16/15: early signs of spring

the first daffodil of 2015

Once again I am astounded that a couple of daffodils opened their petals just after my birthday on July 1st. I was just as surprised in 2012, 185/366: the daffodil tradition, at their early appearance, though in that year I couldn’t find the blue vase. Read the above underlined link for the significance of the missing blue vase.

Fortunately, we found said blue vase in 2013, so we were able to continue the tradition of 32/366: dad’s daffodils.

This year, 2015, they took pride of place on top of the crystal cabinet that I received from my generous husband on my birthday.

the daffodil tradition continues

 

 

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

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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.

9/14: back to concrete reality

Having just been on two almost back-to-back cruises, we are now back to reality. Since my husband had one more week of leave (vacation), there was a job in the back yard that has been awaiting his attention for some time.

Every now and then a paver comes loose on the bluestone steps, and the idea is to wait until there are a few to do, so that you’re not mixing up silly little amounts of mortar. Suddenly there are eight or nine that have come adrift and it becomes a big job!

Anyway, it’s done now, and looking good. It entailed him chipping off the old mortar, then painting Bondcrete on for extra adherence before cementing the pavers in place with a mix of both mortar and Bondcrete. I managed to Bondcrete three pavers and one step before losing interest and letting him do the rest. My generosity in these matters is legendary.

a chip off the old block

dabbing on Bondcrete

applying Bondcrete and mortar

It left me free to do some necessary weeding of some garden beds. We definitely make a good team, as you can see by the results.

repaired bluestone steps

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.

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.

43/52: more magnificent mauve

The glorious rhododendron is reaching the tail-end of its seasonal flowering. I can always rely on it commemorating my dear departed mother’s birthday each October, which is rather appropriate, because this plant was transplanted from my parents’ home in Mitcham many years ago.

a mass of mauvebeautiful at any anglea wall of colourblushing rhododendronmisty mauveoutside the bedroom windowThe colour can vary on a really sunny day, but these flowers are beautiful in any weather.

in bright sunlight