Friday, May 27, 2005

Going to the Beach

Tomorrow we head off for a week at the South Coast. As it's turned pretty chilly in the last few days I'm not sure how much swimming will be done. Come on, let's get real - I can swim about 5 metres and the weather has to be pretty hot to entice me into the water. However, I love the coast in the winter. The rougher the water and the bigger the waves, the better I like it. Just so long as I don't have to be actually in the water.

The scenery on the South Coast is stunning, not just the ocean views but the farmland and the mountains too. Not sure how they have fared with rain (or lack of it) down there. There's a few garden centres that are always worth a visit, just have to be careful that any purchases are frost hardy.

Anyway, while we're away I hope you all get lots of rain, and I won't care if it rains for a week down there either. Looking forward to taking lots of photos - hopefully there will be a few for the blogsite when I come back.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Month of Softies

This is my first contribution to A Month of Softies. As the theme for May is flowers, I couldn't resist having a go. What started out as one pink Gerbera pincushion, finished as a group with a red rose and a white pansy. I've always been interested in machine embroidery, yet never really attempted it before. I had fun making these pincushions and I did need a new one, but not three. My current one was given to me by a friend 25 years ago. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

In Case You Hadn't Realised ...

... it's only 7 months to Christmas !!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

One week away from Winter

As Chloe mentions, there's a winter chill in the air now. It seems to have been a long time coming, but on the other hand, it's hard to believe that almost 5 months of the year have gone already. Some trees are bare whilst others, like the pear and apple trees, have scarcely started to change colour. My jonquils have stagnated at 7cm tall, they've been like that for weeks. Maybe it had something to do with me cutting them down last year before they were ready. I was tired of the great mass of leaves falling everywhere and didn't worry if I weakened them a bit; seems that I might have done just that. Perhaps they will start to grow again when and if they ever get any water/rain. We had about 40 drops of rain today - must have been some that escaped from Swan Hill (eh, Calidore?) - especially as the forecast said "No chance of rain for several days." Due to the lack of frosts we've had a longer time to enjoy the tree dahlias this year and my second generation of cosmos are flowering. I wonder if I put some in pots will they flower on the deck through the winter? Worth a try.

Any suggestions for keeping white cockatoos off the roof? They land on the Colourbond roofing over the deck and I worry about what they do up there. I just hope they're not trying to remove the nails from the roof! I've heard of them practically destroying houses when they've a mind too, so I'd rather see them from a distance, not on my roof.

I planted 100 Ranunculus recently and then promptly forgot where I put them. They all appear to be coming up in the most unlikely places. Ah, the 'joys' of being forgetful!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Depressing Exercise

I spent a couple of hours this evening going through many photo albums and hundreds of loose photos looking for a few in particular. Along the way I glanced at some of the photos taken of the garden over the years. That was the depressing part. Gardens are supposed to improve as time goes on, not deteriorate. I had thought we were coping quite well after nearly 3 years of drought and water restrictions, but when I look at photos of the garden from a few years ago, I long to return to the days when we had plenty of colour in the garden, a wide variety of plants and, most of all, green lawns. I'm so tired of lawns which are now dead grass, or none at all, and the realisation that although plants are still alive they are not really growing, or not at the rate that they should be.

I know that everyone around here is in the same situation, and many gardens look far worse than ours, but when I see what it used to look like, and that was in the days when I had less time to spend on it, I wonder will it ever look as good again.

I realise that farmers are in a much worse situation as they depend on the weather for their very livelihood, but I would still like to be able to walk on green grass and not worry if what's left of the garden will survive until we get some rain - more than the 1mm that we received yesterday!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Two views of the Smoke Bush

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

Potting Mixes

Interesting item on Gardening Australia at the weekend. John Patrick and Dr Peter May conducted an experiment over a number of weeks to see whether there was any real difference between potting mixes of various prices. They tried 3 mixes in 25 litre bags - cheap, containing no additives, about $5; medium priced, contained some fertilizer and watering agent, about $8; and expensive, containing fertilizer, watering agent and water retaining crystals, about $14. The mixes were used in large plastic pots, each planted with petunias. One set of pots had the PM straight from the bag, but in another set of pots they added 40gm of slow-release fertilizer. The end result was that, of the untreated pots, the cheap one did fairly poorly whilst the other two did well and there was little difference between them. However, with fertilizer, even the flowers in the cheap mix did very well, and the other two were magnificent.

The conclusion was that had they used terracotta pots, which dry out more, then the dearer mix would have been clearly ahead, but in the plastic pots there wasn't so much need for the water crystals, and therefore, the medium priced mix would have been quite sufficient. However, no matter which mix was used, the addition of slow-release fertilizer greatly improved the display.

We have been buying 25 litre bags from one of the Supermarket chains (beginning with C)for $2.99. Whilst it doesn't have the additives, it seems to be of a good consistency and it is easy enough, and much cheaper, to add the other things to the mix if you empty it into a big container, like a Trug or wheelbarrow.

So today I hope to contine the pruning and repotting that I started on Sunday. By tonight I should have lots of happy pot-plants. Do they really feel the pain of being pruned? I just won't think about that.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Potential Addict

They say that 'one picture is worth a thousand words(?)' and at this rate I may never need to write another word. What a relief that would be to fellow bloggers! I daren't admit to how many hours of sheer frustration I have expended in posting just a few photos. On the first day I didn't know how to do it, on the second day I didn't know how to get them all on the one blog, and today I couldn't locate the photos once I'd loaded them to the computer. I dare not think what challenge tomorrow may bring.

A Cottage Garden in the making. It keeps changing, but I guess they all do. Posted by Hello

The 'Big' Garden (R. keeps saying "For heavens sake, find a different name for that garden.") A mixture of trees, shrubs, annuals, bulbs and perennials. I just want the trees to hurry and grow so that I'll have some idea what to do with it all. Posted by Hello

The garden along the front footpath. Note the typically 'green' Canberra lawn on the right side. Posted by Hello

October Glory in all its glory.  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tree Dahlias

In case I am on a roll, I thought I'd try the tree dahlias, too. Posted by Hello


I don't believe it! It actually worked. Trouble is, I'm not sure that I know what I did, so don't hold your breath waiting for the next photo.

A very slow learning curve. Should have stuck to the Box Brownie.

I wonder if I'll succeed in posting this photo before the leaves actually fall from the Chinese Tallow tree (Neoshirakia, formerly Sapium sebiferum)? Posted by Hello

Friday, May 06, 2005

Lovely day out.

Have just returned from a lovely (almost whole) day out. Started early and went to a large Stationery shop for a couple of things. How hard it is to refrain from buying lots of things that I don't really need, especially lovely paper and pens. I love stationery shops with all of that paper just waiting to be written on. We did buy 5 reams of paper but only plain boring white. We then went to the movies to see Lavender Ladies (set in Cornwall)- Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. Next it was to the Railway Station to buy tickets for out trip to Sydney in a few weeks to see the Lion King. Then we bought Thai takeaway and drove to the lake to eat in the sunshine by the water. Heavenly! After lunch we wandered through an avenue of Scarlet Oaks, with the most spectacularly colourful leaves. Guess what. R. is now out on the deck planting all the seeds we collected off those beautiful trees. They were absolutely stunning in the sunshine.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A sad demise

Some of the most cherished plants in our garden were a group of Silver Birches, 12 years old and 4-5 metres tall. Sadly, they didn't survive last year's severe lack of water and failed to produce any new leaves last Spring. We left them in the ground in the hope that the bare branches would provide a tiny amount of shade and shelter for the plants beneath, and we didn't know what to replace them with anyway.

Today I leaned on them and they fell out of the ground. No, I'm not really that heavy, and I did have to do a little levering back and forth, but it was amazing how with a little momentum the roots just snapped off and it was easy to lift the tree out of the garden. Still, all is not lost as I cut all the branches off and most of them will be fed through the mulcher and end their days blissfully in the compost heap. Now I'll be able to work in that garden without fear of having my eye poked out by a dead twig.

They were lovely trees and we miss them. Perhaps I could replace them with some of R's 145 Canadian Maples? Unfortunately, the power lines are too close. I think it may have to be a variety of shrubs which will also help shield the rest of the garden from the west winds.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Anyone for a 'holiday'?

Who would like a 'holiday' in this part of the world in exchange for planting all the things I have in pots into the garden? I'm sure I don't care where you put them just so long as they get planted somewhere. Then I wouldn't have to agonise over placement, wondering if that's where I really want to put it, and will it look right with the other things around, or will it grow too big, or not big enough, or not at all? I won't have to walk for miles around the garden wheeling a barrow full of compost and stacked with spade, fork, secateurs, trowel, watering can, fertiliser, snail pellets, mulch and, if there's any room, the plants themselves. I won't get to the far corner of the garden and decide that the ground is too hard and needs watering and feeding, and these plants probably wouldn't suit that position anyway. Then I'll move them all back up the hill, climb the steps and plonk them back on the deck from whence they came. Now I'm too tired to put everything else away so just let's leave it in the barrow, and wait for the inevitable question at the end of the day, "Have you put all your tools away?" Oh bother!!

On second thoughts, I withdraw the offer of a such a holiday. After all, this is my garden and it will just have to live, or die, by the decisions I make. Isn't that the challenge and the joy of gardening?

Beating the Frost

Whilst having breakfast out on the deck this morning I noticed that the Tree Dahlia is finally in flower. I think it's the first time the flowers have actually arrived before the frosts, an indication of how dry the ground is. Hopefully the frosts will hold off for a while longer and we can enjoy the flowers before the frosts turn these 3 metre high giants into a dark brown mush. I want to try and strike some stem cuttings this year so I will need to be poised with the secateurs (or maybe the pruners)as it will be race between me and the first heavy frost, yet I don't want to cut them down too soon and miss the lovely flowers.

The large purple Potato Vine has also burst into flower along the side fence, which is its third 'home' inside 12 months and I still don't think it's suited for that spot either. I'd like to bring it back an put it on the house wall. The Correas have masses of flowers and bees, really brightening the garden with both colour and sound, while the white nicotiana's delicious perfume sweetens the air.