Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Day of Not Much

Funny how some mornings you wake up with plans to achieve so much and at the end of the day you wonder what happened. I left home about 9.00am and took some mail around to my daughter S's house and sat and talked for a while. I said that since I was going to register her car (it's in our name but she drives it) she could bring it around home and wash it for the first time in many months and put the new Reg. sticker on. The queue at Motor Registry was so short that I didn't even have time to get comfortable in the chair - miracles still happen. I also wanted to go to the garden centre sale but got tired of trying to find a park close to the centre (I wanted to buy mulch and didn't want to have to carry it halfway home, or back to the car, whichever was closer) so decided to go tomorrow to another branch of the same nursery where parking is free and right up to the door. Met S. at the Mall so we could change her mobile phone from my name to hers, and found that we only needed to make a phone call to do it. Went home and helped S. wash and polish her car. I asked if she checked the tyres regularly. She said "Do I know how to check tyres?" So it was down to the Service Station for a lesson in checking and pumping up tyres.

S. was so pleased with her clean car, especially the windscreen and windows, her pumped up tyres and her phone in her name (and bills in her name, too), and promised to wash the car more regularly (ha. ha.) I did a bit of housework (a very little bit), then I seemed to lose about an hour. I can't remember what I did with it; I don't think I went to sleep, but I can't remember now. I went to water the plants on the deck but the water kept cutting out. Pulled the spray on the hose apart and found a tiny lizard (one of the thousands that are here) jammed inside. Didn't feel like poking at it so I blasted it out with a pressure nozzle. Finally got the plants watered and even managed to do some potting when R. went to hockey training. It was the first time the workbench (formerly someone's beloved ironing board) had been free in days so I made the most of it. Time to cook dinner, eat dinner, wash dinner dishes, and now I've just finished sewing a set of Barbie doll clothes. Of course, I failed to mention the time spent on the computer - checking blogs and emails, and the odd joke.

Oh well, perhaps I can be more organised and productive tomorrow, or the day after . . . . .

Where did it go?

Yesterday I blogged my purchases of the day before, complete with botanical names, etc., and then it wouldn't publish and I lost it all. So I went and planted the shrubs instead and then lay awake last night thinking that I had planted them all in the wrong place and they wouldn't look any good, etc. etc. One good thing about plants, whatever you do it seldom needs to be permanent.

So the new shrubs are (minus the botanical names) - Protea 'Pink Ice'; Correa 'Winterglow'; Ceanothus 'Blue Pacific' (which I've always resisted just because everyone else had it); Banksia 'Giant Candles'; Grevillea 'Johnsonii' (we have one in another garden and it's one of my very favourite plants with its fine dark green upright leaves and deep red stems, lovely flowers too). Still to plant out are 3 Agonis flexuosa (Willow Myrtle) 'Afterdark'. These have gorgeous claret coloured leaves which change to deep burgundy in the winter. They are a bit frost tender until established so I'll pot them on and plant them out after the frosts have finished. Hopefully, they will be established enough to cope by next winter.

Now I'm off to register my daughter's car and visit the garden centre, which has 25% off everything. It would be a real shame if no-one turned up for the sale, wouldn't it? So I guess someone has to go !!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Mere comments have become a Blog.

Both Chloe and Calidore had so much 'food for thought' in their blogs today that it really got my brain rattling and I felt the need to respond with a blog.

Chloe talked of becoming more diligent in keeping a gardening journal. I think it's a great idea, and one that was impressed upon me a few weeks ago after looking through a photo album devoted entirely to the garden over the years. We have lived in this house for 30 years and, naturally, the garden still isn't finished. I know that we will never have a 'finished garden'. But just looking at the photos of the gardens over the years I was amazed at how they had changed. Not just in shape and development, but in the plants that have come and gone, many of which I had forgotten all about. I kept saying to myself "Good heavens, did we really have that growing back then" or "Haven't they grown (or not) " as the case may be. Even my plant preferences have changed so much, from annuals and a few shrubs years ago to trees, shrubs, bulbs, and especially perennials, with just a few annuals for added colour now. So back to the task of keeping a journal. It would be very interesting, as well as extremely helpful, to have a record of plants bought, received from friends, propagated or even self-sown. To see when and where they were planted, and their 'life story'. At the time of purchase and planting we always think that we'll remember the name of the plant etc., but it doesn't take long to forget and even labels fade or disappear. I'm not sure what would be the best method of keeping a journal. For those so inclined it should be possible to do so on the computer, but that's not really something that you can show or pass on to other people. Perhaps a large sketch book/scrap book may work, at least in the first instance. A more elaborate journal could be produced, as time permits, undoubtedly with a beautiful patchwork cover!!

With reference to Calidore's need to revamp her pergola garden, I had a moment of clarity regarding my front garden on Monday morning. My husband and I went for a walk around the hill behind our house, on the pretext of getting exercise but really to collect tree seeds and look at gardens. As I crossed the road and turned into our driveway and looked at the gardens overall, it suddenly occured to me that I needed to make some big changes in the garden bed with runs along the front footpath for the full width of the block. The whole block slopes down from the road and the front yard is on 3 levels. The garden near the footpath is on a higher level than the lawn (what's left of it) and the garden along the driveway is lower still. The top garden has had a variety of plants over the years, mostly groundcovers and low growing perennials and groundcovers, rarely taller than 70cm. I realised that a number of shrubs from 1-2 metres high would not only add a new dimension to that garden but to the whole front yard, and also provide a barrier to the traffic noise.

When I told my husband what I had in mind he just laughed, because that's exactly what he's been telling me for years. Once again, just wait long enough and "she'll come round"!!!

This morning we went shopping and bought6 plants, but I'll have to tell you about them tomorrow as I've been watching 'All Saints' and now I'm too tired. So, Good night, all.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

What, more empty pots?

That has been my husband's lament these past two days as a result of all the planting out I've been doing. He pretends that he doesn't like washing empty pots, and maybe he doesn't, but seems unable to realise that if he doesn't wash them then I will, sometime.

Dozens of geraniums, succulents, chinese lantern, chrysanthemum, a Canadian maple, and a Smoke bush "Grace" were planted out today. Goodness knows if they are where I really want them to be, but at least they're in the ground now. As for the geraniums, I'll no doubt succumb to the temptation to take cuttings so if I don't like them where they are then I can replant them elsewhere or just compost them.

Started destroying the front garden (again) by pulling out lots of alyssum, gazanias, centranthus and African daisies, partly so I can get at the couch grass but also because I'm tired of them, and some of the them look pretty tired too. However, where the dripper hose has been lying for some weeks, although only used sporadically, everything is thriving so they can stay. Another reason for pulling them out now is that I already have a couple of barrowloads to put through the mulcher so I might as well collect everything and do a proper job whilst I'm at it. Plus, I've been using so much compost lately that I'm afraid I'll run out and I need to build up the supply again.

I see the jonquils are shooting. It seems like only a few weeks since I cut down last year's leaves. I'm happy to see the flowers, even if I do find the fragrance a bit overpowering, but the leaves seem to take forever to die down. Maybe I'll just shift them to some remote corner.

R. has spent the last two days repotting 140 Canadian Maples and 60 Jacarandas. I think we need to buy a farm !!!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Phew !!!

Perhaps I haven't worked that hard but I did achieve a few things today. The weather was so good that I would give it a score of 15 out of 10. In fact, I felt guilty every time I walked into the house because I was wasting the sunshine.

I have a garden near the loungeroom windows that I've rarely been happy with. So today I pulled out lots of self-sown African daisies. Lovely specimens they were, too, but it doesn't matter how good they are if you already have too many and don't want any more. Out they went and more compost (beautiful stuff) was worked into the soil. Pelargoniums, hebes, penstemons, variegated ajuga, shasta daisies and a yellow buddleia have finally been released from captivity in pots on the deck and hopefully they are already enjoying their new home.

One of the most rewarding plants in the garden this summer was a Limonium (Sea Lavender/Perennial Statice). It flowered non-stop for at least 6 months and rarely got a decent drink of water as it was on a sloping part of the garden where the water tended to run away. It was a mass of purple and white flowers on 30cm stems above a cluster of dark green leathery leaves. I dug it up today and broke it into 9 pieces and replanted them in 3 different areas.

Also planted out 8 blue agapanthus that have been sitting in a dish of water for months. I don't usually treat my agapanthus as badly as that, even if the ones in the garden don't flower, which they didn't this year. Today's plantings are behind a row of silver-leaved arctotis along the neighbours' driveway so I hope the two different plant types will make a lovely contrast.

My daughter took home about 10 pots of plants yesterday. She said that this was the best sort of nursery to come to as there is no checkout to pass through on the way out. I hope you had fun planting them, dear. Whilst M. was selecting plants, her wonderful husband was fixing the Links on my sidebar and adding a counter. Thank you, thank you.

More good weather forecast for tomorrow so you know where I'll be.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Such energy!

I feel positively exhausted by all of the work that Calidore has been doing. What with making sauce, mothering tadpoles, propagating roses, finding treasures in the Op. Shop, and producing dainty patchwork, I think you need a rest. But if you haven't got time, I'll have one for you.

Seriously, you've certainly been busy with a wide range of interests, so many of them creative. I'll bet that you are never bored? I always think that anyone who has an interest in creating something, whether it is gardening, cooking, sewing, writing, painting or anything that requires their ideas and skill to produce, will never really be bored and will always find life interesting. It bothers me that so many people seem to lack a creative interest.

After pulling out barrowloads of unwanted plants at the weekend and then spreading an equal number of loads of compost and working it into the ground, it was wonderful to receive half an inch of rain. Now to decide where will I put what? My usual dilemma.

Since the weekend I bought 6sq metres of tiles for the bathroom at the other house. Thought I had a real bargain as they were only half the price I expected to pay. Big mistake! They were also 2mm too small, which was important as they had to match the remaining tiles. Luckily we were able to buy the correct ones in time for the tiler to start work this morning, and also lucky that the other store refunded the money on the smaller tiles.

My son and his girlfriend left this morning for a few days travel in Victoria, through Gippsland and along the Great Ocean Road. I had to restrain myself from saying "You should try and visit this place, and that place, etc, etc." Being an ex-Victorian I still want people to see all the lovely places down there (and all the places I still miss). I'm sure they'll have a great trip.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

So much room

For ages I've been trying to find room to plant out heaps of plants that are currently longing to be released from the confines of their pots, but there seemed to be insufficient space. Today I had a proper look at the gardens and realised that large areas are covered in things like alyssum, gazanias, aquilegia and African daisies. Whilst I'm usually happy for plants to multiply of their own accord, I really must insist that I am the boss, not them. I've tried telling the couch grass that too, but it takes no notice.

I've now cleared what seems like acres of alyssum from one garden, and looking forward to composting, mulching and planting something more rewarding. It's funny how we put up with plants that we don't really want or like just because they are growing well. Sometimes they take over without us realising it.

By the time I've finished cutting back or pulling out everything I don't want, and feeding the mulcher, the compost heap will be overflowing.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sweet Peas for St Patrick's Day

I did it - actually planted the Sweet Peas on St Patrick's Day, said to be the optimum day for planting them in Canberra. I don't have much luck with Sweet Peas but, hopefully, I've prepared the soil and planted the seeds in the correct manner, nearly 200 of them, so at least some should strike. Many Sweet Peas are now bred without perfume due to the preference for non-perfumed flowers in hospitals. It seems such a pity to breed out that lovely fragrance, but thankfully we still have the visual beauty.

I re-read the blog I wrote earlier today and realised that my fingers and brain were definitely not connected as each seemed to be writing their own story, hence all the errors.

Ready, set, GO

GO out into the garden, that is! Half an inch of lovely rain overnight and a forecast of only 17 degrees, and the next few days to be in the low 20s. No hockey to interrupt gardening efforts this weekend either.

The seedlings I planted yesterday all survived the night despite me forgetting to put our snail bait. We seem to have hundreds of millipedes at the moment, more than I've seen before, so I hope they keep they hungry little jaws off the plants. I think it must have been them who ate all the beans I planted recently.

We had an early start to the day. Woke at 5.30 so that we could go and see the hot air balloons lift off near the lake, but it was too cloudy and windy for them to do so. Maybe better luck tomorrow. On the way home we did the grocery and vegie shopping and it was all home and put away before 9.00am.

Now I just have to ensure that I don't waste away the rest of the day. If I'm really disciplined I won't be in here to 'talk' to you until tonight. So have a great day,

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Can you hear it?

Can you hear it?
Listen carefully.
Yes, there it is, that soft pattering sound.
It's RAIN.
Not much yet, but anything is welcome after the last few hot days. The weather is so much cooler too, which helps the plants. I've just been planting out VERY late summer annuals - ageratum, dwarf cosmos, zinnias and phlox. They aren't very robust seedlings so I planted them in clumps of about 6 and watered them well with Maxicrop. I just wanted to get them out of the punnets and into the ground in the hope that we might get a brief flowering before it gets too cold.

Monday, March 14, 2005

What was he doing in the garden?

Came home this evening after having dinner out to find dirt from the garden spread across the footpath and one of the centranthus (R's most hated plant) lying every which way. I got the straw broom and started sweeping up the mess, when I noticed other areas around had been well and truly disturbed. Looking further up the footpath I could see yet more soil scattered around. Then discovered the culprit was still at the scene of the crime. A large black dog standing in the garden with his lead wrapped around a small shrub.

I'm a bit wary of big dogs and I was quite relieved that R. readily came to the rescue, after donning an old jacket and heavy gardening gloves. The dog was actually quite friendly, wagging his tail whilst he was being released. He didn't have a contact number on his collar, so R. carefully tucked his lead into his collar and eventually he trotted off down the street.

I can't work out why on earth he was scratching in the garden in the first place. The two areas in which he had done the most scratching were about 30 metres apart so it seemed that he was looking for something. Most peculiar.

This particular garden runs the full width of the block right beside the footpath. Over the years we've had various instances of sheer stupidity like plants being pulled up, or stamped on, or the flowers chopped off and spread around. On one occasion a bicycle was ridden over many plants, but the worst damage was done by a car being driven down almost the full length of the garden, destroying conifers and many other plants. Fortunately, none of the plants were very expensive as they are mostly propagated at home, but any senseless vandalism is really annoying. On the other hand, many people stop and tell me how much they enjoy seeing the garden as they walk by; even teenagers and young children have often stopped for a chat about the garden. Sometimes, people will ask if I would mind if they had a small cutting of a particular plant. I'm always more than happy to give them whatever they want (and usually a lot more) as I like to encourage people to take an interest in gardening as much as possible.

We have new neighbours living in the house behind us. Sometimes their three small boys come and talk to me when I'm in the garden (they live on a battleaxe block - their driveway runs along one side of our yard). One of them enjoyed waving the hose around and giving the plants a bit of a drink the other morning, while the youngest asked very shyly if he could pick some flowers to give to his mother. That garden bed was established in a hurry a few years ago when I finally got so fed up with previous neighbours parking their cars all over that part of our yard. I came home one day to find three cars in the yard with deep wheel ruts in their wake.

Not a word was said about it but they certainly got the message.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Waiting on the weather

Another day of not much, gardening that is. Just some watering this morning and a bit more this evening. Every day I wake up with plans to plant out some of the plants in pots that would do much better in the garden than trying to extract nourishment from the wooden floorboards on the deck. But each day seems a bit too hot and I tell myself I'll do it tomorrow, it may be cooler by then. Looks like I have to wait until Wednesday this week, and maybe Thursday will be too cold (just kidding).

A good part of the weekend was spent watching four hockey matches. The ACT women's team, Strikers, won both of their games against NSW, but the ACT men, Lakers, lost both of theirs. It was quite hot both days and we didn't envy the players at all.

Still quite dry and longing for more rain. I heard on Landline today that 42mm of rain had fallen in Chloe's area during last week. Hope it's doing your garden the world of good, Chloe.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Maybe it is too late to learn

Yesterday I said that it was never too late to learn, but I wasn't talking about technology then. Today I just feel total frustration. I thought I would join my friends and put a counter on my blog site, but I can't work out how to do that. Then I wanted to put a comment on Calidore's site but the 'comment' component seems to have disappeared. I'm sure there must be another way of doing it, but I daren't even contemplate what it might be. And I still can't get the links to work.

I think I'll go and have lunch. If I try really hard I may be able to produce something edible!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Never too old to learn

Chloe - you have inspired me. Those bottles of delicious tomato sauce made me decide to do the same with the tomatoes I picked at my daughter's last night. The decision was also helped a little by my disinclination to skin hundreds of little tomatoes to make relish. I've never made tomato sauce and I'm quite pleased with the result. It tastes good and, although a little thin, perhaps it will thicken as it cools.

I'll toast you with the first bottle I open, Chloe.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Absence makes the garden grow

Never mind about absence making the heart grow fonder, ever noticed how much your plants grow when you don't see them for a few weeks? It seems that they never grow that quickly when you are watching them every day.

We have another house a few suburbs away rented out to my son and two of his friends. Early last year a car came down the hill and ploughed through the front garden destroying a few trees and shrubs. We took the opportunity to remove almost everything else - contoneasters, pittosporrum, two tall cypress trees, old roses and heaps of ivy, vinca and the biggest curse of all, black plastic. We were left with only a liquidamber, a photinia and two not very big cypresses. The soil was rotary hoed and built up onto two levels, new soil and a few rocks added and the entire yard covered with forest litter mulch.

We bought camelias on sale and planted them against the house, and callistemons, alternating purple and white, down the side of the yard. The rest was planted almost entirely with plants propagated at home - various daisies, gazanias, arctotis, coreopsis, penstemons, gaura, plectranthus, wormwood, lambs ears, lavendar, grasses, geraniums, sedum, scabiosi among a few other things.

The boys water the plants a couple of times a week and I go over about every third week to do any weeding (very little required) and just see how things are going. The whole garden is looking really good and I'm always amazed at the rate of growth each time I see it.

It was quite a nice garden when we bought the house in 1991, but having been rented out to various tenants since then, the garden has deteriorated and about 3 years ago I spent days cutting down dead shrubs, trees and removing trailer loads of ivy. The front garden was a project just waiting to happen and one out-of-control car was the instigation for a complete make-over.

Definitely a case of turning a negative in a positive.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Tranquil waters

Calidore's intended water feature sounds delightful; they make such a difference to a garden. I would dearly love to have one and, even though I'm a bit hesitant because of the grandchildren, I think my desire for a water feature, even a small one, will win out. Plus there are so many wonderful plants to grow in that setting.

One of the boundaries of our farm when I was growing up was the Lang Lang River. I loved watching the water in all its facets, whether it was just a trickle in summer or a raging torrent after winter rain. I love being at the coast, especially when it's wild and stormy, and always grateful that I don't have to be out on it.

We visited some gardens east of Perth last year that had a little bridge over a dry 'creek'. The 'creek' was planted with a variety of grasses, including the tall Miscanthus, amid smooth white stones and growing down the middle like water was a blue flowering creeper. It looked so lovely and would be easy to do even in dry areas.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Where is my garden?

It seems like forever since I've been out in the garden, certainly since I actually did any gardening. Most of the past week or so has been taken up with sewing, babysitting, and going to Rugby (1) and hockey (5) matches. My daughter asked if I would like to make some dolls clothes to sell on her stall at the markets on Sunday, then a friend said that she would go and buy some for her pre-school. So that meant that I actually had to do something about it; not just think about it. At least I can put the fan on in the sewing room and keep cool when it's too hot to go gardening. Now, anyone who's ever made dolls clothes knows that they take almost as long as an adult garment to make - not as much material but 20 times more fiddly - and I can't bring myself to skimp on the finish. Seams still have to be overlocked, etc. My friend bought some and I'll continue making them (but only on wet days or at night) and see what the demand is. If it all comes to nought, then at least my grand-daughters will have plenty of clothes for their dolls and I will have used up some of my material remnants.

Like the weather over Chloe and Calidore's gardens it was bitterly cold, windy and barely any rain on Saturday and just perfect yesterday. The mornings have a real chill in the air but I hope the frosts are a long way off yet. I'm looking forward to actually finding what's out in the gardens today, although it's my husband's and my daughter's birthdays and I've invited the other children over for dinner so I'd better do some housework first.

Have been reading about Calidore's new BIG garden. What joy to have all that expanse of garden to fill with . . . . . .??? Decisions, decisions! I always have difficulty deciding what to put where because "what if I don't like it there in a few years"? I don't want any more mishaps like the cherry tree that grew from a discarded seed only six inches from the driveway. I'm sure it was only 12 inches high one day, and nearly 12 feet high the next! It provides lovely shade over the driveway, looks magnificent in blossom and has delicious fruit BUT the falling leaves blow up into the carport and garage outside the front door, the trunk leans towards the driveway and cars come off second-best in any confrontation.

Lots of mulching to be done with all the things that need cutting back and soon there will be leaves to collect and mulch. I actually enjoy mulching especially now that my neighbour raised the mulcher so I don't have to bend and get a backache before the job is half over. With the cooler weather I'll be able to plant out some of the seedlings R. has been growing on the deck, though I keep telling him it's too late in the season to be growing some of them and they will only have a very short flowering time, if at all. Still, he loves planting the seeds and watching them grow so I'll just have to convince him that when it says plant in summer it's better to plant in December, not February.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Never too early to start

Spent most of yesterday looking after my grandchildren while their mother had her one-day-a-week at Uni. R. gave S. for her 4th birthday some punnets, seed raising mix and packets of seeds and I helped her plant them last week when I was over there. Yesterday she was very keen to show me her seeds that had already sprouted but said that the magpies had eaten some of the beans. Last night she left our place carefully clutching some more seeds and a little more soil to replace lost plants. S. is so proud of her plants although she told me that she won't eat the radishes because they are too spicy, but Daddy might.

I hope that the interest S. and her siblings have in plants and gardening will continue; I'm sure it will as their parents continually involve them in so many and varied activities around home and elsewhere.