Friday, 31 January 2014

What a difference some rain makes

The garden is looking pretty good at the moment. We've finally had some rain - not a lot, but it's amazing how quickly plants respond.

The grass is green again, instead of brown.

Flowers are blooming.

 Would it sound ungrateful if I said, everything is growing a little too well at the moment. We seem to no sooner mow and the grass needs mowing again. At this time of year the garden can quickly become unruly without regular attention. Those two bins are my weeding bins. I can fill them over and over and still find more weeds at the moment.

Mulching the garden is always our first line of defence against both weeds and moisture loss from the soil, but ground covers can do the same job.

The pathways in some areas are becoming narrower as plants spill out over them.

Can you see the trailer in the background? John took 3 trailer loads to the dump last weekend - mainly weeds, lawn clippings and palm fronds. Actually the bulk of it was palm fronds. At this time of year the palms are producing new fronds and discarding their old ones. We have a LOT of palms so it's a constant job collecting the dead ones. They don't compost well so we take them to the dump where they turn green waste into garden mulch to sell.

John is adamant that our next garden will not have palms, but I may sneak in a couple.

I've taken 6 large cuttings from these frangipanis (Plumeria obtusa) and another six from our Plumeria pudica. I can see them in the new garden. Both are evergreen varieties.

The greenhouse is starting to fill with cuttings. I've added some Dracaena reflexa (Song of India),  about a dozen pots of Philodendron xanadu and some of the thinner leafed cordylines (Cordyline marginata I think) Maybe someone can correct me. This is it below.

I don't know how much gardening area I will have to play yet. We still haven't decided on a house to build. Pretty typical of me to think more about the garden than the house.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Making new plants

I've begun taking cuttings from some of my favourite plants ready for the new garden. This is just the start I will be propagating many plants over the next couple of months.

 Nandina domestica (sacred bamboo) is not a bamboo at all but makes a wonderful border or low hedge along a side fence.

 I can't have a garden without cordylines.
 Coleus grow so well from cuttings they will often strike if I drop pieces on the ground when I'm pruning. I think they make a good "filler" plant to fill empty spots in the garden.

Crotons are another mainstay of any tropical garden and grow well from cuttings. I usually start them in water then transfer them to pots once the root have formed.

 Step one was to get everything ready. I'm using an old table as my potting bench and a black plastic tray to mix the components of the mix. For cuttings I like to use a mix of normal potting mix, sand and vermiculite, plus some water crystals. I don't add any fertiliser at this stage because all I'm aiming for is root development. I want the mix to remain damp but have enough drainage to ensure the cuttings don't rot.
Because I want as many cuttings as possible I will be using styrofoam vegetable boxes until they have a reasonable root system, then they will go into pots with a less open mix and some slow-release fertiliser.

John washed out some pots in a bleach solution to ensure the new plants will be healthy.

The cordylines, sacred bamboo and coleus in their boxes.
The crotons I placed in water in October/November were ready to go into pots. They all have good root systems and have started to produce new leaves. They should really take off now.
The greenhouse is still looking quite empty but in a few weeks time it will hopefully be packed with new plants. I'm probably doing many more than necessary for the new garden but they won't go to waste. Friends with gardens will find homes for them.
Next weekend the aim is to do more cuttings and to divide some of the clumping plants as well - looking forward to making lots of new plants.


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

It's been hot

Reminiscent of  Robin Williams in "Good Morning Vietnam" the weather recently has been HOT, DAMN HOT!!!

This is what 43 degree C heat does to tree ferns. Last Saturday was the worst. Because we were forewarned that it would be a hot day, I went out into the garden at 6 AM to beat the heat. I gave up at 7. It was too hot to continue.

We spent most of the day indoors in the air-con. The poor plants didn't have that choice. I'm sure they would have pulled up their roots and moved under cover if they could.

Where the sun touched leaves, they were burnt.

Fortunately much of the garden is shaded. You would be forgiven for thinking that tropical plants thrive in the heat, but you would be wrong. They like humidity and warmth, but hate the hot dry weather we experience here.
At about 5.30 PM we ventured outside and headed straight for the pool, then watered as many parched plants as possible. Sunday was hot as well until a thunderstorm hit and the temperatures cooled down.
The hot spell is over now and temperatures are back to the low 30s but there will be more hot spells to come (after all, it is Summer).

Caladiums I bought last summer have reappeared after their winter sleep. I was going to plant them out in the garden, but I think they can stay in their pots and come with us to the new house instead.

The fish waiting for breakfast.

The pond needed to be topped up on the weekend. The heat evaporated quite a lot of water. Luckily,  it's shaded, otherwise we may have had boiled fish.

I have a long list of gardening jobs so I'm hoping next weekend won't be as hot so I can work for longer.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The year ahead

Oh dear, time has flown. It's been over a month since I last posted. Christmas has come and gone and 2014 has begun. The start of a new year is always a time for reflection and anticipation for me (as it is for most people I suspect).

We have had an eventful time over the past month with some wonderful and not so wonderful things happening here.
After looking at numerous homes for sale on Bribie Island, we couldn't find one we really liked..... so we bought a block of land and we are building a house. It will take most of this year before it's completed so the plan is to have Missy's garden and our current home looking at it's peak so that when the time comes to sell it will be irresistible to potential buyers.

This is not the best photo, but can you boats adorned with Christmas lights?

 We spent a weekend at Bribie in December when they have their annual Christmas lights boat parade. About 50 decorated boats make their way through the canals while the houses along the canals (also lit with Christmas lights) host parties to cheer the boats as they pass.

I think I'll enjoy living where the whole community goes to so much effort to celebrate Christmas. Maybe next year John's boat will be in the parade as well.

John is recovering well from his surgery but, not to be outdone, I have been ill as well and had to have surgery of my own on the Friday before Christmas. I'm doing fine now though.

Consequently we had a fairly quiet Christmas with a couple of family members and some good friends joining us for the day.

The girls and John decorated the roof of our back deck with little birds and baubles.
They also set the Christmas tree up outside.

We spent the day feasting on seafood and salads, swimming, resting, drinking and generally relaxing.
A typical Australian Christmas Day.

2014 will be a busy year for us. It may seem we have quite a while until we have to sell the house and move but I'm sure the time will fly by. We currently have a large house on an acre of land with a 3 bay shed as well as a 2 car garage. Can you imaging how much "stuff" we have accumulated? Our new house will be much smaller so we will need to decide what things we wish to keep and which are to be disposed of. I foresee eBay and garage sales and donations to charities, and possibly quite a number of discussions over what goes and what stays.

The new house will need a new garden, so I plan to propagate as many plants as possible over the coming months. Many of the plants in Missy's Garden have been grown from cutting, division or seed so we will have a good start for the new garden. The challenge will be deciding which plants.

A busy but exciting year ahead for us. I hope we get everything done, and I hope 2014 will be a great year for you whatever you have planned.


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