27 Sept 2015

garden ramble: sprinter

Sorry for the absence! Work is super crazy at this time of the year and I come home mentally wrung out. I’m writing and editing like a demon all day, so the last thing my frazzled little brain cells want to do after hours is even more — especially thoughtful, creative stuff. All I want to do is sink on the couch with a juicy gin and tonic and a magazine full of pictures, absolutely no words at all please.

My garden is a calming retreat (especially with that G&T in hand), and finally the days are getting brighter and better. It’s ‘sprinter’ here in Hobart — have you ever heard that word before? It’s perfect for this hopeful but maddening time of year, when there’s a day or two of glorious weather followed by too many of frost-forecasts and gloom. It’s when everyone starts grumbling that winter really has gone on for too long now, please (and my goodness, it’s been a doozy of a winter this one).

The daffies and jonquils and freesias and blossoms are providing much needed colour after the grey of winter. But we all know realistically that we could still have a treacherous frost or snow dumping in late October. That’s sprinter.

But I’m out in my garden. Last weekend I dug in the green manure crops I had going in my hibernating vegie beds. ‘Crops’ may be too lofty a word: it was a motley patchwork of soft wheat, chickweed, sweet peas, a lot of nettles and other assorted weeds that I let do their thing.
The garden bed before digging over. I grow good weeds, especially nettles and chickweed!


First I hacked the lush, soft green growth into pieces with old shears from mum ...

Then I chucked about some sheep poo and mushroom compost, before finally digging the beds over to cover and incorporate everything. The bed that held the tomatoes was particularly hard work, as it had been walked over all summer when tending and harvesting the toms. So after a few hours of that, a scalding hot shower, the couch and that gin was very much in order. Anyway, I’ll let it sit for another couple of weeks — early to mid October is when I’ll start sowing my planned crops.
After. I couldn't bear to dig the dark purple violas in, so they are safe for now
Some of the vegies that have been slowly, valiantly persisting over winter: Broccoli, purple peas, silverbeet


The resident blackbirds loved my work, of course. They are so very tame: they know that whenever I go near the beds,  chances are I’ll uncover some worms for them, so they fly right down next to me, waiting for me to unearth their dinner. I think we have a bit of a deal brokered; they can have some juicy worms, but they aren’t to eat all of them. Anyway, I do like their company (and their lovely melodic song) and a few worms is a small price to pay for knowing they feel safe and welcome in my suburban backyard.

Oh, and my PSB

What else? Two new passionfruit vines (from mum and dad) are in...

... and swaddled and coddled like babies. Literally — the day after we planted them we got frost and snow warnings, so I constructed a frame, and for a few nights I wrapped and pegged an old sheet around them for protection. The vines are beautifully soft and tender, so I was not going to risk them being damaged by cruel frosts (that’s what killed my first passionfruit, a year or so ago). It’s perhaps rather apt that the result makes me think of crime scene tents.

Framed ... and tented

A victim of the process. Sorry, pansy

In other major news, dad, mum and I spent the good part of one Sunday finally getting a frame up on the front wall of my house for the climbing roses (a soft pink Pierre du Ronsard and a hot pink Zepherine) to clamber over. It looks a bit pathetic at the moment but I am patient, I know in time they’ll cover the blank wall beautifully, fragrantly.

I also took the opportunity to get mum’s advice on the pelargoniums that were in front of the roses; once so pretty but now, frankly, taking over the joint. The result is that most of them were hacked out to make way for a greater variety of plantings.

It looks bare and ugly right now, and there is much to do here and elsewhere in the front garden. I have a specific list of new plants I want — a green boronia, a purple perennial wallflower, one or two bird-attracting grevilleas, and some pretty annuals such as zinnias and petunias.

I am learning that gardening is a long journey over many seasons, requiring great wells of patience as well as creativity, team work and hard work.

Some more colour from around my garden



  1. You have been busy, it's lovely to see the season turning with you, as we head into autumn. Fingers crossed for your passion fruit vines, that's one of my favourite fruits. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. CJ xx

    1. thank you CJ, yes isn't it nice to see sunshine in the photos?
      I hope you had a lovely weekend too CJ.

  2. I love your violas peeping through, they are such pretty flowers. I had to smile at your passionfruit protection, we really are all quite daffy gardeners, but oh what a great thing to do! Sprinter is a new term but quite appropriate as weather here in mid north coast NSW has been up and down as well. It is lovely to see your garden and your plans for upcoming Spring gardening :D

    1. hi merryn! other people are telling me they are wrapping their tomatoes and other little seedlings up .. the things we do! i'm glad you enjoyed the post, and the violas :-)

  3. Your garden is looking wonderfully spring like. Do you have an autumn version of sprinter I wonder? We grow rather good weeds too!

    1. hello fellow weed grower :-)
      i hadn't thought of an autumn-winter equivalent. 'auter'? I think 'sprinter' comes more out of that frustration that the cold weather just keeps hanging about - no one minds if, at the other end of the year, winter is delayed! but autumn here is quite possibly my favourite time of the year.

  4. Gorgeous! We are having the same; warm days that get you all keen and ready to go and then it will cool down again and I'll have to light the wood heater. I look forward to seeing more of your lovely garden.

    1. hello Jayne, and welcome to dig in! you've hit the nail on the head. bare legs and tootsies one day - woollen scarves and thick socks and 17 layers the next. maddening!

  5. Gorgeous! We are having the same; warm days that get you all keen and ready to go and then it will cool down again and I'll have to light the wood heater. I look forward to seeing more of your lovely garden.

  6. This is a reminder I need to grow chickweed...well done. The picture of the pansy is how I feel at the moment LOL. We have G&Ts in common :)


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