Monday, November 28, 2011

Garden Opening and other things

So what was the stand out plant at the garden opening that everyone wanted to talk about? Well the ‘Cobalt Tower’ echiums drew a lot of comment standing well over 3m tall. The striking fuchsia pink flower spikes of Beschorneria septentrionalis also drew a lot of comment – seeing as it was at the front gate it grabbed everyone’s attention. And the carpet of pink Erigeron 'Elsie' also drew a lot of comment. But many people were curious about the turquoise flowers of Ixia viridiflora (seen left) just coming out in the Fairy Garden. This South African corm produces a flower in such an unusual colour it always invites lots of comments.

The garden is so full of growth and so full of colour! Flowers everywhere, bees buzzing madly and the honeyeaters and blackbirds sounding their alarm calls when the currawong comes to prowl. It’s still such a joy to be able to dig a hole and see the soil is moist all the way down! And so much easier too. However the work is never done and after the opening I went around lightly pruning some of the excessive growth on such things as the smoke bush Cotinus ‘Grace’ and pulling back the poppies from smothering the aster. Euphorbia characias wulfenii needed its spent flower heads removed to let through the new growth. The bluebells have long finished and need their spent flower heads removed although it doesn’t really matter. The sweet peas are still flowering their little socks off and I pick a bunch to bring inside and perfume the house every second day.

In the vegetable garden I have planted my tomatoes, sweet corn and basil. Seeds of pumpkins, zucchini and cucumbers are popping up in my little greenhouse as well as several different types of lettuce. The rhubarb is going gangbusters as is the asparagus patch which I have just fertilised and mulched. I have also thinned the apples and fertilised the olive trees and citrus trees which are covered with flowers.

Have you noticed how full and leafy the trees are? A year of regular rainfall has obviously encouraged trees of all kinds to put on a huge amount of growth. I particularly noticed this as I was driving up the hill from the petrol station out of a neighbouring town. The street trees seemed to be shading the road much more than before. It makes you realise just how drought stressed they must have been. I certainly noticed how vigorously the weeping elm at the railway station was growing, after thinking in years past that its end was nigh. I nominated this tree for significant tree status earlier this year but was knocked back. If we could find out who planted it that might help with a reapplication. I worry that the bitumen that has been laid right up to its trunk will not be good for its long term health.

Do you know in Victoria that anyone can nominate a tree for significant tree status for any tree, anywhere? Just go to and click on Trust Register scrolling down to Tree Nomination Form. You must supply a map and photos with each nomination. You need to read the questions carefully but it’s pretty straightforward. There are ten categories including such things as horticultural value, particularly old and particularly weird etc. If you think the tree doesn’t warrant National Trust nomination, try nominating it to your local Council/Shire. This places it on the planning overlay making everyone aware of the tree and its importance.

Another thing I have noticed is how well the bottlebrushes (Callistemon sp.) are flowering this year. This genus is such a hardy one able to cope with drought once established but then making a wonderful comeback when it rains. I have seen some amazingly vibrant colours around the town – pink, yellow and purple as well as red. Cut back hard after flowering and they will put on a heap of growth. Don’t forget now is the time to be mulching your garden. I bought a tandem trailer load (I½m) of mulch from the shire depot the other day for $31. We might actually get to enjoy our gardens over summer. It looks like we may not have much watering to do!

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