How does my garden grow?

A gardening guru recently used floriferous to describe his garden. It fits my garden well too; it is surprisingly floriferous. Surprising because it is not particularly planned, relying on some very welcome volunteers.

Like the pale blue/darker blue starry flower in the foreground. I think it is a delphinium. Do you agree? Its small shoots appeared months ago. As the leaves didn’t look like a weed I was familiar with I let it grow. This is how it has repaid me. Smiles!

Behind are white and blue salvias. To the right, out of the picture is a mass of nasturtiums, rambling around. I certainly haven’t planted them for ages, but they happily return year upon year.

The corn flowers are have also sprung from seeds of last year’s flowers.

I am very tolerant of volunteer plants, happy to wait for them to grow, to see what they will turn out to be. I quite like some weeds. I even did a zoom talk recently about edible weeds!

I love the seed heads of salsify. That’s another plant that many see as a weed, although the root is apparently edible, but I am happy to have its company. How can I resist admiring them as the morning sun shines through the delicate seed balls?

The front garden is another area that is doing its own thing at the moment. One half it is a parsley patch. The plants are almost a metre high and in flower.

Look at the soft yellow flowers and the umbral shape of the flowers. But what I love most is how it attracts so many insects. The bees! There must be at least a dozen working away every time I go past. Hover flies hover. When you look closely you see spiders and ladybirds, which means there must be many other creatures that I don’t see.

I wonder what the passerbys think…..

Which brings me to the verandah. You may remember that I was pondering what to do with the verandah-shaped space at my front door. After workshopping it through with friends and family, I decided to pave the area. I found some pavers, ordered 15 of them, only to find out that it was going to cost $99.00 to deliver them! After I picked my jaw off the floor I said “Thank you, but can you cancel the order”. So now I am on Plan N, or there abouts, deciding to have a proper wooden verandah built. Not that the plans have gone any further. In the meantime I have put two plastic chairs out there on the sand and enjoy cups of tea in the sunshine.

There is progress planting the other part of the front yard.

It doesn’t look much, but I can see the potential! I have planted:

  • Poa labillarderi ~ a native grass that will clump to be about a metre wide. At the moment they look like grassy weeds!
  • Copper crest grevillia ~ very low growing, and hopefully will not only cover a large area but also bring in birds
  • Wahlenbergia stricta ~ these are the native bluebell, whisky little things, but quite pretty.
  • Pelargonium australe ~ this was a surprise as I didn’t know there was a native pelargonium. It has a little, pretty pink flower.
  • The taller, broad-leafed plant is a sunflower, the only plant that came up from the many seeds I sowed.

There are plans for more. I am looking for some murnong plants (a native yam) and bright yellow billy buttons.

I must tell you of my David Attenborough moment. I was sitting with my cup of tea on the ‘verandah’, reading and idly watching the insect world go about business, when I looked down. I noticed some flying insects digging in the sand. From later research I think I was watching three sand wasps at work. The digging fascinated me, as the wasp madly dug a little, then moved to another spot, madly dug a little more. All three were frantically digging. I figured that they were testing out the sand, searching for the perfect spot. Then one started to be really serious about her hole. The digging action was rapid so the hole got quite deep quite quickly. At times she would appear with larger grains in her mandible and toss the grain away from the hole. In the end I think the hole must have been about twice the length of her body, which was a couple of centimetres.

My cup of tea caught my attention for a few minutes. When I looked back at the hole I was amazed to see that she had brought a caterpillar from somewhere, which she dragged down the hole. She spent a little time down there, so I presume she was laying egg/s into the caterpillar. Up she came, and fastidiously covered it in, caterpillar and all.

I helped me remember all the interactions that are happening that we have no knowledge of. We need to slow down and look.

I know that many of you are heading into a cold and anxious Winter, so I will leave you with some flowers from other gardens. I hope they bring a smile. Stay well, my friends.

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.)

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?