted 5 Jeanne d’Arc; 5 Pickwick; and 10 Grand Maître (photo below) corms in the cutting garden in well-noted spots. The foliage of most of them had surfaced by mid-August and they bloomed spectacularly in the first two weeks of September.BlogCrocus25%IMG_5605Two good places to source species crocus in Australia are Lambley’s Nursery at: https://lambley.com.au/garden-notes/winter-crocus and https://lambley.com.au/search/content/crocus(6 pages)

And Bryan H Tonkin : https://www.tonkinsbulbs.com.au/crocus.html, while Tesselaars has a good range of Snow Crocus (https://www.tesselaar.net.au/product/4010-snow-crocus-collection) and Dutch Crocus (https://www.tesselaar.net.au/naturalising-bulbs/dutch-crocus).

BlogCrocus20%DSCN3480Autumn Crocus

There are still quite a large number of Crocus (at least 30 species and subspecies) which flower in Autumn, the most famous of which is Crocus sativum, the Saffron Crocus, the species name ‘sativum’ meaning ‘cultivated’.

Please note that there are two other genera, Colchicum and Zephyranthes, which are also called Autumn Crocus.

Colchicums

Colchicums, a distant relative of crocus and also a corm, can be differentiated from crocus by the number of styles and stamens. Colchicums have large strappy leaves without a stripe and pink, lilac or white six-petalled flowers (Colchicum luteum from Turkey is the only yellow one) with three styles and six stamens, compared to crocus flowers with their one style and three stamens.

Colchicum flowers also emerge from the soil before the leaves appear, thus their alternative name Naked Ladies, while in Spring-blooming crocus species, leaves shoot first or simultaneously with the flowers. Autumn flowering crocus bloom in full leaf. An exception is Crocus speciosus, whose flowers are produced before the leaves.

Most colchicum species bloom in Autumn (eg lilac-pink Meadow Saffron, Colchicum autumnale, and Colchicum speciosum with its lilac-pink flower with a white throat or its pure white cultivar Album), but a few emerge in Spring (Colchicum szovitsii; Colchicum falcifolium; Colchicum kesselringii; Colchicum hungaricum; and Colchicum luteum).

Members of the Liliaceae family with 45 species from Eastern Europe to North Africa and east to China, most of the colchicums found in Australia hail from Turkey and Greece. According to ancient writers, colchicums were particularly abundant around Colchis, the Black Sea region of Georgia, Caucasus, hence its name. Photographs of the different species can be found on: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Colchicum.

They like similar conditions to crocus- well-drained soil in full sun or part shade and cool to cold climates with frosty Winters. They can also be bought from Bryan H Tonkin (https://www.tonkinsbulbs.com.au/colchicum.html) and Lambleys Nursery (https://lambley.com.au/search/content/colchicum).

All species and parts of the plant are toxic and the sap can irritate the skin and eyes, so take care handling them! Having said that, it is also the source of the cancer treatment drug colchicine, a mutagen which affects cell division and is also used by plant breeders to produce new cultivars.

Zephyranthus

Zephyranthes, a New World genus from the Amaryllidaceae (Hippeastrum) family, is also called Rain or Storm Lilies as summer and autumn showers trigger flowering.BlogCrocus20%IMG_0160 The genus name derives from two Greek words: ‘zephyros’ meaning ‘west wind’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’, since it is a native of the Western Hemisphere (the Americas) and includes 70 species, some of which can be seen in: https://gardendrum.com/2013/01/13/storm-lilies/.

BlogCrocus20%IMG_0600They prefer cool frost-free and subtropical gardens. Having said that, we grow Zephyranthus candida in the shade of the Pepperina tree, where it retains its foliage all year round. In fact, we sourced our bulbs from my sister’s Tenterfield garden, where she gets heavy frosts and temperatures of ten degrees below zero!BlogCrocus20%IMG_0161Zephyranthes candida hails from Uruguay and Argentina. It has bright green glossy needle-like leaves and shining white crocus-like flowers with gold stamens.BlogCrocus5018-03-11 18.20.46Sternbergia

To further complicate the issue, the genus Sternbergia, is also called Autumn Crocus, as well as Autumn Daffodil, and there are eight species, distributed from Italy to Iran. The genus is named in honour of Count Kaspar M von Sternberg (1761-1838), an Austrian clergyman, botanist and palaeontologist and founder of the Bohemian National Museum in Prague.

Most bloom in Autumn, the fine narrow leaves emerging with or just after the flowers, though there are some species which bloom in Spring (Sternbergia fischeriana; Sternbergia colchiciflora; and Sternbergia candida). For more information about and photos of the different species, see: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Sternbergia.

Sternbergia lutea is the most well-known one, its species ‘lutea’ name meaning ‘yellow’. It has a similar appearance to colchicums, except its bright canary-yellow flower colour. There is only one flower per bulb and they prefer frost-free gardens and a hot dry Summer.

I certainly know so much more about crocus now and am keen to experiment with a few other crocus varieties  like Crocus sativus and some of the Snow Crocus cultivars in the cutting garden or rockery and perhaps to try naturalising the apparently foolproof and fecund Crocus tommasinianus in the lawn ! I would also love to try growing Sternbergia lutea in a pot in a frost-free position up by the house.BlogCrocus50%IMG_5601

The Spring Garden

Spring is such an exciting period with everything waking up after the long cold Winter! The garden is literally transformed from September to November, as can be seen in the photos below, one for each month:BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-10 18.57.32OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt just gets better and better as the days progress, especially with the recent life-giving rain!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In fact, this seasonal post is probably the most challenging to write, as so much is now flowering that it demands complete ruthlessness when it comes to photo selection and I really don’t know that I am up to the task! Here are a few more general garden photos from mid-Spring:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-13 07.07.13BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-15 09.31.34and late Spring:

BlogSpringGardenReszd3017-11-26 11.16.50BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 11.17.49But back to the start of Spring and proceeding from the top down! First up, the trees…! It is just so lovely to have our tapestry of green back, especially on those sunny golden evenings when a thunderstorm is brewing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeptember was blossom-time, starting with the wild plums and crabapples: the Floribunda and Golden Hornet:

They were followed by the apples, quinces and pears, the maples (October) and finally, the dogwood (November).

By October, most of the trees were sporting their new foliage wardrobes and by November were in full fruit and seed production mode: plums, crabs and apples.

Next, the shrubs! September marked the end of camellia and japonica season;

and the return of old favourites like lilac and Michelia, White Caviar.

The bright sunny yellow of the broom and the Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) always gladdens my heart!

The May Bush (Spiraea), the Viburnum x burkwoodii Anne Russell and the Beauty Bush (Kolwitzia amabilis) were spectacular this September:

and continued on into October, to be joined by the white lilac, Mme Lemoine; the choisya (Choisya ternata), Viburnum plicatum Mariesii and the Snowball Tree (Viburnum opulus).

Further colour and scent was added by the woodbine on the fence;

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Woodbine (Lonicera periclymenum)

As well as the weigela, the Carolina allspice and the red azalea, which enjoyed its move to the rainforest section of the garden.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-10-19 10.51.59BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0571BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0602By November, the yellow honeysuckle on the fence had joined its cousin and was heading for the skies, while the blooming of the snowball tree finished with a snowfall of petals.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-15 09.26.55OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth philadelphus were in full glorious bloom and scent, as was the Italian Lavender. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-13 06.58.18BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0618And the roses…! My beloved roses…! But first, the bulbs! The bulbs are always the first flowers of Spring! Lots of whites, golds and blues with the odd red and orange accent. My wild white bank of Actaea daffodils above the birdbath was a great success and we had a good show of the glamorous Acropolis daffodils at the entrance to the pergola below the Michelia.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-20 09.46.45BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-14 14.34.15BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-14 13.47.18The bright yellow nodding heads of Winter’s miniature Tête à Tête daffodils (1st photo) were joined by these bright golden Golden Dawn tazettas (2nd photo).BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-03 11.04.32BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-14 18.37.24 The pink and blue bluebells under the crab apple and next to the mosaic birds provided a soft blue, while the masses of grape hyacinths and divinely-scented Delft Blue hyacinth turned the treasure bed into a sea of blue.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-24 18.46.40BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-13 19.37.44BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-08 13.14.56  The tulips in the cutting garden also provided a wonderful show from the soft pale yellow and candy-pink-striped species tulips (Tulipa clusiana Cynthia): BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_1293BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-25 11.31.52BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-25 11.33.05to the Pink Monet and Gold Bokassa tulips;BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-28 11.51.23BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-24 18.18.27 and the brightly coloured Synaeda Orange Lily Tulips and Red Bokassa tulips, all children of the original bulbs planted in 2015.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-28 11.51.59BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0071BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-21 10.41.28BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-26 11.59.53A snake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) and Jacobean lilies (Sprekelia) arrived in October, but the iris quickly stole the show.BlogSpringGardenReszd20%IMG_0059OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I love the stunning bright colours of the Dutch Iris in the cutting garden,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-18 16.18.22BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-18 07.49.38 but I think my heart belongs to Bearded Iris, whose soft romantic colors and forms complement the November roses so well: gold in the Soho Bed and soft mauve in the Moon Bed.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-10-23 08.06.15BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-17 16.11.58BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-16 09.07.14 A friend has just given me a large variety of differently-coloured Bearded Iris, which we have planted above the agapanthus bank.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-16 09.14.53After the bulbs, the Spring flowers started to take over. Because there are so many, I have organised them into colour palettes.

White: Acanthus mollis; Rock Orchid and Dianthus Coconut Sundae,

Dandelion seedheads; Feverfew and Nicotiana,

and a white Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea Mirabelle, though some of them were pink:

I love the white cornflower in amongst the white foxglove and feverfew in the shady end of the cutting garden.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 09.35.19

Yellow: Nigella orientalis Transformer, English Primrose, Geum Lady Stratheden and Wild Strawberry;

Gold: A very special gift: an Intersectional Peony and my self-sown gigantic Russian Sunflowers;

and the stunning Meadow Lea dahlia;BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-27 10.42.22BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 09.34.45Red: Ladybird Poppies in the Cutting Garden and Dahlias, providing jewel-like colour on the skirt of the Albertine roses, as they finish their blooming season;

BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-25 09.16.09

Deep Red: The last of the Double Hellebores from Winter;

Pink: Rhodohypoxis baurii and Dianthus Valda Wyatt of the treasure garden and the last of the pink violets from under the camellia; deep pink divinely-scented sweet peas; a mutated Ladybird Poppy and glamorous self-sown Peony Poppies in the sunflower bed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Rhodohypoxis baurii in the centre of a sea of grape hyacinths
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Dianthus Valda Wyatt

I just adore the self-sown peony poppies in the Soho Bed!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-26 09.34.26

Purple: I am hoping one of my readers can identify this cute little flower adorning the steps, but the others are Perennial Wallflower and Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla);BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-26 19.06.34BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-08-28 13.18.12BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-18 13.56.21 Blue: Forget-me-nots, Borage, Blue Primrose and Cornflower;

And this last week, the Geranium Rozanne in the treasure bed!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 08.56.43And Green: Hacquetia epipactis, a new purchase and woodland plant from Moidart Nursery (https://www.moidart.com.au/).BlogSpringGardenReszd3017-11-22 15.25.02The roses started with the white and yellow banksias on the bottom fence and the pergola over the outside dining area in late September, with the house and main pergola roses opening in early to mid-October and then, the main flush of roses in November.BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-18 07.12.18BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-19 07.27.59 I have presented the roses according to their location.

House: First up, Noisette climber, Lamarque, whose clean fragrance reminds me of Granny Smith apples:

then, Hybrid Teas, Mrs Herbert Stevens (white)and Château de Clos Vougeot (red):

Main Pergola: The climbing roses are now starting to clothe the pergola, especially on the top side, with Adam and Mme Alfred Carrière already reaching the top!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-18 14.32.19 In order, top to bottom and left to right : the top side with Mme Alfred Carrière; the bottom side; Adam (2 photos); Mme Alfred Carrière (2 photos); Souvenir de St Anne and Souvenir de la Malmaison, in the middle of the top and bottom sides respectively; New Dawn and Devoniensis.

I just had to include two more photos of the beautiful Devoniensis in the late afternoon light!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 17.15.22BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 17.09.39Arches: Cécile Brünner on the entrance arch;OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Cornelia (pink) and Sombreuil (white) on the arch at the bottom of the garden, leading into the future chookyard;

and Noisettes, Alister Stella Grey (small rose on bottom left) and Rêve d’Or (the larger rose in the other three photos) on the small arch near the shed corner.

Shed:

The Albertine frame on the back wall of the shed has been a great success, with the Albertine roses in full bloom from late October till late November and now, the jewel-like dahlias adding colour to its skirts as the roses gradually finish.

Here are the dahlias:BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-25 09.26.50BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-27 10.36.10BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-27 10.35.16BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-22 10.59.43BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-27 10.35.22BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-22 11.00.12In the front beds of the shed include: Reine Victoria; Fritz Nobis and Leander.

The roses in the long bed against my neighbour’s fence have been wonderful this year! They include, in order, top to bottom and left to right: Archiduc Joseph (first two photos); Viridiflora (green); Small Maiden’s Blush (white; photos 4 and 5); Mme Hardy (white with a green eye); Fantin Latour (pink); and the divinely-scented Mme Isaac Pereire!

I have still to identify these two once-flowering roses. Any suggestions?BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-13 06.50.27BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-15 09.29.50Maigold brightens up the lawn beside the shed. I planted it for my Dad, who died last January, and it borders the Tea Garden, planted with peppermint, Moroccan spearmint, chamomile and Camellia sinensis, as well as a golden Kerria. Unfortunately, the Native Frangipani, which was planted above Scamp’s grave and which got hit by last Winter’s frost, has not recovered, so we are replacing it with a golden peach tree or a lemon-cented tea-tree, which ever one come first!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Maigold

Hedges:

The fragrant Rugosa hedge is growing, though the Roseraie de l’Hay still struggles with root competition from the Cottonwood Poplar. In order, Mme Georges Bruant (a white double); Frau Dagmar Hastrup (a pink single) and Roseraie de l’Hay (a rich purple, double, highly fragrant rugosa).

The Russelliana are tough though and are thriving, despite a similar problem and full shade from the Mulberry Tree in Summer! BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-13 07.22.06OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the Hybrid Musk hedge to the left of the arch next to Sombreuil: Autumn Delight (first two photos) and Penelope (the rest of the photos! It’s a favourite!):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-22 11.10.53OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-16 16.59.12And it looks like my ill Kathleen is on the mend at long last!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-25 09.18.23The hedge on the right, next to Cornelia, contains some of my favourite roses: Felicia (first photo); Stanwell Perpetual (photos 2-5) and Mutabilis (photos 6-7).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2017-10-18 07.47.50BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-16 16.57.35OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the boundary fence is a very prickly rose, which I propagated from cuttings, having a 100 percent strike rate! I think it is Wichurana Rambler, Albéric Barbier.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-16 16.59.29 Soho Bed: A mass of colour with gold bearded iris, Italian lavender, pink and white valerian, catmint, borage, thrift, geum, perennial wallflowers, salvia, stachys, rose campion and November roses!BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-25 09.11.02OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-21 09.04.24Here are single photos of some of the roses in the Soho Bed, in order: Top to bottom, left to right: Fair Bianca (white); Mr Lincoln (deep red); Heaven Scent (pink; frilled petals) and Lolita to the right of her; The Alnwick Rose; Eglantyne (pink; two photos); The Children’s Rose (pink); Icegirl (white); Just Joey (salmon); and Our Copper Queen (gold).

Moon Bed: Full of beautifully blowsy and romantic David Austin roses, mauve bearded iris, blue borage and forget-me-knots, purple catmint and salvias (light and dark blue, deep pink and red-and-white Lipstick). Here is the Moon Bed in early Spring: