Autumn

Autumn may be my favourite season but it’s like picking a favourite book. However, I do love Autumn. I love how it encourages us to wind down from the heat of summer, to enjoy the rain and the chilly nights, to see the world changing.

It is also a good time to garden. The weather is neither too hot nor too cold, and there is enough rain to encourage you to believe that the plants will settle in okay. The soil still has some Summer warmth, and our Winters are mild enough to let plants burble along until the burst of Spring.

I cleaned out the summer vegetables, and prepared the soil for a winter crop. This was mainly compost and warm castings.

 

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Cabbages and brussel sprouts, with onions in the background. Over by the fence is the currant bush.

Now the cabbages are starting to look like cabbages. I spent time yesterday rubbing the eggs of the cabbage moth from the back of the leaves.

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We chopped back the rosemary bush and offered sprigs to the neighbourhood.

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The spring onions, pak choi and spinach are all holding their own.

The seeds for the pak choi and spinach were a gift from Hanna and Al, to thank us for coming to their wedding. If you know Hanna you will not be surprised to hear that these little tags were all hand-created by her, with some input from Al, I am sure!

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The silver beet (chard) is begining to flourish now that it has come out from under the beans. (Who knew there was any way to slow down the growth of silver beet?!)

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Work has gone on in the very neglected back yard. For a few years now it has been left to its own devices, it is time to wrench back a bit of control. I have been planting beside the fence…..a grevillia (Robyn Gordon) and a little eremophilia vernicosa. This is described as a delightful small shrub with pink flowers in spring, drought tolerant and good for heavy soils. What more could I ask for?

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The tiny leaves of the eremophila

Also planted is a ground cover, Helichrysum argyrophyllum. It has lovely everlasting daisies from early Summer to Autumn. Behind it is a small tea tree, Leptospermum scoparium. It sounds quite spectacular with pink flowers that cascade from Spring to Autumn, with narrow leaves that provide a dramatic backdrop. (Well, that’s what the label says!)

 

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Next to them are two roses, ‘Red intuition’ and a white Iceberg. The Iceberg is very special as it was grown from a cutting for me by my sister

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There is more work to do in the back. I have a big bush to remove and more plants to plant. They won’t get in the ground now, so will have to wait until the soil warms up in Spring.

I want to leave my Autumn theme with a little poem, or a blessing. It is by one of Australia’s unique treasures, Michael Leunig, from his little book “When I talk to you”:

Autumn

We give thanks for the harvest of the heart’s work;

Seeds of faith planted with faith;

Love nurtured by love;

Courage strengthened by courage;

We give thanks for the fruits of the struggling soul,

The bitter and the sweet;

For that which has grown in adversity

And for that which has flourished in warmth and grace;

For the radiance of the spirit in autumn

And for that which must now fade and die’

We are blessed and give thanks.

Amen

How does my garden grow…….in late Autumn?

We have had some glorious weather over the last few days. After some rain the sun has been shining, encouraging quite a bit of growth. Gardening has been a pleasure, well, except for the weeds. But more of them later. Firstly, some of the pretty parts.

Like the crepe myrtle. It grows down in the back corner. I love it for its flowers in Spring and leaves in Autumn, as well as it’s bark and the shape of its branches. It really is a stunning tree through all the seasons. And it has needed nothing but admiration from me.

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The correas are in flower.

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The sedum has flowered and now the seed heads add an extra dimension to the garden beds.

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Is it time for orchids to flower? Apparently it is in my garden!20140517-202004.jpg

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And now for the weeds….
There is the old adage “A weed is just a plant in the wrong place”. That’s true, but they are also opportunistic plants. While they certainly grow in my garden beds, with regular maintenance I am able to keep them under control. However I have areas that are not beds, sort of biggish pathways, I guess. The weeds love to grow here, especially at the moment.

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I don’t want them growing there but I recognise that they have been able to harvest nutrients from the soil in these parts. This is especially true of stinging nettles. They have deep roots which are able to draw up minerals from deeper down than other weeds. I want to recycle those nutrients back to the plants I want to grow.

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Composting is not really an option and poison is definitely not one. I use a cold composting system rather than hot. This means that while the matter decays, the seeds are not necessarily destroyed. Spreading more weed seeds around the garden is not my idea! I could just chuck them into the green bin and have the council take them away. Then the nutrients are taken away too.

My solution is to put the weeds into an old style rubbish bin and cover with water. (Remember those small, round plastic rubbish bins with lids!) The weeds will rot down, giving me some lovely Weed Tea to use as liquid fertiliser. The rotted material can then be put into the compost, without fear of seed germination.

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What do you do with your weeds?

How does my garden grow….in early Autumn? (Part 1)

Today is dull and rainy, perfect for staying inside to tell you about my Autumn garden.

We had a run of very hot days over Summer ~ 40 plus degrees. That knocked the garden around. In Spring last year I planted out a bed with annuals and over the Summer I learnt what survived and what didn’t. The lobelias didn’t make it through. The pansies were a mix. The first ones I put in as small seedlings in Spring limped along ~ a couple of plants have survived. Later in Summer I put in some larger pansies to add quick colour to the bed. (I was hosting a family BBQ.) They have done well. The wallflowers are now flourishing and the aquilegias have a second burst of leafy growth. They didn’t flower this year. Any thoughts on why?

Backyard

This photo is a long shot of the garden, down to the shed and the back fence. The annuals are to the left ~ you can just see the pansies and wallflowers. The verbena, at the bottom left corner, also did very well over Summer. The bush in the centre is a correa and you can just pick out its long red and cream flowers.

The next 3 photos are of the grapevine being cut back. We don’t have air conditioning in our house so our back living area relies on the cool shade of this vine. It works remarkably well. Come Autumn though, it needs to be cut back. Now the sunlight streams through the windows.

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There is a lot of green waste. We filled up our green bin, as well as the neighbours’. The bins are collected fortnightly. The waste is used composted and used on Council garden beds. It is good to know that if we can’t use it it is not going to landfill.

I also added leaves to the worm farm and the compost.

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I am always fascinated with the small things in the garden. These pelargonium seed pods intrigued me.

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Lastly, for this post, is the beautiful nerine that is in flower at the moment. Tough as old boots, but always comes up trumps.

I have been working in the front yard, and will show you what I have been up to next time.

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How does my garden grow?

It’s the end of day light savings today. I love the feeling of adding an extra hour to my life. (I know, I know, it is just reclaiming it from last year, but it feels like a bonus!) It was also time to start to chop back the vine. I have mentioned before how useful our vine is to keep the house cooler in Summer. However, soon we will need the Autumn and Winter sun to come streaming in. So, the big chop has begun.

Chopping up the vine and into the green waste
Chopping up the vine and into the green waste (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

This photo makes it look like the vine prunings are tumbling into the green waste bin. (Our council collects this green waste for mulching and composting.) However, to fit it in we needed to chop it into smaller pieces. We have filled our bin, and our neighbour’s, and intend to ask the other neighbours if we can use their bin too!

Nothing to stop the sunlight streaming in now. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Nothing to stop the sunlight streaming in now.
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

The down side of clearing the windows? I can see how grotty they are. The next task was to give them a good clean.

You may be wondering why I didn’t put the prunings into the compost bin. Firstly, they would have overwhelmed the bin. And secondly, I am having trouble with the compost bin at the moment. It has been invaded by thousands of grubs, which I think they are black soldier fly larvae. They are consuming all the matter I put into the bin, especially the kitchen scraps. And consuming it at a great rate. Can anyone help me? Metan? Is my identification correct?

Inside the compost bin (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Inside the compost bin (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

It’s not easy to see all the larvae, but you can see see the ones on the sides. That onion peel was actually moving as the critters were munching it!

So we put in a small amount of the vine clippings and added some sugar cane mulch. They are buried under about 60 cm of material now. But I will certainly keep my eye on them! And please, any more suggestions?!

On a different note…..Last Spring I posted these photos of my ornamental garlics.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what they look like at the end, just before I cut them down:

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

And these are big the cloves:

The cloves of the ornamental garlic (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The cloves of the ornamental garlic (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

 

 

Easter is…….

In Melbourne, Easter is the beginning of Autumn. (I wonder what the season is for the Wurundjeri people?)So for me Easter is the time to enjoy the cooling weather, the crisp mornings, the shortening days; to notice the beginnings of Autumn, the turning leaves, the ripening pumpkins, to think about Winter veggies. To hear the magpie call in the morning.

It is also the time of regret — putting away the sandals and pulling out the socks and boots; putting away Tshirts and cotton pants and pulling out jumpers and coats and scarves.

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Easter is holiday time — in fact the last time until Summer comes around. For me Easter is being at Eildon, at Somers, up in the High Country or on the Murray River. When I was a child we would often take off in the caravan, perhaps to Bright or to Wilson’s Promontory. But where ever I am, it is being with family and friends, loved ones all.

Easter is also about being at home, like this year. Easter is the being of the term holidays. When I was a teacher I loved the chance to wake up slowly, to read in bed (I still love that!), to paint all day, to see movies with friends. (I still love those things too!)

Easter is a time of reflection. It is a gentle time. New Year is too hot too really think about the coming year, to set goals and make plans. There is something about Autumn that makes me more introspective. This is the time when I muse on my life and the lives of others. I think about where my year is heading, what I would like to achieve.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

If you have followed my ramblings this far, you will have noticed what Easter isn’t for me. It is not a religious time, but it may be a spiritual time. For me there are no church services, but I recognise that for many people that is important. Also Easter isn’t a time of chocolate. I will eat it if it is there — I helped my partner demolish an chocolate bunny! But I neither demand nor crave chocolate. Sometimes I buy eggs, sometimes I don’t. I would have bought a chocolate bilby if I could have been bothered to find where to get them.

However, I have to admit that when I was a child I drooled over those really fancy eggs. You know the ones. They are large, and the chocolate looks like it is really thick. They have flowers and swirls on them, and often Happy Easter written too. Then they are done up in cellophane. How I wanted one — but never got one!!

On the other hand, I remember one year I kept an egg way past Easter, to see how long it lasted. Unfortunately my experiment was foiled (very punny!) when my brother ate it! I was not a happy little bunny at that point.

I hope your Easter was a good one, and that you got a chance to chill out with those you love. 🙂