Garden Views: SoS November 3rd

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We have had a week of warm temperatures, with most maximums being 30 degrees or over.  Disappointingly,  there have been strong hot westerly winds as well which have caused damage to some of the perennials, those that have softer stalks.  No matter, they will soon recover.  Yesterday, after an unpleasant day of wind and heat, we had a thunderstorm bringing a reviving 5ml of rain. Again, stepping outside on the cool damp grass this morning was such a pleasure.

The fire season has well and truly started with an out of control fire burning just south of Canberra. There wasn't enough rain there to extinguish the flames, although firefighters are saying they hope to have the fire under control before too long.

Six on Saturday is a meme hosted by The Propagator.  An interesting and enjoyable time can be had by popping over to his blog and reading what other gardeners are doing in their gardens.  There's such a wonderful group of interested and interesting gardeners to be found there.

My six this week are views of my garden. Here they are:

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One:  From the back of the house, part of the garden dominated at the moment by a  prostrate Ceonothus which has grown quite large and will need to be judiciously  pruned when it has finished flowering.  In the foreground dwarf salvias are coming into flower, and around the edge of the garden is an Echeveria 'hedge' which was grown (over time) from one cutting given by a friend.

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Two:  A winding gravel path behind the Ceonothus divides this part of the back garden in two.

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Three: This is 'Flora's Garden' which I featured here during the Winter, but is now full of healthy plants with a few more such as Agastache 'Sweet Lilli' to show their faces. That's Rosa 'The Prince' on the right, and in the middle Allium 'Drumsticks' are getting ready to flower.

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Four: Not a view essentially, but I do like these Romneya coulteri.  The way their petals droop reminds me of the white costumes of Whirling Dervishes as they wheel around during their mesmerising religious dance.

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Five: This is Clothesline Corner, with its inherited pavers, white stones and metal fence. A project for next Winter is to lift the pavers and cover the white stones with something of a more subdued nature, probably gravel like the path in photo number two. The metal fences, which are used so much in this area, are a problem: when the temperatures are high, those fences add to the heat.  They are being covered, but it's a slow process.  Patience- the quality I've had to learn when it comes to gardening!

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Six:  Not everything in the garden is pretty!  This is the 'Dead Pots' Society' which meets behind the shed.   Old plastic pots, a broken terracotta pot (to be used as filler in a wall somewhere), an inherited drum which we could have done without (thank you previous owners) various stakes and collections of stones.  I think most gardeners have a corner like this in their garden somewhere.  Do you?

That's my six for this week. Happy gardening everyone.

Weather today: Sunny, windy, 17-32 degrees C.

A Tale of Six Roses: SoS October 27

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This morning I stepped out over the dew dampened grass luxuriating in the early sun and relishing the peace of the neighbourhood before the lawn-mowing leaf-blowing brigade began their Saturday labours, before the dogs began to bark and the next door pool began its irritating whine.  A garden is enchanting at that early hour of the morning when the sunshine is just beginning to gild petals and leaves and the remnants of the night's dew are still fresh.

My story this week is that of six roses which have begun their first flowering of the season.  The avalanche of aphids has been somewhat halted thanks to detergent-in-water spray which has been applied several times- and I learnt the hard way not to use too much detergent.  None of my roses are unusual or particularly different, but they seem to like our climate: for such elegant, classic blooms they are remarkably hardy.

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One: Rosa 'Madame A Meilland'.  The much-loved 'Peace' rose, complete with small passenger. Look at those blushes at the edges of the petals.  She knows she's gorgeous! I've discovered that this rose, developed in France,  had different names in different European countries and was  given the name 'Peace' at the end of WW2.

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Two: Rosa 'Pierre de Ronsard' who has a habit of hanging his head, although he has nothing to be ashamed of. I was lucky to find this bolder flower.  Look at those petals: like the layers in a mille fueille cake!

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Three: Rosa 'The Prince'.  I've not been able to capture the rich velvety colour of this rose as well as I would like but I think in real life it's almost the colour of a good Mudgee Shiraz!

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Four: Rosa 'Climbing Pinkie' which perhaps could be called 'Prolific Pinkie' hasn't quite got into its stride yet and has had a dreadful case of aphids to contend with.  It's quite irrepressible and will be covered with these blushing pink flowers before too long.

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Five: Truly, I don't think this 'Calypso' rose is one for the purists, but it flowers happily all Summer- I have two in pots- and is almost disease and pest free.  Mine weren't affected by the recent aphid attack.  I like the way the petals change from this orangey-red to pink as they age.

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Six: Last, but certainly not least, 'Julia's Rose', (slightly overblown),  a new addition to my garden: so new it hasn't actually been planted yet. Starting as a peachy-pink in bud, it fades to a pale caramel as it ages.  Such an arresting and unusual colour, I can't stop gazing upon it with great admiration.

Each day for the last week the maximum temperatures have been in excess of 26 degrees, and Summer is almost upon us, even though we'd like to have a lot more Spring- meaning a continuation of the rain we've had at quite regular intervals. Soon we'll be getting out the hoses, but in the meantime, there is much enjoyment to be had in the Spring garden.

As always, to see what other gardeners are doing, go to the Propagator's blog and enjoy gardens from all over the world.

Happy gardening everyone!

Leptospermums dazzle in Spring

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We are experiencing a sublime Spring in the NSW Central Tablelands this year.  There have been  some excitingly plentiful rainfalls: gardens are luxuriant with blossom, lawns are green, and trees are putting on rapid growth.  Roses, which grow exceedingly well in this area, are producing exuberantly: voluminous beauties floating over garden walls, arresting the walker in her tracks and ensuring a moment of admiration and reverence.

Some strange anomaly has meant that my roses aren't quite out yet, which is a Good Thing as it gives me time to admire the Leptospermums in my garden which are flowering in stellar fashion, and which deserve a post to themselves, in my opinion.

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Here is Leptospermum scoparium 'Kea' which started flowering in May, and is still going strong.  Top marks for perseverance, don't you think?

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The petals on this Leptospermum are the palest of pinks contrasting with crimson centres.  Its seed cases are shaped like miniature buns and are very hard.  Like so many plants native to Australia and  New Zealand, the seed cases open better when subjected to fire.

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Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Cascade' is a frothy concoction of exuberant pinkness, its flowers floating  along the branches like the corps de ballet gliding out of the wings across a stage.

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Leptospermum scoparium 'Nanum Rubrum' has burgundy coloured leaves and scarlet flowers with almost black centres. Its flowers cover the plant like barnacles clinging to a ship's hull.

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'Outrageous' is flowering, well, outrageously!  What a lot of pinkness there is in all of this: this time a darker pink with an almost lime green centre and white anthers.

And there you have them.  My Leptospermums, providing a bit of excitement in the garden for a few weeks.  Native to Australia and New Zealand, their common name is Tea Tree  (in New Zealand,  mānuka as well) and they are called this because early settlers used their leaves for making tea. In New Zealand, the mānuka tree provides world famous honey which is believed to have healing properties, and indeed, my late father-in-law used it to successfully treat an ulcer on his leg.

On a final note: the drought which has been holding NSW in its iron fist is not over even though there has been some good rain.  Being such a huge area, there are many parts that didn't benefit from the rain, and dams are still not full, so we are hoping for what is called 'follow-up rain' which the Bureau of Meteorology informs us is not terribly likely.

Saturday Splendours, SoS Oct 13.

Spring is galloping ahead here in Mudgee.  We’ve had some rain and the garden is flowering in quite an unrestrained fashion. Many trees have finished their Spring blossoming and are now decked out in leaves of soft tender green.  I’ve been away for almost a week and have returned to find that new blooms are out, weeds have been profligate, and myriads of aphids have attached themselves wantonly to new rose shoots and buds.  


There’s plenty to do outside but still time to enjoy the extraordinarily enjoyable sensual pleasures that this season brings. Without further ado, here are my six for this week:

One:  In a froth of pink and mauve, Alyssum and Leptospermum scoparium ‘Pink Cascade’ jostle for space in the front garden.


Two:  Bees are loving the heavily flowered Ceonothus ‘Blue Pacific’, stuffing their saddlebags to the brim before flying off to deposit the largess from this generous shrub into their hives.

Three:  As mentioned before, Ranunculas are a soft spot with me for their hardiness, their ability to spread around the garden and their apparent disdain for slugs and snails.

Four:  Dainty butter yellow flowers cluster  below the garnet-coloured leaves of the Berberis  thunbergii Atropupurea.  This shrub has terrible thorns, but it’s easy to forgive it this shortcoming when it has beautiful leaves, flowers and berries.

Five:  A beautiful Bearded Iris, given by a friend.  I have no idea of its name, but find it quite unusual. The colours of the petals are so delicate and the veins highlighted exquisitely in fine point.

Six:  This is an Australian native- Tetratheca thymifolia ‘Fairy Bells’. It has the common name of Black Eyed Susan but it isn’t like any Black Eyed Susan I know.   It’s had a struggle, first finding clay soil difficult to deal with (too much water being held in the soil), and then taking  a battering from the severe winter frosts.  It looks as though it has decided to pick up now and I hope it will continue to do well. It should be covered in flowers for months.

It’s a lot of fun looking at what other gardeners are doing in their gardens, and you can look too, by popping over to The Propagator’s blog as he’s the host of this very popular meme.  You can see the other Six on Saturdays here.

Weather today: 7-21 degrees C, mostly sunny.  Happy gardening everyone.

Bagworm

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Whatever is a bag worm, do I hear you enquire?  Indeed, I didn't know myself (despite having often seen them ) until quite recently when I discovered one of these interesting creatures dragging its home laboriously behind itself across our gravelly path.  Fascinated,  I watched its action as it ventured, half out of its cocoon,  to grab the next couple of stones with its strong front legs,  and then with the rest of its body pull its twig-decorated shelter behind it.

Saunders Case Moths (Metura elongatus) for that is their real name, spend most of their lives in these cleverly constructed cocoons.  Even mating takes place (with difficulty) inside the cocoon.

The caterpillars can 'extend' their homes as they grow bigger themselves, by adding twigs woven in with their own silk, an onerous task. They move around by using three pairs of legs to pull themselves and their cocoon along.  It's a very slow process. When they are ready to pupate, they attach themselves to a handy tree or post  by silk threads, as shown in my first photo.

The female,  who lives all her life in her cocoon ( no emancipation in this species) lays many eggs and dies within the case. She doesn’t develop wings.

The male moths, however, emerge from their cocoons in orange and black suits complete with wings, ready to search for a mate and begin the cycle all over again.

Until recently, a metal power pole on a roundabout in our town hosted scores of these case moths or bagworms.  It seems they were very appreciative of the plants growing below, which rapidly showed signs of ill-health thanks to the caterpillars’ ministrations. After the moths departed, the cases hung and swayed in the breezes, slowly disintegrating over time, their occupants long gone.

 

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Because I know so little about these creatures, I resorted to an information sheet from the Queensland Government to fill in some of the details.

Bounteous: SoS September 29

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It was like snow in my garden this morning!  White Pyrus petals were drifting, tossed here and there by the breeze, flurried across the garden and coming to rest, eventually, on the lawn.

Almost overnight, it seems, Spring has really arrived, and I am in an unusual quandary: that of having many plants to choose for this week's Six on Saturday.  Each week gardeners join to present six things from their garden to showcase.  The Propagator is the host of this popular meme, so do visit his site to see what gardeners from all over the world are doing.

Here are the finalists in my 'personal six competition'  for this week:

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One:  Crabapple, Malus floribunda.  This tree has been in the garden about three years and hasn't been in a hurry to grow.  It's a very odd shape, but then perhaps that is common to the species.  It's flinging its fat flowery arms  into the blue sky as if shouting, 'Hallelujah, Spring is here!'

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Two:  Only recently have I become aware of this plant, thanks to Northern Hemisphere blogging friends-you know who you are.  I've never been very fond of orange shades in the garden, but I am in thrall to this Geum 'Totally Tangerine' which I planted recently.  I find the colour mesmerising and the shape beauteous.  I've planted three, and though there have been whispers of slight thuggishness from some quarters, at this stage I am watching its development with delight and hoping it will fill up empty spaces in the garden.

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Three: Ranunculus No ID.  I planted some bulbs a few years ago and they have spread themselves around the garden in a very satisfying way.  I sometimes think they are somewhat looked down upon by gardeners for being a bit too ordinary, but I love them- trouble free and undemanding, they seem to be ignored by snails too. These white ones are delicately tinged by the last rays of the sun and  I'm mesmerised by their beauty every time I see them.

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Four: The aforementioned Pyrus, an inherited tree, one of five.  I don't know its name, but its columnar shape seems to suggest calleryna 'Capital' or 'Chanticleer'.

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Five: Continuing with a bit of a white theme here, this is Rodanthemum.  Is it hosmariense?  I'm not sure, but I particularly like the feathery grey foliage and the mass of flowers.  It grows very well from cuttings too- always an added bonus.

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Six: Was it because we had a very cold winter that my cabbages and broccoli were so slow to mature?  I don't know, but here they are, ready to be eaten just when we're beginning to think  about salads! Not only do they look very healthy, but they've been ignored by white butterflies and are almost free of caterpillar holes.  It's of some concern to me that I've seen so few white butterflies: I feel it's a portentous sign of the ills that are besetting our climate and the damage being caused to our insect populations.

Sorry to end on a low note.  That's my six for this week.  Do look at what others are doing in their gardens and happy gardening everyone.

Weather today: 10-18C and sunny.

Noble Narcissi: SoS, September 16

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For weeks I wondered where all the snails disappeared to.  During Winter, with the small amounts of rain we had, I sometimes  went out into the garden to find snails, and to my surprise, they mostly eluded me despite searches under and around their favourite hiding places. However, one night last week, with warmer temperatures and a good fall of rain, they swarmed across the garden like schoolchildren being let out of class and achieved large amounts of damage.

Some of my photos for this week's six, which is celebrating Narcissi, bear testament to the marauding of the snails. I apologise in advance for the lack of identification, and hope that some more knowledgeable plantspersons will be able to assist.

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One:  Narcissus 'Red Rocket', not nearly as red as the picture on the packet, but charming nevertheless, complete with small visitor.

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Two: Narcissus 'Ice King'.  This becomes surprisingly yellow as it ages, so much so that I have questioned my own identification.

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Three: I don't know the name of this one, but she could be called 'Weight of the World'.

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Four: Narcissus 'Butterfly Pickup'

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Five:  Narcissus No ID.  I love the whiteness and simplicity of this narcissus. I’ll make up a name: ‘Blanc et Blanc’!

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Six: Also Narcissus No ID, with a great deal of damage from the slimy molluscs.

 

That's my six for this week.  As always, the venerable host of this meme, the Propagator, has more sixes on his blog.  Click here to find out more.

 

Weather today: 3 to 28 degrees C and windy.

Furled

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I apprecite tulips. I enjoy seeing colourful massed displays, but I'm not overly enamoured of them in my garden, partly because they need to be lifted each year and replanted in Autumn or early Winter.

I admit I purchased my Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Heart's Delight' from Lambley Nursery because the accompanying information stated that they can be left to naturalise.  I read that these tulips originated in Turkistan where they grow in the wild and they were introduced in to Europe in 1877 by a Dutch company-of course!  I think they are not particularly well-known here in Australia.

I was completely unprepared for the pleasure these small tulips have provided in my early Spring garden.  They are only about 15 cm tall at the most but what they lack in size, they more than make up for in impact.

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Every evening the petals close up completely, furled protectively around the inner parts,  showing their cerise-coloured undersides.

As the sun rises, they begin to uncurl.  It's almost possible to see it happening.  I feel if I had the patience, and a comfortable seat, I could watch this greeting of the day, as it occurs.

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Finally they open fully and display the inside of their creamy petals, butter yellow anthers and scallops of pink.

 

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No wonder that this tulip is called 'Heart's Delight'.  It has captured my heart for fully a week.

Do you have a favourite tulip?

SoS: September 1: Still frosty.

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Today is considered to be the first day of Spring in Australia, although technically speaking, real Spring doesn't begin until the equinox on 23rd September.  It seems, however, that Winter hasn't quite finished with us yet here, in the Central Tablelands of NSW.

We've had some rain, a good amount for us, and a cold front swept up from the south, bringing with it cold temperatures and frosty mornings.   The evidence is featured in my six this week.

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One:  Frost crystals on a viola flower.  It never ceases to amaze me how these delicate little flowers can be bowed down by frost and yet after the sun rises, they lift their heads and carry on with their day as though it were the balmiest of weather.

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Two:  Frosty broccoli leaves.  I like the way dew drops have frozen into pearls along the edges of the leaves.  These plants have been in the ground for many weeks and I'm beginning to wonder if they'll ever have flowers.  It seems to me that by the time they do, it will be time for us to be eating salads!

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Three:  Erigeron glaucus 'Sea breeze', recently planted, so I'm glad it's holding its own during the cold weather.

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Four:  Iris reticulata, also planted earlier this year, and these are the first flowers.  First is 'Dijit' and second No ID, which means the packet just said Iris reticulala.   I think these petite irises are delightful and look forward to them proliferating over the next few years. Clumps would be good.

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Five:  The first two Narcissi to appear.  On the left, 'Replete' and on the right another No ID.   Many of my bulbs were planted last Autumn and are making their first appearance, so it's exciting to see their flowers. But there's no such thing as a host yet.  Thanks Mr Wordsworth for the burden of unrealistic expectations.

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Six: Someone else was finding the mornings cold this week, as he searched for seeds on our cream-coloured frost-bitten lawn.

That's my six for this week.  Was it cheating to add so many frosty photos?

As ever, our leader the Propagator, is hosting this very popular meme.  Don't forget to visit his blog to find out what other gardeners from all corners of the globe are doing in their gardens.

Mintaro: a step back in time.

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When travelling on a touring holiday, it's a good idea to take note of those brown signposts that point to tourist attractions, and it's exactly what we did when driving through the Clare Valley area of South Australia recently. Having already passed a sign to the historic town of Mintaro before we realised what we'd missed, we were pleased to see another and quickly turned off the main road.

We had no idea what to expect, and so were delighted to arrive in this sweet, almost untouched-by-modern-times village. After parking the car, we wrapped up (it was a bit nippy) and wandered along the main street admiring Mintaro's old buildings, trees and gardens.

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Mintaro, present population 188, dates from about 1849. It was once a staging post on the journey from Burra Mines to Port Wakefield.  At Burra, copper had been discovered, and it was carried by bullock teams to the port for shipment overseas.  Mintaro enjoyed prosperity until it was decided that the copper should be taken to port by a different route.  I wonder if the Ficus tree in the photo above dates from that time: it certainly seems big enough!

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In later years, Mintaro became better known for its slate.  Mintaro Slate Quarry is thought to be the oldest continuously operated quarry in South Australia, possibly in the whole of Australia.  As well, the countryside around this area is famous for wineries and farming.  The rolling hills were luxuriantly green when we were there, the vineyards with their neatly tiered rows looked prosperous and little Mintaro was a charming break on our journey south.

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The photos, by the way, were taken by Mr MG, who's a better photographer than I am. He takes arty shots.

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And closeups.

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We enjoyed a coffee and a chat at Reilley's Restaurant where there was a jolly group of locals who knew we were not from anywhere nearby.  'You're not pronouncing the name correctly,' said one man.  'It's Mint-air-o.'  Who would have thought?