Monday, February 28, 2005

The Broomstick Lengthens

Witch's Broomstick

The Witch's Broomstick is getting to be a bit more normal-sized. But I still haven't pinned down a name for it.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Giant Lillies


I am wondering if anyone can assist me with an identification for this plant - which I think is a Lily, but I am unsure. This one has a slight pink tinge, but the one I have at home never reaches this size, and is all white.

This one is at a house I occasionally pass, and for comparison you can see the shorter ornamental ginger (Hedichyum?) and the line across the top is the guttering and eaves of the house! So these are tall.

What I am really after is a name for the group, not this exact one, so I can do a llittle research and chase up some if they are available.

Thanks! Because I hope someone can point me in the right direction.

Garden Art and Patron Saints

I've been thinking a little about garden art. What started me was finding this quilter who is also making tentative steps into garden art in her Californian garden - and there are a couple of nice pictures there of her garden.

I'm really not the sort to have heaps of concrete ornaments in my garden, although I do admit to sharing it with just a few concrete dragons and gargoyles. But I try and avoid the mass-produced if I can. I would love, for example, to have the money (and available potter/sculptor) to commission a small statue of St Phoecreas, the Patron Saint of Gardeners - not that I am into patron saints in other areas. I have a nice shady little grotto ready for him, under the cumquat tree with the aloe vera.

Strange that none of those who mass-produce garden ornaments have come up with one - a little monk in a big, shady hat, with a rake and other garden tools and a basket of seeds, with a bird on his shoulder?

Then I went off looking on the net. I have to admit THESE by Richard Bergquist caught my eye. Seems like it is not simple to just name one saint (or even spell him!). There is even a Patron Saint there for finding lost garden tools! And one just for the vegetable garden.

But I digress.

I also wouldn't mind having the odd quirky, original piece discreetly hidden here and there, for people to find. But it hasn't happened, yet. The same with my idea of having a rather crazy scarecrow in the Kitchen Garden. Not for ever, but just for a while as some transient art.

What I may end up with though, somewhere, is a small installation I saw in one garden I was looking at locally a few years ago. This was small, flat, round stones stacked in a pile from largest to smallest. Very beautiful. And there is that creek just down the road that is full of them, just waiting to be looked over for a selection to be made.

Maybe a little temple-like pile somewhere near the Wandering Jew, under the treeferns?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Autumn Crocuses


Hopefully I will be back to more detailed blogging soon - but in the meantime, here is my first autumn crocus, one of my favourite bulbs. Although I love the smaller, bright yellow crocus as well.

I have a friend who had a wonderful display of these years ago in her garden, and a neighbour who also loved them, but didn't have any. Friend went overseas, leaving neighbour to water garden. When she came back, the next year, she had no autumn crocuses in her garden, and her neighbour had a wonderful display.

And she never said a word about it!

Odd Seasonal Indicators

This is a strange season. There are grapes on my ornamental grapevine, and some crabs on my ornamental crab apple. Have never seen that before, and before you suggest this as a reason - the cross-pollinators have always been there. And there are olives on my olive tree for the first time (its maybe 15 years old), and it is a bumper crop.

But the most noticeable thing is the Mozzies. Everyone is saying it is the worst season they can remember for them. And I know some species actually breed on wet grass, not in "ordinary" water - so that may well be the reason. I stopped the car and got out down the road the other day, and the car filled with mozzies. I was a road hazard, swatting and driving, but I had to, as there were hundreds in the car. And the only way to get them out was to wind down the window whenever they got near it, and they got sucked out again.But it sure makes working in the garden difficult. :(

Thursday, February 24, 2005

First Autumn Crocus

Real life sometimes has a way of getting the way of Gardening, and even blogging. Which is the state of play at the minute. Hopefully within the next few days I will be back.

But I do have to announce that yesterday I sighted the first Autumn Crocus. Today I can find them coming up everywhere.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Calidore is blogging

How wonderful it is when a new garden blogger appears. Calidore is in Victoria's Mallee country, and I am going to watch her blog with delight!

Did I see she has a first Jonquil???? Mine aren't even up yet!

I'm coming back as fast as I can to put her on my side-bar.

Anyone else out there know any other Australian gardening blogs?????

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Witches Broomstick #2

Witches Broomstick2

Mum is fairly unhappy (but sure this is the second flowering for the year). Her Witch's Broomstick usually has flowers on stems about a foot long - these ones are quite stunted.

And we still don't know its proper (ie scientific name) - or if Witch's Broomstick is its "correct" common name.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Botanical Illustrations

I'm a sucker for good Botanical Illustrations, and these online ones by Franz Eugen Kohler (1883-1914) are stunning. And even available as high-resolution on the net!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Where are the Wanderers???

I've just realised something else is missing. I didn't see any Wanderer/Monarch butterflies this year - and I have had the Swan Plant (don't ask me to spell its scientific name off the top of my head - it's a monster) growing for them. Heaps of seed on it though, so will have more for them next year if they call. They usually do.

Cool and windy here, with a feel of rain coming, and I have a few busy days away in front of me, so I have taken the barrow of bulbs off the nature strip.

Oooh, rain starting right now, and it is quite heavy. Send it down Hughie!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Finally - a solitary Belladonna

Well, the big news this morning is that one of my Belladonnas is up. Not that it was supposed to be in that bed, mind. So the ones I am waiting for (my deep hot pink), haven’t yet appeared. But that bed is well-watered – maybe those that are dry flower early ???

Odd Jobs and the Barrow

The barrow on the nature strip has had a fair run – when I looked there was only one sad iris left, plus onions. Well, I love growing onions, but I guess veggie gardens are not as popular as years ago. But these ones are good for kids to grow too.

There is $24.15 there to go up to the Community House.

So I have put out a few more jonquils and some Nerines – the ordinary ones, plus the last scrabbly ones that are early and dark pink-red. They probably won’t flower this year, but will establish for later years.

And I have been cutting back the Hebe in preparation for working on the bed with the Chinese Pistacio in it. Hebes were another thing I loved as a little kid – opening the tips leaf by leaf, to see how many there were, and how small they could get. And the Kumquat is in that bed – looks like it is going to be loaded this year. Now, if anyone wants some Kumquats for marmadale – I used to make Kumquat Brandy, but I have got a little too much of that on hand now – and it is an acquired taste – I love it, but not others that I know. I won’t put the Kumquats out in the barrow – but if anyone local wants some, give a holler.

Picking Gardens

I am posting these as a whole lot of different posts this morning – some I may want to find again in future years to check the date etc.

I have just been doing odd jobs in the garden, off to do more soon. I am sealing off one compost tank, not because it is full, but because if I just put lawn clippings on top it will be ready for the spuds in spring. So it will be interesting to see what date I actually use it – I haven’t kept track of that before. And my late spuds in the next tank I am going to use for compost are going gang-busters. Must get the other one empty. Soil is going on a Kitchen garden bed, so I can get bulbs in.

I notice Alice over on "A Growing Delight" (see side-bar for link) was talking of Flower Garden v. Veggie Garden. Which is why I call what might be a veggie garden a Kitchen Garden – it has veggies, herbs and flowers. The garden I don’t often heard mentioned is a Picking Garden – flowers grown specifically for the house. I was talking to someone the other day who won’t pick flowers from the garden, as it spoils the look – but will buy flowers. Ummm, that’s not me (and that is all I say, if it is who I think it is, she might be reading this blog!).

So I am having a picking bed in the Kitchen Garden this year, where I will put my daffodils in straight rows and give them careful management – the white ones especially, as I want to increase them by giving a good fertiliser and watering regime.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Witches Broomstick

This revolting plant is my Mother's pride and joy.

Whitches Broomstick

Each of these two thick stalks is just starting to show the flower coming out - it will have a long, flat, reddish stem and a red and yellow brush on the end. Then it later had large flat green leaves, sometimes up to two foot long. Friends and I call it Mother-in-Law's Tongue (mainly to stir Mum), but it isn't that - that is Sanserveria.

I did a Google search and learned a lot about witches that I really didn't need to know, and saw a few sites I didn't go any further on that definitely had nothing to do with botany. And am none the wiser about this plant. The main plants associated with the word witch seem to be Solanum and, surprise, surprise - Belladonna! The Solanum being Deadly Nightshade.

So, still none the wiser. Mum thinks this is its second flowering this year, but I'm not so sure. Does anyone know what it actually is, so I can check it out a little further?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Still no Belladonnas

Here are the Belladonnas just down the road. So I have been out and looked at mine again, and they are not even peeping through. (Unlike Mum's Witches broomstick, but that is another story).


I was talking to "I" this morning, and we were speculating on why my garden is colder than even those across the main road. And he reckons I may be right on the site of the ancient river (I certainly have the right stones). I am definitely in the "lower" part of the town, and cold air rolls downhill - probably from both sides.

So, where are my Belladonnas?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Collecting Seeds

Seeds are something I have always collected – it is second nature, even when I don’t want them. Somebody else might. Which is why I now have Honesty seeds out in the barrow ($15 today for the Community House, thank you, everyone). And there are a few more seeds to come.

There is a fine, pink larkspur that was growing wild when we bought next door about 1975, and I still have it – it just keeps coming up from seed. Was thinking about it today as I pulled up one spent plant, and threw it down in another spot in the garden to try and get it established there. That is the other thing I do – pull up the plants which have had their day and, as they are going to seed, throw them on top of the mulch. I have a lovely little purple viola (not as bright as Johnny-Jump-up) which has been growing everywhere on that basis for years.

Hybridised seeds concern me, as they don’t have the same viability to keep coming back time and time again. Sometimes the stuff you buy in punnets reseeds for a year or so, but it never lasts. About the only other flower I have that keeps re-seeding now is the Peony Poppy (the double red, but occasionally other colours) and the Flanders Poppy – which likes growing on bare ground.

But I still keep saving the seed – someone may want it. Must harvest some of the Mustard Greens as a seed when they are ready. Someone might want it.

In the Kitchen Garden

Picked enough tomatoes (still mainly the Roma, no Grosse Lisse to speak of) yesterday. Would have enough to make sauce if I had the time. So this is official sauce-making time. I reckon it is early this year – but that will be the advantage of a blog – I can look back next and say YES, it WAS earlier last year.

And the first capsicums could be picked, although letting them go a lot longer will let them get a bit bigger.

More Goodies on the Nature Strip

I’ve just put more goodies out on the nature strip for locals. There are the onions, plus one bag of blue/purple vigourous iris left. So now there are the candy-pink watsonias, a basket of old-fashioned cream jonquil bulbs and some Honesty/Lunularia seed.

I love Honesty, this is the blue/purple one, and hopefully a bit of the white in there too. I have heard there is also a pink, but I’ve never seen it – would love some if it exists. It grows wild in this garden, preferring the cooler, shadier, damper areas, but will take full sun if it gets water.

Just a word of caution though – it is BYO plastic bag (except for the Iris). Since this became an-almost-plastic-bag-free household, there are not a lot to spare.

And Yes, its here, but my Belladonnas aren’t yet. The grapevine is turning red at the end, which is a sure sign that autumn has arrived.


This has not been a good onion and garlic year for me - they want a lot of water and the weed competition did not help.

Basically, there are two main onions I grow - not counting chives, spring onions and the perennial Dutch onion I never use, but would never throw out. And it doesn't include the Garlic and Poor Man or Russian Giant Garlic - those tall ornamental ones that go feral.The ones I grow seriously are the Potato Onion and the Tree Onion.

Tree Onions are the ones that form little bulblets on top that you plant the next year (although you can, and some suggest you should, alternate with offsets). These produce a small, tasty brown onion that keeps well, and is good for using green, before they mature, as shallots.

The others are Potato Onions, which produce a large clump of onions from one offset. It is a small, brown onion on maturity too, that keeps well, and I also use it as a shallot.

Many years ago an old gardener gave me the maxim of planting my onions on the shortest day and harvesting on the longest day - and it is a pretty good one to follow - if I remember.

I have heaps and heaps of spare offsets of the potato onions and a few of the tree onions if any locals want to try them. I will put some out in the wheelbarrow on the nature strip this afternoon.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


I know M3 is reading this blog and envying me my trees. And they are very nice. This garden dates from 1986, so some of them are getting quite mature. And the garden is getting very shady in summer - so my roses are getting quite straggly.

When I started there were only two trees on the block - a large silky oak seedling from maybe 1975 and a Queensland white cedar from well before 1975 - but it had had wire and chain tied around it, so was suckering from below that, and has never been good. But it is still there.

My best trees are those I put in straight away in 1986 along the front to cut down on the dust. They are now a large crabapple, the smoke bush, a liquidambar, the tulip tree (which is brilliant), a chinese pistachio (not doing well), a kumquat and a silver birch.

Since then I added along the property line a Manchurian pear (getting big), a white robinia (getting huge), another white cedar, a purple ash, a Chinese liquidambar and I think there might be a maple in there. And this is not a large block.

Hang on - then there is that Cratageus that is brilliant in autumn - and the Judas Tree that hasn't read the label about how tall it is allowed to get ......

Add the Bloomfield abundance rose that thinks it is a tree, and some more citrus along the front (also to catch the dust), and it really is an urban forest - and most of that is only on one side of the block. But the autumn leaves are spectacular - especially when we get an early frost.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Of Late Cukes and Beautiful Soil

Lots of lovely light rain at the minute,and over the last 24 hours, after a hot, dry and windy day on Monday. My late cucumbers are loving it, but it is yet to be seen if I get much of a crop from them. Ditto my late spuds, which are doing well.

Early cukes

These are my late cukes, above. They remind me that I haven't talked about the soil here, which is a heavy clay loam with lots of large water-washed gravel through it. The soil around the cukes has had a fair bit of compost added to it, so has "blackened" up a bit compared to the natural soil.

Some of the kitchen garden is quite heavy compared with the rest as that is where the soil went from the footings when I had an extension built - it isn't quite clay, but close, and I am still breaking it down with compost. I tend with my compost to spread an occasional layer of soil from the kitchen garden through the bins and that gets processed down through the compost by the worms.

I don't really know the pH of my soil - I have one of those little electronic gizmos, but I gather they are not dreadfully accurate. And, as I see it, your soil varies from place to place across the garden anyway, depending on level of compost you have added and liming - I tend to throw a little bit onto the kitchen garden, but don't use it elsewhere.

But all in all, it is good soil. One of the first things we were reminded when I went away to college and actually studied horticulture many years ago, was that dirt was what got on your face - soil was what was in the garden.

I have just finished weeding all the six large beds in the kitchen garden, and the whole kitchen garden, including the soil, is looking rather good.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Is it here yet????

Is it here yet?

It’s like the kid in the back seat on the advert on TV.

Is it here yet?

Maybe it is whistful thinking, but I reckon I can feel autumn in the air. The Tulip Tree (always my first messenger) is getting its first yellow leaves. If the grapevine along the verandah follows, it will be confirmed.

Is it here yet?

This garden was deliberately planted as an autumn garden – I grew up with Mrs McDonald’s garden up the road, which was a stunning autumn garden. It took me years to work out one of the features was the huge, old smoke bush. I have three now (one large, one medium, one baby), all different. We love autumn.

Is it here yet?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Yellow in the Garden

Here is just a photo for today


I don't usually like yellow in my garden (but not as much as I dislike orange!). But this chair is an exception. I cannot remember where I got it from, but it sits outside my garden shed and really brightens up a dark spot.

Then again - maybe I do like some yellows - daffodils are very high up there in my favourite flowers.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

New Fence Approaches

D, my next-door neighbour, is working on a new boundary fence for us - it is going along here on the left of the photo - just imagine the Meyer lemon on the right, you can see a couple of leaves peeping in.

Fence before

It is going to be a tall, picket fence, which will give me a totally different micro-climate - previously it was a wire netting fence. In the far back one of the old corner posts is already on the ground.

It would be nice to think this archway framed a beautful view into my back garden - but the reality is - that is usually where my tip trailer lives.

Violets and Cameras

Sweet Alice over at A Growing Delight has been writing about Violets - which are a plant that has been exercising my mind for some time.

I have the same problem as Alice, in that I have that feral purple one that is everywhere. Makes a good ground cover if you don't want to grow anthing else, and that is about it. So I am trying to eradicate that all over the place. It lurves mulch!

But my main interest is try to check that I still have all my different violets, and maybe even trying to get one type to a bed in the kitchen garden, so I know exactly where the main stocks are. (My kitchen garden is six large, square beds, each very distinct).

The violets that I have are -

A semi-deciduous deep purple that has large flowers and is non-invasive.

One with a similar growth and leaf, but the flowers are blue and white.

A white violet that can be a little invasive, but is easier to control.

My favourite - a pink violet I have had for years and years. I found it growing in a crevice at the outdoor toilet at the Omeo Police Station - maybe thirty years ago??? I love this one, as it is so unusual.

Which brings me to digital cameras in the garden - I have a cheapie, which is wonderful for big pictures. But it does not have a hope of capturing a single violet. I have been thinking for a while that my very good film camera is coming back into use - I can creep up on the smallest aphid with it, and I get the film processed as a CD - and all the pictures are better quality than the digital. And I have the negatives to store somewhere safely for archival purposes.

It just isn't as instant as the digital. But in many ways it is better.

I'm off to go and sneak up on a Violet.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

A New Blogger in the Garden

There is a new blogger in the Garden. And she must be a twin I was separated from at Birth. I have been trying to find time to write about my violets, and she has opened with them. Do drop over and meet Sweet Alice at a Growing Delight.

Today's worksite

Originally uploaded by Chloe B.
This is where I have been working today. The other day, with the help of a Dear Friend (DF) we removed masses of Wedding Day rose from the top of the arch on the left, as it was totally covering the Garrya (which you can now see as sticks), and making the Meyer (sp?) lemon grow totally topsy. We had to cut off most of the Garrya, but it is shooting again - they are tough, although the bark appears dead in some places - ie there are strips of living bark and strips of dead bark going right up the branches.

Today I weeded the bed (and that is where that Wandering Jew was) and have mulched it down with pea straw. There is also Oxalis in that bed (one of five spots I am trying to get rid off), that I am going to zap once it comes up - I used to try just digging it out, but now I zap it to take a bit of vigour out of it, and then dig it. It is an ongoing process.

And I need to defend the bed from my Mother - she is already trying to plant Hydrangeas in there, and I really need to get the Oxalis out first.

Wandering Jew

I have been meditating on the subject of Wandering Jew (Tradescantia?), while pulling the blasted stuff out. This has always been my house, but I rented it out for a few years while I lived elsewhere, and one of those tenants must have introduced it. It is still only in one spot, and pulls out quite easily – but it has got under the front decking, and I cannot get at it in there.

So I have got quite Churchillian – it shall not pass. I shall fight it at the edges. I shall fight it at the tank. I will fight it everywhere! And I shall not compost it.!

Friday, February 04, 2005

Irises being divided

Just for the locals (and you know who you are). It is so lovely and damp after the rain (I am hearing three inches, in round figures) that I have taken the chance to pull out all the vigourous purple irises I have been wanting to get rid of.

They'll be on the nature strip in the barrow - there's a bottle there if anyone wants to throw in some coins for the Community House ($16 went up there there other day - thanks!)


Originally uploaded by Chloe B.
Just for "Sweet Alice" - the view from just up the hill.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

As a kid .....

I don't suppose it should, but it never fails to amaze me how some people my own age never had real garden fun as kids. I was brought up with long narrow bottles that we would put a mix of soil and water in, shake like anything, and watch over the hours how the different layers settled. We would see how many stones there were, and how much leaf litter, and how many fine particles in a ratio with everything else. My father was a gardener - I think I was given my first plot well before I was nine.

My mother wasn't a gardener, but had us doing things like growing onions wedged on top of a bottle of water,or putting celery in a bottle of water with ink in the water, to watch it spreading through the plant with time.

These were sorts of things that just happened all the time for us. But I have just been reminded of them - I had to do a quick floral arrangement a week or two ago for a friend. No flowers, but plenty of green. I ended up with a mix of three ferns, a sprig of basil, two large parsley leaves and a sprig of mint. All of them went into an oil bottle - ie narrow lip but plenty of water.

I went back there the other day, and they are still there - and she is having a most fascinating time watching the basil grow roots out of the leaf nodule at the bottom of the sprig - she had never seen that happen before, and it is clearly visible through the glass of the bottle.

We think we might plant it out for some late season basil. But every time I introduce an adult to shaking soil in water and watching it settle, I feel sad they didn't have that fun as a kid. Or get to watch onions growing roots.

My Front Gate

Front Gate
Originally uploaded by Chloe @ Linda.
A certain person who reads this blog suggested that if this rain continues (it has stopped, wonderful though it was), that very soon she would wash through my purple front gate. And I don't believe she believed I have a purple front gate.

So,here it is.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Rain and Belladonnas

Ohhhhhhhhhhh. This rain is soooooooooooo beautiful. All the tanks are running over. Must be getting near to two inches.

And I went over to the church I was writing about, to take a photograph of the belladonnas there - and they weren't even up. Although there were some sheep grazing in the rather dry yard - but I don't think they eat them. So why is the avenue of them up the road in full flower????

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Once upon a time, in the last century, when I was a kidlet, I used to get Nerines and Belladonnas confused. They are both candy pink bulbs that come up without their leaves. So just after I have been thinking about Belladonnas, I have been having brekkie on the front verandah considering one particular clump of Nerines.

This particular clump is right behind my mother’s bird bath, and gets heaps of water when she tips it out and puts in fresh stuff. And it is thriving. Has the tallest Nerines I have seen anywhere. All the rest in the same bed struggle to survive as they get just barely adequate water. Some have given up the ghost and some rarely flower.

So I have come to the conclusion that Nerines in my environment are mega-water lovers/users. So I don’t think I will persist with them there. I have others that I am more hopeful for – the smaller, white ones seems tougher and grow well where-ever I have them. This year I have high hopes for the earlier, smaller but darker pink ones I rescued from another garden I once had. Except they might take a year to settle in after being moved. And I know where the Stardust Nerine (with little flecks of gold in the petals) was planted. Just did it survive? I am anxiously watching a bare stick that marks it as autumn and Nerine season approach.