Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What a glorious day!

This is the sort of day where you just feel like sitting outside in the fresh air and sunshine and drinking champagne! Cheers to delightful spring weather! And cheers to roses blooming in the garden!

Earlier this year (28 February), my gorgeous daughter married her longtime partner in a little church amongst the vineyards of the Hunter Valley. She wore around her neck a string of crystals given to my 83 year old mother when she was 3 and which she wore to her wedding in 1948. And my daughter carried a bouquet of beautiful old fashioned roses as perfectly cupped as you would ever see! Which got us wondering if we could find roses to grow that would look the same and remind us of the wonderful day we had at the happiest wedding ever!

Of course, David Austin roses have been favourites of mine for quite a few years. And I have quite a few in the garden. So when my daughter sent me a message telling me that a flower shop in the city had a bunch of roses for sale that reminded her of her wedding bouquet, I thought I would take the camera out and see what was blooming in the garden.

So here is this morning's tour!

This is Jean Galbraith. Not exactly a David Austin, but nearly. It is a sport of Abraham Darby, developed I think by John Nieuwesteeg in Victoria. It is glorious, with apricot to yellow blooms. This particular flower had two bees inside who were laden with pollen and in a frenzy of ecstasy.

This is David Austin Lucetta. I planted this early in 2008 at the front of the house in an area that was originally gravel driveway. The earth was completely compacted and as hard as concrete to dig and this rose and Jean Galbraith above were planted into the desperately sad clay soil. Last year, Jean Galbraith very bravely put on quite a show, but Lucetta really struggled. This year, she is covered in these huge, blousey pink blooms. Such a delight, at the moment nearly my favourite rose in the whole garden. She has been quite beaten around by the wind lately but flowers on.

Here's Leander on the verandah!

I take back what I've said previously about him being stingy with blooms! However, they still do fade disappointingly after only a few days.

Another gorgeous bloom on Peace!

The yellow banksia rose has gone! Last Monday, we had such a windstorm late in the day and when I walked out the front door, I was greeted with the sight of the archway leaning at a very dangerous angle. It had been blown over by the wind, lifting the concrete footings right out of the ground. I have cut back the banksia to a stump and my job today will be to dig new footing holes. Peace was not badly affected on its side of the arch and flowers on. In fact, it is probably enjoying the extra sunlight, now that the rampant banksia is not there. Will I let the banksia grow back again? Hmm . . . haven't decided yet, but maybe not.

Now getting back to the wedding bouquet! This is a rose that I planted this year in late July. It is a David Austin called Charlotte and I bought it for its cupped creamy blooms, very like my daughter carried. It was a bare-rooted stick when I planted it and is still not even up to my knees, but it's flowering! And I can absolutely forgive it for its smallish blooms, being its first ones but I'm delighted with the colour and they are certainly cupped!! Look at this - hmm . . . maybe more balled than cupped!!

Next on my garden tour came one of my favourites! It's my namesake, Sweet Juliet. David Austin must know me! Such lovely cupped blooms, but a little more apricot than the pinks my daughter carried. I have recently planted Abraham Darby close by Sweet Juliet so I'm anticipating an apricot extravaganza in the garden soon. I just love these flowers!

Here's another of my newest David Austins, Comte de Champagne. Once again, I can forgive smallish, not terrifically petalled blooms on a plant that is hardly bigger than a seedling. And drowning in gaura about to come into flower. What a thug, nice for the bees and butterflies but it comes up everywhere!

Here's David Austin Brother Cadfael. Huge flowers with the most delicious perfume. This is growing in perhaps the most exposed corner of the garden when it comes to the winds we've had lately. And it is flowering its head off! We're getting close to the colour of the wedding bouquet roses, but these are much, much bigger!

And lastly, my Graham Thomas. Also very exposed to the wind, in fact its lattice support has all but fallen down, but it flowers and flowers and flowers.

And on a glorious day like today, looking out towards the Blue Mountains, who could blame it!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Today I weeded the garden by the pool.

Well, it actually wasn't the first thing I did, firstly I went around the trees that I recently planted and again hammered in the stakes holding the tree guards. Everything looks okay, with the exception of the pin oak in the far corner near the gate and it looks like it may not have survived the move.

Then I collected up the piles of cuttings and weeds that have been accumulating and had myself a small fire. How satisfying! I swear there is a pyromaniac inside us all. THEN I started weeding the bank by the pool. My goodness, the buddleja that I planted there last year have grown so much! They were tiny little tubestock when I got them. And the acanthus are coming into flower. The bank faces the south and isn't particularly sunny, especially in winter. It is my most unfavourite place to weed, I keep thinking that I'm sure to meet a snake. And because it is so steep, as I pull out the weeds, little bits of dirt and rocks roll down towards my feet all the time and continually startled me. Then every place that a weed has come from looks like a hole, an entrance to some sort of burrow and I get even more paranoid! Of course, it's a vicious circle - the less I weed because of the fear of a snake, the more likely there is to be one there. And I have to keep reminding myself that that wasn't where I met my first Kurrajong snake in March this year - not on the pool bank away from the house but indeed in the garden bed right beside the steps down from the verandah outside the family room! And not some scaredy-cat red bellied black snake but a mean and deadly eastern brown. I saw it again in the same place a week later and on my third sighting when I was bucketing water onto the plants, I decided that action had to be taken! Brave words, indeed! I just so happened to have my trusty longhandled hoe in my hand and I went hoe, hoe, hoe and I wasn't laughing at the time! When the deed was done, the adrenalin and fear and joy all kicked in and I danced the most ridiculous victory dance on the verandah with my heart pounding. Apart from cockroaches and spiders and flies, I have never to my knowledge despatched any living creature to the other side. And it was only afterwards that I read and realised that the brown snake is regarded as the second most deadly snake in the world! Ouch! I justify my actions by the knowledge that right outside the door is way too close for such a snake, particularly with the two dogs being crazy terriers and all. Here's a picture of one borrowed from cyberspace - did I take the time to go and get my camera? Oh no, I certainly did not!

The 'experts' say that this type of snake will aggressively attack if they feel that they are being cornered or threatened, and the same people will tell you that for every snake you actually see, there are probably four more that you don't see! So my question is, if you don't see the snake, how can you know that you are cornering it? As much as I hate the thought of killing living things, this one had to go! And I put him (i.e. the bits of him!) into the compost bin - guess who hasn't been getting any compost out of the bin lately!!

Anyway, back to the weeding of the pool bank. On the right hand side of the bank, just on the flat area at the bottom, is a stump. A tree stump that used to be a black wattle, which was sawn down not long after we moved in. Leaving a stump perhaps an inch or an inch and a half high. I found it in the grass this morning when I kicked my foot into it. Ouch! Later I stepped onto the side of it. Ouch again! It got to the point where I would say to myself 'watch out for the st . . . . - Ouch!' After falling over it about ten times, even when I was warning myself about it being there, I gave up my weeding for the day and came in for a coffee.

Yum! I love my mulbery tree, poor broken thing that it is. Now, where are some good jars for jam making?

Friday, October 9, 2009

In the garden today

Leander is finally putting on a show on the corner post of the front verandah. Of all the David Austin roses in the garden, he has probably been the most disappointing. The buds appear with a beautiful apricot colouring, the flowers open with the same promise, only to fade to a washed-out pink within a day or two. And he has been very mean and stingy with the number of flowers up until now. In fact, there have been no flowers since about this time last year! The books say he flowers all the time. In his defence, I must admit that the garden there is really quite dry, but unfortunately that's the nature of my garden. Survive in the dry or make room!

My other issue with Leander is completely my own doing! When planting in the garden, it is a basic necessity to take into consideration the colours of neighbouring flowers and when you plant in a slap-happy fashion, you end up with soft apricot (or washed-out pink) Leander growing next to Reine des Violettes. Ouch! That is a clashing combination!

Reine also suffers from the dry situation in the garden but is much, much more generous with flowers. In fact, the weight of the flowers has caused the weedy stems to topple to the ground. That and the galeforce winds we have been experiencing up until today! The experts say that when pruning, one should remove all spindly stems that are thinner than a pencil - poor Reine des Violettes would be leveled to the ground!

Definitely more water required on this garden bed! And maybe a little more feeding.

What's eating you, Mary Rose? :-(