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Disaster and Delight: SoS July, 28

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After two weeks away, I was anxious to get back to the garden to see how everything had coped with the cold weather that has been occurring in Mudgee. I knew that there had been many frosty mornings, and in fact, two of those mornings had been around -7.5C, which is decidedly chilly. As far as the garden is concerned it was a somewhat dispiriting homecoming. A lot of it was looking much the worse for wear, with some plants leaving me to wonder if they will revive when the warmer weather arrives and quite a few seeming  to have disappeared altogether.

Here are my six for this week; not all disasters, though.

 

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ONE: My Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf' is looking very miserable indeed, even though it's under cover, and has managed in this postion in previous winters. It will recover, I'm sure, and I'll use the opportunity to trim it back into a better shape.

 

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Two: A sadder story belongs to  Coprosma repens 'Ignite' which was looking quite splendid, and is now but a shadow of its former self.  I fear there's no coming back from this sorry state.  Its leaves and stems have obviously been frozen and are squishy to touch.  Perhaps there will be some new shoots right down at ground level.  Who knows?  I thought this was a really hardy plant.

Unfortunately, the flowers of the beautiful Hakea that I posted about in SoS on July 7 are now completely dry, grey and brittle, but the plant is fine. My lovely Geranium 'Rozanne' is a small pile of soft brown leaves prompting me to worry that she won't reawaken,  and many of the other plants I thought would survive through the winter have been blitzed.

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Three:  No more sad stories now.  Some bulbs are making an appearance: tulips, narcissi, aliums and crocuses are pushing their first green spears above the mulch.   I know this as a jonquil and it's a lovely pop of colour in the winter sun; one of the first bulbs to flower.

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Four: I don't grow a lot of vegetables, but here there are cabbages, beetroot, broccoli and broad beans, and they're doing really well, even though they didn't get watered for two weeks.  Sweet peas (with weeds) are climbing up the frame.

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Five: This succulent of no particular ID has thumbed its nose at the frost and is pretty in pink, as opposed to its usual grey: an improvement, in my opinion.

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Six:  Red rumped parrots, slightly fluffed up against the cold, are sunning themselves  in the branches of the silver birches.  In the photo below, an Eastern Rosella is remonstrating with them: perhaps they invaded his territory.

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And that's my six for this week. To see what other gardeners from all over the world are doing in their plots, don't hesitate to pop over to The Propagator's site and join the fun.

Rain is forecast here today, and everyone has their fingers crossed.  It's so dry that kangaroos have moved into the showground to feed on the grass in the big oval.

Happy gardening, everyone.

SoS, July 7: Small Bright Spots.

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Although some bulbs are making an appearance, much of the garden is having its Winter rest, so this week's post is more about small spots of colour rather than any overall abundance of the kind that Spring will hopefully produce. Most  plants need to rest at some time of the year, so I'm grateful to those that  do their flowering in the coldest months of the year, bringing pleasure and brightness to cold dreary days.

Here are some of my spots of colour this week.

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One: Violas are good value plants that pop up in many places,  happily flowering in these cold temperatures.  I don't know the names of these as I planted them before I realised it was helpful to know more about plants than their common names.

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Two:  This is Grevillea 'Lady O' who flowers for most of the year.  The spidery flowers are quite small for a Grevillea, but they are a haven for  honeyeaters like the Eastern Spinebill which frequently visits our garden and enjoys the nectar and the closely packed leaves.

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Three:  Our dwarf Calamondin x citrofortunella microcarpa is having its first fruit and they are joyous spots of colour in a wintry garden.  Most people would find the compact fruit  impossible to eat straight off the tree but it makes the most delicious marmalade.

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Four: Banksia blechnifolia.  I've posted about this Western Australian banksia before, but now it really seems to be growing some flowers.  It's quite an odd plant with its moth-feeler stems,  and I'm waiting to see if the fuzzy protuberances turn into flowers.  More soon.

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Five: A small success story.  This is Hakea 'Burrendong Beauty' which is a native to this area, having been discovered in the Burrendong Arboretum in the 1980s.  It's believed to be a hybrid which occurred naturally there.  I picked a small cutting from a garden nearby a couple of years ago, managed  to strike it and it has been quietly growing since.  This winter, for the first time,  it has burst forth into flower along the length of its branches. At first the stamens are like elbows or hairpins, but they unbend to become feeler-like as the flower completes its bloom.

 

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Six: Finally, something with very little colour.  A photo of part of the garden which shows how hard you have to look for colour at this time of the year. I hope that bulbs will spring up under those silver birches before too long.  Flora, with her cornucopia of Echeveria, is keeping a close eye on things.

If you would like to see what is happening in other gardens on a Saturday, pop over to the Propagator's blog and take a look.

Weather today:  What a mixed bag.  -0.5 to 11 C, frost, then sunny and windy, then rain.  The top was 11, but only for about half an hour.  Most of the day it hovered around single digit numbers.  Brrrr!

SoS, June 30. Winter colour

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We're in the throes of Winter now and the cold mornings seemed to arrive earlier than they usually do. I think perhaps this was due to a long dry period and lack of moisture in the atmosphere. Last Sunday  we had a low of -4.5, a white lawn and a birdbath with a thick layer of ice. After the frost, the days are glorious: clear skies full of sunshine and warm enough to be out in the garden in shirt sleeves. Later in the week we had a Rain Event which was most welcome. I have been busy cutting back my perennials for their Winter rest, working my way around the back garden.

Each Saturday, keen gardeners select six things from their garden to share with others from around the world. The Six on Saturday crowd is growing under the leadership of Mr P, and if you're interested in seeing fascinating plants and interesting ideas from all corners, do pop over to his blog here.

Here are my Six:

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One: Just coming into bloom and bringing some brightness into the garden is Leptospermum scoparium ‘Nanum Rubrum’. I think of Twiggy or a kewpie doll -if you're old enough to remember either of those- when I look at these flowers. Big round eyes and spiky eyelashes. Leptospermums are amongst my favourite natives.  They flower prolifically  for ages and at a time when much of the garden is hibernating, and bees love them.

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Two:  Coprosma repens 'Ignite' whose foliage is colourful all year round but even more so in Winter, is also creating a bright spot in the garden.  This one doesn't spread as much as some of the other Coprosmas which can behave quite thuggishly.  I like a plant I can control.

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Three:  Osteospermum.  I thought there was too much pink and blue in the front garden, so I decided, Monet like,  to add a touch of yellow, a sparkling highlight, and chose this Osteospermum, whose name I have since lost.  Most plants are finished for now, but the light shines on,  shimmering steadfastly.

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Four:  Anigozanthos, or Kangaroo Paw.  I don't have much luck with these, and after a discussion with another Sixer, Nat from depressionfreegarden, over in Western Australia, I've decided that my soil isn't sandy enough.  This is the only Kangaroo Paw that has lasted more than one season for me. More than anything, these two flowers remind me of a couple of haughty cockerels giving each other the cold shoulder. The one on the right has a much more impressive comb and is behaving quite snootily.

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Five:  Gargantua has been out.  Snorting and roaring,  our resident monster has chomped up the cuttings and turned them into usable mulch which either goes straight on the garden or is composted.

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Six:  Thanks to Kris, from Late to the Garden Party, I have recently learnt about fasciation.  I have noticed that these echeverias have developed strange mutations, sending out shoots that divide into small florets and I wonder if this is an example of fasciation.  What do you think? I've a lot of these plants forming a border and this strange phenomenon is only present in one small section.

And that's my six for this week.  Happy gardening!

Weather today: -1 to 14 degrees C, fog then sunny.

Six on Saturday, June 16.

Here we are! It's Saturday again, and I'm joining in with the Six on Saturday crowd to see what's happening in gardens near and far. If you also have a hankering to see what's going on in other gardens,  do visit The Propagator's blog where you can also join in if you wish. It's worth it. While we, in the Southern Hemisphere head towards the coldest time of the year, in the Northern Hemisphere gardens have burst forth into glorious bloom, and  SoS pages are full of wonderful flowers, some familiar and some not so.

Here are my six for this week.

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One: Rescued from an orphans'  table somewhere recently, this Gaillardia 'Mesa Red' is growing well.  I'm not keen on the yellow ones, but I rather like this one with its bewhiskered centre and scarlet petals.

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Two:  Seeds purchased from Lambley Gardens and Nursery: Cerinthe major purpurascens, Nigella 'Miss Jeckyll Alba, Nigella orientalis 'Transformer' and  Wallflower Sunset Series 'Apricot'.  These are intended to be space fillers in the garden.  In the small packet I have Exochorda macrantha 'The Bride'. I saw Exochorda on a blog earlier this year and not surprisingly decided I had to have one. I’ve not found any online anywhere, but managed to source some seeds. I'll pot them up soon and hopefully have some seedlings before too long.

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Three: Here I have two cuttings of Grevillea 'Sooper Dooper' which has a terrible name, but is an excellent plant which flowers ALL year, and remains compact, making it especially suitable for small gardens.  In the red, there is a cutting which I think is going to fail, but in the yellow is one that has new shoots on it already.  Below is a photo of the flowers on the one that is already established in the front garden.

Grevillea 'Soopa Doopa'
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Four: Some purchases made on my trip home from Sydney earlier this week: a pretty Erica colorans 'White Delight' (flowers below) , a Pittosporum  to fill a hole in a hedge and two dwarf Rhaphiolepis to put in the spot vacated by the bay trees which were moved a week or so ago.  New larger  pots have been purchased and I hope the Rhaphiolepis don't outgrow them too quickly.  They were chosen for their toughness as the position they're going to be in is challenging indeed.

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The Five: I'm looking for help with this one.  I picked this cutting from someone's front garden, but I don't know what it is.  It had a blue flower and I'm wondering if it's borage.  It has struck very easily and quickly. Any suggestions?

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Six: Continuing the unsung hero/heroine series, this little pansy has self-seeded and is flowering happily in the cold and frost. Pansies grow well here in the winter, but as soon as hot weather arrives they throw in the towel. Fortunately they proliferate quite well and reappear when they are ready.

 

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

Weather today: -1 to 13 degrees C; windy, cloudy and cold.

SoS May 26: Autumn Colours

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This Autumn has been one of the most colourful I've seen here in the Central Tablelands of NSW. Russet, garnet, butterscotch and gold leaves bedeck trees in many gardens and lawns carry  mantles of colour. I wonder if the prolonged dry spell is the reason for all this glory.  The weather continues to be warm and sunny but distressingly dry. It's wonderful weather for being outside gardening.

Six on Saturday continues apace with gardeners showing what is happening in their plot.  If you would like to see what others are experiencing in their gardens, pop over to The Propagator's blog to take part.

Here are my six:

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  1. Following an inspirational post about geraniums from Ali over at The Mindful Gardener, I visited our local nursery and bought one.  It was the only one available, actually.  She's Geranium hybrid x wallichianum 'Rozanne' which is a long name for a tiny plant.  What an ethereal blue she is with her finely drawn darker veins. I've found a sheltered spot and hope Rozanne does well.
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2.  Unidentified Pelargonium.  I love the brilliant colour of this pelargonium which is much stronger in real life than in my photo.  When the frosts arrive, this plant will be badly affected, but is sheltered enough to survive the winter, its burnt and battered outer  leaves protecting those underneath.

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3.  I planted this Arum pictum last year having read that it is quite self-contained and sensible and won't spread wantonly.  However, it looks to me as though it's indulging in some sneaky thuggery.  You can see it's grown quite large in a short period of time and is about to lean on my Scilla peruviana which has been producing strong healthy leaves.  The flowers are interesting but the flowering period is very brief.  I wonder if anyone else has had experience with this plant?

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4. Verbena bonariensis.  Planted as an infant a  month ago, 75 cm tall and flowering already.

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5.  Late afternoon sun shining on standard Escallonia.  It has a terrible aphid infestation which seems to be common to these plants.

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6. In the front garden,  Pyrus nivalis the Snow Pear,  is clothed in leaves of gold.  This is the best colour I've seen it display since it was planted three years ago: again, perhaps the effect of our dry Autumn.

Weather today: 1.3 - 21 degrees C and sunny.

Six on Saturday, May 19th

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It's astonishing how quickly Saturdays seem to roll around. I've no sooner read everyone's Sixes than it's time to prepare another one of my own.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator. Participants are invited to show six things from their garden: flowers or vegetables, trees or shrubs, paths or gardens, successes or failures. Six things. From a garden.

Don't forget to drop in to The Propagator's blog to catch up on what other gardeners are doing.

Since last week the weather here has been glorious. Cold in the mornings, yes, but the days have been full of sunshine. People are still wearing shorts! Wonderful weather for gardening.

Here are my six for this week:

  1. Leucodendron salignum.   The label describes it as 'Red Devil' but something tells me this plant is wrongly labelled! The second picture is a different view of an older flower on the same shrub.  Various websites tell me it must have plenty of sun or the flowers won't colour. Well, sun is something it's had in abundance, so my guess is an incorrect label.
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2. Last of the Iceberg roses. They will flower sporadically until they're pruned in July, but I'm not expecting too much more from them.

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3. A garden view.  The two poor bay trees on each side of the steps have been in those pots for at least five years.  They are very sulky, and who would blame them?  They're going to be released from their misery next week, all going according to plan, and planted  in the ground.

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4.  An iris flowered! It was the only one, and who could possibly guess that this would happen?  Its time with us was fleeting: in two days it was finished.  There will be more of course, but not for a while.

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5.  Crepe Myrtle.  Unlike last week's crepe myrtle, this one is a shrub which was given to us as a house-warming present.  I don't know its name as it began as a cutting from the friend's garden.  It's looking rather autumnal with its tiara of berries.

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6.  This week's unsung heroine is Alyssum,  (it was Lobelia last week, you may remember),  another flower that will brighten our garden during winter with splashes of pink, mauve, apricot, purple and white. There’s even a yellow one, although I have never seen it. Alyssum self seeds readily, filling small spaces in a very obliging manner.

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Weather today:  0 -19 degrees C and sunny.  Of course!

Happy gardening everyone.

Six on Saturday, May 12th

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Autumn is finally well-esconced in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, and in fact even Winter made its looming presence felt yesterday with a blast of cold air  bringing us a little rain, strong wind and snow to some places. The maximum temperature here was 11 degrees C and that was only for about five minutes. It was a day for settling snugly by the fire and doing indoor things. The weather  was better today, but even so, Winter is prising the fabric of the days apart with its icy fingers and threatening an imminent arrival. You can feel it in the sneaky chilly breeze.

Six on Saturday is the mushrooming meme hosted by The Propagator. To see what other green-fingered folk have happening in their  gardens,  drop in to his blog where you'll find inspiring gardens and ideas.

As the season comes to a close, it's becoming more difficult to find six things in my garden on a Saturday, but here are mine for this week.

 

  1. Agastache 'Sweet Lili' is having a last pirouette before closing down for the Winter.  She has flowered constantly since last October.  A star performer who has danced through the summer despite everything the season threw at her.
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2.  Caught re-handed!  A King Parrot helps himself to olives.  As a consequence the few olives we had were harvested soon afterwards.  I wonder that the parrots can eat olives off the tree as they taste very bitter. Needs must when the drought bites.

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3,  The flowers of Erica melanthera 'Ruby Shepherd'.  It's a winter-flowering shrub, so should bring  brightness to the garden when many other plants are dormant. It's a very recent addition to the garden and only very small, but I like it so much I've decided more must be found forthwith.

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4. Lobelia flowers.  An underrated plant, lobelia will flower for most of the winter here. The flowers are like indigo butterflies.

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5. Banksia blechhnifolia. This is a Western Australian native.  Plants from WA can sulk a little over on this side of Australia, but this one has been behaving quite well.  These furry growths are at the end of the stems and they remind me, in close-up,  of moths'  feelers waving inquisitively.  So far there has been only one flower on this plant and I'll have to wait until about September to see some more.

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6.  Crepe Myrtle 'Natchez'.  Here are the beautiful Autumn leaves.  It's only a small tree but is so hardy and beautiful in every season.

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Weather today: Cloudy.  6-16 degrees Celcius.

Happy gardening everyone!

Six on Saturday, May 5th

The last two weeks have seen us touring around Victoria, and SoS wasn't possible during that time. I wondered how the garden would look after a fortnight, but all was in order upon our return. Our watering system did its work well, as did a friend who kindly watered pot plants.

Six on Saturday is a meme hosted by The Propagator and if you are interested in seeing what other people have in their gardens, drop in on his blog to find out what's been happening in the past week. Horticultural delights await, I can assure you.

Here are my six on Saturday:

  1. Leptospermum scoparium 'Kea' bloomed in our abscence. It's a dwarf plant that will keep on flowering for weeks and has an abundance of petite white flowers whose stamens look like sea anemone tentacles in miniature.
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2. The olives ripened while we were away and now must be picked and pickled.  I think they're Manzanilla: they're very large and healthy.

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3. Correa pulchella 'Ring-a Ding Ding' (I won't take responsibility for the name), also known as Australian Fuchsia, although they're not related.  What a star this plant is: covered with flowers which also last for weeks, tough: drought and frost hardy.

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4. Rosa 'Climbing Pinkie' has been rampageous in her climbing habit, although not in flowering, but I managed to capture a slightly blousy cluster of blooms.

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5. After a very dodgy start that involved much yellowing and dropping of leaves during the summer, my dwarf Meyer lemon has decided to behave itself and is flowering its socks off.

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6.  My little group of plants purchased from Lambley Gardens. Iris cretensis 'Starkers Pink', Erigeron glaucus 'Seabreeze', Ceratostigma, Erica 'Ruby Shepherd', Sedum 'Postman's Pride', Salvia microphhylla ‘Ribambelle', Salvia 'Celestial Blue', Tulipa 'Queen of Night' and Tulipa 'Menton'.

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Weather today: Sunny and perfect, 0.4-21 degrees C. Frosts are coming soon!

Happy gardening everyone.

Six on Saturday: April 14

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Saturday has rolled around again and it's time for another six.  The Propagator is the excellent host of this meme and if you would like to see what everyone else is doing in their garden this weekend, do pay a visit to his site.

We were  kept busy watering during the week. One of the good things about so much dryness is that there are fewer weeds to bother about, except perhaps the dreadful euphorbia maculata, or spotted spurge which isn't fazed by anything the weather throws at it. I think it could grow through cement under a blowtorch.

But last night we had a thunderstorm which brought us 13 ml of rain and it was lovely to look out into the garden this morning and see the last drops of water shimmering in the sun before a breeze arrived to shake them gently to the ground.

Here are my six for this week:

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  1. An unidentified dahlia given to me  in a bag of other unidentified dahlia tubers by a friend.  I've waited ages for any of them to flower and this is the first (and perhaps only) one to cooperate.  It isn't one of the flouncy attention-seeking dahlias, but I do like its neat and orderly petals with their hints of gold in the centres.
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2. My peace rose.  Yes, I know I've shown it before, but not this particular photo, and I do love it. I think it's looking particularly fetching in the early morning sunshine. Look at those peachy-pinky gelato colours!

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3.  I wonder what this strange fungus is that appeared in the garden the other morning?  It reminds me of tripe.

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4. The flower of Hakea Petiolaris,  just emerging from its bud on the left and fully open on the right.  It's also called the ' sea urchin' hakea. The leaves are leathery and a strange greyish-green  and  the tree carries its seed pods from the previous year until it's prompted to open them, usually by a bush fire, not unlike other Australian trees such as the Banksia. I hope the seed pods won't be opening here.

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5. Beautiful little garnet berries on the Berberis Thunbergii atropurpurea. These little gems could almost hang on a necklace or be clustered together on an earring.  When the cold weather arrives, the colours on the plant will be even more intense.

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6.  Part of my front garden: dry but still coping and cunningly photographed so the neighbouring houses can't be seen-we are living in the suburbs, after all. You can see Sedum, Salvia 'Greek Skies', Perovskia,  dwarf Chrysanthemums, and Agastache 'Sweet Lili', amongst others.

 

Weather today: Sunny, slightly cloudy, and windy- a bit of everything. 15-26 C.

 

Olives

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The olives are looking good. Large green drupes are hanging from the branches of our Manzanillo tree which has been in the ground three years and has grown rapidly. Last October it was almost white with flowers, but a not uncommon hot westerly  wind blew angrily through and scorched those blossoms so we are left with just enough olives to pickle,  perhaps two jars. It's a big change from having 500 trees, which is what we had on our olive farm. There's more about that in my post 'Where did all this start?' We now have two trees: the other one is a California Queen, but it isn't doing as well. It hasn't seemed like such a good specimen from the start but I won't give up on it as I know olives can be cajoled into behaving themselves.

Olive trees  manage very well in dry and difficult conditions, and  in fact they are renowned for being tough.  They can be seen all around the Mediterranean, clinging obdurately  to limestone mountainsides, growing in the smallest amount of soil.  But we irrigated our olive grove, and fed the trees with 'Dynamic Lifter' -chook manure- and they repaid us handsomely in beautiful fruit which produced top-quality, fragrant, delicious oil.

Olive trees can grow to a venerable age.  I was lucky enough to see an ancient reputed to be 900 years old near  the Pont du Gard in southern France  when I visited there some years ago. Although the tree didn't have a very tall crown, its trunk was very sturdy and furrowed with ridges and crevices which surely denote great age.  It was very well cared-for and I wonder if it will still be there in another 900 years.  It could be: the olive tree of Vouves on the island of Crete is estimated to be between 2000 and 3000 years old.

Today there's quite a breeze blowing and the branches of my olive trees are tossing in the wind, the leaves displaying their silvery undersides. I love to see them there, just as I loved the trees on the farm robustly standing in their rows dealing with the elements in their implacable way.

Our last harvest at the farm was two tonnes, all picked by hand, with the help of friends. What a difference it is to have two jars' worth!

Olga the Brolga checks out the olives.
Olga the Brolga checks out the olives.
The olive grove.
The olive grove.