Archive | December 2018

Christmas Colours: December 21

Is it bending the rules of Six on Saturday to include six photos of the same thing, I wonder? Will I incur the wrath of our leader The Propagator? Time will tell, I suppose.

Recently, I wrote about the King Parrot in my post ‘A Single Man?’ as I wondered whether he had a mate, and I’m pleased to say there was a fleeting visit this morning with a female so it seems he’s not alone. Below he’s photographed with a friend* as they both enjoyed breakfasting on the ‘Pigface’ (Lampranthus), that strangely-named tough succulent found in many Australian gardens. The Pigface has proved as enticing to our garden visitors as a box of exotic chocolates might be to the chocaholics amongst us.
I’m highlighting the King Parrot this week, because I think with his scarlet and Robin Hood green colours, he’s about as Christmassy as a bird can be. He could be perched atop a Christmas tree and look perfect: a kind of antipodean angel.

The photos above were taken earlier this week and are my way of saying Happy Christmas to all of you generous, knowledgeable and entertaining bloggers I’ve met during my first full year of blogging. It has been an unexpected pleasure to be in contact with gardeners from all over the world and vicariously enjoy your gardens

To me, (not being a religious type) Christmas is really about spending time in the company of my family, enjoying some Christmas food and perhaps opening a present. We do ‘Secret Santa’ so the present-giving is simple and not overdone.
May your Christmas be full of joy and 2019 be a year of beautiful gardening weather with the right amount of rain and sunshine. Here’s hoping there’ll be no ‘Beasts from the East’ (or any other direction), fire, drought or flood, whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere.

On Christmas Day I’ll drink a virtual glass of champagne with you all. Cheers!

*Point of clarification: it seems I was a bit too subtle here. For anyone who didn’t realise, the photos are of two male King Parrots. The visit by the female was too brief for me to be able to take a photograph of her. If you would like to see a photo of a female, one can be found in Garden Visits 3.

Rain and Dust: SoS December 15

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One:  The sky is the colour of the inside of an oyster shell, much paler than it appears in my photo, for reasons that I don't understand.  It isn't fog, or mist, it's dust.  Dust which has been present for two days.  It couldn't be called a dust storm, more a dust drift.  Australia's topsoil is drifting away.  Off to new Zealand. Mudgee town and the hills for which it’s renowned are in the background of this photo, but they're covered in a parchment shroud, and the hospital is busy with people experiencing breathing difficulties.

The dust drift follows a few days of most welcome rain (45 mm and a Christmas beetle in the gauge), although some folk nearer the coast received more than they wanted.  My garden gratefully absorbed all that it could which is good, because the next week promises highs in the low to mid 30s.t

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Two: How have I not admired this plant, Ballota pseudodictamnus, before?  It has been thriving  in the garden for at least three years, through heat and drought, and I have callously ignored it. I gathered some for a vase last week and examined it properly, noticing its felty calyxes with their central buttons which look like something an aspiring milliner might attach to a hat, or an upholsterer to a button-back chair.  An insouciant topknot completes the picture.

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Three: A new rose, the RSL rose, bred by Meilland International,  with its deep burgundy and amber petals.  Some of the proceeds from the sale of this rose go towards supporting veterans and their families.

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Four: Ornamental pomegranate flower; frou-frou worthy of a prima ballerina’s tutu. I took this as a cutting from our previous garden and was very pleased when it grew.  It's another plant that wants to be a shrub, and I want it to be a small tree.  I'm not really winning that battle, but I'm quite happy to keep removing the suckers.

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Five:  Figs.  Will they be ready by Christmas?  I hope some will, at least!

It will be a problem keeping parrots and bats away, and although I dislike the look of nets and know they impede the growth of the tree, I’ll have to cover this tree soon, or there’ll be no figs left.

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Six: Another plant that deserves a closer look:  Scabiosa stellata 'Drumsticks'.  It's new to the garden this summer and although it has rather insignificant flowers, its papery seed-heads are ping pong ball sized spheres with purple starfish inside patty pan cases. The sunlight is catching the trace of a shower in this photo.

That's my six for this week. Gardeners from all over the world are joining in Six on Saturday hosted by The Propagator.  Do join in and see what they are doing in their gardens.

Weather today: 16 - 30, and it would be sunny if there wasn't so much dust.

Hello Summer, December 1

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It's the first day of Summer here. In Australia, we don't really wait for the solstice to say that Summer has arrived, and that's hardly surprising considering the temperature is forecast to reach 31 degrees today. We are still having cool nights and mornings though, and during the last ten days we had rain, wind and a dust storm. The weather gods threw just about everything at us, except extreme heat, which is no doubt, ahead of us.  On a couple of days, it was back to winter clothes!

The garden really appreciated the 28 mm of rain we received, and I'm quite glad we avoided the 100 mm+ that some parts of Sydney received in just a few hours, causing tremendous havoc on the roads, flooding in houses and downed trees.  There were even viral images of a waterfall overflowing off Sydney Harbour Bridge, but of course that was fake news.

I'm joining in with the Six on Saturday crowd again after an absence of a week. You can discover what other SoS participants are doing in their gardens here.

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One: This is Salvia "Celestial Blue'.  A native of California, it is a hybrid of S. clevelandii and S. pachyphylla.  Its whorls of flowers remind me of the InSight lander that alighted on Mars last week and I almost expect little probes to appear to steady it in the breeze.  I have seen 'Celestial Blue' Salvias online that are much more intense than this one, so perhaps my information on its parentage is not quite correct.  I'm sure there will be a Sixer who can enlighten me.

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Two: Another Allium.  This one has a jaunty pixie cap which is almost ready to fall and expose the misty mauve flowers. I’m charmed by the way the sun is highlighting the folds in its cap.

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Three: Planted last Autumn, this early Lilium 'Eyeliner' is luminous in the early morning sun. A scattering of freckles dances across the pearly petals: it looks such a fragile flower, but it didn't miss a beat in last week's rough weather.  I'm looking forward to this bulb establishing itself in the garden.

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Four: A trio of Echeveria plants catches the sun.

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Five: During the winter Mr MG and I released our two bay trees from the pots they had inhabited for about six years, and against the advice of a couple of sixers, planted them in the garden.  One is doing very well, pushing out new growth and behaving impeccably.  The other, this one you see in the photo, is about as miserable as a plant can be and hasn't grown a single new leaf.  Those that it has are brownish, dull and unhealthy. It has, however, developed one perfectly placed sucker which is growing straight and true, albeit with leaves that are at least twice the size of normal bay leaves.  The question now is whether to amputate the parent tree and let the sucker grow. I am open to suggestion!

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Six: Another presence in the garden is this Bearded Dragon (Pogona species). In fact, I think he (or she) lives in the garden, because I've had quite a few sightings. This lizard is about 50-60 cm long from nose to tip of tail, so is not small.

That's my six for this week.  Weather today: sunny, 9-30 degrees; we didn't quite make the forecast top of 31.