Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Rules of Gardening

That's a moot point!

Maybe not really rules, maybe just guidelines.  Ideas and advices that will help to make the best of the situation.  Like perhaps not cut down a shrub when it's in full flower.

Which is what I've done today.

And I normally wouldn't.  I totally get that most plants have a time where they are flowering and looking beautiful and other times where they aren't and are therefore living closer to the edge of that dangerous world of shovel prune!

But this was a plumbago.  Of which there are three in the front garden, or at least there were three, now there's two.  Which is probably still one too many for me.  One thing about plumbago, I don't know a single garden that has only one.  Because one plumbago soon becomes a clump of many, many stems and then shortly thereafter, a new little plumbago emerges a few metres away on that side, and another one over on that side, and a couple more out in the lawn, and so on and so on until a hedge of plumbago exists where once a single plant stood.

Suffice to say, it's not my most favourite shrub.  I hate the sticky bits.  But I do appreciate the flowers, which look like little pieces of the most perfect blue sky.  And the butterflies love it.  And the frogs croak out of it when it rains.

But it had to go.

So I started snipping, ever mindful of the probable existence of a wasps' nest inside, which I eventually found when they buzzed at me and sent me scurrying in for the can of Pea-beu.  They are such aggressive creatures, they fly right at you, one I swept out of my hair before it had the chance to sting me.  Being on the lookout for them in any reasonably sized plant that hasn't been disturbed for a while, like with a good prune or something, is something I've learned since gardening here.

There was actually two nests, this old one which looks like it has served it's purpose and another new one being built and being aggressively guarded.  After I snipped this one off the shrub, I put it on the garden wall and the ants came in an absolute swarm.

So plumbago removal looks like keeping me occupied for the next couple of days.  I will soldier on with the job, because I have plans in my head to replace the plumbagos with my Angel Face roses and purple vanilla-flavoured heliotropes and white agapanthus.

Here's an audition of the plan.  That works for me!

And which side of the driveway is this happening on - why, on the western side!  The opposite side to where I planned first to plant the new roses.  I lined up the pots on the eastern side and sat there and contemplated the look of the pinky-mauve roses in front of the hedge of Robyn Gordon grevilleas that already exists in the eastern bed and it was not sweet music!  There's something about our native flora - and fauna for that matter - everything screeches at you, be it cockatoos or galahs or grevillea flowers!

And that's the wonderful thing about gardening and the rules thereof!  You make them up as you go along and then you are perfectly entitled to change your mind and disregard them completely.  Could there be anything better?

Luscious Mr Lincoln(?) !

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Garden gloom

I think my garden has turned against me.

After the rain we've had, one would tend to think that every growing thing should be fighting fit and bursting with good health.  One would be wrong.

I've just spent the last few hours wandering from one visual disaster to another, and here are just a few!

A foxglove with a severe case of droop, with a completely dead aquilegia behind it.

Dismal blackspot on almost every single rose in the garden.

What is this weed?  It has almost completely covered the gravel path in places.  Not to mention in the garden.

This one has spread from the grass into the front garden bed, and is a mass of stems under the mulch.

Take heart, dear!  Look at the lovely, healthy looking shoots on the Troilus rose!  So much taller than the old growth.  What's that?  They're coming from under the ground?  And the ones on St Cecilia?  Oh, same thing, eh?

Better go get the secateurs.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Okay, rain's been lovely but I think we've had enough now

When we were kids growing up in Dorrigo, where the potatoes grew, and more potatoes grew, we used to sing a song at Sunday School about the foolish man who built his house on the sand and the wise man who built his house on the rocks and the consequences of their actions when the floods came.  And as simple country kids, we used to sing with great gusto "The rains came down, and the spuds came up!" (Meant to be 'floods').

Well, I've been singing that song all weekend!

And now it's Monday and I'm out in the garden singing "and the weeds came up"!  But it's so nice that the ground is damp and the weed removal is, at least, easier.

I picked up my latest online auction purchases on Friday.  10 Angel Face roses which I'm thinking I might put along the eastern side of the driveway.

Pretty things, aren't they!

But look at this one!  What the . . . . ?

Even before it started raining, we had been suffering through humidity up in the 80-90% range.  It's been just so uncomfortable.  Everything feels damp, especially me.  And of course, all the roses are showing signs of the dreaded blackspot.

Our extended period of hot, dry weather has sadly claimed some victims in the garden.  Here is an English Box that I have had in this big terracotta pot for years.

Sadly, it is not looking like it's going to recover!  Also, the pot on the verandah has in it a pink mandevilla vine which was the pride of my mother when she lived in her unit.  I brought it here when she moved, carefully re-potted it into the big terracotta pot and it was growing up the verandah post mixed up with the Leander rose.  I'm not going to tell her that it's died!

I think this is Mr Lincoln.  The blooms are like red velvet.

And Lucetta keeps on flowering.  Love it!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yikes! It's already February!

That's just ever so slightly scary, isn't it?

Today, I have spent the day weeding the bank between the hedge and the pool fence.  The entire day - it's five o'clock and I'm yet to eat lunch!  And when I say bank,  I actually mean cliff!  I struggled most of the day to maintain my footing, wearing my gardening clogs.  The agapanthus have finished flowering and I was deadheading them as I went along, pulling out the weeds and losing my gloves, which I keep removing because I find them so difficult to use.

Daisy kept arriving to help, then quickly became too hot and had to be accompanied back to the stairs to go inside.

This is where I'm up to - just look at what's coming  up next!  Kikuyu!

I promised myself this morning, I would achieve four bags of rubbish.  And I did, but they were a hard job.  There are five panels of pool fencing and I have finished weeding two!  In the end, I clambered up and weeded in my bare feet - ever mindful of the bitey creepy crawlies, but able to cling on to the slope better.  Then Daisy arrived for the umpteenth time and got stuck on the steps, I turned quickly to see and my left foot slid off down the slope and I did a very undignified splits and saved myself from falling with a quick grab of the fence!

So I have retired, hurt, to the pavilion!  And to add insult to injury, I have just looked in the mirror and have the worst case of hat hair I have ever seen!

Welcome to February!