Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February Already!

It seemed to be a slow start to summer proper this year, but the heat over the New Year period reminded us gardeners that although we have been blessed with lots of rain, the summer heat is not to be forgotten in the garden. I hope with the easing of water restrictions that you haven’t gone back to the bad old days of sprinklers left going for hours and driveways hosed down instead of using a broom! My sole concession to the increased moisture in the soil thus far, is to replant the red cannas that have been languishing in a pot for years.

I had a lot of work to do in the garden just before Christmas. Many of the annuals that looked so good over spring were finishing and needed to be removed as they were smothering neighbouring plants. This included all the poppies, sweet peas and the love-in-the-mist (Nigella sp.). I really must thin them out next year so only a few grow to maturity as when they die they really do leave a hole in the garden bed. Weeding has been a never ending priority too in a way I have not seen for over a decade. The compost bin has been full to overflowing with prunings and weeds. I am amazed at the smokebush Cotinus ‘Grace’ as it has not stopped growing since spring. It seems each day I spot another whippy growth reaching for the sky. These I have shortened as they have appeared and then several shorter growths are produced with alacrity. I am also considering giving the purple berberis a haircut as it has grown nearly 500mm all over since spring!

I thought I was going to lose the white plumbago during the big wet as it didn’t grow very much; what little growth it produced had blackened and withered tips and its leaves turned yellow. However it struggled on and is currently covered in flowers although still with yellowish foliage. The dwarf white agapanthus that I have planted along the street frontage also looked like giving up the ghost before the drought broke, but the clumps have tripled in size and are currently in full bloom.

In the vegetable garden the sweet corn that I planted in November is almost as tall as me already – I don’t think I have ever seen corn grow so fast. My tomatoes are growing well and I have harvested my garlic – both the Tasmanian type and the Russian or elephant type. I am also starting to harvest my brown onions. I am so proud of this crop as it is the first time I have ever successfully grown onions! They were sown from seed in situ which I think is a big plus and I only fed them with a phosphate based fertiliser as well as a sprinkling of lime as onions love lime. I bought 4 seedlings of Waltham Butternut pumpkins at the Woodend Farmers Market and these are beginning to grow really well, so I am hopeful of getting some pumpkins this season as I got not one last year!

In the native Australian garden the annual everlastings (Bracteantha sp.) that I planted as seedlings in May last year have formed large plants covered in fiery orange flowers. These close up on dull or rainy days and look quite awful but on sunny days the flowers open wide and make a great blazing show contrasting well with the purple flowers of the brachycome daisies. The Victorian Christmas bush (Prostanthera lasianthos) put on a great show too. My bush is almost 3m tall and this is the tallest of the mint bushes. The lomatia has doubled in size and is smothered in flowers. This plant was really starting to struggle towards the end of the drought and I thought I was going to lose it. The kangaroo apples (Solanum sp) are covered in purple flowers too and I have spotted the odd seedling popping up around the garden. These are short lived large shrubs or small gangly trees so it is good to see a few replacement seedlings coming on that I can easily transplant to a suitable location. I hope we have welcomed in a great year for gardening and perhaps a return to the ‘normal’ weather patterns pre the 1990’s. It has been great seeing the growth in the garden due to the drought breaking and I look forward to the future with interest.

No comments:

Post a Comment