Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Old Photos

I've had a nice day in the kitchen garden, dealing with the outsize weeds, and trying to clean the beds up for winter. And did plant a row of Garlic.

And the big news is that the Smoke Bush is starting to change colour - just up on the tips, but it is happening.

However I have been going through some old photos, looking for other stuff, and found these photos:

Dainty Maid

This is Dainty Maid, a rose that I was given a cutting for in 1896, and told it was Princess Elizabeth. I could never find it under that, but finally found it. Very hardy, and masses of pink blooms.

And, speaking of pink - here is a photo of a local church I mentioned - I didn't see Belladonnas there this year when I went looking for them either (and have given up on the main lot of mine).


I won't be back in the garden for a few days, but I sure am looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Best-value Autumn

I am doing a few catch-up posts - and am interested in documenting my autumn leaves. The blog is making me much more observant, and I watch the changes more carefully.

And I am fascinated by the progress of autumn. My indicator that it was coming was the first leaves on the Ornamental Grapevine along the front verandah turning. And it is only just reaching its potential now, and looks like this:


And, at the same time the Tulip tree was just turning. The Tulip Tree has lost about half its leaves, and is still there, yellow and brown. And we have not had a lot of wind. So almost all the leaves are still on the grapevine.

But, in the meantime, one of the Crabapples and the Nyssa have been and gone in a sudden blaze of short glory.

And the Smoke Bush, Liquidambar, big Crabapple, Manchurian Pear, Flowering Cherry, Crategus, Pistacio and a few other things are all still green.

And still no frost. It has got to be soon - the buds on the Tree Dahlia are getting quite mature.

Remember this????

Do you remember Mum's Witch's Broomstick????

Witch's Broomstick

This was what it was like a couple of months ago.

One alternative name is Ox-tongue Lily. And this is what it looks like now:

Witchs Broomstick 16-4-05

You can see why it has that name now.

Moving Treeferns

The fence is almost finished, and it means some reorganisation is necessary. It is stopping two of the treeferns (one a really tiny one, one huge), reaching their full potential. In other words, half their fronds will be growing against the fence, and it won't work.

But if I move them to the bed just across from them, against the house, they will fill the spot there. And I better get something ready to go in quick smart, or Mum will sneak two Hydrangeas into their spots.

White in the Garden

I wonder what everyone's favourite colour is in the garden???? Not favourite plant, but favourite colour. Mine is definitely blue, although I do like dark red too.

But I know Hellie loves White, so I took a wander around my garden to see what whites there are at the minute.


These are my "white of the minute" - the white Nerines are out. They are smaller, and more delicate than their rather brassy, hot-pink cousins, but do clump up better and are much more hardy.


This is my Night-scented Tobacco - a short-lived perennial that produces millions of seeds, and I mainly grow it in the back of the kitchen garden. I must spread it to the front garden, where its height will be really wonderful. This is only a short one - about five foot tall. I commonly get them to six foot. But they are wonderful, as they do grow so easily from the seed.


And this is the last one for the minute - a cream to white Gazania, with a touch of yellow. So not really white. But I do like it, and infinitely prefer it to the orange one. Although I do like the dark red gazania - must find that one again.

Friday, April 22, 2005

End of Tommies

I’ve just had a few wonderful hours in the kitchen garden, and two and a half beds cleared (from six) is the result. Today was the official pulling out of the tomatoes, but there are still heaps of capsicums there to pick.

I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but when my brother was living and gardening next door, he heard that native bush snails were carnivorous, and ate small garden snails. So he went up to a fern gully, caught some (had to run them down), and brought them back for his garden.

Well, that may be right about them eating other snails – but what he didn’t realise is that they were omnivorous!!!! Every now and then it happens. Today I found my Horseradish had turned into a lace plant – they seem to love it, and there is only a skeleton of the leaves left, and lots of these tiny little snails on it.

So a few more hours in there tomorrow, and I will have three beds cleared – and then be back in it Tuesday. Hellie – if you are reading this, I forgot to give you the Apothecary’s Rose last time – if you want it, you could try and catch me on Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

First Jonquil

Haven't had a lot of time in the garden recently - but I do have to report the first Jonquil flower (and only one "flower", not the whole head) was sighted two days ago.

I feel a bit like Japan, where the whole country tracks the first Cherry Blossom.

So, what is the next marker? For me, it would have to be the first daffodil.

Half the autumn trees are still very green, and half of them the leaves are all on the ground (as mulch, on the Liquidambar bed), and the third half are just nicely transitional. The best is yet to come.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Seen in the Garden

The Fence progresses:


and the Crategus colours up a little more:


Friday, April 15, 2005

Making Mulch

It must be the season – I have been making mulch that, at the end, I caught myself thinking “This is good enough to eat!”

It is lawn clippings, leaves and mown prunings. And it does look so much beautiful than lucurne. It looks natural on the beds.

Five big barrow loads.

It looks so lovely, and soil is so moist, I feel like standing there and shaking the trees to get more leaves to fall.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Cumquats and Ginger

Help!!!!!!!!! DF is out in my sauce vat with a sterilised metal ruler, and keeps measuring the depth of the sauce and making calculations to see if he can work out at what point of reduction my bottling point is (and has calculated the volume of bottles needed so I don't sterilise too many). Help!!!!!!!!

In the meantime, I need to explain the ginger.

Which means I need to explain the cumquats.

I have a large cumquat tree in a corner of the garden, and have been known to make Cumquat Brandy. This goes back to college days, when you used to sneak out at midnight, going back to trees you had already found, growing over fences, laden with cumquats.

So, first, you catch your cumquats (with apologies to Mrs Beeton).

You then carefully wash and weigh them, then piece them all over with a meat skewer, and loosely fill a bottle (plastic top is good).

You then taken an equal weight of white sugar, and pour into the bottle, then fill the bottle to the top with brandy. Shake well. Experts then vary. You can put them on a warm window-sill and turn once a day, or put them in a cool, dark spot and turn every so often.

The sugar will soon dissolve. The longer they are kept (years!) the better they are.

Drinking the brandy is an acquired taste - I love it. You can either eat the cumquats, or slice them onto steak.

I have been know to freeze them, then chop them in half and drip quickly into melted chocolate and keep in fridge. They are stunning.

Do you need to ask why I planted a cumquat tree very early on????


Oh, yes. I buy one root of fresh ginger in the supermarket and roughly peel. I then thinly slice it, and put it in a bottle with a similar amount of sugar and cover well with brandy. It keeps forever. As I completely use up the ginger, and I just add more. And sometimes a bit more sugar.

I haven't died from it yet, and it seems to keep for ever. I mainly use the ginger sliced in stir-fry, or in sauce and preserves.

But once upon a time I had been know to chop it up and stir it into melted chocolate too.

Second batch of Tomato Sauce

I've been really busy, so I haven't been in the garden - except to look atthe autumn leaves, and the two new panels in the fence. And today it is raining - and the garden was already moist from the other day. It is lovely, and the weeds are revolting!

So today is the day for second batch of tomato sauce. My tomatoes are almost finished - it is all the Grosse Lisse and cherry tomatoes now, and the leaves, although not the stems, are all dead on the Grosse Lisse. But there are heaps of tomatoes on there, still ripening on those almost-dead stems.

So I have managed to get 2 kg off there, and have 2 kg of previously cooked-down ones out of the freezer, and am making a batch of sauce.

I see Calidore posted her recipe the other day, so I thought I would do mine. And I have never used the Ezy-sauce - I shudder at the thought, although I am sure others are fine with it. I just love the process.

This is a reasonably spicy sauce:

6 medium onions
10 cloves garlic (didn't have any - 2 teaspoons crushed garlic) I totally forgot it last batch.
4 kg tomatoes
half teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons peppercorns
1 heaped teaspoon whole allspice
1 level teaspoon cloves
2 heaped teaspoons chopped fresh ginger * see below.
1.5 cups sugar (using white, sometimes use brown)
5.5 cups vinegar (using white - shop out of brown)
2 teaspoons salt

Put chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic, cayenne and ginger in vat, bring to boil and simmer.

Put peppercorns, allspice and cloves into a "teaball" (stainless steel, with chain removed - but you can use muslin). I leave mine in right to the end, returning it after stage 2.

Simmer for about half an hour.

Remove, cool slightly and put through vitamizer (watch out for the tea-ball!)

Return to the boil. Simmer for several hours - I go much longer than most recipes to get it thick. I can sort of recognise the point - it goes sort of viscous, and when boiling is what you imagine lava pools are like. It is long after I have been stirring thickened stuff off the bottom.

My bottling point is when the boiling sauce sprays little droplets of sauce all over the stove and floor - very recognisable. So today, I went and bought a large spray deflector. It is magic!!!!

*Explaining my ginger is a long process - I might do it as another post.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


I'm wondering when the real peak season (if there is one), is for Salvias. Is it autumn/now???

Reason being, I was at a local market today, and there was a really big range of them, in flower. I had to really resist, and only bought the almost-black one that I had and lost a few years ago. A really deep, purple-velvet.

Plus a succulent I didn't have. Years ago, if you said I would be dotting succulents in pots all over the place, I would have said you were missing a few tools in the potting shed. Now, I am starting to really like them.

The leaves are really turning now, and starting to make coloured carpets underfoot. Just as the commonest pink nerine starts to come out amongst them. And the ornamental grape is red all the way along now. And all the tomato vines are withered, but I am still picking fruit from them.

I think this is the autumn peak. With still lots of green trees to colour.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Almost-finished Liquidambar bed

Here is the Liquidambar bed - almost finished, just mulch to spread (and a bit more to get).

And just in time, as the bulbs are coming up.

Liquidambar bed cleared

The main things above ground are a clump of Morea, and one of Fairy Fishing Rods, in the left point is an old Tea Rose. There was a clump of Twisted (Tortured) Watsonia in there too, which I have divided up and replanted.

Underground is heaps of bulbs, and a creeping but tallish sort of purple verbena. And Oxalis. But I will get it out in time.

The Fence!!!!

Here is the Fence in Progress (FIP). The backyard section is all done, and there is only the side and front to go.

Back Fence

The Malus or Crategus (of some description) in the middle is just getting ready to change colour. The hips, large, like a crabapple, turn vivid red, and the foliage goes bright orange. It is a stunning tree, and I sure wish I had kept the name of it more carefully.

This has all happened just in time - the bulbs are coming up in the bed all along the fenceline.

Well, I thought it was cold.

Looking at the thermometer this morning, I see it only got down to five - well - that's what I get for reading it in poor light. But it still was chilly.

And the first frost cannot be due yet - there aren't buds on the Tree Dahlias!

Monday, April 04, 2005

First Frost??????

It is approaching 10pm here, and the thermometer is down to two degrees. So tonight may be the first frost. Must be sure to check the min/max thermometer in the morning to see. If it is, it will sure hurry up the autumn colours.

Managed to finish the Liquidambar bed yesterday, despite terrible winds. But not a hope of spreading the mulch. I don't have enough anyway, but don't need to have what I have blown away. I have noticed with the lucurn that there is a fine dust of broken leaves that settles below the rest of the mulch - think it would blow away too easily, and looks too good to risk that.

The bed looks really good - hopefully photos tomorrow. And of the fence.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Notice to Locals

Quick Notice to any locals reading this (you know who you are).

I have just lifted a clump of "Twisted Watsonia" - like normal Watsonia (pink), but the flower stems always twist in interesting directions. I was going to put them by the front gate in a barrow, but with the wind that had just hit, I will put them in a bucket weighed down by bricks!!!!!

Usual deal - payment not expected, but if you want to leave some coins for the Community House, they are welcome

Weeding and Nyssa

Today is going to be a weeding day - I am a bit like Calidore - which bed do I decide to do????

It doesn't look as hot, so shade is not as important.

I should maintain some that I have got clear, and then attack the worst. So I hope to get to the corner of the Liquidambar bed:

Liquidambar bed

But just so you don't go away shuddering, here is a picture of my Nyssa, as it approaches its autumn peak. It has struggled, as it is in lawn and really wants to be in a bed.


Friday, April 01, 2005

World's Tallest Wisteria

I'm feeling a bit frustrated!

I took heaps of pictures of my lovely, almost finished new fence (and the garden in front of it), to post here. I am sure everyone is excited about my fence as I am. And of the Gold Crocus (which the millipedes in the mulch are verrrrry excited about, and chomping away at, at great guns).

Then I started talking to D about the fence (we are redesigning the grape arbor at the road end), and I touched a wrong button on the camera.

Now, I don't know a lot about this camera, except how to point and click. So a strange screen came up, and by dint of pressing all sorts of buttons, I got rid of it, and took a few more photos. When I came to download the photos (I have them done offsite), I had lost all the fence and crocus pics. And all I had left were the ones taken later.

So I can't show you the fence until Tuesday. *sad*

So, instead, here is one of the other pictures:

Crabapple and Wisteria

This is looking through the smaller crabapple (I think it is ioensis, or something similar), to the silver birch. And the silver birch is about forty feet high. And the wisteria has reached the top. And cannot go any further, as the silver birch is being effectively tip-pruned by the cockatoos. So the wisteria is clumping up there - looks brilliant in spring!

And, speaking of the crabapple. I have bought a journal book. Future plantings will carefully be recorded (and indexed) in a bound book. And I will trawl though my old labels and scraps of paper, and see if I can work out what some of the things that I have are.

Stand by!!!!!