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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.

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.

Something Stirred. SoS August 4

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Winter is not over yet. Although the days are becoming noticeably longer, it's still very chilly overnight, and I know from experience that it's quite possible for us to be faced with frost well into September before we can say for sure that the cold weather has finished for this year.

A large percentage of New South Wales is in severe drought, having received in some areas, less than half the average yearly rainfall to date, and the outlook for rain is grim. The State Government drought assistance package is now over $1 billion in an effort to bring drought relief to those on the land, and people from the city and the country have been donating money for feed. On our recent trip, we saw massive loads of hay bales being trucked from as far away as South Australia to needy farmers further north. The situation is dire.

Despite the cold and lack of decent rain, there are some signs of Spring and my post this Saturday is about those early stirrings in the garden beds.

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One: Yellow Iris, given to me by a friend.  I don't know its name, but I'm sure someone will be able to identify it.  It isn't tall. Is it Iris lutescens? That's the closest I could find on Google.

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Two:  Two years ago, while visiting an open garden, I purchased a Galanthus (possibly nivali, I'm not sure) and two years later, this is how far it has grown. I bought only one (which is something I nearly always do with plant purchases) as I wasn't sure how it would cope in my garden, especially in the heat and dryness of summer, but I planted it under the silver birches, and whilst it couldn't be said that it has galloped away, it seems to be holding its own, albeit in a less than exuberant fashion.

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Three:  Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' is coming into flower.  What a stayer this perennial wallflower is.  It blooms for a very long time and although the shrub has a shortish life, it is easily propagated from cuttings.

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Four: Scilla peruviana which, despite its name, comes from the Mediterranean area.  I have never grown these before, so I'm looking forward to seeing the flowers emerge.

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Five:  Iberis sempervirens aka Candytuft.  Another unpretentious and reliable early flowering plant. It isn’t fully out yet but in week or so it will be a mass of white flowers.

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Six:  These plants are much happier growing in our climate than Galanthus.  They're Leucojum or snowflakes which are often confused with snowdrops.  They're not nearly as desirable, but grow willingly and put on a good show.  They're just appearing now.

And that's my rather humble, wintry six for this week.  As always, more sixes are to be found on the Propagator's blog.  Do drop over and have a look at what other people are doing in their gardens.

Weather here today: 4-16 C, partly sunny.

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.

Six on Saturday, 2 June: Winter is here

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Winter has arrived! During the week we had some longed-for rain and on that day, the top temperature was only 13 degrees. Let's not become over-excited though, the rain gauge measured only 14 ml, but we were very grateful. Nothing refreshes the garden like the water that comes from the sky, and the recent rainfall means I won't have to water the garden beds for some time. A well mulched garden will stay damp for a while when the daily maximums are so much lower.

Six on Saturday is the forum where gardeners share six things from their garden with other enthusiasts from all over the world.  If you would like to see what other people have growing, do pay a visit to the Propagator to find out.

Here are six things of note in my garden this week:

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One:  The rosemary hedge has been needing a trim for a long time, but it has been flowering for about two months and the bees love the flowers.  Each day the hedge is full of a variety of humming bees going about their business while the hedge grows more spiky and disreputable. Rosmarinus officianalis 'Tuscan Blue' is the rosemary I use for my hedge because of its upright growth habit: it has a much stronger colour than this early morning photo shows.

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Two: Bay trees.  Despite warnings from a couple of concerned sixers, Mr MG (Trevor)  and I went ahead and released the two bay trees from their imprisonment.  The hole-digging exercise was tiring in the extreme as although the ground had been dampened, it was still of a concrete consistency, requiring a crowbar and back breaking stints on the business end of the shovel.  The plan is to keep these bays trimmed and not too tall.  I may live to regret this decision.  Time will tell.

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Three: Iris cretensis 'Starkers Pink' purchased from Lambley Nursery has its first flower.  I have to confess that I'm a little disappointed with the slightly pallid colour, but if it has quite a few flowers out at once (when it gets a bit more established), I'm prepared to forgive it.  It's supposed to a very hardy plant that can deal with extended dry periods.  You wouldn't think so to look at that dainty flower, would you?

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Four: Viola tricolor also known as Johnny Jump Up, amongst other names.  There are little seedlings emerging in many places in the garden, but this is the first flower to appear.  Soon these will be flowering everywhere and will make a splash of colour during the wintry days. I think I should call this one another unsung hero.

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Five:  A garden view with the last of the Autumn leaves. The weeping silver birch behind the seat was attacked by borer early in its life. It lost a leading branch on a very windy day, and has refused to grow any taller. It’s a striking colour just now, but may be living on borrowed time.

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Six:  Two Eastern (white cheeked ) Rosellas have found the last of the seeds on the Crepe Myrtle.  It's such a privilege to have these colourful birds visiting the garden, and I never tire of seeing them.

The outcrops in the photo at the top of this post are quite typical of rock formations around our local area.  Large,  smooth boulders, some of them quite monolithic, jut out in paddocks and create lumbering shadows and intriguing shapes. You can see how dry it's been- there should be green grass where that grey ground is.

Weather today: 1 degree to 16 degrees C; frost and then cloudy.

 

Happy gardening!

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.