The Summer Garden

In order to avoid endless repetition and also because I have so much to say about Old Roses (both types and gardens), not to mention my favourite books, I am only posting four seasonal posts of our garden this year and each will be at the end of the three-month period. So here is our 2017 Summer Garden , but because I wrote a post on the December Garden last year, this first seasonal post will only cover two months from January to February 2017.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-07-12-51-58Once Summer finally arrived, being very late to start this season, the temperatures really warmed up, especially in the month of January with some temperatures in the late 30s and early 40s! Unfortunately, we were away most of January with a brief reconnoitre in mid-January, but a dear friend did our watering for us and kept our poor plants alive, while her daughter played with her ducks in the shade of the trees!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0820blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0810This did not however prevent a lot of the foliage and new growth being singed to a crisp and when we finally returned home for good, the garden was very blowsy and overgrown, my youngest daughter’s dream garden and mine too to a certain extent, although I still like a little sense of order and the very next day, we were out weeding, pruning back dead and dying stems and leaves and watering like mad! Here are some photos of the Soho Bed before…blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0786blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1010blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-20-04and after…blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-20-38blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-25-17blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-13-28-47blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-24-11We badly needed rain- most of the grass on the roadsides in Candelo was super-dry, crackly and bleached, but we  purposefully kept our front lawn green, despite the increased cost of watering, to keep our spirits up and make us feel cool on these long hot days! Even the birds were feeling the heat! Compare the lawn in the first two photos!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-17-14-49-36blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1126blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-03-16-15-28blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1001The Acanthus mollis were one of the greatest casualties of the long dry and searing heat, though their dried stalks would still look great as a dried flower arrangement and the green seeds are very attractive against the brown stems.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-18-36 The hosta and the black currant suffered burnt leaves as well and the dogwood, rhododendrons and camellias under the trees, the hydrangeas and even the protea and feral morning glory, were wilting badly with the heat.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-25-34blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-27-12Despite the dry, we still had roses blooming!

In the Moon Bed: William Morris (1st two photos) and Heritage (3rd and 4th photo), nestled in amongst flowering salvia, Indigo Spires;blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-17-14-51-55blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-24-35blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0455blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0320 and Jude the Obscure;blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-34-41blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1012 In the Soho Bed, The Childrens’ Rose;blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0814 blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-06-19-06-36and Eglantyne;blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-15-31-48blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-06-19-06-47blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0233LD Braithwaite and Mr Lincoln; blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0232blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1139and finally, Icegirl (1st 2 photos) and Lady X.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0316blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0235blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0251On the main pergola, Adam;blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-15-19-49-54blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1065 and Souvenir de la Malmaison;blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1150 and on the future single entrance arch: Alister Stella Grey.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-35-47 In the Moon Bed, Golden Celebration;blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0325blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-17-14-51-15blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0323 and the Soho Bed, Our Copper Queen and Just Joey.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0817blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0404 On the front wall of the house, Lamarque;blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0990 and Mrs Herbert Stevens;blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-17-47 In the vegetable garden hedges, Penelope;blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0813Stanwell Perpetual;blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-29-55 and Sombreuil. blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0345And finally, the sumptuous hips of rugosa, Frau Dagmar Hastrup.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0999blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1000 Flowering Salvias are in their element in the heat. I have 5 different types: the deep blue Indigo Spires and a light sky blue salvia, which I grew from a cutting from my sister’s garden, both intermingled in the Moon Bed and a perfect contrast to the pink roses of  William Morris and Heritage.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-16-57Both salvias are very popular with a metallic dark blue parasitic Neon Cuckoo Bee, Thyreus nitidulis (see photos 1 & 2) and the Blue-Banded Bee, Amegilla cingulata (photo 3). Apparently, the Cuckoo Bee lays its eggs in the nests of Blue-Banded Bees. See: http://www.aussiebee.com.au/thyreus.html.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-26-39blogsummer-gardenreszd30%2017-01-14-12-26-39-copy-copyblogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-25-48I later discovered some red-and-black striped harlequin bug nymphs, Dindymus versicolor, on the bright blue salvia and dead sunflower heads, though I am really not sure about them being on my roses!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-18-49blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-13-43blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0422blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0395I also have a red salvia (1st photo), a magenta salvia (3rd photo) and a two-toned variety (pink and white) called Lipstick, also grown from a cutting (2nd photo).blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0327blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0418blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-15-32-01 On our return, I also discovered that I had planted one cutting in the WRONG place- it had grown to a ginormous size in our absence and was obviously a cutting of the Tree Salvia. It will definitely have to go, as it is swamping my David Austin roses in the Moon Bed, but I want to see the colour of its flower first before I remove it, as I took cuttings of two different tree salvias- one pink and one lemon. It is probably too big to transplant, but I will take another cutting, then plant its seedling on the back border of the garden, though I am badly running out of space!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-13-19-49blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-13-20-02 The Moon Bed looked so much more civilized after weeding, though I must admit the fine bamboo mulch did an excellent job at keeping most of the weeds at bay! I also got the giant salvia under a little control to give my roses a chance!!!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-17-45blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-17-50On our return trip home, we called into my sister’s new garden at ‘Glenrock’, where we took more cuttings, which I know will do well here, as her garden is even colder and frostier than we are, reaching Winter minimums of minus 10 degrees Celsius! I will definitely find room for them!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0612And I have enjoyed making blowsy romantic bouquets with the roses and salvias, now that we are home! The 2nd photo is my vase for St. Valentines Day, which accompanied….blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1153blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0855 a delicious carrot cake, decorated with rose petals! Thank you, Kirsten, for your artistic input!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0891blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0894blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0896Zinnias also love the heat! I love the bright colours of my zinnia bed between the dahlias and the sunflower!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0789blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0347blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-22-56blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0458 They are such generous flowers and are obviously excellent self-seeders, as all the zinnias in my new patch were spontaneous seedlings from last year’s old patch in the cutting garden and there are more in the vegie patch and the Moon Bed as well. Their only defect in my eyes is their lack of scent!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0332blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-23-22blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-23-29blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-34-12blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0339blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-01-21-06-19blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0462blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-16-13-36-39blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0998blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0337blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0335blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-15-30-41 blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0460It doesn’t seem to worry the bees and the butterflies though!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0028blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1046Zinnias are fabulous flowers for bright cheery arrangements! I have been cutting bouquets all month, including one for this beautiful old vase, which I recently found (2nd photo).blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0356blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-11-23-45blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0361 The dahlias are also wonderful for bouquets…!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0237blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0240Unfortunately, the late frost when the dahlias were just resurfacing in late Spring finished off the scarlet dahlia on the corner of the vegetable patch, but bright orange Meadow Lea has performed very well again this year and the mixed dahlia patch recovered brilliantly, providing plentiful nectar for exhausted, battle-scarred butterflies!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-21-57blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-16-13-37-51The Cutting Garden also had a big cleanup after its rampant romp while we were away!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-07-12-52-09The wild dandelions in the lawn were the next victims in our sights, even though they look so sunny and pretty!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-07-11-54-27blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-07-11-54-47Agapanthus and Hydrangeas are essential components of the Summer garden, their cooling blues contrasting dramatically with the fiery red of the Monbretia flowers.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-17-14-50-02blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-17-14-52-51blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1015blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1018blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1022blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0988I particularly loved the varying colours of the hydrangeas this year, with lots of green and graduated blues.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-05-11-19-33blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0287blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1051blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0367 Ceratostigma, Convovulus maritima and the Rosalie Geranium also provide touches of blue in the garden,blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-13-19-15blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1070 while the cigar plant and this unidentified seedling (another cutting) lend purple hints.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1067blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1057 The thyme surrounding the sundial in the Soho Bed is in full flower.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1149blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1148I was very excited to see the green bells of my one and only Molucella (Bells of Ireland) seedling (from sown seed).blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1144 I love the dusky pink bells of the correa on the terrace and the red bottlebrush blooms at the bottom of the garden,blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0266blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-09-18blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-09-41blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-01-21-08-58 as well as the deep red blooms of my potted ivy leaf geranium, a reminder of our rose trip to Clare, South Australia, in October 2014.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-13-18-42The feverfew recovered brilliantly from its transplanting in the cutting garden, then positively romped ahead, blooming profusely with its pretty white daisy-like flowers.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0811 Caroline’s chamomile flowers are very similar in appearance. I have separated all the tiny plants and planted them in front of the Tea plant and the Native Frangipani over our old dog Scamp’s grave. They could have a battle with the couch, but if successful, will form a lovely patch to sit on while we commune with Scamp and drink tea – Chamomile Tea of course!!!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-05-11-22-42blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-13-21-19blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-13-21-25 My Dianthus ‘Doris‘ and ‘Coconut Ice’ are reblooming and even the Philadelphus virginalis got a bit confused with the later Summer, throwing out a late bloom mid January!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-30-09blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-18-03blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1016 We planted Autumn crocus bulbs, given to us by my sister, under our quince tree and the first two have already bloomed!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1048blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-13-10-54-59blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0398My lemonade tree was also in flower over that period and we now have lemonade fruits developing nicely, as well as a large number of Tahitian limes, one Navel orange and one Lisbon lemon, our first crop for all trees!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-34-56blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-21-57blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-20-51blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-05-11-23-17blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-05-11-20-04I think we will be getting a bumper crop of cumquats again this season! The scent in the air from the cumquat blossom is intoxicating!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0399blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0400Fortunately, I don’t think fruit bats like citrus (though Ross’s favourite orange stink bugs do!), as a small colony has decided to extend their holiday in the trees across the creek. Because we were away, we never got to taste our plums this year, though I suspect the fruit bats did (!), but we were the lucky recipients of this box of home-grown peaches, given to us by our lovely watering angel!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1075blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1073blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-11-58-33 It appears that this year, we are going to have a really good fig season too- hopefully they will ripen before the onset of Winter and the bats don’t get them first! Maybe this is why they are still hanging round (literally!) !!!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0274I’m uncertain as to whether flying foxes don’t eat Golden Hornet crab apples either, but maybe they haven’t discovered them yet!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0017blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-17-14-50-26blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0805 We have even had our first fruit on our Camellia sinensis (Tea) plant!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0804We have also been enjoying fresh salads from the garden, lettuce (now bolting!), spicy rocket and delicious warm cherry tomatoes, all picked straight from the garden just before eating!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0798blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-25-22 We have been particularly impressed with the golden cherry tomatoes, which self-seeded from a single bush last year. They are so pretty in the salads! I love the red ones too!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0799 blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0899blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0249We also feasted on bruschetta, made from our own freshly-picked tomatoes and rocket on our own home-made bread, still warm from the oven!blogsummer-gardenreszd25%2017-02-15-13-11-36 I’m not sure whether we will actually get many pumpkins this season, but at least the insects are enjoying the flowers! This year’s crop is obviously not as thuggish as their parents last year, although they are still attempting to take over the new compost bays!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0326blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0344blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0343They are making a late run for their money! Most of the pumpkins are tiny, though we did discover this larger beauty, skulking by the tree dahlia under lots of large leaves!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0414blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0418And Ross’s beans have also come to the party, their long purple pods contrasting with the bright orange self-seeded zinnias below. These delicious purple beans are quite magical, as they turn green on cooking!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-27-25blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-26-28blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0794blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1004 Though we did wonder why their leaves were so ratty and denuded at the top! A female Satin Bowerbird was the culprit!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0386blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0377By the end of Summer, Ross felt he had the garden under control to some extent and had even dug and started edging the vegetable gardens with old wooden fence palings and pruned the raspberry canes, which had finished fruiting, though our gardening helper still manages to find the odd ripe one!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1167blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1169blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0396blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0411blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0428blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0419blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0042Fortunately, the feral Duranta, which suffered so badly during the worst of the Summer heat, has now recovered with fresh green leaf, flowers and new berries for the birds (compare the first two photos before and after the rain – the brown shrub in the background of the 1st photo is the Duranta!) In the 3rd photo, the Duranta is the 2nd shrub back on the left side,blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-10-20-00blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0279blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0300blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0269though our resident Grey Fantail still likes to keep an eye on the progress in the vegetable patch!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0792Other visitors to the garden include a Yellow Thornbill in the pepperina tree;blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0868a female Koel or Storm-Bird;blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0581A pair of jet-black Ravens;blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0474and a female and immature male King Parrot.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0600blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0597The big news of Summer is the development of the White-Faced Heron chicks. If you remember, last December, we watched the parents build a very flimsy platform of twigs and sticks, high in the Cottonwood Poplar.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-24-09blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-11-47-15Our verandah is an excellent vantage point to watch the herons through binoculars and I was able to take some good photographs of the babies, once I attached my camera to a tripod.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-01-24blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-02-27Even though the chicks are very well-camouflaged and hidden behind the leaves, once you have worked out your landmarks (the twig wreath in the photo below) to accurately pinpoint the birds with the lens, it was possible to get a few shots.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-13-42-09-1 I suspect there may have initially been three chicks, as this photo suggests.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-14-12-02-58 However, by the time we arrived home, there were only two surviving chicks and they had grown enormously!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0588BlogSummer GardenReszd20%IMG_0533.jpgblogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-13-01-01blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-12-24-14 We enjoyed watching them sit high above the nest and learn balancing skills, though they were still a bit wobbly. They started jumping from branch to branch,blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-12-21-19BlogSummer GardenReszd20%2017-02-09 17.40.31.jpgand quickly mastered their grooming techniques,blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-12-41-01blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-12-40-05 their fluffy undersides giving away the fact that they were still babies!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-13-09-37blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-13-13-52Another difference between babies and their parents is that the adults have white faces.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0422blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0429I really hoped we would get to see the chicks’ first flight. It’s always such a miraculous moment and such a leap of faith! Maybe the sight of these more experienced aviators was helpful- a large flock of Little Corellas, which returned briefly in mid January to wheel and dive in the blue blue Summer skies of Candelo!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1041blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1043blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1031Or maybe, it was the flock of Gang-Gang Cockatoos, but we did achieve our desire!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0652 It was just so exciting! I think the first brave baby got the shock of its life, when it first ventured forth, flying straight back to the nest immediately! But as time went on (with the constant encouragement of their parents), they both gained confidence and were soon wheeling and diving with sheer joy!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0556blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1106 We were very happy to see them return to the tree each night, as well as during the day, for a rest and groom. They brought their teenage friends home, at least that’s what I assume, as none of them had white faces!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0902blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1015blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1018blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0944blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0931 Following the lead of their parents,blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1142blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1109 the chicks soon discovered the local rooftop next door.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0003blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0009 One day, the most confident chick flew into the top of the bamboo stand by the house, and then flew straight at me to land on the verandah roof!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0607blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0626The sight of these beautiful herons on our roof , their soft mushroom plumage complimenting the house colours so well (their yellow legs even matched the gutter colour!), with the rising morning moon in the background, gave me a sudden revelation with regards to our long-deliberated house name: ‘Herons’ Rise‘ – just perfect!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0712blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0687blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0695blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0717blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1136Here are some closeups, showing the complimentary colours!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0706blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0718blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0744 They also liked to feed in the gutter and even sat on the verandah edge.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0767blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0796blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1084blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_1098 It’s a shame they don’t eat wasps, as this nest on the outside edge of the verandah is a little too close for comfort!!!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0261But I am glad they didn’t discover this praying mantis!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0365And then, by late February, they were gone! At least from our tree, though they did hang around in the local neighbourhood, fossicking down by the creek, flying in tandem over the local park and occasionally returning to the roof! I miss watching them watching us, but hopefully they will return to their old nest when it is time for them to rear their chicks!

And to top it all off, we finally we did get rain- blessed blessed rain! It’s not just the garden and we gardeners that are happy! These Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos were having a ball!blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-16-12-08blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-05-11-24-22blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-05-11-24-13blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-16-14-14blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-16-13-51blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-16-12-30 We had 38 ml of rain over February, so we could still do with more, but at least it did freshen things up! Hopefully, we will get some more in March!

Already, the weather is starting to feel a bit like Autumn! I love this season, even though it is tempered with the knowledge of the approaching Winter! The buds on the camellia are already forming! Our Northern Hemisphere friends on the other hand are getting very excited about the end of their Winter and the beginning of Spring! One of the great things about blogging is that you have virtual friends all over the world and are always learning something new! One of the blogs I follow (https://chronicleofellen.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/fairy-doors-and-luck-magic/) mentioned ‘martenitsas‘, a term with which I was not familiar. On further research, I discovered that they are Bulgarian good luck charms, which are given to your nearest and dearest on the 1st March (Baba Marta Day) to welcome in the first day of Spring and wish them good health, happiness and longevity. They are then worn until the wearer sees their first stork or swallow returning from migration or a blossoming tree, so recipients in the Southern Hemisphere could be wearing them for six months!!! I was quite taken with the whole notion, even though we are entering Autumn, so followed the directions on a video tutorial (http://www.prettyprudent.com/2014/03/by-craft/yarn/martenitsa-bracelet-puppet-tutorial/), although I suspect the colours were muddled up, as traditionally, the male doll Pizho is white (representing purity), while the female doll Penda is red (the colour of life and passion), though really I don’t know if it really matters! I had so much fun making them and everyone seems to have loved them! So, Happy Baba Marta Day !!!blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0448

The December Garden

It has been a very mild  Summer so far, though I suspect it is about to get hotter! Apart from the odd day in the late 30s/ early 40s, it has been more like a late Spring, which has been wonderful for gardening and has given us the opportunity to clean up and reorganize the cutting garden, which had started to get out of control!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-15-11-45-28blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-31-25 We have now moved all the Narcissi to their own little patches under trees and the ends of the pergola and arches, and the old freesias to their own bank, bordering the car parking flat, where they can run riot and naturalize to their heart’s content! We have divided all the replicating Dutch Iris, tulips and anemones, which we then replanted throughout all the newly dug beds. I was surprised how many new bulbs there were and hope they all bloom successfully next Spring!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-19-11-09-27blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-19-11-09-34 We transplanted the self-sown feverfew seedlings down the centre of the Dutch Iris and old zinnia beds and moved the latter’s self-sown seedlings on a very cool day to their own patch behind the dahlias in the recent peony poppy bed, leaving a few seedpods of the latter to dry out for seed. The zinnias are such tough plants and all have survived and are set to bloom in January.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-17-35-53blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-12-01-34 We were also fortunate in that another self-sown sunflower seedling is blooming in the same spot as last year and we have sowed the seed of some bright scarlet Mexican Sunflowers Tithonia on either side of the Helianthus annuus. They may not be successful, as the packet stipulates sowing them in Spring, but given the cooler weather we have been experiencing, I decided to give it a shot and see what happens! All going well, it should be a stunning display late Summer.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-33-23blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-33-28 The dahlias have already put on a wonderful show.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-23-43blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-34-14 I love all their rich vivid colours, as well as their more muted, softer pastel shades.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-18-15-11blogdecgarden20reszdimg_0116blogdecgarden20reszd2016-11-29-18-46-24blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-21-12 They make wonderful bouquets for the house and the Christmas table!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-08-23-28blogdecgarden20reszdimg_0156blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-52-00 I also made a lovely, wild, blowsy bouquet from the early Summer flowers in the Soho and Moon Beds : bright blue Cornflowers, paler blue flowering salvia, mauve wallflowers, pretty white feverfew daisies, pink peony poppies and the seedpods of the latter and Nigella orientalis ‘Transformer’.blogdecgarden20reszdimg_0127blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-04-14  While we are still getting the odd peony poppy in the Soho Bed, the cutting garden has had masses of stunning ladybird Poppies, interspersed with a few self-sown Iceland Poppy seedlings from last year.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-17-20blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-17-25blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-04-33blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-03-10-22-56 The Soho Bed has settled down from its early November peak, but it  still has nice colour with the roses (Lolita, Mr Lincoln and The Childrens’ Rose),blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-09-29blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-08-17-58-02blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-18-52-50 and bergamot (photo 1), stachys and blue flowering salvia, replacing the wallflowers and the geum Lady Stratheden (photo 2).blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-10-36blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-10-54 We have two other blue salvias in the Moon Bed : Indigo Spires, which we bought from the nursery at Foxglove Spires, and a light blue variety, grown from a cutting from my sister’s old garden.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-14-20-58-40blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-08-17-58-54blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-14-20-59-13 They contrast well with the white feverfew daisies and the gold daylilies, also given to me by my sister,blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-12-26-29blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-17-11 along with this unusual flower, whose identity I have yet to ascertain. Any suggestions?blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-18-20-31blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-11-59 Elsewhere in the garden, roses in bloom include : Autumn Delight (photo 1) and Penelope are reflowering in the white hybrid musk hedge; Frau Dagmar Hastrup (photo 2) in the rugosa hedge; Devoniensis on the pergola (photo 3); and Alister Stella Gray (photo 4) in preparation for its future entrance arch!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-11-30-18-50-11blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-12-24-04blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-17-19-40-36blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-10-48 However, the standouts of the Summer Garden are the cooling blues and whites : the blue Convovulus maritima and the Madonna lilies with their pure white trumpets and gold stamens, heralding the start of Summer.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-27-29blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-12-16-53-47blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-30-45 They look so beautiful with the sun shining through their petals;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-10-19-00-22blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-07-07-47-09 The potted  gardenia at the back door with its sumptuous white blooms with their exotic sharp spicy sweet scent, which always reminds me of Christmas!;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-16-47blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-11-59blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-08-17-41-34 The white and blue blooms of the agapanthus bank, flowering in tandem with the mauve and white Acanthus mollis;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-12-10-00-36 and the soft blue shade of the new hydrangeas, their huge bushes showing great promise;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-17-19-50-41blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-14-11-54 and finally, the honey-drenched blooms of the pink and mauve buddleias down the path, constantly full of butterflies, bees and wasps!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-01-16-40-50blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-18-18-02blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-01-16-41-17blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-18-31blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-21-09blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-15-12-18-55 We have also had a few exciting surprises! Our new hosta Peter Pan has flowered with sprays of mauve flowers, which complement its blue-green foliage;blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-12-01-05blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-12-01-10 Our dogwood Cornus ‘Norman Hadden’ has bloomed for the very first time. Its green buds turn white, and finally a deep pink by the end of Summer;blognovgarden20reszdimg_0083blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-28-38 The Sprekelia (Jacobean Lily) bulb nearby at the bottom of the steps has grown back after disappearing for a long while, after a mishap with the whipper-snipper, and most exciting of all … we discovered that we actually have more Jacobean Lilies, with an up-till-then unidentified bulb at the end of the tulip bed coming into bloom with its distinctive red flower, another Christmas treat!blognovgarden20reszdimg_0084blogdecgarden20reszdimg_0112 While the NSW Christmas Bush flowers have yet to turn red (delayed due to the cold I suspect!), Lady X grevillea (photo 2) is doing the right thing with masses of red blooms for visiting honeyeaters, while the wattlebirds love my neighbour’s red hot pokers (Kniphofia), another Christmas flower (photo 1).blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-17-55-28blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-15-02 The newly transplanted lemon verbena is also in full bloomblogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-17-18-11blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-03-10-25-19 and the rainforest plants are growing madly, including this beautiful staghorn on the loquat tree.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-12-30-55 Other garden stalwarts include the bromeliads, the pinks and geranium Rosalie in the Treasure Bedblogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-28-53blogdecgarden20reszd2016-11-30-18-46-22blogdecgarden20reszd2016-11-30-19-00-07 and the honeysuckle climbers on the fence.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-23-31blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-11-23-51 With so much in flower, the bees and butterflies are in seventh heaven.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-03-10-27-14blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-12-10-03-16blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-08-17-57-03blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-03-10-23-26 The fruit trees and vegetable garden are a mecca for the bats and the birds,blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-15-18-23-45blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-05-18-13-27blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-13-18-47-54 though huge breeding flocks of Little Corellas and Galahs have taken over the trees,blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-14-20-49-59blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-23-21-39-57 recently vacated motels for visiting flying foxes, which have now mostly disappeared to raid other areas.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-01-12-20-58blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-21-00-53blogdecgarden20reszd2016-11-29-21-00-23 The skies are full of these noisy party acrobats, with the odd Sulphur-Crested and Yellow-Tailed Black cockatoo cousins joining in.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-10-42-29blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-23-21-36-17blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-23-21-36-23blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-21-06-21blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-21-08-32-03blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-11-07-15blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-11-07-31 The King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas are enjoying the scarlet Duranta berries,blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-01-17-12-36blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-02-17-28-48blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-17-22-13 while the Satin Bowerbirds have been feasting on our beans and raspberries!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-15-19-34-20blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-18-10-39-07 This beautiful immature Crimson Parrot sent us scurrying to our bird books to confirm its identity!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-21-20-27-50blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-21-20-27-59We were very excited when some White-Faced Herons decided to build a twiggy nest platform, high in the Black Cottonwood tree, though I suspect these two were visiting youngsters, as they don’t have the white adult face.blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-01-18-13-22blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-01-18-17-14 We watch the parents’ changing of the guard (they share incubation duties) from our vantage point on the verandah. Apparently, the incubation period is 21 to 24 days, so hopefully, we will have some new baby herons for the New Year!blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-23-55blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-26-22blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-06-18-26-58 We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying a relaxing break. All our very Best Wishes for 2017! xxxblogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-23-11-16-14blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-23-11-16-25blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-09-12-11-29

Sunflowers: December Feature Plant

What better way to celebrate the start of Summer than with a feature post on the wonderful exuberant Sunflower, Helianthus annuus!BlogSummerDays20%ReszdIMG_3870 Sunflowers belong to the daisy family, Asteraceae, and the genus Helianthus has over 70 species, most of them native to North America, except for three species from South America. Most are ornamental, frost-hardy herbaceous perennials, like the Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus, but the Common Sunflower, familiar to most people, is an annual, as indicated by its species name: ‘annuus’. The genus name Helianthus is derived from two Greek words: ‘helios’ meaning ‘sun’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2015-12-31 15.26.43Mythology

In Greece, the sunflower is a symbol of the water nymph Clytie, who was turned into a sunflower after she lost her love Apollo, and constantly faces the sun, awaiting the return of his chariot. The visual similarity of the flower to the sun makes it a symbol of worship and faithfulness in many religions. In fact, the Incas used South American sunflowers to worship the sun in their temples, where priestesses wore necklaces of sunflowers, cast in gold, as well as sunflower crowns. The Hopi Indians of North America also used sunflowers in their tribal rituals, as well as for food and a purple dye. In China, the sunflower is an auspicious symbol, denoting long life and good luck, its bright yellow colour symbolising vitality, intelligence and happiness. Vincent Van Gogh is famous for his series of paintings, depicting sunflowers in vases, one of which sold for $39 Million in 1987. Here is my daughter’s sunflower painting- just as special and always makes me feel happy.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5641Habitat and Distribution

Native to North America, the sunflower was first domesticated in South-Western USA over 5000 years ago and soon became widespread throughout the Americas. Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizzaro, saw large crops in 16th century Peru and the sunflower was carried back to Spain, where it was cultivated and hybridized. By the 19th century, it was being cultivated on a wide scale in Russia, the Ukraine and the Caucasus regions for the manufacture of vegetable oil. The sunflower  is the State flower of Kansas and the National flower of Russia. Mostly grown in temperate areas, it is now also grown as a commercial crop in the United States, Argentina, India, China, Turkey, the European Union (mainly France and Spain) and South Africa. In Queensland, it is widely grown in the Central Highlands and on the Darling Downs, as seen in the photo below.blogsunflowers50reszdimage-158Description

Helianthus annuus is an annual forb, which grows up to 5 metres tall, with a well-developed tap root, which extends up to 3 metres into the soil. There are now a number of cultivars, varying in colour (yellow, orange, rust red) and height, from dwarf varieties less than 1 metre tall to taller cultivars over 3.5 metres tall.blogsunflowers50reszdimage-159 The tallest sunflower ever recorded was 7.76 metres tall, though there is a German record of 8.23 metres tall! There is also a discrepancy in growth rates: one source states 30 centimetres in one day, while another estimate is 2 metres in 6 months- that’s 182 days. For mathematicians, that’s 2000 centimetres in 182 days or 11 centimetres a day! Suffice to say that they are one of the fastest growing plants in the world! Our Burgundy Spray sunflower reached 2 metres last year and was harvested and ploughed in at 20 weeks- that’s 5 months- but we did use plenty of manure!BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 17.20.36 BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-27 12.02.02The erect stem is rough and hairy and is branched in many wild varieties, but unbranched in cultivated varieties.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 10.11.21 The petiolate leaves are dentate (toothed margins) and sticky. The lower leaves are opposite and ovate or heart-shaped, while the leaves higher up the stem are arranged spirally.

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Blooming in Summer, the inflorescence is a terminal head (capitulum), 10 to 50 centimetres in diameter, with a world record of 87.63 centimetres.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 20.05.37 Each flower head is surrounded by three rows of bracts (phyllaries)- see photo above- and is composed of sterile outer yellow (or orange/ rust red) ray florets, which attract pollinators, and fertile inner brownish disc florets.blogsunflowers50reszdimage-160 A single flower head may have up to two thousand disc florets, each with the potential to develop into a seed. If there are multiple flower heads on the same plant, the number of disc florets per head will be much lower.BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-28 09.50.43 The disc florets open in sequence, beginning at the periphery of the disc and moving inward. The disc florets are arranged in spiral whorls from the centre of the flowerhead, according to the famous Fibonacci sequence, which allows for the uniform packing of the maximum number of seeds on a seed head without any central overcrowding or bare patches at the outside edges. The Fibonacci sequence is a number set, in which each number is the sum of the previous two numbers: ie 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610 and so on, and was described by Fibonacci (also known as Leonardo of Pisa) in his book : Liber Abaci in 1202.image-159-copy-copy

In the case of sunflowers, count the clockwise and counterclockwise spirals that reach the outer edge, and you’ll usually find a pair of numbers from the sequence: 34 and 55, or 55 and 89, or—with very large sunflowers—89 and 144. Another interesting mathematical fact is that each floret is oriented to the next by the Golden Angle, 137.5 degrees.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 19.38.59 Botanists have not yet been able to determine a mechanistic model that fully explains how the sunflower seed patterns arise, as some  plants don’t always show perfect Fibonacci numbers. A study published by the Royal Society Open Science on 18 May 2016 of 657 sunflower photos revealed one in five flowers had either a non-Fibonacci spiralling pattern or more complicated patterns, including near-Fibonacci sequences and other mathematical patterns that compete and clash across the flower head. See: http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/3/5/160091 . Another interesting link is: https://plus.maths.org/content/sunflowers. Click on the first article in the search results: ‘Citizen scientists count sunflower spirals’ by Marianne Freiberger.

For more information about sunflowers and the Fibonnaci sequence, see :

http://momath.org/home/fibonacci-numbers-of-sunflower-seed-spirals/

and    https://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/nature-golden-ratio-fibonacci.html.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.04.53Another fascinating fact about sunflowers is their heliotropism (sun tracking) when young. During growth, sunflower leaves and flowers tilt to face the sun during the day, accounting for their French and Portuguese names: Tournesol (French) and Girassol (Portuguese). As the buds open, the flexible part of the stem tissue (the pulvinus) hardens and heliotropism ceases, the sunflower blooms permanently facing east, thereby acting as a living compass!BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-27 17.41.12 Sunflowers are pollinated by bees, though some modern varieties are fully self-fertile. The following website has some interesting information about sunflower pollination, which highlights the importance of bees. See: http://www.pollinator.ca/bestpractices/sunflowers.html. Initially, each floret is male, the pollen-bearing anthers extending above the rim of the floret, then later on, the style emerges and the stigmatic lobes spread, opening the receptive surfaces for pollination – see the photo below. If there is enough pollinator activity, the pollen is removed from each floret before the stigma opens, reducing the chances for self-pollination. The resultant seeds are 15 to 25 mm long and vary in colour from white to brown and black and even striped.BlogFeb Garden20%Reszd2016-02-12 10.24.58Growing Conditions and Propagation

Heat and drought-tolerant, sunflowers are very easy to grow in most climates, so long as they have full sun all day  (6 to 8 hours) and well-dug, nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. They are propagated by seed. Dig the seed bed well with plenty of manure/ compost, as they are heavy feeders, then rake the soil level. Broadcast the seed and rake into the surface or plant seeds individually to a depth of 2 cm. In cool temperate climates, sow seed in Spring after the last frost (we sowed our Burgundy Spray sunflower seeds on 7 October last year); in warm temperate climates, from late Winter to late Spring; and in frost-free subtropical and tropical regions, seed can be sown all year round, though Autumn to Spring is best. Sunflowers prefer long, hot Summers and hot wet humid Summers increase the risk of fungal diseases like downy or powdery mildew or rust. Mulch the seedbed with chopped sugar cane or lucerne to retain moisture, keep the soil cool and deter pigeons or mice. As the seedlings develop, thin them according to the size of the plants. Giant Russian sunflowers grow to over 4m high with a flowerhead of 5o cm, so require 1.5 m between each plant.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5166 Water or foliar feed weekly with seaweed extract in the morning, so that the foliage is dry by sunset, also reducing the risk of fungal mould and rot. For show flowers and maximum seed production, apply two handfuls of poultry manure per square metre when the seedlings are 15 cm high and a 4 cm layer of well-rotted cow manure and compost when they reach 0.5 m in height. Stake the stems when necessary- old pantihose are good. The dwarf varieties should flower within 10 to 12 weeks of sowing, while the taller varieties take 12 to 16 weeks to bloom. Our Burgundy Spray sunflower had its first bloom open at 12 weeks, just in time to celebrate the New Year! We harvested the seeds on the 23 February 2016.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.10.42

If your plants are affected by fungal disease, a general fungicide can be applied. Slugs and snails love browsing on the stems and leaves of sunflowers, so spray the seedlings with an organic snail bait or a mixture of 1 part espresso coffee to 3 parts of water, then mulch, repeating after heavy rain or irrigation. Bees and butterflies love the flowers, while birds, rodents, squirrels and deer are attracted to the sunflower seed, though large amounts are fatal to the latter! There are numerous insect pests, most of which attack other plants as well. More information on these insects and their management can be found on :http://ipmguidelinesforgrains.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Sunflower_IPM-Workshops_north-March2013.pdf and https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/pests/e1457.pdf BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0005 (2) Seed heads should be harvested when very dry ie once the back of the flower heads are turning yellow or brown. Tie paper bags over their heads, then cut the stems and hang upside-down in a dry, well-ventilated place till fully dry.BlogFeb Garden20%Reszd2016-02-12 10.21.10 The seed head can be sharply struck or rubbed across an old washboard to release the seeds. To process sunflower seed for consumption, soak them overnight in a bucket of 1 gallon (4.5 litres) water and 1 cup salt. Redry in a 250 degree Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius) oven for 4 to 5 hours and store in airtight containers.For replanting,  the seeds are viable for 5 years, according to: http://tcpermaculture.com/site/2013/06/14/how-long-will-seeds-last-stay-viable/, but if you want to check their viability before planting, see: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/check-sunflower-seeds-viable-68389.html.

Uses

Sunflowers are grown extensively throughout the world for human and animal food and sunflower oil production. There are two types grown. The first is oilseed, a very small black seed  with a very high  oil content , which  is processed into sunflower oil and meal and is also the seed of choice of most bird feeders. The second type is non-oilseed (confectionery sunflower), a larger black and white striped seed used in a variety of food products from snacks to bread. Sunflower seeds are rich in healthy fats, oil, vitamin E, protein, fibre and minerals and can be eaten raw or roasted for a savory snack or ground into a seed paste (Sun Butter) like peanut butter. They are excellent for promoting heart health and lowering cholesterol. The seeds can also be ground into a sunflower meal and used as a substitute for wheat flour in breads and cakes and the seed husks can be ground into a coffee-like beverage.blogsunflowers20reszdimg_0176 Sunflowers are also widely used as an animal food, mainly for birds (seeds) and cattle (forage crop or a high protein meal, which is a by-product of sunflower oil extraction and is often blended with soya bean meal). The seeds can also be pressed to make an  oil, which has been used in salads and for cooking, margarine production and in industry : as drying oils for paints and varnishes and in beauty products like soap and cosmetics. However, readers should be aware that there is some research about health risks associated with cooking with vegetable oils. See these links for further information: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11981884/Cooking-with-vegetable-oils-releases-toxic-cancer-causing-chemicals-say-experts.html and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20886885. The cooking oil is recycled as a biofuel. For more on the commercial industry overview of sunflowers in the United States, see: http://www.sunflowernsa.com  and   http://www.soyatech.com/sunflower_facts.htm. Sunflower oil can also be used in medicine: for constipation and lowering bad LDL cholesterol or applied directly to the skin for poorly healing wounds, skin injuries, psoriasis and arthritis and as a massage oil.blogsunflowers20reszdimg_0171Native Americans also grew sunflowers for food and oil, medicine, fibre and dyes , as well as to provide shelter for crops of maize, pumpkins and beans. The juice from the stems was used to treat wounds and an infusion of the plant in water was used to treat kidney and chest pain. The fibre from the stalks could be made into cloth and both the seeds and flower heads yielded a dye: purple, blue and black from the seeds and a bright yellow from the flowers.image-159-copySunflowers can also be grown as a green manure crop, the plants being dug into the ground once the seedlings reach a height of 30 cm. The plants can bioaccumulate heavy metals in contaminated soil, like lead, arsenic and uranium, and were used to remove nuclear fallout after the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters.image-160-copy-copyAnd finally, sunflowers are commonly used in floristry and are often given on the third wedding anniversary as a sign of adoration, strength and loyalty. Stems should be cut early in the morning before the flowerbuds are fully open- preferably ½ to ¾ open. If buying them, the leaves should be a strong green colour and the stems should be strong. They must be sold with a water source, as they shock easily. Remove any foliage below water level and cut the stems on a sharp diagonal (2 to 4 cm from the stem ends), under water if possible to avoid air blockages in the stems. Do NOT bash the stems. Use a preservative to maintain open flowers and change the vase water daily. The flowers have a vase life of 7 to 10 days. The leaves will wilt and die before the flowers, so only retain the upper leaves. To help prevent leaf drooping, add 10 drops of household detergent to 5 litres of water and leave in this solution for 1 to 3  hours, but no longer than overnight. If the leaves do start to droop, immediately recut the stems up to 6 cm and place in deep water with preservative for up to 3 hours. If the flowers droop completely, recut the stems and place them in boiling water to clear the blockage quickly (though the lifespan of the flower will be halved).

I really enjoyed researching my last feature post for this year. The sunflower is a fascinating plant and I hope you enjoyed the post as much as I enjoyed writing it.  If I have whetted your appetite to know more, it would be worth trying to source ‘Sunflowers: the Secret History’ by Joe Pappalardo. See: http://www.overlookpress.com/sunflowers-the-secret-history.html.

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Favourite Private Specialty Gardens : Part 2 : Dry Climate, Sustainable and Small Gardens

The Millenium Drought in Australia from 1995 to 2009 had a massive impact on Australian gardens, resulting in the adoption of a more appropriate style of garden design for our dry climate, especially given the future effects of climate change. These gardens are predominantly made up of low water use plants, which are adapted to drought, many of which are sold by Lambleys Nursery. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/03/08/favourite-gardens-regularly-open-to-the-public-nursery-gardens-in-victoria and http://lambley.com.au/. I have already discussed a perfect example of a Mediterranean Garden, Lixouri, in October’s post. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/09/20/favourite-private-country-gardens-part-2/.

Dry Climate and Mediterranean Gardens

Bedrock

141 Karoonda Highway (on Bookpurnong Tce), Loxton, South Australia   2.5 acres         Ph: 0427213322  BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.29.46BlogPrivSpec25%Reszd2014-10-26 10.43.07Once a quarry and the old drive-in site, Bedrock is situated in Loxton, 250 km east of Adelaide. Loxton is known as the ‘Garden Town of the Riverland’, due to its position on the Murray River, and has many low water usage, sustainable landscapes. We visited it in late October 2014 as part of the Renmark Rose Festival.

Bedrock is a magnificent grand scale garden with a tropical lush feel. BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.43.51Chris and Raelene Schultz developed the garden from scratch, when they bought the old drive-in site back in 2000. Hundreds of tonnes of rock and stone were used to build retaining walls and edgings, as well as a rustic stone cottage (2014) for accommodation and small functions.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.44.38 Recycled materials from the 1850s were used in the latter, which complements the 1923 weeping mulberry and their grandmother’s 40 year old roses.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.32.35BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.32.19 There is a pond with a cascading waterfall and waterlilies;BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.44.09BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.43.16 a beautiful wisteria-covered arbour;BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.45.23 and a sunken iris garden with an urn water feature.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.31.22BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.49.31BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.49.16BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.48.23BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.31.39Everything about this garden is dramatic and bold from the entrance sign to colourful pansy and ranunculus beds and the dry creek bed and stone wall feature.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.45.43BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.44.28BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.35.32BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.30.25BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.32.55BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.32.00BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.31.26 There are native plantings, a fruit orchard, trees and annuals and lots of quirky locally-made animal sculptures. It will be interesting to see this relatively new garden in a few years’ time.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.32.50BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-10-26 10.33.16Hill House

26-30 City View Drive, Wandana Heights, Geelong, VIC   0.4 ha (1 acre)

This is a much older garden (25 years old) on the top of the hill in Geelong, with panoramic views over the city and Port Philip Bay to the You Yangs and Melbourne.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2131BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2161 Originally a 90 year old windbreak plantation, the garden is built on a series of terraces, linked by curved hedges and stone walls.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2136BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2121BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2219 Entry is via a gatehouse structure with a shingle roof, which came from the rotunda building of the original Ceres Lookout.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2272BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2120 Recycled materials have been used extensively throughout the garden from the walls made of railway sleepers, salvaged from the South Geelong Railway renovations, and the petrified timber slab, excavated from a local quarry, under a metal tree in the south-west corner to the use of Japanese bath tubs and North Indian well buckets as plant containers and the retired band instruments hanging in the trees.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2146BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2181BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2149BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2228BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2138BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2203 This eclectic and whimsical garden has so many wonderful design ideas, which can be adapted to small gardens, courtyards and dry, shady areas.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2216BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2118BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2226BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2130BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2265BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2207 The use of Tuscan toppings, instead of lawn, saves water. Steel baskets of orchids are supported on the original pylons of the Portarlington Pier beneath the photinia hedge, while a storm-damaged cypress is used as a base for a metal flame sculpture.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2168BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2143BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2256BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2190 Other trees include: salvaged Red Gums (350 years old) on the eastern and western boundaries; Conifers; Gleditsia ‘Ruby Lace’ trees; Bottle Trees; pollarded, standardized Catalpa trees (ball-like canopy), Crepe Myrtles, Maple collections, Fiddlewoods and many palms.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2267BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2133 Bromeliads grow in the shady sheltered southern part of the garden, along with azaleas, while roses prefer the sunnier sites.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2222BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2155 There are many many pots, as well as original sculptures, and lots of unusual succulents including this strange Elephant’s Foot, Dioscorea elephantipes, which can live to 70 years old, shown in the bottom photo below.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2245BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2214BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2164BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2221BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_2258

Meanderings

62 Kennedy St, Castlemaine, VIC  Ph (03) 5472 4202    0.25 acres

A much smaller garden in Castlemaine, Central Victoria, an area renowned for its tough climate with extreme temperatures, heavy frost and low rainfall, as well as depleted soil from goldmining days. The garden was created by Barbara Maund in 1991 and was inspired by the English Arts and Crafts Movement, as well as medieval monastery gardens. The only plants from the pre-1991 garden were a 100 year old box hedge, a large mauve lilac, a nandina thicket and belladonna lilies. The garden was started around the 1895 Victorian stucco house and is semi-formal in nature. The design displays strong structural elements from the geometric garden rooms to the hedges and topiaried plant forms (circles, arcs, balls, domes, squares and rectangles), but is softened by a patchwork of self-sown annuals, perennials and blowsy old-fashioned roses, as well as the creeping thyme along the brick paths.BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 394BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 398 Local landscaping materials were  used : gravel in the paths between different garden sections; old bricks contain garden compartments and create a series of circles, a shallow round pool (to reflect the moon) and the well; stone is used for stepping stones and paving; and slate for mulch , as well as iron and other recycled materials.BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 396BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 397BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 405BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 401BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 408BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 419BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 406BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 412 Plants were chosen for their toughness and include perennials, succulents, iris, seasonal bulbs, roses and self-seeding plants. Many of the aromatic plants are Mediterranean in origin : lavenders, thymes and rosemary, as well as silvery artemesia, santolina and lambs’ ear, Stachys byzantinia. Very much a collector’s garden, there are 37 fragrant Heritage roses, fruit trees and over 70 self-seeding plants, all in one quarter of an acre!BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 409BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 413 There are many different colour themes from the purple driveway tunnel and northern yellow borders to the central blue walk and circle and the white southern beds.BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 415BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 411I loved the bright red berries of the pyracantha, trained along wires the length of the verandah and complimented by red begonias and white wooden stars.BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 410 The topiary of the Australian map outside the old shed and the square box were very impressive.BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 403BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 404BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 421 There were also lots of seats in the sun, shade and shelter, from which to admire the many vistas. In late Spring, the plants are treated to home-made compost and leaf mould, while blood and bone is applied in March and August. The plants are self-mulched with clippings year round. Watering is done by hand, using water from rainwater tanks and a grey water system.BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 417BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 418BlogPrivSpec50%Reszdmarchapril 414When we visited Meanderings through the Australian Open Garden scheme back in April 2010, it was owned by Larraine and Jim Kollmorgen, but it has since been sold in 2014.

Coastal environments are also tough for gardeners with the salt-laden winds and sandy soils. I have already described Villa Lettisier, which protects its garden from the coastal winds coming straight off Bass Strait with huge hedges. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/09/20/favourite-private-country-gardens-part-2/. Corio Bay is much more sheltered, but still presents challenges to gardeners with strong winds, low rainfall and alkaline soil. We visited the next two gardens on the Bellarine Peninsula on the shores of Corio Bay near Geelong on the Cottage By the Sea Inc Open Day in March 2014. For the 2016 program, see: http://cottagebythesea.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/GARDENDAY2016.pdf

Seaview

965 Portarlington Rd., Curlewis, VIC BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.25.02A beautiful coastal country garden developed from an empty paddock back in 2000 around a newly built house. Right on the shores of Corio Bay, the property has superb views of the You Yangs.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.15.22BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.20.38 While the house was being built, native trees were planted on the south-west corner of the garden to protect it from the prevailing winds.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.24.11BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.23.16 In 2001, a lawn of Santa Ana couch was laid down- a perfect choice, as it does not require watering. The  large east-west garden bed was the first to be planted. I loved the vegetable garden.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.17.06BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.17.17 An original dam was converted to a small lake with rocks and plantings. A 35m deep bore was sunk in January 2007, its water feeding into the dam.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.06.26BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.05.58BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.05.04BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.07.35BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.07.44BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.09.46 Drought-tolerant plants, suited to coastal environments, were chosen and include : a rosemary hedge; a white cedar underplanted with flaxes and grasses; a Chinese elm to provide shade near the dam; an oleaster hedge on the southern fence, planted 2003 ;BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.03.05BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.21.54BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.23.37BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.12.21BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.13.39BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.03.48 And a succulent garden, planted mainly from cuttings in 2010.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.01.18BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.01.29 There were also lots of interesting sculptures and wire work on display and for sale.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.10.48BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.16.00BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.29.52BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.08.29BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.08.48BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 10.13.48 Brambledale Farm

2115 Portarlington Rd., Drysdale, VIC

Bought by Elizabeth Vorrath in 1972, Brambledale Farm is a working farm, named after the original late 1800s cottage, which fell into disrepair and was demolished in 2009. Originally running sheep and growing crops and potatoes, the owners now agist horses and fatten cattle.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.23.22  A new house was built in 1974, with extensions in 1998.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.28.05 A stand of Tuart Gums protects the house from the harsh south-westerly winds.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.46.23 John Patrick designed a circular driveway with a pond, now a dry river bed. A haha wall at the front allows for uninterrupted superb views of Corio Bay and the You Yangs.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.23.36BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.20.57BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.53.47BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.22.05BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.25.35BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.25.39 A tennis court area was built in 1998, incorporating a stand of Lemon-scented Gums and two oaks, planted in 1975, including a Golden Rain Tree. A retaining wall and wide steps leading up to the house were built in 2006.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.41.24BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.43.37BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.24.42 This is a large well-established garden with formal and informal areas and superb plantings and combinations of colour and texture.BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.28.50BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.37.49BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.33.09BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.44.28BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.19.25BlogPrivSpec20%Reszd2014-04-06 12.27.14 Since the Millenium Drought of the early 2000s, the garden was replanted with hardy plants with low water requirements including : grasses and succulents; echiums and sedums; euphorbias and heleniums; kniphofias; a variety of salvias, lavenders and other sun-loving perennials; and a ground cover of Chinese Star Jasmine.