Monday, 28 May 2012

John's retirement

John has retired to take up his new role as chief gardener, boat builder and cook.
There was a party at his workplace on his last day.


He was presented with a collage of memories - the people he worked with over the years, funny things that had happened and some of the serious ones too.

I left work early to join them for the celebration

There was a meal followed by speeches and a retirement cake. 
 John had to have his State of Origin flag on the wall.
(It's that time of year here)

a collage of the party

Then on Sunday we had another celebration -  a bar-b-que in the park (in true Aussie tradition) with some of his ex-workmates and their families.

They surprised him with a wonderful gift of an assortment of his favourite things including fudge and cheeses, coffee, rum and chutney, a bromeliad, a photography book and long handled garden tools - from the people he had worked most closely with.

The perfect Autumn day and clear blue skies reminded me that even though life changes, each season holds its own beauty.
My best friend and I have much to be grateful for and much to look forward to.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Signs that Winter's on its Way

Misty mornings

A very chilly swimming pool

Lemon blossoms

Missy in her coat curled up in a sunny spot


Me in my new slippers
They have little wheat packs you can heat in the microwave.
and
Apple crumble and cream for dessert tonight.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

GBBD May - Quick before they disappear

Only 2 weeks to go until winter is officially here.While most of our flowering plants prefer the warmth, we are lucky to have something flowering in our garden all year round. Change of seasons marks a changing of the guard.
Poinsettias are just starting to show their colour and will provide bold bright colour through the cooler months.

A close cousin, Snow Flake Euphorbia leucocephala is starting to bloom as well.

Most of our other plants are slowing down for Winter - like me. This morning it was 1 degree C and a bit harder to get out of bed.
Many of our plants go dormant or (at the very least) look ratty over winter. They are being chopped back and shredded then given a nice deep blanket of mulch to keep their roots warm. Others will continue to flower all through winter but are not at their best in the cooler months.




A few hibiscus continue to bloom, but only an odd flower here and there. They will be pruned back by approximately a third over the next few weeks. We grow these three as a hedge along the side fence of the pool area so they need to be kept under control.

The Brasilian Red Cloak is an autumn flowerer and will soon be finished.

The Alamnda is almost finished flowering as well. It will be cut back to about half its size.

Strelizia continue throughout winter but with less blooms. At least there are a few flowers left to enjoy.

The Long Johns Triplaris surinamensis are in flower. We have two males and while their flowers aren't as colourful as the female tree, you must agree they look like golden sparklers in the sunshine.

Callistamen keeps flowering
The heliconias are holding on but need to be cut back soon. Each stem flowers once then dies back. We won't see them again until the weather warms up.


In other parts of the world it's Spring and gardens are bursting with blooms. Check them out at Carol's May Dreams Gardens.

Before you go though, I have to show you my bromeliad flower again.

This is the same flower I photographed last month. Not only are they huge, they last for ages.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Developments in the vegie patch


Progress is noticable with the seeds planted a couple of weeks ago

The snow peas look like healthy little soldiers lined up for parade. We had a week or so of fairly constant rain after they were planted so were very pleased when they all came up.

The broccholli is growing like mad. I tried the purple variety this year - just for something different. Behind them on the trellis are some snap peas and some garlic next to them.

Our little Lots-a-Lemons tree has lots-a-buds.
I'll remove most of them and just leave a couple to develop to fruit because it's still a very young tree.

The other older citrus trees are covered in fruit.

The lemons are starting to ripen. I heard somewhere they need a cold snap to really do well.
We've given away buckets full of limes already and they keep producing. Lucky there are so many wonderful recipes needing limes.

There are other developments as well.
The vegie patch has always been my territory. John constructed the beds and pathways between them for me. He has watered it for me and helped dig through compost sometimes but it’s been MY area.
He hasn’t exactly scoffed at my obsession with growing food but he hasn't shown all that much enthusiasm either. I think he would prefer we bought our vegies from the supermarket rather than the many hours I put into raising them from seed, particularly when my efforts result in a less than spectacular harvest.
One of the problems we have is that I very rarely mark what I've planted and I will plant half a row of something and the other half of the row will be different - like the half row of carrots and half row of parsley. John swears parsley and carrots look the same until you pull them up.

But now he is retiring and has more time to garden, it was John who planted the snow peas and the potatoes, and it’s John who is checking the progress of the seedlings.

He's already given the potatoes another layer of compost and hay and it's now John who is dragging me out to the vegie patch to show off his babies.

It won't be a complete role reversal but there are obviously going to be some changes. He’s going to have to learn to recognise the plants and I am going to have to learn to share my vegie patch.


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Planting Weeds

While looking for gardening books on the web recently, I discovered this one.

The blurb says it identifies the 100 most common gardening mistakes and helps gardeners prevent or fix them. The book's 24 chapters apparently tackle every kind of gardening disaster.…. They boast “This accessible guide will transform an anxious gardener into an informed, confident, successful gardener with a mistake-free garden.”

I haven’t read the book, but it got me thinking – who has a mistake-free garden? Certainly not me.

One mistake I make sometimes is planting weeds.

I don’t mean that I plant nut grass, cobblers pegs or bindies. They can get into the garden without any help from me.What I do mean is that I have many times planted the wrong plant in the wrong place -- something that seems like a good idea at the time then later I regret. Does that make them weeds?

One plant I wish I’d never planted is Alternanthera brasiliana 'Ruby'. We call it red stuff. This is has turned out to be nasty evil plant.


If cut back every few weeks it forms an attractive border but it's very fast growing. It currently is overdue to be pruned.
The problem is that when you prune this thing every little piece that gets left on the ground will shoot into a new plant. It also sends out long runners and where they touch the ground they become new plants. I dig it out, but if a small piece of root is left in the garden, it becomes a new plant. 
I thought it looked so nice when I first planted it.

Alternanthera brasiliana 'Ruby' as a trimmed border

If a weed is simply a plant growing where you don’t want it to grow, some of my weeds are as big as trees – Actually they are trees. We have trees that have self-seeded from birds dropping seed. Most we remove as soon as we spot them. A couple we decided should stay and a couple John says can wait until after he retires. In the photo above there's a jacaranda that self-seeded. It will probably need to go.

 Many of my planting mistakes are simply the wrong plant in the wrong place (in shade instead of sun for instance). That is easily rectified. I just dig them out and move them. In my opinion they become weeds when they won't take no for an answer and I can't get rid of them or they're invasive.

Calathea zebrina is another nasty in my garden. It looks lovely doesn't it?
That's how it fooled me. This is a patch I "weeded" not too long ago and it has come back with a vengeance. Most calatheas are perfect for my garden. They have attractive interesting foliage, stay in neat clumps or form an attractive groundcover and grow well in shade. This one will grow anywhere, has hairy stems that make you itchy and will spread to engulf everything in it's path. It has a vigorous root system and if even a small piece of its root is left in the ground it will regrow. A true weed.


Have other people had things they wished they'd never planted or is it just me?

You would think by now I'd know which plants are best for my garden and which aren't.  More often than I care to remember I’ve been seduced by a good-looking plant and brought it home even though it wasn’t right for my garden. I still do it… I see a plant... I fall in love..... until it dies or becomes a nuisance… a weed.


My mother told me "You never know a man until you live with him so choose carefully"
She didn't warn me about plants. 

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