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How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow….or outfoxing possums

We have no air-conditioning. In Summer we rely on our grape vine to drape over the pergola to keep out the morning sun. It’s been that way for many years.

Until the last couple of years when the possums discovered the tasty new shoots that emerge. So I joined the large group of gardeners suffering from The Attack of the Possums, working out ways to out-fox the critters. Mine seem to be the very cute little ringtails, rather than the big boofy brush tails. I am hoping that the small ringtails eat less!

Of course they are excellent climbers and the trunks of the vine, the fence and the supports for the pergola make excellent highways. They can hang and nibble on those tasty shoots. The top of the vine is perfect for them. Not so good for the vine.

By December this should be a canopy of leaves and tendrils.

Fortunately the vine is also persistent and sends shoots out from below. I am relying on them to create the shade.

My thoughts are that if the possums can’t get a secure purchase they won’t be able to nibble. So here’s the plan….to encourage these shoots to grow up to the top, away from the grasp of the pesky pests. That plan needs a few things.

Firstly, strings attached to the wires at the top and then tied to the shoot. Climbing a ladder and trying to throw the string wasn’t the best method. With some lateral thinking I realised the rake was the perfect solution. I could put the ball on one of the tines and direct it over the string, making sure the shoot is growing up away from anything that might give a secure footing. (Then dodging as the ball of string came tumbling down!)

This one is certainly reaching for the sky.

The second part of the strategy is to wrap the new shoots up at night as possums are nocturnal. Each night I go out and tenderly wrap the little ones up in an old bedsheet. Each morning I take it away so that they can photosynthesis their little hearts out.

So far my strategy is working. However I am sure you can see the flaw in it….what happens when the shoots reach the top. I have tried to put the strings into places on the wires that aren’t so easy to reach. As well I am hoping that these upright ones will provide some sun protection.

So far I am out-foxing those pesky possums, but who knows what the outcome will be!

The glory days of the vine!

P.S. You know how WordPress gives you a link to similar posts at the bottom of each post? Well, after I published this I saw one titled “Pesky Possums”. Not only have I told you about this problem before, but used almost the same language!! That made me smile!


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.Β 

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

Last gardening post I showed you the front garden, and the murnong in particular. This time I want to show you around the backyard.

I have never been able to have straight garden beds and areas of lawn, my style is much more free form gardening. Until they really annoy me, I am happy to let plants be. So the nasturtiums wander happily, seeding freely. I am also happy to have them because I can pull them out easily.

The corn flowers also self-seed and not always in the best places. However, again, I am happy to let them be. They did flop over the path, so I staked them, making a little avenue. You might be able to see smaller cornflower plants growing around the paver. That’s not the best spot, but so far I am happy to step over them.

It is iris time too, one of my favourite flowers; I am not sure why I love them so much. It may be because they are so undemanding and very drought tolerant. I know that they flower on new rhizomes, so clearing out the patch every couple of years is a good idea. They are very easy to replant ~ simply semi-burying the rhizome.

Both of these patches in the photos have white flowers. There is a third patch that is just coming into flower with rich browny purple flowers. As much as I enjoy the white ones these darker ones are definitely my favourites.

Another showy plant was the tea tree. It was a mass of pink blossoms that the bees loved. Now the flowers are ripening into wonderful seed capsules. Look at the different colours as the capsules mature.

It’s not all tip toeing around the corn flowers and dead heading iris. A spur of the moment decision was to cut back the correa that had been growing happily through drought and neglect. It served its purpose, but time to go as it was too much of a visual barrier. Not that the view behind it was grand….more mess and weeds.

Before the cutback
During the devastation
After

You can see from all the new growth how happy it was to be ruthlessly pruned! I thought I would dig it out, but I am not up for that at the moment. So in the spirit of my gardening ethos, it can stay.

The other thing I have been doing is the continual weeding. And just so you know that my garden is not pristine and Instagram worthy, take a look at this….

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And there will be plenty more weeds with all the lovely rain that has fallen.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

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How does my garden grow?

How does my garden grow?

Let’s take a break from exhibitions and stitching samplers and see what is happening in the garden in the almost-spring sunshine.

The long view (taken from the beginning of the front path ~ my front yard is only small!) shows the potatoes in the front. I planted them too early, and despaired about them coming up. However, eventually they did and are doing well. The striking purple plant is a mustard plant, which self seeds. The deep purple and lime green combo of the leaves is stunning.

Looking back the other way, from the front door, over the indigenous plants.

You might remember that I am growing indigenous native plants. They are doing really well. All the plants have survived, which is a success rate I have never achieved with exotic plants.

This grass clump was only a small tube stock a year ago. It has certainly bulked up.

In the photos above you might be able to see a pretty, pink flower. This delicate beauty is a thryptomene.

It is a native of Western Australia, so certainly not indigenous to my area of the grass plains of western Melbourne. I put it in a pot as the soils of Western Australia are generally much sandier than my heavy clays. It also allows me to move it around, as in flower it makes a stunning pot plant.

I am sure that these plants are unfamiliar to you, as they were to me not so long ago. So I want to introduce some to you.

Today I will show you one plant that I am delighted to have in the garden.

It is the murnong, Microseris sp., I think M. lanceolata.

Why am I delighted? Well, these little plants were extremely common across large parts of the plains. They are also called yam daisies, which tells you that the tubers can be eaten. These plants were part of the staple crop of many First Australians. Far from being gathered in an ad hoc fashion, Bruce Pascoe argues in his book “Dark Emu” that crops like the murnong were actively managed and cultivated. (There is on-going discussion about this.)

While I don’t intend to harvest the tuber ~ well, not until I have a number of plants ~ I am pleased to have them growing back where they belong.

Yes, they do look a bit like a dandelion. This link explains the difference.

An intriguing things about this little lovely is its flowers. They grow up on arching stems, and then open up to the sun. However, today is the first day that I have actually seen the flower.

I know there have been flowers, as there are at least four spent seed heads. You can see them in the photo above of the whole plant. And no, the plant hasn’t been hidden away. Not like the daffodils that I found when I weeded out the back. I go past this plant every time I walk out the front door. I have seen the buds and the spent seed head, but not, until today, the actual flower.

I was so excited! This is what it was like an hour or so ago. The photo above is of the same flower a couple of hours earlier.

It still has some opening to do. I also found a seed head. Hopefully these seeds will blow away to my garden, or someone else’s, and produce the next crop.

It is the little things that often bring us the most delight.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and emerging. They would have eaten many murnong where I now garden.

Categories
How does my garden grow? Melbourne

How does my garden grow?

My front garden is changing from a veggie patch to an indigenous garden. Last year I realised that a veggie garden was just too time consuming for me to keep up.

I have been reading about the plants that were here before colonization, and how the First Peoples cultivated the land to harvest grains and roots. It makes sense to me that the native plants are the ones that are suited to my garden, and therefore should flourish. That’s the plan, and so far they seem to be. The ones I showed you a few months ago bulked up nicely over the Summer and Autumn.

You can see some of them from back then in the feature photo, where they are being overwhelmed by the parsley plants.

The other hoped for benefit is that they will attract and nurture native insects.

So, some photos

These are my favourites at the moment. The one at the back — is a native pelargonium. I think it dies back to in Winter, but at the moment the red leaves glow with the Sun shining through them. In front is a Wahlenbergia. Its delicate blue flower is peeking through the pelargonium.

To those walking past with their dogs and takeaway coffees I am sure the garden looks a little unkempt, an out of the ordinary garden. However I am fine with that. I see that the plants are settling in, bulking up and will strut their stuff when the time comes. That’s when I will become a neighbourhood trend setter!

And I am still in love with my new fence πŸ’•

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How does my garden grow?

How does my garden grow?

When I take photos of my garden I am quite conscious of that there are things I do not want to show in the photo. They are the embarrassing piles of junk that lurk, the odds and ends that I never seem to get around to moving somewhere else.

And the falling down fence.

Every time I walked down the sideway I mentally closed my eyes and thought “Some day”. Consequently it got weedy and became another junk pile. Something else to get done.

That’s the Fella up the ladder, taming the vine

Even though it was an eyesore that I hated, I knew that it was only one of many things on the “To Do” list, the “Some Day” list.

Then we were approached by George, our next-door neighbour about getting a new fence. YES!!! He did all the organising ~ all we had to do was get our side cleared. That was a great opportunity to get to the weeds down the back, cut back plants and move some of the accumulated junk. (Goodness know how the football you can see in one of the photos got stuck between the fence and the shed!)

Today was New Fence Day.

By 7:00 a squad of eight men were in action, and by about 7:45 the old fence was down! I was blown away by their efficiency. They knew exactly what they were doing, and who was to do each part of the job. They had everything they needed, including concrete drills to remove the old concrete to put in the posts. By the time the new uprights were concreted in the squad was ready for smoko. Then off they went again, nailing the palings, to be finished by 11:15! Anyone need a good fencing company? Just ask me!

Now I have a new, upright fence ~ and a big smile on my face (and something crossed off my Someday list!). In my next “How does my garden grow?” post I can proudly show off more of my garden. No more cropping photos.

An extra bonus is as I put things back to rights I am cleaning up and sorting some of those piles of junk. Next thing on the list is to get the outside of the house painted.

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How does my garden grow?

How does my garden grow?

Today thousands of people around the country are marching to demand safer places for women to work, walk and live in, demanding that we be listened to and that things change. Revelations of rapes and sexual assaults in our federal parliament have, rightly, dominated discussions everywhere, except, it appears, in the Cabinet rooms of the Prime Minister and other Ministers.

I do not want to trivialise this issue by talking about my garden. However, the right of all women to feel safe and blossom is such an important issue that I can’t do it justice at the moment, but I am standing alongside of all those who are marching. I may write more later.

If you are interested in knowing more, you can read here.


So, how does my garden grow? Last time I wrote about it I described it as ‘floriferous’; today my adjective would be ‘bedraggled’. I can’t even blame a blistering Summer, as it is has been the coolest Summer for 17 years. So, let’s put it down to not being able to move as easily as I have in the past. Over the past few months I have been doing what I can, and accepting that I can’t do everything. I am moving more freely now and able to do more, so Autumn should see good results.

Things have survived in the front yard. Do I remember me telling you how I was changing to native plants? They seem to have survived, and will hopefully bulk up more over time. I have planted a couple more plants, and started to put some in pots. The pots have the added bonus of giving height to the ‘design’ (πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚) as the other things are rather low growing.

(Would you like to know why I have a pot of feathers there too? Well, I will tell you all about it in the next Letter from My Studio. Sign up for it here.)

I planted out some petunias, hoping they would take over the front of the front. Instead I have this stunted little thing. 😩 The flower is almost bigger than the plant!

Some parts still happily do their own thing, with only a little repotting and cutting back from me. And the bees love the salvia.

We are changing our composting system. We have been using those round compost bins that lurk at the bottom of many people’s gardens. In it I would put bigger kitchen scraps, garden clippings and Autumn leaves. Maintaining the bins (ie stirring them) has been at the bottom of my To Do List for quite a while, leading me to shut the lid very quickly every time I would dump the kitchen waste.

We also have a worm farm. And a council green bin that takes food scraps.

It’s obvious that the new plan is to ditch the compost bins, use the worm farm for smaller kitchen waste and put the rest into the green bin. We can get compost from the council when we need it.

Today I gave the worm farm a much needed clean out. I now have a couple of tubs of well developed castings to be spread around the garden…..so that maybe the adjective I will use next time to describe my garden will be ‘floriferous’ again! 😊

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

It is a year since I last wrote about my garden ~ well I think it is. Lately I have been planning changes.

Very little has been done over the last seven months of staying at home. It may have been in March when I bought potting mix with the grand idea of repotting during this time at home. eventually I opened the bags over the weekend! Much to the chagrin of a trillion ants that have happily nested in the pots for who knows how long, I repotted the mint, an ivy geranium (which is actually a pelargonium) and a couple of succulents. Still a few more pots to go (and more ants to annoy!), but I have run out of potting mix. It looks like more online shopping. (Our shops are only open for click and collect.)

Newly minted mint

It is out the front where the larger plans are underway. You may know that the front yard is where we have been growing our veggies as it faces north and gets sun most of the day. However, the last eighteen months ~ the Fella’s medical issues and the virus ~ have made me realise that it is impractical to have a veggie garden. It is a question of priorities. To have a proper patch, with rotations and well maintained soil takes time and thought that I have to, and want to, spend elsewhere. It means that this year it has been a jumble of weeds.

So, my plan is to plant out the front with plants that are indigenous to my area, things like kangaroo grass and murnong, a native yam. I found a great pack of 10 tubes of plants from nursery I like. However, I am foiled by the pandemic again. The nursery is not delivering because they have a large backlog of orders. I could do a pick up, but it is outside of my 5 km radius. Patience.

The weeds are still growing well!

The other part of the plan for the front of the house is the verandah. For an embarrassing number of years it has been an area of unwanted junk ~ old plasterboard sheeting, bits of wood etc. This year I decided it was time for a council hard rubbish collection, so more unwanted stuff accumulated. The pandemic thwarted me again because I couldn’t book the collection. Until yesterday when they came and took it all away!

It went from this….

to this…..

in the space of a few minutes! Hurrah!

Now the observant among you will realise that we don’t actually have a verandah, just a verandah-shaped space. My current project is come up with some temporary solution before decking is put in. However, I know that temporary becomes permanent quite easily around here, so it has to be something quite nice. But easy. My thoughts involve big pots and some comfy chairs to enjoy the sunshine and chat to neighbours as they pass by.

Out the back, the Fella, AKA the Undergardener, took out a big bush, which opened up some space. This space is one of the few in the back garden that all day sun, which is why the rose flourishes. The spot for veggies, just a few that take my fancy. I sowed in some silver beet and spring onion seeds, and haven’t seen a single sprout. The dandelions love it though.

I take heart from the flowers that grow despite the lack of attention over the last year. They just do their own thing and I love them for it.

Now, I am going to take a chair out onto the verandah and have a read in the beautiful sunshine. Celebrate the small things. Take care.

Categories
How does my garden grow? Odds and Ends Plants

Beeutiful, belicious 🐝

There is a world out there…..

Let me show you some of the bee magnets in my garden.

Salvias. I love them, and so do the bees. Also I have seen a wattle bird drinking the nectar. Now a wattle bird is more the size of a blackbird than a hummingbird. The stems certainly sway when this bird comes to drink, making meΒ fear for the bush when I see one feeding, as salvias are quite brittle. The bees are much more gentle.

I have also had a couple of blue banded native bees visit. Maybe it is the intense blue of the flower. They do say that bees are attracted to blue.

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Rosemary. If you have one, you know how the bees love it. If you don’t, think about popping one into your garden. They grow well in pots. I am going to plant a prostrate one at some point.

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Sedum, Autumn Joy, I think. Not only does it attract bees, but the dried flower heads make a lovely feature either kept on the plant in a winter garden or brought indoors. And it is so easy to split the base and roots and replant elsewhere.

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However the most attractive flower to bees is this little unassuming one ~ oregano, if I remember right. It flowers for ages and whenever I look there are usually at least half a dozen bees in attendance. The bush sprawls its way over everything else, but I never have the heart to cut it back until flowering has well and truely finished. By that time it is already sprouting new shoots from the base.

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Of course bees are not the only good helpers in the garden, so I like to encourage others too. This strategy has the added benefit of allowing me to be lazy, letting things go to seed instead of clearing and tidying. Hover flies and ladybirds love the parsley flowers and the newly setting seeds. So parsley umbels stay, set seed and drop their seed everywhere. Parsley seed is best sown fresh. Consequently I have way more parsley than I could ever use.

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If you are stuck inside, longing for the outside world, my Instagram posts might help a little. On every daily walk I try to find something in the outside world that makes me feel good. When I can’t walk outside, I will post from my garden. And there is usually a bit of arty/sewing going on there too.

Stay well my friends Β πŸ™πŸ½

 

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

A catch-up in my garden

How about this…two posts in one week! It may be an indication that life is returning to some sort of normality. Fingers crossed.

In my last post I wrote about an issue with my computer, explaining that I had to leave it at the shop for a few days, a few internet-free days. Did I miss Facebook? No way, especially as that is where the hacked message came from. However, I did miss this blogging world. I missed finding out what you were up to, catching up on the news.

I think it is a special place we have nurtured, a warm and welcoming space. We have built friendships across the globe. While we may never meet in person, we are friends.Β Dr Snail posted recently about the loss of her blogging friend Patricia. It is a loss that touches all of us who may have read Patricia’s wise posts.

So, come my friends and sit with me in my Spring garden. Let’s forget about droughts and fires and the insanity of the world for a little. We will have tea, or coffee, or even a glass of wine, and cake and natter about whatever comes to mind! We will find a little space in our lives to just sit and enjoy.

For my garden is now in a fit state to have visitors. The weeds have gone. I have moaned about them before and some got to be about a metre high.

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The compost bins were being engulfed.

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And then my brother came and like a whirlwind uprooted them all.

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Thanks to his hard work I have weed free spaces and can easily find the compost bins.

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I am delighted by the flowers that have not only survived the neglect, but seem to have thrived on it.

 

 

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Sit with me and enjoy the foxgloves that I planted last year and are coming into their own this Spring. Admire the three different coloured irises ~ you can see one of them behind the foxgloves. The aran lilies are past their best, but the salvias are thriving, and it seems to be a glorious year for roses. (Remember how pruning the roses was the only thing I did in the garden over Winter? I am reaping the reward of finding that small pocket of time!)

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Let’s admire the complexity and beauty of the foxglove spires. Can’t you just imagine the little fox paws inside these?

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It is still rather weedy out the front, but let’s ignore them and admire the poppies that are exploding into flower.

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I must show you the seed heads of the salsify. I am not sure that the neighbours love these seed blowing in the wind, but I think they are wondrous.

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I managed to get the tomatoes in before Cup Day ~ that’s the marker for the right time to plant tomatoes in Melbourne. (And yes, we do get a public holiday for a horse race. We get another for the grand final of the Australian Football League. That’s how obsessed with sport many Melbournians tend to be ~ the rest of us just enjoy the day off!) There are strawberries to be harvested too.

Thank you for sitting and strolling with me, for taking some deep breaths and enjoying what the botanical world has to show. Your company is very special to me and I thank you for that too. Here’s to friendship, and foxgloves!

 

 

Categories
How does my garden grow? Odds and Ends Plants

Time to stop and prune the roses

My original intention was to write a post with a very different tone. I was halfway through it when I was called away. That gave me time to reflect on what, and how, I had been thinking. The original was to be of the ‘poor me’ type, the ‘give me a break’ type. I had even written an opening disclaimer telling you to flee without reading more!

As you know my Fella, aka Terry, and my Mum, aka Mum, have been in hospital. Mum’s discharge date was put back a number of times. I was the sibling to pick her up, so my plans had to change as well. (Fingers crossed that she is on her way home as I write.) Then, the other night Terry woke me as he needed to go to Emergency ~ thankfully not heart issues, the reason for his earlier hospital stay, but a very badly infected toe.

I fully expected them to dress the wound, give him antibiotics and send him home…..but no. He has been admitted while they investigate the circulation in his feet and legs. It was that news that made me start the original post.

You see, I like to be in control of my time, I like to be organised. While I am content to make Terry and Mum my priorities I get frustrated. Both are within the Hospital System which has to work at its own pace, with the best interest of the patients in mind. So with each visit there will be different news, or maybe no definite news, leading to changes of plans. And my plans have to change too.

While I was walking home from yet another hospital visit (different ward, different view!) I suddenly thought “I have no control over this, let’s just roll with it.” There’s a quote along the lines of Life happens while you are busy making other plans. Life can just do its own thing and I will give up trying to wrest it into my shape for a little while.

However, there is a collorary thought ~ make the most of the pockets of time.

That brings me to the roses of the title of the post. I had a pocket of time when I came back from the hospital, and the roses were calling, as August is almost too late to prune them in Melbourne. I could have mooched around, pretending to tidy up, or I could have blobbed on the couch. Neither would have given me back a little bit of control. So I grabbed the secateurs and braved the garden.

Now I have to warn you that while I have done nothing in the garden for at least 6 weeks, the plants, especially the weeds have been very busy. The following photos show the garden warts weeds and all. You may have some fun identifying many of the different weed species!

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I am being positive, enjoying the contrast of the silver succulent with the green weeds!

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So, one rose bush before pruning.

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And after. That’s better.

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Hidden between the mallows and the winter grass and the nettles are some treasures, doing their own thing. Some are a little munched around the edges, but look how many flowers are on the blue berry bush! (That’s the last photo.) You can also tell that I have recently discovered the ‘selective focus’ function on my phone camera. It blurs the backgrounds, making the weeds look rather attractive, as though I grow them specially to be background plants!

Yesterday I grabbed another pocket of time and went up to Kyneton to see my exhibition for the first time. I was so proud to see my work hanging there! I will write a post and show you photos. However, if you can’t wait, make sure you are on my newsletter list, as I will be showing off there very soon. To add your name, click here.Β (No spammy stuff, I promise.)