19 Oct 2014

more spring

I know we have just had a Garden Share Collective post, but I really couldn't help sharing my beautiful garden with you again. Because it really is at its peak right now, bursting with colour and textures and ruffles and perfumes. Every window in the house frames a joyous view; every time I drive home and up the driveway, the cares of the day, of the world, melt away.

It seems that only a few weeks ago, I would look out my large front windows (below) and wonder what was wrong with my garden. So dormant, so stunted, so silent. Nothing but twiggy bare things, stubby little shrubs almost belligerent in their refusal to grow.

Then, as I said in the Garden Share post, things began happening, and right now, every day brings a new glory. Over the weekend I found fat bearded iris buds, swollen with promise; a day or two later they are beginning to unfurl their mauvey-blue prettiness. I like clumps of colour together, so I have a red/orange area, a pink corner, a white one, green one, and blue/purple one. I like to explore the different tones and textures within the one colour; plus it makes purchasing decisions easier: 'I need something to fill that corner in the white garden!'.

Which brings us to purchasing. I have been going slightly mad lately, and it wasn't helped when the one of the major hardware chains held its annual 'carpark sale' of everything for the garden. Dad and I deduced later that things weren't necessarily cheaper, but it was a good marketing ploy, and boy it worked for me.

In the past couple of weekends, I have bought and planted french blue cinerarias (smack-bang in the middle of the above picture), punnets of soft-blue ageratum, royal purple petunias (both absent from my garden for a few years now), some autumnal mimulus, hot pink and tropical orange 'million bells' for two new hanging baskets, and a white native hibiscus (one of the few natives in my garden; I also have a very reliable purple one).

I bought four zucchini plants, which are already doing well beneath my heavenly curtain of yellow banksia rose. As a rule (yes, a rule) I do not like yellow flowers (besides daffies) because yellow is the colour of common weeds (piddle-the-beds!), but there is no mistaking this fluffy climbing rose for a weed. Magnificent, and very good at blocking views of neighbours' yards.

I also finally got some strawberry plants for my beautiful retro pots that mum had given me months ago. Four different varieties of strawberries in the top; when mum and dad came up recently, mum bought along along some little pretties from her garden and filled the other pockets. There is something wonderfully old-fashioned about the design of these pots that I have always loved, and I am very pleased to now have two of them.

And here is what you have all been waiting for. Okay, well, it's definitely what I have been waiting for. Tomatoes are IN! Ten plants, nine varieties, all grown from seed by dad. Dad demonstrated how they were to be planted, then while he conveniently nicked off to (another) hardware sale, mum and I got to it. Well done us; it wasn't that difficult actually. The hard part is to come - as I was checking them last night (still all upright and healthy), I realised I have to start remembering what to do with laterals. That's very stressful.

Finally, finally, I give you my renovated outdoor area. Over the winter months, I had the flakey, rotty, wonky wooden frame and brittle, discoloured, just-plain-ugly laserlite roofing of my outdoor area completely pulled down - and rebuilt in lovely new-new-new materials (not by me, or by dad; by professionals). I treated myself to new-new-new outdoor furniture (not hand-me-down or wonky tip-shop finds) and have been busily 'decorating' the space, re-arranging the furniture layout many times, moving pots and these very stylish cone-shaped hanging baskets around (here? or here?). Mum and I made new slip covers for the grey cushions from an old but lushly tropical-print doona cover. I love sitting here with a cup of tea and a magazine, looking out over my garden and watching the blackbirds scruff for worms for babies somewhere, and listening to them warble. I think too they are enjoying this time of year, and my colourful, bursting garden.

5 Oct 2014

spring garden share collective, october

This year, spring seems especially beautiful and vibrant. From the flaring purple of the echiums that loom large along the main roads, the deep raspberry and ballerina blush of blossom trees, and the limey, lively iridescence of my own birch trees, colour is cheerfully assaulting my eyes at every turn. The daffies may be withered and crisped, but the bluebells, a pale lavender-blue, have taken their place, as have the snowy white of my giant freesias.

But close your eyes and you still don’t miss out: I can breathe in deep lungfuls of sweet jasmine, hanging heavily over fences, common yellow freesias, and the best smell-of-summer, freshly cut grass.

The weather is typically chaotic, with a stifling summer-like high of 28 one day (more likely in January than September) followed, somewhat predictably and ridiculously, by snow-on-the-mountain a couple of days later. But mostly, we are enjoying the fine, bright days. My friend V said to me, in the depths of winter, don’t you think it’s weird that we live in a place where for six months — or more — we wished we didn’t? And she’s so right; all of winter is spent waiting, growling and sometimes despairingly, waiting for now, for these lovely days, these weeks of firsts: the first fat blossom bud on the apricots, first tender leaves on the birches, first proud tulip, first fragile sprays of native orchids.

Mum and I marvel how each day brings new surprises in the garden. ‘Check your ixias / lilac tree / bluebell patch’ or ‘My viburnum tree has small green pom poms — has yours?’. Like old men entering their prize blooms in church-hall flower shows, we do get competitive about our native orchids and our begonias (first, biggest, best) but mostly these conversations are prompts to look out for and enjoy nature’s joyous awakening.

Now that dad has completed my vegie garden, and the warmer weather is finally here, I am very much enjoying being out in my backyard. The form of the garden beds brings a pleasing structure and sense of purpose to the space: here is where I’ll grow my food, here is the lovely woodchip-and-paving-stone pathways, and then here is the space for flowers, to bring bees and colour to the garden.

Yes, the space has a very positive and purposeful feel now — not so slapdash or amateurish. I guess only I am aware of that feeling. It’s a joy to walk along those proper paths, to work in the beds, water the pots lining the edges, and of course, start sowing crops.

So far, I am starting modestly. Beetroot and small globe carrots along some of the edges, companion marigolds and a rescued pot of pyrethrum in the corners. Peas, beans and scarlet broad beans; frustratingly, I had to re-sow the beans as only one seed in two rows germinated. I’m being sensible this year and doing only a couple of rows of each right now; in a few weeks’ time I’ll install more trellises and more peas and bean seeds. Hopefully this will produce successive or staggered harvests —something that in my usual spring enthusiasm to sow the entire space now I have never before mastered.

Plum has finally put on her finery: only a small corsage of two delicate white flowers, but now, a sturdy coat of bright green leaves along all her branches. Such a relief; she no longer looks like a dead stick but a happy, healthy young sapling with her green arms outstretched, as if to say, for us all, ‘Spring is here, and life is good!’.
Don't forget to see others in the Garden Share Collective. Click on the logo in the column at right to see more green thumbs.