Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Garden Midwinter

Last month, Rhubarb Whine put up a round up of her garden as part of a Garden Share Collective.

I thought "that would get me organised to post on a semi-regular basis" and had myself hoodwinked so much that I even contacted Lizzie from Strayed from the Table and she sent me through details.

Unfortunately, that is as organised as it got folks, because the bit between when and where I was to post and paste links got me all bamboozled and then my feet got mixed up and there was that adventure and what-ho, its the end of June and no post has been forthcoming.

Henceforth and with alacrity, I shall give you a quickish whip-around, shall I?

This is the Eastern side of the house - in Winter, it gets lovely morning sun and has always, when encouraged, been a source of great things (and when not, a source of nut grass).  This is the bed where the original sunflowers in my header grew, where the lemongrass once presided, and where the garlic chives have ruled the roost for several years now.

The seemingly indigenous ferns have survived quite harsh treatment from visiting dogs in the past and are now working their way to the sunny corner that once had a Jade (or money) tree - which it seemed was pretty, pretty useless in its famed "money" gathering but very, very good at hiding paper wasp nests.

V has planted Rocket, Wom Bok, Pak Choi,Parsley and Coriander in this space, joining the Thyme, Oregano and Sage (or "dinosaur sage" as my workmates refer to it, as the leaves grow to an enormous size).  You will note there is no Pak Choi in the photo collection, and that is because it is all in our tummies - it was too good!!!

A great deal of the work done in enhancing the drainage/suck up ability of the outer rim of the garden can be measured in V's sweat and tears - not too much blood has been lost (although the air has been blue on occasion - especially in regard to the quality of fill that was used on the block that seems to contain 3 parts rock to 1 part dirt).

Whenever it rains here - and it does rain here, indeed it does - we get a moat form and, due to neighbouring blocks all being built up and garden beds blocking all drainage - it takes a long time to go away.

On top of this, as you can see, we have neighbours.  They aren't too intrusive or obnoxious but they are most definitely THERE - and no doubt to them, we are HERE - so as a two-fold attack, V has been putting in screens and breaks and drainage routes to try and gain privacy and a way to soak up some of the sod.  Definitely a work in progress.

The Frangipani tree has been here since forever.  When we first moved here in 2006, it had a large circle of dirt surrounding it, as the mower man had a great belief in Round Up as weed control.  In fact, every edge had a good 2" gap between the grass and the cement, because he seeminly much preferred to poison to edging.  Many years, many hand-picked clover patch and a few miracles have now seen this gorgeous (albeit dormant) specimen rising from a ring of stones (courtesy of the abovementioned fill).  She gives lovely creamy flowers every Spring - and has now been joined by a dwarf pink variety and another cream in a different corner of the garden.

Unfortunately, we are not the only ones who admire her, and she can be quite alive with ant activity whenever it rains (and have I mentioned it rains?) and therefore the "wouldn't it be great to be a kid clambering up those limbs" thought gets very severely kyboshed.

We have planted sweet peas and peas in this little patch.  There is one problem with planting both of these plants in the same bed - and that is knowing which is which.  Given I was having panic attacks earlier in the week about the lack of flying insects I have seen this year, scratching my head over whether to harvest the flat snows or wait until puffed by peas is a pleasant problem to contemplate.

The central plot now holds a very prolific chilli tree - as with all good chilli trees, beginning life as a bargain bin hidden gem but bearing great sensations for many a meal, creating tradition - and strawberries courtesy of Mum's garden.  We have a lot yet to learn (and are eager students) much about strawberries, but the bounty thus far has been favourably received.

This bed is a mixture of nostalgia and hope.  During ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald, this bed held a very promising crop of corn - unfortunately one of the surprisingly more-pleasant (relatively speaking) aspects of that was the high winds, winds that V valiantly tried to shield his corn crop from with judicious use of Paris' cubbyhouse - yet the winds prevailed and the crop of corn failed.  A month or so hence, out of an old compost pile, a small number of seedlings emerged, and V has carefully brought them into the sunshine and, despite the unsolicited advice from one of the neighbours, is hoping that good intentions will overcome the spoken fact that "corn does not produce in the Winter months".  Just your regular Accepted Science vs Optomistic Belief corner of the garden.

The interesting purple leaf belongs to Mustard, a green that is awesome for the compost, apparently.  We have tested the edibility and, while definitely palatable and gotta be healthy for you reviews, have yet to find the secret to admire the flavour without either drowning it or being subsumed.  Or it could just be we have a unique crop - but I have not yet ceded to defeat in that matter.

Yes, there are more Wom Bok here also - obviously the Winter Sun is still a little too eager to allow the leaves to form ball (or whatever the technical term is), but I have hopes of the results being okay - although I feel that regarding it for too long may not be conducive to this outcome.

The giant tomatoes are there entirely by their own choice and design.  All we do is keep the numbers of these triffads down to manageable and attempting to keep them from certain beds in hope of eventually getting  good soil balance (and defy nemotodes) with some sort of crop rotation - again, science is creeping up on divine intervention here.

The back corner was "the shrub that you never wanted to lose a ball under" when we first arrived, and is on the spot where my family first learned first hand about the dangers of Wasps to my brother when we were young and they had first bought the house.

However, over the years (and it appears they are years I didn't label any of my posts and therefore cannot find the relevant posts for perspective), the shrub has been pruned and shaped and the undergarden has been formed from compost and leaf litter and lawn clippings and self-seeded everything grows in abundance.

See that sweet purple flowered plant?  That is Borage.  I have to remind myself of that several times a day, as I know V got very excited about Borage and Comfrey after he went to a Permaculture Workshop earlier in the year (amongst other things - including Amaranth with boiled eggs) and I always think its the other.  Or maybe it is.

Anyway, usual blurb on the tomatoes - I did get close to them whilst on crutches to give a good prune, because that is my forte in the garden - I wield a good secatuer.

And as you see, we are looking forward to both a rather bumper crop of Sweet Potato Leaves but perhaps even may emulate last year's underground bounty.

Here is that bit of the yard that is so handy.  Its where stuff gets put.  This is an essential part of any working garden, I have found.

Just along from there you can see our neighbours.  Hopefully soon, we will be able to say "just along from there, you can see the great bamboo screen" but they are still young and as a result, we and the neighbours either have to force greetings or ignorance at the sudden appearance of the other while relaxing in our respective spaces.

Mind you, with V's earthmoving, we may eventually be able to build a wall - no?

The South-Western side gets nearly fully sun come Summer, and those hippeastrum give great bloom in November.  Last year when I lifted and separated the bulbs, I had hundreds moved to other parts of the garden from this bed - all from one clump (a large one, admittedly) when I first moved here.  It is quite a luxury, actually, to be able to just plant them wherever and, if they fail, it can be called composting!

The Lime tree is the only survivor of 3 fruit trees we got for our wedding - but it is worth 100 trees.  Unfortunately we have had to be quite strict with Neeming and Banding it, as ants have been farming aphids with great success - I got less than a dozen limes this season after a bumper crop last year - but I have high hopes for next season.

In the garden we also have these little beauties - Bush Babe gave a set to V for Christmas, and they have proved the best gifts out.  They even acted as our torches during the events of the Australia Day weekend.

There is so much to say about this picture - about the neighbour and his widow and the meaning of that yellow-flowered vine and the pruning of it; about the punk bottle-brush; about the blocks of flats; about the bales of hay - its a work in progress.

This front flower-bed is going through flux - the marigolds have just been trimmed of all but new buds and I envisage they will go by then end of the month - but they come back - as do the wierd hybrid flowers that are self-seeded and apear to be a mix of some fire-something flowers and some coral-something flowers that a seedlings guy at a market gave to 'Salina several years ago to encourage her in gardening.  The Ponytail Palm is another yarn and happy to be part of our garden family.  Paris is having a marvellous time watering and getting wet and cheeky.  The dirt in the background is plans for the future strewn with today's garden waste because who knows, one of its incarnations may be a Marigold Strip!

A friend gifted me this plant.  She doesn't know what it is, nor do I.  At one point we thought it may have been a Galangal, as it has a very distinct (but we can't quite place) perfume when disturbed, but the rhizomes aren't pink enough to convince us.

For some reason, once upon a time a Happy Tree was planted in the front garden - benath a verandah.  This was before my time.

For some reason, this was pruned.  I may have been responsible.

We have learned much about Happy Trees.  We have learned it is not a good idea to plant it beneath a building.  We have learned fairytale morals about cutting and creating more.

Anyway - I have the post almost finished with 9 minutes to spare - I hope you enjoyed the meander.

If you want to see other gardens that Lizzie is sharing, go to:


BUSH BABE said...

Awesome roundup (forgive the pun) of your very bounteous plot! It's a wonder you have to grocery shop at all... nice job V. (And those secateurs folks... it's a MEAN secateur she wields. Do NOT stand in her way.)

liz @ strayed table said...

Looks like a wonderful garden. Those strawberries look great, you have so much growing. Most cabbages need the cold to form the ball in the middle, with wombok though you can eat just the leaves as is.

Louie said...

I would love to have some dinosaur sage, Im not sure what I do to ours but it is one herb that never seems to survive at our house. My borage on the other hand is doing quite well but I have no idea what to do with it?

Kelly said...

There are obviously some very green thumbs residing in your household. I'm quite impressed with all your gardening!

We struggle and I'm hoping to get a decent crop of heirloom tomatoes and yellow squash this year. We have a couple of interesting things thriving in our compost area, too, including a massive cabbage plant! About the only herb I'm any good with is rosemary, but that's okay since it's my favorite to use fresh.

I know the expression is "don't run with scissors", but please be careful hobbling on crutches with secateurs!

e / dig in said...

GAH! i need to put aside my envy of your sunlight and amazing green garden, and peas and strawberries and tomatoes still at this time of year!!
once over the envy hurdle, it's great being part of the garden share collective and seeing what gardeners and their gardens get up to in different climates at the same time. just as my gardening (and garden) are hibernating for the winter, you are still very active by the look of it.
ps i also have a bit 'where stuff gets put'. i just never knew the official name for it ;-)
thank you!

Vanessa Beattie said...

What a beautiful garden you have! Tended with such love and care. My parents are great gardeners. I have never got into it because I'm so bug phobic. They are limited to what they can grow up in the Blue Mountains because of the cold in winter and wildlife (wombats, etc) but I know dad recently purchased a stack of raspberry canes (I had no idea they were called this until recently) for next spring. YUM!

jeanie said...

Bush Babe - ha ha ha. It is hereditary.

Liz - thanks - we do need to mound and mulch a little better for the strawberries to truly rise to greatness, but a nibble now and again is good for all of us. Thank you for the Garden Collective inspiration and organisation.

Louie - I have previously had very little success with sage, and you will note the shaded part of that garden has another clump limping along - I blame luck.

Kelly - when I am not working full-time I like getting my hands in the dirt, but my husband V has been a lot of the research and labour of this incarnation of the garden. I am now off the crutches, and was careful to not be seated while snipping!

Jacqui Calvert said...

A lovely garden tour :-)
Neighbours. Yes. I know your pain, my last place was quite similar. Awkward greetings when we accidentally got too close on our respective sides of the fence. Now, we've got more space, but barely a fence to be had! I think I'm getting used to being on display and I don't think that's a good thing. Westringias and pittosporums can't grow fast enough.
Looking forward to the next instalment.

jeanie said...

e/dig in - did I create an official name? We have to slow down mid-summer as it does get too hot for most of the areas (and gardeners) and we have to go swimming instead.

V - I LOVE the Blue Mountains, and so much can be grown up there - I would love to contemplate raspberry...

Jacqui - the bamboo are being urged on daily!

Alex said...

Hi Jeanie, I've popped over from the garden share collective, thank you so much for the tour around your garden, it's fantastic. All of those exotic plants are such a feast for my eyes!

Kyrstie @ A Fresh Legacy said...

Thank you for the garden tour. you have so much planted in there! I am most envious of your frangipani, my favorite tree of all time and totally unsuited to my local climate. Isn't that always the way?

Andrea Mynard said...

Thank you Jeanie, I loved the meander. Just the idea of Frangipani and lime trees has me dreaming of warmer climes than the Cotswolds!

jeanie said...

Thanks for the comments.

Alex - glad you enjoyed the "exotic" - until you look through others eyes you don't realise.

Kyrstie - we are blessed with being in fairly ideal conditions (most of the time - barring flood, drought or cyclone)...

Andrea - my parents are currently touring your neck of the woods (I think they did the UK for a few weeks at the end of last month) and are old stock - as in I am at least 4th generation Aussie from any angle but my mother grew up calling England "home".

Thanks for visiting.

Debby said...

Popped in to say it is a wonderful garden you have. Ours is overgrown, because I do not have the time to spend on a regular basis, and if Tim can't eat it,he's not interested. Our yard is heavily shaded due to two 150 year old massive maple trees, but we did pull up two decorative trees and made a garden which is growing great guns, and that I try my best to keep weeded between the awful amounts of rain we are getting here.

jeanie said...

Hey there Debby - sorry to hear that you are having an overindulgence of rain over there right now.

Are your maple trees the sort from which maple syrup comes?