Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Australian Natives

Reading my blogs and looking at the photos, it would be easy to assume that our garden consists entirely of non-native species.  This is actually not so. I have to admit that I prefer exotics in a garden setting - I find them more to my taste, but then I was born to and raised by an enthusiastic English gentleman gardener.

 I spent my childhood nurturing violets, primroses, pansies, sweet peas, delphiniums, hollyhocks, antirrhinums and so on. Dad did try a few Australian natives, but they weren't readily available and they didn't really like his mollycoddling, fertilising and cultivating.

When we first moved to Lenswood 40 years ago, we did plant a lot of natives, but local species weren't available and most of those we could buy at nurseries did not like our heavy clay soils and frosts. A few of them have survived, but we had more success with my old favourite European plants, so we stuck with what we knew best. 

However we now have an extensive area of natives which we really enjoy - as do the birds and koalas. These are a few of the Spring flowering ones
Pale lemon callistemon

pink callistemon

Grevillea - not sure which

This pretty thing dies back each year then shoots out in Spring. So sweet.

Grevillea robusta

Banksia longifolia - Giant Candles

And finally some of the visitors that enjoy the eucalyptus patch. Mother and daughter didn't stay long unfortunately. I think our resident male koala may have chased them away.

Liz Needle 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Around the Garden

The garden is looking somewhat tired at the moment. We have had a very dry Spring and after a wet, mild winter when a lot of strong growth happened, the plants are beginning to suffer.

Aesthetically it doesn't help that the winter bulbs have died off leaving their old leaves and stalks. I'll need to get on and cover the beds with mulch.

The vegetable garden has been thriving in the warm weather, although a lot of the earlier crop has gone to seed very quickly. So far this season we have picked broad beans, spinach, kale, lettuces, beetroot, radishes, zucchini, globe artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower and spring onions. 

 Coming on are sweetcorn, beans, cabbages, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, turnips, celery, celeriac, squash, pumpkins,celeriac, cucumbers, capsicum and chillies.


Other plants are also showing their fruitfulness. The pomegranites are flowering prolifically this year for the first time. Hopefully we may see some fruit - the fruit costs about $5 each in the shops at present, so we planted these in the hope that we could one day supply Mark with fruit for his restaurant.

The quince tree has a good crop again. Unfortunately last year we only harvested a handful as the Rosellas beat us to them. This year we are planning a big net to foil the little poachers. Years ago we had apples, plums, and pears, but we gave up as we rarely got a ripe one. The birds however had very full bellies.

We have loquats and figs, though the fig is struggling. And we also have a macadamia flowering. We harvest so many of these, but are yet to find an efficient way of cracking the shell. The chestnut trees are about to flower and we have a small crop of pistachios. Must find out what we do about the raw fruit. I wish our nut trees were as simple as almonds and walnuts!!

Liz Needle

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tulip tree.

This is a Liriodendron - a nice tree with attractive leaves and lovely yellow autumn leaves but nothing to set it apart from any other tree?.Known as the Tulip Tree.

But look what appears in Spring. Aren't they exquisite?  I just love these shy little beauties. Not so little either - about the size of your ordinary tulip - but to my eyes just astonishingly beautiful.

It was some years before we even realised the tree flowered. You don't really notice the flowers at first glance, so well do they blend in with the leaves, but once seen, never forgotten. I get quite excited when they appear.

The flowering chestnut  has the same effect on me. I'll show you when they start blossoming. 

Liz Needle

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Toy

Don has a new toy - a new ride-on mower complete with trailer. Today he drove up to the old dairy and brought down two trailer loads of composted manure - straw/goat poo/cow poo. Very old and powdery.   I've gone for broke and put it on a section of the garden where the plants are not thriving. Will either kill them or cure them.

Now a change from roses.  Each morning I am greeted by these cheeky , happy little faces. Love the colours and they are so easy to grow.

Aren't the purple and orange ones delightful. I must get some more; they look lovely in terracotta pots

Out the front the Dutch iris are flowering. They look very dramatic against the willow trees.  I have a bright yellow one as well, but it's noy flowering yet. I must get the blue. Love that deep colour.

These little perennials look pretty together - Cerastium and Nepeta.

Another pretty spot at the moment is around the sun dial - Thymes and mini Agapanthas. It looks a bit scruffy because I snapped this before the new mower arrived. But I like the casual look.

Liz Needle

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name......

The garden is a pretty sight at the moment with the roses flowering and other late spring flowers on display. Watering is becoming a problem and unless we have some rain the garden will have a miserable summer. Water restrictions will soon be enforced  and we will struggle to keep lawns green and plants alive.

Meantime we continue to enjoy the roses.

 I can't for the life of me remember the names of these two roses. They both make a colourful display although the purple one below is only a spring flowering rose so we can only enjoy its pretty old world charm once a year. They are both singles and have that lovely two tone look as they fade.

The purple rose is very vigourous and would take over if I let it. Thankfully it has very few thorns.

 Both of these roses are David Austin roses - Belle Story or Lucetta(not sure which) on the left and Mary Rose below. I think it is Belle Story - one of my favourites anyway.

The rose below is a mistake in a way. Well, not really a mistake, but it is the root stock of another rose that died and I liked it so much that I have let it go.

 This gorgeous purple/red below is another of my favourites, but it is another one I can't name, though it is quite distinctive. I did have a map of my rose garden, but it has disappeared into the mists of time so to speak. Below left is Buff Beauty, a lovely soft apricot  

 The pink rose on the left is  Shady Lady, so called because it tolerates shade. This one actually is in the sun. Most of my roses tolerate a degree of shade. They don't really get much choice.
More next time. I'm not sure if anyone is reading my blog, but if you are, I hope you are enjoying the flowers as much as i do.

Liz Needle

Monday, November 12, 2012

Roses, roses, roses

"Love thou the rose, yet leave it on its stem". from 'The Wanderer' by Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, Earl of Lytton.

I do so agree with that comment. There is nothing to my mind so lovely as a rose bathed with the morning dew and flushed with first sunli
ght. Most of my roses are heritage or David Austin roses and they just hate being inside in a vase. They sulk, wilt and drop their petals, which suits me fine as I love seeing them in the garden.

Heritage by David Austin

True they often don't have the vigor of the modern rose and mine in particular don't as they have to cope with a lot of shade from the surrounding trees, but they reward me with their subtle colours and sweet perfume. I love walking through the garden, savouring the scent of the lime and lemon blossoms mingling with the rose perfume. 

Golden Wedding                                                         


Please don't ask me to name them all. Somewhere I do have a map I made of the garden some years ago, but I can't find it and I have a terrible memory for plant names.My daughter Jo is brilliant at it, but I am not. If I thought about it for long enough they might come back to me, but don't hold your breath.

This variegated one is a new variety that took my eye. I used to have a number of old variegated varieties, but most of them were not very hardy and did not survive the neglect.
I find roses are usually hardy and very forgiving of poor treatment, but we lost a lot of them when the council decided to spray the road verge on a windy day!!!

Prospero (I think)

Close up of Fritz Nobis                                   

My lovely old 'Fritz Nobis' (below) nearly died from the  spray ovedose, but we nursed it back to health and this year - 3 years later - is beginning to look good again

Liz Needle

Friday, November 2, 2012

In the Pink

  The bluebells fade, the irises begin to wither and the flowering shrubs come into their own. Now pink begins to dominate the garden. Strangely enough I am not a pink person, but in my garden it is a favourite colour. I love the old world charm that pink and white brings to the garden.

One of my favourite trees (they all seem to be my favourites, don't they?) is this pretty Dogwood . The tree is about 20 years old and has strugglesd to survive, having been planted in heavy clay soil in far from ideal environment.  But this year it has flowere beautifully and I have fallen in love with it.

Cornus florida 'rubra'

The Kolkwitzia amabilis or 'Beauty Bush' is another lovely shrub and well worth trying. It too has struggled, but since we have cut down a group of willows, it has come into its own.

There are some lovely pink bulb type plants coming out now, like the ixias, watsonias and my favourite the diaramas which are just a bit later.

A close up of the ixia seen above as a clump. These plants originated in South Africa as did many of our plants.
And now of course the perennial favourite - roses - begin to come into their own. Mine are almost without exception heritage style roses. They seem to fit into the garden style which I have fostered. Just a taste of them to start with. More in later posts.

And finally, the only Azalea (Rhododendron) that I have ever had much luck with, seen against a backdrop of willows. Please note the wheelbarrow full of weeds in the foreground - proves that I do work in the garden.

Liz Needle