Tiny Treasures: Feature Plants for July

This month, I am featuring my tiny treasures : violets; forget-me-nots; snow drops and snowflakes; hellebores; and the tiny flowers of Winter daphne and Winter honeysuckle, all cherished for their fragile beauty and scent in a cold Winter world, when the rest of the garden has gone to sleep.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-08-27 09.55.42BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-08-27 09.56.13Violets (Viola odorata) are a mainstay in our garden from late Autumn to early Spring, lining the main staircase up to the house and the back path (photo 3), blanketing the ground under the deciduous trees along the fence and our front door camellia and filling their own bed, where their bright blue flowers contrast dramatically with the fallen red maple leaves.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-05-23 10.34.58BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-02 14.16.04BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-07 12.45.46 We have 3 different colours : blue, a deeper purple and pink. In our old Armidale garden, we only had white violets and I used to dream of our current violet banks.Blog Mid Winter20%ReszdIMG_8906Blog LateWinter20%Reszd2015-09-03 15.04.42

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Deep purple violet along the back path         Photo by Caroline Stephens

Viola odorata, or Sweet Violet, belongs to the family Violaceae and genus Viola, which contains an unbelievably large number of species : 400-500 species, though some sources suggest it could be as high as 600 species. Some of the more common ones are :

  • Viola arvensis – Field Pansy
  • Viola biflora – Yellow Wood Violet or Twoflower Violet
  • Viola canina – Heath Dog Violet
  • Viola hirta – Hairy Violet
  • Viola odorata – Sweet Violet
  • Viola pedunculata – Yellow Pansy
  • Viola riviniana – Common Dog Violet – similar in looks to V.odorata, but scentless
  • Viola tricolor – Wild Pansy or Heart’s-Ease – purple, yellow and white
  • Viola adunca – Early Blue Violet
  • Viola nephrophylla – Northern Bog Violet
  • Viola pedatifida – Crowfoot Violet
  • Viola pubescens – Downy Yellow Violet
  • Viola rugulosa – Western Canada Violet
  • Viola lutea – Mountain Pansy – yellow flowers

There are also 3 Australian native species :

  • Viola hederaceae- common Native Violet – bright green, kidney-shaped leaves and purple and white flowers. Useful ground cover in moist shady areas.
  • Viola betonicifolia
  • Viola banksii

BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 17.18.56Viola odorata is a small perennial plant with heart-shaped leaves and highly fragrant, assymmetrical flowers (purple, blue, yellow, white, cream or blue and yellow), which bloom in Winter and early Spring. It is native to temperate areas in the Northern Hemisphere and loves moist shady conditions, though it does equally well in full sun. It thrives on moist, well-drained soil, rich in organic matter and only requires moderate watering.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-05-31 12.32.31 It is a tough little plant and transplants easily with minimal after-care. In truth, they are almost a weed at our place, as they throw out underground rhizomes with abandon, quickly invading large areas with their long runners.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 17.30.20BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-09-03 15.03.56 They can be propagated by seed and  root cuttings, division best done in Autumn or just after flowering, though really they can be planted at any time from Spring (after frost)  through to Autumn with a spade of compost and mulch to keep the roots cool. Occasionally, they get red spider mite in dry weather, but otherwise they have few pests.Blog LateWinter20%Reszd2015-09-03 15.03.53 They are the food plant for some Lepidoptera larvae, including Giant Leopard Moth, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, High Brown Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Setaceous Hebrew Character. Sweet violets are grown as a ground cover in woodland gardens, in garden beds and along water edges, as accent plants around trees and even as container plants.

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Blue violets in maple bed             Photograph by Caroline Stephens

Violets were cultivated in Greece before 500 BC and were used by both the Ancient Greeks and Romans in herbal remedies, love potions, wine (Vinum violatum), festivals and even to sweeten food. While our society sees the violet as a symbol of modesty, sweetness and faithfulness, to the Ancient Greeks, it was a symbol of love and fertility. For more about the mythology surrounding the violet, see: http://comenius-legends.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/legend-of-violet.htmlBlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 17.30.34Ancient Roman physician, Pliny the Elder, advocated the wearing of a garland of violets on the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells. Perhaps the intoxicating scent of the violet blooms banished the headache! Certainly, both the leaves and flowers are edible and rich in vitamins and can be used in medicines and as a laxative, though they should not be taken internally in large doses! Clinical trials have shown that a syrup of V.odorata can improve cough suppression in asthmatic children. Intranasal administration of V.odorata extract has also been shown to be effective in treating insomnia. What a blissful sleep! For more information on the use of violets as a herbal remedy, see : http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/v/vioswe12.html .BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-05-03 10.37.59Fresh flowers add a lovely flash of colour in salads, fruit punches and ice bowls. The flowers can also be candied, using egg white and crystallized sugar, to decorate cakes and are still produced commercially in France, where they are known as ‘Violettes de Toulouse’. I tried making crystallized violets and rose petals for my son’s birthday cake (1st 3 photos), and while I wouldn’t say it was a roaring success (especially because I confused salt for the castor sugar initially!), it still did provide some colour! Making candied violets is obviously an art form! The French also make a Violet Syrup from Extract of Violets. The syrup can be used to make violet scones and marshmallows. I decorated the banana cake in the photo below with fresh pink and blue violets.BlogTinyTreasures20%ReszdIMG_8953BlogBirthdayCurry20%Reszd2016-04-21 16.50.25BlogBirthdayCurry20%Reszd2016-04-21 17.16.36BlogBirthdayCurry20%Reszd2016-04-24 14.02.52 But the most obvious use of the flowers is as a source of scent in the perfume industry, as well as in nosegays and Spring bouquets. There is even a Violet Day in Australia and New Zealand, on 2 July , when fresh violets and badges depicting violets were sold for fund-raising efforts  to commemorate the lost soldiers of the First World War. Before the Flanders poppy, the violet was considered to be a ‘symbol of perpetual remembrance.’ See : http://www.familyhistorysa.info/sahistory/ww1violetday.html  and  http://adelaidia.sa.gov.au/events/violet-day.

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Mixed jonquils, Westringia, stock and violets
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Violets and English primroses
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Bouquet of erlicheer jonquils, violets and forget-me-nots

An ideal lead-in for my next tiny treasure, the humble Forget-me-not, Myosotis!BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-09-04 15.21.22 In Newfoundland, the forget-me-not is a symbol of remembrance of the nation’s war-dead. It was used as a symbol in the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in remembrance of the 1.5 Million killed by the Ottoman Turks between 1915-1923 . In medieval times, the forget-me-not was a symbol of faithfulness and enduring love. Its name is purported to have originated from the German legend of a lover who, while gathering the flowers, fell into a river and cried ‘forget-me-not’ as he drowned.

The scientific name Myosotis comes from the Greek word:  μυοσωτίς or  “mouse’s ear” after the leaf. It belongs to the family Boraginaceae and the genus contains 74 species, 60 from Western Eurasia and 14 from New Zealand. The most common species are the biennial Woodland Forget-me-not, M. sylvatica, and the perennial Water Forget-me-not, M. scorpioides. They are now common throughout temperate latitudes, especially in moist areas.Blog LateWinter20%Reszd2015-09-04 15.21.16Forget-me-nots are small tufted plants with simple, blunt, lance-shaped, greyish, finely -haired leaves and tiny 5-petalled blue, mauve, pink, white or cream flowers, usually borne in sprays on short branching stems in Spring and early Summer, though my plants are currently flowering! They grow well in both sun and shade, but prefer cool weather and moist soil. They are propagated by seed or careful division in Winter.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 17.55.24 One sure fact is that once you have them, you will always have them! Some people may even go so far as to describe them as invasive, but I could never begrudge forget-me-nots nor violets for their profligacy, as I love them and despite their prevalence, they are not always that easy to locate when you are searching for them for a new garden! We found our plants growing wild on the banks of the extinct volcano, Mt Noorat (photos below).BlogTinyTreasures50%ReszdOC 024BlogTinyTreasures50%ReszdOC 025 I love watching them multiply and appear in odd spots throughout the garden. Traditionally, they are used as a ground cover in woodland gardens, in rockeries and beside ponds.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.58.09 I love using their fragile feathery blooms to soften floral arrangements. Like violets, they are also a food plant for various Lepidoptera species, including the Setaceous Hebrew Character.

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‘Acropolis’ Double Daffodil, Sea Thrift, Italian Lavender, Wallflowers, Catmint, Society Garlic and Forget-me-not

Other woodland ground covers include the delicate white snowdrops and snowflakes, often confused with each other because of their green-tipped white drooping bells. They are however quite different plants. Snowdrops (1st photo) only have one flower per stem and each flower has 3 large exterior petals and 3 smaller central petals, tipped with green.

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Photo of Leucojum from www.pixabay.com

Snowflakes are a larger plant with each stem bearing several flowers, each of which has 6 petals all the same size and each tipped with green. We grew up with snowflakes, which are members of the Leucojum genus, but the true snowdrop belongs to the Galanthus genus.

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Clumps of Snowflakes (Leucojum)         Photo from www. pixabay.com

Leucojum is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family and hails from Central and Southern Europe. The scientific name comes from the Greek words: ‘leucojum’ meaning ‘white violet.’ There are only 2 species: the Spring Snowflake L.vernum (‘vernum’ is the Greek for Spring) and L. aestivum (‘aestivum’ meaning Summer, though really it flowers in late Spring after L. vernum). It looks great in clumps under deciduous trees and shrubs and can be propagated by division immediately after flowering or when the leaves have died down. Our Leucojum are pushing their way through a border of Mondo grass on the path edge.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.23.01 Snowdrops however are seen far less commonly in Australia, as they only like cold to moderately cold Winters. Their scientific name comes from the Greek words : ‘gala’ meaning ‘milk’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’. These hardy, bulbous, perennial herbaceous plants have grey-green leaves and flower in Winter before the vernal equinox, pushing their stalks through the snow. Like snowflakes, they are also from the family Amaryllidaceae and are found in the deciduous woodlands of Southern and Central Europe from the Pyrenees to Ukraine. They were introduced to Britain in the early 16th century and readily naturalized, so much so that they are often called the English Snowdrop. In England, they are also known as ‘the flower of hope’, while in France, they have a much more prosaic name ‘Perce-neige’ (‘perforating snow’). In the Language of Flowers, they are a symbol of purity and hope.BlogTinyTreasures25%Reszd2015-07-01 11.10.11 There are 20 species in the genus, the most widespread and well-known being the Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis (‘nivalis’ is Greek for ‘of the snow’). There are a huge number of single and double-flowered cultivars (over 500 in 2002, but now a further 1500 new cultivars), all differing in size, shape and markings, and developed from G.nivalis, as well as the Crimean Snowdrop, G. plicatus, and the Giant Snowdrop, G. elwesii. In fact, snowdrop collectors are known as ‘galanthophiles’ and  it is quite a competitive and exclusive hobby. See : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16789834. There are a large number of snowdrop gardens in the United Kingdom, which are open to the public during the season. See: http://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/home-garden/gardening/ideas/days-out/snow drop-gardens-to-visit-in-the-uk. Scotland celebrated its first Snowdrop Festival from the 1st February to 11th March, 2007. I bought my snowdrop bulbs from a specialist plant nursery. They were quite expensive, but fortunately, they multiply easily from offset bulbs and we were able to divide the clumps and plant them as a curved border to the fence shrubbery in front of the lilac and flowering quinces and around the bird bath. It is the perfect spot for them, as they like moist well-drained soil and shady areas. I look forward to seeing them naturalize and multiply in the grass. They have such exquisite flowers!BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-13 16.57.41 I certainly won’t be eating them though! Galanthus are poisonous to humans, causing nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting if consumed in large quantities. Its active ingredient is galatamine, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which is used in the management of Alzheiners and traumatic injuries to the nervous system. It is also an effective insecticide in the management of beetles, Lepidoptera and Hemiptera. In fact, these plants are pest-free, avoided by rabbits, deer, chipmunks and mice! Current research is focused on its use in genetic engineering for pest resistance and the treatment of HIV. See : https://www.researchgate.net/publication/255618182_Analysis_of_Pusztai_Study_on_GM_Potatoes_and_their_effect_on_Rats

Hellebores are another specialist collector plant, which can become quite addictive! I inherited the common single white and purple varieties in our new garden in Candelo, but my Mum also gave me 5 double forms (deep purple, deep red, pink, white, white blotched with pink) 2 years ago as a birthday present. My sister bought them for her from The Melbourne International Flower and Plant Show, where a hellebore specialist nursery, Post Office Farm (https://www.postofficefarmnursery.com.au/)  had a stall and the following Winter, I visited their farm on one of their open days, where I bought a species hellebore, Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’ . See my post on Post Office Farm at: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/04/12/favourite-gardens-regularly-open-to-the-public-specialist-nurseries-and-gardens-in-victoria/

BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.34.53BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-09 18.07.58BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-17 14.22.12I have planted them under separate deciduous trees, as they are highly promiscuous, interbreeding with abandon, and I really want their offspring to retain their original forms true to type. For example, the white double hellebore complements the white statue Phoebe and white anemones under the maple tree on the terrace (1st and 2nd photo above); my deep red hellebore is under the Protea (3rd photo above) and my species hellebore, Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’, occupies a special place under the camellia beside the front door (below).

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Hellebores are also known as Winter Rose, Snow Rose, Lenten Rose and Christmas Rose, due the fact that they flower round this time in their native environment, the deciduous woodlands of Southern and Western Europe and Western Asia. Their scientific name, Helleborus,  comes from the Greek words : ἑλλέβορος helléboros, from elein “to injure” and βορά borá “food”, referring to their toxicity. They are low growing, clump forming, evergreen, Winter-flowering perennials from the family Ranunculaceae, the same family which includes delphiniums, anemones, aquilegias, buttercups and clematis. Hellebores have attractive, leathery, evergreen, toothed, palmate leaves and open, cup-shaped flowers in Winter. Most varieties are single with 5 petals.BlogTinyTreasures25%Reszd2015-09-15 17.29.53 There are 17 different species, divided into 2 different categories.

The Caulescent types have leaves on the flowering stems and include :

Stinking hellebore, H. foetidus: Pungent smell when foliage is crushed; tall plant; large number of small lime-green bell-shaped flowers; See 2nd photo below.

Corsican Hellebore, H. argutifolius: heavily toothed leathery evergreen leaves; up to 1 m tall, so best at the back of the border; heads of lime-green flowers. One of the toughest hellebores and tolerates more sun than other species; See 1st photo below.

Majorcan Hellebore, H. lividus: Silvery leaves and smoky-pink flowers.

and the rare H. versicarius: From SW Turkey;  red-tipped lime bells; thrives in the sun.

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Corsican Hellebore    Photo from www.pixabay.com
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Stinking Hellebore     Photo from www.pixabay.com

In acaulescent varieties , the leaves are basal and stemless and include :

Oriental Rose, H. orientalis, the most common species in Australia. Pink, maroon and cream single flowers, ageing to green.

Green Hellebore, H. viridus: Green flowers.

Black Hellebore, H. niger: The roots are black and the flowers white, flushed with pink or purple as they mature.

Ferny Hellebore, H. multifidus: Green flowers and finely-divided leaves.

H. cyclophyllus : Yellow-green flowers and slight perfume.

H. odorus: Light green flowers.

and

Helleborus atrorubens : Dark green and purple flowers (photo below).BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2014-07-06 11.04.50

There are also a large number of hybrid cultivars, including:

  1. sternii : H. argutifolius x H. lividus
  2. nigercors: H. argutifolius x H. niger
  3. x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’: H. lividus x H. niger   (1st photo below)    and
  4. orientalis x H. purpurascens : Red-purple hybrid.

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Oriental Hellebore

Other crosses using oriental hellebores have created a wide colour range from slate grey and metallic black to red, purple, dusky pink, lime green, yellow and cream and white, often with speckles and flashes. There are also double and semi-double forms. To fully appreciate the huge variety in hellebores, consult the following websites: https://www.postofficefarmnursery.com.au/galleries and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/10648349/A-hellebore-for-almost-any-situation.html.Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-08-12 15.49.09BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2014-07-06 10.56.54Hellebores grow throughout cold and temperate areas in Australia from Tasmania, Victoria and the coastal stretch up to Sydney; inland as far north as the Queensland border and in temperate areas in South Australia. They like Winter sun and Summer shade and can handle dry periods, so are ideal under deciduous trees. Dappled shade is best, as full shade results in less leaf growth.  They also like a humus-rich, slightly acidic soil and hate waterlogged soil or sand. BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-09-05 08.35.32They are used in mass plantings and as ground cover, especially in dry shade and under established trees. They combine well with galanthus (very similar growing conditions), hostas, anemones, aquilegias, epimediums, solomon’s seal, ferns, vinca, scilla, cyclamen, leucojum and crocus. They look lovely at the feet of camellias, magnolias, dogwoods,  flowering quinces, daphne and hydrangeas (photo below). They can even be grown in pots.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.25.49 Hellebores propagate from seed, which spreads readily. Seedlings should be transplanted when very young (only a few centimetres high), as they do not like having their roots disturbed. They can also be lifted and divided in Autumn and early Spring.BlogTinyTreasures20%ReszdIMG_0243 They should be planted with organic compost, then mulched in Summer to keep their roots cool. Old leaves and flowers should be removed in Autumn, as the new leaves appear, to allow them to flourish and display the flowers to their best advantage. The only exception is the caulescent hellebores, in which the old flower stems should be removed in mid to late Spring after flowering. The plants benefit from a well-balanced fertilizer in Autumn, as well as a handful of dolomite lime. Generally though, hellebores are tough and individual plants have been known to reach 40 years of age.BlogTinyTreasures20%ReszdIMG_8905 BlogTinyTreasures20%ReszdIMG_8955The flowers last a long time on the plant, but only up to 7 days in the vase. Their heads tend to droop and should be propped up with other flowers or the vase placed on a high shelf, where their flowers can be appreciated. Floral treatments in the past vary from splitting stems to scalding them by plunging the stem ends into boiling water (often still done by commercial growers), but most experts agree that a good long soak prior to arranging is essential, even to the extent of totally submerging the flower heads in water for up to 3 hours. Recut the stems 2-3 cm from their ends, especially if they have been seared by the grower and use preservative in the water. Misting the flowers is also beneficial. Their flowers also look good floating in a shallow bowl of water. Flowers can be wired for support, but should not be used for corporate designs, as their flowers will droop and dry out in air conditioning or heating. They also hate foam, so only use a vase. The flower centres are also suitable for drying.

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Bowl of ‘bores: a beautiful photo of hellebores floating in a bowl by Jacki-Dee   Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons,  licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

http://flic.kr/p/9koemY

Do be aware though when collecting seed and handling hellebores that they are extremely toxic. They contain protoanemonin and are strongly emetic and laxative. In fact, they were used in the past to induce vomiting. They can cause diarrhoea, cardiac problems and skin irritation. They are also very poisonous for livestock.  But don’t let it put you off these otherwise delightful plants!

It is well worth visiting Post Office Farm on one of their Open Days (every Sunday between 5th June and 25th September 2016). See: https://www.postofficefarmnursery.com.au/events-fairs/ or if you cannot make it, one of their plant stalls at the numerous plant fairs around the country. See: https://www.postofficefarmnursery.com.au/plant-fairs/.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2014-07-06 10.56.34

And now for some slightly larger plants, whose tiny scented Winter flowers still allow for their inclusion in a post on tiny treasures:

Winter Daphne    Daphne odora

Native to China and Japan, Winter Daphne belongs to the Thymelaeceae family and the Daphne genus, which includes 50 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs throughout Asia, Europe and North Africa.

Winter Daphne is an evergreen, densely-branched, ornamental shrub, up to 1m tall, with simple, alternate, glossy-green leathery leaves. There is a variety ‘aureomarginata’, whose leaves are edged in a creamy-yellow colour. It has highly fragrant pale-pink fleshy tubular flowers, each with 4 lobes, from mid Winter to late Spring. There is a variety, ‘Alba’ with pure white flowers. The flowers are hermaphroditic and are pollinated by bees, flies and Lepidoptera.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.27.39Daphne has a reputation for being difficult, but if they are planted in the right spot, they can be quite long-lived , tough, low maintenance and drought-tolerant shrubs. My research into their ideal planting site revealed  their preferences:

  • Morning sun or easterly-facing aspect with shade from the hot afternoon sun.
  • Fertile, slightly acidic peaty soil.
  • Perfect drainage- a raised bed or drier spot under the eaves is ideal, as they are prone to root rot.

They should not be over-watered or over-fed and pruning should be minimal. After flowering, a slow-release fertilizer with iron chelates can be applied. Mulch will keep the root run cool, but should be kept away from the stem. Daphne hates any root disturbance or cultivation around its roots and transplants badly. It can be propagated by softwood cuttings in early to mid Summer and semi-ripe or evergreen cuttings in mid to late Summer. They are susceptible to a virus infection, which causes mottling of the leaves, and attack by scale insects, which can be squashed or smothered in white oil.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-06-19 14.16.45All parts are poisonous to humans and livestock. The sap can cause dermatitis, so be careful when cutting. Despite their toxicity and their finicky nature, I would not be without a Winter Daphne. Their scent is divine, both indoors and outside, so make sure it is in a prominent position. Our plant is right beside the back steps as we leave the house, very close in fact to the Winter Honeysuckle, my last feature plant for this post, so the air smells quite heavenly in Winter!Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.22.57Winter Honeysuckle    Lonicera fragrantissimaBlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-11 15.10.23Also known as ‘Chinese Honeysuckle’, ‘Sweet breath of Spring’ and the quaint name ‘Kiss-me-at-the-gate’, Winter Honeysuckle belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family and the Lonicera genus, which contains 200 species of Honeysuckle shrubs and climbers, including the well-known white-and-yellow Japanese Honeysuckle, L. japonica and  pink-and-gold Woodbine, L. periclymen (photo below).BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 16.55.23Winter Honeysuckle is native to China and was introduced to England by Robert Fortune in 1845, making its way to America by 1852. It is a semi-evergreen shrub 1-3 m tall and wide, though it can reach 4.6m tall and it takes 5-10 years to reach full height. Its slender spreading branches form a bushy tangle over time. It is deciduous in areas with harsh Winters.Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-05 08.29.43 White to creamy white, two-lipped flowers with protruding yellow anthers are borne in pairs in Winter and early Spring. They are highly fragrant. Branches cut for the house will perfume a room for days, so long as the vase is kept away from heat. The flowers are also a great nectar and pollen provider for insects and birds in Winter.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-11 15.10.29 Winter Honeysuckle loves full sun, though will tolerate partial shade. Propagation is by hardwood or semi-hardwood cuttings in late Summer. There are very few pests and diseases.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-07 13.32.53BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-06-28 13.14.52These old-fashioned ornamental plants can be grown as a specimen plant, a clipped or informal hedge or screen or at the back of a shrub border. My Winter Honeysuckle is in an ideal location right outside the back door and on the bend of the back path, as it becomes the entrance path.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-07 13.33.34 I adore that waft of fresh lemony scent every time I go out the back door at this time of year. It is so uplifting! It also flowers for a long time- at least 3 months! I feel so lucky to have inherited such a beautiful old shrub- in fact, it was one of the reasons we bought the place, as it was in full bloom we first discovered the house in  August 2014.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-10 11.39.55I also like to use their flowers to decorate cakes. Here is a photo of a rustic apple cake, topped with the sweet blooms of erlicheer jonquils, Paperwhite jonquils and Winter honeysuckle.Blog Whentheking20%Reszd2015-09-04 09.57.50To finish my post, here is another delightful watercolour painting by my daughter Caroline, illustrating some of my tiny treasures. It reminds me of a wonderful description I once read in ‘Tulipomania’ by Mike Dash about the festivals of the Ottoman Empire during the Tulip Era (1718 -1730), the latter half coinciding with the reign of Sultan Ahmed III (ruled 1703 -1730), during which tortoises, with candles fixed to their backs, moved slowly through tulip beds under the April full moon on the first night of the Tulip Festival. I just love it! Thanks Caro! x

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Tiny Treasures by Caroline Stephens (Artwork and photograph)

The June Garden

I don’t know if it was my imagination, but Winter seemed to start later this year with the Autumn leaves persisting into early June.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-04 10.16.23BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-02 14.15.51BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-02 14.16.22BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-02 14.17.14BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-02 14.21.14 Certainly, the frosts were later, the tree dahlias eventually succumbing to heavy winds rather than frosts this year!BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-04 12.47.12BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-05 11.34.10 We had some wild and woolly weather in the first week of June with one quarter of our annual rainfall (247 mm) in 3 days. The gully and creek were in flood- the creek level rising high, with the fast-flowing current cutting hard into the bank and bringing down trees. The local coast also experienced enormous tides with cunjevoi and sea tulips ripped from their beds and washed up on the beach.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-03 15.13.46BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-03 15.13.36BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-03 15.15.17BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-03 15.15.32BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-03 15.16.48 We had so many puddles in the garden and Ross had to race out in the middle of it all to dig a trench around the cutting garden.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-04 12.51.23BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-04 10.16.29 By mid-June, the weather finally turned cold with some lovely sky effects.

BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-22 16.25.57
Rain over the ocean, taken from Chamberlain Lookout, Tathra

BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-22 16.29.53

BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-22 17.29.51
Dark clouds threaten to replenish Candelo Creek after the flood-waters subsided

BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-21 12.23.10 The Winter garden finally arrived, its palette predominantly white and purple with a few lemons and pinks thrown in! The violets are a mass in the maple bed and along the path.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-02 14.16.04BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-05-31 12.32.31BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-07 12.45.46BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-07 12.45.52 My rockery is full of bulbs poking their heads up, as well as divinely-scented lemon jonquils and white Coconut Ice dianthus, both demanding obeisance every time we walk past!BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 17.51.22BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-09 15.05.18BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 17.51.36BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-05 11.32.13 I also love the fresh lemony smell of the tiny flowers of the Winter Honeysuckle, as we enter the back porch.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-11 15.10.29 Our daphne is in full bud, promising further fragrance as the Winter progresses.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.27.39 The wallflowers in the Soho bed (below) and stock in the cutting garden have a warm spicy scent.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-17 14.21.57 The bulbs have greatly multiplied under trees and in the cutting garden with tulips, iris, daffodils, freesias and ranunculas all growing madly.

BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.24.26
Erlicheer jonquils
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From back to front : Dutch Iris, Cornflowers and Daffodils
BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.17.03
The old tulips have multiplied
BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.16.33
New Bokassa Gold tulips

The jonquils and tiny snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, are so pretty.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-02 14.20.13BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-13 16.57.41 I constantly look for new bulbs every day and it is always so exciting when I spot one emerging from the soil like this tiny bluebell under the crabapple tree.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.19.44 The hellebores are all in bud, ready to provide a splash of colour under the trees.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-17 14.22.12 I love the sweet diminutive forget-me-nots and the splash of gold of the Winter Jasmine, Jasminium nudiflorum, on the laneway.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 17.55.24BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-07 17.19.30 Here is a colourful black and gold ladybird from the bottom of the garden.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-22 14.00.15 I am really looking forward to seeing the japonica buds open.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-14 14.22.43 The camellia at the front door has already blessed us with a number of light pink and deep pink blooms.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-18 18.19.48BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-18 18.20.35BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-01 16.50.16BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-18 18.19.54BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-17 14.20.50 The new camellias are also in bud and Star-above-Star has had its first flower.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.18.22BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-17 14.22.34BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-17 14.22.50 The roses have still thrown out the odd bloom: Eglantyne (pink) and Golden Celebration (gold).BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-10 14.01.46BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-10 14.02.30 My birthday Souvenir de la Malmaison is already in new leaf.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.23.53 I cut the last blooms of the roses and frost-damaged hydrangeas for two final bouquets for the season.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-09 16.17.07BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-09 16.16.57BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.48.43 I pruned the hydrangeas and all the Soho Bed roses rather severely on the weekend.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 11.30.19BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.25.49BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.23.18BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 14.23.04BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 14.23.10We also turned and transplanted quite a few of the roses. Despite our careful observation of outer buds and planting for correct shape, my roses have a habit of sending their shoots out at 90 degrees to where I want them! Now that the roses are dormant, it is a good time to correct their positions- hence Lamarque was dug up after the heavy rains (a perfect time as the soil was so soft), turned 90 degrees and replanted, so that its long canes can diverge horizontally and create the desired fan shape up the house wall instead of  growing out from the wall as before.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 17.52.00 We did the same with Cornelia, so it arches it long canes to the left over the gateway to the chooks (we have yet to build a simple wooden single arch for it), instead of throwing them up into the apple tree to its right.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.20.25BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.20.34 We transplanted Aimee Vibert from its initial position as part of the cutting garden screen behind the Soho Bed to the other side of the arch to replace the dying Kathleen. We also turned Penelope, so it was a member of the hybrid musk hedge rather than the vegetable garden! See the new hedge-line in the photo below : From front to back : Penelope, Aimee Vibert and Cornelia.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-21 13.45.26 We made a decision to eliminate the screening hedge between the Soho Bed and cutting gardens. There really was not enough room for the hedge and path, the mature shrubs would have cast too much shade on the cutting garden and in the end, we concluded that we actually like seeing the cutting garden. So, we transplanted the white lilac to the corner of the cutting garden, the Philadelphus to the main pergola corner next to climbing Tea rose, Adam (photos 1 and 2), the Viburnum burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’ to the camellia border (photo 5), the Exochorda between the purple-pink lilac and the pink-and-white Japonica (photo 4) and the Flowering Currant  to the front of the Snowball tree (photo 3). Its future pink Spring blooms will complement the pink Weigela on the other side of the pergola entrance.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.13.06BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.13.13BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.13.51BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.15.40BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.18.43 We finally moved the Alister Stella Grey rose to the shed corner to create a golden yellow arch with Rêve d’Or in front of the cumquats, lemonade and quince trees.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.14.49 We still have a number of potted roses, raised from last Winter’s cuttings, to transplant- a hedge of Russelliana on the fence behind the White Mulberry and an Albertine hedge along the back side wall of the shed, the old timber a perfect background for the warm pink blowsy blooms.

We are starting to feel like we are finally achieving a sense of control and structure in the garden. We plan to build a compost bay with 3 divisions against the fence behind the no-dig cutting garden (see the bamboo markers behind the garden fork). The seed dahlias are over-wintering in the front of the bed under their blanket of mulch. Ross has just redug the patch behind the dahlias prior to sowing last year’s peony poppy seed for Spring, to be succeeded by zinnias in Summer and Autumn. Both plantings should benefit from having their own area, as both are very tall and take up a lot of room. Behind the zinnias and poppies will be a strawberry patch, then a path in front of the compost bay. On the left end of the compost bay, we will create an asparagus bed and on the right end, we will grow angelica and rhubarb.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.21.57There are also self-seeded peony poppies sprouting in the Soho Bed and I have some Iceland poppies in egg cartons awaiting transplantation to the cutting garden.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-10 13.59.30 Other pending tasks are to construct the chook fence (and chook house) behind the hybrid musk hedges and transplant the natives in the old sandy septic tank, so we can transform it into a shallow rock-lined pond.  Ross has limed the vegie garden. The growth of the new vegies is a bit slow because of the cold and Winter shade.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.20.48BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-10 14.04.36 We have yet to prune the raspberries and harvest the cumquats for marmalade!BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-10 14.05.56 Our first lemonade fruit is almost ripe!BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-20 14.42.22 We are anticipating a huge crop of loquats this year, as it is still flowering!BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-08 13.40.23 With all this time in the garden, we have enjoyed the company of lots of little birds from fairy wrens to brown and yellow thornbills, flycatchers, eastern spinebills and silvereyes.BlogJune Garden 25%Reszd2016-06-05 11.42.19BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-08 12.35.49BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-09 13.50.47BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-09 13.50.52BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-09 13.51.22BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 18.01.50BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 18.01.39BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-09 13.53.09BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-09 13.53.25BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 17.57.08BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 17.57.32 We will often look up to see a King Parrot quietly grazing within arm’s reach.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-05-31 12.43.57BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-09 14.59.22BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 17.59.39 A large flock of Little Corellas materialized briefly one week, transforming bare branches into the appearance of white blossom.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-01 18.56.37 The very same roosting trees were a sea of pink the following week with a large flock of galahs.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-05 18.16.37BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-05 18.16.48 The rich diversity of bird life in our garden is a constant joy. We found the perfect spot on a Winter Honeysuckle branch to hang my bronze bird feeder, a birthday gift from a dear friend. It looks like it has been there forever!BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-17 14.20.06 I will finish with a few photos of a spectacular Winter night sky last week.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-18 20.25.29BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-18 20.30.07BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-18 20.24.07BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-18 21.15.46BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-18 20.30.11BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-18 21.16.52