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How does my garden grow?

Decluttering leads to ‘How does my garden grow?’

I have mentioned that I am using Mary Margaret’s idea of decluttering. Her brilliant idea is to pull a playing card out of the patch and that’s the number of things to remove/sort out over the week. My first 3 cards were two jacks and a queen ~ 100 things decluttered.

Then last week I pulled out a 6. It coincided with a visit to a new clinic for a mammogram. (Bear with me here, I can make the connection!) The clinic asked if I had my previous mammogram for comparison purposes. I dug them out and found out I had collected them for many years. They needed to go. So there were my 6 things….more than 6, but let’s not quibble.

The next step was to find somewhere to recycle the x-rays. Interestingly I found a library that has an e-waste collection system, including x-rays and it is on the way to my Mum’s, I am going to drop them off next week. Out of the house, and recycled. Yes!!

I continued my problem solving by using the paper sleeves of the xrays as weed suppression in the garden.

You know that weeds are a constant problem of mine and I have some, like sour sobs, that are impossible to get rid of. My gardener Linda suggested that I layer cardboard and newspapers over the weeds…and the sleeves from the x-rays!

This week I pulled out 7 out of the pack of cards, and wanted to get rid of more paperwork. Seven files of papers. I am reluctant to put vaguely sensitive papers in the recycling. My brain went zing and decided to recycle them in the garden too. More layers of mulch.

Then a final layer of mulch. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo below, I didn’t buy enough. Back to the garden shop.

Now I can easily get to the compost bins, rather than battle my way through the weeds. So the bin is up and running. Double win.


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? Plants

How does my garden grow?

It is pleasing to be able to say that I am happy with the garden at the moment. I haven’t said that for quite a while. And the difference? My gardener Linda.

She has come once a month since the beginning of the year. Each visit she mows and edges the nature strip. This used to be the Fella’s job, but over the last few years he has lost the energy to do it, and we were relying on the goodness of neighbours and friends.

And the growth of the grass over Summer was rampant. Not just in my patch, but all along the street. You could practically see it growing before your eyes. Without Linda I think it would have joined us in the house!

Then she attacked the weeds. I have moaned to you on many occasions about how prolific they are. No sooner would I clear out one patch than another would burst forth. Of course they will come back, but I know they will be dealt with. It is very comforting to be able to ignore; or to be able to use a pocket of time ~ 10 minutes is enough ~ to pull out some when they are small.

Previously I had never been satisfied with my plantings under the rose bush, now I think that has changed. It was the first area Linda cleared for me, when it was the right time to plant.

Hard to tell what is growing there ~ and they have really taken off after this photo ~ but there are statice, geraniums, cat mints, sage, salvias, as well as the iris and various bulbs I planted ages ago. Since this photo the cornflower seeds have sprouted, as have silver beet seeds.

Linda fought her way, decimating the weeds, to the compost bins. I am now using them again, which pleases me. Not only are they more accessible, but I also have more time to look after them. Hopefully they won’t become the slimy mess again.

Some times, in past posts about my garden you may have seen a bath lurking under the maple. we took it out of the bathroom many years ago. Occasionally the Fella would ask what I was going to do with it. In the early days I would answer that I wanted to make it into a pond. That was too complicated! So then I would answer hmmmm, not sure.

The brainwave came a couple of weeks ago….make it into a veggie patch. So Linda helped me move it, put it up on some bricks and pavers, and told me how to set up the soil.

So, here it is, yet to be filled with the soil, but sitting gloriously in the part of the garden that gets the most sun. It was also another weedy area, so I am pleased to be making it more productive too. (You can see more of the recent growth in the newly planted garden bed. And yes, that is a self-seeded tomato.)

The other benefit is the area where the bath was. Hellebores grow well there, so I will plant more. As you can tell from the photo other things grow very well there too! Once I would have turned away from it, but now I know that I have time and help to deal with it. It’s good feeling.


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. 

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? 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 💕

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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’ (😂🤣😂) 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 me 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  🙏🏽

 

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. 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. (No spammy stuff, I promise.)

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

We are having very stable Autumn weather at the moment. It’s my favourite time of the year, especially to garden. The soil is still warm enough to plant things in (although very dry) but the cooler nights are turning the leaves into glorious reds and yellows.

But it is dry ~ our driest start to a year on record. That’s a scary stat, because we are well used to dry conditions. So, let’s hope for the rains to come soon.

Let’s turn our eyes away from that for a little while, and look to what is happening in the garden, because I have been trying to get things under control.

As you know the front yard is our veggie patch. The corn, beans and tomatoes are finished, and I cleared away all that debris. We left the corn roots to rot down into the soil ~ it’s not just laziness!

At the moment there is nothing to see, except the spread compost. If you had x-ray eyes you would see the pea seeds and snow peas seeds beginning to germinate under the soil.

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Nothing to see here!

The bees have been very active over the last couple of months. At the moment the rosemary bush is one of the few food sources for them. It looks scraggly, but the bees are loving it. And I have been delighted to see a native blue banded bee. It is a beautiful bee, with quite a loud buzz. They are solitary bees and you can find out more about them here. The backyard bird bath is too deep for bees, so I set up their own water station  in a shallow bowl and stones under the rosemary. I will say that I’ve never seen them use it!

The other thing to show you before we head down the back is the containers ready for my neighbour to collect. Dagmar lives in a flat, with no chance for her own garden. Like all of us, she hates wasting her food scraps, so we have set up a system where she leaves her scraps and coffee grinds. We put them into the compost or worm farm and return the washed container. The drop off point is the blue stone block near the tap.

Chillies are the only produce to share with her at the moment.

The backyard is looking more under control too (well, parts of it).

The salvia is growing so well I have planted two more.

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A helebore made it through years of neglect, so I figure they grow well in the garden too. Two more have gone in.

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The tatty one on the right is the older plant. One of the new plants is at the back, behind the foxgloves.

Mum gave me a punnet of corn flowers. They are doing well, growing at the base of the sedum.

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The poor fuchsia isn’t doing so well. It may need more sun. And a repot.

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The pelargonium is flowering well, but something gets in and munches the flowers before the bud opens. Any thoughts?

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But the begonias are thriving on neglect

While our vine is looking rather tatty, and there are so many leaves to sweep…

I am lucky to be able to enjoy the neighbour’s tree from my back door. Autumn is a magical season.

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