Spring 2013

A word of warning: these pics are large and best opened in another window if you want to see what i’m prattling about. No words of wisdom here, just rambling on about what i’m not doing in the garden but might do one day soon. ish. depends.

The Kitchen Garden

This is determined to be a wild garden;  try though i may to bring order to chaos, it will have none of it! There’s an old fuschia struggling away in there, fig trees, a member of the plum/peach family with pink little pompom flowers, a blood lily or five, a glorious hydrangea with white crowns of flowers centered blue – beautiful! But all swamped by oyster plant. I made the fatal mistake of trying to thin it out, which had quite the opposite effect. So, i’m resigned to oyster plant and working around it.

looking east
looking east

The purple-flowering honesty in the pic is coming through violets, which is an absolute delight to walk by when there’s a patch of sun late-winter. At the opposite end of the path is the jasmine, blooming at the moment and simply wonderous with every passing. The curvy-over tree to the right of the pic is a honeysuckle tree – one of many things called a honeysuckle tree, this is a Lonicera. The tiny, yellow to white flowers it produces have an intense lemon scent toward the end of winter. The downside to this tree is that the branches do curve beautifully but are a bit low. So, whether to cut into it and remove the lower curvy-over branches that are so pretty or just continue curling up like a womble to go through that way is a quandry.

As to permaculture principles – that’s Zone 1 out the window. I know, i know “you could still do quite a few herbs and vegies in there”. i know. i just don’t want to. But seriously, don’t you think there’s enough in there as it is? A continuous project is finding what’s being engulfed by oyster plant and getting it out of there. This is definitely an “evolving” garden. I do like the deep green though and the flower spikes are great – the whole plant just states “Strength”.

and “poinky”.

The Studio Garden/Purple Shed Garden

i’ve just about finished the pulling of the fulmitory and divesting of grass in this graden ~ it’s yet to settle into itself and could do with a bit more planting this season. This garden has seen so many changes. There was a little puddle here once, with ducklings. What a mess that turned out to be! Ducklings grow very quickly and shit a lot. The ducks themselves were beautiful creatures, but shit! So much duckshit. It does not pay to be ill-prepared for ducks. Sadly, a fox came along one night and bit their heads off, poor dear things. There have been no ducks nor chicken since. Welcome to Urban Lifestyle.

looking west-north-east before the blue gate.
looking west-north-east before the blue gate.

So, with that cheery tale out of the way, back onto the critique. This garden is a bit of a hodge-podge, but it’s getting somewhere. I like the little path to nowhere and am thinking of continuing the seaside daisy around the back of the large central buddleia (there are actually two in there of different shades – one more lilac, one more mauve). It’s tough, it smothers out weeds to a very large extent and it’s a self-mulcher so what the hey, why not. It’s not a comfortable garden to work in, near the fence behind the tree, so if i more or less block it off entirely with a dense planting i need only pop in there a few times a year.

The privet to the right of the table and chair needs a little something. i had originally planned to use the saplings as hedgerow around the big block but pale at the thought of keeping such a large expanse under control – these plants go mental here! So maybe leave them where they are and hedgecut them to a window shape? a ledge. a small bear. ledge it is.

The “chamomile lawn” didn’t do so well over winter, despite a hefty cloak of fulmitory – three plants survived and one of those only because i moved it into the sunlight. not so much a lover of the dark, the chamomile.

The Herb Garden/Middle Patch/Clothesline Garden/Guinea Garden/the Broken-down Shed Garden.

this garden is only about 10 years old – 2 years planting and growing before i came in and pretty much neglected it. So this one’s under serious rehabilitation. As a “herb garden” there’s only one thing it’s lacking – herbs – but it’s a wonderful suntrap; the soil a bit scoria-y, which was a surprise but a good one; and it’s a fairly hefty bit of space. So i’m taking it right back to see what we’ve got, what can go, what can do with a curvy wall….yes, a curvy wall, of sorts, is in the offing here ~ made of artemesia and curry plant or silver leaf yarrow. The yarrow does very well here – very, very well – which is why i’m hesitant to use it. But i could use artemesia and curry plant well together – the artemesia will have to be one hedged or grow to about 60cm, coming down from the larger existing one, down beside the clothesline (to the left of the line in this pic) and then a swoop of 10 or so curry plants coming behind the thyme and the lavenders, curving around, jumping the path and continuing  around and under the self-seeded nectarine to the right. imagine the scent!

There’s a Magnolia “Little Gem” and a lemon tree beside the nectarine, both of which could do with some attention.

This pic is looking from northwest through to southeast, from just inside the north-west corner, through the blue gate. herb patch

Upon relocating an old, rickety tyre-bench i discovered this, which is rather lovely and opens prospects even further:

IMG_7872the way the fennel stalks are arched is an obvious shout from Nature “do a lil sumfin-sumfin here!”. And who am I to argue?



Getting to the bottom of the Abracadabra rose.
A sport of Hocus Pocus, whose parentage in turn is Black Magic.

“Abracdabra was bred as a florist rose by Kordes in Germany the large rose nursery. But because it was a hardy rose, it was then sold as a garden one. This rose will go different shades depending on the weather. However the flowers will not be as large but darker in part-shade. It looks best in areas where the summers get very hot as the colours will go darker. It doesn’t have a fragrance only just a little in high heat. It is a tall rose and will grow to about 5 feet tall under normal conditions. In part shade the stripes become unstable and they tend to blend all together and become just one shade of red. It does have a long vase life when picked. Because Abracadabra is a sport of another striped rose which has a lot of yellow in it, sometimes one of the flowers on the rose bush will be a plain yellow apparently this happens quite often. This is a hardy rose and will do well even in zone 5 which has a snow covered winter. Growing it really doesn’t require any extra or different means. It is just the stripes that will change due to the weather. ” from HelpMeFind

“A Sport of Frisco. Novelty colouring of red, striped yellow, with each bloom magically displaying its own individual combination. The red is that of Black Beauty. Suitable for cut flower production and also novelty garden rose. Somewhat more stable and brighter in colour than Hocus Pocus.” Treloar Roses

One of my Abracadabras, this one grown on a north-facing slope in full sun
Abracadabra rose

This much smaller bloom, probably half the size of the one above, is from a plant grown amongst peach trees (so semi-shade through summer). So far, it has thrown two near-black blooms – one in early summer and this one in Autumn. As you can see, some yellow is coming though on the reverse.

Black Cadabra

black cadabra side resized

As it is a hybrid it won’t grow true to seed, so I’m thinking of propagating from cuttings of those branches that throw the darker blooms just to see if it’s the site or the DNA that’s responsible. Yeah..I’ve been sucked in to trying to breed the famed and elusive Black Rose, despite the knowledge that professional plant breeders and geneticists the world over have not yet succeeded in this quest and the incredible unlikelihood it’s going to just pop up in someone’s back yard. I’m sure I’m not the first nor the last that Abracadabra has done this to.

Some parentage info:
“Sweetheart roses are beautiful small roses which are often used as accents to wedding flowers – especially in boutonnieres and corsages.
Description: Frisco sweetheart roses stand between 18 and 20 inches tall. These beautiful little roses are best described as being a true bright yellow sweetheart rose… These roses have a small rose head which is an identifying characteristic of sweetheart roses.” Growers Box (under Overview)

“A sport of ‘Frisco’, one of the most sold cut roses in the world. Medium sized flowers of velvet red with an inclination toward black, with a yellowish reverse. It has a dazzling, distinctive colour which catches the eye. A very productive cut flower variety with good vase life. 80cm tall.”Treloar Roses

“Discovered by W. Kordes & Sons (Germany, 2000).
Floribunda, Florists Rose.
Red and yellow, stripes. Blooms in flushes throughout the season.

Sport of Black Beauty ® (hybrid tea, Kordes 1999) Not stable, reverts to Black Beauty.” HelpMeFind

Very Raised Gardening II

IMG_3299Despite receiving very little attention, other than three hosings since things started germinating, the very raised bed lives on! A lot of transplanting to do with so many seedlings popping up, which is delightful. I had not expected such a success rate as the seeds that went in were, for the most part, at least a year old and I hadn’t stored them well – which says more for the quality of seed from the sellers (Rowan’s Garden Larder and Boondi Seeds) than my germination skillz.

Still, growth does seem slow. We didn’t get much of a summer, other than a few scorchers, and it is cold (4degrees C yesterday morning – and the first frost). Or maybe I’m just expecting a bit much from such a crowd and once I do some thinning they’ll have a chance to stretch their elbows out. I’m especially chuffed to see four little Purple Dragon brassica seedlings about to push their way forward

Australian Seasons

Tim Entwisle (Gardening Australia: A Change of Seasons) suggests we adopt at least 5 seasons, such is the variability of the Australian climate from region to region. he speaks from Sydney to Jane Edmanson:

“There’s an early spring, which I call Sprinter – August and September, there’s a Sprummer which comes after that for 2 months – October and November. There’s a long summer which goes right from December through to March, a short autumn, a short winter – both just two months long and then you’re back at Sprinter.”

He explains what he means by Sprinter. “Spring in Australia, particularly in southern Australia, comes a bit earlier – it comes in about August. That’s really when we start to see things flowering. It’s the time of year we see change.”

“Sprummer is a season between Sprinter – this early spring – and summer, but it’s a changeable season. One of the interesting things with Sprummer is that it’s quite windy in lots of parts of Australia, you get hot weather and cold weather. It’s a really transition time between Sprinter and Summer.”

Vegan Review

7396615Upon arriving at our town’s new restaurant and take-away business, your humble vegie was pleasantly surprised to discover Paddy’s Waterholes politely caters for the non-meater and, so, promptly ordered their Zucchini Slice with salad. Which was delicious.

Due, in small part, to their good-sized mugs of soy coffee, I’ve returned quite a few times; the atmosphere is easy-going and congenial with our host-family welcoming, helpful and entertaining. “Good old-style home cooking” I heard someone say. So, putting that to the test (and taking a fairly serious one for the team!)  rather than the vego sushi on offer that evening, and it being Sunday, i ordered Roast of the Day and matching desert – roast lamb and choccy pud. I was not disappointed. Every bite reminded me of..I was going to say my ever-hardening arteries and a small, small lamb but actually, it reminded me of grandmothers and summer and the temptation of freshly-made choccy batter “just sitting for a bit”. 5 Celeries!


Very Raised Gardening

I constructed this very raised bed to the easterly side of the orchard for no other reason than a relatively flat space. There are five or six  hinged packaging planks (?) that lock nicely into each other, enclosing a double layer of six “milk crates” (those plastic ones used for storing kids toys and such). Some firm wire mesh went on top to help hold the layer of garden mesh which sits on top of that, full of growing medium. The mesh comes up each side about 40cm, and is held in place with shadecloth fasteners tapped into the sides of the wood. the “soil” level is around 35cm or so and made up of 5 bags of potting mix – 3 of a fairly average standard, 2 Home Brand – about 3/4 bag of cow manure, a quarter-brick of coir and that’s about it. I measured the pH a day after watering and firming – it was 8.5. Geep! Considering the largest by far component is organic matter from the potting mixes, this is probably to be expected. Two days is not really a decent interval to wait before testing either.  More on soil pH and vegies another time.


Emergence after four days! this is likely salad mix. The red flower is a tip cutting I’m hoping will root, as is the dianthus.


Go little guy, Go! I think this might be an all-seasons carrot – i scattered a lot of fine, nearly out-of-date or past-it seed on the surface, Purple Dragon Broccoli in each corner; the plan being that the salads and small things will emerge first – by the time they’re harvested the brassicas will be partially grown and ready for a top-up feed. The carrots I’m not sure about as they dont’t like a lot of manure whereas the broccoli loves to feed.


You may be able to get a rough idea of the height from this and the next picture.  It’s currently at a good resting height, though I may add another hinged wooden thing to increase the depth of the growing medium. I really took these two pictures to help me imagine what colour to paint it, though I’m very much liking “just wood”


This little patch is in it’s third year, with  things slowly being added as it starts to take shape.  It’s becoming a bit of a citrus-y patch, with the lime tree behind and the orange roses, hmm. A vision comes to those who wait.