Thursday, 28 October 2010

two big projects'm toying with the idea of a few big projects for this year.  The first is this corner of the front garden.  What you see there is a little cumquat tree and behind it, two ficus trees pruned into circles.  There's actually a third tree to the right if you can believe it, shoved between the second tree and the hedge.  Behind them are two 3-metre-tall elephant yuccas.

I'm getting frustrated by the ficus trees.  They're so tall we can't clip the tops anymore, even with the ladder.  The path there on the left is pretty narrow but the ficus keeps growing out into the path.  I have to clip them 2 or 3 times a year just to keep them under control.  And they're so thick that no light or rain gets to the ground beneath them, making that whole area a dark, dead zone.

So I'm considering cutting down all three ficus trees and replacing them with a smaller, more open and deciduous tree.  I'll keep the elephant yuccas, they don't really fit the style but they're so tall and stunning I don't have the heart to kill them.  And I'll keep the cumquat tree.  But I'm thinking something like a crepe myrtle, or of similar size and shape, would really open up that bed.  The tree would be on the south side of the yucca, which is why deciduous would be better, when it's in winter shade it'd be dormant.   I'd be able to plant underneath it, and you'd actually see the plants! 

In any case, it's best to plant deciduous trees in the winter when they're dormant, so that's a project for next year.  But I'm open to suggestions for what to plant! other project is for the side beds.  Remember how I filled in this half with pebbles?  Well I'm now thinking that all those pebbles are wasted space.  All I need is a path to walk along, I don't need 30cm of blank pebbles!  So I'm thinking of pushing back the pebbles and moving the bed forward, all the way along the house.  On the right side, I'll extend it at the back half but probably not the front half whilst I wait for the creeping fig to cover that ugly fence.

I made some extremely gimpy "drawings" of what this might look like.  For the nearer left-hand bed, I'm thinking I might move the hellebore forward and plant something with some height behind it.  Or I might plant something short in front of the hellebore.  Something a bit lush and shade-loving, since this corridor doesn't get much sun.
And out the back half, I'll plant something more sun-loving on the left.  I'm thinking I'll replace the liriope with more miniature yellow day lilies, to get a nice purple-yellow combination when the lavender is blooming.  But I still have to have a think about what else I'd plant along the front. 

On the right I'll need something more temporary.  At the moment the back-right half gets a fair bit of sun so it can take things like marigolds and sun-lovers, but the near-right half is more shady.  So I might stick to annuals or cheap perennials in the short term.  In the long term, in maybe 5 years my vitex (in the raise bed to the right) should start to spread some shade across that whole area.  Then I'llbe able to transform that whole right-hand side to a more shady-woody zone.
This project I think I'll start sooner rather than later.  Moving pebbles is hard work so I'd rather do it in the cooler spring.  And if I move the hellebores, they're more dormant in summer. 

Just when you think your garden is "done" ... heh.

orchid in full glory little colmanara hybrid orchid is now in full bloom. The main spike is almost completely open, the second spike is starting to form buds and there's a surprise third spike just forming!

It's funny, if you look closely the "bibs" on some of the flowers are white and on others are yellow. It must have something to do with it being a hybrid ... who knows? I love it!

I hope that when the flowers finish I can keep it happy until it flowers again.

Monday, 25 October 2010

little jack frost and rosemary sage

My little brunnera "jack frost" really perked up, and surprised me with a few flower spikes!  The picture's a bit washed out but those flowers are a beautiful forget-me-not blue.
And my sage and rosemary patch is still going stronger and stronger.  It looked like this once:
And today it looks like this!

Monday, 18 October 2010

october in the garden

Just a little update of what's thriving in the garden this month.  My geraniums are at their spring best.  They've overcome some winter rust (still hanging around but not keeping it down) and they're just bursting with colour.  In fact a few branches have flopped over from the weight of the flowers!
In contrast, the side bed is usually ugly and plain: to the right of this picture is all the utility crap like the water heater.  But in this brief moment, the hebe are blooming and the alyssum are going crazy.  Look at those clouds of white!  I let the alyssum self-seed about the place, including the path.
The clivia's looking amazing too.  The begonias survived all winter long without stopping.  Doesn't quite match the orange of the clivia, but who cares.
And finally, my little maple is looking stunning!
Did I mention already that I love spring?

vegetables in october

October is a time to harvest the winter veggies and get ready for the summer veggies.  In June I planted this purple sprouting broccoli, but it didn't form a very big head.  Either I should have planted it earlier, or maybe the pot's too small.  Not sure, but the colour sure is fun and it tasted good.
I also picked the last of the French breakfast radishes.  I left them a bit too long so they were a bit hollow inside and lumpy.  And they get those weird nibbled marks on them.  They're never deep but they happen all the time, I think maybe earwigs?  In any case, I might try a different type next time, something round and not lumpy.
The broad beans are a pretty tragic story.  As seems to happen to everyone who grows broad beans, they make dozens of flowers that drop off.  I got tired of waiting and I wanted to plant the capsicums in that pot, so about a week ago I stopped watering the broad beans knowing I'd be pulling them out.  The poor plant shriveled up and when I went to pull it out, this what I found.  The poor abused thing had actually formed several pods.  I was amazed at how quickly they appeared, a bit like last year's soybeans.  One day there's nothing, the next there they are.  But still, I don't think I'll grow them next year.  I'd rather grow more snow peas, which I also slightly abused yet continued to make pods.
And finally, my tomatoes already have flowers!  Yay!
I've also planted qarabali zucchini, Minnesota midget melons, sugarbaby watermelons and a new parsley plant (the old one finally started to go to seed).  Once I harden them off I'll be planting out the capsicum and basil, and I hope to buy some rocket, a chili plant and maybe some more basil soon.  I love spring!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

first orchid blossom, continued

My first orchid blossom has now fully opened.  Isn't it a stunner?

Monday, 4 October 2010

floriade bonsai

At first I thought this was part of Floriade, but it turns out this garden always houses the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia. I was never particularly interested in bonsai but seeing these masterful examples took my breath away. Look at this beauty!
They take a long time to craft to this level. This olive tree was planted in 1957, about 40 years later it was chopped down to start shaping this tree.
This one was one of my favourites, like driftwood sculpture.
What surprised me is that many of them had moss or, like this one, tiny ferns that made it look like a little forest.
This one grouped together several small trees with a little path through them. Can you just imagine being one centimetre tall, standing under the trees?
Or this one, with a little group of maple trees on a bed of moss.
Look at the different kinds of moss, who knew they had so many colours and textures.
I sense another phase coming on - a bonsai phase. Unfortunately I don't think it's going to happen this time. They pretty much have to live outside and I don't really have a good spot for one. And they're a very, very long term commitment. Perhaps I will just enjoy the beauty by the experts.

Completely unrelated, but the currawongs in the gardens were singing so beautifully I had to take a video clip. There's nothing really to look at, so just enjoy their song and maybe scroll back through these bonsai and feel the serenity.

floriade daffs

One of the marquees at Floriade had a table full of crazy daffodils.  I'll admit I didn't bother taking snaps of the classic yellow types, just of some of the crazier ones that caught my eye.  My favourites were these first few, with super-small coloured coronas (middle bit) and crisp white perianths (the outer petals).  That last one has almost no corona at all!
Some of them had a pinkish corona, like these.
And then there were a few wild-looking types.
This isn't a tulip at all, I wrote down the name: "Fritillaria meleagris".  I just thought it looked interesting, never seen anything like it before.
Next up: bonsai!

floriade tulips

Last week I was in Canberra for a conference and stayed the weekend to catch up with friends. It happened to be during Floriade, their month-long tulip festival, so I have lots of photos to share. This photo gives you an idea of the general layout - large fields of patterned tulips and a little ferris wheel. The fields were planted to form images - everything from words to animals to lollipops - but you couldn't tell at all from the ground. I just enjoyed the colours.
This was one of my favourites - just a simple rainbow.
I think this was a unicorn or something, I just liked the coordinating colours.
Most of the fields were more like this - a crazy riot of colour.
Near the pond there was a slightly more "wild" field interspersed with daisies.
Another clear block of colour.
And finally, here and there they had these crazy "exploded" tulips, I'm not sure what they're actually called.
And I had to add this photo of some of the entertainment - a giraffe woman!
There was also this adorable old-fashioned pipe organ playing a medley of songs. I happened by when it was going through the whole book of Phantom of the Opera.

Next up, some other highlights of Floriade.

first orchid blossom and bloomin' moss later, the first orchid blossom has opened!  Well, mostly.  The top two petals haven't quite opened up but I had to share the photo.  One more blossom is fat and almost open, plus the rest of the sprig that's still probably another week or two away.  There should be flowers open now for several more months.

Also, my terrarium has already started to thrive.  Some of the clusters are getting long and shaggy, others are are growing little red pin-pricks of "flowers".  Right click and select "view image" to see it close up to get a closer view.  I'm really happy with this little terrarium, it makes me happy to see it when I'm at the kitchen sink.