Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

The Shortest Day…

June 18th, 2011

Waddles makes the most of the shortest day

It is June and winter has really got a grip on the garden outside.  Only two and a half months left to prepare the garden for spring.  One of the wonderful things about living in southern Australia is the changing seasons.  There are special things about each season which one looks forward to with delight and anticipation.

Winter is a time to day dream and plan.  You need to take stock and if it is too wet and cold it is very important to snuggle down in a comfortable couch with a few good gardening magazines or books and do some serious dreaming.  If it is not too cold or wet you can go for a walk around and look carefully at the garden beds to decide which should be cut back and mulched down against the cold.  During this quiet time, when a lot of the garden is dormant I like to look critically at the planting and perhaps make some changes.

One of the very best things about gardening is that nothing is constant, you are always able to lift and change things about.  New roses come into the nurseries this month, so I am thinking about where I might fit in another one.  It is a real problem in my shady garden, but I am sure I can find some sort of place where another rose might just be happy.  There is always the fence, maybe a climbing rose?

The last rose for the season

This afternoon, in between the rain showers, I and the ducks were busy in the vegetable patch.  I don’t get very  much sun during winter, so I use this time to boost up my soil with compost and such like things.  It is time to use up all the compost in one of my bins to make room for the leaves.   So, I put that  on and then a sprinkle of lime.   I let it sit for a few weeks to sweeten the soil ready for a few seedlings when spring rolls round again.  It never takes long you know.    The ducks love this, it is one of the only times they get to go into the vege patch, very exciting!  And you never ever know what you might find in the compost bin, esp if you are a duck!

Well, happy gardening!

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May Plant

May 29th, 2011

The Mahonia Japonica

My Mahonia is a beautiful evergreen shrub with hansome glossy leaves and at this time of the year in my garden it is covered with long drooping spikes of fragrant yellow flowers.  The birds love it and so do I!  Mahonias are really useful plants for hard conditions.  Frosty or hot, shady or dry, any position seems to suit them which makes them a perfect choice for me!

beautiful long yellow spikes of flowers

It is so wonderful to step out into the garden and smell the fragrance of the flowers and sometimes I bring a few into the house so I can indulge on wet rainy afternoons without getting my feet wet.  The Mahonia attracts birds, they love it, esp honeyeaters.  I like to plant things that birds can enjoy, I think it is really their garden even more than my own.  It seems sad to plant things that can’t help to feed all the birds that live nearby.

But as with all things worthwhile, there is a down side, the holly like leaves tend to scratch you as you jiggle about underneath weeding nearby.  But other than that I just love it to bits!

Well, I am off out to put the ducks into their little house for the night.

Happy gardening!

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My May Garden

May 26th, 2011

some of my kookaburra friends call in for a visit to my garden

My May garden is at the moment a rather depressing and untidy sight.  It is true the weeds are winning once again.  The only colour is from my dependable sasanqua camellia.  This bush always lifts my spirits at this time of the year.  It is a lovely deep red and it attracts the birds who love the nectar.  Another hit with the birds of the garden is the pineapple sage in the back yard the little honey eaters love this one.

Waddles

I have not had the time to spend out in the garden of late, but I mean to get out there very soon and make an assault on all those weeds!  I am also planning to rake up all those leaves for my compost.  Waste not, want not and I need the exercise! 

One exciting thing in my garden is my fig tree, the leaves are dropping and the rest of the figs [the ones I have not already eaten] are juicy and ready for the bowl!  Harvest time!  Mr Fig tree has done very well indeed, quite enjoying his wet summer and autumn. 

Well, I am off out to collect some figs – I plan to serve them with ricotta and honey, a true autumn feast.

Happy gardening!

figs -under the net

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March Jobs

March 22nd, 2011

cineraria

I have a little patch of spare empty space in a garden bed.  I plan to fill it with some winter annuals such as Cinerarias or Polyanthus, I am leaning towards the Cinerarias as I have not had a place for them in the garden for quite some years and they are so rewarding to grow.  So one little task for the month ahead, or what is left of it is to prepare the area I had in mind by digging in some mulch, perhaps adding a little blood & bone and then heading off to the nursery to bring home some baby plants.  Cinerarias are great because they give lovely colour and don’t mind a little shade.  They flower at the end of winter and it just lifts the spirits to see them.

my layer pot, last spring

Talking about the end of winter, although we are only just beginning autumn it is time, once again for the bulbs.  March is the perfect time to plant spring flowering bulbs, especially when we have had all this rain and the ground is nice and soft.  I like to get all my bulbs planted by the end of April.   So, while I am out purchasing my Cinerarias I will also be checking out some bulbs.    The best way to judge the correct depth to plant a bulb is to make a hole twice the depth of the bulb.  If you plant closer to the surface, the bulb will be vulnerable to splitting in hot weather.

time to plant some bulbs!

Last year I did a ‘layer’ pot which worked out very well indeed, most pleased with myself with that one!  But this year I might try some coming up inbetween violas or alyssum and I have a great need for some deep blue iris.  Of course I will also need a bowl of glorious scented hyacinth, so easy to grow and so incredibly rewarding.  Once they start to flower they are a delight to bring inside, where they fill the whole room with their scent.

Well, I am off to buy some bulbs.  Happy gardening!

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Making your world a more beautiful place

March 18th, 2011

a vase of flowers cheers you up

Growing flowers makes the world a more beautiful place to live.  Flowers are magic, they are irresistible to birds, bees, butterflies and people as well!  Flowers smell good and good smells make you happier, thats why they tell you to smell the roses!

flowers bring colour into our world

Flowers have deep roots in the human psyche.  They make us think  of love, passion, harmony, peace, beauty, they are perhaps the most powerful of all human symbols.  We present them at births or funerals; brides carry bouquets; lovers send flowers; flowers are brought into hospitals all over to cheer up people who are unwell.

You just can not have too many flowers in the garden, they tell you the season.   You are never poor if you have flowers growing in your garden.  You can give yourself the gift of a vase of flowers any time you like.  You can take a bunch when you visit friends. 

Flowers bring back memories.  The first red rose your lover gave you, the forget-me-nots you used to pick when you were a little girl, the first camelia you saw open in your first garden.  Flowers are magic.  Well, I am off to smell the roses!

Happy gardening!

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The March Garden

March 13th, 2011

the exquisitely scented ginger lilies

March is the first month of autumn.   This summer has been very wet indeed!  Much of my back yard was under water for a day or so and a lot of my little plants, even some big ones either washed away or seem very unhappy and might well need to be replaced.  The soil might need a little bit of a helping hand as well, with forking it over and adding in some mulch, start to build it up again, it is in a pretty poor shape at present, so there will need to be some work done before replacing those plants.  The ginger lilies however are loving it!

Wick-Wick the duck, always ready to help inspect the garden!

 Autumn is a very good time to inspect the garden for plants that have not coped well and to replace them.  It is a chance to make some changes.   I used to be so afraid to rip things out when I first began to work in the garden.  If a plant was sick, I felt it my duty to do all in my power to nurse it back to health.  Even in the garden centres I was drawn to the sick plants on the ‘sale tray’ down the back.  Poor little things, they needed love and attention!  I had to take them home and plant them and look after them.  When they died I felt I had failed them in some way.  But, I am over that now.  I still tend to err on the side of ‘giving them a bit more of a go’ but now I am much more inclined to cut my losses and start all over again, and I avoid the ‘sale tray’ at garden centres altogether, it just isn’t worth the effort.

March is also the day- dreaming month!  It is time to get out the summer catalogues and dream of which bulbs to order for the spring flowering!  Of course, with the shady glade that is my garden I usually have to stick to the tried and true but one can dream…

Happy gardening!

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The Last Days of Summer

February 28th, 2011

I love to stop to smell the alyssum

As the last day of summer approaches and I am busy in the garden giving the roses their summer clipping and feed I take time out to pop a chair near the alyssum growing in the tub with the rosemary and just sit for a minute or two to drink in the sweet honey scent these little white flowers provide.  The ducks are busy about their day and it is good to take a little time out from weeding and clipping just to sit.

under the net stands a fig tree...

I am thinking about gardens and gardening in general and it occured to me that one of the wonderful things about gardening is that it allows for different things for different people.  I think that if everybody was given a little plot all of their own the end products would all be completely different.  You see this as you walk along any suburban street, each garden is an individual being.  There is room for many approaches to gardening and they each give us the satisfaction of expressing ourselves.  Gardening, in its humble way, is an art as well as a craft.  At the same time it keeps us in touch with the earth, the seasons, and with that complex of interrelated forces which we call nature.

Gardening also teaches us about change.  It was a very long time before I realised that it was ok to dig out a plant that just refused to thrive and replace it with another which was much happier or looked better there.  I must admit to still feeling a little guilty, but I am learning that change is a good thing in a garden. 

under the net, the figs....

Well, it is time now to go out to get some more little jobs done here and there about the place, on the way I will just take a quick peep at the figs growing ripe and delicious under their veil.

Happy gardening!

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February Jobs

February 16th, 2011

a good time to repot cyclamens

This is the month to repot cyclamens, and my little white cyclamen would just love me to do just that, so this little job is first on my to do list for February.  The lemon tree also would be very pleased to get a little TLC.  It has had a very hard summer, even though it has had plenty of water.  In fact, the poor wee thing has been drowned in the flood.  It has suffered gore wasps, black sooty mould and all in all is not all that happy. So, this month is a good month to treat the lemon tree to some good citrus plant food, dig around the bottom and mulch.  Mr Lemon tree might just get a little trim to tidy him up again as well.

time for the summer prune

This is also the time to give the roses their ‘summer prune’ to produce better blooms and to keep the bushes young and productive.  I approach this a little like picking a bunch of long-stemmed roses, although the roses at the end are all dead.   Summer pruning ensures plenty of glorious flowers in approximately six weeks time and the beautiful roses will bring us into autumn with a flourish!

After pruning I like to give the roses some good fertiliser, some blood & bone perhaps, water it in, add perhaps a touch of mulch and then wait for the autumn flush of roses to appear. 

The wisteria needs to have all those long excess summer canes trimmed back, they just go a bit wild at this time of the summer, I guess you might think they were having a last fling at life before the dormant winter to come.  Apart from all these jobs there is always the weeds and the vege patch so plenty to do out there, I just have to get on out there and do it!

Happy gardening!

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A Gnome Adventure!

February 11th, 2011

Gimble & his friend

Well, this has been a very unusual summer down here in Melbourne.  Usually in February with only one more month of summer, gardeners are wondering about how to nurse their gardens along on little or no water.  But this year water has been a problem in a very different way.  With the little creek down the bottom of the garden growing to be a large and very fast moving river last weekend I find quite a few of my plants down that end of the garden have been drowned or washed away in the torrent of water.  But, this morning a little friend was returned – Gimble, my little garden gnome!  A neighbour brought him back, a little the worse for wear, and looking a little foolish [the gnome, not the neighbour]  Yes, Gimble had been on a grand adventure indeed! 

Waddles was unimpressed with Gimble's return

I must say that when I began my gardening adventures, quite a few years ago, I never thought I would become one of those gardeners that allowed gnomes into the garden.  A garden is a place for plants and maybe a few, only a few mind, ornaments.  But, never gnomes!  But, after a year or two of pottering about in the garden, my family began to notice.  Nothing was said exactly, but when the phone rang out with no one answering it, they began to look at each other in a knowing way and say, ‘She is probably out in the garden’  When sport activity forms needed to be signed and taken back to school, they began to look for me in the garden first.  So much so, that sometimes I would come strolling out from the kitchen to bring in the laundry and find an odd grumpy teen sort of person stomping about down the back, near the creek who on sighting me would yell, ‘What are you doing inside?  I have been looking for you all over the backyard!’ 

The kookaburras thought the whole thing a little weird

Yes, they had all begun to notice and at Christmas they pooled together, dear children that they are, and bought me -a gnome.  I was estatic!  Perhaps too estatic!  Because, the very next Christmas, another gnome was presented!  I was overwhelmed!  The third Christmas, yes, another gnome and I began to feel …well, my face must have told all because at that very moment every single one of my children looked at each other and laughed!  “We were wondering how many gnomes it would take!” they said.  So, that is the story of the 3 gnomes in my garden, and yes, I have given in and given them each a gnome name.  They live in the back yard and I hope they will never have any more friends although I must say I was quite pleased to see Gimble returned.  It was returned by my garden guru, that lovely man who helps out with advice from time to time and often laughs at my attempts in the garden.  When he knocked at my door to return the errant gnome I think he had a little bit of a glint in his eye as he handed him over. ‘I am sure you wouln’t want to loose such a handsome gnome!’ he said.  ‘I know how very fond you are of them.’  I thanked him very much and went out the back to put Gimble back in his now flattened garden bed.  He looked a little bit like he was laughing, but I am sure I was just imagining it!

Happy gardening!

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A Very Wet Day in the Garden…

February 6th, 2011

The ducks in my sunken garden 'pond'

Well, yesterday was a very good day for the ducks!  As we watched our tiny creek become a medium river, its edges creeping up our backyard and heading for the back door the ducks took full advantage of the situation!   They made us laugh while we made preparation to try to stop the water from coming into the house.

our tiny creek becomes a river

My sunken garden acted like a sort of levy bank and the water all poured into it, filling it quite quickly and lapping over the steps.  Wick-Wick launched herself into the large pond with a great deal of delight, but Waddles, the older duck was none too sure at first, and stood at the top of the step making, ‘Well, I’m not too certain of all this’ sort of noises.  But Wick-Wick was having much too much fun to bother to listen to such silly advice and was swimming round and round her little feet paddling away, stopping every now and then to stick her head under the rather dubious looking water to see what could be seen underneath.  Waddles decided that no one was listening to her and she might as well join in the fun, and so stepped carefully into the now quite deep pond.  As soon as she did Wick-Wick layed her head flat on the water and charged Waddles and the next 5 minutes or so there was much splashing and feathers flying as they both raced round and round at top speed in the pool.

The ducks swimming madly in circles in the new 'pond'

Meanwhile the water crept, well, it was quicker than crept really, it had waves in it!  I think the sunken garden saved us really, or more likely we were just lucky and had a narrow escape.  But it certainly makes you even more aware of the terrible plight of all those people in Queensland and here in Victoria who have not been so lucky with the floods.  Watching water rise so very quickly is very scary!  I can’t imagine how very terrible it must be for all those caught up in more serious flood events!

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