Tag Archive | allium

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.

New Additions: SoS, November, 17th

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Another cool Spring morning enticed me out early this Saturday, the sun just above the horizon and peeping into the garden, enveloping all in its warming glow and highlighting zesty colour combinations.  All the plants but one in this Saturday's Six are new to the garden this year and it has been both satisfying and exhilarating to watch them as they acclimatise themselves and begin to  fill out.

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One: Verbena bonariensis. This airy perennial has leapt out of the ground and is happily taking its place in the back row of the garden. I first saw it recommended in Piet Oudolf's book 'Dream Plants for the Natural garden'. Its scaffolding of  stalks means that it doesn't form a solid wall and I like the way other plants can be seen through it: that's Prostanthera poorinda 'Ballerina' behind it.

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Two: Do they clash, or do they not?  Geum 'Mrs J. Bradshaw' and Salvia nemerosa. I rather like this colour combination, a shrinking violet it is not.

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Three: This dwarf Gaura makes a strong statement against the background of dark foliage of the Berberis behind it which throws the white flowers into sharp focus.

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Four: Erigeron glaucus 'Seabreeze', also new to the garden, came through last winter's frosts unscathed and is now producing many daisy-like flowers in an enchanting mauve-pink. I'm hoping it will reproduce itself via contact with the ground in the way its cousin karvinskianus does, as it seems to be an excellent space filler.

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Five: Aqueligia 'Crimson Star'.  I fear my garden is too hot for this charming plant, and that I'll have to try to find a more shady home for it before too long.  This morning it was looking very happy though, lit by the rising sun.

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Six:  Not new to the garden, but surely unsung heroes, Allium sphaerocephalon  'Drumsticks' are preparing to flower.  What steadfast soldiers they are, standing to attention, their backs ramrod straight,  marching to their own tune.  They are appearing all over the garden and bring such delight with their no-nonsense approach and undemanding ways. From green flowers to purple, followed by 'bad-hair-day' seed heads, they bring interest to the garden for a very long time.

That's my six for this week.  If you would like to join in Six on Saturday, or merely look at what others are doing in their gardens, do pop over to The Propagator's blog and join in.

Weather today, sunny and 10-27 degrees C.  Happy gardening everyone.

In Praise of Perennials

I love all plants, really, but the ones I love most of all are the herbaceous perennials.  They seem to be the plants that are best equipped to deal with the climate here on the western edge of the New South Wales Central Tablelands where the temperatures can reach forty  degrees plus in the summer, and descend to minus seven in the winter.  Many perennials are also quite drought hardy as well, so cope with our lengthy dry spells without demanding too much precious water.

As our long chilly winter comes to a close and slowly the sun creeps higher in the sky each day, something almost magical occurs in my rather dreary  frost-hammered garden.  Small sharp bulb leaves make their appearance followed quite quickly by buds and soon the first flowers of spring appear.

Not long afterwards other shoots emerge from dry uninteresting-looking clumps and become rather larger leaves, rapidly developing into loose shrubby plants . These are herbaceous perennials, those undemanding obliging plants that lie dormant during winter and suddenly come to life as the weather warms up, developing their flowers and putting on a show that lasts all the way through to the next autumn.  What amazing plants they are.  They will fill any corner of the garden in any kind of soil, and are often drought hardy as well.  I have seen them droop on a 36 degree day, but after a night's rest, they are sprightly and ready to face the new day. There are hundreds of different perennials.  A feature of many of the perennials is that they will grow from a cutting with the most amazing ease and so it's often only necessary to buy one plant which can then be made into many.  

I have stocked my garden with salvias, ranging in colour from pure white through yellow to pink and many shades of blue; the excellent agastache, a relative of mint; Russian sage (perovskia atriplicifolia), agapanthus, california tree poppy (romneya), echinops, day lilies, eryngium, Shasta daisies and society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea). I’m also very fond of the allium species which multiply and appear year after year. These plants all grow happily here, flowering from October until at least the end of March, slowly dying back as the first frosts come.  I give them a vigorous trim in January as they have a tendency to become straggly, and in no time they are in full flower again.

In July, I cut my perennials right down to the ground, as the owners of Hillandale do, mentioned in an earlier post Hillandale, and this allows room for bulbs to emerge, and when the bulbs have finished, like magic, the perennials start their growing spell again, ready for another summer blooming.

I have some favourites:

Romneya Coulteri

Allium 'drumstick'

Agastche 'Sweet Lili' with Salvia 'Indigo Spires' in the background

Echinops

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Left to right, from top to bottom:

Romneya Coulteri;  Allium 'Drumstick'; Agastache 'Sweet Lili' with Salvia 'Indigo Spires behind; Echinops; Russian sage with white salvia in foreground; Salvia 'Amistad' .

Hillandale

Driving anywhere from Mudgee (I'm including Gulgong and Rylstone in 'Mudgee')  is a reasonably lengthy business.  We're slightly isolated here and it's at least an hour and a half of driving before we reach anywhere else. This is nothing, I know, compared to the distances people all over Australia drive, but it sometimes seems a chore to have to do it. On this last day of 2017, however, it was a trip well worth making.  After a couple of tiffs with our GPS, and a pleasant diversion through Portland, we found ourselves at the gates of Hillandale Garden and Nursery in Yetholme, about 20km from Bathurst.

A long winding drive took us downhill to the property, which is so aptly named.  A short walk past a dam found us  at the start of a light-speckled path through stands of mature trees, natives and exotics, which then opens out onto a long vista over hummocky mounds and dales.

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A short walk across the garden over handmade stone bridges and past the dam (rather low in this long dry period)  brings the visitor to the pièce de résistance: the herbaceous perennial border.

This border is 100 metres long, and 7 metres wide.  Yes, really!  It has a softly mulched path meandering though the centre, and meander we did, admiring a luxuriance of plants in an array of colours worthy of M. Monet's palette. It's an absolute explosion of colour, seemingly without plan, and yet the natural juxtaposition of colours, textures and shapes work together to create a decidedly pleasing pastiche.  Along the way we caught glimpses of the old farmhouse and its attractive outhouses (potting shed, glasshouse, ex-packing shed: the property was once an orchard) gently reposing amongst the flower beds and grassy knolls.  There are hundreds of different perennials in this border, and at this time of the year, they are resplendently abloom.   Adding interesting height in the border are shrubs and small trees such as buddleias in various colours, strappy grasses and smoke bushes.

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At the top of the border we reached  the various outbuildings where we met Sarah and Andrew, the extremely hard-working owners of the property, and spent some time having a pleasant chat with them.  Sarah explained to me that each winter the border, with the exception of trees and shrubs, is mowed to the ground, the clippings left as mulch and straw laid on top.  All ready for next Spring when perennials, as they are wont to do, explode out of the ground ready for the next season.

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A walk on the south side of the house led us through massed shade-loving plantings to a grassy glen where in rainier times there would be a streamlet running....not much more than a trickle now. I was surprised to see tree ferns growing happily here and looking outstandingly healthy in a climate that is perhaps a little outside their comfort zone. And there we reached the end of our visit.  What an inspiration it was to visit this beautiful place: I think another visit in a different season would be in order

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