Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Gold Crocus

The first gold Crocus (Sternbergia lutea) has just been spotted. I was trying to remember what their timing was - looks like they come up as the mauve ones finish.

Cripes - they are in Amarllidacea too!

And the fence between next door and here has just taken a huge leap forward - I think it might be halfway. Yeeee Haaaaa!

Well Done Hellie!!!!

Hellibore (aka Christmas Rose) has identified my Mother's Witche's Brooms stick. She writes:

witches broomstick,blood lily, oxes tongue lily (I knew it had tongue in it!!)HAEMANTHUS or some botonists are trying to name it SCINDOXUS.

So I looked, and there it was in my book. And it is in Amaryllidace - with Belladonnas. I would never have picked it!

Hellibore is a new blogger on the block - Hellibore's Place is going to be fun!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Smoke Bush bed finished

I've had a lovely day in the garden today. Firstly, and main thing - the Smoke Bush bed is under control - that hasn't happened for years!!! And just in time for all the bulbs to come up - through the Lucerne (in the USA it alfalfa). Now it looks like this:

Smoke Bush Bed4

I even have a slightly larger picture HERE

And it was nice to have "H" call in while I was doing it - she is just as keen a gardener as I am (if not more), and actually reads this blog (waving to H - you forgot the Swan plant seeds). It was exciting to me to talk to someone who actually reads the blog!!!!

And H has taken home some of the salvia from this bed - I don't know which one it is (there must be millions of salvias), but it is dark blue, perennial and forms hard, woody tubers underground. Any ideas, anyone????

So, this has all caused me to think a little more about Garden documentation. I am enjoying having a craft journal (ie book), and have used a garden journal on and off over the years. But it doesn't really suit what I want to do, being commercial, and divided int o months. I want to draw squiggles with where particular bulbs/irises etc are.

I have a number of loose sheets in a drop file. But I think I need a blank book, and to write in that.

In the meantime, I have done a really rough sketch map in case anyone is really following this blog (and doesn't know my garden, like H does). Because Alice got me thinking the other day with her comment about not having any beds she can walk right around. And my front garden (and kitchen garden) is exactly the opposite.

The front garden is a number of beds right along the front, sort of influenced by knot gardens - but much simpler. In other words - two round beds and three interlocking beds.

This is a very small plan of the front:


There is a very much larger plan HERE

The Smoke Bush bed, where I have just finished, is at the extreme left in this plan.

I think I chose my plan as a way of putting in plants, rather than an overall design - mine is a plantsman's (or plantswoman's) garden - where it is a venue for growing interesting plants - not necessarily a place where the overall design is more important than the opportunity to grow interesting things.

(Or, a place where you need to find a space to fit in any interesting plant - the ability to grow it is more important than how it will impact on the overall garden design).

But having said that - one of the other deign influences was to try and get a band of vegetation across the front that might cut down a bit of dust from the increasingly busy gravel street out the front.

Now - must think more about the Journal. One day. I am going to leave my garden, whether with or without notice. It would be nice to think that whoever takes it on will love it as much as I do - and that they have some idea about what is planted where, and where it came from.


PS for today - I have found some labels (which makes me think more about documentation). My most recent Smoke Bush is "Golden Spirit" Cotinus (C. coggygria 'Ancot'), and the one I have had for two years is Cotinus 'Grace" - the purple one. I don't have a label for the ten-years-old one - I think it is just C. coggygria, although 'Viridus' rings a bit of a bell. But anyway - it is green!

And it is in a very nice bed, after today.

Red Current

Red Current is a Canberra Art/Craft blogger who adds serious garden posts (ie Latin names!!!!) to her blog. I'll be back often to check.

Friday, March 25, 2005

I still love my Smoke Bush

Bother, Bother, Bother - Alice is correct - they are Cotinus.

So which Smoke Bush is Bystropogon - I could find it on the net, without pictures - and that was what was coming out of my mind - maybe, when I was learning them, it was one of those ones where they were changing names - like I used to get Jacobinia and Justicia confused - it was the same thing - one name was on the way in for the genus, and one was on the way out.

Which is why I should avoid scientific names more. I cannot find Bystropon in any of my books, and only Cotinus in one - but not the common books.

Anyways - I love my Smoke Bushes, no matter what they are called.

Smoke Bushes

Googs was commenting on not seeing a lot of Smoke Bushes around - I know I had to search for my first one. And when I did find it in a local nursery and pounced on it with joy, the woman running the nursery commented that she had had it for ages, loved them, and no-one seemed to understand what it was.

That was the green one, that is in this bed - I think they have the more vivid colour. A few years ago I got the purple one, which is down near the gate - I don't think it has such a vivid autumn tone, or is as vigourous - but if you want an odd purple-toned bush for a shady place (the purple plants prefer shade), it is the one for you.

Then, this year I got a lime-green one, which is only small - I am waiting to see what it's first autumn will be like.

Botanically the Canary Island Smoke Bush is a Bystropogon - I thought the green one was B. canariensis - but they might all be cultivars of that. I had a quick look at the net, and ended up none the wiser - must dig out some books.

But my green one has two peaks - masses of "smoke" flowers in spring, almost enough to mulch that part of the bed when they fall, and very vivid autumn colours - which will be soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Smoke Bush / UFO bed

This is the Smoke Bush bed before I started weeding.

Smoke Bush Bed 1

It isn't a good picture, as it was early in the morning, and I wasn't waiting for better light. I was weeding. The grass is just as long in the shadows in the back, and that is where I did most of the work.

This is how it looked after the first day of weeding:

Smoke Bush Bed 2

Now I am ready for all the bulbs to come up through the mulch, and the leaves from the Smoke Bush can just fall and stay there. The bit that is left to weed is going to be murder. It is a combination of grass and suckers from a creeping rose that is all through that section of the bed.

Smoke Bush Bed 3

And this is the Crocus (at the rear) and Autumn Stonecrop in the point of the bed. This is a darker version of the common pink Stonecrop, and flowered at the same time as the crocus - they go well together.

One more day on this bed (and find some mulch for it), and I can move on to another one.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Weeding the Smoke Bush bed

Yesterday I got into one of the beds I haven't touched for ages. It is the one with the big Smoke Tree and a lot of bulbs. So whenever I was ready to do serious work, the bulbs would be in the wrong phase.

However, yesterday I got about half of it cleared. Which means I ran out of mulch, and will have to make a decision about getting more. I usually get pea straw, but have been considering first-cut lucurne - to avoid the pea seeds, which have been pretty bad in this lot. Just the pea straw is easy to get my hands on - although expensive.

Although I will soon have a lot of autumn leaves - which is another reason to get that bed done before the Smoke Bush turns - those leaves get to stay there as a natural mulch. But it won't be long before there are lots of leave - the Nyssa is turning a vivid red, and although it is small, the Manchurian Pear is turning too, and it is HUGE.

The other thing I noticed yesterday was that the March flies were out with a vengence - which is reasonable, considering it is March. And I was wearing a blue tee shirt. March flies are usually even worse at the higher altitudes, and I remember being up bush one weekend, with two track suits to wear - one blue, one brown. I wore the brown one first, and we couldn't work out why the March flies were really targeting my friend on her thighs, in her blue jeans - the bite right through fabric. We thought maybe it was the washing detergent she used on them, or something.Next day I was in the blue tracksuit, and they were all over me, and left her (in grey jeans) alone. Then the penny dropped. Blue is the only colour insects can distinguish from the grey of the rest of the world for them. That is why "Bee Gardens" are blue gardens. And those March flies were homing in on whoever was wearing blue.

So the Moral - do not wear blue clothes in March when gardening.

And yes - blogging my garden does help me get the UFO beds done - I want to be able to say "Another one finished".

Saturday, March 19, 2005

"Special" Bulbs are Planted

My "special" spring bulbs are planted out - in rows in the Kitchen Garden.

These are important bulbs that I have only a few of, that I want to treat with lots of TLC, to try and increase their numbers.

They are:

Two different sorts of pure white daffodil - I started a few years ago with only three bulbs of each, but there are just a few more now. Because I keep getting tempted to give special people "just a couple".

Some blue-green Ixia. I had them a few years ago, and lost them. I was able to get a few bulbs from a friend, but need to grow them on to increase their numbers before I let them loose in the main garden. Where I have the pink ones, and the darker pink ones, they have gone wild - so how I lost the blue-greens I do not know.

And my really special ones - my dark crimson Sparaxis. I have had the orange ones growing wild for years (Have I told you how much I dislike orange?). Then some mutated quite a few years ago to what I thought was a very interesting red. So I segregated them, and have been growing them on for a while. But last year there were a few crimson ones that were almost a "black" crimson - again, coming from the orange ones, not the other red ones. So I have very carefully segregated them, and am growing them on - then I will pass them around so they don't get "lost" (ie choked out by weeds).

And my Swan Plant is now producing seed - the "swans" are breaking open and there is a puff of white fluff, like a cotton ball, with large black seeds. If anyone wants a few (or a heap), giver me a holler - they are great for kids to grow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Another Approach to the Tomato Glut

While I may never have tomatoes in the quantities that Calidore has them, I have made a different attack on them. Now it is fresh tomato soup for the freezer, with fresh basil.

Very nice.

Although I need another sauce quantity to have enough for the year. But my next sauce batch is the Italian Sauce. Basic tomato sauce, but with extra garlic, parsley, basil, herbs and maybe some capsicums and chillies.

They are still coming.

It depends on what you are looking at

It all depends on what you are looking at.

The other day "I" called in to drop something off for my mother. Whenever he is there, I pick his brains about veggies, as he is a rather good veggie gardener. We were standing in the kitchen garden, and he looked down and said - "is that a Belladonna?"

I looked across the bed, thought "I thought he was better at gardens than that", and said, "Umm, no, it's an agapanthus".

He looked at me a bit strange, and said "Are you sure?"

"Ummm, yes".

It took two days for me to realise he was talking about the crocus hiding behind the agapanthus, that I couldn't see from where I was.

When I told him next time, he said "Life's a bit like that, isn't it."

So, here are some more of my crocuses - which the cockies have thankfully left alone. It's not the ones "I" was looking at - they have already died down.


Hopefully, in the next few days I will get a minute to get back to some of the other garden blogs. I am reading, but have not had time to comment.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Back Soon

Hi Everyone,

Real Life has suddenly got very hectic here - I'll be back towards the end of the week.

But in the meantime, the crabapple is changing colour, and there is a monster crop coming on my late-planted cucumbers!!!!!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Sauce Day

There are no words for today, only pictures:



Except to say - note the mess on the sink!!!!!

Accessing blogs

Sweet Alice is worried her checking my blog might inflate my figures. :) I wondered where they all came from. :)

Following a suggestion from Sharon at inaminuteago, I am now using bloglines. All I do is bookmark the "my blogs" part, and check that. And all the blogs I have subscribed to, where there are new posts, they come up in bold. I click on them, then click on them again on the right (you'll get the idea), and I go and read new posts. Saves me heaps of times checking blogs.

And there is a new one out there that has started in the USA that I am reading - check out Stephanie at Hidden Garden. This promises to be most interesting. Must get organised to put her in my side-bar.

Love to stop and natter, but it is sauce-making day. Big :)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Giant lilies identified - maybe

Thanks to Janet in Scotland, the Giant lilies have probably been identified as Crinum powelli.

And the wonderful thing is, once you have a name you can immediately go looking for them. And I have found this wonderful site that specialises in the Amaryllids at Barnawatha, near Wodonga in Victoria.

Caliodore - I think it is probably midway between you and me - maybe if we meet there for morning tea? Actually, Sweet Alice, it is probably about the same distance for you??? Maybe we can do lunch???

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Nerines are Coming!

Well, the Belladonnas have me beat. All the ones that are in places where I didn't deliberately plant them, are in flower. My two best clumps are not. So I am giving up on them for a while.

However today's announcement is that The Nerines are Coming! (A bit like The Marines are Coming!).

What has me excited is that I have noticed a couple of thin, spindly flower stalks coming up where I had planted bulbs from the small, red/dark pink nerine that used to be at another house where I lived. I recently acquired a few of them and planted the dry bulbs - and this is them. From memory, they were always earlier than conventional nerines.

So I had a quick look, and the white ones (which are also earlier) don't seem to be throwing up flower spikes yet. Nor the common pink. But the other interesting thing is that the whites and most of the pinks have not even died down completely from last year. The ones behind the birdbath, that get a lot of water, are lush, luxuriant green. It must be the year.

I wonder if the ones that have been left in the garden all year will flower????

But the dark pink ones are definitely on their way.

Megafauna in the Garden

I just saw a shadow go past the back door as I was munching my Weeties, and looked out to see the horse from next door on the lawn.


So I went next door and knocked on the door (which woke the dog, which barked).

Horse (large, white) got startled, and deposited very fresh manure on back lawn.

Horse paraded and pranced around a bit, and went back through the gap in the fence where D has been working on it.

D offered to take the manure as well, but Mum wants it for HER worm bin.

Talk about Megafauna in the garden and excitement at an early hour!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

A Routine Day

It's been one of those days where you do heaps of bits of tidying up, and think you cannot see anything at the end.

First, I mowed the lawn, then I trimmed the lavender. (Googs, I just hack the long, spent flowers stems off by the handful, and chop off any big bits growing in the wrong direction. I cut fairly close, just above the leaves, so I end up with these little, sort of grey domes).

Then I went to mow the mulch - mostly the lavender. I got a short distance in, and the mower stopped. I checked there was enough petrol - it was fine. Pulled it again. Not a spark. Okay, so I removed and cleaned the spark plug - but couldn't see a problem there. Pulled it again. No go. THEN I checked the petrol tap. Yep - I had turned it off when I finished the lawn. Moral - I may have short term memory loss, but I still know how to clean a spark plug!

Then I finished cleaning out a compost bin - and confirmed that the central stems of tree-fern fronds definitely don't break down in compost. So the mulcher will have to do them all in future. Spread the compost where I want to put rows of bulbs in. And hit my moral dilemma.

There are six Roma tomato bushes there that have almost finished, but have a week or two's tomatoes left on them. And I have Grosse Lisse tomatoes in great excess. And I need the space the Romas are in for the bulbs. But do you think I could pull them out???? No way.

So I went and weeded elsewhere instead. And removed all the oxalis (for the umpteenth time) from one of the garden beds.

And, to cap it all, tonight I got an e-mail suggesting my Cockatoos were "cute, feathery and cheeky". Or words like that. Cute??? The Pirana of the Bird World???? No way. But at least the crocus appear to be surviving.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Sundial Mottoes

It's been cold, wet and windy here today - definitely not outside gardening weather, so I have been tidying inside.

And found my "A Little Book of Sundial Mottoes". First published 1914, republished 1919. Amazing what they thought important at the beginning and end of World War I.

Let Others tell of Storms and Showers
I'll only Count your Sunny Hours

The motto chosen by Queen Alexandra for the sundial at Sandringham.

I must browse a little further.

Dainty Maid - the Rose

Calidore has been writing about her roses grown from cuttings. Many of mine came that way - some much more vigourous than their kin dwarfed on rootstocks for suburban gardens (and mass propagation), and some so finicky the only reason I persist with them is I haven't had time to pull them out again.

But one of my successes is Dainty Maid (1940). I have been searching for my photograph of her in full bloom, without luck. And without even much luck in finding her in books - she isn't in Macoboy's Roses (and should not be confused with either Dainty Bess or Dairy Maid), but I did find her in Vol2 of Trevor Griffiths' My World of Old Roses, but not the article I am looking for. I know she is quoted somewhere as one of the two parents of one of our famous modern roses.

Anyways ....Dainty Maid was given to me about 1985 by a woman who had collected her just after the second world war, and grown her for ever since as "Princess Elizabeth" - which is a name I could never find. Mind you, I did see a photo of her once in a popular garden magazine identified as Queen Elizabeth - which she is definitely not, in the rose world!!!!

Dainty Maid aka Princess Elizabeth is a single pink rose in huge clusters - flowers somewhat like Dainty Bess, but with yellow, not red stamens, and much more prolific. And it takes so easily from cuttings, that I have passed lots of her around. I will never forget seeing her in a bed of Hybrid Teas, half as big again and flowering her heart out.

I wish she would hurry up and have her spring flowers again, so I can photograph them to show you.

There is a photograph of a not-too-brilliant specimen HERE, behind the Galtonia (and peeping out again from the top of my side-bar, every time you open this page)

But, in the meantime, I might just take some cuttings. 'Tis the season. Don't think I need to - I just want to.And yes - it is Autumn - my two different pink Autumn Stonecrops are out in flower. And some of the Crocuses have withstood the Cockatoos.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Garden Blogging in New Zealand

Ooooh, Wow!!!! (I seem to start entries with that a lot). Thanks Calidore.

Calidore has found Moosey blogging her garden in new Zealand. And it is a stunning site. See you all in a couple of hours - I'm off back there.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Odd Mud Wasps


I found this on a branch of my Queensland White Cedar the other day. I'm used to mud wasps that build in every crevice (and hose fitting) that they can find, but I have never seen them building around a twig on a tree out in the open. I wonder if they wash away in the rain????

As far as I know Mud Wsaps are not on any list of dangeroous insects, so I am assuming this is not something that needs to go into a bottle and go into the Department of Agriculture.

But has anyone else come across one that builds like this????

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Cockatoos not welcome here!!!!


I cannot find words to describe my horror.

Yesterday, I looked out the window to see five white cocaktoos busy on the ground at the edges of my round bed out the front. It only took me a minute to realise, and fast as I shooed them off, I know they will be back. I cannot watch 24 hours a day.

They have eaten the tops off ALL my Autumn Crocus in that bed. Those in other beds, more protected by other plants (and further from the bird bath and feeding station) appear okay.

But the main ones are gone.

Not all birds in the garden are nice.