Well! What a month it has been! The mid-Spring garden has more than compensated for its late start and even though the temperatures are cooler than usual, the days are still sunny. There was an excellent fall of snow on the mountains last week – now that all the ski lifts have closed! The photos below were taken on our trips to Canberra on the 19th (first photo) and 23rd October (last 2 photos) this past week. It was actually snowing in Nimmitabel on Sunday! The cooler weather has prolonged the flowering season of many of the early Spring blooms, including bluebells under the crab apple tree, tulips (early October), hellebores and clivias. The trees have all just about gained their new foliage for the season, the poplars being the last trees to come into leaf, and the plums have finished flowering, while the crab apples are in their final days (photos 3 to 5). The cockatoos (photos 3 and 4) and king parrots loved the blossoms- a bit crazy really, as they are depleting their future fruit source! The latter (photo 2) also love to graze the weeds in the vegie garden, as does the white-faced heron (photo 1)! The apples have luscious white blooms and are setting fruit already. Meantime, the loquat fruits are turning yellow, attracting king parrots and bowerbirds by day and possums and fruit bats at night, the latter occasionally waking us up with their skirmishes. I don’t think we humans will get much of a look in when it comes to the fruit! At least, the white mulberries are starting to ripen and the blueberries and raspberries are in flower. We have been feasting on delicious organic strawberries from our new bed, though I suspect a slug may also have been, as the wire guards preclude attack by birds or rabbits! The rhubarb has also provided delicious desserts and I have been substituting angelica leaves for the sugar, at least in the fruit part of rhubarb and apple crumble- a great success! We have been enjoying our own home-grown onions, lettuce, rainbow chard and baby spinach from the vegetable garden.I also made another batch of cumquat marmalade from the 1 kg fruit we harvested. I would strongly advise NOT to combine blogging with jam making, but I think I just got away with it. Even though the marmalade is darker than usual, it set brilliantly! Fortunately, the cumquat trees are still covered in lots of new blooms. I love their sweet scent as we walk past them. The Michelia has almost finished flowering too, but the Weigela next door has now replaced it. Initially, its blooms opened white and I was a little disappointed, as I had bought it as a pink weigela to complement the pink flowering currant on the other side of the pergola entrance. I thought that the plant must have been mislabelled, but to my great delight, the blooms then turned a soft pink, deepening in intensity as they age. This plant is so pretty with its colour variations! The second photo below is my neighbour’s pure white weigela. Unfortunately, the flowering currant did not flower this year (with all its moves!), but it is doing well and the snowball tree behind it has masses of lime-green, turning white, globular blooms. The choisya has a mass of white starry flowers, which look very similar to the blooms of the citrus trees behind it. The Carolina Allspice has a number of buds this year, as has the Philadelphus virginalis, and I am keen to see the form of the latter’s blooms, as when it first bloomed last year, the flowers were the correct double form, but I did find some single ones later on, which could be root stock. We will just have to wait and see! On our recent trip to the Southern Highlands, we bought a Belle Etoile Philadelphus, with large single very fragrant flowers, which we have planted next to the old lilac on the fence. Ross has cut an archway between the bamboos and a path behind the large stand to access this part of the garden.The blackbird has finished nesting in the bamboo, but a magpie has been very busy creating her brooding chamber high in the top of the Pepperina tree.Our new Katherine Havermeyer lilac is a delight and is growing and blooming well. The Chaenomeles are still throwing out the odd bloom and the red rhododendron and white azalea are in full bloom, though we will probably move the azalea into a less shaded situation after it has finished flowering. My Grevillea ‘Lady X’ is perpetually in flower (last photo)! Unlike the azalea, the Viburnum plicatum however appears to be thriving in full shade and we also bought two different hostas- Peter Pan and Allan P Mc Connell- from Moidart Nursery, near Bowral, to fill out this shady nook. I also discovered some Winter Aconite Eranthis hyemalis there- very expensive, as it is very difficult to source here in Australia- in fact, this is the only place I have ever seen it- and I may also let it run riot here among the snowdrops, though initially will put it in the treasure bed until I am sure it germinates next year! Here are the treasures we brought home! We also bought some blue primroses, a lovely deep blue auricula (photo 3), Pulsatilla vulgaris, Rhodohypoxis baurii (photo 4), a variegated Arabis procurrens and Azorella trifurcata to fill out the gaps in this bed as the grape hyacinth die down- I love their little seed pods (photo 2)! We planted the new plants in the treasure bed yesterday morning. The Lily of the Valley (photo 1) are also up and the Rosalie Geranium has returned. The Acanthus soldiers and blue Convovulus mauritanicus (photo 2) are on the march nearby. I love the pattern and form of the Acanthus, the photos below showing why their common name is Oyster Plant, and their colour really compliments the house walls. The Garden beds have been such a treat this Spring! The Cutting Garden is a delight with lots of clear royal blue, pale hyacinth blue, bright gold and clean white Dutch Iris and blue cornflowers, forming a backdrop to the bright intense jewel-like ranunculus. Such a treat! The beautifully-scented freesias (photo 1) have just about finished, but the nigella amongst it is in bud. I suspect they are the self-seeded progeny of last year’s lime-green variety (photo 2), rather than the new blue nigella, which we sowed last Autumn. The foxglove is in bloom again, its flowers displaying a similar habit to the weigela- white turning pink, from the base up (photos 3 and 4)! The Iceland Poppies from last year also self-seeded, producing white, gold and orange blooms. So stunning and long-lasting when cut. Here are more photos of the individual ranunculus blooms.The Soho Bed is such a picture and there is very little bare ground to be seen! I am a bit eclectic when it comes to style and colour, but somehow the jumble of colours seems to work – in my eyes anyway! The loyal wallflowers have been joined by a variety of other mauves and purples in the catmint, the wild poppies and the stunning Italian Lavender; blue forget-me-knot; pink thrift and verbena and gold highlights in the old gold bearded iris and now the geum. The bees, both honey bees and native bees, and butterflies are in heaven! Here are two Spring vases from the garden! The Moon Bed is also very beautiful with soft mauve bearded iris, rescued from the heavy shade of the cumquat trees and transplanted to the new Moon Bed, where they can recapture the glory of their flowering period. We did not know what colour they would be, so waited with baited breath as their blooms slowly opened. We were delighted with their dreamy colour, Ross’s favourite, and one which really suits the Moon Bed, while the gold bearded iris are perfect in our sunny Soho Bed! The blue salvia, yellow Paris daisies and day lilies and pink peony (1st photo below) are all growing madly and the roses all have fat buds and are just about to open! SO exciting! November is going to be heavenly! Even the roses from my cuttings last year are in bud! The second photo below shows the blooms of a white tree paeony Paeonia suffruticosa, which we saw at Red Cow Farm on our recent trip to the Southern Highlands , promptly purchasing a seedling, which we will plant at the bottom of the steps next to the pergola and the Philadelphus next Autumn! I will be describing this trip in more detail in my Favourite Gardens post in December. The highlight of the October roses has been the Yellow Banksia, R. banksia lutea, over the outdoor eating area. I can safely report it has now fully recovered from its drastic initial haircut and has been a mass of bright gold and softer lemon blooms! The Spirea on the fence nearby has also been a mass of blooms, but is now finishing off, while the honeysuckle is set to take over. The white banksia rose, R.banksiae alba plena, on the bottom future chook fence, has also been in full bloom, as has its partner, the Jasmine, Jasminium polyanthum. I think both of them are vigorous enough to compete with each other, as I have seen two instances out and about this Spring- a wall covered in yellow banksia and potato vine and an old pergola obliterated by a white banksia, a jasmine and a snail creeper! The Rugosas have also been beautiful, scenting the air round the vegie garden: in order, Frau Dagmar Hastrup, Mme Georges Bruant and Roseraie de L’Hay.Mutabilis and Stanwell Perpetual have also had their first blooms.My birthday Souvenir de la Malmaison appears to like her position in the middle of the pergola and her first blooms have been dreamy, though this particular lady does not like wet weather and has a tendency to ball, which is why she is in the middle rather than the more prominent ends of the pergola! Here are some other early starters in order: Just Jude (2 photos); Viridiflora; Lamarque; Alister Stella Grey; Adam; Evelyn; Paul’s Himalayan Musk rose (2 photos); Countess Bertha; and Château de Clos Vougeot (2 photos). My climbing Cécile Brünner (1st photo) on the front arch is just starting to bloom, a late small camellia beside her mirroring her form and colour (2nd photo).Spring is such a wonderful season! It’s hard dividing my time between the garden, blogging, cooking and sewing! I did finally finish assembling the small Spring cushions, helped my daughter make a bag and baked a delicious sponge for my husband’s birthday in mid-October.And we have had visitors: Oliver and his son, Fagan, who miss the budgies (who have moved to my daughter’s flat) or probably more accurately, their bird seed! A brush-tailed possum, who wants to set up residence in the roof of the shed; And finally, some Shetland ponies, who give rides to kids at the monthly markets and who are currently doing the rounds of Candelo, mowing lawns and paddocks in exchange for free feed! It’s such a great idea!
With Autumn colds, exploratory trips of the local area and the demands of general day-to-day life, we have not spent as much time as we would have liked in the garden this month, but the weather has been superb! Hence, the recent excursions to the national parks of the hinterland and the escarpment, before it gets too cold or too snowy!!! We’ve visited Tuross Falls and the Cascades (Wadbilliga National Park); Deua National Park, both covered in last week’s post, and this last weekend, Lake Crackenback Resort, between Jindabyne and Thredbo.Ross has however managed to upkeep the vegetable garden from liming the soil to planting out new vegetable seedlings (sugarloaf cabbage, cauliflower, Winter greens and onions) and sowing spinach and snow pea seed. The capsicum are still productive, but the tomatoes are taking much longer to ripen. We harvested them all today to make Green Tomato Chutney!He has also totally finished the pergola, with all the wiring done as well, so we should be able to train the climbers correctly for next season. We were rewarded with some late blooms of the climbing tea rose Adam.Other roses still throwing out blooms include: Alister Stella Gray; Jude the Obscure and Evelyn; Heritage, Eglantyne and Alnwick; Mrs Herbert Stevens and Lamarque; Icegirl and The Children’s Rose; and Mutabilis and Monsieur Tillier.As you can see from the pergola photos, the Autumn foliage of the Snowball Tree (Viburnum opulus) has been superb from muted golds (south) to fiery reds (north). The Carolina Allspice beneath the snowball tree is also turning, its golden green leaves contrasting well with the red of the latter.At the bottom of the garden, where the poplar and plums are bare, the pomegranate provides a welcome splash of gold. A softer gold carpet is forming under the Floribunda Crab Apple Tree. The maples too vary from an green-orange-red combination to more red-purple-orange hues, depending on the variety. In fact, the whole backdrop to the garden is in its most interesting and colourful phase.The Paris daisies are in full gold regalia in the Moon Bed and attract many butterflies. The dahlias are the other major highlight in the May Garden. The tree dahlias are finally in bloom, their fragile, soft mauve-pink flowers and buds superbly contrasted against the intense blue Autumn skies. This is why I still grow them, despite their instant capitulation to wind and frost!The seed dahlias have provided us with such joy and are unfortunately slowly finishing off for the season. Knowing that their days are limited, their foliage already touched up by a few early light frosts, I have started cutting them with longer stems for beautiful floral arrangements for the house. It is such a shame that they don’t flower over Winter, as they really cheer the place up with their wonderful colours. While I love the flamboyance of the deep reds, deep gold and bright oranges and pinks, I equally love the softer warm orange-pink shades. I suspect this is the last dahlia bouquet for the season!Here is the last zinnia bouquet, picked in early May as we cleaned up the cutting garden, as well as a sweet little posy of violets, the first of the season.We attacked the chaos of the late Autumn cutting garden with a vengeance, pruning back the rampant wayward stems of the ‘Meadow Lea’ dahlia, removing spent plants and transplanting the Angelica and Lady’s Mantle to more appropriate (ie larger) sites of the garden. We transplanted the foxgloves to the back of the cutting garden and left the old biennial stock, the new cornflowers and a very brave, tenacious but foolish Iceland poppy seedling ! I have sowed seed of Ladybird Poppies, Linum and more Stock in egg cartons, for less disruptive transplantation in the cutting garden later on. All the old bulbs are surfacing, except for the De Caen anemones, whose corms have disintegrated to nothing! Possibly, the ground was too wet during their dormant period or maybe the greedy zinnias took all their nourishment! We planted out Species Tulips (Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’), as well as 3 ‘Bokassa Gold’ Tulips, down the centre of their empty bed on Mothers’ Day. We also moved 2 camellias (‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Nuccio’s Gem’) forward, so they get more light, while still being shaded, and removed the dying Maple on the north-west corner of the cutting garden, which will be a great improvement , as it will decrease the amount of Winter shade on the bed. Earlier this month, we also planted the bulbs of Snake’s Head Fritillary, a Delft Blue Hyacinth and miniature Tête à Tête daffodils in the rockery garden, as well as 25 Grape Hyacinth, which are already up. I also planted some pinks: Valda Wyatt, Dianthus Pretty and Coconut Sundae into this bed . The Rockery Garden is a good spot for all my smaller treasures! We moved the Rozanne Geranium into the end of the bed, and while it will die back with the frosts, it should come again in Spring.Across the way, the heliotrope continues to colour the foot of the climbing rose Mrs. Herbert Stevens. The violets are coming into their own, as are the forget-me-knots in the Soho Bed.At the back of the house, the white Nerine show is coming to a close, but the Nandina is now taking centre stage with its red Autumn foliage and berries and the occasional cream flower spike. The Bowerbirds are loving the black ivy berries. The Loquat trees are in full bloom this year, so we should get plenty of fruit (and probably accompanying flying foxes!). The King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas are back to harvest the Duranta berries, as well as nibble the fresh shoots of the Giant Bamboo. The bird bath is still a popular venue with female Bowerbirds, Crimson Rosellas and Currawongs all vying for a place! And the first of the camellia blooms are out- a soft pink and a few deep rose pink flowers, complementing the warm pink cyclamen at the front door.The Grevillea has grown so much and is in full bloom and the protea is flowering again. We have started protecting our second Firewheel Tree and Silky Oak from the frost with hessian covers.The cumquats are covered in little orange globes – I can’t wait to make a new batch of Cumquat Marmalade! This little thrush is doing a stirling job keeping the bugs under control! Not a sign of the bronze orange stink bugs, though Leaf Miner has been distorting the leaves on the new citrus plants, so Ross has administered an application of Eco-Oil to treat them. See : http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s2528879.htm Maybe, we should send this little praying mantis down to the citrus! I can’t wait for all the citrus to reach fruit-bearing age, though our Lemonade already has 3 fruits on it! I feel another batch of Lime Cordial is also calling!!!And my first ever Peony Rose (Dr. Alexander Fleming) and Lily-of-the-Valley bulbs have just arrived from Tesselaars, so I am back into the garden! Till next week…!
Officially, it’s the start of Autumn, but Summer is not quite ready to give up her reign, with a run of temperatures in the early to mid-thirties and quite high humidity over the past few weeks, though it has cooled off the last two days! It’s been wonderful for beach visits and sunbaking pumpkins! We have discovered a beautiful cooling swimming hole in the bend of the Bega River as it enters the sea!We have finally harvested the Jap pumpkins! Here they are soaking up the last of the Summer sun before joining their cousins in the shed. The late warmth is also great for extending the growing season of our plants – I may yet get to view some of the new Dahlia flowers. The first flowerbuds are already forming!The Autumn raspberry crop is in full production- we have actually been able to feast on THREE raspberry fruits each at the one picking on one occasion! Luxury!!! The tomatoes and capsicums are still very productive.The northern vegie bed has been planted up with its last vegetables for the season before the Winter shade : new carrots, lettuce and spinach with potatoes on the left and raspberries on the trellis at the back.We may yet get our 2nd potato crop of Dutch Creams, so long as the 28-spotted lady beetle doesn’t decimate the foliage first! All the organic gurus advise that the best way to control them is to handpick off the ladybirds and their eggs and larvae, then squash them or drown them in a small amount of methylated spirits. Quite a task, but necessary, as we don’t want to kill all the ‘good’ ladybirds and other beneficial insects! There is such an amazing diversity of wondrous insects in our garden. Whenever we venture down into the garden, we are assaulted by masses of butterflies from white Cabbage Moths flitting madly from plant to plant; The more humble browns sitting quietly on foliage; And majestic courting Orchard Butterflies chasing each other around the garden. We also discovered this precious little spotted moth and a stunning striped metallic green fly! The colourful zinnias host some equally stunning red and black beetles; While the roses are home to grasshoppers and tiny spiders:Here is our old friend, The Blue-banded Bee, pollinating the Gaura in the Soho Bed. I can’t wait to discover the creators of these leaf cocoons high up in the Kurrajong tree.The abundance of insect life provides food for those higher up the food chain. This little brown frog hunts at night-time, while a variety of birds enchant us during the day. Now that the big boys of the Cockatoo family have finished their fruit-picking season, the smaller birds have reappeared. They especially love the birdbath on these hot days and often a number of different species will be taking the waters together!
We often see a pair of resident Eastern Spinebills (first 3 photos) and a lone Yellow-faced Honeyeater bathing or foraging for food together. The last 3 photos are of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (2 photos of an immature bird and the last an adult Honeyeater)
We saw a New Holland Honeyeater partaking of the birdbath for the first time yesterday.We have also watched a myriad of other small birds plunging in for a refreshing dip including : both Yellow (1st photo) and Brown Thornbills (2nd and 3rd photo). Other little birds include a White-throated Scrub Wren, Silver-Eyes and a Grey Fantail (photo below); A flock of Double-barred Finches has been grazing on the lawn.Larger birds like female Blackbirds and Bower Birds are also attracted to the birdbath for a cool drink. We have heard the call of a Golden Whistler from the bottom of the garden, but have been unable to locate it yet, but I did finally see and photograph our cuckoo baby, an immature Common Koel, whose incessant calls plagued us last month and I am gradually improving on my attempts to capture the Gang-Gang fly-past! Because this new camera has been upgraded from a 20x zoom to a 30x zoom, I am still learning how to control it, especially for objects in close or mid-range, which often end up blurred! It is however perfect for long-distance shots like the cuckoo, flying birds and even the moon!!! Back on earth, its namesake, the Moon Bed, is looking so established now. The David Austin roses are positively romping and the daisies are in full bloom. We planted a blue-purple flowering Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’, bought recently at the Lanyon Plant Fair, between William Morris and Lucetta and next to the daisy and their colours complement each other perfectly! All the roses are blooming so profusely- it is almost like they know Winter is coming!!! The first 3 photos are of my favourite Jude the Obscure, followed by Golden Celebration (photo 4), Troilus (photo 5), Heritage (photo 6) and Lucetta (last 2 photos). The Soho Bed is also full of colour and scent. I love the golden-orange Lolita, as you can see in the 3 photos below!
Elsewhere in the garden, Alister Stella Gray (photo 1), Penelope (photo 2) and Devoniensis (photo 3) are also in full bloom.Here are some photos of this month’s bouquets.
The Cutting Garden is still ablaze with sizzling Zinnias, sprawling orange dahlias and intense purple and softer mauve cosmos. Nearby the rhododendron throws out a beautiful red bloom.The bright orange cannas glow like flames in the late afternoon sun. The Banksia is laden with golden candles and the protea is forming pink buds. The hydrangea bed provides a cooling respite on these hot days. I love the delicate mauve and white flowers of the feral Duranta. The white Nerine bulbs are gearing up for next month, as is the Tree Dahlia. Fortunately, we have not had last year’s windy weather, when we were constantly having to support the long canes. Instead, Ross has been attaching the long side-runners to the top of the new pergola. It’s a tricky job, as he is using recycled timber of different lengths and has had to mortise beams together to achieve the full 5m length. He has done a wonderful job! All those years of building cattle yards and fencing have stood him in good stead!
Meanwhile, I have been creating another cushion cover for my highly creative and artistic friend Heather, who visited us for her birthday last weekend. As Heather loves colour and abstract art, I used a design by Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), who was a Ukrainian-born French artist, who founded Simultanism, a branch of Orphism, with her husband Robert Delaunay. She painted abstract pictures with colour rhythms, as well as designing textiles, fashion garments and stage sets. She was a thoroughly modern, independent, highly creative and versatile woman, who was a friend of Kandinsky and Chagall, so she is a perfect match for my friend! For more information about this fascinating artist, see : http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/mar/27/sonia-delaunay-avant-garde-queen-art-fashion-vibrant-tate-modern and http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/apr/13/sonia-delaunay-tate-modern-london-review
It was an interesting and challenging design, involving many small pieces of felt and lots of decision-making about thread colour and embroidery stitch type, so as not to detract from the original design. I have also started some embroidered calico patches depicting Australian animals, which I will later attach to a cushion cover. I will show you some photos next month, when I have done a few more! It’s time-consuming, but fun! Luckily, the Easter break is coming up!!! Happy Easter!!!
The February garden has been full of excitement and industry with the construction of the Main Pergola, the decommissioning of the pumpkin patch and the harvesting of all the Summer fruits and vegetables, not to mention finishing the brick edging of the Moon Bed and the multitude of Summer tasks from weeding, watering and mulching to lawn mowing and planting out new vegetables and seeds!
We were so thrilled with the Main Pergola and even though it is far from finished, the positioning of the new stringybark uprights gives a real sense of its potential and provides a framework and a perfect entrance way to the garden, as can be seen in the photos below. We used 2 old tall fenceposts (from the old Kiwi trellis) in the middle of the pergola. which lend it a rustic air and fit in well!
Wombat Ross dug all 6 holes by hand, all to a depth of 850 mm, which was as long as his arms could reach to scoop out the loosened soil with an old salmon can, but that was sufficient!
We strung up a horizontal wire and tied the laterals of the climbing roses to it, finally providing them with their much-needed support! As we source the wooden beams, we will gradually complete the top of the pergola, but the major part of the work has been done!
Having achieved the major goal for February, Ross then turned his attention to the rampant pumpkin patch, which was again threatening to take over the maple tree and was growing pumpkins up the back chook fence and sneaking through to the neighbour’s garden!Even though it was still producing tiny new pumpkins on a daily basis, we felt we had more than enough for the season and Ross was keen to reinvent the No-Dig Bed. My friend’s prized dahlia seedlings were up and running and we need to thin them out and transplant the extras to a larger area. I just hope that they last the distance and can reveal their beautiful flowers before the late Autumn frosts!He was also keen to establish a Winter crop of peas, cauliflowers and brussel sprouts, while we still have this wonderful growing weather. He has already planted new chard, carrots, lettuces and baby spinach, as well as a late Autumn crop of Dutch Cream potatoes.But back to Ross’s revenge attack on the pumpkin patch! It was swift and it was brutal and in no time at all, we had a new vegetable garden, as well as 37 Queensland Blue pumpkins and 4 GINORMOUS marrows, which are really zucchinis or courgettes, which have been let go (or forgotten in our case!)
Leaving one for our neighbour, we stored the rest in the shed in our trailer, bringing back memories of Ross’s mercy mission, when he and his brother delivered a trailer load of Queensland Blues to the starving people of Brisbane after the massive 1974 floods! A bit ironical really, given that Ross has always disparagingly referred to them as ‘pig food’! Please don’t read that the wrong way!!!
We much prefer the smaller, striped Jap pumpkins, which are growing in the future chook enclosure and to which we have allowed a grace of one extra week to fully mature!!!So, plenty of hearty Winter Pumpkin soups ahead! Fortunately, our son is staying with us at the moment, so not only was he able to help Ross out with the pergola posts, but he has been concocting the most delicious lunches and dinners from produce, fresh from the garden, including the dishes photographed below. As my son remarked, he feels he has given the humble and much-maligned marrow a measure of respect! Even though considered quite bland and requiring other ingredients with strong complimentary flavours, the texture of the flesh was superb! I had half expected this old zucchini to be tough and stringy, but it is tender and really quite delicious, even on its own. I’m a fan!!!
Today, we enjoyed an exquisitely light and creamy home-grown Red Cabbage Soup, garnished with parsley and an Italian Lavender flower! Red Cabbage is also incredibly healthy: see website:http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/healthy_eating/eat-a-rainbow/anthocyanins-blue-purple-food.htmWe harvested the last of the Dutch Cream potatoes. When Ross dug up the old pumpkin patch, he discovered another bucketful of this delicious and much-coveted potatoes. We are storing them in a bucket under the house, but I dearly wish we had kept our old wire safes to store them!!!
We have also been very impressed by our colourful capsicums, a first-time crop for us!The heritage tomatoes also produced a large crop and we made tomato chutney and a spicy tomato sauce, not unlike Barbecue Sauce, as well as using them in all our salads and on toast for lunch!
We also made a Sweet Apple Chutney from our small apple crop. Unfortunately, the birds had demolished a fair number of them, even though they were not ripe enough to eat!
The neighbour’s Beurre Bosc pears appeared to be about to suffer the same fate, so we picked them all for her (and lucky us!), to later discover on researching their harvesting that pears are always picked unripe and stored in the fridge to ripen. We have already enjoyed 3 delicious dessets of stewed pears and cream. It really is a beautiful pear with a sweet taste and firm flesh.
I knew it was only a matter of time before the birds stooped to harvest the tiny new crab apple, being one of the last fruits left for the moment, and I didn’t want to see the fragile branches damaged with the weight of the raiding Vikings, so I picked all 135 fruit, yielding 758g fruit, just enough for 2 scant jars of crab apple jam. The fruit was quite golden by this stage, despite the reddish tinge, so I am assuming its labelling as a ‘Golden Hornet’ crab apple was correct after all!!!So now we are waiting for the raspberries, our one fig (courtesy of the neighbour on the other side!), our first lemonade fruit and our cumquat marmalade crop!
Ross continues to wage war on the stink bugs, who have now just discovered our new citrus trees, as have the Orchard Swallowtail Butterflies (Papilio aegeus) ! Despite the fact that they are bad news for citrus trees, I really do love these huge handsome butterflies, who are a mainstay of the garden. I have been voyeuristically chasing courting pairs around the garden with my camera, obviously to no real detriment, as their spiky progeny is now appearing on the citrus leaves!
These slightly plainer brown butterflies are also very attractive, as are these stunning flies, wasps and beetles!The praying mantis keeps a much lower profile in my washing basket, as do the house spiders with their cunning camouflaged egg sacs, masquerading as leaves, suspended mid-air in their webs.
Mid-air antics are not just the preserve of the arachnids however! On investigating some luminescent shiny tracks on our stone wall one night, we were introduced to the fascinating Leopard Slug (Limax maximus), one of the largest of the keeled slugs. Apparently, they mate mid-air, spiralling down a thread of their own mucus, which they consume after exchanging their sperm! For more information, see : http://www.molluscs.at/gastropoda/terrestrial.html?/gastropoda/terrestrial/limax.htmlWe did not see their twirling dance, but for mucus of a different kind, see the next photo:My sewing room is proving to be an excellent vantage point for bird photography! I really must clean my windows!!! Often, I will have my head down writing or sewing, only to look up at a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo quietly watching me from the Pepperina tree or a King Parrot feeding its offspring!Now that the apples have finished, the King Parrots are feasting on the maple seed. We often watch them from the verandah or surprise them as we walk down the path, but they must be very hungry or very quiet, as they rarely fly off. And some like Oliver are just plain nosy parkers! He often startles us by swooping in close by our heads to land closeby and check out our latest activity! Candelo really is Cockatoo Heaven! This month, we hosted a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Convention down in the bottom corner of the garden. We are mystified about their food source, as the plums and apples are all gone. Perhaps the tiny fruit of the Floribunda crab apple has fallen!
And my beloved Gang-Gang Cockatoos have returned, doing their morning and night-time flyovers every day, though unfortunately, I haven’t yet captured them on film. I can however show you a photo of them feeding on Hawthorne berries last Autumn!We have also had garden inspections from a Spotted Turtle-Dove , a Red Wattlebird, a female Satin Bowerbird and some migrant Dollarbirds, as well as a very noisy, but as yet unphotographed, Cuckoo baby (possibly a Stormbird or Koel- its timbre is the same!), whose non-stop demands must really annoy its overworked host parents even more than us!!!And finally to the flower garden…
The Soho Bed, as generous and abundant as ever: