Archive | October 2018

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, 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.