In late June in a last burst of vibrant colour in the garden I was gobsmacked at the energetic display being put on by two contrasting plants. The yellow centred purple flowers of a hybrid tree dahlia called ‘Timothy Hammett’ look great next to a mass of the butter yellow copper canyon daisy Tagetes lemmonii. Both shrubs are over head height and covered with flowers. They are such reliable early winter bloomers adding a real zing to the garden and providing the bees with some last minute sustenance. Also looking good was the pineapple sage/salvia whose red blooms are much frequented by the eastern spinebills. The purple Mexican sage was also a splash of colour as was the deep blue of another sage called ‘Anthony Parker’. Also looking good in a more muted fashion were the pale pink, delicate, double flowers of an abutilon. It’s taken almost a year for it to settle in and grow, but it was worth the wait! Abutilons haven’t done well in my garden during the drought – I think they appreciate and will do better with a moist soil. However this one has finally hit its straps and I counted half a dozen flowers hanging from the plant which is only 1m tall so far. Abutilons come in a wide range of colours and are an old garden favourite: certainly one of mine. However we have now had a few hard frosts and the dahlias are no more, the salvias have dropped the last of their flowers and the abutilon is flowerless. The sole splash of colour is provided by the tagetes which is still covered in blooms.
The soft-leaf buffalo lawn has had its final cut – it won’t need doing again until October. Conversely the back lawn which is composed of cool season grasses (and a lot of weeds) is just revving up for its growing season! The pincushion hakeas (Hakea laurina) are looking particularly good this year and a new cultivar called ‘Stockdale Sensation’ is a very pretty improvement – more pink than the usual red. The last of the autumnal tints have vanished – the reds and oranges of the smoke bush, the purple berberis and deciduous photinia, the yellow of the forsythia and the oranges and yellows of the weeping apricot. The last of the roses have finished flowering – butter yellow ‘Graham Thomas’, soft pinky apricot ‘Abraham Darby’, red ‘Red Pixie’ and lolly pink ‘The Fairy’.
Fragrance in the garden adds a welcome dimension to the outdoors and I was brought up short by a gorgeous perfume in the air the other day. It was the flowers on the Flinders Range wattle Acacia iteaphylla that reliable autumnal bloomer. I bought mine as a ‘normal’ plant but it has turned out to be a mutation and it has taken a ground covering form rather than growing into a large shrub. The flowers still smell sweet though and cover the plant in balls of soft yellow at this time of the year.
In the vegetable garden the silver beet seedlings are beginning to thrive and seedlings of coriander are popping up. I think I’ve had a failure with the crimson flowered broad beans – the seed was a couple of years old and hasn’t come up. Still it’s not too late to sow another crop – but this time I’ll use fresh seed. I must put in some broccoli seedlings and leek seedlings and sow some onion seed. So many jobs to be done and no time after work to do it because the sun is disappearing as I arrive home from work. On a brighter note it’s great to see the daffodils pushing their way through the newly moistened soil. I saw some early jonquil types flowering the other day so ours won’t be far behind. I can’t wait to see the multitude of shades of yellow, cream, white and apricot dancing on top of their slender stems in late winter.