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! 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! 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. 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. The dahlias have already put on a wonderful show. I love all their rich vivid colours, as well as their more muted, softer pastel shades. They make wonderful bouquets for the house and the Christmas table! 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’. 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. 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), and bergamot (photo 1), stachys and blue flowering salvia, replacing the wallflowers and the geum Lady Stratheden (photo 2). 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. They contrast well with the white feverfew daisies and the gold daylilies, also given to me by my sister, along with this unusual flower, whose identity I have yet to ascertain. Any suggestions? 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! 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. They look so beautiful with the sun shining through their petals; 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!; The white and blue blooms of the agapanthus bank, flowering in tandem with the mauve and white Acanthus mollis; and the soft blue shade of the new hydrangeas, their huge bushes showing great promise; and finally, the honey-drenched blooms of the pink and mauve buddleias down the path, constantly full of butterflies, bees and wasps! 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; 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; 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! 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). The newly transplanted lemon verbena is also in full bloom and the rainforest plants are growing madly, including this beautiful staghorn on the loquat tree. Other garden stalwarts include the bromeliads, the pinks and geranium Rosalie in the Treasure Bed and the honeysuckle climbers on the fence. With so much in flower, the bees and butterflies are in seventh heaven. The fruit trees and vegetable garden are a mecca for the bats and the birds, though huge breeding flocks of Little Corellas and Galahs have taken over the trees, recently vacated motels for visiting flying foxes, which have now mostly disappeared to raid other areas. The skies are full of these noisy party acrobats, with the odd Sulphur-Crested and Yellow-Tailed Black cockatoo cousins joining in. The King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas are enjoying the scarlet Duranta berries, while the Satin Bowerbirds have been feasting on our beans and raspberries! This beautiful immature Crimson Parrot sent us scurrying to our bird books to confirm its identity!We 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. 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! We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying a relaxing break. All our very Best Wishes for 2017! xxx
The air is full of the scent of honey, the constant flit of manic butterflies, the buzzing hum of hard-working bees and the continuous squawking of cockatoos, corellas and galahs, intermingled with that classic Summer plaintive call of the Storm Birds.The common name of Buddleias is Butterfly Bush and it’s very appropriate! Every time I step out the back door to walk down to the garden, I am assaulted by masses of butterflies and seduced into racing straight back inside for my camera to try yet again to capture that special shot, often to no avail! It is so easy to waste time on these special little creatures. I must admit that I’ve taken to photographing them from the kitchen window, which seems to be more successful, as they are less disturbed!Often I see at least 10 at a time – but it’s hopeless trying to get them all to sit still for a family portrait!!! The brown ones are the worst culprits! They are so flibberty-gibberty that I marvel that they get anything to drink at all!The smaller black and white ones are much quieter and more stable, resting to drink long from the nectar-rich blooms. In fact, one even landed on my shoulder! The bees and even the odd bird – a Silvereye and an Eastern Spinebill- also love the flowers.The Cabbage Whites prefer the vegie garden, especially the broccoli, and we discovered some interesting photogenic beetles in our roses. I don’t think either of them are possibly very good for their host plants! I did make a brief attempt to identify the beetles, but given that there are 350,000 species of beetles and I find it impossible even naming butterflies, I gave up!!!The roses are still superb, even though the Soho Bed is looking a bit ratty with the drying brown poppy plants. I’m waiting till their pods are sufficiently dry to harvest the seed. They are still throwing out the odd bloom.
The David Austin pastels begged to be picked for this soft romantic bouquet, in stark contrast to the bold dramatic vase of roses, dahlias and deep purple buddleias.
Photo 1 and 2 : Fair Bianca (cream) and Alnwick (pink); Blue Salvia and White Stock. Photo 3 and 4: Mr Lincoln (red) and Lolita (orange); Red Dahlias and Deep Purple BuddleiasI have resisted picking the Madonna Lilies though, because they look so beautiful on the plant with the late afternoon sun shining through their petals!The Calla Lilies have formed tightly packed capsules, bursting with seed.The agapanthus heads are starting to open and soon we will be swamped in a sea of Summer blues and whites.The hydrangeas are following suit.The stocks are revelling in their weeded bed and are positively romping, now they have lost their competition.The No-Dig Bed is already awash with white and mauve potato flowers, interspersed with the golden blooms of the rampaging zucchini and pumpkin plants. Not content with filling their own bed, the latter are now sending rapacious shoots towards the other vegie bed! The sunflower is also forging ahead to the sky! I think it has almost doubled in size since last week! We have our first capsicums forming and have been savouring our exceedingly precious raspberry fruits, which are ripening one at a time. They really are a measure of trust!
Equally special are the jewel-like centres of the red dahlia on the corner of the vegie garden.And the surprise finds : Mullein (Verbascum rotundifolium) in the Soho Bed (admittedly a weed, but a very attractive one at that) and a Feverfew (last photo) in the cutting garden – presents perhaps from a passing bird?!As for the birds! The Cockatoos have arrived for Summer Feasting! While the Duranta berries are nice, the neighbour’s apples are even nicer!!!I can see that I will have to watch my crab apples! Hopefully, I will be able to identify the type of crab apple before the fruit is discovered!!! Unless the crabs suddenly turn gold in colour, I am still steering towards ‘Gorgeous’!Its wonderful watching the huge flocks of cockatoos wheeling in the sky, just before settling down for the night!They all intermingle – Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Little Corellas and Galahs- the latter forming the largest contingent of the population- and they have a great time! They are such party animals.
They swoop and dive and career round imaginary corners like teenage hotheads doing wheelies in their souped-up cars. Either they are high on sugar-rich fruit or trying to impress or outbid each other for the girls’ attention! and the noise is incredible! It’s a veritable Cockatoo Cacophany!
Finally, a photo of my creative activity for this week- a full apron for a 5 year old! So cute and I loved making it! Izzie and Ozzie is my brand name for my childrens’ clothing, toys, cushions and aprons.
I love the start of Summer! The warmer temperatures before it becomes too hot; the longer daylight hours, so you can still garden at the end of the day after work; the excitement of watching the fruit develop and ripen; and the amazing colours in the garden!Roses love Summer too! Here are photos of the roses blooming this week :
In the Soho Bed :
In the Moon Bed :
By the shed :
On the Main Pergola (desperately waiting for its construction and madly growing in the mean time!) :
And in the rose hedge behind the vegetable garden :
I love creating new bouquets from them all!
The dahlias have blasted on to the scene with their eye-catching gold and red.Their magnificent bold display is only matched in intensity by the scarlet pomegranate flower and the bright orange Calendulas. They are paving the way for the orange Monbretia later in the season.Lily time is almost upon us. I expect these Madonna Lily buds will open next week. The blue and white Agapanthus (also known as ‘Lily of the Nile’) are forming great regiments to supersede the Acanthus, once it finally finishes. It is amazing how their giant heads can be contained within the cases of their tight buds.Blue and white is also provided in the stocks and cornflowers of the Cutting Garden.The growth in the Hydrangea corner is mind-blowing, especially when you consider how heavily we pruned them last Winter!Nandina is in full bloom along the back path.The Buddleias also responded very vigorously to their pruning with many beautiful purple, mauve and pink nectar-laden blooms for bees and butterflies to feast on. The scent in the air is beautiful!The soft pastel blooms complement their grey-green foliage and wave gently against the bright blue sunny skies. However, these same pastel colours can also look very dramatic against a background of navy blue felt, as seen in this cushion cover I recently made for a friend’s birthday.I based it on a fuchsia design, which I had made in a past lino-cutting class. The following photos show the whole process.I also made her a matching card from the images, which I had googled and printed out to help me choose the felt colours, then laminated it. Yes, you can laminate an A4 card, so long as you crease it immediately after it has emerged from the laminating machine, while it is still warm and malleable!In the vegie garden, Ross has removed all the old radish and lettuces. The Dutch Cream potatoes are in flower and the tomatoes are setting lots of fruit. Here is some of our fresh produce, which Ross harvested for one of his stir-fry dishes: our own onion, broccoli and silver beet! Not to mention Ross’s fresh home-made bread!The mulberries have finally finished, so Ross also pruned underneath them and cut back branches, which were shading the rose hedge and inhibiting its growth. He also got rid of all the invasive poplar suckers.We are very excited about the amount of fruit in the garden. We tasted our first raspberry the other day. As a good Tassie ex-pat, they really are my favourite fruit and it is so good to be able to grow them again and know that they are permanent. No more moves for us!We also have 2 different types of plum in the garden and a bumper apple crop.We also admire both our neighbours’ fruit trees : pears and apples galore!The sulphur-crested cockatoos are already massing in the gum tree on our laneway, waiting patiently for the apples to ripen, while outdoing each other in their acrobatic wheeling and aerial manouevres. When we were in Geelong, I remember returning home one New Years Eve to discover the local cockatoo gang had stripped the apple trees bare during a drunken raid that same night!!! I wish they would stick to these attractive Duranta berries like the King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas.The galahs also love feasting on the Duranta berries.
The photogenic visitor below also enjoys our garden- hopefully for the beauty of the blooms, rather than the small birds! We think it is the same cat we saw on our neighbour’s roof, no doubt getting his own birds-eye view of potential feasting sites and a true example of a ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’!!!Please little blackbird, stay safe! Get Mum to come and feed you in the tree!!A final farewell from our flamboyant Peony Poppies, which have entranced us for the last few weeks. Their blooms just about over and their foliage and stems brown and withered, we sadly pulled them out to freshen up the Soho Bed, saving as many of their drying seedheads as I could, despite Ross’s protestations that I only needed an ‘nth’ of what I collected!!! Here are a few final photos for the year! I marvel at the circuitous routes their seed head stems take and wonder why they make so many twists and turns! Life can be a bit like that sometimes!!!
Roses, roses, roses!!! Their season has finally arrived! And this is just their first year!!! I always remember finding it incredibly difficult to take holidays in November, as this is prime rose flowering time!!! It is so exciting discovering each new bloom every day! The Soho Bed smells divine at the moment and looks fantastic. It has come a long way from its beginnings at the start of this year!Among the new blooms are :
Hybrid Teas: The Children’s Rose (pink); Lolita (orange-pink).Ice Girl (white) and Mr. Lincoln (deep red and super fragrant);And David Austins: Fair Bianca (white); Eglantyne (light pink); L D Braithwaite (deep red) and Alnwick (warm pink).The Moon Bed is following suit with David Austins: Troilus (cream) and Golden Celebration (gold).The Old-fashioned Rose Bed by the shed sports : Viridiflora; Archiduc Joseph; Countess Bertha and Maigold.The climbing Noisette rose over the path beyond the Soho Bed, Alister Stella Gray, will be pushing for a supportive arch before we know it!Here is the promised photo of Lamarque, the Noisette climber against the house, and I cannot resist adding one more photo of the Paul’s Himalayan Musk on the other side of the house.And the rose hedges are in full swing :
White Hybrid Musks : Autumn Delight (Photo 1); Penelope (photo 2) and Kathleen (photos 3 and 4);Pink Hedge : Hybrid Musk roses : Cornelia (photos 1 and 2) and Felicia (photo 3); and China rose : Mutabilis (photos 4 to 6), whose single fragile blooms of variable colour always remind me of a flight of butterflies!The rugosa hedge : Frau Dagmar Hastrup (pale pink) and Roseraie de l’Hay ( deep purple pink).The cutting garden is still resplendent with outrageous colour from the Dutch Iris, Cornflowers, Ranunculas and Iceland Poppies and now the Calendula (last photo).The Dutch Cream potatoes are up in the vegie garden and the heritage tomato plants are powering along, as are the rhubarb, raspberry canes and black currant bush. The blueberries, miniscule as they are, are covered in full berry and the citrus are equally well-festooned with sweetly scented flowers. The red bottlebrush (Callistemon) has its first flower and has plenty of buds, so will be quite a show!I was momentarily excited when I discovered that the fruit on our White Mulberry tree was reddening up, thinking that maybe we had been given a false identification and had after all my favourite Black Mulberry instead, but on further investigation, found that White Mulberry fruit can be white, red or black and from looking at the leaves, I’m pretty sure that it is a White Mulberry unfortunately! But they are the favourite food of silkworms and you can still eat the fruit- it is just a slightly different taste to that of Black Mulberries! And I discovered that we have tree-climbing snails! I am not sure if they are after the new apples or the mulberries!I love the blue border (Convovulus mauritanicus) of the maple bed and my Rosalie Geranium has been encouraged to join suit! I still find the bromeliads very exotic and worthy of a Dr. Who set!The Acanthus mollis spires and lilies are multiplying every day and the hydrangeas and buddleias are becoming quite large, the former almost overpowering the Green Goddess calla lilies.
The snowball tree is still in full bloom and creating a white carpet of snowfall below and the red rhododendron provides a small splash of colour in the shade.The Virginalis philadelphus has tripled in size and sports beautifully scented white blooms and the Carolina Allspice, which was so slow to regain its foliage, is expanding rapidly and even has a small bud, which is very exciting!!! We also discovered some purple bearded iris hiding under the cumquats! Once they have finished flowering, we will move them to the border of the Moon Bed to multiply and receive the recognition they deserve!Garden tasks this week have mainly focused on weeding, mulching and watering, though the pergola supporting the Banksia rose is almost finished with all the cross pieces mortised in and fastened to the fence for extra strength.We had a visit from this cute little lost dog late Friday afternoon, so spent the evening searching for her owner, before boarding her with a friend for the weekend. We put up notices all round town, but the next day she was back! She obviously likes the place and made herself a bed in the mondo grass and nerines at the base of the Paul’s Himalayan Musk rose. We gave her a meal of premium nonfat mince, raw egg and bread and she spent the night in her spot. Fortunately, her owner turned up. He was visiting his mother, who lives nearby, and his pet had escaped through an open gate. We were amazed to find out that her name is Scamp and she is 15 years old, the age and name of our old dog, who died in July!!!Next door has a new sheep- this very cute black lamb! And finally the ever-fascinating backdrop to our little piece of Heaven!