Sunday, 28 June 2009

a little summer insurance while back I noted that two of my camellias died this summer.  I'm pretty sure the one on the end died because in the afternoon, the brick bed is exposed to the hot sunlight.  That hit the camellia with a double-whammy: no shade plus hot, dried-out soil.  So I decided to invest in a bit of insurance to try to keep the new addition alive this summer.  I found another pointy conifer, I think it was a Sentinel Juniper, and I'm pretty sure it's the same species as the other pointy conifers in this garden bed.  It's still just little but it should soon grow up to provide afternoon shade both to the camellias and to the brick and soil in the bed, whilst matching the look of the other junipers.  Let's hope it works!

why I try to avoid pyrethrum

I've been having a helluva time recently with aphids.  They've been absolutely dogging my new daylilies, they savaged my hellebores and this weekend I noticed they've gotten to my brand new broccolini sprouts.  I usually try not to use strong chemicals in my yard, so for aphids I try to use white oil which isn't toxic to birds or other bugs.  But the daylillies were being hit so hard I resorted to repeated doses of pyrethrum, a bug killer that will kill any bugs that get hit with it, good or bad. for my hellebores last weekend, since it was the first time they'd been hit with aphids, I decided to start with white oil.  And good thing I did because no sooner did I soak the first hellebore, when this handsome fellow came dashing out of the plant as if to say "excuuuuuuuuuse me!"  If i'd been spraying pyrethrum, this lovely chap would probably have gotten a toxic dose before I realised what had happened.  Instead, at the most he got a light sprinkle of white oil which isn't toxic unless they get completely covered (it kills aphids by suffocating them, which is why if you use it you have to completely cover them or it won't work). is the largest mantis I've seen in my garden so far.  So when I was done soaking his home I carefully picked him up and put him back, where hopefully he nibbled on some of the leftover aphids.  Unfortunately I went back this weekend and the aphids were almost as bad.  But since the hellebores didn't look too worse for wear, I stuck to the white oil again ... just in case this little chap was still hanging about.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

golden-podded peas golden-podded peas had been making just as many flowers as the roi de carouby, maybe even more.  But for some reason the flowers weren't opening.  As you can see in the photo, they stayed stubbornly closed.  Even more worrying, some of the flowers started getting the blueish tinge to the purple colour which meant the flowers were dying off.  I was worried that they were dying without actually making peas.

Luckily I needn't have worried.  When I carefully peeled back one of the dead flowers, look what I found underneath.  A tiny, delicate, gorgeous golden pea pod.  I can't wait until a few of them are big enough to cook up and taste!  I wonder if they taste different to normal green snow peas.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

the side yard is done!

Before the horrible weather this week, we finally finished the latest big project, the side yard.  Here's a reminder of what it used to look like.
The big trick this weekend was to try to find stepping-stones to match the others in the yard.  After several trips around over the course of a few weekends, I ended up going back to the hardware store and getting something "close enough".  Bloody annoying effort.

Once we had them though the rest was pretty easy.  First we lay down the weed mat (yes, it is Dreaded Black Plastic which I railed against last year, but it's just going under rocks) and set out the step-stones.
And then we just had to fill in the pebbles.  We had heaps, both from digging them out of the fish pond and me digging them out of every single raised bed in the garden (now THAT was a pain in the #%@$!).  But how much better does this look than before?
All in all, a satisfying job DONE.

oh the weather outside is frightful

It's been freezing these last few days!  Well not literally freezing but a high of 11C which after a few years in Melbourne feels like freezing to me.  And at 4:45 this morning I awoke to what sounded like a rain of bullets on the roof.  Not bullets but HAIL.  We got hail late last winter, not long after moving here, but this was even more hail than last time.  Here was the first look out the window over 2 hours later at 7am.
Even before waking up all the way I kept thinking ... I just planted pansies!  Oh no!  And indeed the back bed was looking mighty wintery.
But luckily everything back there is pretty tough, the pansies will be fine.  I was worried the broccoli would be riddled with holes from the hail but whilst the lettuce isn't looking too flash the broccoli just laughed it off.  It looked like a cauliflower from the ball of hail in the middle!
And finally a few pictures from down the street.  It almost looks like snow which makes me a little wistful for northern hemisphere winters.  But only a little.  I appreciate the idea of snow much more than the practicalities of dealing with it.
I like this photo because of the contrast of a palm tree and hail (no that's not my yard).
The weird thing was, I only drove about a block down the street before the hail disappeared.  I'd heard we'd have "localised hail" but I didn't realize "localised" meant "only over my house."  On the upside though, I now have 40mm in the rain gauge since Friday which is one of the best shows so far this winter.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

twig gets a new pot

My designer twig has come a long way since December when it first arrived in the mail.  Remember this little runt?
Well now it's big enough to need a new pot so I treated it to one today.  I hate plastic pots but I decided to put it in plastic instead of the big terracotta pot I first bought for her (and grew potatoes in instead).  It's just too heavy to try to use a terracotta pot that big.  I reckon it looks just fine.
You've come a long way little twig.  Now next year I expect to see some tangelos and mandarins on you!

pansies and peas

I went with a collection of shades of purple for the back beds.  They're just seedlings now but watch this space!
In the meantime, here are some other flowers about the place.  The violas on the front porch are looking particularly cheerful today.
And this is the roi de carouby snow pea.  I just love how the tendril looks perched above the open blossom.
And the snow peas are starting to pay off!  I hope we get a lot, we eat a lot of snow peas.