10/14: a surprise raised vegie patch

I love a good surprise, and this one was no exception. Wanting to get back into a good habit of composting, I took a container of vegetable scraps to put in the compost bin outside the laundry and wow, I was bowled over (only metaphorically, thank goodness). With no attention over the last month or so, while we were travelling, my compost bin suddenly became a raised vegie patch. I can see both pumpkin plants and tomatoes in there.

creative compost


I compost somewhat haphazardly, which is why in a couple of months I will be attending a free composting workshop run by the local council, which will no doubt provide some fodder for another post.

4/14: annual path weeding

At the beginning of 2013, I undertook a large job up in the top tier of making some paths through the plum trees. To utilise the huge pile of mulch from the conifer lopping, I had to cut back a plethora of english ivy first.

A year later I have finished what I am now calling the annual path weed. Fortunately it did not take as much effort to refresh it as it did to create it, and being very thorough digging up the roots of the various weeds and ivy this time, the next annual weed should be much easier.

annual path weeding

3/14: sunburnt summer

From almost sleet-like rain a few weeks ago to days of soaring temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius; this is Melbourne, Australia.

Suffering severely, the garden struggles to cope, aided by diligent watering. Some plants really show their displeasure with the heat. The hydrangea wilts sadly but sparks up after being watered. The heat has taken its toll on most of the flowers, though a few still look okay.

watering helps the hydrangea spark uphydrangea still okayshrivelled hydrangeaIt is very evident that a few plants are not in positions suitable to their needs. For example, the smaller purple rhododendron and white camellia on the eastern side of the back garden’s middle tier, are not as protected from the western hot afternoon sun since we had the conifers lopped eighteen months ago.

Sadly, before I thought to protect the leaves with painting drop sheets, the sun had already attacked the leaves, particularly of the rhododendron.

sunburnt leaves on the smaller rhododendronsunburnt leaves on the camelliaprotecting the rhododendron and camelliaAlthough not a very glamorous look, hopefully it will prevent further deterioration.



2/14: friend or foe?

This ground cover with purple flowers is pretty, but is it a plant or a weed?

purple groundcover purple groundcover (2) purple groundcover (3) purple groundcover (4)

I’ve asked at a nursery, where they suspected it may be a variety of salvia. I remember being given a bunch of salvia a couple of years ago, but I’m not sure they looked exactly like this. Can seeds from flowers revert to a different looking species? Coincidentally, I went to a community nursery where I spied the same plant growing in their grounds, but they were unable to identify it and suspected it was a weed.

Then I also recall my mother complaining about a purple weed in the garden. Was it this type? In any case, what is a weed? The Concise Macquarie dictionary defines it as:

1. a plant growing wild, esp. in cultivated ground to the exclusion of the desired crop.

2. any useless, troublesome, or noxious plant, esp. one that grows profusely.

I actually like this plant; it’s just where it has sprung up I don’t like, because it is in a slightly more formal, stylised area of the garden. In another area this plant could do very well.

Even plants that are sold as legitimate ones can be invasive. Just look at seaside daisies, Erigeron, which can become somewhat invasive, taking over entire areas.

I’ve decided that you just have to contain these plants. Ivy is known as a weed and yet it is pretty and can help suppress other worse weeds, so I have developed a system, keeping some of these plants, but limiting where they are allowed to grow. It’s fun pretending to have some control over nature.

Meanwhile, I think this purple groundcover may officially be a weed, but if I plant it in my cottage garden with the seaside daisies I think it will be rather attractive.

1/14: wishing you a rosy new year

Into the second month of summer in Melbourne as we enter the year 2014, it is ironic that I am posting photos of roses against an azure sky. The reality is somewhat different, as I am looking out the window at a bleak sky and steady rain. However, I am not too perturbed, as it is fantastic for the garden, and I have plenty of things to do inside.

The Christmas tree has been undressed and dismantled, all the other decorations put away, and my first batch of plum jam for the season has been made. I even went to Zumba; a great start to the new year. But don’t think I am over-efficient, as I started taking down the decorations a few days ago.

As the title suggests, I wish you all a Happy New Year with the hope that you can fulfill all your goals and dreams in 2014 and beyond.

peach roses offset by an azure sky these roses are just peachy white roses




51/52: red and green for the season

One little area that was overgrown with seaside daisies has had a re-vamp, just in time for Christmas. Erigeron is great for a cottage garden, spreading itself with wanton abandon. I have a number of plants in the garden that I am constantly trying to control.

Swaying between a casual, cottage garden and a more formal, trimmed and pruned look, I sometimes allow areas to become a little overgrown. Currently this garden bed has been allowed to go a little wild, and was more than ready for some timely revision.

overgrown with seaside daisiesWith that in mind, I dug up all the seaside daisies, Erigeron, and trimmed back the irises to little stalks, reminding myself to separate the bulbs and spread them across this garden bed next March, as two dozen in a clump is rather too much.

Meanwhile, I have planted mainly red bedding begonias , plus some Pratia, a small-leafed ground cover with tiny blue flowers. Hopefully this will eventually cover the entire area, and any Erigeron that sneaks through will be eradicated.

fitting for the seasonred and green makeover for ChristmasThe result is rather festive, just in time for Christmas, but will be lovely on a continuing basis, particularly when the ratio of plants to mulch is greater than at present.

50/52: it’s a baby blueberry

Having discovered an enjoyment of baking with blueberries, I decided it was time last year to add a couple of blueberry plants to our mini orchard. The new plants represented potential blueberry friands.

two blueberry plants

And now, finally, nineteen months later, one little blueberry has appeared. Hopefully this will herald the imminent arrival of many more. Perhaps this is all we will get this year, but it’s a start.

the first blueberry

However, I am a little concerned about the leaves, which seem a little speckled. I think if I expect fruit I am going to have to be more knowledgeable about diseases to avoid or treat.

If any green-thumbed readers know why they look like that, please comment. Otherwise, I will need to do some internet research. After all, Google is my friend.

blueberry leaves

48/52: breath of spring

As Spring draws to a close, I fondly remember the daffodils which heralded the arrival of the season. I have oft-repeated my love of bulbs, for their tenacity and continuous consistency, so let’s revisit a host of golden daffodils.

a host of golden daffodils

One year I splurged and bought some designer daffodil bulbs, shown below.

an unusual daffodil

Enjoy one last look at a daffodil, because before we know it, Christmas will be upon us!

daffodil close up

46/52: case closed: the mystery plant

cropped-the-mystery-plant1.jpg trunk of the mystery plant the mystery leaves rhododendron leaves another rhododendronThe case of the mystery plant I posted about a year ago was solved by a reader, Noni, who pointed out that it is a Pittosporum undulatum and is considered a weed in Victoria.

I was at a school fete the other day as it is fun seeing what I can find at the trash and treasure stall and also at the plant stall. There were the usual bunch of succulents, but I had most of them. Among other items there was a plant just like the one above. Because it looks a little like a rhododendron, I imagine some poor unsuspecting soul might end up buying it under a misapprehension. At least it wasn’t me!