Saturday, 28 July 2012

The green and gold

Along the roadside at the moment, the wattle is in bloom.

Our national flower is the golden wattle - Acacia pycnantha which grows in the southern states.
Our local wattles are related but different species - beautiful none the less with the distinctive wattle perfume. There are many different species throughout Australia and during Winter they tranform our bushland into green and gold.
They inspired Australia's sporting colours so it is fitting that they are blooming at the moment.

I awoke this morning to the amazing opening ceremony for the London Olympics. I loved the drama, the history, the music, the humour, the spectacle, the symbolism of the cauldron and the fact that all countries included female competitors.....the hope for the future. I loved every moment.

In contrast to many Australians, I'm not a sporting fanatic but I must admit the Olympics are something very special. Where else do we see all the countries of the world come together like this? Where else do we get the chance to share the moment when someone achieves a life-long dream?
I will be watching every chance I get.
I will probably shed a tear at some stage.
I will be one of millions and millions throughout the world doing the same.
....... and I will be cheering for the green and gold.

Monday, 23 July 2012

No shortage of greens

Finally we have had some sunny weather. The past weekend was typical winter weather for South East Queensland - beautiful.

The vegie garden is thriving (well most things are). The snow peas are finally flowering and producing. They've grown so tall I can't reach to pick the higher ones even on tip-toes. I'm wondering whether Jack purchased the seed from a man selling a cow and if they'll just keep growing up to the sky.

We're harvesting bok choy and rocket so lots of stir fries and "warm" salads. Both of these plants allow for continual harvesting. I just snip off what I need with scissors and they keep growing.

The spinach isn't ready to harvest just yet but it won't be long.

The silverbeet is coming along well too. Haven't had to use the irrigation system John installed.

I don't think the potatoes are going to produce anything this time. Even in their raised tower there was too much rain for them. They are starting to die back, which should signal harvest time, but I've dug around near the plants and all I can feel is soggy compost. We may need to rip them out and start again I think.
The tomatoes are suffering as well with too much rain. The Romas have tomato wilt and the trellis holding the grape tomatoes collapsed because of the soggy ground. Lots of tomatoes have formed but they are all splitting from too much water. With gardening I always seem to have some things that go really well and some that don't. The herbs are all healthy and everything else seems to be growing well, so I can't complain.
At least we will be eating enough greens this season.

We have plenty of eggs still being produced and more than enough lemons. They combine well in a lemon meringue pie.
This fine weather will hopefully continue now for a while and give the ground a chance to dry out and the gardeners a chance to get some work done.

Meanwhile, the chief garden supervisor is taking a little rest.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Bamboo Grove

It's been a while since I posted anything about our bamboo grove. Originally I had a grand plan that it would be a major feature of the garden with shade-loving tropical plants growing between the clumps of bamboo and a water feature or two for interest along the pathways. So far, this hasn't eventuated.

The bamboo grows along the fenceline at the far side of the garden behind the chook pen. It is watered by our HSTP outlet (home sewerage treatment plant) which turns our waste water into clean water. This means they have a steady supply of water and nutrients without us having to lift a finger except to move the sprinkler occasionally. It's ideal conditions and they have responded by growing taller than our house.

Bambusa textilis.Gracilis (Slender Weavers Bamboo)

Every summer they send up their new shoots and each year they're taller and thicker than the previous year. So far, I'm not worried. We have an acre of land and the bamboo doesn't impact on the rest of the garden, but occasionally I do wonder just how big some of them will eventually grow.

Banbusa vugaris cv. ‘Vittata’ (Painted bamboo)

We chose species that are clumping, not running, and most form tight clumps. Throwing a handful of fertiliser into the centre of the clump at the start of their peak growing season helps them to stay in a tight clump as well - plus knocking off the odd culm that comes up where you don't want the clump to spread can help too. The painted bamboo has the most open clump. Because it's in the back corner, we've let it fill that space.

Bambusa vulgaris cv. ‘Wamin’ (Giant Buddha's Belly)
While still a clumping bamboo, this one has a very open clumping habit.

I love its shape and deep green colour.

Dendrocalamus asper cv.’Hitam’ (Black Asper or Betung Hitam)

This is a relatively new acquisition. We bought it 3 years ago. It is very large bamboo - actually a giant. For the first couple of years the new growth was quite small and thin but I think its established now and last summer we saw the first distinctive black and white cane. (I can't wait to see what it does next summer after all the rain we've had.)

Schizostachyum brachycladum ‘Yellow’ (Sacred Bali Bamboo)

7 years old
This bamboo was a big disappointment. It was beautiful. (below is how it looked for the first couple of years), then it started to flower and seed and doesn’t look great any more. Apparently this is typical of this bamboo. We’ll probably dig it out but if I can find viable roots, I'm going to try growing it in a pot and see what happens.

3 years old


Bambusa lako (Timor Black)

Dendrocalamus Minor cv ‘Amoenus’. (Ghost bamboo)

Giganochloa lutriostrata (Lipstick Bamboo)

This one is very tight clumping with lots of foliage giving it a mushroom appearance. The new shoots are pinkish – hence its name. The canes have remained quite thin despite being about 7 year old, so I'm guessing it is only a small growing variety.

We have another small growing bamboo in a different part of the garden. Bambusa Heterostachya variegated (Malay Dwarf Bamboo). It only grows to about 3 metre tall so is considered a dwarf. I'll show you it another day.
Even though the bamboo grove hasn't turned into the showcase I'd imagined, we've discovered other advantages that I hadn't realised bamboo could provide. The long straight canes need thinning from time to time and are ideal for garden stakes, trellises, etc. John's even made a tall tripod to hold a bird feeder.
They provide an enormous (and I mean enormous) amount of mulch which all gets used around the garden.

"Harvesting canes"
....and  last but not least - the chooks love to forage the the bamboo grove.

It's Chookie Heaven.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

July GBBD - Midwinter

We have hardly seen the sun for the last few weeks. There hasn't been heavy rain, just constant grey drizzle. On the positive side, I haven't needed to water the garden, but the negative is that I haven't got to enjoy it either. I went walking around the garden in search of blooms this morning during a break in the rain (which will hopefully turn into sunshine).There wasn't much I'm afraid. Even the old reliables that flower over Winter had very few blooms - but I found a few.

A couple of weeks ago these were a mass of blooms. Poinsettia usually flower right through winter, but not at the moment. There are very few of their colorful bracts. If you look closely at the top photo you can see brown blobs that used to be red.
Even the nasturtiums that self seed each year have no blooms.

The callistimon have a few flowers.

I started to wonder if I should give up on finding blooms.

Tibby had a couple of flowers but most were wilted from being too wet.

This hibiscus had a few flowers. Obviously it likes the rain.

Nice green leaves but not many flowers here.

At least the russellia can be relied on to flower no matter what the weather.

Lots of buds and only a few flowers here as well.

I was getting desperate. Any flower I saw was fair game for the camera.

Aha! A couple more blooms - on the justica this time.

I started thinking that my plants must be sulking because they're missing the sun.

Then when I was snapping a couple of bromeliad blooms I realized I have lots of plants in the garden that really love this weather and are flourishing.

My weeds are the healthiest they've ever been. Who said there were no flowers? This is just a selection.


To see some great blooms check out all the blogs that have joined Carol at May Dreams Gardens. I'm guessing though that none of them have such a big variety of weeds in bloom.


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

What's in a name?

Mauritius-hemp or Balinese Agave. It answers to both.

Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta' is a succulent and originates from Central America. So it’s not from Mauritius and it’s not hemp. Neither is it from Bali and it’s not really an agave although the leaves are somewhat similar.
They are related to the Agaves (cousins) and they look like they belong in Balinese-type gardens, plus Balinese agave is much easier to pronounce than it's real name.
I couldn’t find any connection with Mauritius but the leaves of Furcraea foetida can apparently produce sisal (twine) somewhat similar to hemp twine.

Whatever you call it, this is a spectacular plant. I know it enjoys our sub-tropical climate, but with a little research I found it‘s also recommended for desert gardens.

It will tolerate heat. It’s frost hardy to -7C (according to the experts) and it’s not fussy whether it gets a little or a lot of water. Nothing seems to worry it. There are no spikes or barbs like some agaves. It’s fast growing and each year or so produces one or two pups. We started with one and now have three. - My kind of plant.
But (there's always a but) you will need a lot of space. They will grow to about 3m diameter.

This one is in our local botanical garden and towers above me.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Back home again after visiting my grandchildren in Cairns during the school holidays.
The time went too quickly but we did fit in lots of playing time and a visit to a zoo while I was there.

We made things with lego

and playdoh.

We visited the crocodiles

and the wombats

Three kokaburras lined up to serenade (laugh at) us in the bird enclosure.

The highlight of a visit to this zoo for the kids is feeding the wallabies.

The wallabies weren't all that hungry, but we fed them anyway. 

Come on wallaby, just have one little snack.

Black cockatoos are magnificant birds.

A bit scary though when one screeches at you close up.

This is the layout of the zoo.
It has a very naturalistic setting with large open enclosures and is only quite small so is perfect for young children to see and interact with wildlife.

So now I'm back home, I'm checking how much leave I have to decide when I can go back again.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

After a week of rain

I know our weather is actually milder here than in many parts of the world, but it doesn't stop me having a moan. Queensland is called the sunshine state and that's how I like it but this past week has been cold wet and miserable. The weekend was just the opposite - beautiful and sunny.

Great to get back outside, feel the sunshine and get some dirt on my hands. I know that the rest of the garden loves a good soaking, but was a bit worried about how the veggie garden survived the drenching.
I shouldn't have worried. The rain has been good for the garden. Most of the veggies are doing well. Even some of the lettuce seeds have come up. My theory is that they were waiting for the right conditions.

The Bok Choy and the rocket are powering ahead.

The parsley has even germinated and started to grow. I planted the seed about a month ago so thought it would never come up.

The spinach are doing OK too.

There are even some flowers on the snow peas.....

and the strawberries.

The broccoli looks healthy but hasn't started to form any heads yet.

The only thing that's not particularly enjoying the rain are the tomatoes. Their trellis fell over because the ground was so wet. They are starting to split, and I can see wilt. So much for growing them in a raised bed and hoping that would keep them safe from too much rain.

I'm hoping the potatoes will survive. I think we will be glad John made their tower so high. They look pretty good at the moment. The forecast is for fine weather now for a while, so they should be fine.

Everything is enjoying the sunshine today.



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