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.
It 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.
Although not a very glamorous look, hopefully it will prevent further deterioration.
One of our many Castewallen Gold conifers had some offspring. Situated just in front of the rhododendron, a successful cutting I took from the huge purple-flowered one in the front yard, is the rogue conifer.
As the conifer has grown larger, I have realised that its position is untenable, as it blocks the pathway and possibly inhibits growth of the rhododendron, necessitating the move.
My personal labourer came to the fore again, and did the necessary digging and re-planting of said conifer. Although I work extremely hard in the garden, I appreciate his help in situations such as these, where brawn defeats creativity.
Now it has a new home, and hopefully it will continue to grow, but this time I will keep it in check with regular pruning, unlike the previous giants we have had lopped or removed.
The path is now clear as is the view looking up towards the top tier.
To help get into the mood for my proposed revamp of the back garden into a tropical oasis, (or at least a hint of the tropics), I was looking through the rest of my photos from Thailand, where beautiful tropical plants flourish.
This purple bougainvillea caught my eye. No, it is not a town where bogans live. The mass of purple reminded me of my rhododendron from a distance, but up close it jogged a long-distant memory of a purple bougainvillea that grew down the side of the house in Mitcham where I grew up. Then that made me think of Mum and Dad, whom I still miss after eleven years. I don’t think you ever stop missing your parents when they are gone.
Once in our early years here I tried to plant a bougainvillea with no success. Perhaps I didn’t choose the right position? No need to give up completely – I may well try again, particularly since I am heading down a tropical path.
We were only gone to Thailand for ten nights, plus the two overnight flights, but in less than two weeks I have come home to a garden in need of maintenance. Weeding and pruning are on my list for the weekend, once I adjust back to our Melbourne time zone.
However, on the bright side, flowers are blooming and the purple rhododendron is in full flight now, so I didn’t miss it after all. Before we left, it was just beginning to flower. Today, we returned to this welcoming sight:
Even the neighbours over the fence can appreciate their beauty.
In ten years the front garden has changed a lot, with the addition of another weeping Japanese maple, the removal of the large conifer, the invasion of the fishbone ferns and creeping succulent, and getting rid of the lawn in that area. All this is an example of my ever-evolving garden.
Now the rhododendron is somewhat sprawling in nature, and has yet to fully flower. It always seems to flower around my husband’s birthday, which is tomorrow, but this year it seems to be a little slow. We’re going to Thailand on Sunday night for ten nights, so I may miss some of the flowers. However, I think I can manage to pay that price for a tropical holiday!
Meanwhile, I have been working steadily to write and schedule posts to cover the time we are away, so that Project 365 (366) can continue uninterrupted, and while we are away I can be working on my travel blog: Travels with Princess and Quiquinou. You might like to take a look so that I can share my holiday with you 🙂
Never quite the same since the drought of 2009, a decade ago the rhododendron was neatly pruned and covered with a mass of purple blooms.
As we celebrate Father’s Day on the first Sunday in September in Australia, I think of my dear departed Dad. He has been gone for eleven years now, and I don’t think I will ever stop missing him. Obviously over the intervening years it has become easier to bear, as time is a great healer.
Now in my garden I look around at things that remind me of him, and I feel blessed. I treasure the daffodil bulbs he gave me, which these days you would probably call “heirloom” varieties.
Then there are the three plum trees. Originally only one was transplanted, but two more grew from that one; yay more plums!
And lastly, I love the purple rhododendron that we transplanted, usually flowering at the end of October.
Back in the early 90’s it was fashionable to have an all-white garden. I remember later reading somewhere that Audrey Hepburn had a garden completely devoid of coloured blooms.
We decided to have a small garden next to the extension with an all-white theme. At least this time we allowed plenty of growing room for the three plants: one rhododendron in the centre, flanked by two white camellias.
Here is a photo of the white camellia on the right.
That’s not white, you say. Yes, it turned out that the tag on the plant at the nursery had faded, making it look like it was a white camellia, when in fact it was pink.
Fortunately, by the time it flowered I didn’t really mind it being coloured, as by then I could see the limitations of an all-white garden. When it flowers, as it is at the moment, it always brings a smile to my face, as I remember how we were tricked by the sneaky camellia.
Another successful transplant to our garden was made many years ago in the form of a mauve rhododendron. My parents were moving house and thought, since our garden was a little sparse at that stage, we might appreciate this plant. And that we did. It has given us lots of pleasure, usually flowering in late October, around my husband’s and my mother’s birthdays.