Saturday, October 22, 2011

October in the Garden

It’s amazing how much the garden grows during spring! Over winter it just sits and sits and as I walked around checking progress in the middle of August I thought it would be looking pretty bare for my opening. But of course the warm weather and welcome rain has done its stuff and the garden is bursting at the seams! Just one week until my opening as I write this and the sound of buzzing bees fills the air – they particularly like the echiums – and the wrens and honeyeaters are darting from bush to bush.

Unfortunately a wretched rabbit has taken up residence in my garden and evidence of its appetite can be seen in the bare stalks of love-in-a-mist, the chewed roses and little scrapes at the base of the cedar hedge. For 20 years no rabbits have lived here and now suddenly there is one and I feel quite murderous towards it! I wouldn’t mind if it munched quietly on the back lawn but its targeting my plants – and the ones at the front of the garden beds to boot! It doesn’t help that daughter number 2 squeals “how cute” whenever we spy it scampering down the driveway. Now I know how Mr McGregor felt!

This year as an experiment I have planted seedlings of the giant red mustard as an ornamental in my ‘red’ garden. I saw it once in another garden and was blown away by the enormous bronzy-red leaves. The seedlings have taken off and are obviously too hot for the slugs and snails to chomp on and each plant looks amazing and has grown half a metre high. I’ll be interested to hear what people think of it. Another experiment was to sow the seed of a bronzy-red form of an annual millet. The seedlings are tiny but all green and I don’t know whether they will change colour as they grow. Never mind its fun to watch and wait. The soft-leaf buffalo lawn has responded well to some fertiliser and the warm weather and looks fantastic.

In the vegetable garden I have been harvesting the kohlrabi. We have eaten this curious cabbage relative both raw and cooked. Raw it has a great crunchy texture and is good for using for dips because its mild flavour does not overpower. Cooked it is acceptable – a very mild broccoli flavour that goes nicely with butter and salt. I have also been harvesting broad beans and will eat a bowlful for lunch soused in a little olive oil and crushed garlic (don’t come near me afterwards!) I planted the potatoes on the 24th of September and the wet weather since then may have caused some of the tubers to rot because I have a few spaces in my rows.

In the Australian native section of the garden the everlasting daisies (Bracteantha sp) planted as seedlings last autumn have formed large plants and are about to flower. The seed sown pink everlastings (Rhodanthe sp) have flowered and flowered but are susceptible to drying out and the depredations of the slugs and snails. Alyogyne ‘West Coast Gem’ is in full purple bloom contrasting nicely with the fluffy yellow balls of the clay wattle Acacia glaucoptera. Some of my grevilleas are blooming and the possum banksia B. baueri has produced enormous, fluffy and very cuddly looking cones that look like a family of possums clustered within the bush.

Twelve months of rain has done wonders in the garden and already the memory of the drought is dimming although not forgotten. In this wide brown land drought is never forgotten.

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