Monday, February 28, 2005


I'm sure all gardeners love the opportunity to visit plant nurseries wherever they find them. The ones with brilliant displays of flowers out the front may attract my attention but they are not necessarily the ones that I like. I rarely find anything to interest me in a nursery that has table after table of instant colour in pots, or straight rows of all the usual trees and shrubs. They are obviously catering for the masses, and that's fair enough as they are in business, but I'd much rather visit a nursery that looks slightly run down and overgrown, and then scramble around amongst all sorts of things all mixed up together. We often visit one on the South Coast like that, although we have to be careful about buying plants from there because of our severe frosts.

I buy a few plants from the craft markets but it's reached the stage that most things on sale are those that are easily propagated, and I already have them.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday morning by the Lake

We had a lovely breakfast BBQ at Black Mountain Peninsula this morning with the family. Although it was 9.30 there was only a handful of people about, the air was cool and fresh. The playground facilities were clean and varied and the children enjoyed them whilst we cooked. After packing up we walked around the lake admiring the trees and shrubs, observing the rowers and a couple of dozen small yachts, and then watching the children enjoying feeding the ducks, seagulls, waterhen and 1 black swan. Along the way R. collected seeds and leaves off an unknown tree, which gave him a good excuse this afternoon to relax and leaf through numerous books until he discovered that it was an Alder, although which one we are not sure.

Look out, here comes another forest!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mulch today, compost tomorrow

Well, not quite that fast but it is amazing how quickly all that plant material becomes wonderful compost. Three large barrowloads of cosmos and strawflowers and one of mixed delights which had already started to decompose on top of the horse manure, found their way down the throat of the mulcher this morning and are already heating up in the compost heap. One of my favourite spots in the garden is the compost heap. It's hard to walk past the heaps without plunging my hand into their depths to see how hot it is, or turn over a few forks full to watch the hive of activity going on below the surface. We have two large bricked compost 'bins' and my constant fear is that I will run out of compost, yet at the same time there is scarcely enough room to contain all of the material that we shred and put into them. With autumn on its way, and bags of leaves to be collected and mulched, they will be bursting at the seams.

I guess I should get it out/into the gardens. After all, it won't do much good sitting in a heap, will it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Cuttings - how to stop?

I wanted to strike some cuttings of a very pretty variagated sedum so, secateurs and bucket in hand, I took 8 cuttings. Then the urge got too strong and before long I had half a bucket of 3 varieties of penstemon, purple 'Winter Joy' wallflower, pink gaura, apricot perennial wallflower (said to be even better than 'Winter Joy'), blue hydrangea, plectranthus, chef's hat Correa, and white, pink and red pelargoniums. And that was just for starters.

Well, I planted all the cuttings in pots but then found the propagating tray was already full to overflowing, as were numerous polystyrene boxes. So a box full of plants in pots went across the road to my neighbour, and after emptying the warming tray of all the plants that really should be planted out (the roots hanging several inches out of the bottom of the pot gave me a clue!), I finally had enough room for the new ones.

But that was only today's cuttings. What about tomorrow's and the day after .......

Monday, February 21, 2005


A little more rain today and lovely cool weather. I love working in the garden in the evenings, but so do the mosquitoes. I perservered and planted 21 burgundy arctotis cuttings along my neighbours driveway at the edge of our garden. I hope they will expand and hold back the soil so I can remove the loose laid bricks from along the edge as they keep falling onto the driveway. Arctotis are so hardy, flowering for many weeks, and these burgundy flowers look stunning against the silver leaves. I also have yellow, cream, pink and orange ones, but I love the burgundy ones best.

The Wonders of Water

I complained too soon about the rain yesterday; it later turned into a lovely steady fall bringing 18.5mm or 75 points. I still can't appreciate the rainfall when it's in metric, ie. 75 points seems much wetter than 18.5mm. Everything looks so fresh this morning and the grass is already a few shades of green darker.

We've just returned from a walk around the hill behind our house (about 3 klm) and the view over the mountains is quite spectacular. The sky is still overcast and the wisps of cloud nestling in the mountains contrasts with the multi-blues of the slopes. The sound of the early morning traffic is so distant that I can fool myself into thinking it is the ocean I am listening to.

The birds have been having a feast in the eucalypt trees and the ground beneath is covered in tiny gumnuts. R. couldn't help himself and brought home a hundred or so to see if he can strike them.

It does feel like autumn, and there are definite signs, but I know it's still FEBRUARY!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Good Gardening weather, if only .....

Perfect gardening weather today - cool and cloudy, but it's raining, gently. Ah, the frustration, knowing that the rain is not heavy enough to soak into the ground nor give the plants a proper drink, but it's too heavy to actually work in. Although I guess if I lived in England I would consider this a fine day and get out into the garden anyway.

But I mustn't complain because even the cooler weather is kind to the plants and I can always spend time under shelter on the deck propagating plants. I use an old ironing board as a portable work bench but I think I shall have to buy another from the recycling centre as R. has taken over that one.

Can't decide weather to pull out all the cosmos and strawflowers today, tomorrow or give them a few more days grace. They are still flowering but well past their best. Even deadheading won't restore them to their former glory.

The claret ash trees are starting to change colour; they seem to be the first to indicate the change of season, especially those grown as street trees. There are a few bright red leaves on the pistachio in the neighbour's garden, so autumn will be full on soon. I think it's my favourite season of the four, not just because of the beautiful autumn colours but knowing that the hottest days are past and we'll have quite a few weeks of pleasant balmy weather before the first frosts.

Must empty some of the compost to make room for the influx of autumn leaves!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Do we appreciate where we live?

Another gardening website that I contribute to has bloggers mainly living in the UK and USA. For a few weeks there were very few new blogs coming on but now, it's really come alive, and all because of the weather. The sun breaking through the clouds or a small patch of bare earth peeping through the melting snow is enough to send northern hemisphere gardeners into raptures. Their fingers are itching to get outside and begin planting the seedlings they have grown from seeds during the winter under lights in their pantry, on a window sill or a spare room. They are leafing through seed, bulb and plant catalogues and, like all gardeners, wanting to order ten times as much as their gardens will hold. Their excitement is palpable.

Whilst we in most areas of Australia may not experience this joyful anticipation, we can be thankful that, for the most part, we can continue our gardening all year round. Okay, sometimes it's a bit too hot and other times just a bit chilly, but there is usually something we can find to do in our gardens at any time we get the urge. While showing a visiting Canadian friend around my garden years ago she said she was so envious of our climate; she only had four months in which to grow her favourite plants. Admittedly, in that four months everything grew like crazy, but the other eight months were bleak indeed.

So, do we realise how lucky we are? I do, but it still doesn't stop me wanting the perfect gardening climate, eg. warm sunny days in summer with rain every third night, etc. etc.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

What is it?

Is it a vegetable garden or is it a flower garden? Does there need to be a difference? Whilst soil and growing conditions can vary between the two, some intermingling of plants can have great appeal.

We have fruit trees and vegetables surrounded by marigolds, pansies, sunflowers and even a couple of roses. I have used red oak-leafed lettuce as a border plant between petunias, and often plant beetroot, parsley, endive (which we don't even eat) in the flower garden. Dill, mustard greens, bronze fennel and golden marjoram are currently thriving amongst the perennials. I don't always harvest the vegetables among the flowers because they may be a bit crowded and not mature properly but the leaves are a great source of interest. Many vegetables look very attractive when left to run to seed, eg, onions, garlic chives, endive, carrots and bok choy. When we lived in Gippsland I found some Sweet William seedlings under a shrub. I transplanted them around the vegetable garden and we had the best SW we'd ever grown and they flowered for many, many weeks.

Yesterday I planted dwarf beans around a raised flower bed, and intend to plant climbing beans at the edge of the garden and allow them to drape over the brick wall.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Potato Vine with Attitude

After seeing a gorgeous Potato Vine with large blue flowers on the wall of the house at Diggers in Dromana, we bought one last autumn and planted it near the loungeroom wall. It lost its leaves in the winter and for the next few months sat in the ground like two sticks, although obviously still alive. In December, with still no sign of leaves, I dug it up and put it in a pot. As I did so, I noticed that there was the tiniest shoot on one stem. I'm sure it only shot as I dug it up! There are now two 'shoots' each more than a metre long and covered in leaves. This evening I took it back to the garden and planted it near the paling fence. A very tricky task, made more difficult by the fish-hook type thorns growing from behind the leaves. It's these hooks that they use to cling to brick walls rather than growing into the mortar like ivy. Anyway, I've now extracted myself from its clutches, tied it to the fence, and will now wait for the glorious flowers to emerge.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The End Result

Not much gardening today either, just fulfilling the result of earlier gardening, ie. cooking and bottling peaches and nectarines. The peach tree is only young and very small but it was loaded with fruit to the extent that we had to prop up the branches with old palings. However, the birds decided that the peaches were quite a tasty treat and began to have more than their share. R. picked them all this morning and even though most of them were not properly ripe, they cooked up nicely. The nectarine tree was also loaded but, as seems to happen every year, the rain comes and the fruit quickly rots on the tree. R. will pick the rest in the morning. Unusable fruit will get 'cooked' in the compost heap.

R. also dug up all the potatoes. On TV today Dr Phil was emphasising how if you want to lose weight then you must remove temptation. But how can one eat minted new potatoes without butter - and I mean butter, not margarine.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


No, not mine. My youngest daughter turns 22 today. Can it really be that long since she was born; on the other hand, can it be only such a short time? Whichever way I look at it, it's been a good time. So have a very happy birthday, Sara.

I was in hospital with Sara at the time of the Ash Wednesday fires. I remember sitting on the bed crying when I heard about 9 firemen losing their lives at Officer. Although it takes many years for the natural bush to fully recover, I think Mother Nature is amazing how she does make it recover.

Thankfully, apart from the Eyre Peninsula in SA we have been relatively free of major bushfires this year (or have I forgotten some?). Of course, we would have even less if there not so many sick-minded arsonists in the community. One rarely hears of any severe penalties being handed down against those few who are charged.

I've wandered a long way from the happy thought of Sara's birthday ..... So, if you happen to call in today, dear, I even have a present for you - wrapped and with a card. How's that for being organised!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


A new Arboretum and Gardens are to be established on 250 hectares of land near Lake Burley Griffin. This land, once covered in pine forests, was burnt out in the 2003 bushfires. A national competition has been conducted for the design of this project, and all 45 entries are on display this week. Five finalists have been chosen. We had a look at all of the entries today. A great deal of work has gone into these designs, with stunning results. I'm only sad that I won't be around in 50 years time to see the mature trees, etc. I really liked some of the designs, whilst others I found difficult to follow. We were a bit surprised by the selection of the five finalists as we felt that some of the others had better elements to them. But then, who are we to judge!! It will certainly be a magnificent project.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Watching the Sunset

Husband, son and his girlfriend played golf this evening so I went out at 7.30 to meet them and then have dinner. I sat on the edge of the rose garden near the lakes for 40 minutes and watched the sun set over the mountains. It was so beautiful and peaceful, with the ducks and swans on the water busily feeding. We are so lucky in this country to have access to such lovely scenery and the freedom to enjoy it.

Spreading the Word

So far today I've done nothing in the garden - well, it is a bit hot! I've now told two of my daughters how to access my Blog, but I'm not sure if it was such a good idea. I may be a little more reserved about what I write if I think that they might read it, but I'm sure I'll get over that and look forward to their comments.

I've given up hoping my agapanthus will flower this year. There's not even a sign of a bud on any of them. I can't think what I've done wrong. I still live in hopes that someone will develop a pink one, same colour as a pink Dutch Hyacinth. I think they would look stunning mixed with the blues and white.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Compost Building

This afternoon, instead of planting my purchases of the morning, I went over to my neighbours, R & M, to have a look at their new mulcher. They were mulching up hydrangea and magnolia prunings. In a matter of minutes they had two barrow loads full lovely fine material. M took me to have a look at her compost heaps as she was worried that they weren't heating up enough, possibly because they were too small. I helped her restack all of the material, including the new shreddings into two heaps and inserted black plastic drainage pipe down the centre to assist with moisture and air distribution. They should start to heat up nicely in the next 24 hours. I love layering compost heaps and thinking of the amazing process which will turn it into wonderful plant food and soil conditioner.

M gave me some cuttings of a pure white geranium, a delightful spotted-leaf begonia, and a purple-leafed canna. I'm much more interested in plant foliage now than flowers. Leaves you have all year; flowers for such a short time. The burgundy arctotis cuttings I gave M last week are doing well and should cover the area required very quickly.

It's nearly dark so I'd better go and put our mulcher away and empty my barrows into our compost heap.

Forecast to be 32 tomorrow and 34 on Tuesday. Thankfully, low 20s for the rest of the week.

Been Shopping

What a beautiful day it is today. The Hall markets are on again. Not so many stalls this time but at least all the gardening ones seemed to be there, about 12 of them. Bought an orange canna with green & yellow striped leaves. I made sure that it had several good shoots so that I can break it up. Two calistemons with fairly insignificant lemon flowers but gorgeous pink new leaves. I had often admired them in a neighbour's garden but didn't realise what they were. Also bought some Catmint, a deep purple pelargonium (yes, another one), a shasta daisy and two variegated ajugas.

I was just about to go and plant them when I remembered that I had to put a heap of stuff through the mulcher and feed the compost heap. That's done, and I've had lunch, but do I have the energy to go back to the garden? Come on, force yourself, lazybones.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Violets and Forget-me-nots. Grrrrrrr....

Much as I love violets in flower, and the blue of forget-me-nots, why do they feel they have the right to invade every nook and cranny in the garden. My neighbour told me many years ago that I would regret asking her for some violets, and I have, many times. I do have some with purple leaves and beautiful pale blue flowers. They are not invasive. Oh, why can't they all be like that?

As for the forget-me-nots. Well, I won't forget them for a while; at least not until I've removed all of the seeds from my gardening gloves, my jeans and my shirt.

Ah well, tomorrow they can all go through the mulcher with a heap of other stuff and then get cooked in the compost heap.